The Merkur Futur and the Merkur Progress are two of the market’s most popular adjustable safety razors.
But which razor is right for you?
The Merkur Futur is significantly heavier and more aggressive than the Progress, making it better suited for those experienced with wet shaving. On the other hand, the Progress has a much better range of aggressiveness settings, a smaller head, and a better grip – making it better for both new and experienced wet shavers.
In the end, it comes down to personal preference. However, we think the Progress narrowly beats the Futur as the better razor.
Below, we’ll share why.
Comparison of Futur, Progress (500), Progress (510)
|Feature||Merkur Futur||Merkur Progress (500)||Merkur Progress (510)|
|Comb||Closed (Adjustable)||Closed (Adjustable)||Closed (Adjustable)|
|Composition||Die-Casted Zinc||Die-Casted Zinc||Die-Casted Zinc|
|Country of Origin||Germany||Germany||Germany|
|Number of Pieces||2||2||2|
|Shave Performance||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting|
|Blade Compatibility||All double-edge safety razor blades||All double-edge safety razor blades||All double-edge safety razor blades|
The Merkur Futur is a heavy razor weighing in at 4.44 ounces. In fact, it is one of the heaviest razors on the market. However, this weight gives the razor stability and pressure, making it a great choice for those who want a close shave.
On the other hand, the Merkur Progress (500) weighs 3.28 ounces, and the Merkur Progress (510) weighs 3.63 ounces. These weights are about average when compared to other popular safety razors and provide a good balance of weight and comfort with each pass of the blade.
|Razor Name||Weight (oz)||Weight (g)|
|Merkur Progress (500)||3.28||93|
|Merkur Progress (510)||3.63||103|
The Merkur Futur is a longer razor, measuring 4.25″, while the Merkur Progress (510) measures 4.12″ and the Merkur Progress (500) is 3.47″.
As you can see, the 510 and Futur are very close in length, while the 500 is about 3/4″ shorter than the Futur. Regarding safety razor handle length, a long handle tends to be favored by those with large hands. Additionally, the longer length also provides a bit of an advantage when trying to shave the neck, thanks to the better reach.
Shorter razors, like the Merkur Progress 500, provide better control and precision; they are good when shaving around the nose, mustache, etc. In addition, the shorter length can make it slightly easier to make precise edges or lines with your shave.
You’ll have to balance the pros and cons of each; however, we think the Progress (500) model works for most men.
|Razor Name||Length (in)||Length (cm)|
|Merkur Progress (500)||3.47||8.8|
|Merkur Progress (510)||4.12||10.5|
The Merkur Futur and the Merkur Progress are die-cast zinc razors with chrome finish. Die-cast zinc is also known as Zamak, a type of “pot metal” that blends a few different alloys and is relatively inexpensive.
Wet shaving purists find this construction significantly less durable than razors made of stainless steel. The most common problem that razors made of die-cast zinc have is that the thread on the screw for the cap may wear out over time and eventually break.
To adjust the Futur, twist the handle to dial in the adjustment setting (1-6) to suit your reference.
Similarly, the Progress has a plastic knob at the end of the handle that you can turn to change the blade gap. While the plastic looks cheap, it gets the job done.
The etching or knurling on any safety razor is important as it directly affects how well the razor handles and how stable it feels in your hand. Generally, how easy it is to grip.
The Futur has a brushed metal grip, while the Progress has a ridged grip. Unfortunately, both aren’t the best when compared to a diamond knurling. As a result, they may slip, especially if your hands are coated with shaving cream or soap.
Comparatively speaking, the ridges on the Progress provide something to grab, making it a better razor if you are messy or prefer to shave in the shower.
Country of Origin
Merkur razors are manufactured in Germany by DOVO Solingen and are known for their high-quality engineering. The company has been making razors since 1906, and its products are some of the most popular on the market.
Number of Pieces
While both razors are two-piece designs, they are completely different from one another. Here’s how:
- Merkur Progress: The baseplate and handle are welded together with a cap that is screwed on. To change the razor blade, turn the plastic knob counterclockwise, unscrew the cap, and slip the blade out of the baseplate.
- Merkur Futur: The baseplate and handle are also welded together on the Futur. However, what differs is the cap. The Futur has a snap-on cap that you can lift off to open the razor. However, this design will likely wear out over time and may not be as secure.
The Futur costs $86.00, whereas the Progress 500 and Progress 510 cost $70.00 and $95.00, respectively. The difference in the price of the Progress is significant and worth considering before making your purchase.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether the additional features of the Futur or Progress are worth the price tag; we think the Progress models provide a better value.
The Merkur Futur and Progress both accept all double-edge safety razor blades, giving you various blades to choose from. Merkur includes one of their stainless steel blades but expect it to last only about five to seven shaves before you need to replace it.
Consider picking up a variety of blades before you start. This will help you get a feel for which blade type works best with the razor and your skin and facial hair type. You can find out more about choosing the right blade here.
