The Best Hand Pruners: Felco F-2
The internet is full of lists. Anyone looking for the best anything can find a curated list of the top 10 or 20 options, some more useful than others.
So if you got here by Googling “best hand pruners,” I have some good news for you. You don’t need a list. You don’t need a wide range of choices. Once you’ve arrived at the Felco F-2 hand pruners, you pretty much have the only pair of pruners you’ll ever need.
You may be surprised to learn that one pair of bypass pruners can really stand head and shoulders above the rest, but I can assure you that you’re no more surprised than I was back in 1997 when I got my first pair.
I still have that pair, by the way. And although I bought some new ones for the purposes of this review, the Felco F-2 pruners that were gifted to me by the owner of a landscape company I worked for 25 years ago are still my go-to hand pruners. I don’t expect they’ll quit any time soon.
In This Article You Will Find:
The Best Hand pruner Ever – The Felco F2
The Best Budget Hand Pruner – The Corona Classic Cut
The Best General Purpose Hand Pruner – The Corona Pro Cut
The Best Ratcheting Hand Pruners- The MEPEREZ Shears
Best Ergonomic Handle Pruners- Fiskars Softgrip Bypass
Best Hand Pruners Under $10: Ronix Bypass-RH3108
Design & Construction
It’s hard to get to the essence of what makes these bypass pruners so great, but part of it comes down to their innovative design. Felco introduced their F-2 hand pruners in 1948, and the basic layout has only been slightly tweaked in almost 75 years.
The Felco F-2 hand pruners feature a hardened carbon steel bypass blade, which comes exceptionally sharp right out of the packaging. It holds its edge well though repeated use, and is also easy to sharpen when the time comes. A sap groove catches stray plant material and helps keep the blade from getting gummed up when cutting wet or sticky vegetation.
The handles are lightweight and durable aluminum, with candy-apple red rubber groups that make the tool both non-slip and easy to see if you happen to drop it in thick vegetation. The handles are virtually indestructible.
There’s also a hardened nut and bolt system that allows for easy micro-adjustments of the blades, and a thumb catch that locks and unlocks the blades. A nickel-coated spring provides smooth, assured opening and closing.The Falco F-2 hand pruners measure 8.5 inches from end to end, and weigh 8.8 ounces.
Use & Cleaning
The blades of the Felco F-2 simply melt through stems and branches with minimal effort. They make clean cuts on everything from rose bushes and sunflower stalks to tree branches and wooden dowels.
There isn’t a specific limit to the thickness of materials the pruners can cut, but it’s safe to say that they handle ¾-inch limbs with ease, and are keen enough to make clean cuts on more delicate materials as well. The handles absorb shock very effectively, which is a big help when making tougher cuts.
I live in a part of South Carolina where it often feels like the woods are trying to take back every inch of human encroachment, so my Falco hand pruners get a lot of use. I also find myself constantly reaching for them in the garden, for pruning trees and shrubs, cutting wires (there’s an effective wire cutter built in, so you don’t have to dull the main stainless steel blade) and breaking down old Christmas trees.
The Felco F-2 pruners can be used completely one-handed. The only complaint I’ve ever heard about them is that the handles do spring out a little wide for some people. If you have smaller hands, you may find the Felco F-6 pruners a little easier to grip for total one-handed deployment and use.
The sap groove is a great help for keeping the stainless steel blades working cleanly through sticky, dirty jobs, but it’s still important that you clean your tools after use. The steel isn’t fully corrosion-resistant, so a good wipe-down is recommended after each use, and a periodic deep-clean is also wise.
You don’t have to be super delicate with these pruners, but basic common-sense maintenance is essential to really get the maximum lifespan out of them. That said, I’ve used the flat part of the handle to hammer in garden stakes when I couldn’t find another tool within reach, and they don’t seem any worse for wear.
Repairs & Replacement
Up top I mentioned that I’ve been using the same pair of Felco pruners for 25 years now. One reason these pruners are able to last so long, other than their durable construction and quality craftsmanship, is that all the parts are replaceable.
I’ve replaced the stainless steel blade of my bypass pruners a handful of times over the years, and every other element of the tool is also fully replaceable. It’s easy to take the pruners apart for cleaning or repairs using the adjustment key that comes with them. There’s also some great info and diagrams on the Felco website about disassembling and replacement parts.
At the end of the day, if you take basic care of your pruners and replace certain parts as needed, your Felco F-2 hand pruners can give you decades of reliable service.
Final Thoughts on the Falco F-2 Hand Pruners
If you haven’t purchased really high quality hand pruners before, you might get a little bit of sticker shock when you see the $60 price tag on a pair of Felcos. I get it; you could buy a set of pruners at Walmart for around $10.
But tools at that price are basically disposable, and you’ll be lucky if they make it through their first year. Better quality tools are an investment, and for my money, a worthwhile one (for what it’s worth, if you’re really looking for a budget option, these Corona pruning shears are a pretty good compromise).
It’s also worth noting that there are a lot of knock-offs out there. Authentic Felco F-2 hand pruners will have “FELCO Swiss Made” printed on the packaging and stamped into the handle.
