I acquired a Ming Shi 2000S adjustable razor this week. It is one of the highly-touted Chinese-manufactured imitators of the Merkur Futur (by the way, pronounced MARE-koor foo-TOOR).The Futur is, of course, the unique German adjustable, whose patent has expired and thus allowed these completely legal, ethical imitators to exist. I don't call the 2000S a Futur clone
because it isn't an exact copy; there are some subtle differences.
I ordered my Ming Shi 2000S from Maggard Razors (maggardrazors.com)
for the following reasons:
- Good reputation for prompt order fulfillment
- Shorter transit time from a distributor within the USA
- From Maggard one will receive the product advertised, so I don't have to worry about communication and bait-and-switch issues that sometimes muck up purchases from off-shore sellers.
- Good reputation for customer service
I've never used nor held a genuine Merkur Futur, but let me give you my observations about the Ming Shi 2000S imitation Futur:
- I don't use the word imitation as a pejorative. It is actually a compliment of sorts.
- The 2000S, visually, is a nice-looking, apparently high quality instrument, with a satin-chrome finish.
- As is frequently reported, the 2000S is a heavy weight, but not quite as heavy as the Futur. With blade it weighs 3.5 ounces (99g).
- The overall physical dimensions of the 2000S are similar but not necessarily identical to the Futur:
- Overall length: ~4.25 inches (~108 mm)
- Handle length: ~ 3.5 inches ( ~89 mm)
- Handle diameter: ~ 3/8 inch (~9.5 mm) and ~1/2 inch (~12.7 mm)
- The numbers that indicate the adjustment settings are applied on rather than inset in the handle, so it's possible that they might eventually disappear if subjected to abrasion. Only time will tell....
After reading on-line reviews on this razor design, I can confirm a few recommendations and suggest a few other things:
Like all double-edge razors, this one may be best oriented inverted when inserting or removing a blade
- When inserting a blade, the usual method applies:
- On a cushioning cloth, set the top cap with prongs pointing upward.
- Lay the blade into the inverted top cap.
- Press the baseplate-handle assembly onto the inverted top cap until the parts snap together
- When removing a blade:
- Lay a cushioning cloth on the counter.
- Invert the razor (handle up) over the cloth -- close but not touching.
- With a thumb, gently push one end of the top cap down and away from the baseplate-handle assembly.
- The top cap will (should) fall away onto the cushioning cloth. The blade may stay in the top cap, or it may separate from the top cap and fall separately onto the cloth.
- If the blade remains in the top cap, carefully remove it taking care not to damage the edge if you will be reusing the blade for another shave. This is not a big deal and should not be a problem for competent grown ups. ;-)
The handle has no knurling or other significant texture to aid with the grip. Some complain about this, and it's a valid complaint. Futur users have noted this as have users of Futur imitations.
I speculate that makers of imitation Futur razors did not add knurling for reasons of credibility. I suspect that if the 2000S design visually deviated from the Futur with improved knurling, its acceptance in the market place may have been slowed. From a functional perspective, however, the complaints about slipperiness are on target.
Therefore, when I have used the razor I take care to keep my razor hand dry -- certainly lather free. This has not been a big problem, but, frankly, it is the only knock that I can make about the razor to this point.
Shaves to this Point
I've used the razor for two shaves. Because the Futur has a reputation for being an aggressively-shaving razor -- even on its most mild setting -- I was cautious in my use of this 2000S. So I did shave number one with the razor set on one. I used a Personna blue blade that already had four shaves on it. I just kept my blade rotation unchanged despite the new razor. I didn't start out with any special, fresh, new-razor blade.
I did my usual process and got a good first shave. I had no wounds but a bit of irritation. I may have been pressing a bit because the razor on one was not really aggressive at all. The outcome was a good shave, not great, and I resolved that I needed to dial up the razor for the next shave.
So for the second shave, I began with the razor on 1.5. (One can do this because the settings -- like the Parker Variant and unlike Gillette adjustables -- don't have fixed detents, so there are essentially infinite settings between the highest and the lowest.) I quickly realized this wasn't sufficiently different from the maiden shave of yesterday, so I re-lathered and started again on a setting of two.
By the way, when changing the settings of the 2000S (and the Futur and other imitators) when a blade is installed -- especially mid shave with damp fingers -- it's best and highly recommended to hold the razor head by its sides using a cloth to aid one's grip and as protection against cuts from unintended slippage.
Again for this second shave I used my usual process, the same blade, and the outcome was better than yesterday. My shave was closer, less irritation (as little as I normally get), and wound free. Today's shave was actually very good, and I must say, I'm impressed with this razor.
The Under-Nose Shave
A common complaint about the Futur and imitators is the size of the razor head. When measuring from blade edge to edge or safety bar to safety bar, this design is pretty normal. However, its long dimension (from blade tab to blade tab) is longer, obviously, because the top-cap design completely encloses the blade tabs rather than leaving them exposed as do most double-edge razors.
This tab-covering top-cap design has its advantage, which is that you never have to worry about nicks caused by exposed blade tabs. The obvious drawback, of course, is that the wider top cap makes it slightly more difficult to get the top wiskers of the upper lip, which are right under the nose.
This isn't a big problem, and I question the motives of some who complain. Anyway, this wasn't anywhere near a show stopper for me.
The Current Verdict
I really like this razor. I would say love, except the smooth handle takes away just a bit of the joy of the shave.
I like mild- to moderate-shaving razors -- not uber aggressive -- and so I would say that reports of this razor being too aggressive on its lowest settings are exaggerated. With an appropriately light touch, this razor can likely be happily used by most shavers, whether newbies or old hands, with peach-fuzz or copper-wire hair.
I suspect that my ideal setting may ultimately be in the vicinity of two and a half or three. We'll see, but in any case, this razor, to my taste, is a keeper and a very good value. I truly do like it a lot so far. For the price and the shave, if you can deal with the smooth handle, this may be one of the best values around for an adjustable razor.
Razor Garage Sale Continues w/ New Additions & ** Price Reductions ** !!!
I'm continuing to reduce my inventory of razors, seeking a win-win solution. I win because I simplify my shaving gear, and you win because you get a good razor at a reduced cost.
Many have already taken advantage of the offerings. Don't wait or you may miss a good bargain.
Keep in mind that there is about $4 of packaging and mailing costs embedded in the prices of my DE garage-sale razors (the straight is a little less expensive to mail because it's flatter), and there really isn't a lemon in the bunch.