Merkur Progress Review – Old School Adjustable

Last updated on December 5th, 2018 by Garrick Dee

A week ago, I wrote about the Merkur Futur that looks like from a razor from the 21st century.

If that is too big for you or if you prefer a classic safety razor design here’s another product from Merkur that experienced wet shavers love – the Merkur Progress.

Unlike the Futur and Vision, the Progress screams classic with its two piece design, smooth handle and plastic knob at the bottom that allows you to adjust the settings.

There however are some quirks that may not make this suitable for a newbie but once you get the hang of it, it can be a very versatile tool that can be as aggressive or as mild as you want it to be depending on the setting.

The beauty of an adjustable razor like this is that you can adjust the aggressiveness setting min-shave.

If your neck is sensitive, you can shave at a low setting on your neck area and a high setting for the rest of your face.

A quick look at the features

  • Chrome finish
  • Adjustable up to 5 settings
  • Available in two variants – the long handled and the standard version
  • Standard: 3.35″
  • Long handle: 4.14″
  • Aggressiveness: 9/10
  • Blades included: 1

Pros

  • This adjustable razor can go from mild to aggressive depending on your needs
  • You can go from a 3 pass shave to a 2 pass shave and still get a BBS results
  • Simple construction = will last a long time

Cons

  • Slippery handle
  • There is a learning curve and quirks that may not make this a good choice for beginners
  • Assembling this razor requires a slight learning curve

What to expect from this classic looking adjustable razor?

Unlike non-adjustable two-piece razors that are pretty straightforward to put together, the Merkur Progress has its quirks and to avoid any disappointments due to improper assembly, make sure to read the following before you shave with this.

First, before attaching the top plate look at both sides, one side should have a small engraved marking that should line up with the engraved triangle marking located on the side of the bottom plate.

Alignment

If you don’t line these up the result will be an uneven blade exposure and a bad shave.

Second, as you tighten the knob, rest your index finger on the razor head to make sure that the blades are have symmetrical exposure.

Tightening

The Progress will give you 5 aggressiveness settings that you can change by adjusting the knob – yup it’s the same knob that holds the top plate and body together.

It’s this adjustability that makes this razor one of the more popular adjustables in the market but also it’s this same feature that gives wet shavers trouble (more on that later).

The Progress comes in two variants…

Both variants have the same shaving head. The biggest difference would be the length of the handle.

Obviously if you have large hands you will opt for the long handle.

As with all Merkur safety razors, the Progress has a chrome finish.

The hidden parts aren’t polished but it will not affect how this product shaves. It will just look as good.

Is it easy to load the blade?

The Progress utilizes a two piece design so loading the blade shouldn’t be an issue. But you’ll have to remember there are some nuances to loading that I’ll share with you below.

On the side of the base and top plate are markings that have to align. If you don’t point the top plate at the right direction, the knob will not function properly.

Also you will need to rest your index finger on top as you tighten – again for alignment purposes.

See this demonstration…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnaNDgqF5t8

As you tighten the knob, the one in the adjustment scale should line up with the dot. After aligning both notches you’re ready to go.

Aggressiveness

The Progress comes with 5 different adjustment settings that range from mild to very aggressive which make it one of the more versatile safety razors in the market that can tackle a variety of beards from very coarse to regular.

One thing to note is that the adjustment knob setting isn’t the same in all Merkur Progress razors because of manufacturing tolerances.

This means that setting 1 in one progress isn’t the same as another but the cutting performance remains the same.

Definitely a quirk but it does not degrade the performance at all.

Another quirk to take note of is the angle of which you hold the razor.

Unlike fixed head razors that hold the blade perpendicular in relation to the handle, the Progress bends the blade dramatically and this bending will change the angle on which you are to hold it – to a shallower angle

Grip

Unlike other classic Merkur razors that have some sort of knurling, the Progress has a smooth handle with only the protruding adjustment knob providing any sort of grip.

First time users have complained that this lack of knurling has caused slippage but a simple tweak with the grip will solve this issue.

The Sharpologist recommends resting your pinkie or last two fingers on the base of the adjustment knob to prevent this from happening.

Grip

When going on an upward motion hold that same knob with the index, pinkie and middle finger, this technique make it less likely for the Progress to slip out of your fingers.

Length

The short handled version measures in at around 3.35” long from top to bottom while the long handled version measures in at 4.13”. Picking between these two will all boil down to personal preference and the size of your hands.

Razor Specifications

ModelProgress
Overall LengthStandard - 3.35"

Long handle - 4.14"
Handle LengthN/A
Handle DiameterN/A
WeightStandard - 3.17 ounces

Long handle - 3.6 ounces
MaterialMetal
FinishChrome plated
TypeAdjustable
Adjustable
Knurled handle
Blade included1
Manufactured inGermany

What Consumers Say

Consumers are quite happy with the Merkur Progress even newbie shavers who really did their homework and did a lot of research before purchasing this.

What they love about this adjustable is well, it’s an adjustable. If they need a close shave, they don’t need another razor, they just twist the knob a notch or two higher and wallah they have a more aggressive razor.

The price is a bit steep – between $65 and $80++ depending on where you buy it but when you consider that you will save in the long term because you don’t need to purchase another razor – unless you’re a connoisseur who wants to try different razors.

One complaint was the handle that didn’t have any sort of knurling. A workaround would be altering the grip.

Another complaint would be the one in the adjustment knob not lining up with the dot. These are manufacturing tolerances found in all Merkur razors and it shouldn’t affect the quality of shave.

One workaround suggested by the Sharpologist would be twisting the handle itself to line everything up but I’m not sure if that will void the warranty. It worked for him but it’s not something that I’d recommend.

Here’s the video on the different quirks of the Progress and how to address them…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FZvMmuX_GE

In terms of the actually shaving, this razor performs period. It does not matter if you have a coarse facial hair or normal facial hair, it will give you a close shave if you dial it up. Just make sure to follow the tips I shared with you.

Where can I buy this?

You can buy this adjustable razor in Amazon for less than $60. And it’ll be eligible to their free 2-day shipping if you join Prime.

To Wrap Up

This adjustable razor by Merkur is a favorite by a lot of experienced wet shavers because of the versatility it brings to the table. It has 5 adjustable shaving that go from mild to very aggressive, this allows them to get a close or a relaxing shave as they’d like.

Among all the adjustable razors in the market, this is mechanically the simplest so it bodes will in terms of longevity, just make sure to clean it thoroughly at least once a week.

Beginners may want to stay away from this because of the learning curved involved. But this is a great investment for those who’ve mastered the proper technique.

Since you can control blade exposure, you can shave aggressive or mild depending on the need.

Garrick spends his days researching and writing about grooming. When he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him hanging around with his wife and son.

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