05-03-2012, 08:02 AM
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Both of these razors, the Heavy Flat Top (G-Bar, Slim-V, we really don't know the official name) and the Featherweight harken back to the 1950s. From the little bit of research I've done I believe that the HFT was out first, followed shortly by the FW. As you can see in my pictures below the head shape of these 2 razors are almost identical. I've read that some say they are the same head, but just from looking at them side by side I can see a couple differences, though definitely minor. The name itself gives you an idea of what they were after in designing these razors, a flat top! Some advertisements I've seen actually suggest to use these razors with the head flat against your face. This, unfortunately, isn't what I've found to work best for me. I'll start that way and then lower the handle just a bit so the head is barely off of my face and this is the angle that works best for me. Both razor utilize the solid guard bar as opposed to the closed-combs of the 1912s. I personally get a much better shave from the solid guard bar over the closed-combs.

[Image: bdea8dc6.jpg]

[Image: 9979c4f6.jpg]

[Image: 4c61b6e4.jpg]

[Image: 03c2041e.jpg]

Other than overall looks the only other thing really different with these razors is the total weight. From their names I'm hoping you don't need me to go into further detail. If you do, then please sell off all of your safety razors and go back to using disposables so you don't hurt yourself. There is some debate in the wetshaving world as to whether or not razor weight contributes to the aggressiveness of the razor. From using both of these razors my conclusion is that a heavier razor does lend itself to being more efficient. I can achieve the same results with both razors but a different number of passes is required. The FW always needs more face time to get the same result as the HFT for me. If I do 3 passes with the HFT, then the FW will require at least more touch-up if not a full extra pass. The more passes I perform, the more likely I am to have irritation. This is why the FW, despite its lighter overall weight, typically gives me some irritation while the HFT does not.


While these razors share very similar, if not the same, heads their handles are completely opposite. To me the HFT is one of the sexiest razors our there. The plating on these are phenomenal which keeps these looking great even as they are 50-60 years old. This is great except that it keeps the price of these razors a good 3-4 times higher than other SEs. The knurling on the HFT handle is definitely not rough, but I've never had one slip out of my hand either. Some have made comments that the bottom nub is annoying, but for me it fits perfectly in my grip right between my pinky and ring fingers. The bakelite material of the FW is very easy to grip thought not the prettiest thing to feast your eyes on. You can definitely zip this razor all around your face so long as you keep a light pressure


I could easily use the HFT as my daily razor. It's efficient enough and very smooth. A MMOC it is not, but still quite capable. I rarely use the FW anymore, however, if I have a bad windburn, sunburn, or crazy razor burn then I would definitely consider using the FW if I was in a must shave situation. You must be careful with the FW not to add pressure during your shave because of how light it is. Subconsciously you start pressing down with it more since it's harder to feel on your face, but this is not necessary and will likely lead to a good bit of irritation.

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 05-03-2012, 08:57 AM
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Sharpspine and I hatched this collaboration of reviewing the same razors and putting our independently derived reviews in the same thread.

GEM Featherweight and G-Bar

These razors feature the same shave heads, or so it's said, so that's why we're reviewing them together. That’s where the physical similarities end.

I’m going to give my first impressions of many months ago, but for the purposes of this review I revisited the HFT to get fresh impressions. That is below.

The Featherweight is, as the name implies, very lightweight due to the plastic handle. I’m sure the handle can break, but I’ve never seen a broken one. Or one with cracks in it for that matter. They can get dented if they aren’t loved for a time and put in a drawer. Most of the dents I see are on the base of the handle. I like the handle on the Featherweight. You might think it would be slick, but it isn’t. Combined with the light weight it just works great for me. The Featherweight (FW from now on) weighs 30grams.

[Image: DSC03468.jpg]

The G-Bar or more correctly the Heavy Flat Top (That's what GEM called it, but it's HFT from now on in this review) is an all metal razor, and is significantly heavier than the Featherweight. The first time I handled this razor during a shave my impression was that the handle on this razor is the pits. It appears to have a gripping surface, but the surface seen is all rounded nubs and they’re slick. That bothers me, but surprisingly (to me) it doesn’t bother lots of other folks. For me, the weight combined with the slick grip makes for a razor that I didn’t like and I felt the shave suffered compared to the FW. I’m at a loss to understand why that was, except for what I already stated. The weight of the HFT is 60 grams, exactly twice as heavy as the FW.

[Image: DSC03463.jpg]

Putting both razors side by side the dimensions are close enough by eye as to be identical. The head on both is 1 11/16" wide at the widest part (the spring below the head), and 1 1/8" in depth. The handle from the head to the base is 3 3/16" on the FW and measures just 1/16" shorter on the HFT (longest dimension). Neither handle is designed to be replaceable. Both razors share similar heads.

