Parker 99R and its black handled brethren 96R are both Twist-To-Open (TTO) safety razors. Styled on the basis of old Gillette Aristocrat, the razor in question is one handsome razor. With the beautiful finish and easy blade insertion, this could be the start of a long-lasting friendship. Let us dissect this creature first before you decide though.
+ TTO mechanism
+ Mild razor
– Has a learning curve
- Mild razor. Good for beginners
- TTO mechanism. The twist-to-open design is easy to use and makes the blade switching very easy
- Both the chromed mode 99R and black “graphite” handled model 96R have a nice knurled handle hence you get a good grip
- The razor is 4 oz / 113 g heavy and 3.8″ / 9.6 cm tall. This makes it a rather heavy razor while being average sized.
- Is known to have occasionally some quality problems. That said they have very good customer service and usually getting a replacement is no problem
I have expressed my sentiment regarding the Parker razor package also in my other reviews. Dull as dishwater. While it doesn’t affect the product inside it is a matter of aesthetics. People do judge book by their cover so be wary when giving this razor to someone as a gift. You might want to repack it first.
Parker 99R / 96R is average regarding height, but when it comes to weight, it is ranked as one of the more heavier razors. It is not Merkur Futur heavy but comes close. Weight is a matter of personal preference. Sooner or later you will get used to any razor no matter how heavy it is. Trying out different razors will, in the end, shape out your predilections.
Weight: 4 oz / 113 g
Length: 3.8″ / 9.6 cm
Made in India
How Does It Feel In Your Hand
Both 99R and 96R have a handle which is suitable for any hand size. The handle is made out of brass, covered with chrome and has good knurling giving you a superb grip.
Like I already said before it is a heavy razor. It comes close to one of the heaviest razor produced currently – Merkur Futur. The weight makes the razor glide down your stubble so that you don’t have to use too much pressure. Besides this technical nuance, I just like how the heavier razors add tactile feedback. Will it somehow make the shaving more efficient? The short answer is – no. Weight plays a small part in razors aggression formula, but it is noticeable.
So if you are a person who hates that the cellphones are too heavy or you enjoy kindle paperwhite to the real book because it’s not that bulky etc. – these may be signs that you wouldn’t enjoy heavy razors also (kindle paperwhite is though just damn practical). Should that be the case you may want look at Parker 90R or abandon the TTO design and go for the classics Merkur 34C and Edwin Jagger 89
What About The Design
Parker 99R and 96R share the Twist-to-Open (TTO) style head. Both have closed comb design and are one-piece razors. It means that the head with the doors is attached to the handle. To insert the razor blade, you need to twist the knob at the bottom of the handle to open the butterfly doors. Just drop the blade in and rotate the knob in the other direction to close the doors. This can be a tricky task should you try to do it while showering (then again why should you?). Otherwise, you are good to go.
The handle is made out of brass like the razors of old. The head is made out of zamak (pot metal) and covered with chrome. Brass is rustproof, but as the head is most susceptible to corrosion, it does little to prolong the razors lifespan.
All safety razors are sometimes plagued with quality issues. The more sophisticated TTO system makes it also more prone to have problems. One of the most common ones is that the razor blade is not correctly aligned after closing the doors. It means that blade exposure is higher on one side versus the other side. Consequently making one side more aggressive than the other. This, fortunately, can be overcome by holding the wings of the razor blade while closing the butterfly doors.
Should you encounter any problems with your safety razor, contact Parker or your seller. Parker has very good customer service, and they will usually replace your razor without hassle.
Will It Shave?
Now to the most important thing. How well it shaves? Parker 99/96R comes with 5 razor blades that are not the sharpest around. Both razors have very minimal blade exposure. Though the blade gap is wide and the razor itself is heavy, it is still considered mildly aggressive. What also comes apparent the moment you start shaving with this razor is the importance of the right angle. The correct shaving angle is ~30°, but in some razors it is much easier to attain it. And they are much more forgiving should the angle change +/- 5-10 degrees – not so with 99R /96R.
The mild shave you get from it is good for beginners who have soft to semi coarse beard. But it is not the best option for men with thicker and fast-growing beards. Men such as those might benefit more from adjustable razors like Merkur Progress, Merkur Futur or Parker Variant.
If you use better razor blades like Astra or Feather and manage to get the right angle it gives a very smooth and efficient shave. Because it is not very aggressive it is suitable for beginners. But don’t be disappointed if you end up having some problems in the beginning. By problems, I mean not getting a proper shave. This razor has a learning curve.
Comparison: Parker 99R / 96R vs. Merkur 34C vs. Vikings Blade The Chieftain
For this comparison, I chose razors that are mild in their nature and good for beginners. While 99R / 96R and The Chieftain are both very similar in the sense that they have a TTO mechanism, I also included Merkur 34C as another excellent beginner friendly safety razor.
The Chieftain is 3 oz / 87 g making almost an ounce (~ 30 g) lighter. The length is the same 3.75″ / 9.5 cm. Merkur 34C is even smaller being only 2.7 oz / 77 g and 3.3″ / 8.3 cm.
The Chieftain has the same Twist-To-Open mechanism that opens the butterfly doors. This is a very comfortable way how to switch razor blades. It is also considered a mild razor making it suitable for beginners. Merkur 34C is a classical two-piece safety razor. You have to unscrew the cap to insert the blade causing the whole process to be more tedious. As with The Chieftain and 99R / 96R, it is mildly aggressive. Out of the three, The Chieftain is considered the least aggressive followed by Parker and Merkur. Thought the differences are minuscule and they all are suitable for novice wet shavers.
The Chieftain comes only in the black-and-gold finish. 34C is made with chrome and gold plating. The Chieftain just like Parker 99R and 96R has a brass handle that is gold plated. Both of these razors have zamak made heads though. Merkur 34C is made out zamak (pot metal) all the way.
To summarize the key differences:
- The Chieftain is lighter but has the same length as Parker 99R / 96R
- Merkur 34C is smaller in size and weighs less than Parker 99R / 96R
- The Chieftain comes in black and gold finish
- Merkur 34C comes in chrome and also in the gold finish
- All three razors are mildly aggressive and suitable for beginners
- The Chieftain is also TTO razor, but 34C is a classical three-piece razor. It is easier to switch razor blade in a TTO razor but nothing complicated about it also in a three-piece razor
- Parker 99R / 96R is in a lower price range making it more affordable
Parker makes a whole bunch of different TTO razors besides the one we covered here. There is also short handled version – 87R, one that weighs third less – 90R and so on and so on. Parker has a wonderful collection of modern TTO-s, something for everyone. They all share the same TTO mechanism though, and the difference is mostly in size.
People either love or dislike Parker razors. To be honest, I find that they do not get the credit they deserve. I think double standards are applied when people discuss Parker razors. Mainly because they are made in India. But sometimes it pays off being bold!
So last quick rundown: It is suitable for beginners and very affordable. Not the best option for sensitive skin or coarse beard.