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Slant Razor vs. Adjustable Razor: Ikon X3 vs. Parker Variant: A Side by Side Test and Review

Have you tried at least five shaves, increasing the aggression on each pass?

  • Yes

    Votes: 2 22.2%
  • No

    Votes: 4 44.4%
  • No but I will try that

    Votes: 1 11.1%
  • Yes I like shaving that way

    Votes: 2 22.2%
  • Yes but I don't like shaving that way

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    9
Why bother to test these razors side by side? Well it seems that many want to find out if an adjustable razor, which usually cost a more, (the exception being the very good and bargain priced Ming Shi 2000s adjustable, a Merkur Futur copy) is worth the money. In the case of these two razors, they're about the same price, give or take a dollar or two. However another reason for the test is to see if the method of increasing the aggression of the adjustable razor with each pass really does produce a smoother, more comfortable, irritation-free shave, than a very good non-adjustable DE razor.

Blade Choice For the Test:
A razor is only as good as it's blade. I chose to use the Indian SuperMax Super Platinum. Of the blades from this Indian manufacturer, I've found this blade to be the very best. It's very sharp and fairly smooth. Not quite as sharp as a Feather perhaps, (close though) and not quite as smooth as a Polsilver Super Iridium, but a very good blade nonetheless. It pairs well with both razors, as do many other blades, because neither of these razors is especially blade fussy.

Confusingly this blade is NOT the same as the SuperMax Platinum. That blade is harsh, not especially sharp and unpleasant to use in just about every razor I've tried it in.

Regretfully, the SuperMax Super Platinum seems to no longer be made. There is some old stock out there. Why manufacturers stop making good blades and keep making bad ones, I just don't know. There are some new blades from this manufacturer, so if you guys know more about current stock let me know. Right now I have plenty of the SuperMax Super Platinum!

The Two Razors Compared and Why I Chose Them For This Test:

The Ikon X3:

The Ikon X3 is a slant bar razor. The head is made from aircraft aluminum. Direct from Ikon it's $65 complete, but if you buy the head from Maggard and pair it with their MR5 handle the whole package is under $35. So this package, (which I've tested and works very well) is cheaper than the Parker Variant which sells for $57.

I chose the Ikon X3 because it's a mildly aggressive slant, yet it's very smooth and efficient. A reliable consistent razor that almost any person can happily use.

The Parker Variant:
The Parker Variant, is an Indian copy, or perhaps Parker would argue, with some justification, an enhancement of the Merkur Progress design. The head is very, very similar to the Progress. The bottom plate has four drainage holes, the Progress none. It is a two piece razor with nine levels of aggression. You adjust it by turning a knurled metal knob at the base of the handle. This knob is made of plastic on the Progress. It comes in a satin finish and the sole US distributors are in Westchester, New York, though there are a number of re-sellers also.

How I Use an Adjustable Razor
When using an adjustable razor, (and following advice from others on this forum, including Jim Chandler, plus my own long experimentation) I've found the best way, for the smoothest and most comfortable shave is to INCREASE the aggression with each pass. It seems counter-intuitive at first but it really works best. It's like lowering the blade on a lawn mower to get a closer cut. I increased the aggression on each pass on this test.

Now in previous reviews, I notice that some people seem to miss the point about using an adjustable razor this way. I really believe that this is the best way to get a very smooth, comfortable, and importantly irritation-free shave with an adjustable razor. I have a complete thread on this method. Please review the thread and give it a whirl, and report what you find please!

A Digression:
I believe that there is a great misunderstanding in the DE shaving world at large about this. Here's how I see it: We are aiming at progressive beard reduction, using multiple, multi-directional shaves to get a very smooth shave. As the hair gets close to the skin you need a MORE aggressive razor, not a LESS aggressive one! Buffing for example, should be gently done with an aggressive razor, and I submit that you shouldn't be scrubbing away with a mild razor, because that will more than likely cause irritation.

That's why the notion of using a super aggressive razor to “mow down my three days of coarse growth” as some report as a test of an effective razor, seems really wrong headed and backwards to me. If you have a mild beard, one mid-aggression razor like for example the RR German 37 is probably fine. But, if you have a fast-growing, coarse beard you may be better off with two razors for one shave! Yes two razors for you RAD sufferers out there!

