However, the Merkur 33c fits perfectly between the two of them.
The 34c is heavier and features a wider handle without as much knurling. However, the handles of the 34c and 33c are the same 3″ length – a popular shorter length that offers better manouverability than the longer 23c and other long-handled razors like the Merkur Futur.
As the Merkur 33c is just a shorter version of the 23c it features the same three-piece design, meaning the handle, base plate and top plate are all separate. They join with a screw attached to the top plate that goes through the blade and baseplate and screws into the handle.
The base plate is closed comb in design, meaning it features a safety bar that reduces the amount of the blade taht is exposed to the skin. That makes it a milder shave but it has a more aggressive open-comb sibling, the Merkur 15c.
The Merkur 33c is made of Zamak. Often known as “pot metal” because as a widely-used material historically it was made by throwing scraps of various metals into a single crucible, Zamak is an alloy based on nickel, aluminium and copper. In fact the name is an acronym of those materials in German – Zink (zinc), Aluminium, Magnesium and Kupfer (copper).
Safety razors made from Zamak are then electroplated, usually in chrome. This presents two issues, although both are relatively minor.
Zamak razors are much cheaper than stainless steel safety razors like the Feather AS-D2 which usually cost more than $100 as they are easier to manufacture.
One is that Zamak is quite a soft metal. Historically there wasn’t much quality control that went into it and so it is often associated with poor quality goods. While this is not the case with most safety razors – especially from names like Merkur – it remains that it does create a weakness.
For instance, the central screw on a safety razor is crucial but safety razors are prone to being dropped. Plenty of safety razors meet their ends this way.
However the Merkur 33c should cope with this better than most razors because of its low weight and three-piece design. With three-pieces it is easy to swap out a broken piece for a replacement. In two-piece razors like the 34c where the base plate is attached to the handle this is more difficult.
The next issue is of Chrome plating. Although relatively rare, over time lots of plated finishes do chip and wear away. That can create an uneven surface and tarnish the finish of the razor. Most Zamak razors can avoid this if they are cared for properly.
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