The availability of the adjustable safety razor, once relegated to a niche’ within a niche’, has expanded with a number of new models available over the past few 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? This is a major update of the article!
Tl;dr – What Is The Best Adjustable Double Edge Safety Razor?
Why trust this article? Sharpologist specializes in getting the best, most enjoyable shave possible.
This list is based on the personal experience of Sharpologist‘s editor (me!), contributors, and readers who have actually purchased and used the products–plus over ten years of research from review sites and specialty discussion forums. “Your mileage may vary!” Generally-speaking, shaving facial hair is the primary objective.
Of course everyone has their preferences, but I’ve used quite a few adjustable razors in my time and I definitely have some favorites for “best” adjustable safety razor.
For pure performance, regardless of price, I have to go with the Rex Ambassador. As you should expect from an artisan-made, premium-priced razor the Ambassador is exceptionally well engineered, well-built, and well-balanced.
Stainless steel version of the Rockwell T2 is a worthy alternative.
Price vs Performance
The Parker Adjustable Injector is a great alternative at its price point, especially if you are interested in Injector razors.
- Merkur Progress
- Merkur Futur
- Parker Variant (Recommended)
- Parker Open Comb Variant (Recommended)
- Qshave Adjustable
- Qshave Parthenon
- Vikings Blade Crusader
- Weishi Nostalgic (Recommended)
- Viking’s Blade Emperor (And Augustus, Meiji)
- Rex Ambassador (Recommended)
- Rex Konsul
- Rockwell Model T2
- Rockwell Model T2 In Stainless Steel (Recommended)
- Pearl Flexi
- Tatara Muramasa
- Baili/Italian Barber/Stirling Adjustable
- Blackland Osprey
- Yaqi “The Final Cut”
- Parker Adjustable Injector (Recommended)
- Supply Pro Adjustable
- Feather Adjustable
There Are Now Many More Continuously Adjustable Safety Razors
Recently there has been renewed interest in the adjustable safety razor. There are now many new razors with blade exposure that can be continuously adjusted within a range of settings. Let’s take a look at razors you can purchase right now, in no particular order (note that AliExpress, Amazon, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate. Geni.us links may be affiliate).
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. It was my first adjustable safety razor and in fact became my pry-it-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands favorite for many years. You can find many reviews with a simple query of your favorite search engine. Click/tap here to read my own Merkur Progress review.
The Progress has its quirks: the handle is too smooth for some and the look of the adjustment dial seems incongruous to many (check out the “Mergress” after-market options). But the razor’s performance far outweighs the “ugly duckling” looks many.
The Merkur Futur adjustable safety razor was launched in 1985. It boasts a sleek, modern look, and an unusual “pop off” head design. Personally, I think a lot of the Futur’s popularity comes from the fact that it is (reasonably) widely available and it looks cool. This is another razor you can find many reviews of with a simple search engine query.
I have some problems with the design, though. 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. Click/tap here to check out my review of the Merkur Futur adjustable double edge safety razor.
Introduced in 2016, the Parker Variant adjustable safety razor addressed the ergonomic shortcomings that many (including myself) found in the Merkur Progress. Check my Parker Variant review for a complete run-down. But basically the Variant has a slightly longer (than the Progress 500), much better-textured handle, and a better-looking adjustment dial.
But more importantly the Parker adjustable safety razor may have opened the minds of other artisans and manufacturers to the possibility that the adjustable safety razor market was one worth considering.
Parker Open Comb Variant
Parker introduced an open comb (OC) version of the Variant in 2023. The OC Variant’s weight and length are the same as the standard Variant but subjectively I think the OC “feels” a bit different in my hand, with a subtly altered balance–no doubt due to the different head design. This is neither good nor bad, just different from the perspective of someone who has used both razors.
Three things jump out at me when I compare the Parker Open Comb Variant to the standard Variant:
- While I don’t detect much difference in performance between the two razors on “daily” stubble, I find the OC Variant is noticeably smoother and more comfortable on long, multi-day stubble. I’ll assume this is probably due to the inherent design characteristics of open comb razors in general.
- I think this is a lot more audio feedback with the OC Variant–again, particularly on multi-day stubble. If you’re a fan of ASMR you’ll probably get a kick out of the Parker Open Comb Variant razor.
- I find the “sweet spot”–the range of angles that the razor can be held for a good shave, pretty wide. In fact, maybe a bit more than the standard Variant (which is quite generous itself).
