Loppers are a key part of all gardeners kit, but having the right pair can make all the difference. We have bought three of the more popular models currently available and put them all to the test to see which set deserves the title of “The Best Loppers!”

Our Three Contenders

In this test, we have the Gruntek telescopic anvil loppers, Spear and Jackson RazonSharp loppers and the Stanley FatMax loppers.

Watch The Video Review

https://youtu.be/YUeY4lGbKs8

Our Winner: Stanley FatMax

STANLEY FATMAX 31" (77cm) Sync Drive Geared Bypass Lopper
  • Forged steel blade with titanium carbo-nitrade (TICN) coating provides strength and retains sharpness
  • Oversized ergonomic control grip
  • Sync drive technology creates More cutting force with reduced effort
  • Shock absorbing bumpers


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Coming out number one in our test was the Stanley FatMax Loppers. It was a really close run thing between the Stanley FatMax and the Gruntek loppers with the Spear and Jackson a distant third due to the fact they well, kinda broke!

The FatMax loppers feature a forged steel blade with a titanium carbo-nitride coating which apparently helps increase strength and keeps the blade sharper for longer.

They use a geared cutting head, unlike the other two loppers in the test, which use a ratchet system.

Our Runner Up: GRÜNTEK Telescopic Anvil Loppers

Top Pick
GRÜNTEK Telescopic Anvil Loppers
  • SMART-CUT drive SYSTEM thanks to the lever ratio and the gear, the gardener achieves a multiple increase in the cutting performance and provides easy cutting of fresh and dry wood and branches
  • SHARP upper blade made of high quality TOOLSTEEL, special anti-stick coating and PRECISION cut. The round aluminum lever arms with convenient 2-component ANTI-SLIDING handles and rounded corners minimize stress during extended use


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The German Gruntek XT 940 telescopic loppers. On these loppers, the upper blade is made of high-quality TOOLSTEEL with a good resharpening ability and has a special un-specified anti-stick coating.

Again these are telescopic loppers, going from 68 to 94 cm.

Third Place: Spear & Jackson W213 Razorsharp Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper

The spear and Jackson razor-sharp anvil loppers. These feature C50 carbon steel blades, which are PTFE coated blade for rust resistance and smooth cutting.

Unlike the FatMax loppers, these are telescopic; the handles extend from 46cm up to 72cm for reaching higher up branches.

The Test

So let’s get to cutting. Luckily I have a garden clearance job on at the moment, which has left me with plenty of prime candidate trees and bushes to test these loppers out on.

I start out here with quite a big cut, really pushing the loppers hard. All three models cut through fine, with the grunteks feeling like they had a little more cutting power over the other two.

Stanley FatMax Loppers on large branch
Stanley FatMax Loppers on a large branch

Now we come up against a big thick branch, which I don’t expect the loppers to cut through. The perfect test of build quality. Now, none of the loppers makes it through, but the spear and Jacksons fare particularly badly, seemingly breaking in the process.

Time now for something a little more suited to loppers; this rhododendron is next up on the cutting block. Here you can see the broken spear and Jackson loppers. Something seems to have gone wrong with the ratchet system; they get to a certain point, then just stop cutting. You can see the other two loppers go through fine, so it wasn’t a problem with the branch being too thick.

Spear and Jackson Razorsharp Loppers Unfortunately Broken!
Spear and Jackson Razorsharp Loppers Unfortunately Broken!

I go get there eventually by stopping the cut, opening the loppers up and cutting again, but not ideal at all.

Then we have another thick tree branch to again really put these loppers to the test. Both the Gruntek and the fat max loppers just about manage to cut this branch. I really have to strain, but they do manage it, and both sets of loppers come through just fine.

Gruntek Loppers Cutting Through a Large Branch
Gruntek Loppers Cutting Through a Large Branch

Loppers Buyers Guide

So what exactly should you be looking for when it comes to loppers? In this section, we’ll be looking at a couple of differentiating factors and how they can come to affect your purchasing decision and experience with a lopper.

The Cutting Blades

There are two different types of loppers; bypass loppers and anvil loppers. Bypass loppers are the most common type of loppers, featuring two blades that slide past each other much like a pair of scissors. They usually offer the cleanest cut due to the cutting mechanism, but they can occasionally get jammed when you’re trimming dead and dry branches.

On the other hand, anvil loppers are made from a single blade. It’s better at crushing the branches and stems because it only has a single cutting edge It’s known as an “anvil” lopper because the flat side is where the blade crushes the branch against, acting like as anvil. This makes it great for cutting larger plants where precision isn’t required.

Picking Blades

Most lopper blades are made from steel for the durability they provide. It’s also a lot easier to work with when sharpening the blade. The best-quality blades are typically made from hardened or carbon steel. This makes them last much longer than typical steel and are less likely to bend, scratch or generally become damaged with general use. These are the most common materials that blades are made from and anything less usually means that it won’t last a long time or might not offer a clean cut. It might also be harder to maintain and sharpening the blade could result in more damage than actually sharpening the blade.