A mild razor WTG, and a more aggressive razor XTG and ATG and, for buffing. The beauty of an adjustable is just that; you can adjust it through the shave as you progressively get closer.

This all assumes that you are a well practiced DE shaver. If you have poor or indifferent shaving skills than aggressive razors can hurt you. But once your technique is solid an aggressive razor properly used will give you a close shave with less irritation, if you have a coarse fast growing beard and use it in the way I describe above. This may all seem radical to some, but if you try it I can almost guarantee you'll like it. I've done a lot of experimentation on this, so I speak from experience, not theoretical conjecture.

Back to to the review!

The Routine
For testing I go through the same routine:
I clean my face and wet the beard by washing with a glycerin soap. I rinse off the soap, wet it thoroughly and apply two drops of a pre-shave oil.

By the way, I believe good pre-shave prep not only produces a better shave, but reduces irritation, and keeps you skin in good condition. I know of one rather famous reviewer whose skin frankly looks irritated, red, blotchy and awful, especially on his neck. I don't doubt he gets close shaves, but at what cost?

I use an Arko shave stick applied directly to the beard and lather with a Stirling Synthetic “Kong” brush. I rinse and lather again between passes. I thoroughly rinse the head of the razor between passes.

I remove the blade from the razor when I'm done. I dry it with a microfiber cloth. Naturally I dry the razor too when I'm done.

I finish with an Alum block, which is a good indicator of razor burn or irritation. Then after washing it off , I apply Thayer's Alcohol Free Witch Hazel.

The Shave
I shaved 24 hours before using a Voskhod Saiver with a two blades! I'll have a post about that experiment shortly! That razor produced a pretty good shave, and so the growth was about normal. I have a coarse, heavy, fast growing beard, so for some my beard might be like two days growth at this point.

I shaved the left side of my face with the Ikon X3, and the right with the Parker Variant. I have very symmetrical beard growth.

I shaved using these settings with the Parker Variant: WTG at setting #2, XTG at setting #3 and AGT at setting #4. Final cleanup, touch up, buffing and J-hooking was done at setting #4.5,

First Pass WTG.
Both razors were very comfortable and smooth. Perhaps the Parker was a tad smoother, but there's very little difference. Both give an excellent one pass shave, if that's your cup of tea.

Second Pass XTG.
Again both razors were smooth. Yet the Variant was smoother. Also, I felt that after that pass the side shaved with the Variant was shaved closer, with shorter stubble remaining. If I was going for a two shave pass then the Variant would be the winner. Again, I'm increased the aggression with that pass.

Third Pass ATG.
At the end of this pass both sides of my face were very smooth. But the Variant was smoother and the shave was closer. I give the Variant the edge here. In fairness the Ikon X3 was still very good and the results with it were excellent. I'm comparing two very good razors!

Buff up and J-hooking
The Parker Variant was a more comfortable, and required less work to get a BBS shave.
My jawline, chin, always need a little extra work. For me BBS means nothing less than glass smooth in all direction, not just some! Yes, I'm a crazed shaving fanatic!

One thing I noticed was that there was a lot more feedback from the alum block on the side shaved with the Ikon X3, than the Parker Variant, indicating there was more skin irritation on that side, though on neither side was it very significant or unpleasant.

Conclusions:
Paired with this blade the Parker Variant is better razor in my opinion. Smoother, fewer strokes to a BBS shave, and less irritation. However, these are both very good razors, and the Ikon X3 produced a very good shave.
Perhaps the Ikon would be happier with a Polsilver SI, a Gillette Nacet, a Silver Star or an Astra SP, than the SuperMax Super Platinum. Yet the Variant is happy with any of those blades. If you want to save $20 on the Variant the Ikon is cheaper is paired with a Maggard handle.. But in a straight choice the Parker Variant wins hands down for me.

The shave also once again reconfirms that this way of shaving with an adjustable razor produces smooth shaves, and reduces the likelihood of irritation!

I hope you guys found this review helpful, and I look forward to reading your comments, and observations about your own shaving experiences.
 
I have never thought of using my adjustable in that way. Even if i was to doba two pass with the grain for dfs than it does make sense.

What settings do you use ?


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