Comparing my ARS loppers to my Bahco ultralight

Over the years I’ve tried lots of different loppers and settled on Bahco as my go-to. I like the fact that they produce a very light orchard lopper with 32" handles (34" length).

However, because I love my ARS hand pruners, I decided to purchase a couple of relatively expensive ARS loppers. Both have 30" handles, about- total 32" length, one has a compound leverage mechanism and a blade and anvil configuration while the other is a bypass type, with a hook and blade that passes the hook. Bypass is usually recommended because of a lesser tendency to crush the wood behind the cut. Anvil types are usually employed for brush clearing or to reduce the volume of brush after removing it from fruit trees.

The ARS bypass has a problem of excessive thickness of the hook, making it harder to make precise cuts of small wood. I ground down the hook towards the tip to make it more like the Bahco, and that alleviated the problem. Now my helper uses a Bahco and I switched to the shorter handled ARS except when I need more extension.

Recently, I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury that is slow to heal (I’m 67 and prune all day long, month after month, so something is bound to give, right?)

I’m in peaches and plums now, which require a lot of lopper work, so I decided to try the compound lever model. Wow! The sucker cuts with very little effort and is extraordinarily light weight.

The one liability of an anvil system is that it tends to push the wood away from the fulcrum towards the tip of the blade and anvil which reduces leverage. This is especially a problem when reaching up because the partial solution is to push the blades against the wood to force the cut inward where you have leverage.

However, even with this problem, the tool requires less muscle than any lopper I’ve ever used and cuts so well there’s not much wood crushing going on. The anvil also prevents the bark stripping that can occur with a bypass if you aren’t placing the hook inside the blade (the blade often needs to be on the side of wood being removed to avoid stripping bark when you cut).

So now I’m using the fancy, compound lever, blade and anvil job that costs about $160! No problem for me because skilled labor fetches a high price less than an hour from NYC.

I’ve tried to break the tool to see how strong it is by attempting to cut excessively thick wood. Can’t seem to break or bend the handles with my arm strength, which is greater than the average city dweller that doesn’t pump weights. I’ve also been careless about springing the blade and anvil system, but haven’t managed to do that either, even by twisting like an amateur. The other ARS seems equally unbreakable.

Both use the extra hard steel that holds its edge better than a Bahco or any other lopper I’ve used, including the poorly engineered and overpriced Felco.

I realize my words are a bit difficult to understand but I hope you can get the gist of us. Maybe in a few years I will be in a wheelchair and have the time to make youtube videos that will make all this easier to understand.

I don’t have that much time to give away presently.

Actually, this seems to be the best source for both designs.

It was the only source I could find in the U.S. for the blade and anvil model, although searching now I found a source asking almost $400 compared to the $160 price at Wood Ave.


Pardon me, Alan, but I’m having a difficult time imagining how you ground down the tip of the bypass for the ARS. Can you describe it more thoroughly? Is it possible to post pictures? I’m really interested in the ARS bypass, even though it seems you endorsed more highly the anvil version.

Thanks for sharing your experience and recommendations with the community!

I simply used a typical electric grinder with a rotating wheel and thinned the outside of the hook to make it more like the shape of a Bahco. It is much thicker towards the tip of the blade than it needs to be for strength. I’m sure I could have ground it thinner than I did as most of the pressure against the metal is towards the fulcrum where the wood is pushed.

The ARS rests in my truck while the longer handled Bahco is the one I use. My helper also prefers the longer handles which give you more leverage as well as reach.

I only prefer the ARS Anvl model for cutting small wood into firewood lengths at this point as my shoulders haven’t gotten sore recently from holding the longer loppers out hour after hour of pruning peaches. It may happen yet this season as I’ve only been pruning stonefruit for 3 weeks and they are what I do most of my steady lopper work on.

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If it’s better than the Bahco that’s a very high bar.

It isn’t better, but the blade is made of better steel which doesn’t make a lot of practical difference in a two armed lopper beyond a minute of extra sharpening a week. When I said I was using the ARS anvil loppers it was because its compound lever (which its bypass model lacks) make it require less force to use than even the long handled Bahco super light. It’s also very light and can cut through thicker wood. So its better to use if my shoulders gets soar from holding up a loppers all day long, day after day.

My regular go-to for a loppers is the Bahco. I use an ARS hand pruner and a Gomtaro 300mm coarse cut saw. .

I get how you ground down the ARS bypass now. Thank you.

Also being a fan of the ARS pruners, I ended up getting the medium-length ARS bypass. It had mostly positive reviews (many like Alan’s giving high praise, particularly the Japanese-speaking reviews). If I have any problems with it, I’ll try to post here. It’ll mostly be used for a few overgrown fruit trees on standard rootstocks, along with a maple and an oak in a backyard setting.

I’m not sure it will require the same precision Alan needed for peach trees, hence I’ll probably leave the hook as is.

Often when I’m pruning peaches it’s mostly lopper work, much more so than other species. As much as possible I finish pruning the trees before putting the loppers down and do to this requires more fine cuts than I otherwise use a loppers for.