I recently scored a Merkur Mergress XL on the BST after doing a small den clearing of a Simpsons brush, a Dirty Bird Bowl and a small cream & soap lot; basically stuff I never used or bonded with. I used the money to buy my brother an EJ DE89 and a Semogue 1305 for his birthday, and picked up the Mergress XL for myself. I used to have a Progress, but only owned it for a VERY short while, because at the time I thought it was one of the worst razors I had ever used believe it or not! I actually compared it to a cheap single blade Bic disposable, because that's what the stock Progress actually felt like to me. Although it was a hefty razor, it skipped along my face and even after giving it quite a few chances to prove itself, I could not bond with it.
Fast forward a few months and I decided to give the Progress another chance, but this time reincarnated in the form of the Mergress XL. First impressions, this thing is a monster! It's got some heft to it, that's for sure, and also has a bit of an imposing look, but to me at least, it does not look gaudy or too modern like the Futur. I think itt still has a classic, old-school look (I'm not knocking the Futur for all of those Futur lovers out there, just stating my opinions since I prefer a more classic look!) The plastic knob on the stock Progress has bothered some, but it never bothered me or was a deal breaker, and what made me get rid of the Progress simply was how it shaved. So how does the Mergress shave?
Well, I have only used the Mergress once, but I am pleased to say that it was a very surprising, and positive experience! It may sound strange, but the Progress literally felt like it was skipping across my face and never felt stable or inspired confidence. Given the added weight with the Mergress XL, the two razors are like night and day, with the Mergress XL feeling much more planted, and the added weight inspires confidence and allows the razor to to most of the work, and just seems to mow through stubble. Mind you I was conservative and only used it set at 1.5 for it's maiden shave, but I was a bit gun shy given the previous experience I had with the Progress. Even set at 1.5 it resulted in a DFS, and although the head may look a little cumbersome, it had no trouble with my problem areas, which are the mustache area and my chin and jawline, which is pretty pronounced/sharp. At the 1.5 setting I'd have to say it was comparable to my '57 Super Speed, and MAYBE a touch more mellow than the Edwin Jagger DE89. Next time will set it at #2 and see how it goes.
The added heft and weight of the razor is what I think really inspired confidence and made this razor perform. I love my EJ DE89 Barley, but always was wanting something heftier, or possibly balanced differently. Although the '57 Super Speed is super lightweight, for some reason to me it has a great feel and balance to it, as does my Merkur HD34C. As much as I couldn't stand the Progress in it's stock form, the Mergress may in time prove itself to be the best of both worlds, having all of the qualities that I like about the other three razors I own (Super Speed, EJ DE89, Merkur HD) into one razor. So what DIDN'T I like about the Mergress XL?
Well, not much actually. One thing I did notice is, it is a bit longer that the other razors I own (duh! It's an XL stupid!), but this is something I am confident I will get used to. The handle is a bit slippery in it's design, and that coupled with the added weight of the XL dial that's replaced the stock, plastic dial, the razor has a tendency to slowly slide down your fingers until the head of the razor is flush with your fingers. This was overcome by using a technique that I has seen Mantic59 use in one of his videos where he uses his pinky underneath the end of the handle. This is totally doable even with the added length of the XL. I think with more use, these small gripes will go away and I will get used to it.
So if any of you out there have been on the fence about getting a Progress or a Mergress, I would say spend the extra $$$ and go for the Mergress. I cannot comment on how different the regular Mergress is compared to the Mergress XL, but so far I have no regrets about getting the Mergress XL over the standard Mergress. Since I am digging the added heft of the Mergress XL, I am going to guess I made the right choice!
And for those of you wondering, I used an Astra SP blade in both the stock Progress and the Mergress XL, QCS Myosre Sandlewood cream and a Semogue 1305 boar.