Saturday, August 2, 2014

Shaving Showdown: Gillette Mach 3 versus Dorco Pace 3

 I've always heard that razors are a racket:  they sell us the handles for next to nothing and charge big bucks for the cartridge refills.   Lately there are companies like Dollar Shave Club who have built a following by selling razors for less.  So I decided to put my age-old Gillette Mach 3 up against a razor with a reputation as being just as good but a lot less expensive.  Here is my old Gillette Mach 3 - with a brand new cartridge refill.
 And here is the challenger!  A Dorco Pace 3!  This handle is about two months old, but it too has a brand new cartridge refill in the photo.  I've read that Dorco is the brand that is used by Dollar Shave Club - I have no idea if that's true.  Note they both have a blue stripe at the top.  If I'm not mistaken, that is the lubricant strip.   The bottom edge is a little different on both, but I'm not sure what the reason is for that.
 I had read online in a comments section that the back on the Pace 3 is solid which inhibits washing it out,  but as you can see from this photo they are both open all the way through.  Maybe the Mach 3 a little moreso, but they are both open.
 So here is how I set up the test.  Every morning, I shave my face and my head while in the shower.  So every morning for the last month,  I have been shaving the left side of my head and face with the Pace 3 and the right side with the Mach 3.   So how did it go?

Well, the handle on the Pace 3 feels much fatter in my hand...this felt awkward at first, but I soon adapted.  After awhile, the Mach 3 handle felt too thin, almost like a 1950s razor.  Advantage: PACE 3.
 The other thing I noticed is that the Mach 3 glided easier the first few days, and my head felt more lubricated.  I think it has the lubricant game down a little better than the Pace 3.  However, after a few day's of use that Mach 3 lubricant advantage would disappear and they both felt the same.  This happened each time I put new cartridges on them - which I always did on the same day to keep testing even.  Advantage:  MACH 3.
 They both seemed to do an equivalent job at shaving my head and face.  Each day, I would run my hand over both sides and I honestly could not tell the difference.  And never did anyone say, uh, why does one side of your head look different?  Nope, it was not apparent to anyone that each side was done with a different razor.  Only my hairdresser knew for sure.  Advantage:  TIE.
 They also seemed to last an equivalent length of time (two weeks - which I assume would be one week if I were to do my whole face & head with one or the other).  At the end of the two weeks, each razor felt equivalently uncomfortable during the shave.  Advantage:  TIE.

However, the blue indicator on the Mach 3 turned white about the exact instance the blade became dull, which is a very nice feature.  I found the Pace 3 blue bar never turned any other color, giving my no clue as to how worn out the blade was.   Advantage: MACH 3.
 Putting a replacement cartridge on was slightly harder on the Pace 3.  It wasn't a quick, reassuring "click" like the Mach 3.  It felt more like the mechanicals were just a hair away from not fitting properly.
 But replacing the Mach 3 cartridge, a nice smooth instant "click" each time.  Nice!  Advantage: MACH 3
Now for the reason I did this test to begin with.  Price!  Gillette has several levels of Mach 3 cartridges, but I usually use the base level so that's what I priced out.   The best price I found was through Amazon, at about $2.26 per cartridge.  Ralphs, where my wife typically buys my blades, is about fifty cents higher than that.

But the Pace 3 was only $1.24 per cartridge at Amazon!  That's where I bought the Pace 3 I used in my test.  But checking the Dorco website, buying blades through them directly caused the price to go sky-high. [NOTE ADDED LATER:  Please see comments below - I may have misunderstood the Dorco website pricing]

Bottom line on price:  I could save about $1 per week using Pace 3 blades from Amazon.  Advantage: PACE 3.

So - what am I gonna do?  I think I'll probably keep both handles and use whichever one strikes my fancy.  I'll make a regular effort to buy Pace 3 blades through Amazon, but if I end up needing to buy Mach 3 blades at Ralphs because I'm too foolish to think ahead for a Pace 3 shipment, I'll know it's only costing me an extra buck fifty a week.  C'est la vie.

4 comments:

krikor said...

I think your math is wrong on the pricing direct from Dorco. When they cite a "6 Pack" for $24.22, that's for six packages of four cartridges, or a total of 24 refills, which puts them in line with the Amazon pricing (shipping/tax variances aside).

J said...

Hi Krikor,

You are probably right - that makes more sense. Thank you for the comment!

J said...

Epilogue: The Dorco handle broke today. It became harder and harder to get the old blade off, and when I forced the issue this weekend it broke the handle so that it no longer accepts new blades.

As opposed to my Gillette handle which is many years old now, the Dorco handle lasted about a year.

I'm probably going to stick with the Gillette Mach 3.

James Huang said...


Dorco pace 6+ and 7 up their game and I feel they beat Gillette pro shield by price and comfort.