Parker Variant Adjustable Review: Is this the best adjustable razor?

For many years, only one brand manufacturers adjustable razors – Merkur. But that has changed with the release of the Parker Variant Adjustable.

Special thanks to JerryW for giving me the heads up. It’s not actually a new product since it’s been on the market since 2016.

This razor addresses some of the issues that the Merkur Progress had, one of which is the slippery handle.

Instead of a smooth chrome finish, the Parker Variant has a similar knurling design with another Merkur ironically the 34C.

Unlike the Merkur Vision that has the twist to open mechanism, both these products are 2-piece razors so maintenance wouldn’t be too hard.

This razor has the all-metal construction with a chrome finish. It does not have the plastic adjustable knob that the Merkur Progress had which a lot of enthusiasts consider as an eyesore.

There are actually three finishes – Graphite, Rose Gold and Chrome. All have the same cross-cross knurling that adds prevents this from slipping of soapy fingers.

A quick look at the features

  • A genuinely adjustable razor with 10 different settings
  • 2-piece design is simple to clean and will last for years
  • Handle length: 3.5″
  • Overall length: 4″
  • Weight: 110 grams
  • Comes with 5 Parker doubled edged blades
  • 1-year warranty
  • Has a genuine brass frame

Pros

  • This adjustable razor will allow to you shave mild or aggressive depending on the need
  • All metal finish including the adjustment knob
  • The handle has excellent grip so it’ll not slip
  • Great auditory feedback for a safety razor

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive for a safety razor
  • A steeper learning curve for beginners

What to expect from the Parker Variant Adjustable?

The Parker Variant Adjustable is an excellent option for the beginner or enthusiast thanks to its adjustable feature.

This razor addresses some issues that the Merkur Progress had – the biggest of which is the plastic dial. You’ll have to pay a premium for the upgraded version called the Mergress.

It is a modified version of the Progress that has a metal dial, instead of the plastic one.

Paying over a hundred fifty dollars isn’t a necessity anymore to get the same quality adjustable.

The Parker Variant uses a smooth-turning metal knob.

Parker Variant vs. Merkur Progress: How is it different?

Comparing the Merkur Progress (left) and Parker Variant (right). Notice the difference with the finish. The Progress has a smoother handle, while the Variant has knurling all around.

Some enthusiasts say that this razor is a replica of the Merkur Progress. Both have a two-piece design and an adjustable knob at the bottom.

However, the Parker Variant does address some of the issues that the Progress had.

Most obvious would be the adjustment knob that is metal versus the plastic knob on the Progress.

For purists, this is a nagging annoyance that’s an expensive upgrade (check above).

Next improvement is the handle that has a knurling design similar to the Merkur Classic 2-Piece (or the 34C).

Having the knurled handle will prevent this from slipping off your fingers.

There are ways to counteract this issue like adjusting the grip, but it can be an annoying dealing with it daily.

Parker’s handle is a tad bit longer than the Merkur Progress which would be ideal for men with bigger hands.

Adjustable setting

Like the Merkur Progress, this razor is continuously adjustable through the range. It doesn’t use click stops. However, Manic59 says that the lowest setting of the Parker Variant isn’t as mild as the Merkur.

This could be an issue if you’re looking for something really mild. On the aggressive side, you can go as high as 11 for an incredibly close shave.

Some quirks

There will be a steeper learning curve if you’re transitioning from a cartridge razor. Since this razor is heavy, you’ll need to slightly tweak the way you hold this razor.

Avoid putting any weight and let the blade do the work for you.

Another quick would be the way you load the blade. On one side of the shaving head are notches that you need to line up for the blade to load correctly.

If you don’t put two pieces in the right order, you’ll screw up the alignment and have a bad shave.

Is it easy to load the blade?

The two-piece design makes loading easy. To load the blade, just turn the knob at the bottom until the top cap comes off.

Line up the DE blade on the posts then put back the handle.

Make sure to double-check that the indicators are the same side. Tighten up the knob until it lines up with the lowest setting.

Length

This razor is around an inch longer than the short version of the Merkur Progress. Handle length is approximately 3.5 inches with crisscross grooves for better grip. The overall length is 4″ or 0.5″ longer than the Merkur Progress.

Razor specifications

ModelParker Variant Adjustable
Overall Length4"
Weight110 grams
MaterialMetal
FinishChrome plated
TypeAdjustable
Adjustable
Knurled handle
Blade included5
Manufactured inIndia

What do consumers say?

Reviews are overwhelmingly positive for the Parker Variant. A lot of men were happy with how this adjustable shaved their beards.

Some went as far as saying that this is the “best-damned razor” they’ve used. A bold claim but that’s what the reviews say.

Mark, who’s the man behind the Sharpologist also likes this razor, saying that this is his new “you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers” razor.

Others said it was better than the Merkur Progress because it’s easier to clean.

Longtime Merkur fans however still prefer the Progress over this because it shaves better. But always remember that Your Mileage May Vary, so it’s just a preference thing.

One thing going for the Variant would be availability and price. If you buy the upgraded Merkur Progress (or the Mergress) with the metal knob, it’ll cost over $130.

There are some complaints about quality such as the chrome chipping, uneven blade exposure, etc.

Where can I buy this?

You can buy this adjustable safety razor in Amazon for $58, and it’ll be eligible for the free 2-day shipping if you join Prime.

Other sites also sell this razor like West Coast Shaving.

Related: If you’re looking for a razor, you can check this article I wrote about the best razor deals right now for products like the safety razor, cartridge razor and much more. Get the best deals for yourself or buy it as a gift.

The Verdict

The Parker Variant Adjustable is an exceptional alternative to the Merkur Progress. Both are actually in the same price range with Parker offering up some design improvements.

It has a longer handle with a metal knob that’ll not slip off your fingers even if it’s full of shave cream.

Even if this is a heavy razor, balance is excellent, so you don’t have to worry about hand or finger fatigue.

I’d say this is a better option compared to the Megress that’s a Progress with a metal knob that’ll cost way over $100.

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