The Merkur Slant Bar Heavy Duty Razor has a mixed reputation. Some claim that it provides the closest shave possible, while others say it is pure evil. Many experienced wet shavers consider the Slant to be a double edge razor that can achieve results similar to a straight razor. The slicing action of the Slant Bar is significantly more aggressive than a standard safety razor — and this article explores the pros and cons.
Unlike the standard safety razor, the Merkur Slant features a cutting head with a distinctive safety bar that allows the blade to contact the face at an angle rather than perpendicular to the razor handle like most razors. As the blade tracks along the skin, this razor provides a slicing action that cuts through the hair more cleanly and efficiently. The angled cutting action reduces the beard quicker and with fewer required passes to achieve a close shave.
To illustrate the slicing action of the Slant, consider a guillotine. The blade of the guillotine is angled to cut more swiftly and cleanly, since an oblique blade provides a slicing action instead of a chop. Earlier types of guillotine used blunt force to remove the head with an axe-shaped blade. Later models used an angled blade, which was found to produce better results. The slanted blade was more efficient and cleaner, and therefore considered a more humanitarian form of execution.
In the Merkur Slant, the angled blade is mounted slightly different than a standard safety razor. In the Merkur 34C, the blade is bent with an even cutting edge exposed along the safety bar. There is a small gap between the blade edge and the safety bar to give the cutting edge a consistent clearance for the hair. On the Slant, however, the blade is slightly twisted when mounted. There is a larger gap between the blade and the safety bar, so the cutting edge can be exposed at the slanted angle. The gap allows the blade to be twisted down and extend lower on one side so that it can provide the guillotine-like slice.
Men with sensitive skin that have difficulty enduring multiple pass shaves can benefit from the Slant because of the fewer number of passes required to achieve a smooth shave. In addition, this razor is especially useful for men with very thick and dense beard growth that have a hard time getting a close shave with most traditional safety razors. I do not use the Slant on a daily basis; however, when I skip a shave or two over the weekend, the Slant is the perfect choice for quickly and easily removing the longer beard growth.
Although the Slant does a great job of removing your beard with as few passes as possible, in an untrained hand it can very quickly remove a good portion of the skin as well, especially when paired with a sharp blade such as a Feather. Therefore, the Slant is not recommended for a beginner to double edge shaving who has not already developed a solid technique with a regular safety razor. If you are just starting out with traditional shaving, you would be benefit by purchasing a standard razor, such as the models suggested in my article Your First Razor, and become proficient with those before giving the Slant a try.
Merkur offers the Slant in both chrome (model 37C priced at $42) and gold (model 37G priced at $55) finishes. Both feature Merkur's best-selling Heavy Duty knurled grip design. For those that favor the longer and heavier barber pole handle design, the Slant cutting head is also available on the model 39C priced at $50. These models are more aggressive than standard Merkur safety razors, but with the right approach they can give you the fastest and closest shave possible. With the wrong approach, they are pure evil.