At the school where I work, the second hardest job for me is taking on the brush that creeps in every year from the surrounding hills. Digging holes for about forty new trees with a pick and shovel is the hardest. But the big difference is the pleasure factor.
Yes, it’s true, the vision of forty new trees in ten years, healing the hole in the ozone layer is inspiring and all, but no thanks.
Give me the best brush-cutter, and I’m on top of the world. All systems are a-go when the tank is full, it’s hooked on my harness, and the wide handlebars are firmly in my grip. Like Dirty Harry with his 44 Magnum, I’m invincible.
It’s hard work to cut-back hardy, overgrown brush, but it does give me a kick to see the weeds disintegrate in a blur of green dust. And nothing does it better than my 10-year old McCulloch two-stroke. You work up a sweat, you get bits and pieces of vegetation all over your face and in your nose, and your body starts to ache. But if you’re leading the charge with the best brush cutter, it’s just a matter of time before you’ve cleared the brush to the horizon and beyond – for a few months at least.
How To Choose The Best Brush Cutter
There are three types of brush cutters, electric, battery, and gas-powered.
Neither the electric or gas type needs much to get going. Switch on, press the trigger, and off you go. But if you’re psyched to do serious non-stop brush cutting, get one that runs on gas.
An electric one makes me nervous because I’m absent-minded. I’d probably end up slicing the power cord sooner or later, or I’d trip over it somewhere along the line, or, in my enthusiasm, forget how short it is and pull it from the socket.
A battery-operated one, when the battery goes flat, will give my lazy arse an excuse to take a breather, and interrupt my flow. But both types are generally cheaper if that’s the only issue.
Of the top ten I’ve singled out in the next section, six are gas-powered, three battery, and one electric. And I’ll tell you why.
The nature of the brush cutting demands that you’re mobile, unhindered by extension cords or battery packs, and a gas-powered cutter gives you the freedom of movement you need.
Going for a gas one, you’d have to consider your workload. A 25cc engine would be suitable for most jobs. These smaller engines are usually 2-strokes that take fuel mixed with oil. It’s easy to do because they come with a measuring bottle so you can mix the exact ratio without being a professor. The heavier, more powerful 4-stroke ones don’t need mixing. They run on regular, unleaded gas.
If getting your hands dirty, tinkering with mechanical things isn’t a big deal, and invading weeds regularly force your hand, a gas engine is what you need. It gives you all the fire-power to take on and destroy the toughest brush. They ask for more attention than the other two, but the reward of a job well done is worth it. A little extra effort, to mix the gas and oil, adjust the revs (with a small screwdriver while you listen to the engine’s pitch) will pay you back handsomely.
When you choose one, take note of how it starts. If the first thing you do to get going is difficult, your motivation goes out the window. If you’re anything like me and forget to reset the STOP/START switch, it will never start on STOP, and drive you crazy. Look for one that resets to START by itself. I said it first because it can make or break a relationship. My McCulloch didn’t have this modern feature, and I wish it had. I can’t count the number of times I blew my top because of such a simple thing.
Next is the shaft. All my picks have straight shafts. Call it a quirk, but I find it’s easier to cut in a straight line with one of them, almost like aiming a rifle, and they’re easier to balance. Perhaps a curved shaft would suit a short person better, but there’s a Craftsman 60V, straight shaft, on my list, with a telescopic length adjustment, that will solve that problem quickly.
The thing about a fully fuelled-up gas engine is the weight, and if you’re at it all day, it can be tiring. The good ones come with a shoulder harness that distributes the weight evenly across your hips and shoulders. There are light gas cutters, like the Husqvarna, but if that’s still too much, you’ll have to opt for the ultra-light Toro electric that weighs less than 7 lbs.
The heavy-duty work of cutting brush is best done with one that runs on gas. It will need more attention, but that’s the trade-off for the non-stop power you get. For odd, now and then, trimming jobs in smaller gardens, electric and battery-operated brush cutters are perfect.
Top 10 Best Brush Cutters
|Remington RM2700 Ranchero||4.5|
|Makita 25.4 4-Stroke||4.8|
|Honda UMC435LAAT VersAttach||4.8|
|Craftsman v60 Weedwacker||4.9|
|Greenworks 16-Inch 80V||4.7|
|Toro Electric Trimmer||4.5|
|Black & Decker GH900||4.7|
The years I’ve spent brush cutting, the manufacturer, the product, and expert reviews, is how I can present you with my top 10 list. I hope this will make it easier for you to choose the best brush cutter.
This powerful, straight shaft Husqvarna 28cc 2-stroke has a big enough engine for hard work. It also happens to be one of the cheapest high-quality products available. It only weighs 10.08 lbs, and with the rotatable loop handle, for left or right cutting, it’s easy to handle even on steep terrain. Husqvarna’s brush blade gives you a 9- inch cutting swathe and will slice apart the thickest brush with ease. It runs for over two hours on a tank.
