When we first spotted the Wilkinson Sword Classic Double Edge Razor, we were pretty skeptical. A plastic safety razor? Really? But then, while on a trip in Europe, our old Merkur safety razor broke and the only thing available in stores was the Wilkinson Sword Classic.
The Wilkinson Sword Classic is a two-piece double edge safety razor made mostly of lightweight, black plastic, with a metal cone embedded inside the handle. So, needless to say—it seemed a bit odd to us at first.
If you’ve ever wondered whether a plastic safety razor could actually give you a decent shave, well—this review is for you! We were pleasantly surprised by how the Sword Classic performed, and here’s why.
But first, as always, a summary in case you want to get back to your life:
SUMMARY: WILKINSON SWORD DOUBLE EDGE RAZOR REVIEW
The black Wilkinson Sword Classic Razor gives a mild, gentle shave that’s more than acceptable for our medium-coarse hair, especially in conjunction with the included Wilkinson Sword blades.
The first impression we had of it was that it seemed kind of flimsy, but as it turns out, this was never much of an issue in practice. We’ve owned this razor for over a year now, and it has held up better than we expected. All-in-all, we like it a lot for what it is, and we do recommend it—but we wouldn’t recommend it as your only safety razor, as that would be denying yourself of the pleasure of a full-weight safety razor.
Because it’s light and budget-friendly, we think it’s ideal if you need a spare razor in a pinch or for travel. However, we think it lacks the elegance and durability of a metal razor, and it’s a little too light for beginners, who would benefit from learning to shave with a slightly heftier product.
A Couple of Things We Like About It
This razor impressed us on a few fronts, so here are its benefits discussed in a lot more detail:
First and Foremost: It Effectively Does the Job
The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and when it came time to actually use the Sword Classic, it gave what was, in our opinion, a very decent shave. Using it is a slightly different experience from using a metal razor since it’s so light, so we did have to control and adjust the pressure of our hand.
As experienced wet shavers, it was an easy and almost intuitive adjustment to make, and the result was a nice, mild shave. With one or two passes, we were surprised to achieve the level of smoothness we like over our medium-coarse hair.
It’s Lightweight, and While That’s Not Usually a Good Thing…
It may be the case here.
Purists (that is—“us,” ha) would say that a good safety razor is heavy, so you don’t need to apply any pressure as you hold it to get a decent shave. And 99% of the time, that’s the case. But as it turns out, having a lighter razor can be kind of nice sometimes, especially if you have any mobility issues in your hands or if you’re shaving a lot of real estate. In general, we found this razor easy to handle, and our hands didn’t fatigue as we shaved.
It Can Be a Milder Experience in Terms of Cuts
If you cut yourself easily when you shave, you may appreciate the mildness of this razor. There is a very small gap between the base and top of the razor head, so it shaves gently and mildly with a limited risk of irritating or cutting the skin. The mildness also makes it a potentially great choice for wet shavers who have sensitive skin.
It’s Travel-Friendly, and That’s Perhaps It’s Biggest Virtue
One of our favorite things about this Wilkinson razor is just how convenient it was during travel. Because it was so lightweight, it was an easy addition to our carry-on, but more importantly, it made going through airport security a breeze.
If you’ve ever travelled with a metal safety razor in your carry-on, you may have had the same experience as us: confused airport security personnel open your bag and examine your DE razor with skepticism, while you try to explain that it’s just the razor, and there are no blades in sight. Would step outside the line, and come with us, please?
It’s true that disassembling your razor may prevent this issue, but we found that when traveling with this plastic safety razor, no one ever gave our carry-on a second look and we could get to our gate quickly and easily. Your mileage may vary, of course.
It’s Budget-Friendly, Which is Always Nice
The Wilkinson Sword Classic razor is one of the more budget-friendly safety razors we’ve come across during our years of wet shaving, at least if we’re only looking at the initial cost.
This is made even more impressive by the fact that it’s almost never sold alone—the pack it’s sold in usually comes with 5 Wilkinson Sword blades, by default. Razor blades can be very polarizing, but the Wilkinson Sword blades are generally well-regarded, and we find that they work well for us even with other razors.
The low-er-ish price and added blades were the reason we initially decided to purchase it, despite our skepticism—we figured that it wouldn’t be a great loss if it didn’t work for us.
A Few Odds and Ends We Don’t Like
While the Wilkinson Sword Classic definitely impressed us with its usability, it’s not without its faults. Here are our criticisms of it, so make sure to take them into account before deciding if this razor is for you:
Many, Obviously, Will Consider it Too Lightweight
Initially, we considered recommending this razor as an entry-level razor since mild razors are great for wet shaving newcomers.
However, as we mentioned earlier, this razor did force us to apply a little more pressure to compensate for how light it was. Because of our experience, we were able to make it work without any issues, but we think that beginners may not find it as easy to use, and they may learn some bad habits if they choose it as their starter.
It’ll be easier for beginners to learn to perfect their technique with a metal DE razor. There are many safety razors for beginners that we think are more suitable since they’re made of metal and provide a bit of heft.
It’s Not Very Aesthetically-Pleasing
Part of the fun of wet shaving is that double edge safety razors can look really elegant, especially with a matching shaving brush and some cool soaps. The plastic Sword Classic, sadly, doesn’t quite have that upscale look. If your approach to shaving is mostly utilitarian, you probably won’t mind, but we do find that it takes away from the wet shaving aesthetic.
It’s not ghastly, of course—it’s handsome in its own way—but it doesn’t have that tough, gorgeous, made-from-steel look that classic DEs have.
It’s Not a Buy-It-For-Life Product
We touched on how budget-friendly this razor can be, but the reality is that over a lifetime, a metal DE razor will probably cost less. Our Wilkinson Sword has been holding up and giving us decent weekly shaves for over a year now, which is more than we expected, but we’ll be surprised if it holds up for another year or two.
We suspect that if we had used it more frequently or aggressively, it would have broken after 6-8 months, which has been the case with some other users.
In comparison, a well-cared-for metal safety razor can easily become a “buy-it-for-life” product that you pass on to your children, so while it may be a steeper initial investment, not having to buy replacements saves you money in the long term.
The Bottom Line on the Wilkinson Sword Classic Razor
The plastic Wilkinson Sword Classic Razor exceeded our expectations, although, admittedly, those expectations weren’t super-higher.
It may not look classy, but it does the job (and does it surprisingly well), especially if your beard hair isn’t too coarse. Since it’s quite mild and gentle, it’s not likely to cut or irritate the way other affordable options might. While it’s not our go-to at home, we think it’s a great, budget-friendly spare for frequent travellers, and we’d emphasize that last part—we think it’s great for travel.
Who’d have thought! Yet here we are, recommending a non-classic DE. Stranger things have happened. Either way—good luck, have fun, happy shaving, and safe travels!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.