Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Parker SRX or PTB Straight? My Preference

I think that both the barber straight razors that I've tried from Parker, the SRX and the PTB, are good razors. After taking my initial learning curve with the heavy, all-stainless-steel SRX, I then shifted to the PTB, the push-type razor with the black scales.

The Parker SRX shown with its fan-type blade-mounting system

My preference? (Drum roll, please....) I prefer the PTB at the current time.

The Parker PTB shown with its push-type blade carrier removed

Below I will discuss the features and benefits of both razors, and the reasons for my current preference should be evident.

Weight: The all-stainless SRX with its thick, substantial components is the heavyweight of the duo. If you like a heavy straight razor similar to traditional straights, the SRX may be right for you. For me, I found the PTB's plastic scales and thinner sheet-stainless-steel to offer a shaving benefit. The low-mass design gave incredible feedback to me as I shaved. Both the audible and and tactile response from the razor were superior and helped with the quality of my shave. I could literally feel the razor cutting hair, and when I occasionally made the wrong move resulting in a minor nick or cut, the low mass and high feedback of the razor seemed to allow me to more quickly adjust and minimize the damage. I would characterize the PTB as being responsive like a sports car.

Blade shape: The cross section of the SRX is rather wedge shaped with planes on either side of the removable edge (the half-DE blade) that taper toward the cutting edge. I found these plane surfaces to occasionally be a bit sticky; that is, that surface against my just-shaved skin seemed to have a lot of friction, causing the razor to drag. The PTB has different contours near the shaving edge of the razor and never seemed to drag on freshly-shaved skin.

Blade insertion and removal: If you know the best method for opening up the SRX (see my previous article here, or the article I wrote for on my learning curve with a barber's straight), I find the SRX to be easier to manage for blade changes. I have limited experience, however, with the PTB, and expect that process will get easier. My PTB, because of its obviously-different manufacturing process -- being made of formed, thin sheet stainless steel -- has a slight disuniformity in the removable blade carrier. This causes the main tab under which the removable blade is positioned to have a slightly narrower gap at the end nearer the heel of the blade. This makes blade insertion a bit tricky. I expect that I'll adjust this by bending the flap ever so slightly to correct the issue.
     [UPDATE: Just after I posted this article, I used a butter knife like a wedge, and carefully used it to SLIGHTLY spread the metal of the flap on the carrier. This was a VERY small adjustment and I did NOT need to use the knife as a lever to pry. If you make any similar adjustments, be sure to not use excessive force and make VERY SMALL adjustments - almost none. It didn't need much tuning to be perfect.]

Quality/durability: Often heavier and more substantial products leave us with the perception of quality. The SRX is no exception. The lighter weight, thinner stamped stainless steel, and the plastic scales of the PTB may lead some to conclude that it is of lower quality, a cheapie. Well, perhaps that may be the conclusion of some, but to return to my analogy of a sports car or even a racing car, because the PTB is of lighter weight and built to different specifications than a family cruiser -- perhaps even requires different driving technique and maintenance -- that doesn't make it lower quality. This includes the plastic scales on the PTB, which are adequate for their purpose and, in my opinion, do not at all suggest lower quality -- merely different design specifications.

Size: Though both razors take half DE blades, the PTB is about an inch longer, when measuring from blade tip to tang tip. Men with very large hands may prefer the longer PTB. For me, personally, both razors are sized just fine.
The new graphite version of the Variant adjustable.

Price: The SRX is about five U.S. dollars more than the PTB.

That's about it for my comparison between the two razors. If I've overlooked some aspect that's important to you, leave a comment and I'll respond.

Coming Soon....

My observations on the latest Parker Variant production, which is the graphite version. I received it yesterday from I think you won't want to miss this article.

Also there's an article in the pipeline on a detail of straight-razor shaving that some may find helpful.

Razor Garage Sale Continues w/ New Additions -- Make Me an Offer

Keep in mind that there is about $4 of packaging and mailing costs embedded in the prices of my garage-sale razors, and there really isn't a lemon in the bunch.

But if you think my prices are out of line, send me an email, make me an offer! Let's see if we can find a point of win-win.

Happy shaving!

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