The dual-use brush cutter/strimmer uses a 0.095-inch line to cut a broad 17-inch swathe making short work of wild weeds. The convenient Stop switch resets to the On position for easy starting. As I was saying earlier, this is very important.
For extra safety, there’s a throttle lockout to prevent accidental operation. As well as a cutting guard and a line length controller if you misjudge the recommended length.
The detachable shaft allows multiple attachments, and it takes those of other brands. The trimmer function has a tap ‘n go line-release. Available attachments include a hedge trimmer, pole saw, edger and tiller. Husqvarna also makes 2, 3, 4, and 8-tooth blades, but not all are compatible with this model.
This one comes with tools for easy assembly. It has a two-year warranty.
- Cuts very fast
- High power
- Low vibration
- Can overheat if over-stretched
- Sensitive to gas/oil ratio
This straight shaft, brush cutter is powered by a 42.7cc 2-stroke engine. The gas motor drives the solid steel shaft that gives extra smooth, steady power. The quick-change system lets you easily switch from the 3-tooth blade that cuts a 5-inch swathe through dense brush, to a grass trimmer, with a 10-inch swathe, attachment.
Other features include an adjustable spacer guard for precision cuts. The anti-slip, U-handle and shoulder strap gives you complete control over this powerful cutter. With the throttle to pressure-link switch, it safely switches off the engine if you lose control. A see-through tank makes the fuel level easily visible. If you’ve got heavy-duty work, the MomiloeUS is the best one for you. It has a two-year warranty.
- Highest engine certification – EPA
- Balanced for operational ease
- Throttle pressure switch
- Takes time to assemble
- Weight can be a challenge on uneven ground
This air-cooled Remington has a powerful 27cc 2-stroke, full crank engine. The innovative engine design will ensure that you get longer top-class service from this highly reputable brand. The pull-start is smooth and easy due to the use of Quickstart technology. It cuts an 18-inch trimmer and an 8-inch brush cutting swathe.
It’s not light, weighing in at 14.5 lbs, but for the power and reach you’re getting, it’s worth it. The head is small enough, and with the long, straight shaft can get to that out-of-reach brush. The string trimmer comes with bump-head technology. The included attachments are a blower, hedge trimmer, and cultivator. The J-handle and shoulder strap make carrying this potent machine easy as well as improve its handling and maneuverability. An excellent choice for multiple jobs. It comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Can take multiple attachments
- Versatile – multi-attachments
- Long engine life
- Can overheat if pushed
- Takes time to warm up
If you want the Full Monty in a brush cutter, this reputable UK brand is the one. Pricy, undoubtedly, but worth every penny with its revolutionary combination of low weight, high horsepower, and high torque. An innovative gear case keeps the head spinning, without loss of speed even in the thickest of brush. Made from military-grade magnesium and powered by a low emission, 25.4cc professional-grade two-stroke engine, you’re getting a state-of-the-art machine. The large, 20.6 oz, fuel tank also gives you a longer run-time. It’s smaller engine means it’s lighter, only weighing 12.5 lbs For extra-efficient brush-cutting, it has a twisted blade with razor-sharp edges.
It’s Easy Start system makes sure it starts quickly, whether from a cold or hot start. For easier handling, it has over-molded front and rear handgrips, with anti-vibration technology. For strimming, there’s a convenient bump-automatic-line-advance system to release more line – no tools required. Neither are they needed to open and clean the air filter. The 2-stage air filtration is made of paper for more work and fewer maintenance stops than the regular felt filters you often find. There’s also a foam pre-filter that keeps dust and debris out of the motor. It has a 5-year consumer warranty.
- Cuts saplings up to 4″ thick
- Excellent weight distribution
- 5-year warranty
- A full tank lasts an hour
- Reliability issues
This sublime machine has a 4-tooth, 9-inch swathe cutting blade that makes quick work of thick bush. It’s in the same price range as the Echo and just as good if not better because it’s a Makita. The long, 57-inch shaft, gives you the extra reach you often need. The large, 20.3 oz gas tank adds weight when full, but is compensated for by the lighter total weight of 12.1 lbs. A least you get more time between refueling stops. For a 25.4, 4-stroke engine, it’s surprisingly quiet and fuel-efficient, and no fuel mixing is necessary. There’s enough power coming out of its 1.1 HP engine for any difficult cutting.
The steel drive shaft’s design minimizes vibration for maximum ease of operation, comfort, and balance. With a dual-stage air filter and a multi-position lubrication system, consistent power and endurance are ensured. It’s a practical brush cutter with a wide-grip handle and a harness for stability. The blade is reversible, doubling its lifespan. It has an easily accessible air filter, oil drain plug, and filling port for maintenance. The oil and fuel level are both visible, enabling you to keep a close eye. Included are a harness and debris shield. It has a one-year warranty.
