Because of its luster and durability, the shaving industry has been using stainless steel for decades. Razor blades made the transition from carbon steel to stainless in 1965, and there are many quality straight razor designs in the material. Manufacturers of double-edge safety razors have also transitioned to stainless and have produced a few models that have taken the industry by storm. While most safety razors are metal with a finish overlay, this class of razor is made entirely of stainless steel, which does not flake, peel, wear down, or rust like other metals. More importantly, the new class of stainless steel safety razors is considered by many to be the best constructed shaving instruments available. The quality of these razors makes them a pleasure to use and the iKon Bulldog Safety Razor is no exception.
Like the popular Feather All Stainless and PILS Safety Razor, the iKon Bulldog is a precisely engineered and machined double-edge razor. All three razors are made with quality stainless steel and they all implement strict tolerances that allow the blade to seat securely in the razor with precise blade exposure on both sides of the cutting head. However, while the other razors boast modern designs, the iKon maintains a traditional style that has resonated with wetshavers since the early Gillette models of the 1900s. iKon has successfully combined modern engineering with traditional design.
Although the iKon Bulldog is produced with a polished stainless steel finish, the experts at The Razor Emporium beautifully applied a brushed matte 24k gold finish plating to my razor. My iKon Bulldog is strikingly similar to Merkur’s popular 34G Heavy Duty model and the packaging even mimics Merkur’s cardboard box, although no blade is included. The barrel of the razor handle is textured with a very well cut and uniform knurling pattern that provides a secure grip surface for the razor. The knurling on the razor gives it a utilitarian “tool-like” appearance and is another feature that is similar to popular Merkur models. The knurling on the iKon is flawless and there are no uneven areas on the razor – an indicator of a quality production process.
When I took the razor out of the box, I immediately noticed that the iKon Bulldog is much heavier than the Merkur HD. This was a little concerning because heavy weight razors often present a bit of a problem with balance while shaving. Some razors have too much weight in either the cutting head or the handle, and this improperly balanced weight can feel awkward to maneuver around the face, particularly in sensitive areas around the jaw line and lower neck. After holding the razor and getting a feel for the grip, however, it became evident that the overall design is actually very well balanced despite its 100 gram weight.
As a typical three-piece razor, the iKon has a threaded handle that unscrews from the bottom of the cutting head allowing the head to separate in to two parts for the blade to be inserted. The inside of the cutting head is where the iKon’s design really stands out. The top plate has a horizontal bar that fits precisely into a groove on the bottom piece of the cutting head. This bar fits perfectly into the cut out portion of the double-edge blade and allows it to seat securely without any shifting. When reassembled, the blade stays centered, leaving the cutting edge of the blade exposed on both sides of the safety bar. I have tested many razors over the years, and this iKon is probably one of the best at ensuring that the blade is perfectly centered during the shave.
Although the cutting head is available with an open comb option, my razor features a smooth safety bar. Most safety razors with regular comb cutting heads have grooves along the safety bar, but the iKon is smooth, which allows the razor to track smoothly across the skin and provides a very mild cutting experience during the shave. For my first shave I used a BIC blade, which I find to provide a great balance between sharpness and comfort on my skin. Throughout the shave, I could not even feel the blade on my face at all and was surprised to find no stubble. The razor cut smoothly and efficiently. For subsequent shaves, I moved up to a Feather blade with the same results -- very comfortable shave with no harshness or irritation at all. To further test the razor, my teenage son also shaved with it. Despite his areas of acne, the mild cutting action worked well for him and he did not get any cuts or nicks during his shave. This razor proved itself to be outstanding for his sensitive skin and light hair, as well as my normal skin and coarser beard.
The iKon Bulldog Safety Razor represents the excellence of the new class of stainless steel safety razors. The heft and precision construction of these razors have forever changed the shaving industry and raised the bar on materials, design, and price. At a retail price of $80 USD, the Bulldog is considerably less expensive than the PILS and Feather, yet offers the same benefits in terms of build quality. With the savings, you can splurge on customizing your iKon with a special plating finish by The Razor Emporium. The durability and quality of this razor ensure that you will enjoy it for decades.