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Merkur Progress Review

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The Merkur Progress is a beloved adjustable safety razor for many. Commonly compared to the Merkur Futur, the Merkur Progress is much more beginner-friendly thanks to the size and mild aggressive blade exposure of the razor.

This article will review the Merkur Progress, including the design, shave performance, aggressiveness, compatible razor blades, and much more.

Highlights

FeatureSummaryRating (out of 100)
DesignThe Merkur Progress isn’t the best built nor the most ergonomic safety razor available. However, it functions well.80
DialWith a simple twist of the plastic knob, you can quickly change the aggressiveness of the blade exposure.100
ConstructionThe materials are standard, with a solid brass inner paired with chrome plating. Expect this razor to last you a few decades before any noticeable wear and tear.85
Compatible BladesLike most safety razors, you can easily test across brands to find one that suits your personal preference.100
VersatilityThe Merkur Progress is best used for facial hair use only. Trying to manscape with this safety razor will likely lead to some nicks and cuts.90
Shave PerformanceOnce you get the angle of the blade to the optimal setting, the Merkur Progress provides a close and comfortable shave.95
RatingWhether you are a wet shaving newbie or a seasoned pro, the Merkur Progress is a great addition to your rotation. Its easily adjustable blade exposure makes it a versatile razor that can be used for both light and heavy beard days.91.6
Merkur Progress Adjustable Safety Razor, MK-500001
  • The angle of the blade can be altered by simply twisting the handle to one of the six settings featured
  • Guaranteed to leave you with blemish-free skin and an ultra close shave
  • Compatible with all other standard double edge blades

Design

merkur progress design

The Merkur Progress is an adjustable safety razor, meaning you can adjust the blade exposure to your liking. In addition, the razor is a two-piece design, allowing you to easily change blades when the time comes.

Unlike the Merkur 38C or Merkur 34C, the Merkur Progress lacks knurling on the handle. Instead, it has a smooth handle with slight ridges along the barrel. This could be slightly problematic if your hands are coated in shaving cream, as it could cause the razor to slip out of your grip.

Dial

With a simple twist of the adjustment knob, you can change the aggressiveness anywhere between 1 and 5, including incremental adjustments between each level. So no matter the coarseness of your facial hair or how sensitive your skin is, you can find a blade exposure that works for you.

One reason that many men opt for another adjustable safety razor is that the plastic dial on the Merkur Progress screams “cheap.” However, if you’re looking for a razor that looks and feels high-end, the Progress may not be the one for you.

However, the plastic dial is functional and easy to use. Simply twist to the desired blade exposure, and you’re good to go.

Construction

merkur progress blade gap

As for durability and craftsmanship, Merkur’s line of safety razors could be a bit better. The Progress has a brass body and has been treated with chrome finish.

Some purists in the wet shaving community will say that the Merkur Progress’s construction is too light and not substantial enough. Some will also refer to its metal as ‘pot metal,’ meaning it might just be a mixture of metals.

While we can see where they’re coming from, we don’t think it’s a deal-breaker. The Merkur Progress still shaves exceptionally well and will last you many years with proper care.

The only instance where craftsmanship could be an issue is if you have clumsy hands and may repeatedly drop it on hard bathroom titles. If the chrome plating becomes damaged, it will be susceptible to rusting.

Compatible Blades

Like all Merkur razors, except the Merkur 907, standard double-edge blades will fit perfectly in the razor.

While Merkur includes one of their blades to test out, we recommend purchasing a variety pack of blades so you can find the perfect one that will deliver the shaving experience you desire.

If you are uncertain, Derby, Feather, and Gillette Silver Blue are always great options to start with.

Related: Best Safety Razor Blades

Merkur Progress 500 vs. Merkur Progress 510

Like other razors in the Merkur family, the Progress comes in two different versions, the 500 and 510.

The main difference between the two is that the Progress 510 has a longer handle and weighs a little more than the Progress 500. Other than that, they are exactly the same razor.

