The Best Weed Wackers for Taming an Overgrown Lawn

Which trimmer should do the job around your house this spring?

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We keep hearing that cordless outdoor power tools, particularly cordless string trimmers, have finally reached gas engine power tool performance. To determine if that’s true, we put three pro-duty string trimmers to the test. Two were gas engine machines, one was 18-volt cordless.

We cleaned out an area then went without late-summer mowing or fall cleanup. The grass was shin deep and accompanied by tangled weeds and briars. Our three candidates were an Echo SRM 2620T ,a Stihl FS91R, and Milwaukee’s 18-volt M18 Fuel Quik-Lok, and we added three more models toward the end in case you don't need all of this heavy-duty power.

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M18 Quik-Lok String Trimmer
Milwaukee
$329.00

I was amazed at the power and capability of this tool. I’m a diehard gas engine guy, but I’m impressed by the speed that this trimmer cuts with and how easy it is to use. Slip in a battery and pull the trigger. We ran the two gas engine trimmers through the worst of the worst and then followed suit with the Milwaukee. In the thickest of the thicket, we did see a slight drop off in performance with the Milwaukee compared to gas. The machine still handled it, but not quite with the savage intensity that you could go at it with a gas engine machine. 

This is a serious, pro-duty trimmer, not a toy or an experiment in engineering outdoor power equipment. For all but the heaviest of applications, this is plenty of machine and would certainly be more than enough trimmer for all homeowner purposes and light commercial use.

Echo SRM2620 String Trimmer
ECHO
$367.81

This is thoroughly a professional-duty string trimmer. Echo built its reputation on making a first-class trimmer, and when you use this machine, you see why. Its design is familiar. Anybody who has used a gas engine trimmer can pick up the machine, purge the carburetor, choke the machine, and start it with a couple of pulls. It’s strong suit is two fold: outstanding throttle response and torque, in part due to a great engine but also due to a 2:1 gear reduction that multiplies that torque output. When combined with the rigid twisted nylon line, you get almost explosive cutting power.

Other well-designed features are a translucent gas tank that lets you see your fuel level and a semi-wrap skid plate protects the tank and holds it upright when laying it down. The trimmer’s handles are comfortable and the machine is well balanced, further enabling long trimming sessions.

FS91R String Trimmer
STIHL

Everything said about the Echo applies to the Stihl: explosive, weed-eating power plus it seems to have slightly better vibration dampening, but it’s also a bit heavier. The Stihl is a highly-developed product for professionals (or homeowners with a large property). Set its rotary dial choke and pull the recoil start. It may start, in which case you press the throttle lever and the choke dial automatically moves to the run position. If it doesn’t start on a couple of pulls, move the dial to the semi-choke position and pull again. 

The Stihl operates almost at a monotone rpm. All you have to do is move along, relentlessly cutting just about anything that stands in your path. It’s a comfortable, well-balanced machine.

CG23ECPSL String Trimmer
Hitachi
$187.76

The Hitachi sports an almost 70-inch reach, which helps lessen fatigue while trimming. An anti-vibration system also makes the Hitachi easier to handle for extended periods. This unit is one of the cheapest available, but is still covered by a two-year commercial warranty and seven-year consumer use warranty.

128LD String Trimmer
Husqvarna
$203.95

The Husqvarna is designed for homeowner use and includes a detachable shaft that allows you to store the unit in a closer or small space. The braided wire cable drive is strong and should last through years of use.

51998 String Trimmer
Toro
$199.00

The 60-inch straight shaft on this trimmer provides great reach for trimming under and around obstacles. The bump-feed trimmer head features a twist and go design that allows you to wind your string without tangling it. This trimmer is comes with a 4-year warranty.

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