A close shave is important to many men, and there are various options on the market to provide one. Two well-known and popular safety razors are the Parker 96R and the Merkur 34C.
Today we’ll compare both of these safety razors in detail below.
In short, the Parker 96R lends itself well for those men with slightly larger hands, while the Merkur 34C is an excellent choice for those who want more precision from their razor. In addition, the 96R is slightly less aggressive, while the 34C has higher quality craftsmanship.
|Safety Razor||Merkur 34C||Parker 96R|
|Safety Bar||Scalloped||Slight ridges|
|Head Composition||Die-Casted Zinc||Brass|
|Country of Origin||Germany||India|
|Blade Compatibility||All double-edge safety razor blades||All double-edge safety razor blades|
|Number of Pieces||2||1|
When buying any safety razor, weight is one of the first things to consider.
Heavy razors will feel more substantial in hand, provide greater stability, and require less pressure. Alternatively, lighter razors can be more maneuverable and cause less fatigue; however, they require you to add more pressure when shaving.
The Parker 96R is a slightly heavier razor, weighing in at 2.79oz, whereas the Merkur 34C is 2.72oz. With nearly identical weights, they are both considered to be relatively lighter razors.
For context, here is a chart that shares the weights of some other popular safety razors on the market:
The length of the Parker 96R is 4.3 inches, and the length of the Merkur 34C is 3.19 inches.
A substantial 1.1″ difference separates these two razors.
In general, if you have larger hands, go with the 96R. The small stature of the 34C lends itself to those with smaller hands or someone who wants more precision from their razor, as it is much easier to control.
Here is a chart that compares the length of the 34C and 96R to other popular safety razors:
As you can see, the Parker 96R is nearly as tall as some of the longest options available, including the Bevel, Merkur 38C, and OneBlade Core.
The handle grip of the Parker 96R and Merkur 34C razors is knurled. Expect a secure grip, even with soapy hands, when using either razor. The only visual difference is the color.
The Parker’s handle is black with chrome accents, and the Merkur’s handle is all chrome.
The Parker 96R and Merkur 34C razors differ in the number of pieces they have. The Parker 96R razor is just one piece (butterfly), while the Merkur 34C razor has two pieces.
For the Merkur 34C, the handle and baseplate are welded together while the cap screws into the handle.
When it comes to changing blades, the 96R will be much easier as you only need to twist the handle, and the butterfly cap will open, allowing you to replace the blade. With the Merkur 34C, you need to release the cap from the handle by unscrewing the bottom knob to access the blade. While this extra step isn’t a huge deal, it is something to keep in mind.
Aside from blade rotation, the butterfly mechanism of the 96R may wear out over time, as it’s all one piece. The two-piece design of the Merkur 34C lends itself to a longer lifespan.
Lastly, cleaning or disinfecting a two-piece safety razor will be easier because you can remove the handle and clean/disinfect all the nooks and crannies. You won’t be able to clean the butterfly mechanism of the 96R as easily.
The performance of the Parker 96R and Merkur 34C razors is similar in that they both provide a close shave with minimal irritation. The Parker 96R is a touch more aggressive than the Merkur 34C, making it better for those with thick facial hair. The Merkur 34C is easier to control, making it a good choice for beginners.
Worth noting is that the butterfly head on the 96R does add some bulk, making it slightly tougher to navigate around the nose and mustache area.
Both razors require several passes for a smooth result.
Country of Origin
The Parker 96R is made in India, and the Merkur 34C is made in Germany. While the gap is quickly narrowing regarding the production of quality products, German-made shaving products are still held in higher regard than those made in India.
The 96R and 34C are priced fairly close ($30 and $36, respectively). The Merkur is just a few dollars more expensive, but the 34C is manufactured and imported from Germany, where labor costs tend to be slightly higher.
Different facial hair types will require different types of razor blades to achieve a close, comfortable shave. Those with thicker, coarser hair may need a blade with a more aggressive cutting edge, while those with sensitive skin may prefer a blade that is less likely to irritate.
Generally speaking, the Parker 96R and Merkur 34C are compatible with all double-edge safety razor blades, so blade selection comes down to personal preference.
The included Parker and Merkur blades are okay but not great.
To get an idea of what other customers think about these safety razors, we looked at reviews at several online marketplaces and forums, including Badger & Blade, Reddit, YouTube, and more.
Here’s what others have said about these two razors:
The Parker 96R seems to be a favored razor among reviewers due to its smooth shave and lack of irritation. In addition, some reviewers noted that it is a great beginner or day-to-day razor. The main complaints about the Parker 96R were regarding quality control issues, such as the razor head being crooked or the razor being shipped without blades.
The Merkur 34C is also a well-liked razor, with reviewers citing its feel, control, and ability to give a close shave. However, some reviewers found the razor too mild and ineffective, even with multiple passes. Additionally, the short handle was not comfortable for some.
It is worth mentioning that personal experience, sharpness of the blade, type of razor blade used, and even skin type all impact quality of a shave.
Ultimately, both of these razors perform quite well as far as safety razors go – especially for beginners. However, we think the 96R lends itself better to those who prefer a longer body or have larger hands.
If you don’t fall into the above category, we recommend going with the 34C, which provides a reliably close shave. It is well made and should last you several years.