Updated 15 March 2022
We have tested the best brush cutters and name the Stihl FS 131 model as best brush cutter of 2022. It is a powerful and professional machine that provides you with a good operating time, all the while not weighing too much. If you're after a brush cutter that can also cut down small trees, then Stiga SBC 226 JD is a good option. It is our best budget brush cutter based on its long operating time and exceptional motor power. Learn more about it in our brush cutter review.
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
Powerful, lightweight and well built
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 36.3 m3 Harness: Yes Power: 1.4 kW Measured decibel level: 104.2 dB Accessories: AutoCut C 25–2/art.no. 40.027.102.137, brush blade ø 250/25/art.no. 188.8.131.52, blade ø 200/25/art. no. 184.108.40.206 Tank: 0.71 l Weight: 5.8 kg Miscellaneous: Semi-automatic wire feed, 42 cm cutting diameter
The Stihl FS 131 is categorised by the manufacturer as a tough strimmer, but is actually built as, and definitely performs as, a brushcutter. It’s very powerful, but at the same time very lightweight and well-balanced.
It’s also easy to change accessories, refuel and adjust. The only thing we noticed was that Stihl still haven’t started using a flexible snap cap for the fuel tank; the traditional type, that you have to unscrew, is a little stiffer to use. But the pump sits neatly in place and you have a good overview of all the buttons and controls. In addition, you can adjust the handle without using any tools.
The FS 131 is both powerful and loud. But the sound profile isn’t a bad one, and the cutter sounds more like a rather muted four-stroke engine. Despite the fact that there are brushcutters that are louder according to the measurements, you feel as if this one is quieter. But as with all other garden machines that produce high decibel levels of noise, you should definitely wear earmuffs when using a brushcutter.
This particular brushcutter isn’t particularly heavy to carry for longer periods because it’s well balanced and has a well-padded and comfortable harness. Nor did we notice any excessive or annoying vibrations. Furthermore, the FS 131 always starts with just 1-2 pulls of the cord – even when it hasn’t been used for a long time.
The FS 131 is ideal for anyone looking for a powerful but at the same time multifaceted brushcutter, and who is willing to pay a little extra for good ergonomics and build quality. The price is a bit high for it to get a maximum score, but it’s close. And you do get plenty of accessories.
Strong and well balanced for long sessions
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 34.6 cc Noise level: 99 dB (measured) Max power: 8400 rpm Tank volume: 0.6 l Grass blade: Multi 300-3 Harness: Balance 35 Strimmer head: T35 M12 Brush blade: Scarlett 200-22 Weight: 7 kg Miscellaneous: Semi-automatic line feed
The Husqvarna 336FR is a really well balanced and relatively light brushcutter with high capacity and a strong motor. It delivers great results efficiently regardless of whether we use the strimmer line or grass blade.
Above all, it's the balance between power and portability that won us around on the 336FR. In terms of strength, it’s perfect for an average homeowner while you don’t need to be muscular or especially fit to operate it for a long period.
The line lasts reasonably well and if you're clearing tough terrain such as brush or thick grass in ditches, a spool of line lasts for about two sessions. The 336FR is better with the grass blade when the terrain is tough.
It comes with harness accessories which are relatively simple, but as the brush cutter is light and well balanced, it works fine.
There are many ways to adjust the 336FR handlebars. You can move them laterally and angle them up and down. To make this adjustment, there's a large plastic wingnut that's easy to grip. It also has six holes where you can hang the harness, so you can find the right balance just for you.
Changing the filter is tool-free, making is really convenient. It consists of a small round button that you twist to adjust the screw. You remove the housing and then replace the filter. Bingo!
It's also easy to replace the accessories on it. You always use the same tool, which is included with the machine. To change the line, you simply insert the spool and close the cover and it’s done. It really couldn’t be any simpler.
The 336FR has a relatively pleasant noise profile, but it is pretty loud, and as always when you’re using a brush cutter, you should wear hearing protection.
The motor always starts on the first attempt and comes with a standard choke and pump.
The price is quite high, but you really do get both power and solid design for your money. It gets a minus point for the hard plastic handles, and the fact that it produces a fair amount of vibration. Not too much, but marginally more than the top competitors in the same price class.
The Husqvarna 336FR is ideal for anyone who wants a brush cutter that every adult in the family can use. It’s light but simultaneously very strong and can cope with anything the average homeowner may need one for. Moreover, maintenance is straightforward and it's just as easy to replace and setup accessories.
