Razor: Blackland Vector / Yaqi Excalibur
Blade: Kai Pink
Brush: Erebus and Terror 26mm Synbad Synthetic
Soap: Stirling Soap Shadow Orchid
Other: Thirsty Badger lather bowl
I’ve now had these two artisan-style razors for several shaves and I figured it was time to do a side-by-side comparison. This Yaqi SE looks and functions a lot like the Blackland Vector so it makes sense people have been lumping them together. I wanted to investigate that so I dropped a brand new Kai Pink blade in each and did a side by side with each razor getting one side of my face.
First off, these razors do function in a similar way. They have a half post threaded screw that fits through the square hole on an artist club blade and has a top cap and bottom plate that pinch the blade in position. Artist club blades aren’t as deep as DE blades and are fairly rigid. With that, the razor head sets the angle and exposure without bending or torquing the blades into position.
So they look similar and they hold the blade similar, are they the same? No. I can confirm, the Yaqi is not a clone of the vector. It borrows (or steals depending on how you view it) the functional design elements of the vector but it shaves differently. The Yaqi has a bit more blade exposure and a bit steeper angle when riding the cap (which you should definitely do with these razors). As such, it feels more aggressive, has more blade feel and more of a risk of biting you. The Vector (this one anyway) is polished and the Yaqi has a brushed look. I find the polished razor glides a bit better and will always take a polished razor over brushed. Both razors weigh pretty much the same including the head/handle but the vector feels like the weight is just a bit better positioned.
When it comes to shaving, the angle on the Vector was easy to find and felt very natural. It did have a bit of blade feel and was quite efficient. Once I had it figured out, I was able to run on autopilot. I was able to get really comfortable smooth shaves with this every single time. Blade alignment was excellent. It is an excellent razor. If I had one knock on it, I’d say the head doesn’t seem to torque down as secure as I’d like. On occasion, when rinsing the razor, the back and forth movement in water made it feel like the head loosened slightly. If you happened to tap the edge of the head it would loosen a bit as well. I’d say this happened to me on about 1/4 of the shaves. I loved everything else about this razor, it is a fun one to shave with.
As for the Yaqi, the fit and finish aren’t as nice and prior to assembling the alignment looks off. The post is a bit crooked so until you screw it down and the side posts engage it looks scary off. Once locked down it looks pretty true. I feel it may still be slightly misaligned but that may be my brain tricking me since it looks so misaligned prior to assembling. I also feel like the blade didn’t feel quite as locked down, I think there was a bit of blade chatter there, probably because there was more blade exposed. The angle was a bit less natural to find and it definitely had more blade feel and aggression to it. This is not a razor to put on autopilot, it will bite you, but if you pay attention to the angle and use a light touch it will give you a really nice shave as well. Very efficient. What I can say that this has over the Vector is that I never felt like the head was unscrewing on this one.
If money is no object, it’s a no-brainer choice for me, grab the Vector. It shaves significantly better. If the head loosening is a problem for you, I’m certain a small soft washer would fix that right up. If you are on a tight budget and you really want to try out an artisan club style razor, the yaqi is an OK option but won’t be for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend it for novice shavers. The alignment is also concerning, and given that I’ve now had a couple of misaligned Yaqi razors, I’d be concerned you may have to buy a couple of times to get one aligned correctly. But if you do get a properly aligned one and are comfortable with aggressive razors, this will give you good shaves. It might be that gateway drug to the more expensive but better quality Vector. Honestly, if I didn’t get a loaner Vector to try I would have never bought it considering the price point, but after trying the Yaqi, even if I had never tried the Vector, I would give it strong consideration. It is such a fun style razor to use. I love the smaller, more nimble profile of these heads.
Having said that, the one big downside of both of these razors to me is the artist club blades in that they cost more and have less variety. I also don’t find they shave better or last longer than my favourite DE blades. I thought for sure I’d get more life out of them given the rigid nature but in practice, I am getting about the same number of shaves out of the artist club blades I’ve tried vs my favourite DEs. Given that they cost a lot more and are a little tricky to source, that is a big downside for me and would be the reason I don’t add a Vector to the den.
For now, it’s on the radar. I will see how much I miss it when I return it and if the Yaqi scratches that itch should it come up.
Hope that gives you some insight. All for now – J