I said I made a mistake when I bought a double-edged safety razor this year. I hadn’t used a DE-razor since the 1970s when I used my grandfather’s Gillette. I know now I should have just started with a Gillette adjustable, preferably the 195 known as the Fatboy. The only problem with that is Gillette no longer makes adjustable safety razors. If you want one, you have to find an old one.
Gillette sold a lot of adjustable razors during the previous century, so they are available. You can find them on eBay.com or Etsy.com. You can search antique stores, thrift shops, estate sales, and flea markets for old razors. Some may be in such poor shape they are of no value, but most can be restored to usable condition, and some are as good as new. You can even have a razor electroplated to restore the Nickel plating that covers the brass body of most of the old Gillette adjustable razors.
Vintage Adjustable Razors
The Fatboy is considered by many shaving enthusiasts to be one of the best safety razors ever made. The handle is thicker (fatter) than most other Gillette razors. The adjustment wheel goes from 1 to 9 with click stops at each position, so your setting won’t accidentally be changed while shaving. Many users report the weight of the razor and the length of the handle are perfect for them. This is my first choice for my ultimate razor. I’ve been looking online for a good one to buy.
My second choice in an adjustable ultimate razor is the Gillette Slim Adjustable which superseded the 195. The name comes from the thinner handle on this model. The Fatboy designation of the previous model wasn’t applied until after the Slim was introduced.
Not only was the handle thinner, but the head was also thinner than the 195. But in most respects, the Thin was very similar to the 195, so much so that some people have difficulty telling them apart unless they are shown side-by-side.
There were other adjustable models that came after the Thin, such as the Super 109 (109mm is the length of the handle). However, for now, I only want a Fatboy or a Slim.
Current Adjustable Razors
If you don’t want to take a chance on used razors, which might have issues, there are quite a few models currently being made and sold, most available online. I list the ones I have researched below but be aware I have not yet actually shaved with any of these.
Product images on this page are linked to my Amazon Affiliate account. Amazon Affiliate product links can earn me a commission when clicked.
The Merkur Progress adjustable razor was first introduced a few years before Gillette came out with the 195 Fatboy adjustable. Unlike the TTO butterfly head on the 195, the Progress is a two-piece design where the head is removed to change blades. The head must be reattached to the body in a specific orientation (line up top and bottom notches) in order for the adjustment mechanism to work properly.
The adjustment mechanism is on the bottom of the handle instead of near the head where Gillette put the adjustment dial. Interestingly, Gillette made prototype adjustable razors with the dial on the bottom of the handle. Their market research told them that men preferred the adjuster at the top of the handle.
Reviews by users give high ratings to this razor. Matt, owner of the Razoremportium, in a youtube comparison to a Gillette Slim Adjustable razor, liked this one slightly better.
The Futur from Merkur looks like a 1950s idea of a futuristic razor. The razor could have been designed by the aliens who made Gort (the robot) in the original movie version of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
There are a number of unusual design features which make this a less desirable razor than the Merkur Progress or other adjustable razors. The handle does not seem to be grippy enough to avoid it slipping in your hand. The head snaps on and off instead of TTO or screw off. There are of course, some who love this razor, but there are many who question these and other features. I like the Gort-ish futuristic appearance, but I don’t plan on spending money only so I can display it on a shelf.
Parker razors are headquartered and made in India. They have a good reputation for reasonably priced razors. The Variant is their adjustable model.
The adjustment dial is on the bottom of the two-piece razor. It is thus very similar in design to the Merkur Progress. About the only obvious difference is the Variant is all metal, while the dial on the bottom of the Progress handle is plastic. A Razoremporium youtube comparison of the two razors called it a tie.
Rockwell razors have an excellent reputation, but they do not fit in with the other models I am reviewing here because they do not have a dial adjustment. You change the base plate of the three-piece razor to change how aggressive it shaves. This means there is no easy adjustment changes possible during your shave. If you are a set-it-and-forget-it type of person, then this is great. You get to discover your perfect amount of blade exposure and then stay there. You can still easily change the base plate if you need to shave off your vacation beard.
Rockwell has two models of adjustable razors, the 6C and the 6S. The 6C has a chrome finish, while the 6S is made from stainless steel. Both come with three two-sided base plates giving you a choice of 6 different aggression levels for your shaves.
Vikings Blade designs razors in Australia, which are then made in China. The different models of adjustable razors available from Vikings Blade differ in how fat and long the handle is as well as the finish. All are TTO butterfly head razors.
The Crusader has a long, thin handle. The adjustment dial is near the head on the handle and can be adjusted continuously from 1 to 9. There are no click stops as on the vintage Gillette adjustable razors. This is good if you feel you need an intermediate setting.
Emperor Augustus and the Emperor Meiji
These two razors are similar and differ mostly in handle length. The Meiji has a shorter handle.
Both have fat handles and continuously adjustable settings from 1 to 9. One side of the head as a standard sculpted safety bar, while the other is smooth for a slightly gentler shave without making an adjustment to the dial. Just flip the razor to the opposite side.
It is recommended that you loosen the head before changing the adjustment on the dial. You don’t have to do this on a Gillette adjustable, but it is recommended even for those vintage razors. Loosening the top relieves pressure so the elevator mechanism which changes how aggressive the shave is can move without resistance.
Although the Vikings Blade Emporer models are clearly different than vintage Gillette adjustables, they are quite similar for a reasonable price. If I couldn’t find a vintage Gillette Slim or Fatboy, I would consider one of these.
The Pearl Flexi is a two-piece adjustable razor from India. It is CNC machined from brass. Although I found a listing on Amazon, you can’t see the price until you choose a store. It is not available directly from Amazon. As of October 2022, the price is about $80.
Global Shaving Club
The Fatguy is a recreation of the Gillette Fatboy razor. It is said to be visually identical to the GIllette 195 Fatboy in every respect. You can only purchase direct from Global Shaving Club for about $120.
The Rex Ambassador is a premium adjustable razor that has similarities to the Gillette Fatboy but with distinct differences. It is a two-piece razor instead of TTO. It is made from stainless steel instead of Nickel plated brass. The cost is $295.
There are a few other adjustable razors I haven’t reviewed here, but these are the major ones available. Which will you choose? My choice: My wife wants to buy me a Gillette 195 Fatboy for Christmas. In the meantime, I just purchased a Gillette Slim on eBay.