Strong enough even if for weeds that are more stubborn
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 27.2 cc Wire diameter: 2.4 mm Cutting width: 42 cm Weight: 4.9 kg Tank volume: 0.33 L Miscellaneous: Semi-automatic line feed, AutoCut C 26-2 User manual: PDF
The cordless petrol Stihl FS 55 is a relatively light and professional brush cutter. Stihl call it a strimmer, but given that it has a blade it’s also very useful as a brush cutter. In fact, it actually functions best as a brush cutter. With the brush blade on, you can cut woody weeds without problems, so you get quite a lot of power for your money. There are more suitable models if you’re going to use your brush cutter for heavy tasks, such as for small trees or cutting coarser brush with branches more than 3-4 cm thick. But if you’ve got a field of weeds, large tangles of bushes with thicker stalks or smaller woody weeds, the FS 55 is excellent. The rig is light to adjust and suitable for both tall and shorter users. All of the buttons and controls are well positioned and clearly marked, which makes the brush cutter easy to operate. The Stihl FS 55 is also relatively fuel efficient. Despite the fact that the tank doesn’t hold very much, we could cut over tough terrain for just over 50 minutes on a single tank. Starting the FS 55 requires at most 2-3 pulls on the cord, even when you first start it for the season. You’ll experience no starting problems with this machine. The noise level is normal, but the profile is a bit unpleasant, so it's a good idea to wear hearing protectors.
The FS 55 works well with both a blade and reel of line. The reel also lasts quite well in tough terrain, and it gives a good cutting width that makes the process efficient. The harness is a simple type but nicely padded and sufficient in terms of weight and balance. The FS 55 is both user-friendly and well designed, and it’s suitable for those with a lot of tough weeds to get rid of. If you're only going to cut normal grass, it’s a bit over the top and it would be better if you bought a strimmer with battery power. On the other hand, if you're going to cut tough terrain such as young woodland, it's a bit under-powered. But if you're between the two, it’s an excellent choice as it’s very efficient.
Good value for money, medium-strength brush cutter with a long operating time
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 25.4 cc Tank volume: 0.65 L Line diameter: 2.4 mm Cutting width: 43 cm Power: 0.7 kW Weight: 7.2 kg Miscellaneous: Semi-automatic line feed, brush blade 3T (255)
The cheap Stiga SBC 226 JD is our choice as the best budget brush cutter because it's relatively strong given the price, and has a decent operating time. In terms of strength, it can cope with a good deal that we attacked with the brush blade. However, it tends to get stuck when used on woody vegetation or in tall thick grass. This cheap brush cutter has what's described as an easy start function, but it still takes 5-6 pulls to start from cold. Once it's warmed up, however, it gets easier to start up again. Still, these starting problems are not ideal. Assembly is simple once you've done it a couple of times. There are three parts to be screwed together in a particular order. The same applies to the line reel, which is strong and relatively easy to install. The line reel is semi-automatic and is fed out by tapping the head on the ground, which works without problems.
However, this petrol brush cutter only includes a simple harness, which impairs the user experience somewhat, as the body is unevenly loaded. Nor is the harness well padded, and the brush cutter is quite heavy. These disadvantages become obvious when you've used the machine for a short time. However, it's easy to attach and remove the harness. Another disadvantage in ergonomic terms and that the throttle button is large and slippery while the vibrations are considerable. After a little while, these factors can have an impact on your hands. The operating time with a full tank is estimated to be around 1 hour and 20 minutes. No question, that's really inviting for consumers. The price is also a plus and might explain some of the disadvantages, such as the choice of harness. With harness padding it could have been better. But given its cheaper price, the SBC 226 JD is therefore an excellent option if you have a small budget.
A strong clearing saw with blade for both small and larger projects
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 25.4 cc Tank volume: 0.51 L Line diameter: 2.4 mm Cutting width: 30 cm Power: 1 kW Weight: 4.9 kg Miscellaneous: T35 strimmer head, semi-automatic line feed, 255-4 brush blade
The cordless Husqvarna 525 RX is a commercial machine with saw blade capability and suitable for anyone needing a bit more power in an easy-to-carry machine. Although given the price, the power could have been even stronger. It's pretty good on both tall grass and well-grown brushwood, but it struggles a bit with really thick clumps. As a hobby machine though, it's impressive. The semi-automatic line feed works well, feeding out the line when you press the head against the ground. You get about 1 hour and ten minutes' operating time from a full tank. This is decent given the tank’s volume. We also like the fact that it's easy to assemble and start.
