Melnor Talon Telescoping Bypass Lopper: Product Review
A lopper that has some nice features but needs significant improvements
Available on Amazon
Melnor, usually noted for their watering products, recently came out with a new line of cutting tools known as their Talon series, consisting of a hand pruner and lopper. I tested the Melon Talon Telescoping Bypass Lopper and here’s what I found.
|Length (retracted handles):||27”|
|Length (fully extended handles):||37”|
|Stated cutting capacity:||2”|
|Handles closed width (retracted handle):||12 ¼”|
|Handles open width (fully extended handles):||55” (to cut a maximum 2” piece of wood)|
|Cutting Head:||Bypass, drop forged, titanium coated blades|
|Frame Construction:||Aluminum (trapezoidal shaped arched handles)|
|Grips:||6-½” with plastic and rubberized grips|
|Weight:||2 lbs. 2 ½ oz.|
For a newcomer in this class of cutting tools, I thought the lopper looked pretty neat. One feature that sets it apart is the arched aluminum handles that keep your arms closer together when opening the lopper. I was also intrigued with the titanium-coated blades, trapezoid shape of the handles and claimed 2-inch cutting capacity (that’s a lot for a non-ratcheting lopper).
The Melnor Talon lopper is packaged with a placard attached to the handles that has a 2” hole stamped through it. This shows you exactly how thick a branch you can cut without having to read any instructions or estimate what 2 inches looks like. Cool.
CUTS THROUGH 2” MATERIAL With NO PROBLEMs
The Talon lopper is a bypass lopper, not an anvil lopper. The major difference is that bypass loppers are great for cutting through live wood, while anvil pruners are better with dead wood. It’s not to say that a bypass lopper like the Talon won’t handle deadwood or that the anvil lopper can’t cut live wood. But the lopper design does have its advantages with certain types of wood. For more information, see our article on Best Loppers for Pruning.
When the handles were retracted I had no problem cutting through 1” material. Beyond that I had to extend handles.
And true to its claims, with extended handles the lopper was able to make it through 2” material. This is pretty impressive considering that both the 1” and 2” material I was testing the Talon on was deadwood Mesquite (which is incredibly tough stuff). I also cut through live wood of the same diameter and the Talon lopper had no difficulty whatsoever.
In both live and dead wood, the Talon lopper made nice clean cuts, with no torn bark.
Titanium Blade Coating
The Talon lopper has a titanium blade coating that’s supposed to make cutting easier. Plus, titanium is typically lighter and harder than most steels and so should stay sharp longer. Overall though, I’m not sure that the coating made any difference.
I’ve found from past experience that if the coating wears off (which tends to happen over time) or a blade needs to be sharpened (which would remove the coating), then the coating becomes useless. My personal suspicion is that many tool manufacturers these days use titanium (and other) coatings as a marketing gimmick. I’ve found non-titanium coated loppers cut just as well as titanium coated ones, and the blades stay just as sharp.
I used the Talon bypass lopper to make a lot of pruning cuts and the coating showed no sign of wear. I can’t say how long it’ll last, only that it has so far lasted through a few months of pruning work.
Sharp Cutting Blade
The cutting blade was incredibly sharp and I had to be really careful not to cut myself. This probably accounted for the clean cuts through a variety of branch diameters.
However, while the blade stayed very sharp, even after cutting though tough Mesquite, I noticed a slight burring on the blade. Unless the burrs are smoothed out, cuts will likely get ragged over time. I wouldn’t have expected this with or without the titanium coating.
STRONG, EXTENDABLE ALUMINUM HANDLES GIVE GREAT LEVERAGE
One of the nice features of the Talon lopper is the extendable aluminum handles that give the extra leverage necessary to cut through 2” diameter branches. And with the inwardly curved handles, it’s easy to work in tighter spaces than most conventional straight-handled loppers of equal size. Even in the fully extend handle position, the curved handles meant that I didn’t have to stretch my arms out fully when cutting the maximum 2-inch diameter material.
One thing to note is that cutting through larger diameter branches, even with the handles fully extended, takes a lot of effort. Unless you have considerable upper body strength, you’re not likely to make those cuts easily or cleanly, despite the ability of the Talon lopper to handle that diameter.
Another benefit of the Talon is the strength of the handles; they’re made from aluminum tubing in a trapezoidal shape that gives extra rigidity. While cutting through extremely hard 2-inch wood, the handles didn’t flex, bend or break. Given the force it took to cut through 2-inch Mesquite, I was impressed with the sturdiness of the handles.
HANDLE CLAMPS AND HAND GRIPS WERE PLAGUED WITH PROBLEMS
Despite the many pluses, the Melon Talon bypass extendable lopper had some serious problems.
One thing I found particularly disconcerting was that the plastic clamps that lock the extendable handles in place continuously slipped. When the aluminum handles were fully extended, the plastic clamps didn’t hold the handles in place – with every cut the handles got shorter. And when I tried to cut through a larger piece wood and had to pull the blade out of the cut, the handles moved toward the extended position. What made it even worse was that the two handles slipped unequally so I ended up with one handle longer than the other. Not an ideal way to make pruning cuts!
Another issue was that the plastic hand grip slipped off the end of the aluminum handle when I pulled the handle out to its full extension. It looked like a poor gluing job. One grip stayed on while the other came completely off.
To give some credit to the grips, they’re large enough to get a good hand purchase on but not too large for a small-handed person to operate. They also have rubberized sections that help prevent slipping with or without gloves. I had no problem holding onto the grips, even with sweaty hands.
BUMPERS ABSORB SHOCK WELL BUT ARE TOO EASILY REMOVABLE
Virtually all loppers have bumpers to take the shock out of cutting through branches and the Talon lopper is no exception. The bumpers are made of a rubberized material and absorbed the shock well. But here again, the bumpers were poorly glued in place and I was able to knock both of them out with just some finger pressure. I don’t have a lot of confidence that they won’t also fall out at some time while pruning.
NO REPLACEABLE PARTS
The loppers do not have any replaceable parts since the cutting head is molded into the handles.
The Melnor Talon Lopper has a limited lifetime warranty, which basically covers defects in materials and workmanship. According to the company, if you ever experience a “product failure issue” with the lopper they’ll replace it.
Unfortunately, the Talon lopper had a lot of problems. The slipping of the aluminum handle clamps, the hand grip that came off, the bumpers that were easily removed by finger pressure, and the slight burring of the blade made for a lopper that needs significant improvement. [Editor’s Note: We have read other reviews describing the same problems; the issues we experiences do not appear to be an isolated incident.]
The good news is that when it worked, it made very clean cuts and lived up to its claim of being able to cut through 2” wood. The telescoping handles made it easy to access branches that were just out of reach and the arched aluminum handles were not only strong but provided an easier cutting stroke and kept me from reaching too far apart with my arms.
If Melnor can clean up the quality control problems, this would be a very nice lopper.
WHERE TO BUY
The Melnor Talon Telescoping Lopper is available from Target, JC Penny, Sears, Home Depot, and Walmart. Prices range from $36.49 to $47.99.
It is also available from Amazon for $39.99 (includes shipping).
Now over to you – have you used a lopper with extendable handles? Do you have a favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment below!
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