Exclusive: A hands-on, first look at The Blackland razor

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by Darkbulb, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    [​IMG]

    This will be something very different, and long, that I hope you will all enjoy - a rather exclusive ‘First Look’ at the Blackland razor.

    At the time of writing this, June 9, 2015, there are no other third-party reviews posted of this razor - and this “First Look/Review” will be posted simultaneously on both TSD and TSR for anyone interested to read. This review might be re-posted on other forums later but for today these are the two sites that will receive it.
    Aren't you special?

    Background and Disclaimers
    Some things to get out of the way before we dig into the razor itself:
    Shane, of Blackland Razors, reached out to me some time ago with the idea of having me test out his razor as he was getting close to both having a production ready razor as well as launching his Kickstarter campaign.

    I want to be very clear in that at no point in time did Shane request any sort of special treatment or that his razor should be reviewed in a particular way. What you read here is 100% my own thoughts on the razor with nothing added to or removed by Shane.

    Shane did do me the favor of doing a pre-check of the review to spot any true factual mistakes such as weight, dimensions, etc but nothing pertaining to subjective thoughts on the design or performance.

    The razor I am reviewing is an early version that have some slight differences to what the final production version will look like;
    • my model has a feature that prevents the head from being compatible with other, standard three-piece razor handles. This will be removed for the production version so that the head can be freely attached to any regular razor handle, and

    • my model does not have a maker’s mark on it. This is something that Shane is looking into and it’s something that the production units may receive. I will let Shane address that as he gets final words from the shop.

    The razor I am reviewing was provided to me at no cost and is free for me to keep - or send back - with no strings attached.
    With that out of the way, let’s move on the more interesting part of all of this;
    The Blackland Razor.


    Evaluation
    How do you evaluate a razor apart from how it shaves as everything, including that experience, is highly subjective?

    One way to do it, is to break it down into aspects of the razor and try to, when possible, compare those aspects to razors that people may have had first-hand experiences with.

    I took a closer look at these four aspects;
    • Aesthetics (talk about subjective) and color/finish,
    • Overall machining/manufacturing quality,
    • Razor Head design, and
    • The Shave
    ...and of course snapped a bunch of photos. :)

    Aesthetics

    I’ll be honest - this is a sexy looking razor.
    It’s big, black and rough.
    Not only does it look mean but the weight of it also reinforces that impression.
    It’s the kind of razor you want to leave out on your bathroom sink for your friends to see - or bring with you to the gym and shave there. It is, in lack of a better word, a manly-looking razor.
    [​IMG]

    In addition to the actual design there is also the topic of the color/finish that I get a feeling will be one of the most important decision making data points for a lot of people.

    So the razor is black - but it’s not a deep, solid painted/coated black like say the iKon B1 razor.

    Ikon B1 next to the Blackland
    [​IMG]

    To quote Shane:
    “The black oxide finish gives a uniquely, imperfect black finish that shows the machining marks.
    The finish will wear, but it won't chip or flake. Black oxide is a chemical conversion process, not a coating. The surface molecules are converted to black oxide during the process so the only way to remove them is through physically marring the steel. Over time the finish will wear and develop a patina unique to that specific razor. Black oxide is used on rifle barrels and the razor, similarly, will show its own battle scars.”


    When I first got the razor I will be honest in that I did take a second look.
    I had expected it to be that black, solid paint that’s shiny and deep - instead the razor already exhibit a light ‘patina’ in certain areas. I could see very faint traces of the machining process.

    It took me a day or so until I warmed up to the look of it but now I admit that I am rather drawn to it and to how the razor, my razor, will ‘age’ and show its patina through usage.

    In much it’s like the pride film photographers praise the aging signs of well worn cameras - like Winogrand’s Leica M3 below. People even go out of their way to enhance/speed up that aging process because of how unique it makes the item look.

    Winogrand's Leica M3 - beautiful
    [​IMG]
    I also like that it will ‘wear’ not flake or chip like a painted/coated razor would.
    I did. on my model, perceive the oxidation to be a bit ‘lighter’ on the top cap than on the rest of the razor that felt more evenly, almost solid, black. That may well be because of it being the largest flat area on the razor and that makes the color come across differently. If possible I would had loved for the topcap to have the same ‘richer’ black that the rest of the razor have.


