Modified Merkur Progress - The 'Mergress'
The Merkur Progress adjustable razor has gained a very devoted following since it came on the market. There are many reasons to like the razor as it boasts a good weight, finished construction, a two-piece design, and easy loading system and for the most part great shaving results. However, where the Progress stops short, the Mergress, its customized version, steps in to make this razor one of the best on the market.
The plastic knob at the bottom of the Progress is an eyesore and the razor has a reputation for uneven adjustments from one Progress to another. For example, a '2' on my Progress is not the same as a '2' on your Progress. Getting the adjustment scale to actually match up at the '1' with a blade loaded is not exactly easy either. Frustrated with the performance and calibration of his razor, Eric "Mer" Maier took it upon himself to try to improve the Progress. The result is a razor that is known as the Mergress.
The Mergress encompasses everything everything that you would enjoy about a standard Progress, but with a significant improvements. Gone is the plastic knob, replaced with a very well-finished and machined metal knob. Also solved is the adjustment mechanism, so when the razor is at the lowest setting it actually matches up properly with the '1' setting. This makes the adjustment scale much easier to actually set properly which is a major improvement on its own.
The adjustment scale on the Mergress can go from very tame to very aggressive, 1 to 5, respectively. This razor allows you to change the angle of the blade inside the razor's head. When you turn the knob the head of the razor will go up or down to increase or decrease the gap of the blade. By increasing the gap, you can expose more of the blade to create a more aggressive shave if you have a thicker beard. If you have sensitive skin or thinner hair, you may want a smaller gap so that the blade is less aggressive on your skin. This customization gives you a close, comfortable shave with less irritation and fewer in-grown hairs or irritation.
The Mergress razor is about as close to perfect as you can get these days. The weight is great in the hand, the quality is very high (and you can feel it). In addition, I have always been a fan of the two-piece design from Merkur over the three-piece design for ease of reloading, and the Mergress is a good example of this system.
The Mergress is currently available in three different styles, which are purely aesthetic and have no influence over the quality of the shave. You can choose black dots or colored dots for the adjustment dials. There is also the Mergress XL that has a longer adjustment knob for those who want a heftier razor.
So what are the negatives? There are only two: price and availability. The normal Progress is a decently high $67 USD or so depending on your vendor. The Mergress customizations increase the price to $104.95 USD; however, considering the work put into it, it is worth the extra costs. Because each razor is personally modified by Mer and only sold through Lee's Safety Razors, getting your hands on one might take a little time.
Overall I would highly recommend a Mergress model for those that enjoy the Progress, but want it to be a little tighter in terms of execution, or for those that simply hate the plastic knob of the normal version. Either way you are going to get a shaver that will last for years and years.