Reviews

ARS HP-VS8R Pruning Shears Review


GPR Recommendation

Quality
Ease of use
Performance
Final Thoughts

The best pruning shears I've ever used

Overall Score 5

Available on Amazon

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Updated May 8, 2018

Before trying these ARS pruners, I’d been a fan of Felco pruners for a long time. But over time I’d become somewhat frustrated with Felco’s blade quality (it requires frequent – way too frequent – sharpening) and general “looseness” of the adjustment system (and before you ask, yes, I do know how to tighten and adjust my pruning shears!). So I was intrigued by the HP-VS8R pruning shears from ARS.

The HP-VS8R pruners have a rotating handle (similar to the Felco #12 pruners that I had been using) which reduces the effort required to make pruning cuts and relieves stress on the fingers and wrist. If, like me, you do a lot of pruning, a rotating handle is practically a must-have – although it does take a bit of getting used to. ARS also offers the VS9R which at 9″, is a slightly larger version of the 8″ VS8R pruner, similar to the Felco #7.

There are a few other things about the ARS V-Series pruners that I especially like.

ARs CBR-8 pruning shears - squeeze to open

Single-handed “squeeze-to-open” only needs a flick of the thumb

Single-handed “Squeeze-Open-Lock System”

Most pruning shears have a locking mechanism that keeps the pruners closed when not in use. For example, Corona pruners have a latch between the two handle grips, and Felco pruners have a latch that rotates to lock the mechanism at the hub of the shears. Both are a bit of a hassle to lock/unlock and I’ve found that they sometimes inadvertently lock while you’re using the shears (especially the Coronas). In contrast, the ARS pruners have a simple mechanism on the upper handle, easily accessible by your thumb. You squeeze the pruners to unlock the mechanism and move it with your thumb to lock it. No hassle. And it doesn’t lock when you’re not expecting it to.

Hard Chrome Plated Blades

This special coating on the cutting blades prevents the buildup of resin or sap. I’m constantly cleaning my Felcos when cutting sappy wood but haven’t had that problem with the ARS HP-VS8R pruners. The company also claims that the coating repels stains and prevents rust. So far I haven’t seen signs of either of those but, to be fair, I’ve only been using the pruners for a few months (although I did leave them out in the rain for a few days and they’re still unblemished).

Author’s Note: As of May 2018, the blades are still in great shape. These are my go-to pruners and have now been used nearly every day for 5 years. I’ve sharpened them a few times, cleaned them a few times, and that’s it.

ARS CBR-8 cushioning spring

The cushioning inside the spring makes cutting easy on your hands

High carbon, marquenched steel

Higher carbon content makes for harder steel, which means that pruning shears keep a sharp edge much longer. However, it can also make the steel more brittle so ARS uses marquenching to increase impact resistance. The end result is a very long-wearing, sharp blade that won’t break if misused.

Cushioning spring

The spring between the handles on my HP-VS8R has stood up to a lot of abuse from stray branch stubs and being dropped (I can be tough on my tools!). But the part I like best about it is that the cushioning (which is integrated into the spring) is really effective. There’s no feeling of smashing the handles together when you make a cut – just a gentle squeeze and a ‘rebound’ as the handles spread apart. It has a much more “quiet” action than my Felco pruners and there’s very little chance of the spring popping out.

ARS CBR-8 easy disassembly

All you need is a Phillips screwdriver to disassemble the ARS HP-VS8R pruning shears

Easy to disassemble

If you want to clean or sharpen your pruning shears, you’ll need to take them apart. ARS has made that easy – all you need is a simple Phillips head screwdriver.

Spare parts are easily available

Given that these aren’t the cheapest pruners around, the availability of spare parts from the company and distributors is a definite plus. You can find a list of available parts on the GrowTech website (the exclusive agent for ARS in North America)

ARS also offers essentially the same pruners without the rotating handles – the 7-inch HP-VS7Z, 8-inch HP-VS8Z, and the larger, 9-inch HP-VS9Z.

Where To Buy ARS Pruning Shears

ARS pruning shears can be hard to find; they’re generally not carried in hardware stores or local garden centers. Your best bet is to buy ARS pruners through Amazon.

ARS HP-VS8XR Rotating Handle Hand Pruner, 8", Red/Black
My all-time favorite pruning shears and the ones I've used nearly daily for over 5 years.

Related Articles & Reviews

For gardeners with smaller hands and for lighter duty pruning, you’ll love the ARS HP-130DX.

If you’re unsure about which pruners are right for you, check out our guide for How to Choose the Best Hand Pruners.

There’s also a lot of information in our comparison chart of the top 17 pruning shears.

And if you’re looking for loppers, here’s where you’ll find our review of the Best Loppers for Pruning

Last update on 2018-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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8 Comments on ARS HP-VS8R Pruning Shears Review

  1. Ben Alexander

    As a gardener myself I’ve used many types of pruning shears and ARS are now my no1 choice. Well worth the money and you’ll have a new friend for many years to come in the garden. As for rating I’m going for the full on 10/10. Big thumbs up for ARS corp.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Ben! Felco has done such a good job marketing that many people haven’t even heard of ARS. It’s good to know that others have “discovered” them.

  2. David

    thanks for sharing your review. Can you please review some Bahco pruners too please. I prune grapes and my Felco 6 is OK. I bought it because I have small hands. The blade is now worn after about three months of contasnt use. And the blade is too small for bigger spurs too prune. Specially dead wood. Also recommend some sharpening guides thank you.

    • Thanks for the suggestion David. I’ve tried a couple of Bahco pruners and haven’t particularly liked them – much prefer the ARS. But it would be good to write a review… As for Felco pruners, they do tend to have softer blades so need more frequent sharpening. I’ll look into posting a sharpening guide! And good luck with your grape pruning – sounds like a lot of work!

  3. Joe

    Felco did NOT just make a good marketing job.
    They are pure excellence, with a true support.
    ARS did not even answer when I sent them pictures of my VS8R having a protruding tip of the lower blade when closed, and a little space between the two blades on the tip when their are aligned, and a problem of the blades moving a bit far from each other and not being able to be fixed tighter.
    Not an answer!
    As I wrote you in your comparison article, I have ordered a replacement, as also the bigger 9R (to see it my index finger slowly goes out of the rolling grip because of a bad too flat shape of the grip, of because my hand requires a bigger grip).
    But till now, in all tests I made the Felco 7 are very clear winner.

  4. Geoffs Mobile Sharpening

    I am a professional sharpener and disappointed with felco now. ARS are my pick if you can get something to fit your hand.
    I am in the process of testing some Pillar pruners and lopper’s in a commercial situation and they are looking very good at this stage.
    They have a large range, spares,and a good warranty

  5. Michael

    I first started using the VS-8R when I was working in commercial mango farming. Believe me these things are up to the task. Love them. During the pruning season they would be used 11 hours a day 5 days a week for 3 months. They got a beating. The only weak spot I found was the plastic on the bottom handle (the swivel handle) where the bottom blade screws on did snap off and required a complete new handle. But after the amount of work they did I wasn’t surprised. I now have a property maintenance business and swear by them. Still have my old pair as a spare too!

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