It’s also important to look at the blade’s cutting mechanism itself. The closer the blades are when you close and open the loppers, the cleaner the cut will be. Many quality loppers will allow you to adjust the tightness of the cutting mechanism. This ensures that the blades are very close to each other, meaning there are no spots or gaps that could bend or nick the cutting surface when you use them. Most low-quality loppers will have a bit of a bend in them after a couple of uses.

Cutting Mechanisms

There are three main types of loppers; geared loppers, ratcheting loppers and compound action loppers.

Geared loppers use a series of gears that give you more leverage when you cut. This often leads to much smoother and cleaner cuts but can make the lopper heavier due to the additional parts. It also has a tendency to fail because of the increased number of parts involved in the cutting process.

Ratcheting hoppers latch as you squeeze and release, meaning they cut in steps as opposed to one clean motion. This can be handy for thicker branches, but do remember that each looper is rated to cut only a certain diameter of the branch and it’s not recommended to go above it.

Lastly, compound action loppers use many different moving parts that open up in order for the blades to get around a branch to cut it. These have a lot of extra bits and pieces that can become loose, meaning it’s very important for you to maintain compound action loppers else the cutting strength and quality can be negatively affected.

Handle Styles

Loppers come in a range of different lengths. Choosing the right one should be based on your personal needs, but do keep in mind that it can also affect the leverage and weight. For instance, a shorter handle means less material and lighter weight. This means that you have a bit more control over the lopper itself, but it also means that there’s less power behind your cuts. This usually isn’t a problem unless you’re dealing with very thick branches.

On the other hand, a long handle means that you have a lot more leverage and can reach branches that are further away. They tend to be a little more difficult to work with because of the extra weight, but if you’re comfortable handling it, it can actually be a very good option.

Alternatively, there are loppers that offer telescoping handles. These allow you to manually adjust the length of the handle, meaning that you can get more reach if desired. This offers a great level of customisation, but it does also affect the overall quality of the handle and the lopper as a whole.

Grip Styles

Loppers also have a variety of different grip types. Some loppers come with basic plastic or silicon grips, while others offer an ergonomic shape that is designed to fit your hand. Some also offer impact-dampening qualities to reduce the strain on your hands when you cut a branch. If possible, try out the lopper you plan to buy to see if the grip is comfortable enough for you.

Loppers also have bumpers close to the grip that prevents the two handles from colliding when you make a cut. This should be able to dampen any impact while also absorbing any shock that might put a strain on your arms.

Weight Considerations

It’s also very important to consider the weight of the lopper. We’ve alluded to this a few times in this article, but we’re going to dedicate an entire section to it.

For a lighter lopper, you’re typically going to get slightly worse build quality but it’s going to be easier to handle. You won’t strain your arms using it and they won’t feel uncomfortable after a while. These lightweight loppers are often made from aluminium or fibreglass, but the blades are still made from a heavy-duty material such as steel.

For heavier loppers, you can expect them to tire out your arms if you’re not used to using them for a long period of time. Keep in mind that length can also affect the weight of a lopper since it’s adding more material to the lopper itself.

Maintenance and Support

Lastly, consider the maintenance options available and the support offered by the company itself. If the manufacturer is known for offering a warranty and excellent support, then it’s worth picking a product from that company just for the support alone. This is where buying from a well-known brand name can either backfire or be a fantastic option. It’s worth looking at the reviews of a product before purchasing it to see if the support is any good.

And you should also take a look at the replacement parts available, namely the blades. It’s completely possible to purchase a whetstone so you can sharpen the blades when needed and adjust the distance between them, but this can take a lot of work and some people would much prefer just replacing the blades. However, if you want to get a bit more use out of your loppers and would like to keep them sharp at all times, we do suggest that you learn to sharpen and clean your loppers.

FAQ

Which lopper should I use?

It depends on what you’re using the lopper for. If you are pruning tree branches, then one with a sharp blade that offers clean cuts is preferred. In this case, look for a bypass lopper. If you’re only using a lopper to clean up deadwood and thick branches, use an anvil lopper for its cutting power.

How do I prune with loppers?

There are a few tips to follow:

  • Make sure the blades are sharp before use.
  • Use bypass loppers for a cleaner cut
  • Line up the blade with the cutting area and remember that the blades pass each other, meaning that the cutting area shifts a little
  • Open the loppers wide so you can get a deep cut instead of snipping at the branches
  • Use one fluid motion to make the cut so that it’s clean and promotes healthy growth

How do I hold loppers?

Unless you’re cutting a branch far away, make sure your arms are at a comfortable handle and tightly grip each handle. If you extend your arms, you’ll get tired very easily. When using bypass loppers, don’t let them twist as they will naturally want to due to the cutting motion.

How do I maintain my loppers?

Make sure they’re cleaned on a regular basis to remove any residue and dirt. Scrub them with a brush if there is dirt caked onto the blades. You can also sharpen the blades if they are getting dull by using a whetstone, but be careful not to shave off too much of the blade unless you have a mechanism to tighten the blades. After a gardening session, make sure you clean the blades.