Now as Wetshavers well all know that not all Badger hair is created equally. From Pure to black to best to silvertip and High Mountain white and everything in between there are a lot of choices. To make it even more difficult to choose a grade there is not a standard for grading the hair. What about boar hair knots?? Surely there cannot be much of a difference between brands or even amongst a brands offerings………today I will take a look at two fairly popular Semogue brushes and try to see if all Boars are created equal or KNOT(that’s supposed to be Punny).
Since starting my wet shaving journey I have tried quite a few brushes and sold and traded many of them. I have found that for a budget shaver and when considering ‘Bang for your Buck’ a boar brush is tough to beat. Ranging from about $8 to $40 Canadian for a stock boar the prices are much more reasonable compared to badger brushes which can go easily into the $300 range and above. Now of course with boars if you start getting into custom handles the price will go up. As of today I have three boar brushes in my rotation as I gave away two of my boars to newly starting out wetshavers…..I almost always recommend a boar to someone starting out because if you don’t end up liking wet shaving you aren’t out a bunch of money….plus they are easy to get at most drug stores. My current boars are a Semogue Owners Club in a Cherry Handle, an Oscar 11 custom handle with an Omega 49 knot, and the ItalianBarber.com 2012 LE Semogue. I recently gave away a Semogue 1800 and a Semogue 610.
Today I am going to compare the Semogue Owners Club, or SOC as you may see it referred to as, and the ItalianBarber.com LE 2012 Semogue. I will start by saying that these are both stock brushes. The LE is the newest release of this brush as it was originally released in 2012 and quickly became a favorite of Semogue and Boar fans alike. The SOC has been available since 2009 when the first 100 were produced. The SOC is one of the most talked about boars and possibly the most popular as well. So let’s get started with the side by side comparison…..
As you can see in the picture the handle shapes are extremely similar. To me it almost looks like the 2012 LE flares a bit more at the base. Also, you can see that the SOC handle is just a bit larger. It looks to be about %5-%10 bigger in all aspects. As for the knot, the SOC is a 24mm knot set at a loft of 57mm. While the 2012 LE is a 22mm knot set at 55mm loft. While neither brush is fully broken in…at least I don’t think, the bloom on the SOC is clearly larger and fantastic if you have a larger face. I have a narrow face and the SOC can make quite a mess, but its an awesome mess! While the 2012 LE is a bit smaller it seems more ideal for my face size. It can also make a mess but is a bit easier to control.
Now lets look from the top down.
Now I will say that the 2012 LE is a bit damp in the photo. However, the SOC is quite has quite a bit denser of a knot. In fact when fully bloomed and lathering it is a monster!!! If you aren’t careful you will have lather all over your bathroom. The 2012 LE is noticeably smaller but performs right up there with the SOC just on a smaller scale.
Aesthetics : This is a toss-up. Kind of like scents are to soaps. I personally enjoy them both equally. The only thing I would change would be the green on the 2012 LE. I just wish it was a bit brighter of a green like the Italian flag. As you can see in the pictures it is a fairly dark green. That is just me nit-picking though, both are really beautiful brushes and many guys think the 2012 LE is the best looking boar brush available.
Handle feel : I give a slight edge to the SOC. It just seems to have a slight bit more grip. Neither are slippery at all its just my preference. The bigger handle of the SOC would suit bigger hands better as well. Again this is a complete preference thing.
Knot : The Semogue site describes the SOC knot(24mm) as being the ‘best boar bristles available’ and the 2012 LE(22mm) as ‘natural boar bristle Premium 90% tops’. If you are like me that doesn’t mean much. What I can say is that the SOC bristles seem a bit softer and the knot denser. The 2012 LE has the same knot as the Semogue 1305 but the bristles are un-dyed……which I much prefer to dyed bristles. The SOC is a great choice for anyone, but especially guys with bigger faces or those who like a big knot. t feels luxurious on the face as well….something I didn’t t think was possible with a boar. The SOC still maintains good backbone as well. The 2012 LE knot is a great size. Not massive but not small either. A perfect midsize knot. Just a joy to face lather with as it is really soft and has great backbone. Both of these brushes tear into any soap with ease and load up quickly. I soak mine for about 10 minutes while I shower and prepare to shave. I have bowl lathered with both and they both work awesome. I myself will give the slight edge to the SOC.
Ability to load and Lather : Both brushes score super high in these two categories. The SOC being a bigger knot tends to load more product. Which will in turn burn through your soaps slightly quicker. Note this isn’t a massive difference and may not even be noticeable unless you are keeping track. Both will lather any soap with ease. The only difference to me being the SOC tends to be a bit harder to control with its larger knot which causes soap to go flying. It may not look pretty with lather going everywhere but its effective! The 2012 LE is easier to control and still creates lather with ease. Again I will give a slight edge to the SOC as it is really fun and a pleasure to use.
Price : The SOC is about $40 on Italian Barber. However I got mine for just over $30 Canadian shipped to my door on eBay(seller is nanbantrader).
The 2012 LE is $19.95usd on Italian Barber. As far as I know it is the only place to get one. You don’t even see these brushes on the BSTs.
Clearly the edge in price goes to the 2012 LE
VALUE : Personally I don’t think there is a better brush than the SOC for just over $30 shipped to your door. That being said for $20 the 2012 LE is one heck of a nice brush as well. As far as value I will give the nod to the SOC.
Overall : I think its obvious from my review that I give the edge to the SOC. The 2012 LE is a lot closer than I would have thought when I received it a month or so ago. Both brushes are fantastic and a deal at the prices they go for. The SOC however is in my opinion the best boar brush on the market today. If you want to get an awesome brush and save a few bucks the 2012 LE is a fantastic alternative and won’t disappoint.
Hope you all enjoyed my review!!!
A quick SOTD
Blade : Rapira Swedish Supersteel
Soap : Stirling Barbershop
Brush : Semogue IB 2012 LE
Toner : Thayer’s Aftershave Witch Hazel
Aftershave : Barberry Coast Havana + Barberry Coast Bay Rum
I got a BBS shave, but the Sheraton just isn’t the smoothest shaver for me. The final results are always good, but it’s just not as smooth and comfortable as my other OC’s for some reason. Maybe its a bit more aggressive…..I am not sure. The Stirling Barbershop is still one of my favorite scents of all time and I forgot how much I love this soap. Got a great lather and I can still smell hints of the soap a couple of hours later…..not many soaps can do that. Such a sweet and rich scent. Stirling is a fantastic soap company with top-notch prices and great quality. Again I used the Barberry coast Bay Rum and Havana and they mixed really well with the barbershop. The sweetness of the Havana and Barbershop is awesome together and the Bay Rums spice is the perfect contrast. I wish this razor was smoother so I could use it more, but for now it will only get used sparingly.
Shave on my friends!!!