    Overall Machining/Manufacturing Quality

    The first thing you notice when you pick up the Blackland is that it’s a heavy, solid piece of equipment. Nothing about it feels flimsy or cheap.

    The razor will, initially, come in two configurations (all made in 303 Stainless steel);
    • 70mm handle giving a total weight of 90g, and
    • 101mm handle giving a total weight of 110g.
    The razor I have been using is the latter version with the longer handle.

    Traditional three-piece design. All components fits very well together.
    [​IMG]

    A highly unscientific way for me to quickly gauge how well a razor is machined is to dis- and re-assemble the razor a few times. I did it with the Wolfman razor just a few days ago and last night I did the same thing with the Blackland. If people saw me they’d probably question my sanity as I sit there in complete silence putting the head on...and taking it off, but to me it really helps assess ‘quality’.

    I also looked at things like;
    • the edges on any part to see if they are smooth to the touch, and
    • if flat surfaces are truly flat and is there any sign of a ‘Weber wave’-effect with a loaded blade.
    The good news with the Blackland is that the machine shop did a great job.

    The blade lay very flat and no sign of 'wave' or uneven blade exposure
    [​IMG]

    The head comes off and on with no resistance. It’s as buttery-smooth as the Wolfman - and that’s saying quite a lot. There is also no wave in a loaded blade - it lies perfectly flat - and any edges feels well rounded/finished.

    If I would call out anything here, and now I’m nitpicking, it would be that the grooves in the handle felt a bit too prominent/sharp to my touch. I would had liked for them to feel a bit more ‘refined’ and softer. On the other hand the handle does end up feeling very secure and there is absolutely no feeling of that this handle would ever slip in my hand during a shave.

    Feels very secure in the hand
    [​IMG]


    Razor head design
    Closed comb/safety bar design.

    The head has a rather different angled look to it and I found that when I was shaving it made me angle the head much like a SE razor. The prominent angles on the head made finding that ‘sweet spot’ easier. Due to that angle your face presses against much of the exposed blade and there is very little audible feedback so it’s a relatively quiet razor.

    Showing off the angles on the razor head
    [​IMG]

    One thing I noticed was that the blade edges/tabs are almost, but not completely, covered by the ends of the razor head. There is just the smallest amount of the tabs sticking out and it did make me wish - for OCD and perfectionist reasons more than anything related to performance - that the head had extended just 2-3mm more so that the entire blade-tabs would be covered and the razor head ends were completely leveled.

    About 2mm of the tabs sticking out on each side
    [​IMG]
    The Shave
    So, is this a sexy shelf-warmer or is it good enough for you to work on getting that personal patina wear to appear?

    I loaded it up with a Rapira blade and took it for a spin.
    As mentioned the shape of the head did make me adopt a more shallow/SE-like angle when I shaved. The first pass was a bit of a surprise - it felt very mild.

    I continued and worked my way to under the nose, my throat and chin. It felt mild but not as mild as, say the Pils 101 or Gillette Bluetip. I’d say maybe the equivalence of a ‘5’ on a Gillette Slim.

    My second pass felt equally mild but still very efficient. There were a few moments where I decided to tempt fate a bit and almost ‘try’ to cut myself but the razor didn’t want any of that and just shaved away without any bloodletting. I was very clean shaven after those two passes - and my face felt smooth to the touch.

    Summary
    A black, sexy all stainless steel razor with a nice heft to it.

    The ridges in the handle felt a bit too pronounced for my hands but on the other hand it provides a very secure grip.

    Oxidized blackening process that does not look or act like a black painted razor and will allow for the razor to ‘age’ as you use it (I am really looking forward to seeing how mine will look).

    Mid-mild razor head with an interesting angle to it that gave a very clean, efficient shave.

    If this is what a pre-production version looks like I would be very, very intrigued about what is coming out through the Kickstarter.