- Quick, easy start
- No fuel mixing
- Reduce vibration
- Filter can be replaced
- Thin blade wears out fast
- Heavy for long use
The most expensive one on the list runs on straight, unleaded gas, no need to mix fuel. As powerful as the GX 35 cc 4-stroke engine is, it runs very smoothly. Vibration is effectively diminished because of the rubber-mounted shaft running to the clutch, making it easy to control. The superior engine technology gives you quick-instant acceleration and reduced noise emission.
Apart from the trimmer attachment, it also has an edger, pruner, hedge trimmer, and cultivator.
These add-ons are easy push-click ones that don’t require tools. Weighing only 13.2 lbs, it also has a 360-degree inclinable engine that can be rotated and stored in any position. There’s a loop handle for better control. These are the factors that make it one of the most versatile brush cutters available. Included are safety glasses and a harness. It comes with a 3-year warranty.
- Versatile attachments
- Established, reliable brand
- Very powerful
- Doesn’t accept all other brand’s attachments
- Not cheap
This is the first brush cutter on the list that’s not gas-powered. It also is my favorite for smaller jobs. Its price range is almost as much as the cheaper gas-powered Husqvarna in pole position. One of the strongest battery-run ones on the market and comparable to a 23cc gas cutter. With this one, there’s hardly any maintenance, no fumes, or rope pull-starts. The V60 MAX DieHard Lithium-Ion, 2.5 AH battery fits on the top-end of the cutter. This helps to counterbalance the weight of the motor at the front end.
The hi-tech design ensures maximum stability and balance on any terrain. It can be used for extended periods, up to 1.5 hours, with the soft-grip handle and forearm pad for comfort and easier use. It has a very high head-speed, 9,000 RPM, that makes it possible for you to keep going even in the thickest brush. With high revs and a 2-speed switch, working in conjunction, you can adjust the power to suit what’s needed in an instant.
And if that’s not enough, the head can pivot into various positions. This allows you into tight spaces, with and awkward angles. The shaft can telescopically extend up to 6 feet to match whatever your size. This weedwhacker has a cutting swathe of 15 inches using a dual 0.08 or 0.095-inch twist line that you can bump-feed from the quick-wind spool. There’s a flower guard you can adjust to prevent you from making a mistake when cutting in areas that need a deft touch. At 7.5 lbs, this power tool is light enough to give you the ability to turn your landscape into fine-art. This easy-to-assemble cutter comes with one battery and two replacement spools. It has a 3-year warranty.
- Battery runs for 1.5 hours
- Brushless motor reduces wear and tear
- No maintenance, fumes, mixing or pull-starts
- Battery level indicator
- The working end is big for small spaces
- A flat battery interrupts work-flow
- Guard is small (you can buy a larger one)
- Attachments not compatible with other brands
Here’s a brush cutter that can perform like one running on gas, but without the pull-start, maintenance, or noise. It has the same power as a 26cc gas engine and costs less. The power comes from the brushless motor that also ensures minimum vibration and durability. Each lithium-ion battery runs for up to 45 minutes. You only need 30 minutes to charge its battery – no more waiting for a battery to charge to finish the job. An innovative design for improved balance puts the battery and motor at the top-end. This makes the front-end lighter easier to maneuver.
It only weighs 14.65 lbs, and with a loop handle and minimum vibration, it handles effortlessly. There’s a variable speed trigger for on-demand power. The split shaft design makes it compatible with most attachments. The string trimmer, hedge trimmer, leaf blower, and edger aren’t included in the purchase. The auto-feed bump head string trimmer has a 16-inch cutting swathe. For the toughest brush, you can use a 0.95-inch line instead of the recommended 0.08-inch.
- Split shaft for compact storage
- No maintenance, fumes, pull-starts or fuel mix
- 4-year warranty
- Attachment connection can wear out
- Flat battery interrupts work-flow
- Battery packs are pricy
This machine is my only electric-powered choice, and it also happens to be incredibly cheap. If your budget’s tight, then this one is your go-to cutter. The powerful 5 amp engine and dual-line cutting head make easy work of the tall grass in your back-yard. It uses an auto-fed corded line to cut a 14-inch broad swathe. The telescopic shaft extends a full 9 inches, so user height, whatever it is, won’t affect its smooth operation. It has an adjustable handle for extra reach.
