I have been shaving with a straight razor for a few months now and, while I am far from an expert, I have a pretty good feel for what works and what doesn’t. Before getting into straight razors I had been using safety razors for a while and was confident and skilled enough to get between a damn fine shave and a baby butt smooth shave every single time. I liked the challenge and the style of using a straight razor, but I have to admit that the time required can be kind of taxing. I have a four year old daughter, a wife, a dog, a rabbit, my writing projects, work, and occasionally sleep all competing for my time…so taking twenty minutes out of my day to shave and maintain my razor is a lot to ask. It was with this in mind that I decided to try out a shavette/disposable blade straight razor/replaceable blade straight razor/barber’s razor/whatever.
I did a lot of research into all of the various options, but in the end my choice was based on initial cost, ease of access to the blades, and curiosity. I chose the Parker SRW. The Parker line of replaceable blade razors currently has two different set ups, the original SR1/SR2/SRB/SRW which feather open to mount the blade or the new PTB/PTW push to open models which, obviously, use a sliding mount. The push mounts seem to have issues with blade alignment, so I decided to go for the original line. The SRW with it’s faux ivory handle looked the nicest, so I picked that one up. The Parker line of razors is plagued with quality control issues, but I have owned a few Parker safety razors without any issues and I was ordering from a good vendor, so I wasn’t too worried. My razor arrived last night and I took some time to play with it and examine it before jumping into my shave this morning.
The box is a matte black box with glossy black writing on the outside and a white slide out compartment with a red felt bottom on the inside. The razor comes in a plastic wrap with a simple set of instructions, but nothing else. The razor is a bit shorter than a typical straight razor and much lighter. I have seen a few reviews of the SR1 in which the metal arm sort of snaps into the scales when it is closed and was looking forward to this feature, but it is apparently only included in the metal scales of the SR1, because my razor does not do this. My razor was obviously new, but it still had some quality issues. The scales had some rough spots where the molding was not cut away cleanly and the etchings on the metal were not fully painted. Neither of these issues affect usability, but they are still kind of annoying. On the plus side of things, the metal arm is nice and tight in its scales and opens and closes smoothly and easily. The blade mounting system is easy to use and locks securely. The little bump that serves as a shoulder allows the razor to be held and used in a variety of interesting ways. Overall, in spite of its QC issues, this is a nice razor.
I have used right around nine different safety razors, six different straight razors, and dozens of different blades, but I was still a little nervous when I went to shave with the SRW. I mounted a German made Wilkinson blade, lathered up my PdP/KMF Green Tea & Bamboo superlather, pulled out my styptic, and prepared for the massacre. Instead, I got a damn fine shave with zero nicks and zero irritation. I did my usual prep, a three pass wtg/atg/xtg shave, and finished with a cold water rinse. The end result is that I am absolutely in love with this razor. I used a feather light touch and found that my experience with a true straight razor aided me immeasurably in the proper use of the SRW. I used a similar technique (with a much different angle) as I do with my straights and had a very easy time of it. I found that the razor cut smoothly and without any pulling and that it actually felt very similar to using a real straight razor. I did have to clean the blade much more often and I did have to remind myself to stay ultra light and to keep my modified angle, but other than that it was the same as any other straight razor. I got as good a shave as I do with my Union Cutlery, but in half the time and with less fuss. Not having to strop and oil the blade cut down on my total time considerably, but the Parker does have more nooks and crannies to dry off (I discovered this when I pulled up the locking latch to take some pictures).
My conclusions are these:
1) The Parker SRW has more potential for danger than a true straight razor, but with care it is a smooth and efficient shaver.
2) The smaller blade is somewhat annoying, but I imagine I will get used to it.
3) The overall smaller size of the razor made it much easier to handle and much easier to angle properly in tight spots.
4) Not having to strop and oil is really nice.
5) Having already dealt with straight razors made using the Parker SRW much easier than if I had tried to do it the other way around.
6) Parker may have some quality control issues, but what do you expect from a sub-$20 razor? I bought mine for $14.24, including shipping. I would say that for such a low price point that they did an excellent job of making this razor.
7) These razors absolutely deserve more praise than they get.
If you have been on the fence about these then I would suggest that you jump on in, they’re fun little razors.
(Use the coupon code: shavingstuff to get a 5% discount.)