01 Apr Our Search for the Best Damascus Straight Razor
Damascus steel is legendary – literally. Tales about this ancient steel have been passed around for centuries, and its easy to find knives and daggers with ornate and beautiful Damascus blades. But it tends to be overlooked as a straight razor material, with most manufacturers opting for the more popular stainless or carbon steel, which are cheaper and easier to get right. But we’re here to tell you that a Damascus straight razor is an excellent choice, and we set out to find a good one to bump up the morning shaving routine.
What is Damascus Steel?
Not all Damascus steel you find on the Internet is actually Damascus steel.
Traditional Damascus was made in Damascus from the 3rd to 17th centuries from different alloys of wootz steel imported from India or Sri Lanka. During forging, these alloys were layered thickly in method that resulted in the ornate, wavy lines that gives Damascus steel its unique look.
Over time the exact technique used to forge Damascus was lost. People have experimented and found various methods that they believe might replicate the original – but there’s no way to really know if these methods are the actual method.
Today, most knives claiming to be made from Damascus steel are made using san-mai or pattern welding, which can achieve a similar layered look. That’s cool and all – but it’s not true Damascus.
So until we magically come across the right method, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with the closest we can find. And for straight razors, that means Vintage Gentleman’s VG-10 Straight Razor.
Vintage Gentleman’s Damascus Straight Razor is classy and heavy-duty. The blade is crafted from 1095 and 15N20 steel that have been folded over each other repeatedly, resulting in that beautiful Damascus Steel look.
15N20 is a popular steel for contemporary Damascus makers, as it is super tough and easy to heat treat; the nickel in there is responsible for the shiny parts of the blade. 1095 steel, on the other hand, is a .95% carbon steel that holds an edge well, and strikes a chord between hardness and strength, thanks to its low manganese content; manganese often results in a brittle blade.
A gorgeous blade paired with a gorgeous handle, this is a premium razor that will likely last you decades of use. At $135, it’s a bit pricey new – but right now you snag one for 35% off.
Cheaper Options: Poshland, Shavesmith, and More
Like we said, it can be difficult to find a real Damascus steel straight razor. Many affordable ones out there are simple forged steel acid etched to look like the layers and design of Damascus steel. Our scouring of the Internet turned up a few custom razor makers, like Shavesmith and Jacob Ray – but they get expensive fast.
Amazon also turned up a few decent options, like Poshland’s RZ-29 Custom Handmade Damascus Steel Straight Razor. This razor looks promising, with a beautiful handmade rosewood handle. And the blade looks thick and quality, but there seems to be some disagreement as to whether it’s true layered “Damascus” or just a design.