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Adjustable choice: Parker Variant or Merkur Futur?

I had the Futur at one point and just found it to be too big and clumsy. Just not a great shaver for me. Cant comment on the Variant. The Flexi is the only adjustable I have and probably the only one I'll ever need. I really like the Osprey but I just don't think it will shave any better than the Flexi.
Good info -- many thanks!
 
I just bought a Variant closed comb for my eldest son, to teach him on, and I tried it out myself last week-end. My baseline is a Merkur 34c (HD), but I also own a Gillette Slim.

The numbers go up to '5', and I tried it out on a '3'. Compared to my baseline, the Variant delivered a very smooth shaving experience, and I never once thought I was anywhere close to getting a weeper/nick. However, I didn't get quite as close of a shave as I expected, and I had to do quite a bit of touch-up. (Note that I do one pass plus touch-up.) Still, though, all of that touch-up did not result in any irritation. So, I suppose, if you're looking for an adjustable razor that's on the mild side, then the Variant might fit the bill. I haven't used the Futur to compare it to, but it's definitely milder than my Slim.

It's decently heavy compared to anything else I've shaved with, about 1.2 ounces heavier than my 34c. But the Futur is even heavier than that. Heads up: your QShave 'clone' actually weighs less than a real Futur, so you might notice the additional weight either way. The Variant's head is rather bulky, too, so take that into consideration if you think you might ever be shaving your upper lip with it.
The solution to under the lip with a Futur is to go upside down and shave against the grain there on your third pass.

But I highly recommend you dial it all the way down to "1" before you do that! It will enable you to do very small buffing with a greatly reduced risk of bloodshed.

I honestly can't see why the Futur gets as much criticism as it does. It is one of my favorites in my Arsenal of Shavocracy.
 
But I highly recommend you dial it all the way down to "1" before you do that! It will enable you to do very small buffing with a greatly reduced risk of bloodshed.

Thanks for the tip. Along those lines, I just watched a video on the Variant, and the host used a first pass at 5, second at 3, and final pass at 1. (For similar reasons, I presume.) Good plan!

He also mentioned using setting five a first and second time (meaning, I think, that he twisted the dial to five once and then continued dialing until he reached it again, effectively for a "10" setting). Without the razor in my hand, I cannot verify, but that adds to the versatility of any continuous dial razor like the Parker, I would think.
 
Thanks for the tip. Along those lines, I just watched a video on the Variant, and the host used a first pass at 5, second at 3, and final pass at 1. (For similar reasons, I presume.) Good plan!

He also mentioned using setting five a first and second time (meaning, I think, that he twisted the dial to five once and then continued dialing until he reached it again, effectively for a "10" setting). Without the razor in my hand, I cannot verify, but that adds to the versatility of any continuous dial razor like the Parker, I would think.
My Variable "self disassembled" in my hand when I was unscrewing the top cap to load a blade years ago. I fidgeted with it for a bit, but set it aside, still in pieces to this day.

If I load my Progress with a blade and screw the cap down tight, the number "1" will not be under the witness mark on the handle. What ever is under that witness mark becomes my "1", and I dial up from that to whatever represents a "3" setting, my default use setting for the Progress. I suppose I could unscrew it to a setting beyond "6", or even until just before it disengages the cap stem threads, but I've never felt the need.

The Progress, like my Fatboys, is a razor that when I use it, has me wondering why I ever bother with any other razor.
 
Thank you - that is a solid suggestion. Can you share how the Flexi compares to the Futur and the Variant? The Variant is also brass and priced similarly, if not lower, at a large online retailer.
FWIW --

There are conflicting reports about what the Variant is made of. Here's a piece of a thread on that question:


I don't have any prejudice -- there are lots of good chrome-plated Zamak razors.

. CHaarles
 

Space_Cadet

I don't have a funny description.
Futur is the worst razor I came by. By a large gap. Horrible design. I can't imagine shaving with it.
Parker Variant is quite good. Not one of the best, but it's okay. But Merkur Progress is a better bang for the buck.
 
Parker Variant is quite good. Not one of the best, but it's okay. But Merkur Progress is a better bang for the buck.
Thank you. The Progress wasn't really on my radar.... to you, what makes it better than the Parker? (I see many similarities in design, size, etc. What are the differences that make the Progress better?) Thank you in advance!
 

Space_Cadet

I don't have a funny description.
Thank you. The Progress wasn't really on my radar.... to you, what makes it better than the Parker? (I see many similarities in design, size, etc. What are the differences that make the Progress better?) Thank you in advance!

Parker is a Merkur Progress knock-off. You better buy the classic original, that isn't expensive.
 
The Variant is more directly comparable to the Merkur Progress than the Futur. The open comb Variant looks like it might offer something a bit different.
 
Parker Variant OC is my top razor. Efficient and smooth. The head is a clone of Mercur Progress.