These shave great for most folks. For me the Featherweight was best, but it’s me who can’t get along with the G-Bar, other folks love the thing. They are on the mild side for a single edge (SE) razor, mild enough to be a good introduction to SE razors. I learned to blade shave this time around on a Featherweight. To put it into perspective, these razors might possibly be a 3-4 setting on a Slim or Fatboy, but that’s just a WAG. Despite the mildness, they will give a great shave. Not as close as a more aggressive razor, but they will produce a BBS with just slightly more effort. I learned to shave using a Featherweight and back then it did draw blood now and again. Today I marvel at that. If I worked at it I probably could find blood with one, but with minimal SE expertise these are useable w/o seeing blood. Sort of like the Tech razors of the double edge world, they are quite forgiving. They ARE NOT Tech mild though! They’d be good for the beginning SE razor user, but aren’t too mild for the experienced shaver.

That was then, this is now...
It’s months after my first shave with the HFT, and in the interest of fairness for this review I had to use it again. Heck, I’m not the same shaver I was many months ago. How will I like it today?

On 12/22/11 I lathered up with p.160 and loaded the HFT with a vintage carbon steel GEM blade. Since it’s a blade that will rust, when I first loaded it I put a few drops of mineral oil (actually Skin-So-Soft) on both sides of the blade to prevent rust. Frankly, the shave was every bit as good as I’ve had many times with the FW. My big concern with the razor is still the handle. While it didn’t pose a problem (it didn’t the last time either) it still felt slippery to me, and I prefer sharp edges that facilitate a light grip. The reason slippery doesn’t feel right to me is because of the heavier weight of the HFT contributing to the “It’s going to slip out of my hand” feel. The HFT doesn’t have those sharp edges as I already wrote. Bottom line... While I’m not a big fan of the handle, I can use this razor.

On 12/23/11 I used exactly the same products and the same blade for todays shave with the FW. I re-oiled the blade after the shave on the 22nd , to prevent rust, and loaded it into the FW. I duplicated as much as possible the shave I used for the HFT; soap, brush, face prep, etc. The razor is an old friend, so there were no surprises, I like this razor. It’s lightweight, and for me that’s a plus. I count on a very light grip for the “pressure” required to maintain razor contact with the face, not the weight of the razor. I was ultra conscious of the handle. The handle on the FW doesn’t have sharp ridges either, but sharper than on the HFT, but the light weight of the razor and the very coarse ridges molded into the handle make it work far better than it should.

Both razors shaved exactly the same for me (they didn’t the first time I used the HFT with the HFT being the loser then). Both razors share the same head, so one would expect a similar shave to result, or at least I would expect that. Of the 2 I prefer the Featherweight, but it’s no secret that if I have the choice of a lightweight razor I’ll choose it over a heavier one every time, everything else being equal. I want to state again though that both resulted in a similar shave this time.

Neither of these are on my short list, but I have them and use the Featherweight once in a while to say “Hi” to an old friend. I still have a problem with the handle/weight combination of the HFT, but at least I can coexist with it now. I was going to eventually part with it, but now I’ll hold onto it and once in a while use it as well. Neither of these razors will be used frequently however. I’m an aggressive razor junkie, and these simply aren’t aggressive enough to be an everyday razor for me.

If I had a bad ice cube the night before, that would be a really good morning for the Featherweight or HFT if you get my drift... or just for kicks. Most often it’ll just be for kicks; really, I swear I rarely get a bad ice cube . Plus the Featherweight took my shaving virginity this time around with a blade and you’ll never forget your first, or so they say.

Either razor would make a good introduction to SE shaving because you probably won’t find a milder SE razor.

Just a word about that (mild SE shaver). The HFT and FW are as modern as my SE razors get and I have no interest in acquiring a “Clik” (or is it a pushbutton?) GEM. It very well may be milder. As the GEMs get more modern they seem to also get milder, so there may very well be at least one model milder than the FW or HFT. I don’t know, and unless a more modern SE razor gets thrown into my lap (not likely) I’ll never know.

Oh, and the blade I used, the vintage GEM “Duridium process" blade, how was it? It’s not as good as a modern blade. I’ll hold onto them as curiosities, but I doubt I’ll use any more of them. I'm not that nostalgic.

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 05-03-2012, 09:07 AM
#3
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Good reviews, guys. These are two of my favorite SE razors. Thanks!

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 05-03-2012, 10:48 AM
#4
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Excellent review, gentlemen!

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 05-03-2012, 11:45 AM
#5
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I just used my FW Sunday. I like light weight razors. The only GEM/Ever-Ready/Star razors I dislike are the OCMM, the ER Streamline, and the ER 1924. From the 1901 Gem Jr. lather catcher up to, and including, the Gem Countour, I get a good shave everytime, usally without weepers. These reviews are great!

