This is easily the most exciting, and at the same time challenging review I have done to date. I say this as there is a lot of ground I could cover as the Above the Tie 303 stainless steel razors are probably the most complete stainless double edge razor on the market. Above the Tie offers what I like to look at as a “system” of razor that are really revolving around the base plates and top cap. There are multiple plates and multiple handles; this is the buffet style razor to meet any shaver needs at an incredible price point considering this is all American made in Tennessee by hand in the USA by real adults that are highly trained. This is a review but also an overview of the Above the Tie system, I will try to keep to the standard format I use for a razor review, and I hope you enjoy the read !
The Above the Tie razor comes from either the factory or, authorized dealers the price is always the same which is great as it supports fair market pricing, no gouging anywhere among distributors so the field is even. When thinking of the ATT razor it comes in three separate levels of aggression the M for mild R for regular and H for heavy, and I speculate that means aggressiveness. All these plates come in an open eg. R or R2, M or M2, and finally H or H2, and closed come variation with just an M, R, or an H. Now all of these plates use the same top cap, and I recommend getting 2 caps so you can have versatility without fully switching things up. This is a luxury and by no means “needed”. Now the rest is simple as can be there are three handles that vary in length and weight. You have the Atlas at 3″ and 56 grams in weight with a spiral knurling, the Kronos at 3 1/2″ and 71 grams with more of a traditional diamond full body knurling and finally the big boy the Colossus at 4″ and 86 grams with similar knurling to the Kronos, but separated at about 1/4 from the bottom by an indented circular separation. That is a simple overview the finer details are to come.
As a “system” that can distinctly be 3 separate razors this is a hard category to cover so I will give an overview.
All ATT razors are 303 stainless steel which is machinable stainless steel. 303 SS has a matte finish and has a different carbon constitution than let’s say 316L which is a marine grade SS. I am not sure how many of us shave in the ocean 🙂 ! I will say though if you have chlorides or live near salt water 316L is preferable. Now back to the appearance. The machining of this razor(s) is flawless a 10/10 there tolerances are ridiculous, I have never seen a razor so exact in 20+ years of doing this. You will notice a perfect alignment with every blade you place in the top cap which has 2 small nipples that marry to indentations in the base plate. Repeatable results zero hassle every time. The heads for all purposes look the same and are fairly basic in design. The handles are similar between the Atlas and Kronos though there is a 1/2″ difference in length and a spiral on the Atlas versus a diamond cut on the Kronos. Finally the Colossus is completely different with a 4″ length, and a flat bottom and the look of two distinct “pieces” it IMHO is an attractive handle though longer than most shavers hands would accommodate.
Again there are three possibilities here, but the really neat thing about the ergonomics of these razors are that the feels no matter which you use is outstanding ! The big decider with the handles is a preference of spiral versus diamond cut as well as your hand size. Above the Tie was smart enough to give 3 options for your hand size so buy the one that meets your needs or, as I did buy all three, and enjoy the diversity. The heads now here is the selling point so to speak of these razors…..the M plate being the mildest has a gap of only .25mm a very mild shaver, and my least used as I have a coarse beard that grows fast, but I do have it. Next is the R at .58mm and is similar to a DE89 for example but because of the handles weight has a completely different feel. Finally and this is big literally the H plate which has the distinction of having the largest gap in a non-adjustable razor on the market so forget the R41 the H plate destroys it at .91mm !!! that is almost a millimeter gap ! I used the H plate today and it was a 1 pass near BBS shave and comfortable as can be. I do not recommend the H plate to a new wet shaver. So what I am getting at is YOU the shaver control EVERY aspect of your shave with a razor that will literally live almost forever in the right conditions and can be an heirloom razor.
This is a criteria for my reviewing style, but I would be redundant to repeat what I said above. I will only repeat that you the shaver are in control based upon your purchase EVERY step of the way.
Now this is the part everyone wants to know. Upfront quality is not cheap but this is a razor that can be a lifetime investment and only “system” you ever need. This like a few others on the market is stainless steel, it is handmade in the USA, and is made by skilled trained artisans so yes it carries a premium. I said earlier it makes no difference where you buy it so the base if you were to buy lets say an Atlas with a R (closed comb) plate it is $185 dollars plus tax and freight. the handles are remarkably cheap in my opinion at $56 so if you know the R plate is for you it is only a matter of adding a different handle for variety if desired not needed. I personally own all plates and all handles as I really believe in supporting USA made razor company of this caliber so yes it is not cheap but I find it to be worth every penny due to the comfort, quality, and design of these razors. They may not fall into an immediate price point (they did not for me), but I saved for the set and it was worth it. Of course YMMV so please don’t spend $500 but this is where I mention they have a 30 day buy back policy no questions asked just return it in the original packaging ! so for $185 it is a razor of a lifetime, and if it’s not for you within 30 days just return it ! you can’t beat that for a company that stands behind their product.
When you buy a stainless steel razor of any type, you are buying for quality and longevity, as well as comfort a design. I will say ATT razors are not shiny nor are they even that overly attractive with bells and whistles. The design is simple and it works. I do find beauty in the simplicity of these razors as we live in a society of excess and unneeded highly marketed and horribly built products that are way over priced. The Above the Tie razors are a refreshing and astonishingly superior razor. I recommend this razor or, razors highly as they are an investment. Not many razors can say that or, even close.