05-13-2021, 10:43 AM
  • DanLaw
  • Just an old slow fat man
  • Peachtree City, GA
User Info

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Haircut & Shave has been aggressively expanding their P076 (Positive blade exposure 0,76mm blade gap) premium razor range in a wide variety of metals including 17-4 Stainless Steel, Titanium, Copper and now 316 Stainless Steel.  After all the semi exotic metal P076 releases, one can’t help but question why a 316 Stainless Steel razor release would be newsworthy, let alone one of the most significant razor offerings of 2021.  Well, let me summarize with a fourfold response:

1: it sets the standard for fit and finish of any high polished razor offered in 316 Stainless Steel

2: it sets that highest standard of high polish fit and finish whilst being priced 33% below the nearest competition

3: it requires no signup list to purchase

4: H&S has designed a new classic aesthetic handle that, while seemingly mundane, completely changes the P076 shaving experience for the better

For those unfamiliar with the Haircut & Shave story, please abide a quick summary.  Aji Sunjaya is the owner and driving force behind H&S, bringing a philosophy emphasizing comfortable shaving attributes with efficiency far beyond what would normally be associated with those levels of comfort.  Prior to entering the shaving hardware business, Aji had been in the men’s grooming business for 20 years and has owned/operated a couple barbershops in Eastern Maryland for the past decade.  Although very successful in his core business, he has decided to use his experience and resources to bring readily available, extremely high quality razors canvassing a wide range of metals and pricing to the shaving market.  In the 3 years since releasing the N075Al DE razor (in my estimation the finest shaving mild razor available at any price) he has gone on to release the P076 premium series in 17-4, Ti and Copper all of which I wholeheartedly believe are the absolute best built razors ever made in their respective metals.

I have hosted passarounds reviewing the H&S N075 SS, SS Black T & Al and P076 17-4, Ti & Copper concluding they all stellar with exhaustingly detailed metrics regarding the geometries and dimensions.  As all P076 head dimensions are identical with the sole difference residing in the underlying metal (making a much bigger difference in the shave experience than one could imagine), this review will focus on the metal, manufacturing quality, handle impacts and shave characteristics.  For those unfamiliar with the P076 17-4 passaround review replete with full dimensional analysis, it can be accessed thru http://shavenook.com/showthread.php?tid=60455 - there one will find all the dimensional details in photographic form.

Irrespective of the array of razors reviewed by various artisans, the packaging of H&S always impresses deeply.  The blow-molded case makes a strong statement of the craftsman’s pride that goes into these razors even before actually seeing the product.  For those experienced with precision instruments, it is customary that the best manufacturers use cases constructed of this material or wood to protect and showcase their wares.  Upon opening, the buyer is bedazzled by the beautiful contrast of the most highly and perfectly polished razors in the industry set in the all black case.  To say it breathtaking is really understating the experience.  Even having opened half a dozen different H&S razors scores of times over the past year and a half, it has never been less than visual rapture each time; the sheer presence of the razors is astonishing.

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Polishing, precision design, fit and finish are why one pays a premium for a luxury razor.  In all these regards, H&S delivers like no other DE razor and at a discount compared to any competitor remotely close.  Passaround participants are encouraged to carefully examine this razor – critically.  Focus on the precision of the cuts, particularly the channels: take note of how the complex transitions are perfectly incorporated as though flowing liquid.  Hold the edges of the top cap and baseplate against a lighted surface to take in how perfectly straight they are executed – run the back of hand against the edges to confirm the visual impression.  Thread and rethread the top cap into the handle to appreciate how easily it starts and how smoothly it transitions and flows along its entire length.  Carefully inspect the polishing around the underside of the top cap – there are no gaps, none.  This level of fit and finish takes an entire day of handwork for each razor AFTER machining: at $400 it is an incredible bargain, even were it $600 it would be a bargain – try pricing a truly world class polisher to equal this level of finish.  Craftsmanship costs, period.

