Best Adjustable Safety Razor


Safety razors are a bit of a mystery for many men. While most guys know about their existence, many will never try them out. Likely because of the myth “wet shaving is hard and complicated and possibly even dangerous.”

And then you have a jumble of words that will confuse you even more. What is an adjustable razor? How does it differ from the regular safety razor? What does “razor aggressiveness” mean?

So what is an adjustable razor?

Many who are new to wet shaving will wonder about this.

The simple answer is that adjustable razor is a razor where you can manually adjust how aggressive you want it to be. The more aggressive you make it, the more forcefully it will remove hair from your face.

The downside is that it also irritates more of your skin when you do that.

Why this can be confusing is that there are different ways how to adjust the aggressiveness. As well as how to load the razor blade.

You have for example Merkur Progress that is a two piece safety razor. It means that you have two pieces: the cap and the base-handle piece.

First, you have to unscrew the cap and then sandwich the razor blade between it and the base-handle piece. After assembling the razor, you can then start adjusting the blade gap through the knob placed at the tip of the handle. The same knob you used to unscrew the cap in the beginning. Sounds confusing? See the illustration below as well as read the review.

Then you have Merkur Futur where you pull off the cap to insert the blade. Instead of unscrewing it like in Progress. The adjustment of the blade gap is made similarly, but the dialer is located in a different place.

Or you can turn the knob which will open the butterfly doors. This will reveal a space where you can place the razor blade and adjust the aggressiveness after that. Example of this twist-to-open mechanism is Vikings Blade The Crusader.

And then you have The Rockwell 6c that accomplishes the adjusting with a unique design. You have to switch the razor base plate (it comes with three different plates that add up to six different levels of aggression).

Who needs an adjustable razor?

Another question that is often asked is “why should I adjust the safety razor aggressiveness; can’t I just buy one and be done with it?”.

Again, valid question.

For a new wet shaving enthusiast, this might be confusing but consider this. You have been out in the woods for a few days. You then come home with this beginning-of-a-beard that you are not planning to keep.

To shave that off with your regular razor would mean multiple passes with lots of pulling and clogging. Even with decent pre-shave prep, it will be a somewhat uncomfortable experience. If you only had a razor where you could widen the blade gap hence making the razor more aggressive. But wait! There is such a razor, it is called – adjustable safety razor.

Aggressive razors are excellent for removing heavy and thick beards. For some, this means a few days’ worths of growth, but for some, this is a daily reality.

And then there are days where your skin is more sensitive because of the straight razor you have been trying out.

Then you can just dial down the aggression on your adjustable razor and have a go with that. Adjustable razors add flexibility to your shaving habits as well as comfort. Not every man needs one, but there are plenty of those who will find it useful.

How did we pick our razors

In the land of dreams and cotton candy, the perfect safety razor would be dirt cheap. It would outlive the Armageddon and give you the shave of your life every time you use it (a mathematical impossibility).

Unfortunately, we live in a land of mass-produced goods and capitalism. So to find the best adjustable razors, we have considered the following characteristics:

  • price
  • shaving quality
  • user-friendliness
  • durability
  • warranty and customer service
  • design

With further ado..

Parker Variant Adjustable

Parker Variant adjustable is an excellent razor getting high marks in all the categories. While it lacks the flashiness of the Vikings Blade The Crusader. Or the innovative design of Merkur Futur – it is still a solid razor.

Shaving Quality

On its lowest setting, it is a bit more aggressive compared to some of the others razors in the list. Though I would still call it mild if you ask me. Nice efficient, smooth shave.

User friendliness

The default long handle is great for beginners because it allows a better grip. Some users say it feels cumbersome to maneuver at tight places, but I disagree with this. The long handle feels more comfortable for me. The added value is that it is also more convenient to use when shaving your head or legs. This razor is also easy to maintain. Taking it apart and loading the blade is very intuitive. And the adjusting mechanism works well too.

Durability

Parker as a company has little bit poor reputation because of the quality issues they have had in the past. But Parker Variant sets the record straight. Let’s face it, there is NO razor manufacturing brand out there that wouldn’t produce a faulty device from time to time. I mean we are talking about a product that costs around 60$ while even cars sometimes get the design/quality wrong (or they lie about their quality. Yes I’m looking at you Volkswagen). This razor is well loved in the shaving community, and it is rarely plagued with quality control issues.

Warranty and customer service

The Warranty lasts 1 year but what is impressive is the way they handle the complaints. This speaks a lot about the company in general. For most of us contacting a company or a retailer for a warranty issue brings back bad memories. It has happened to me more than once that I have been blamed for breaking a product which I didn’t by the way! But with Parker U.S retailer they replace your razor should it brake or have any other visible quality issue. No questions asked. They even offer to replace it themselves should you get one of the lemons and leave a lousy comment in the online store review section.