Ming Shi 2000S (Qshave Adjustable)
A year after the original Parker Variant was launched, Far-East manufacturer Ming Shi launched the Ming Shi 2000S adjustable safety razor. Qshave re-branded the 2000S as the Qshave Adjustable, making it a clone of a copy. The Ming Shi/Qshave clearly takes its inspiration from the Merkur Futur:
Although visually quite similar there are some aspects of the 2000S that set it apart from the Futur. This razor has a wider range of adjustment compared to the Futur, especially at the low end. And as you might expect at the price point, the Ming Shi/Qshave does “cut a few corners” in manufacturing. For example, the dial markings are painted on instead of etched in like the Futur. Some users report the printed dial numbers wear off after extended use.
My experience with the Qshave is actually quite positive–I think it shaves me better than the Futur! Although the handle is still smooth its smaller diameter seems to help me keep a more secure grip. And while the razor’s head is still relatively large, the wider adjustment range (vs. the Futur, especially at the mild end) gives it better performance for me. The razor’s quality control reputation is still a cause for concern to me though. Pay a bit more for the Qshave version which as gone through some additional QC checks if build quality is a concern; buy the Ming Shi version for a lower price.
This razor is also being “OEM’d” under a number of other brands including Van Der Hagen, River Lake, Shave Factory, and others.
The Qshave Parthenon, Vikings Blade Crusader, and Weishi Nostalgic razors (see the Crusader and Nostalgic sections below), all launched in 2018, appear to be based on the same basic twist-to-open (TTO) or butterfly adjustable safety razor head design. However each has their own “personality.” The initial Parthenon’s distinction was its aggressiveness. At its mildest (HA!) setting the Parthenon was quite aggressive. At the high end it was positively ludicrous.
A few months later Qshave released “version 2.0” of the Parthenon that was “toned down” considerably. Check out my review of the 2.0 version.
Vikings Blade Crusader
As I mentioned previously, the Vikings Blade Crusader adjustable safety razor appears to me to be based on the same general design as the Parthenon and the Nostalgic, but each has their own tweak. The Crusader’s distinction is an “asymmetrical head” with a standard safety bar on one side and a scalloped safety bar on the other. The optimist in me thinks the different head side design could provide additional, subtle variables in the shave in addition to simply adjusting the blade gap. The cynic in me thinks the design could “cover up” uneven blade alignment due to poor engineering or manufacturing.
And unlike other adjustable safety razor adjustment dials, the Crusader does not have any numeric markings. Just arrows pointing ‘this way for less gap’.
In my own use, this lack of numeric ‘signposts’ makes it more difficult for me to dial into the best settings for my shave compared to other adjustable razors. I don’t notice any difference in the shave based on the “asymmetrical head.” The low end of the adjustment razor was not low enough for my personal preference (but it is probably fine for most people).
However, despite these details I did not personally care for, I found the over-all shave experience to be good.
Weishi Nostalgic Adjustable
The Weishi Nostalgic Adjustable safety razor is the third of the triplets mentioned here and my favorite of the three. (note that there is a non-adjustable “Weishi Nostalgic” as well, so be sure to read product descriptions carefully). It seems to me that more thought was put into the design details this razor features.
While the Weishi is the same general size as the Qshave and the Viking’s, I think it is the most user friendly design, with a “grippier” handle, contrasting color scheme (for higher-visibility numbers on the adjustment dial), better balance, and a wider range of adjustment (particularly at the low end of the scale–this razor can get very mild indeed).
I have found that the Weishi’s head may clog a bit when used with a thick lather. And the razor’s long-term durability is a concern to me…time will tell. But my shaves with the Weishi have been very good–about equal that of the other adjustable razors I use regularly that cost much more.
Like the Qshave, the Weishi adjustable is available as an OEM product so you will see similar-looking models under a number of different brand names.
Viking’s Blade Emperor (And Augustus, Meiji)
According to the Vikings Blade website the Emperor is their “most technical” safety razor. It’s a relatively large, heavy razor, coming in at 134 grams and 110 mm in length.
There are two cosmetic versions, the standard Emperor in a “Frosted Chrome” color and the Emperor Augustus edition in “vintage bronze and cognac” colors (both use the relatively common brass/Zamak construction underneath). I have the Augustus edition. Viking’s Blade notes to “[t]horoughly towel-dry the razor after use to maintain the cognac plating.”
