by Garrick Dee
Updated December 5th, 2018
Wet shaving is gaining traction once again.
But the next question is you’ll probably is what is a great beginner razor?
There are a lot of options you’ll see in Amazon.
But one of the recommendations in forums and in online stores is the Merkur 38C or the “Classic Two-Piece DE razor“.
This is the bigger brother of the 34C because of the longer handle and the heftier weight. It tips the scales at 4 ounces or close to 120 grams.
This is one of the heaviest safety razors in the market. The heavy weight means a slightly more aggressive shave and better control.
The heads of the Merkur 34C and 38C are identical. And biggest difference would be the handle length and design.
The 34C has a stubbed knurling design and measures approximately 3″ in length while the 38C has a barber pole knurling and is longer by 0.75″.
If you’ve read my review about the 34C you’ll see that a lot of expert wet shavers like Nick Shaves recommends this to beginners because it isn’t too aggressive.
But if you want a close shave you can still put in a sharp blade in there like a feature if you want a closer shave.
For men with bigger hands
So you’re a beginner with big hands, this is a better option because it has longer handle.
This razor is heavy and is solidly built but that added weight adds to the aggressiveness. If you’re a beginner, avoid putting any weight or you’ll risk a lot of blood loss.
A quick look at the features
- Has a barber pole knurling design
- Handle length is around 3.75 inches
- Weighs around 4 ounces
- Chrome plated finish
- Type: 2 piece
- Aggressiveness: 5/10
- Blades included: 1
- Very good craftsmanship and has good weight
- The weight allows you to use a lighter pressure which means less irritation
- Blades will align well when you tighten the handle
- More aggressive compared to the 34C because it’s heavier
- Barber pole handle design and length may not be for everyone (some like it and some do not because it slips and it is too long)
This razor is a bigger version of the 34C in terms of handle length and weight.
I’ve already mentioned it in the intro but I’ll mention it here again. The handle length of this razor is around 3.75” and it weighs around 4 ounces.
The stubble design is also different
Instead of using the classic stubbed knurling this razor uses a barber pole design. It doesn’t have as a secure a grip as the 34C design if you’re holding it with your right hand as compared to your left.
Similar to the 34C, the 38C is a two piece razor. This means it has two parts – the blade plate/handle assemble and the top plate.
You attach the blade on the top piece in between the poles and then screw the handle.
The blade automatically lines up as you tighten the two pieces together.
Blade bending is minimal and the alignment on both sides is equal so expect a consistent shave on both sides.
This razor has a chrome finish and brass frame as a majority of Merkur DE razors have. It also comes with one Merkur stainless steel blade.
Being a two piece razor makes it easier to load the blade because there are less parts to align.
I’ve shown you earlier how the two piece design looks like.
Blade alignment is also good so expect an even alignment each and every time you load up the blade. Just to be sure when tightening the blade, hold on to both sides of the head while tightening this.
It is important to always check blade alignment so that the shave is even on both sides of the razor – you’ll want that consistency.
Both the 38C and the 34C have similar head design. So in essence this is a mild razor but since it has more weight to it – that adds to the aggressiveness factor.
The heavier weight means you can use a less aggressive blade and let the weight of the razor do the work for you.
Unlike lighter razors where the tendency is to push down, you won’t have a problem with this.
When you pair it with a really sharp blade like a Feather, it can give you a really close shave in just two passes.
First pass with the grain, second pass against the grain.
But if you have sensitive skin please avoid going against the grain. If you want more tips in wet shaving, just read this article.
Unlike the Merkur 34C that has a gritty style knurling, the 38C comes with a classic barber pole design on the top and bottom of the handle that still will give you a pretty solid grip.
The handle itself has a spiral knurling design that isn’t very deep. And since it goes in one direction it will give a better grip if you hold this with your left hand than with your right hand.
This is a pretty long razor at around 4.2 inches long, the handle alone is 3.75 inches long which is longer than the Merkur 34C!
Both will yield the same shave quality because each uses the same head. Biggest difference would be weight and that adds to the aggressiveness in the 38C.
|Overall Length||4.2 inches|
|Handle Length||3.75 inches|
Consumers like this product because had good weight, consistent and not too aggressive.
Some newbie shavers also chimed in and one said it allowed a neophyte like him to achieve a BBS shave out of the gate.
More room for error
Remember that this razor has the same head as the 34C. The main difference is the length of the handle and weight so there is more learning curve involved.
Not so deep barber pole knurling
The feedback on handle grip is mixed some find it solid while others say that it is slippery so this could all boil down to personal preference.
In terms of fit and finish, it is also mixed but a majority liked how it had a smooth high quality finish (at least on the visible parts) but there are also complaints of poor craftsmanship even so it was still able to perform its main function which is to shave.
You can buy this classic looking safety razor from Amazon for just a little over $60. And it’ll will be eligible for their free 2-day shipping if you join Prime. Another place to buy this would be in Shaving Shack.
This razor is another good alternative to newbie wet shavers looking to get into a resurgent DE shaving community.
The longer handle and heavier weight make this suitable for men with larger hands.
The barber pole design is a mixed bag – some say it provide good grip while others say it was slippery.
Overall this is a very good DE and versatile razor that will give experienced users a close shave when paired with a sharp blade like a Feather blade.
For newbies looking to wet shave for the first time, they may want to pair this with a less aggressive blade like the Derby but you’ll have to look at a lot of factors like your skill level, the coarseness of your facial hair and your skin’s sensitivity level when choosing one.
If you have coarse beard, you’ll be better off with a sharper blade to lessen the tugging and pulling that can also cause irritation.
For men with sensitive skin you can opt for an Astra. It is close in terms of sharpness to the Feather but it is less forgiving – this is a popular option for men with sensitive skin.