Best Anvil Loppers on Test - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

The best anvil loppers on test: ratchets, extendable handles and more

The top performing anvil loppers on test and how to choose the perfect pair.

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When it gets to the right season, pruning trees and shrubs with thick, woody growth can  feel like a daunting task. While your secateurs and other essential gardening tools may not be up to the task, a strong pair of anvil garden loppers is more than capable of tackling tougher trimming jobs.

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Our gardening experts have tried and tested a wide range of anvil loppers, putting them through their paces on a variety of tasks.

Below, we’ve curated a list of 9 of the best garden loppers with clear pros and cons for each model and a description of what they’re like. Each tool has been carefully scored and given an overall rating, explained in detail below.

To help you understand exactly what you should be looking for, we’ve put together a  helpful guide with some further information about anvil loppers and exactly what they might be used for.

We also have guides detailing how to prune fruit trees in winter and pruning mistakes to avoid, as well as information on other tools such as the best Japanese gardening tools and how to use them.

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How to choose the best anvil loppers

Loppers are ideal for tougher pruning jobs later on in the year and there are a wide range of choices available. In this guide, we go through some of the different models of anvil loppers and the various features they offer, so you can understand which type might work for you.

What are loppers used for?

Loppers are essentially a pair of large, long handled secateurs, capable of taking on stems which would be too thick for even your very best secateurs. Ideal for the autumn and winter pruning period, loppers are designed to cut branches up to around 50mm thick.  The tool features long, even telescopic handles, which are operated with both hands to tackle stubborn growth.

What are anvil loppers?

Anvil loppers feature a single blade closing onto a flat base, operating in a similar way to a knife cutting on a chopping board. There may also be a mechanism in the head of the loppers, which could be a ratchet, compound-action or geared mechanism which will help them cut more powerfully and with less effort from you. A ratchet cuts in multiple steps, while geared and compound action provide more leverage to a single cut.

Anvil loppers are the toughest type of garden loppers and will particularly suit any jobs which involve clearing a lot of dense, dead wood. Lopper blades are usually made from steel or carbon-steel and can have a protective or non stick coating to increase durability.

What are extendable loppers used for?

There are many long handled loppers which can help you reach further or higher up branches, but some are extendable, with telescopic handles. Being able to adjust and extend loppers means you can increase your leverage and cover more areas of your garden.

The adjustable nature of telescopic tree loppers means you can alter the length for your needs, rather than being left with excessively long handles while you complete jobs within easier reach.

Many of these long reach loppers with telescopic handles have an additional cutting mechanism which should help make slicing through tough wood a less strenuous job.

There will often be other handy features on loppers, extendable or otherwise. These include grips over the handles for added comfort or ‘bumpers’, which soften the impact of each cut by preventing the two handles from banging together.

Best anvil loppers at a glance

  • Best Buy: Wolf Garten Telescopic Anvil Lopper
  • Best Buy: Fiskars Power Gear X Anvil Lopper LX9
  • Best Buy: Darlac Compact Compound Anvil Lopper
  • Best Buy: Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Advantage Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper
  • Darlac Heavy Duty Double Compound Action Anvil Lopper
  • Wilkinson Sword Ratchet Lopper
  • Burgon & Ball RHS-endorsed Telescopic Ratchet Lopper
  • Stanley FatMax Anvil Lopper
  • Gardena EnergyCut 750A Lopper

Best loppers to buy in 2020


1

Wolf Garten Telescopic Anvil Lopper

Our rating: 4.8 out of 5

Gardeners World Magazine Review of Wolf Garten telescopic loppers
Gardeners World Magazine Review of Wolf Garten telescopic loppers

Pros:

  • Comfortable with non-slip grip handle
  • Easy telescopic handles lock securely in place
  • Cut effortlessly
  • Flat screws prevent damage to wood

Cons:

  • Expensive

The Wolf Garten loppers were our highest scoring model overall and we awarded them Best Buy status, as the best telescopic loppers. The tool features a non-stick steel blade with a metal anvil. The extending aluminium handles have matching locking holes on each handle to keep them even and the non-slip grip was comfortable. With flat screws, there was no damage to wood and the cut was effortless. Replacement blades are available and the warranty lasts for 10 years.


2

Fiskars Power Gear X Anvil Lopper LX9

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Fiskars Power Gear X Anvil Lopper LX9 - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Fiskars Power Gear X Anvil Lopper LX9

Pros:

  • Light and comfortable
  • Good reach
  • Clean, powerful cutting action
  • Curved anvil hooks branches into place
  • Long warranty

Cons:

  • Expensive

These garden loppers feature a coated, non-stick steel blade with a curved metal anvil that helps you catch and grip branches as you cut. There’s a geared mechanism as well as light and narrow aluminium handles which have a rubber grip. The loppers cut cleanly with a wide cutting width and we rated them a Best Buy for general use. There are also useful hanging holes in the handles and there’s a warranty of 25 years.


