Interested in the past, present and the future of adjustable safety razor?

The availability of the adjustable safety razor, once relegated to a niche’ within a niche’, has recently expanded with a number of new models available over the past couple of years. How do they work, who is making them, and how well do they perform? Is the adjustable safety razor now finally something to consider as mainstream in traditional wet shaving? There are few posts years before to present the past and present of adjustable safety razor. Here we'd like to refresh up and image little more about the futher of adjustable safety razor. 

How Does An Adjustable Safety Razor Work?

What does an adjustable safety razor adjust? There are a number of specifications that go into the design of a razor’s head, but two important ones are probably blade gap (the distance between the blade and base plate of the razor, between the “A” and “C” points of the image above) and blade exposure (the blade sticking out and touching the skin from the top cap of the razor, between points “A” and “B” above). Adjustable safety razor settings can vary the blade gap to some degree. The blade gap interacts with the blade exposure to create a milder or a more aggressive shave.

Back In The Day…

The history of the adjustable safety razor is interesting, but ultimately considered a minor aspect of the over-all market. There were very few examples of an adjustable safety razor over the years. Gillette has an adjustable razor that morphed into different models over the years. Schick (and later PAL) had a single adjustable model for the Injector blade in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Merkur produced the Progress beginning in the 1950’s, the Futur beginning in the 1980’s (more on those two below), and the ridiculously over-engineered (yet surprisingly delicate) Vision for a short time around the year 2000.

And that was about it.

Recent Continuously Adjustable Safety Razors

However, more recently there has been renewed interest in the adjustable safety razor. There are new razors that can be continuously adjusted within a range of settings, and some others that I consider “semi adjustable” by virtue of either multiple base plates or by taking advantage of subtle design features.

Merkur Progress

 Merkur adjustable safety razor

The Merkur Progress adjustable safety razor design has been around since 1955 and is largely unchanged, at least visually, though there have been a few minor internal engineering tweaks over the years.

The Progress has its quirks: the handle is too smooth for some and the look of the adjustment dial seems incongruous to many. But the razor’s performance far outweighed the “ugly duckling” looks many.

Merkur Futur (1985)

 Murker futur

The Merkur Futur adjustable safety razor was launched in 1985. It boasts a sleek, modern look, and an unusual “pop off” head design. A lot of the Futur’s popularity comes from the fact that it is (reasonably) widely available and it looks cool. 

While, the un-textured handle can make holding the razor awkward. The the razor’s large(-ish) head can make getting into tight areas like under the nose a challenge. And the “window” of the adjustment range is biased a bit high for some who wish the low end of the range was even lower/milder.

However it is well built and a lot of Futur users find it gives them many years of great shaves.

Parker Variant

 Paker adjustable safety razor

Introduced in 2016, the Parker Variant adjustable razor addressed the ergonomic shortcomings that many found in the Merkur Progress. But basically the Variant has a slightly longer, much better-textured handle, and a better-looking adjustment dial. But more importantly, it also opened the minds of other artisans and manufacturers to the possibility that the adjustable safety razor market was one worth considering.

Supply Razor

 Supply adjustable safety razor

Rather like the Rockwell 6C, the Supply razor (review) comes with three different base plates so you can select your level of aggression. But you’ll notice the Supply razor is not like any other adjustable safety razors on this list. That’s because it is an injector razor, using single edge blades instead of double edge safety razor blades. But don’t let that scare you – injector blades are readily available and come in a handy dispenser so you really do inject them into the razor head without risking your hands. Supply is a thoroughly modern startup with a precisely made razor molded using aerospace technology. The result is a razor that is heavy, comfortable to hold and offers a very close and satisfying shave.

Rockwell 6C Adjustable Safety Razor

 Rockwell adjustable safety razor

Rockwell razors have exploded onto the wet shaving scene since their 2014 Kickstarter offering high quality adjustable safety razors with a lifetime warranty. A thoroughly modern brand, Rockwell razors shares many of the same values as Artisan Shaving – quality safety razors that save money and save the planet. Their adjustable safety razors use different base plates in order to change aggressiveness. Each side of the base plate represents a different setting and you are supplied with 3 plates, giving you 6 settings overall. That’s the same as the Merkur Futur but Rockwell are geared more towards softer settings making them a great beginners safety razor, besides the cheaper price. The use of base plates to adjust the safety razor settings has a few pros and cons. For one thing it is frustrating to have to change the whole head between settings, so most people will find their ideal setting and rarely use the other two blades. Taking the head apart is always risky, especially with soapy hands mid-shave. Any time you take the blade out requires concentration with any safety razor, so having to work out different plate settings with the other hand seems daunting. Plus you can lose base plates, especially when travelling.

Vikings Blade Adjustable Safety Razors 

Vikings Blade offer two adjustable safety razors – the Crusader and the Emperor.

Vikings Blade Emperor

 Vikings blade adjustable safety razor

The Meiji Edition of the Vikings Blade Emperor razor is aptly named after Emperor Meiji who ruled Japan from 1867 until 1912 and brought Japan out of its feudal past and into the modern industrial age. It clearly feels like razor built to last a lifetime. It is precise yet rugged. The calibration of the adjustment knob is exact and moves with a firm smoothness. It is a shorter handled razor than the original Vikings Blade Emperor razor and yet weighs 134 grams/4.72 ounces. The Emperor also features a rare feature of bending the safety razor blade to achieve a sharper cutting angle. The overall length is 95 mm (3.71 inches) making it about the same length as a vintage Gillette Super Speed razor, often hailed as the ideal length. Plus the grip is fantastic with a finer texture applied on top of the bigger grooves in the handle.

Vikings Blade Crusader 

 VB adjustable safety razor

Vikings Blade Crusader is much longer and sleeker than the Emperor but remains beautifully balanced and impeccably built. At 109 grams it is almost a third lighter and longer at 117mm. However it shares the same smooth adjustment settings. Keep in mind that as it is rose gold plated this is designed to weather and fade with age. One major perk is two comb settings so one side is more aggressive than the other – a bit like the Rockwell 6C. That means you have a huge variety of settings given the two sides and the dial on the handle so you can quickly learn your favourites for areas like a sensitive neck or a stubborn chin. And that’s before you play around with different safety razor blades.

Future is coming... ...

Thanks to shaving lovers who have never stopped sharing, it is them who make the shaving acadamy happen. The process is increasingly updated and the creation never stops. As a razor manufacturer, we respect all brands. At the same time, we will also design a new adjustable razor and continue the revolutionary path of traditional safety razor.

Stay passion, Stay nature. 

new adjustable safety razor

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