Design

Parker Variant adjustable design is based on Merkur Progress. This two piece razor is sturdier than Progress and comes in three different finishes. Nothing bad can or should be said about the design of the shaving piece. The package though is a whole other story. This beautiful razor comes in a very cheap looking package that I personally dislike. This is nonetheless a small issue if it even can be called “issue” at all.

Read also the full review to see the pros and cons list and a more detailed overview

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Rockwell 6c/2c

Rockwell 6c/2c is an oddball in this list of great adjustable razors. Why? Well, it is because how the adjusting is achieved. You have to replace the base plate to change the aggressiveness. None the less IT IS adjustable and worthy enough to make it into our list.

Shaving Quality

Model 6c comes with three different 2-sided base plates giving you 6 different levels of aggressiveness. 2c comes only with one base plate ergo you only get two different levels so to call this adjustable would be far-fetched. On the lowest setting, it is very mild making it perfect also for first time wet shavers. On its most aggressive “setting/base plate” it is a very comfortable and efficient shaver. A little bit less aggressive than Merkur Futur and Progress in my opinion. I think this razor is more inclined towards mild side because the highest setting #6 is still moderately aggressive.

User Friendliness

Because of its 3-piece design, it is straightforward to clean. Assembling and blade loading is also a no-brainer, and you don’t need a manual for it. With its 3.5 oz / 100 g and 3,7″ / 9.4 cm, it is less clunky than Merkur Futur or Parker Variant yet hefty and long enough to feel good in your hand. The length and good grip make it also perfect to shave your head or legs with it.

Durability

Because there is no fancy mechanism inside this razor, there is less chance for it to break down. The company that produces Rockwell razors is a relatively new one, so there is less data on how well it performs over time. But the chromed finish looks and feels very good and makes you think of a high-end product.

Warranty and customer service

The Rockwell razor has the most accommodating return and warranty policy out there. You can return the razor in 30 days with no questions asked. They even pay for the cost of shipping the item back. It also has a lifetime warranty should the product have any quality issues. And should you damage the razor as a result of neglect or intentional misuse they will still replace the damaged part for free. However, you have to pay for the shipping.

Design

It is a three piece razor that comes in two different finishes: white chrome and gunmetal. Both look beautiful. There is also a more expensive stainless-steel model that will most likely outlive you if adequately cared for. And what I also enjoy is that the razor is packaged into a nice-looking package that looks simple yet stylish. Great package builds anticipation, and Rockwell Razors achieves this.

Read also the full review to see the pros and cons list and a more detailed overview

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Merkur Progress

Merkur/DOVO has made Progress since the 50s, and it is one of the most iconic razors out there. As I already mentioned the Parker Variant adjustable is made based on the Progress. The long production history speaks for itself. It was and continues to be prominent to this day.

Shaving Quality

It has 5 different settings. On its lowest setting, it is rather mild. While on its highest it is nicely aggressive and efficient. Works great even when you happen to have a few days of growth.

User Friendliness

Dovo makes two different Progress models. The short-handled version with its 3.5″ / 8.5 cm is a little bit too small for my taste. The long-handled version is 4.1″ / 10.5 cm which is perfect for my big hands. Both the longer and shorter model have the same handle design. It has multiple indentations and ribs running lengthwise that makes it quite easy to hold onto. Assembly is effortless but you have to do it correctly otherwise you will get blade misalignment problems.

Durability

The Merkur/DOVO is known for its quality. Unfortunately, Progress has been known to have more quality issues than some other DOVO products. More is relative though, German engineering and quality control rarely slip. While saying this, it is still one of the most popular adjustable DE razors out there and gets a lot of love from the shaving community. Most users tend to nag over the looks, but we will cover that later.

Warranty and customer service

Merkur/DOVO has a decent warranty period, but their customer service is one of the worst in this list. If you order from online, you get the usual 30-day return policy. The warranty period itself lasts 2 years which is longer for example than Parker has. But more than once have they argued that the corrosion was caused by misuse, so they aren’t exactly forthcoming in this regard. Experiences may differ of course because many have had superb customer service.

Design

Progress would be gorgeous razor if not for the plastic dial knob. This might sound silly for some (“who cares about the plastic knob man!”), but I’m not the only one who finds it ugly! There is a whole cottage industry out there for tuning the original Progress razors. On the plus side, this speaks about the razors popularity as well. There has to be demand before an industry can develop.

The razor comes in a standard Merkur/DOVO package that doesn’t impress. It is made out of solid cardboard, and everything fits snugly inside, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m holding a cheap Chinese razor in my hand.

Read also the full review to see the pros and cons list and a more detailed overview

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Merkur Futur

If we talk about adjustable safety razors, we can not overlook the Merkur Futur. This list wouldn’t be complete without it! This futuristic looking razor catches the eye and is considered to be by many the very definition of an adjustable safety razor.