The original non-OC is very close. Just as efficient and just as smooth, but about 0.5-1 setting behind - i.e. I'd rate 2 on OC as 3 on the original.

To me they span just the right range between mild and aggressive. That is, pretty mild at low setting, reasonably aggressive at high setting, efficient at all settings.

Merkur Futur is, from all reviews, aggressive at all settings. Now, it may be moderately aggressive at low setting - I did not use it myself - but it doesn't seem to provide the mild option at all.

I handled the original Progress, I don't think it's better than Variant. I certainly like the knurled handle on Variant much more, it makes for a very secure grip. The Progress that I saw at the store had some finish issues, don't know if that's just one bad example but it had some imperfections on the handle under the chrome plating. Definitely not a "German Precision Machine" I was envisioning. But the design looked very 1950s-cool. If I ever get a Progress, I'd go for the long-handled version.

I also saw and handled the Flexi. I was very impressed by the finish and the overall solid feel of that razor. I don't know how if would hold up in the long run, but the brand new one looked exquisitely well made and finished. However, I was somewhat put off by the balance, it's a very hefty razor and to me it seemed too handle-heavy. I like heavy razors that put more weight towards the head, it helps me with not applying pressure. The Flexi seemed to have all that weight in a wrong place, but I may be biased by being used to Variants.
 
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Excellent brief review & comparison, @Umma2gumma - thank you! Helps me tremendously.
Thanks.

I did make a mistake in a hurry - it's the original Variant's head that's a clone of Progress, the OC is a modification of that. But to be honest, they are extremely close in feel and performance. If I was getting a new Variant today, I'd just go for the OC. If I already had one, knowing what I know now, I'd skip the OC - the improvement is very negligible. That said, I am not at all sorry that I ended up with both.
 
I have the Flexi; very nice razor also. The balance point of the Flexi is just below the adjustment dial, so it seems to me the weight is more toward the head. I also have a Variant (not open comb) and like it. I haven't tried the Merkur Progress, but according to many it shaves very similarly to the Variant (the Variant being a copy of the Progress design, as already noted).
 
I have the Flexi; very nice razor also. The balance point of the Flexi is just below the adjustment dial, so it seems to me the weight is more toward the head. I also have a Variant (not open comb) and like it. I haven't tried the Merkur Progress, but according to many it shaves very similarly to the Variant (the Variant being a copy of the Progress design, as already noted).

How is the Flexi vs Variant in shaving ?

One thing I love about the Variant (both versions) is the combination of efficiency, smoothness, and a wide range of effective shaving angles. It takes very minimal effort to get a great shave with them. The only other design I have that’s close is the cheap V3A head from Maggard, but it has no adjustability - it’s like a Variant permanently set at 3.5 or so.

Curious how the Plexi compares.
 
I've got the short handle Progress and the Variant OC. The Progress was one of my top razors, the Variant OC just beats it in almost everything. Better shave, better finish, better blade alignment, better grip. The Progress has better balance though, and it shaves quite well, but the Variant is even better. I'm a bit biased, as the Variant OC is my current favorite, but for a reason.
 
I've got the short handle Progress and the Variant OC. The Progress was one of my top razors, the Variant OC just beats it in almost everything. Better shave, better finish, better blade alignment, better grip. The Progress has better balance though, and it shaves quite well, but the Variant is even better. I'm a bit biased, as the Variant OC is my current favorite, but for a reason.

Yes, it's an awesome razor, and a little more efficient than the original Variant, but if I set them by 1 setting apart, I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference. My old Variant was my favorite razor before I bought the OC. They really struck gold with that design.
 

nemo

Lunatic Fringe
Staff member
Just get the Progress. If you bought a Variant you'd always wonder about the original, begun in 1955.
They're smooth, milder and much better than the Futur -- I hated mine. Big and nasty, skip that.
There are still nice vintage Progress razors out there, not many but I saw one go for less than $50 recently.

full
 
How is the Flexi vs Variant in shaving ?

One thing I love about the Variant (both versions) is the combination of efficiency, smoothness, and a wide range of effective shaving angles. It takes very minimal effort to get a great shave with them. The only other design I have that’s close is the cheap V3A head from Maggard, but it has no adjustability - it’s like a Variant permanently set at 3.5 or so.

Curious how the Plexi compares.
The Flexi is good also. I'm not sure how to compare them other than to say they're different and I enjoy using them both.

One of the things I enjoy about B&B is how these threads remind me about different razors. I havent used the Variant for a while and I need to use it again.
 

nemo

Lunatic Fringe
Staff member
One of the things I enjoy about B&B is how these threads remind me about different razors. I havent used the Variant for a while and I need to use it again.
I hear you, just I dug out one of my Merkurs for tomorrow's shave after reading this.

Soaps, brushes, aftershaves ... love these reminders!
 
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