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 05-03-2012, 10:35 PM
#6
  • MrGuy
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Very nice reviews! One could also group other "newer" GEM razors, like the Contours and Push Button, in this review family. They have a similar head to these two, and to me at least, provide about the same shave.
Brian, there are at least 2 types of FW head. One like yours in the pic, and one with an identical head to the HFT. If you guys would like, I'll get a couple pics and post them here, might take a day or two since I think those razors have already went into boxes in preparation for my upcoming move. Also, FWIW, the HFT has two handle designs (purely cosmetic). Obviously the change doesn't make any difference in the shave, but if you're a bit OCD with SE collecting it's nice to have both.

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 05-04-2012, 05:01 AM
#7
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The FW isn't a 'looker', but I had many great shaves with it and it was my favorite SE until I picked up a Contour. The head designs are similar, but the Contour has a great handle that's more comfortable and gives the razor a more refined look.

The GBar is another great shaver. In fact, I've never had a SE that didn't give a great shave. When I compare a Gem to a Gillette, I think of the old battle between Apple and IBM.

Anyone who hasn't tried a SE razor is really missing out. As I'm surely missing out on the injector experience. One day I'll drag myself away from my slant and give one a try.

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 05-04-2012, 05:15 AM
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(05-03-2012, 10:35 PM)MrGuy Wrote: Very nice reviews! One could also group other "newer" GEM razors, like the Contours and Push Button, in this review family. They have a similar head to these two, and to me at least, provide about the same shave.
Brian, there are at least 2 types of FW head. One like yours in the pic, and one with an identical head to the HFT. If you guys would like, I'll get a couple pics and post them here, might take a day or two since I think those razors have already went into boxes in preparation for my upcoming move. Also, FWIW, the HFT has two handle designs (purely cosmetic). Obviously the change doesn't make any difference in the shave, but if you're a bit OCD with SE collecting it's nice to have both.

Andy, we'd absolutely love to have your pictures & knowledge added to this & all reviews. Thank you!

(05-04-2012, 05:01 AM)Johnny9 Wrote: The FW isn't a 'looker', but I had many great shaves with it and it was my favorite SE until I picked up a Contour. The head designs are similar, but the Contour has a great handle that's more comfortable and gives the razor a more refined look.

The GBar is another great shaver. In fact, I've never had a SE that didn't give a great shave. When I compare a Gem to a Gillette, I think of the old battle between Apple and IBM.

Anyone who hasn't tried a SE razor is really missing out. As I'm surely missing out on the injector experience. One day I'll drag myself away from my slant and give one a try.

Johnny9, I think you & I like similar shaving styles. We both like slanted DEs & SEs. As I also really enjoy injectors I'll highly suggest that you try one sooner rather than later. My favorites are the Schick E2 & I2 HydroMagic.

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 05-04-2012, 12:51 PM
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Andy, I concur with Brian SS, we definitely want the pics here. That's what this thread is all about.

BTW, if anyone has anything to add to any of my reviews, go for it. Don't even ask. I view them as a work in progress.

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 05-06-2012, 12:11 PM
#10
  • MrGuy
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Minor Changes in the Major Models: Feather Weight Edition

Here are some of the small changes made to the different models. As you can likely guess from the pictures alone, these changes have little to no effect on the shave, but are important to note for possible dating info.

First, the Feather Weight. They came in chrome and gold plate. Some have little bars on the bottom of the handle, some do not. There are at least two different head styles, and at least three handle colors.
Here, I have a gold and a chrome. The gold head has the bar, and a lighter "cream" color handle.
[Image: DSC01013.jpg]
Next, a closer look at the head design. The chrome model has an identical head to the Heavy Flat Top, the gold has a little less material on the side. On the gold model, the base plate itself is a bit thinner from top to bottom.
[Image: DSC01015.jpg]
A look at the top of the head shows the gold to have a smooth tab. The chrome has ridges, again identical to the HFT.
[Image: DSC01016.jpg]

There is also a black handle version, that if I'm remembering correctly, has a smooth safety bar instead of the ridged one consistent to the other FW and HFT models. I have not tracked down a black handle, so I might be incorrect with that. I should also note that these chrome and gold models are for reference only, I don't know if these small changes are specific to plating. As in, you might find a gold plate that looks like my chrome plate and vise versa.

Minor Changes in the Major Models: Heavy Flat Top Edition.

On to the Heavy Flat Top. The name, as others have stated, is a bit of a mystery. I have seen a counter top display selling them as "Heavy Flat Top", but all evidence has some how gone missing, even in the nearly limitless boundaries of the internet. The name "G-Bar" is generally known to be a nickname given by a user with no better thing to call it. It seems GEM was more focused on blade sales and adds at the time of the HFT, making this one a difficult nut to crack. What ever you prefer to call it, it's a nice razor and like many of the GEMs, has some minor changes to design for no confirmed reason.
The only changes I have tracked down are in the handle. As you can see, some versions have a wider smooth portion when compared to others.
Front of the handles.
[Image: DSC01009.jpg]
This continues to the back of the handles.
[Image: DSC01010.jpg]

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 05-06-2012, 12:35 PM
#11
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Excellent Andy! Thank you.

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