The heavy duty 525 RX is also user-friendly. You understand immediately how everything works. All of the buttons and controls are close together and there's no difficulty making adjustments. You can start the brush cutter from cold with just 2-3 pulls. And you switch it off easily by pushing forward a stop control. This then goes back automatically into the starting position. Unfortunately, it only includes a simple harness, which we think is a bit stingy given the price. Yet, it fits well and the padding seems to be sufficient for the weight of the machine. We would have liked there to be a much better grip on the handle, as it's slippery and plasticky. However, we like the fact that the throttle system is designed so that the upper button is the largest one, instead of the lower one as is the case on so many other brush cutters. This means that it's never difficult to control the brush cutter's power. Overall, we feel that this is a good value for money brush cutter for anyone needing an economical, powerful and light machine.
Battery-run clearing saw that works best with a blade
Type: Battery 48 V (tested with 5 Ah) Battery life: 35 min (loaded) Motor: 500W (Brushless) Accessories: 2.4 mm wire, brush cutter blade Weight: 6 kg Other: Semi-automatic wire feed, double harness
At the time of writing, the Stiga SBC 700D AE is one of few clearing saws that run on battery power. With a blade it does an excellent job, but with wire the result is much worse.
Every time we used the SBC 700D AE with a wire spool, the performance was poor and the battery life was reduced. Battery life is not bad at all, but with a blade you get more than four times as much operating time.
With the trim roller you have to trim the surfaces annoyingly slowly, it is simply sluggish. If you walk at a normal pace, it can't keep up.
The blade gives it significantly longer battery life. We trimmed for 1.5 hours and ran out of grass. It still had two diodes lit on the battery, out of four possible ones. The performance also increases considerably when you fit the brush cutter blade. It chews through all types of grass in a time-efficient way, and you do not need to move it slowly over the area like you need to when using a spool of wire.
The handles on the SBC 700D AE provide a good grip. The buttons are large and you have a yellow knob on the front handle so that you can adjust its angle. The screw is like a knob, so no tools are required.
It comes with a great harness with straps for both shoulders. It is ergonomic and comfortable to wear. A foam pad protects the legs from the saw’s head.
It is easy to unfasten the clearing saw from the harness. On the other hand, it is a bit more complicated to put it in the harness due to the hook and plastic clip. You have to turn it around and there are definitely smoother solutions on the market for this.
The line is fed out in the traditional way, by thumping the trimmer head on the slope.
Stiga SBC 700D AE is therefore suitable for those of you who are looking for a clearing saw intended primarily for use with a brush cutter blade. It has a slightly limited target group due to its high price, but if you belong to that target group, or if you already have Stiga batteries so that you can get the purchase price down, it’s good.
Heavy but a very strong brush cutter
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 44.8 cc Noise level: 96.8 dB (measured) Cutting width: 45 cm Miscellaneous: Semi-automatic line feed, double line
The handheld Stiga SBC 646 DX is a cordless brush cutter with a pleasantly rubberised handle for good grip and relatively low vibrations. It has a really powerful engine that makes easy work of grass. If you're dealing with thick clumps of grass in a large meadow, you should use the brush blade – it comes with blade accessories - but the line is sufficient under normal conditions and when you're working on something like raspberry bushes, extensive thickets, nettles and so on.
Above all, the square profile line is really durable. It lasts well despite the fact that we ran it hard in certain areas. The line feed works without problems and you can easily work efficiently over large areas.
But this brush cutter is very heavy and rather unbalanced compared to equivalent competitors. Because there aren't many options for adjustment, it's difficult to find a setting that works well. This means after a while it's a pain to carry around, despite a substantial harness with double clasps and lower back support.
We'd have liked to have seen a wing nut instead of a flap to adjust the handle. The flap is a bit stiff and more difficult to get a grip of than a normal wing nut.
Other functions on the brush cutter are relatively easy to maintain. Changing the filter requires tools but only takes a moment. It’s also easy to replace the line or blade even if it's a bit fiddly to roll up the line and hold it in place while you close the cover. When you rotate the brush cutter to make the replacement, it ends up at a reasonable height ergonomically speaking, which we give it a plus point for.
Late in the season, we feel that the SBC 646 DX takes a bit longer to start. From 1-2 pulls we're up to 4-5 before it starts, probably because of the cold. The brush cutter has an electric choke. We prefer the older type of choke as it gives more stepless adjustment.
Another disadvantage we notice is that the tank cap on our model leaked fuel despite being firmly screwed on. This means we can't hang up the brush cutter or lay it on the side without it leaking. We feel this was a fault with our individual machine and not a usual design fault. The manufacturing quality as a whole feels stable and sturdy.