Shaving Quality

Futur is the most aggressive razor in this list of best adjustable razors. It has 6 different settings, and even on its lowest, it has a bite. That makes it a go-to razor for those that have thicker and coarser hair. The quality of the shave is exceptional though and very comfortable. While you can tame the beast with less aggressive razor blades like Astra SP, I still would be cautious if you happen to have very sensitive skin. The good thing about most stores is that you can try it out and if it doesn’t work for you – return it.

User friendliness

Futur might look like from future but it is actually easy to assemble and disassemble should you wish to clean it. Switching the razor blade nevertheless should be done only with dry hands. Dialing different settings is also effortless. The weight and length of the razor make it one of the biggest mass-produced razors out there. But it doesn’t mean it is cumbersome to use. It can be a little bit clunky under the nose but nothing that can not be overcome by little practice. Merkur Futur is not very well suited for leg and head shaving because it is very aggressive and heavy.

Durability

Merkur Futur is one sturdy, well-built razor. For all of its sophistication, it still gets its share of bad reviews. Mostly these are from users who are unhappy with the size or aggressiveness of the razor. Rarely does it have any serious quality issue and most users find it to be exceptional.

There have been some complaints about the chrome chipping. Many users have reported using vinegar and bleach in their cleaning process. I strongly recommend heading the advice of DOVO/Merkur: “Regular maintenance with a soft brush and the occasional degreasing with hair shampoo or dishwashing liquid prolongs the lifespan of the metal razors and removes matt spots.”

Warranty and customer service

Like Merkur Progress the Futur has a 2-year factory warranty. Should you order the razor from Amazon you, have the right to return it in 30-days. This is great for those who will find the razor to be too aggressive or hard to use.

Design

I really enjoy the way Futur looks like. Its smooth organic curves are so art nouveau. It comes in three different finishes: chrome, satin, and gold. It just makes me cry to see this piece of art in the ugly Merkur package.

Read also the full review to see the pros and cons list and a more detailed overview

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Vikings Blade The Crusader

Vikings Blade (VB) is another new yet outstanding company that has emerged in the past few years. Since 2015 they have sold under their own brand safety razors that have gained a large following. One of these is The Crusader adjustable.

Shaving Quality

The Crusader delivers exceptionally smooth and efficient shave. Nothing less can be expected if the razor made it to the list. It is very hard to compare its aggressiveness to others as it has no numbers/markings on the adjusting dial, but I think it is comparable to Merkur Progress. VB markets this as “AGGRESSIVE-to-MILD continuous adjustment band with NO markings for a fluid shaving experience for enthusiasts.” I find it adds more confusion than anything else, but it is what it is.

User friendliness

The Crusader is similar in size to the Merkur Futur. Both are heavy and long. The Crusader though has a minor advantage here because the head is less bulky and thus it’s easier to maneuver. The handle is covered with a rough texture that provides a good grip. Switching the blades is also easy thanks to the Twist-To-Open mechanism. If the dialing knob had numbers on it, it would be perfect.

Durability

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough data at this moment to make any conclusions about the longevity of this razor. If other models made by Vikings Blade are any indication of the quality, then I’d say we are in good hands. Most of the razor is made out of brass covered with excellent chrome finish. So corrosion will be the least of the problems. Only time will tell how the butterfly doors and the adjusting mechanism will last.

Warranty and customer service

On their homepage, it says that if you wish to return the razor, you are applicable for restocking fee which is 35% plus shipping costs. When you order from online, you have the right to return it in 30 days. According to the rules if there is nothing wrong with the product shipping fee will be deducted from your refund.

Now should the razor brake down, you have a warranty up to 12-months. But the way the warranty is formulated leaves a lot of wiggle room. Here is the exact quote: “Warranty does not cover damage due to improper use, normal wear and tear (e.g., scratches), buyer’s remorse, as well as defects that have a negligible effect on the operation of razor and or item.” At least the customer service is very responsive, and luckily it seems that the razor is well made. So most likely you don’t need to use your warranty.

Design

The Crusader is by far the flashiest razor in this list with its luxurious black & gold art deco style. But I mean it in a good way. This and Rockwell are in my opinion only razors in this list that come in a package that I wouldn’t be ashamed of giving as a present. The razor is packed into a very grand looking leatherette box that doubles as a travel case should you need one.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Conclusion

All razors that we covered here are excellent. That’s why we call this the “best” list. Which one should I pick then? If you happen to have, very sensitive skin go for the Rockwell or The Crusader. If you happen to have very coarse hair, then you might prefer Merkur Futur as it is most aggressive out of the 5. If you have something between meaning that your beard is not the softest nor the copper wire some of us have. And your skin isn’t exactly made out of porcelain then go for the Parker Variant or Merkur Progress.

After finding the right razor, you should also experiment with different razor blades, shaving soaps, and creams, brushes, etc.

Try different shaving techniques. Map out your beard growth to make sense where you are going with the grain and where you are going across the grain. Try out different pre-shave preparations etc. Remember, finding the perfect razor and getting the best shave is a journey. That makes it so enjoyable.

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