Engineering-wise, there have been a few tweaks compared to the earlier Crusader model. “Special ANTI-Misalignment mechanism which TRAPS the doors if users mis-align the blade to prevent uneven cuts. Hold razor upright while loading blade and closing razor to ensure doors won’t be trapped.“
The Crusader’s dual comb head design continues on the Emperor: one side has a scalloped safety bar, while the other side has a smooth safety bar.
I can’t help but compare the shaves I have with the Emperor razor to the shaves I have with the Crusader razor. First, it appears that the low end of the adjustment range of the Emperor is milder than the Crusader but the top end is about the same to me, so the adjustable window seems to be wider. I like mild razors (and adjustable razors in general!) so this is a good thing for me. Unlike the Crusader, the adjustment settings on the Emperor are printed (though not etched like a Merkur Futur) so it was easy for me to lock in the correct setting for each pass of my shave.
I couldn’t detect any difference between the sides of the dual head head design on the Crusader but I can definitely feel a difference with the Emperor. The smooth safety bar gives me a smoother-feeling shave with less blade feel, while I get noticeably more blade feel using the scalloped side, given the same adjustment setting. However I couldn’t tell any actual difference in the amount of stubble reduction from either side–it’s more of a feedback kind of thing to me.
The handle texturing is nicely “grippy” and I don’t have any problems with the razor slipping through my fingers.
Finally, the head design of the Emperor has been tweaked for easier rinsing and less clogging. Blade alignment has not been an issue for me.
Overall I get nice shaves from the Emperor.
Now in its second design design revision, the Rex Ambassador adjustable safety razor is a premium, artisan-made razor. Although physically a bit smaller than some other razors in this roundup, it is a high-end, stainless steel adjustable safety razor and individually serial-numbered following the old Gillette manufacturing code. The razor’s head is noticeably thinner than competing products, making detail work like shaving under the nose easier.
See my review of the Rex Ambassador on Sharpologist for more detail.
The Rex Konsul is a combination adjustable and slant bar double edge razor.
The over-all look, fit, and finish of my Rex Supply Konsul is excellent. I find the weight and balance of the razor is just right for my preferences. I think the handle might be a bit short for some but it has been no problem for me and I find the grip from the knurling very secure in my hand.
I find blade loading a bit fussy, as some other reviewers have noted: the Konsul’s blade alignment bars (vs. pins of most other double edge razors) are designed for a snug fit along the center cut-out of a double edge blade but this can make a blade “pop off” when I start to attach the top cap.
I think the adjustment range is reasonably wide and biased slightly toward the aggressive side–I prefer “mild” razors and I keep the dial setting below about “2.5” on my Konsul. Again, not a deal-breaker but I find the Konsul a little less generous at the low end than other adjustable razors (of course, other adjustable razors are not slant bar razors so this might be a result of the Konsul’s unique design).
In actual use I find shaves with the Rex Supply Konsul adjustable slant razor provide an experience I have not had with any other razor–adjustable, slant, or otherwise. I have found that the Konsul “likes” fairly heavy stubble! Shaving daily feels a bit less comfortable than when I’m rocking a multi-day growth on my face! An unusual experience for me. However the over-all experience has been quite positive.
Rockwell Model T2
After a multi-year wait from a crowdfunding campaign, the Rockwell Model T adjustable safety razor launched a couple years ago but reviews were quite mixed. In 2021 Rockwell re-designed the razor and launched the T2. The original T adjustment range was biased quite high: I am able to dial the T2 down to noticeably milder setting. One very noticeable aspect of the Rockwell T2 adjustable razor is the excellent water flow-through in the razor head.
Rockwell T2 In Stainless Steel
The stainless steel version of the T2 is similar to the alloy T2 above but with enough subtle differences that I think it deserves a mention of its own.
Build quality of my T2SS is excellent–this thing is built like a tank. To me it gives off a distinctly “industrial” feeling–almost like it’s saying “this is a solid, long-lasting tool” rather than just “this is a shaving razor.”
The T2SS is 3 grams heavier than the stock T2 but to me it “feels” more, well, dense in my hand. It’s hard to describe accurately but to me it re-enforces that feeling of a quality tool. And the balance of the T2SS seems to be just a bit higher on the handle (toward the head) compared to the regular T2 to me. It’s subtle but since I prefer “top-weighted” razors in general in the first place it’s a welcome tweak for me.