Weighing only 6.3 lbs and easy to maneuver it will help you do the job with ease. The recommended line width is 0.065 inches, but it would be more practical to go for a 0.095 one to last longer and snaps-off less. It comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Well balanced
- No fumes, maintenance, pull-starts, or fuel mix
- Bargain price
- Auto-feed sometimes fails
- Power cord limits movement
- Power chord connector hard to extract
A modern, clean power tool that doesn’t need maintenance, fuel mixes, or rope starts, and it runs quietly. Just a straightforward on/off switch, and you’re away. This high-performance 40V lithium-ion battery-powered brush cutter is the second cheapest on the list and would suit a gardener who has a smaller yard. The power-driven high-torque transmission ensures you a faster, cleaner cut in less time. Added to that is the battery life of 1.5 hours. The cutter also has a charge indicator to let you know how much power is left. It uses a 0.065-inch line to cut a 13-inch cutting swathe.
The automatic feed system ensures non-stop work without having to bump the head for more line. You can also switch from a trimmer to an edger in seconds. Ergonomically designed and light, weighing only 6.6 lbs, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done with this one. Included is a charger, line-spool, auxiliary handle, and lithium-ion battery. It comes with a 3-year warranty
- No fumes, fuel mix, maintenance or pull-starts
- Bargain price
- Pivot head for smoother angle cuts
- Not for tall users
- Battery won’t fit in 60 or 20-volt chargers of the same brand
What are better, top, or bottom-mounted motors?
Brush cutters with top-mounted motors are more balanced. The weight on top acts as a counterbalance to the cutting action of the blade on the ground. A telescopic shaft to adjust for optimal distance and balance is also very useful, especially on uneven terrain.
What other factors affect handling?
The weight you feel comfortable with is essential. Be sure to take into account the load with a full tank. The high cutting-torque could pull you in all directions if you’re not careful. Unless you have total control and keep steady, you could get injured. One with an anti-vibration system is my recommendation if it’s heavy.
Try to use a harness at all times. Even if not included, spend the money and get a good one. It will spread the weight evenly across your upper body. This way, you can control it with your hips, legs, and arms, all working in conjunction.
For added safety, find a machine with a deadman’s switch on the handle. If you lose control and the engine cuts-out, it won’t restart unless you consciously press the switches at the same time. Most machines have this feature these days.
Do you have any useful tips?
No matter how powerful you feel with one of these machines in front of you, always remember it’s dangerous. It’s not a toy, so don’t play games and hurt yourself or someone else.
Wear eye and ear protection at all times. With so much debris flying around, even with the guard, something might still get in your eye. And for your ears, never mind the noise, flying debris could just as easily lodge in your ears. So wear earmuffs. I wear gum-boots, not because of mud but because brush carries so much moisture. When you slash through them, they splatter all over your lower legs. Also, use gloves in case you accidentally touch the hot exhaust.
On the practical side, no matter what machine I used, I always carry a side-cutter to help me out with when the trim-line needs shortening. I also keep pruning scissors close to cut resilient brush that sometimes gives me a hard time.
The tiny screwdriver in my pocket matters the most. It’s how I set the revs precisely right. There’s an adjustable nut close to the choke-switch. This is where you regulate the fuel and air intake for steady and efficient power. When it sputters, like a Spitfire low on fuel, give the nut a half-turn, and vroom, the power kicks in. But don’t overdo it, because then the revs shoot up and it could sound like a kamikaze’s Zero on the way to paradise. Your ears will know when it starts to purr. That’s the time to begin your work.
I always carry a spare canister of fuel-mix for minimum interruption. As well as enough cord in case the going is harder than I anticipated.
I also keep a couple of various lines, and by trial and error, I find out what works best and what is cheap rubbish.
What about attachments?
The brush cutter I used, because the grounds were so vast, was the one-job specific kind. The few times I used a machine that had attachments, my hair turned grey. But then I’m old school and believe in a dedicated tool for a specific job. Sure my boss saved money buying the multi-attachable type, but the time wasted to get it running nullified the gains. The technology we see today makes these attachments useful for a homeowner but not for large, challenging garden-jobs.
Any other words of wisdom?
Build a healthy relationship with your machine, learn all you can about it – there are enough tutorials to help you out – and it’ll never let you down. With a touch of optimism and patience, you’ll soon be doing the cha-cha-cha together as you rip into the dense brush.
Whatever you choose, there are always pros and cons. If the threat isn’t that serious, and there’s not much to do, or you’re after the bargain of the day, get yourself an electric or battery-powered brush cutter.
But if you want, the more as a gardener gas should be your first choice. I owe a lot to mine. Perhaps that’s why I love gas so much. It was with a gas brush cutter that gave me the confidence to become a back-yard mechanic.
My machine turned me, a bookworm, into a DIY aficionado. Now I’m able to change a spark-plug, wind a rope onto the spring-loaded spool, mix fuel – actually, I’ve learned to strip and reassemble it myself.
When you hear the engine rev when you touch the throttle and feel the power surge through the shaft. You’re ready. And when the blade hits the thick roots, that the engine talking to you. It’s letting you know that there’s nothing you can’t do.
With the best brush cutter, you’re armed to the teeth, and victory is just over the next hill.
Read More: Best Weed Killer For Gardens