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With the P076 316SS, H&S is firmly established as the best fit and finish in the business; they have now easily equaled the industry standard of High Polish in 316 Stainless Steel at 2/3 the cost of the nearest competitor.  While all the P series of H&S razors are characterized as polished to perfection, with each iteration: from original N075 thru the P076 Copper, Aji has perfected his polishing skills; this 316SS is on another, higher level.  No matter the angle viewed, the nook or edifice, this razor is executed and polished to within a nanometer of its life to a level of perfection have hitherto not seen in a DE razor having owned and/or used pretty much every brand and model of renown, even other H&S.  It is almost impossible to stop marveling at the physical beauty of this razor – side by side, it surpasses the previous best in industry razor in fit and finish when executed in the same metal.

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Those having owned earlier versions of H&S razors will be surprised to encounter a traditional looking handle; hitherto, a hallmark of Aji’s design has been an industry unique, highly stylized, fluted handle.  The original handle design has always appealed to my aesthetic preferences, establishing a signature design element immediately identifying and branding a razor as a H&S product.  The legacy design, weighting and grip have worked well so it was a surprise to see it replaced.  However, there are those that have never gotten on with the original handle; those buyers now have an alternative.  The new handle is very traditional, being textured nearly top to bottom in some of the grippiest knurling ever encountered.  Anybody having trouble retaining the handle in hand, even covered in grease submerged in a vat of KY Jelly shouldn’t be trusted with anything sharper than a donut.  The polishing on the extremes is H&S quality – which is to state NONE better in the industry at any price.  Not only does the handle change the visual impact but also dramatically changes the shaving experience for the better.  As hard as it is to accept the impact a handle can have on a razor’s shaving characteristics, especially for an experienced user having selected an appropriate blade and using good technique, this new handle does just that – empirically and meaningfully.  For those technically inclined, the new handle weighs in 14g heavier than the original handle in SS.  The bottom balance of the new handle turns a great shaving head into a step milder equivalent without any deleterious impact on efficiency: one gets the same great shave expected of the P076 head but noticeably smoother.  It really is quite the revelation.  The new style handles will be available in both 316SS and Titanium for the immediate future; those already owning H&S razors might want to explore this as an upgrade if less than happy with the previous design.

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In total, I used the H&S P076 316SS for 6 3-pass shaves: first pass With the Grain: second pass Across the Grain: and third pass Against the Grain.  Nacet blades are included with the passaround having proven particularly compatible with this particular brand and a wide variety of shavers.

The heft is substantial at 116g and, from the perspective of this reviewer, very welcome.  While appreciating light razors, especially the H&S variants, given my druthers, would strongly prefer weight in razors.  For whatever reason, find weightiness facilitates allowing the razor to work by discouraging adding pressure to compensate for the perceived lightness.  Where Aji has truly succeeded is in perfectly shifting the balance of the handle towards the distal end to take advantage of the added weight while influencing the shave characteristics to deliver an almost N075 level of mildness.  Initially was concerned that the relatively short 95mm handle would be too light as tend to favour 100+mm but have to admit, as with his other razors, Aji has nailed all the fine elements, including handle length.  This razor, as delivered, is about perfection for those preferring an efficient 316SS DE.

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This is yet another gorgeous H&S razor that shaves wonderfully.  The new handle’s impact combined with the soft familiar face feel of 316SS delivers an unexpectedly mild yet efficient shave.  The face feel is even softer than the P076 Cu while maintaining the shaving efficiency of the P076 17-4.  3 pass shaves left my face BBS smooth for 36 hours yet could easily undertake another 3 pass shave the moment stubble appeared.  The best way to summarize the shave is to state it the equal of a Wolfman WR1 0,54 DC custom that has held the top position in my rotation for the past 3 years.  As much as want to cull my rotation of razors, H&S keeps delivering new models that fill niche gaps and cause the collection to grow, now comprising 4 vintage Wolfman and 5 H&S.

Wholly Kaw has provided a wide spectrum of their very latest products for this passaround including cream (yes CREAM), soap, aftershave, toner and balm.  Sri Ram is the proprietor of one of the very best artisan lines of shaving products available at any price.  It is easy to forget that Wholly Kaw is an artisanal shop as it is operated as though a long established professional corp - like a Swiss clock: stable product lines with well-considered product updates either meeting a genuine customer need or meaningfully advancing the base, zero hassle ordering process delivered right the first time/every time and zero online drama.  So much of the positive aspects of Wholly Kaw are what is missing in comparison to many other artisans.  There is a comfort in dealing with Wholly Kaw in that it blends the best of the artisanal and established corp customer experiences uniquely in the industry.

