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The classic that started it all, the Mach3 has since been passed up by other razors with new features. That said, it still does the job and offers an affordable piece. If you’re new to refillable razors, it is a great starter razor. If you’re an experienced shaver, you might want something a little more modern.
Meet the Gillette Mach3
When the Gillette Mach3 first hit the market in the ’90s, it was groundbreaking. With three blades, it offered a shave that was supposed to be smoother and with less irritation than conventional safety razors. Add to that some sleek styling, and Gillette created a winner.
It’s reported that the razor cost a staggering $750 million in research and testing and more than $300 million in marketing the first year (even though the commercials for the razor now look hilariously dated).
As a classic razor, the Gillette Mach3 is still widely available today. It looks a lot like newer razors with many similar features, including multiple blades, microfins to stretch skin before cutting, and a lubrication strip. Even so, with about 20 years of advancements in technology, we think that newer razors have now leaped ahead of their Mach3 predecessor.
Still, the razor has a lot to like, including a price tag that’s hard to beat when compared to newer and fancier shaving systems. If you’re someone looking for a starter razor, wants to shave decently for less money than the top-of-the-line razors, or just want to keep things simple, then the Mach3 might be right for you.
We recently put the razor through the paces to see if a razor that was first introduced more than two decades ago can still hold its own.
What’s in the Box
We ordered our version of the Gillette Mach3 from Amazon. It arrived shortly after in a package you’d expect to see at a retail store. Compare that to some Gillette products we reviewed, which come in a simple, nondescript cardboard box.
Within the package was a handle and two blades, along with clear plastic covers over each.
One thing that we liked is that the package is cardboard, glued to plastic — not an all-plastic blister pack that requires scissors or a knife to open.
For being designed a couple of decades ago, the design of the Mach3 has held up well. It’s simple, but does exactly what it needs to do without a lot of bells and whistles.
The Mach3 handle is fairly simple when it comes to modern razor handles. While it looks metal, the handle is actually made of chrome-colored plastic, with rubber grips. It can feel a little small in the hand — just slightly larger than a ballpoint pen. It offers a nice weight when held, with the sensation that there must be a metal weight inside the handle.
One thing that we loved is the rubber grip. The topside has three stripes of rubber while the underside is one continuous rubber grip. A series of hundreds of small rubber bumps provide a lot of texture. In short, it’s near impossible to have this razor slip out of your hands.
Moving up the handle, the Mach3 has a narrow tapered neck and a curve that makes a natural point to put your thumb in order to have pinpoint control while shaving.
The connection point to the cartridge head is a plastic “button” that slides forward. This button isn’t used much (only when taking off the blade), however it feels fairly light and cheap to us. It also has some play, and rattles if you shake the razor.
This handle is made in China.
When it was introduced, the Mach3 razor cartridge was revolutionary. Today, it’s not near as impressive given advances, but still has a number of features.
First, it offers three blades. Compared to today’s five and six-blade razors, the three offer much more space between them — a nice feature if you have an issue with clogging on tighter-built razors. There is no center support holding the blades in place, so they will flex some if pressure is applied in the middle.
The Mach3 offers microfins at the base of the blades, which we like to help pull skin tight as the razor passes. It also offers a lubrication strip across the top.
The head of the cartridge flexes, moving back about 45 degrees, with a pivot point that’s near the bottom of the razor head.
One thing we noticed is that the razor pivoted back easily enough, however, it didn’t want to spring back on its own. A high-end razor will normally snap back into position. The Mach3 simply pivoted back and stayed pushed back.
(Note: After shaving with the razor for the first time, the razor head operated more smoothly and would spring back easily after pivoting.)
There is not a precision trimmer blade on the backside of the cartridge.
Shaving with the Mach3
While there are some definite differences in the look and build of the Mach3 compared to Gillette’s newest razors, all that really matters is the shave.
In our tests, the shave was solid. The results felt similar to higher-end razors. But what stood out to us was the feel of using the razor compared to Gillette’s (and others) higher-end lineups.
First, the shave we received from the Mach3 was on par with other blades. It was comfortable, close, and easy. We didn’t receive any nicks or cuts and no irritation.
But to get that shave, the experience wasn’t near as smooth or nice as using a higher-end razor like the Fusion5.
First, let’s talk smoothness. The shave with the Mach3 isn’t rough, but many new razors these days offer a lot of “slickness” with the lubrication strip. Our shaving with the Mach3 didn’t seem to offer near as much. It’s not necessarily a bad thing (not everyone likes the slick feeling of a new lubricated razor), but was something worth mentioning.
What stuck out to us more was simply the feeling of the razor in our hand. To us, the Mach3 feels just a step above a disposable razor in the hand when shaving. Especially compared to higher-end razors, the Mach3 felt like a toy. It’s relatively small and lightweight compared to modern razors. As well, the razor head just felt lighter and less solid against our face.
Again, that’s not to say it doesn’t offer a good shave — it does. But just like an economy car and a luxury car will both get you down the road, the difference between the two can be great. That’s the way we felt using the Mach3 compared to more expensive razors.
If there is one area where Mach3 blows out the competition, it’s with the ease of cleaning. With three blades, the razor has much more space between each blade. As well, there aren’t a lot of fancy grooves or design features for hair to get caught. Cleaning the razor took just a second under running water and the cut hair cleared easily.
If you’re someone that values having a nice clean razor at the end of the shave, it doesn’t get better than the Mach3.
As mentioned, the Mach3 is a classic razor. As you’d expect, it doesn’t cost as much as newer designs. We bought our version on Amazon. It cost just $8 for the handle and two razor cartridges.
Gillette offers a handle and four cartridges for just $13. When it’s time to refill, expect to pay about $2 a cartridge. Gillette’s website offers twelve razors for $25. We also found a pack of 15 razors for $25 ($1.67 each) on Amazon.
According to Gillette, each blade should last up to 15 shaves. During our test, we see no reason to argue with that figure, although the lubrication strip would be well worn out by then.
Pros & Cons
Where to Buy
While the Gillette Mach3 might not be the same as some higher-end razors, it does get the job done. Best of all, you don’t have to break the bank. We ordered a handle and two blades for $8 on Amazon. You can get refills for less than $2 each.