3

Darlac Compact Compound Anvil Lopper

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Darlac Compact Compound Anvil Lopper - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Darlac Compact Compound Anvil Lopper

Pros:

  • Very light
  • Simple design and easy to use
  • Excellent cutting strength for size
  • Great value

Cons:

  • Small cutting width
  • Limited reach

The steel blade on these small, light loppers has a rust-resistant coating and they have a metal anvil. The oval handles are made from aluminium with a rubber grip for added comfort. There’s also a compound-action cutting mechanism which we found provided excellent strength when working. These lightweight loppers have a small cutting width, however a lifetime warranty is included and replacement parts are available. We awarded this tool Best Buy status for easy-to-use loppers.


4

Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Advantage Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Advantage Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Advantage Telescopic Ratchet Anvil Lopper

Pros:

  • Light and comfortable
  • Cuts smoothly
  • Handles adjust easily with one hand

Cons:

  • Narrow cutting width
  • Handles slide into place by eye only

Our testers were impressed with these Spear and Jackson loppers and awarded them Best Buy status, as the best ratchet loppers. The carbon-steel blade and anvil are non-stick and rust-resistant, plus there’s a five-stage ratchet mechanism. The twist-and-slide aluminium handles have a rubber grip and extend 72-104cm. The included warranty is valid for 10 years.


5

Darlac Heavy Duty Double Compound Action Anvil Lopper

Our rating: 4.3 out of 5

Darlac Heavy Duty Double Compound Action Anvil Lopper - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Darlac Heavy Duty Double Compound Action Anvil Lopper

Pros:

  • Light and easy to use
  • Good reach
  • Spare parts available

Cons:

  • Long blade only cuts tough wood at base
  • Struggles with denser wood
  • Strain on wrist when cutting tough wood

A long steel blade with a rust-resistant coating and light, narrow aluminium handles with a rubber grip make these loppers light and easy to use. Guaranteed for life, the tool features a compound-action cutting mechanism and offers great reach. While spare parts are available, the loppers did struggle on tougher wood putting strain on the wrists while working.


6

Wilkinson Sword Ratchet Lopper

Our rating: 4.3 out of 5

Wilkinson Sword Ratchet Lopper - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Wilkinson Sword Ratchet Lopper

Pros:

  • Very light and easy to use
  • Cuts most wood cleanly and smoothly
  • Good value

Cons:

  • Narrow cutting width
  • Ratchet catches occasionally

Good for less able gardeners, these loppers feature a long, non-stick blade made from carbon-steel with a metal anvil. There are long, narrow aluminium handles with a rubber grip, plus a three-gear rachet mechanism, although our testers found this did sometimes catch. The warranty on this model is 10 years.


7

Burgon & Ball RHS-endorsed Telescopic Ratchet Lopper

Our rating: 4 out of 5

Burgon & Ball RHS-endorsed Telescopic Ratchet Lopper - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Burgon & Ball RHS-endorsed Telescopic Ratchet Lopper

Pros:

  • Cuts tough wood well
  • Handles easily adjusted with one hand

Cons:

  • Handles slide into place by eye only
  • Handles bow under pressure
  • Narrow cutting width
  • Heavy

There’s a five stage spring-ratchet mechanism on these Burgon and Ball loppers which feature a carbon-steel, non-stick blade with a chrome-plated anvil. While heavy, the tool cuts well through tough wood and the telescopic handles extend 72-104cm. The loppers are guaranteed for 10 years.


8

Stanley FatMax Anvil Lopper

Our rating: 4 out of 5

Stanley FatMax Anvil Lopper - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Stanley FatMax Anvil Lopper

Pros:

  • Bumpers absorb shock well
  • Tapered handles cut narrower stems with ease
  • Sturdy and strong

Cons:

  • Big and heavy
  • Struggled with thicker, tough wood
  • Hard to hold above head for long periods

These garden loppers feature curved, tubular steel handles with bumpers, plus a plastic and gel grip to ease the impact on your hands. They feature a coated-steel blade with a metal anvil. There is a geared mechanism, but the tool doesn’t open as wide as some other models and some effort is required to cut thicker stems. The included warranty lasts a lifetime.


How we tested loppers

We tested a range of loppers with different features including telescopic handles and ratchet mechanisms. Our experts put the loppers through their paces on various woody branches and stems to test their overall performance.

Each pair was rated in four key areas:

  • Handling: comfort, weight, balance, manoeuvrability and ease of use.
  • Cutting: blade material, strength, cutting widths and cutting efficiency.
  • Maintenance: ease of cleaning and sharpening and whether replacement blades are available.
  • Value: the price versus quality, design, performance and warranty.
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The loppers were given a score in each area which was averaged to reach an overall rating out of five.