Comb & Safety Bar
Both razors feature a closed-comb design. The one minor difference, however, is with the safety bar. The Futur features a solid safety bar, whereas the Progress has a scalloped safety bar (small indentations along the safety bar). The solid safety bar is good for flattening the skin before the hair is shaved, whereas scalloped helps to feed hair towards the blade to provide smoother shaves.
Related: Types of Safety Razors
The Merkur Futur and the Merkur Progress are worlds apart.
At the lowest setting on the adjustment dial, the Futur remains quite aggressive and not beginner-friendly. We found that repeatedly, the razor would cause some weeps and nicks. In short, you’ll want to ensure you have your styptic pencil or alum block handy.
But, if you have some experience with a double-edge safety razor – and the thicker growth to back it up – then Futur can remove hair exceptionally well. The ample weight of the body provides more than enough (perhaps even too much) pressure on the skin and stability, making it very easy to get a clean and close shave. Depending on your skin sensitivity level, this can also lead to some discomfort.
The head on the Futur is just about as bulky as a butterfly safety razor. This makes shaving the mustache, chin, and jawline areas tricky. Unfortunately, if you don’t get the technique correct, this could lead to a blade angle that is too extreme.
We enjoy the range of aggression that the Merkur Progress offers. However, at the lowest setting, the Progress is mild enough that beginners won’t be turned off and will be much less likely to suffer from some bad cuts or nicks.
On the other side, the Progress’s highest adjustment setting becomes substantially aggressive; enough for even experienced wet shavers to enjoy.
Other Important Notes
There were some other important notes we wanted to share about both of these safety razors:
Easy Adjustment Throughout the Shave
By simply turning the handle, you can alter the amount of exposure on either safety razor. This is nice. The reason is that if you like to make several passes with, across, and against the grain of your hair growth, you can easily adjust to having more or less exposure to the blade by merely turning the handle.
This is much more convenient than the Rockwell 2C or 6C, which requires you to disassemble and reassemble the entire razor to change the blade exposure.
Resolves Razor Bumps
If you have exceptionally curly facial hair, you are likely aware of how painful ingrown hairs or razor bumps can be. Thanks to the reliance on only one cutting blade, both the Merkur Futur and Progress will never cut your hair below the skin’s surface. Therefore your whiskers will never have the opportunity to become ingrown.
While some talented individuals may use the Futur and Progress for head and body shaving, we’ve found that these razors are just too dangerous to use anywhere besides your face. Once you master the system, our only recommendation would be to clean up large and mostly flat surfaces on your body, including the chest, stomach, and perhaps legs.
Better Shave Cream Provides Better Performance
These safety razors can perform adequately with your standard drugstore shave cream. However, we strongly encourage you to try a traditional shaving cream or soap and pair it with a shaving brush. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but it’s worth trying. We’ve found that the experience and performance for both of these razors are leaps and bounds better.
Aside from the Futur and Progress, there are a few other adjustable safety razors that you may want to consider. Here are a few we think you’d like:
- Parker Variant: This is a budget-friendly alternative that costs $57. Beloved by wet shaving enthusiasts for their low price and great shave quality. Unfortunately, the construction quality is not up to the same level as Merkur, but it should still last for a few years (reviewed here).
- Rockwell Razors 2C/6C/6S: Making its start as a successful Kickstarter campaign, Rockwell is a Canadian company that makes a set of unique adjustable double-edge razors. The Rockwell provides reliable performance with swappable baseplates rather than an adjustment knob. (2C review, 6C review)
- Rockwell T2: This is an adjustable butterfly safety razor that is perhaps the best model that Rockwell makes. Well-made and solid design, and does feature an adjustment knob (reviewed here).
Here’s a table that compares the Parker and Rockwell razors to the Merkur models:
|Razor Name||Composition||Grip||Country of Origin||Number of Pieces||Price||Shave Performance|
|Merkur Futur||Die-Casted Zinc||Brushed Metal||Germany||2||$86.00||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting|
|Merkur Progress (500)||Die-Casted Zinc||Ridged||Germany||2||$70.00||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting|
|Merkur Progress (510)||Die-Casted Zinc||Ridged||Germany||2||$95.00||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting|
|Parker Variant||Brass||Knurled||India||2||$57.00||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting|
|Rockwell Razors 6C||Chromed Zinc Alloy||Knurled||China||3||$60.00||Varies Based On Plate|
|Rockwell Razors T2||Chromed Zinc, Brass, Stainless Steel||Knurled||Parts from China and US. Assembled in Canada||1||$150.00||Varies Based On Adjustment Setting|
|Rockwell Razors 2C||Chromed Zinc Alloy||Knurled||China||3||$40.00||Varies Based On Plate|
|Rockwell Razors 6S||Stainless Steel||Knurled||USA||3||$120.00||Varies Based On Plate|
In conclusion, the Merkur Futur and the Merkur Progress are good razors. However, we think the Futur is best suited for those experienced with wet shaving, whereas the Progress is better for most people who want a razor that grows with their shaving technique.
Both offer a great experience and, in our opinion, are quite enjoyable to use. So give both of them a try, and let us know what you think!