02-09-2015, 05:00 PM
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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WARNING:  The images below are of used, some "retired," cartridges.  Although all have been rinsed, there is some residue on all of them that was not fully rinsed off.  If that grosses you out, don't look.

The cartridges below comprise one Feather (MR3 neo), one Gillette (Mach3), and two versions of the Schick Hydro (Hydro 5 and Hydro 3).

Over the years, I have used many cartridge razors.  The disposable -- non-interchangeable head -- razors all long since have gone to landfills, but I never have thrown out a handle for an interchangeable head cartridge razor, and most of the razors in my museum of handles have used (that is, worn-out) cartridges atop them. 
[Image: rqlTIDd.jpg]
Among those, the two Trac2 handles (the one resting in the yellow carrier and the marble handle ome to the right of it) had the longest service, probably more than 15 years combined. 

As an insatiably curious type, I have found it interesting how different makers of cartridge razors have approached the design and production issues.  Here is a brief close-up look at the cartridges in my “museum” for which direct replacements are still in production.  

Gillette Mach 3 - last used by the author in the late 20th century.

Front:  [Image: ihuZ0tb.jpg]
Back:  [Image: 4m7WJ2m.jpg]

The Gillette Mach 3 has a rather substantial connection between the handle and head.  The dimpleson the blades suggest that Gillette bonded the indvidual blades to the cartridge body by a pseudo rivet process.  There are no smoothing teeth between the blades, as there are in the two Schick Hydro examples below.  The head has one degree of freedom to rock:  up and down.

Schick Hydro 5 - last used by the author circa 2012.

It appears that the Schick Hydro cartridges are assembled in the U.S.A.:  

[Image: 3Xq0XTE.jpg]

However, I am fairly sure that I read a Schick advertisement somewhere that the blades themselves are manufactured by Wilkinson (same company) in Germany.  Does anybody else find it strange that the illustrations on the back of the Hydro 3 cartridge packaging are only of the Hydro 5 cartridge?  

Hydro 5 front:  [Image: 7deOjkn.jpg]

With flip-trimmer pulled back to look down into the guts of the cartridge from the rear: 

[Image: Mo9s4lX.jpg]

With flip trimmer closed, shot directly from the rear:  [Image: zxQQx4o.jpg]

With five blades, the Hydro 5 is very tall from top to bottom, so Schick put the lubricating reservoirs onto a thingy that can be rotated out of the way, for maneuvering under the nose, or locating precisely the edge of a sideburn or moustache.  The flip trimmer is inartfully named, because it has no blade of its own, and therefore does not trim anything; all it does is get some of the cartridge's height out of the way so that the five blades can be located onto the face more precisely.  Also note, about a quarter of the way from the top of the cartridge in the opened-up top-down shot, how the blue plastic structure has "fins" that extend toward the ends of the cartridge between the blades; with a better view of the analogous fins in the Hydro 3, I'll bring the subject back up below.  Like the Gillette Mach3, the Schick Hydro 5 has one degree of rocking freedom:  up and down, and cannot rock from side to side.  

Schick Hydro 3 - last used by the author December 2014.

Front:  [Image: yVm3vTy.jpg]

Rear:  [Image: aBe3tiH.jpg]

Another rear view, with a chunk of unrinsed soap product -- probably from the dish it was set down on -- stuck to one end of the cartridge:  [Image: iXNua6I.jpg]

The three blades of the Hydro 3 can be rinsed more easily than the five-blade Hydro 5 cartridge can, which makes the soap artifact ironic.  Note how deeply the white plastic fins of the cartridge go between the steel blades themselves.  If you look carefully at the photo of the Hydro 3 from the front, you will see that the fins extend across the width of the cartridge between the blades, and quite far forward toward the cutting edges of the blades.  The fins are rounded at the front edge like the tips of the teeth on a comb.  

Compared to the Hydro 5, the Hydro 3 is slimmer top-to-bottom, and more agile and nimble, so it has no need of a flip trimmer and does not have one; as noted earlier, it also easier to rinse than the Hydro 5 cartridge.  Because the Hydro 3 has fewer blades and lacks the complexity of the extra pivoting flip trimmer, the Hydro 3 cartridge is less expensive than the Hydro 5, and yet it shaves every bit as well.  That makes the choice between the two Hydro cartridges a no-brainer.  

The Mach3 cartridges were that last generation of Gillette cartridge that I used, and when I jumped ship from Gillette to Schick, the Schicks were a noticeable improvement over the Gillettes (on my face).  I have theorized that those comb-tooth-like fins, which tend to flatten the skin between the blades as the razor moves across the face, are the reason for the superiority of the Schicks over the Mach3 cartridges.  

Feather MR3 neo - last used by the author January 2015.

Front, natural ambient light:  [Image: ErMwYYZ.jpg]

Front, fill-in flash:  [Image: 22nqfdj.jpg]

Front, a different natural lighting set-up: [Image: S3g1bcz.jpg]

Rear.  Move along, not much to see here:  [Image: oij5HTO.jpg]

Clearly, a lot of engineering went into the Feather MR3 neo catridge.  The blades within the cartridge are Feathers, and are as wickedly sharp as the renowned Feather DE blades.  Probably recognizing that cartridge razor shavers will not take the precautions that users of double-edge razors do, Feather has strung a series of eight fine wires across the front of the blades, perpendicular to the edge, and parallel to the motion of the razor head when shaving -- at least that is the only explanation that makes sense to me.  Those wires probably also damp judder and flexing along the length of the blades.  And if that was the purpose, then the goal has been achieved, because it is almost impossible to cut oneself shaving with the MR3 neo razor.

Another thing that immediately strikes the eye is the perforated tube at the bottom of the cartridge.  That tube rotates freely, and appears to serve the same function that the fins between the blades of a Schick Hydro do, to smooth the skin before the blades come along.  I wonder, also, whether the perforations in the roller are there just for traction, like the tread of a tire, or whether the intended action is to stand up whiskers in the holes just before the blades arrive to slice them.  Again, I do not know, but I can say that there is no sense of the whiskers being tugged as the roller goes over them.  Finally, it appears that Feather employs two distinct types of lubrication, with a green strip toward the bottom, next to the metal roller, and three white strips (the lighting in two of the shots makes them look some color other than white) at the top of the cartridge.  

Unlike the Gillette Mach3 and the two Schick Hydro cartridges, the MR3 has two degrees of rocking freedom, both up-and-down and side-to-side, from a central pivot point.  Theoretically, the new Gillette ball-style cartridge design allows more than two degrees of freedom, but one wonders how much difference that makes over two degrees of freedom.   An interesting aside:  there is a control on the MR3 neo handle that allows the user to disable one of the two degrees of freedom, but the one that it disables is the up-and-down motion that the MR3 neo shares with the Gillette Mach3 and the two Schick Hydros, not the side-to-side rocking that the other three cartridges lack altogether.

1 1,273
 02-09-2015, 06:06 PM
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I love these reviews for each of these cart blades. I would love to test out the Feather if i could find it.

1 1,975
 02-09-2015, 06:27 PM
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
User Info
(02-09-2015, 06:06 PM)C-NoEviL Wrote: I love these reviews for each of these cart blades.  I would love to test out the Feather if i could find it.

BullGoose is a founder and contributing sponsor of this site.  Phil does sell the Feather MR3 neo.

1 1,273
 02-24-2015, 01:52 PM
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A unique and interesting article. When I use a cartridge, it's either a Schick Hydro 3 or Dorco Pace 3. The Dorco is a great value and for my face, works as well as the Schick.

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