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The cream scent is Dulci Tobacco and truth told, straight out of the container as shipped, is way too much Dulci and too little Tobacco.  It is HIGHLY recommended buyers allow the container to sit open for a day before making a final judgement on the scent.  That single day of breathing yields a scent that is absolutely lovely - akin to a tobacco flower in full bloom – one of the best tobacco scents ever encountered in a cream or soap.  The passaround cream is in a preproduction container that has since been updated to more distinguish the product from the soaps and provide an inner cap to prevent cream sticking to the lid.  Was slightly trepidatious regarding the first shave based on experience with Brit crèmes leaving much to be desired in the areas of skin protection but this product was another revelation.  It performed equally to the latest Siero soap base despite being played down regarding its cushioning and post shave properties.  My sole suggestion would be to package these in 8 Oz jars, as the cream will be used faster than an equivalent volume of soap in my experience.

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The soaps were of the latest Siero base: Vor V and Valentynka.  Vor V has quite a following and could best be described a reblending of Tom Ford Tuscan Leather with strong top to the raspberry over the leather foreward of the TF classic.  Valentynka is almost a dead ringer for Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge: a very strongly projecting cotton candy/carnival top note that settles into a fir with time; most definitely has fans and detractors but can make up my mind on neither the MFK nor the Valentynka.  Irrespective of scent, the performance of these soaps is absolutely world class.  There are very very few soaps I can use on an ongoing basis without experiencing drastic skin irritation issues, WK Siero is one of them.  Wholly Kaw soaps have been a permanent part of my soap rotation since they released their first donkey milk soap years ago with each upgrade being a well-considered and developed improvement on the base as opposed to contrived reformulation to generate hyped sales.  In short, this base delivers the levels of cushioning and post shave my damaged and sensitive skin demands just to be usable; it ranks at the pointy end of best soaps on the market at any price.  The soaps are all soft, really croaps, PLEASE scoop and face or bowl lather to protect fellow users during these trying pandemic times.

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Wholly Kaw has also included a full spectrum of post shave products: aftershave, toner and balm.  The Vor V aftershave is the same raspberry foreward Tom Ford Tuscan Leather variant described in the soap review with the same comments regarding scent.  It is a nice AS that pairs well with the soap or used as a base for similar scented fragrances where a little more fruity top note is desired to lighten things as well as prepping the skin for the day.  The BareNaked (Wholly Kaw terminology for unscented) Toner is a real star!  There are few must haves in terms of what I use daily to deliver ongoing skin conditioning, this is definitely one of them – the ingredient list is quite impressive including Propanediaol, Dragon’s Blood and Hyaluronic Acid.  It has absolutely NO scent, which is a feature in my opinion, believing frag should be unencumbered.  My perspective is the Toner in BareNaked formulation is an industry standard standing shoulder to shoulder with the basic formulation ETHOS Clean Skin Food as the best available.  Finally, the balm is just plain cool for the high tech packaging let alone the performance.  The dispenser just looks the business in an understated yet elegant way: it works off pressure alone, requiring no internal piping – what a great choice reflecting the pride Sri takes in his products!  A little goes a very very long way here so the value proposition is quite favourable.

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In conclusion, the Aji has continuously improved upon the P076 line with every iteration and the brand in general as demonstrated with the new design handle.  The culmination of his labourious efforts is manifested in the P076 316SS; clearly the best executed razor ever used regarding fit and finish.  Further, anybody wanting any H&S product can easily reach Aji via phone to discuss and purchase the product – no small matter.  H&S continues to develop, evolve and perfect new metals, filling voids in the premium razor market and now delivering the best SS razor at a discount to the incumbent.  Reiterating my general perspective on H&S, the P076 316SS at $400 is not inexpensive but there can be no doubt that one gets every penny worth of value out of that spend with this razor and then some in the quality of design, production and finish; its only competitor does, in fact, sell for a 50% premium.  As with all reviews of H&S to date, strongly recommend Aji create a stand keeping with the design theme.  We are truly blessed to have Wholly Kaw partnering on this passaround and participants are fortunate to experience as premium a shaving experience as is possible with the pairing.  Thank you Aji and Sri!

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