The Stiga SBC 646 DX is a strong brush cutter with a really great harness, but unfortunately, it's also rather expensive given its faults. Above all, it's really heavy to carry for long periods, but if you're looking for a strong brush cutter for smaller areas it's more than fine.
Handheld budget brush cutter for lighter work
Power source: Petrol Cylinder volume: 32.6 cc Tank volume: 1 L Line diameter: 2.4 mm Cutting width: 41 cm Power: 0.9 kW Weight: 7.8 kg Miscellaneous: Semi-automatic line feed
The AL-KO BC 4125 II-S is a handheld brush saw primarily suited to anyone cutting lighter vegetation such as grass and brush that isn't densely packed. In other words, the performance is what we'd expect from this brush cutter for sale at a lower price. It's quite a heavy and bulky machine to carry around. It feels particularly heavy because it only comes with a simple harness with limited padding. You feel this on your shoulders and back after using it for a while. We estimate the operating time with a full tank to be around 1 hour and 15 minutes. This is okay, but given the tank volume and brush cutter performance we would have liked more.
Something we really like about the BC 4125 II-S is the semi-automatic line feed. This makes it easier to run in tough terrain that wears the line out quickly because you don't have to stop at regular intervals and pull out more line. The line lasts well during use. The grip is also admirable. It's made of patterned rubber so that your hands don't slip, and the buttons are a reasonable size. At the same time, many details of the machine feel somewhat plasticky. The overall experience is that AL-KO is making meticulous choices in order to reduce the price. You get a brush saw that's primarily suited to cutting grass and weeds, with reasonable ergonomics and build quality, and a pretty good operating time. However, we recommend that you upgrade to a better harness.
A brush cutter (sometimes called a brush saw, weed wacker or clearing saw) is an ideal garden tool for anyone who has a lot of grass, brushwood or woody vegetation to clear a couple of times a year. Some more powerful industrial models are even used for small trees that need clearing. You can fit both a reel of line and a variety of blades for a brush cutter head. This gives you a wider range of possible functions for grass, tackling weeds or tougher opposition. The time it takes to clear an area is largely affected by your technique and speed of movement. If the brush saw is sufficiently powerful and equipped with the right tools, it will immediately remove any weeds as you move it over the ground. With the right technique, you will be able to clear the area both quickly and safely. However, if your brush cutter's performance isn't up to the task, you'll be stuck in the same place for a long time. For example, the blade can get stuck in woody vegetation and be unable to cut it, and weeds may bend rather than being cut. Either the brush cutter will be able to complete its task or it will be completely incapable. So it's very important that you buy a brush cutter or a clearing saw for sale that's competent enough to cope with the jobs you need completed. Also take note of the parts for brush cutters you’re considering. These extras may help you get the job done.
A brush cutter is like a chainsaw with a long shaft and rotating blades. You put on a harness to which you attach the machine, and you then control it with the bike-style handlebars. Because it's heavier than its sibling - the garden strimmer - and has more motor power, the harness is an important accessory. You need a good harness and an effective anti-vibration system for comfortable ergonomics. It's also important to choose a brush cutter that has a good balance between power and weight. You should be able to use the brush cutter for the whole of the operating time without feeling discomfort. If you know that you have quite dense clumps of brushwood or reeds, you may need more power and also need to assume that the machine will be heavier. However, if you've got less dense tall grass and brush, you can drop down a size and probably also a weight class.
Both blades and line tend to be included with a brush cutter. But what type of blade is included? There are different types of blade for different purposes:
The advantage with blades is that you don't have to worry about the line breaking or the thickness of the brushwood you're clearing. A blade is usually able to cope with both dense brushwood and less dense bushes. The disadvantage is that you don't get the same cutting width. In simpler conditions, it's best to use line as this is more effective. If you have sensitive areas in the garden, line also entails less risk of damage. Because the line can break, it's important that you choose a brush cutter that can cope with sufficiently thick line for the task you need it for; and that it's easy to top up the brush cutter with new line. You can buy pre-wound line reels that you simply install, but it's cheap to buy loose line and spool it on yourself. The standard line thickness of a brush cutter is about 2.4-2.7 millimetres.
As the blade on the brush cutter gets blunt, you may need to sharpen it. It can therefore be a good idea to also buy the tools to file it with, i.e. a file and a file template.
Remember to use suitable safety equipment when using your brush cutter. Safety goggles, gloves, safety shoes and hearing protection are recommended.