ARS HP-VS8R Pruning Shears Review
I’ve been a fan of Felco pruners for a long time. But lately I’ve become somewhat frustrated with the 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.
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).
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.
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.
Which pruning shears have you tried? Which are your favorite? Any you’d like us to review? Let us know in the comments below.
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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.