    June 11, 2015:
    http://www.blacklandrazors.com/kickstarter

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
    joshsmith, crackstar, preidy and 30 others like this.
  2. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
    Thanks for the review. Interesting razor. I am looking forward to seeing more.
     
    Dubs, PatrickA51 and Darkbulb like this.
  3. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    Thanks - it was fun to write up :)
    I linked this post to @ShaneS so he can field any questions anyone might have.
     
    ShaneS likes this.
  4. RaZorBurn123

    RaZorBurn123 waiting hardily...............

    Very solid review. You know I don't mind the way the handle is exclusive to the head as it is right now. Very stylish design, I actually prefer a milder razor over an aggressive razor. Solid. Very solid.
     
    preidy, PatrickA51, BamaT and 2 others like this.
  5. ShaneS

    ShaneS Well-Known Member

    Supporting Vendor
    Great post, Darkbulb. I designed the head so that only a very tiny portion of the blade tab is exposed as a compromise between looks and the option to assemble the razor using the tabs as I sometimes do. Aside from that I have nothing to add. I'll be popping in if anybody directly asks me a question or if I can help, but mostly I'll stay out the way and let you guys discuss without me looking over your collective shoulder.
     
  6. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    Looks badass and your review was great. Look forward to seeing the sale price once it hits the market.
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  7. david of central florida

    david of central florida Rhubarb Rubber

    great review
    One question;
    would you buy one at the asking price?
    I'm not saying the price is to high. I'm just curious if knowing what you do now, and had to send that one back. would you go and order one?
     
    45auto, Herm2502 and Darkbulb like this.
  8. clint64

    clint64 Blind Squirrel

    Thanks for such a detailed review. I appreciated the way you related the razor's design and performance to more well known brands.
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  9. Mr. Shaverman

    Mr. Shaverman Well-Known Member

    Great review!
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  10. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Looks nice. Enjoy!
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  11. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    I think @ShaneS may already have the pricing details worked out?
     
  12. ShaneS

    ShaneS Well-Known Member

    Supporting Vendor
    I do. I'm not sure about the linking rules outside of the vendor corner, so go to the "blog" portion of my website. Pricing and rewards levels options are listed in the most recent post.
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  13. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    Would I buy one after having experienced it?
    Yes. I can honestly say I would. It's a razor I feel very happy about having in my collection. It's unique in enough ways for me to feel that I could 'justify' it.
    Now I just need to figure out how I can get it into rotation so frequently that I can develop some patina. :D
    (And no, I'm not doing a pass-around! ;) )
     
    macaronus, Tdmsu and BamaT like this.
  14. ugadawg

    ugadawg Well-Known Member

    I really like the look of the head. It's different than most razors. The only thing I'm not sure I like are the handle options. I like bulldog style handles, but 70mm might be a little too short. I hope the kickstarter launch goes well. It's always good to have more choices.
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  15. ShaneS

    ShaneS Well-Known Member

    Supporting Vendor
    Something I don't think Darkbulb touched on that is worth noting:

    Because the finish is not a coating, as with all uncoated stainless razors, it can and will flash rust where it meets the blade if left wet. The blade should be removed between shaves to avoid this.
     
    youngunn, macaronus, Slow Joe and 2 others like this.
  16. JR Reyes

    JR Reyes I scream for....chicken wings??

    Nice review.

    I would have done a passaround....just saying.
     
    Dubs, Tdmsu, IDuck and 3 others like this.
  17. BamaT

    BamaT Well-Known Member

    Good review, very sound process. I really like the looks, color, and lines of this razor, and that it will develop a patina.
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  18. Drygulch

    Drygulch Snowballs

    Supporting Vendor
    I was going to ask if that might be an option!
     
    Dubs, Tdmsu, BamaT and 1 other person like this.
  19. Omaney

    Omaney Well-Known Member

    That's a sexy piece of steel. I'm intrigued. Might just have to delay my buying freeze.
     
    Darkbulb likes this.
  20. NewellVW

    NewellVW Well-Known Member

    Really well done, informative review! A good looking hunk O' metal too! Looks...........stealthy.
     
    Darkbulb likes this.

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