A Review of the Parker Variant Adjustable Safety Razor
Q: I’m looking for an adjustable razor. What would recommend?
This question came to us via our ‘Ask the expert’ link on our website yesterday. It’s a common question with around 10 similar information requests like this one every month.
The Progress has been around for around 60 years and in that time the design hasn’t changed. It comes in two sizes of handle, standard and long. The Progress is a good razor with five settings 1-5, 1 being the mildest setting, 5 being the closest shaving setting. The downside of the Progress is the plastic adjustment knob which is off-putting for a razor costing £44.95 for the short handle version and £58.50 for the long handle version.
The Futur is a fine razor for face and neck shaving. However the bulbous head makes shaving under the nose a real challenge and shaving sideburns squarely is awkward and fiddly. The build quality of the Futur has never been in doubt and it comes in three finishes, shiny chrome, matte and gold plated prices range from £54.99 to £64.99.
Parker, who have been making safety razors for over 45 years launched their brand new Variant Adjustable Safety Razor in early 2017, it was available in the USA only for a while but Executive Shaving managed to get stock before any others in Europe in April. The first 50 we had sold out in a week and it has been a big seller for us ever since.
The Variant comes in two finishes all matte and matte with a graphite coloured handle. Very early graphite handles had an issue with the paint peeling off, they were quickly withdrawn if favour of an electroplated finish (Electroplating is the process of plating one metal onto another by hydrolysis, most commonly for decorative purposes or to prevent corrosion of a metal). The electroplated finish means this plating is on for life, it cannot peel off.
The Variant does have a very similar head to the Progress, both bend the blade the same way and both feature an adjustment knob at the bottom of the handle. The handle on the Variant is finely knurled along its entire length; this is a real benefit that the Merkur razors don’t have. The Variant handle delivers a very firm grip even when your hands are wet and slippy with shaving lather.
The main benefit of owning an adjustable razor is the ability to change the setting to suit your individual requirements. If you haven’t shaved for a few days you can turn the setting up high for your first pass then turn it down to finish off. Other users find their ‘sweet spot’ and never use the adjustment thereafter.
The Variant has 5 numbered settings, 1-5 with 5 being the closest shaving option. Additionally there are half settings so in reality there are 10 settings to choose from. It benefits from a slightly longer handle than most safety razors (90mm and 12mm diameter) and it weighs in at a reassuring 110g mainly due to it being made from a brass and zamak alloy. It is a two piece razor meaning the base plate remains attached to the handle for blade changing.
How does it shave?
I used mine on setting 2 to begin with but that didn’t work for me so I dialled it up to the 4 setting and that did the trick on my tough stubble. I finished off on setting 1.5 and the end result was very pleasing indeed. I like the heft and balance of the Variant and the matte and graphite finish on the razor I used is easy on the eye and in my opinion much nicer than the all matte finish. It did take me a few shaves to find the right angle for a close shave but once I did I never looked back. I have since given my Variant to my brother so he could try it for a week before deciding if he wanted to buy one. I haven’t seen it since; he tells me he loves it! I guess I’ll have to buy one for myself.
5 settings with half settings so 10 settings in total.
Handle dimeter: 12mm at the grip, 13.7mm on the adjustment knob
Handle length: 90mm
Overall length: 103mm
Well done Parker. The Variant is superbly well made, well designed and it gives wonderfully comfortable yet close shaves. It’s well priced too considering the standard of engineering and its fine looks. Check out both Variant options here.
Executive Shaving has no hesitation in recommending the Variant to our customers.
Written by Brian Mulreany, 8th June 2017
Sales Director at The Executive Shaving Company