Here are the key specifications for each:

Merkur Progress 500 (short handle)

  • Weight: 3.24 oz / 92g
  • Length: 3.42″ / 87mm

Merkur Progress 510 (long handle)

  • Weight: 3.63 oz / 103g
  • Length: 4.1″ / 104g

As you can see, the Merkur Progress 510 is just over 0.6″ longer while adding roughly half an ounce extra in weight.

So which one should you choose?

Generally speaking, if you have larger hands, we recommend using the long handle. However, the short handle will suffice if you have average-sized to smaller hands or prefer a lighter razor.

Versatility

Like virtually all other safety razors, with perhaps the exception given to the OneBlade Core and other hybrid safety razors, the Merkur Progress is relegated to facial hair only.

You may be able to shave your chest, legs, and arms, but it’s not ideal and may lead to nasty nicks on your skin’s surface.

Other Considerations

While the Merkur Progress is a great razor, there are definitely some worthy competitors to consider in the same price range. Here are a few other options to keep in mind before making your final decision :

  • Merkur Futur: While this razor looks slick and modern, we found it quite a bit more aggressive than the Progress. We recommend this razor if you’re looking for something with a bit more bite. Also, the extra heft (it weighs a whole ounce more than the Progress) is almost too much. Plus, the larger head makes it difficult to maneuver around tighter spots like under your nose.
  • Parker Variant: This adjustable safety razor is a great alternative to the Progress. It’s well-built, relatively aggressive, and comes at a lower price. The knurled etching on the handle provides a nice grip, even with soapy hands. The only drawback is that it’s not as widely available as the Progress.
  • Rockwell Razors 6C: With swappable mounting plates, the Rockwell 6C allows you to customize the blade gap and aggressiveness of your shave. And like the Parker Variant, it’s also well-built and comes in at a lower price point. It is a bit less elegant when it comes to design, but still a great razor nonetheless.

Related: Best Adjustable Safety Razors

Shave Performance

There is a reason that the Merkur Progress is one of the most popular safety razors on the market – it just works.

Unlike other razors, where you have to learn to appreciate the nuances of the performance, the Merkur Progress puts you in total control.

Feeling like a little bit more aggressive shave this morning? Give the adjustment knob a slight turn to increase the blade gap.

Prefer a bit more mild shave? Just tighten up the knob a bit, and you’re good to go.

It’s really that simple.

Aside from the aggressiveness, the razor head is unimposing and allows you to easily work the fine details around your mouth and nose. You can confidently get sharp edges along your mustache, sideburns, and goatee without fear of nicking yourself.

And finally, the weight is just right. Not too light and not too heavy. The razor head does most of the work, so your wrist doesn’t get tired as quickly.

Where can you buy the Merkur Progress?

Finding this safety razor at a local store may be a bit tricky. However, some larger cities may have a specialty shaving store that will carry it. Alternatively, your best bet is to purchase online through one of the many vendors that sell it. Merkur also sells the Progress directly through its website.

FAQ

Where is the Merkur Progress made?

DOVO Solingen makes the Merkur Progress in Germany. They have been in existence since 1906.

Do you have to follow any special care instructions for the Merkur Progress?

Not necessarily. Once you are finished shaving, you can simply rinse the razor head with hot water and set it out to dry. Some people like to disassemble the razor head and clean it with a small brush, but this isn’t necessary.

How often should I replace the blade?

This will depend on how often you shave and the thickness of your facial hair. Generally speaking, you can get 5-7 shaves out of a blade before it starts to feel dull. Your mileage may vary.

Conclusion

The Merkur Progress is a great all-around adjustable razor that should satisfy most wet shavers. It’s well-built, relatively aggressive, and comes at a reasonable price point. Plus, the added bonus of adjusting the blade gap means that you can fine-tune your shave to get exactly the results you want.

So if you’re in the market for a new safety razor, the Merkur Progress should definitely be at the top of your list. Of course, don’t forget to opt for the long-handle version if you have larger hands. Otherwise, the short handle will suffice.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more.

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