Earlier versions of the Pearl Flexi adjustable razor had design and build issues, particularly with blade gap and alignment. These appear to have been solved.
The Flexi seems to be positioning itself as a mid-point razor–offering more design details like a serial number and upgraded metallurgy–but not quite into the “premium” category.
Unlike the Progress and Variant (where the bottom dial also adjusts the razor) the Flexi has a second dial under the head for adjustment. I find the adjustment dial easy to use even with hands during a shave and the adjustment range quite wide. If you are a shaver who likes to adjust a razor “on the fly” you shouldn’t have any trouble with the Flexi.
The Tatara Muramasa adjustable razor from Portugal represents some really interesting design and engineering aspects. At US $400 it is also one of the most expensive adjustable razors on this list.
The adjustment dial adjustment marking window is very small but the adjustment range of the razor is reasonably wide (biased slightly toward the mild side). The handle of the Muramasa continues the “golf ball dimples” design of Tatara razors that distinguish it from others. It looks like it wouldn’t provide a decent grasp but I find it works quite well.
Baili/Italian Barber/Stirling Adjustable
The razor’s larger head made detail areas like under the nose a bit more of a challenge, there’s a little rattle from the internal mechanics, and I noticed the “sweet spot” for the best blade angle may be just a bit narrower than other razors. But after a little while I was able to figure it all out. Nothing here is a deal-breaker, especially for the low price.
I find that my opinion of the Blackland Osprey adjustable razor to be mixed.
On the one hand the multi-piece design can make blade changing and razor cleaning fussier than other razors.
On the other hand this may be the most “flexible” adjustable razor out there, since you can not only adjust the blade gap but also adjust the razor’s balance by installing or removing a brass handle insert.
Yaqi Adjustable Safety Razor “The Final Cut”
Another adjustable razor I know about but have not tried yet is “The Final Cut” razor from Yaqi, available shipped from China via Aliexpress.
Parker Adjustable Injector
Launched in 2020 is the Parker Adjustable Injector. Using “Injector” single-edge blades rather than the double edge blades in the razors listed above, Parker was inspired by the vintage Schick Injector. The actual adjustment is lateral instead of vertical like the double edge razors listed above. For more information click/tap here to read about the Parker Adjustable Injector Razor.
Supply Pro Adjustable
I think the holding angle range on the Supply Pro is a bit narrower than other Injector-type razors (and noticeably narrower than the Supply SE razor, which I find to be quite generous!). Nothing deal-breaking, mind you, but I do find myself having to pay a bit more attention to the way I hold the Pro. Of course, this is kind of relative since the general design of Injector -style razors is more ergonomic than the typical double edge safety razor.
The Supply Pro’s head tends to hold water after rinsing. My first shave with the Pro had a bit of water suddenly dribbling down my neck and arm after rinsing and returning to my face. Keeping the blade loading side down after rinsing should drain the water though.
I find the Supply Pro excels at knocking down heavy, multi-day stubble at the higher adjustment settings, and is equally adept at dealing with overnight stubble and sensitive areas of skin at lower settings.
The Feather Adjustable safety razor may be difficult to find, though I bought one from Amazon. It is a relatively inexpensive razor with two settings, “1” and “2.” Setting “1” is extremely mild while setting “2” is more middle-of-the-road. Like the Feather Popular and Feather AS-D2 razors, I find that the Feather Adjustable pairs very well with a Feather blade: the very mild setting needs a high-efficiency blade to perform well.
Shaving With An Adjustable Safety Razor
Versatility distinguishes an adjustable safety razor vs non adjustable models. They can be used to not only tailor a shave to your specific circumstances, they can also more easily mitigate other variables in the shave that might otherwise cause problems. Transitioning to an adjustable razor may take a little time to fully appreciate its capabilities, but I think it’s worth the effort. See: How To Use An Adjustable Razor Most Effectively
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.
Vintage Adjustable Safety Razor History – 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. The original Gillette adjustable safety razor, the “Toggle,” morphed into a few different models. 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, and the ridiculously over-engineered (and yet surprisingly fragile) Merkur Vision 2000 adjustable safety razor for a short time around the year 2000.
And that was about it.
There is now no longer a real reason not to try an adjustable razor: they are available with a variety of handles, head styles, and price points.
What do you think about adjustable razors? Be sure to share this article and leave a comment below!