There’s a reason why Felco pruners are the gold standard among landscaping and gardening professionals. When I was given my first pair 25 years ago—and that pair was by no means new, even then—I hadn’t yet fully learned the difference that kind of quality can make. At this point, it’s fair to say that the lesson has been learned, and I can state with confidence that these are the only pruners I’ll ever need.
Alternatives to the Felco F2 Hand Pruners: Other Options
If you’re anything like me, you need multiple pairs of the same tool. Or, I’m just crazy. In my house my kids like to garden and work around the yard with me, so we have several sets of hand pruners. This also gives us the chance to actually test out in the real world pruners from different brands, not just post some links to random Amazon listings.
The hand pruners below are all ones that we own in addition to the Felco’s. Perhaps you don’t want to spend $50 for the Felco F2’s, maybe you need a pair today and want to see what’s hanging on the shelf at Lowes or Home Depot, or maybe you just need a basic set for the 3 times a year you will use them. Whatever the reason, the hand pruners below are great alternatives to the Felco F2 Hand Pruners.
Best Budget Option: Corona Classic Cut Hand Pruners
If you are looking for good quality pair of hand pruners that will last, cut well and not break the bank, the the Classic Cut is a good choice. The newer versions of the Classic Cut have a thicker cushion on the handle than previous generations of the model. In addition, the bypass blade can be easily sharpened and is also replaceable which adds years of life to the tool. The Corona is entirely metal, giving it a sturdy and solid feel. Its action is smooth, allowing for clean cuts.
These are roughly half the price of the Felco F2’s and you may wonder what the main difference is. It’s in the ergonomics first, the Felco just feel great in the hand under hard use. If you read my reason above, I still think its worth the extra money for the higher quality tool, but if you’re on a tight budget, the Corona Classic Cut Hand Pruner is absolutely the best option on the market.
Best General Purpose: Corona Pro Cut
This is the second Corona pruners to make our list and that’s for two reasons, they are a good option and the market for high quality hand pruners is very weak. I know the Fiskars 79436997J Softgrip Bypass Pruner makes everyone’s list for best pruner for arthritic hands or best ergonomic pruners, but I disagree. These Corona pruners have a very nice soft grip and a shock absorber in between the handles which add to the comfort and usability of the hand pruners. They are vey sharp and have a coated blade which helps shun sap and debris keeping them cleaner and assisting in the cutting power. If you have serious arthritis in your hands, consider an electric hand pruner like this Scott’s rechargeable.
Depending on where you pick these up, they are just a $5 upgrade over the Corona Classic Cut and definitely worth the extra money. You can easily cut branches that are 3/4″ in diameter and even up to a little over 1 inch. These hand pruners are excellent quality and cut smoothly without putting too much pressure on your hands. They’re a bit of an investment, but definitely worth the money. A nice upgrade would be an included sheath that clipped to your belt.
Best Ratcheting Hand Pruners: MEPEREZ Shears
I have tried several ratcheting pruners and there are only two legitimate options in the world if you ask me. Both The Gardner’s Friend and these MEPEREZ are amazing, but the MEPEREZ beat out TGF because of the price. There isn’t much difference and I actually prefer the handle on the MEPEREZ. My 87 year old neighbor also has a pair and it’s the only pruners he can use. He also like to put his clipping in the trash for pick up se he cuts his branches and weeds very small to fit in the garbage cans.
I put these clippers to the test over the past few months, and I’m honestly really satisfied with how well they performed. These were my first pair of ratcheting clippers before and I gotta say, I’m really loving that feature. They are not the first pair I grab because I don’t need the ratcheting cutting action often, but my younger kids like them.
Best Ergonomic Handle Pruners: Fiskars Softgrip Bypass
If you have read this far, you know you should by the Felco F2’s, but if you don’t want to spend the money and need something a little easier on your hands, the Softgrip 79436997J will do the job. They don’t feel as substantial in the hand as an all metal construction pair, but if your cutting involves flowers and plants more than trees and shrubs these are a good option. My one complaint which other reviewers often cite too is the weak lock. I find that my Fiskars pruners often “unlock” by themselves or very easily and will pop open. I don’t feel that I will injure myself, it’s just more annoying than anything.
Best Hand Pruners Under $10: Ronix Bypass-RH3108
You may wonder why include a pair of pruners in an under $10 category? Well, some of you may only need a pair of pruners once or twice a year or maybe you loose stuff. Then these are for you. But don’t let the price fool you, they are surprisingly great hand pruners for the money. The Ronix are a little on the lighter duty side and that is where they shine. They easily cut up to an inch in diameter and will go to town on softer wood like pine or and just perfect for pruning flowers and rose bushes.
I stumbled across the Ronix pruners while helping an elderly neighbor who happened to have a pair. You have to understand, I swear by my Felco’s, but considering the cost and how the Ronix did on some light to medium duty tasks, I can recommend them as a great option. If you can swing a few more bucks, the Corona Classic Cut is a much better option, but if $10 is all you have you can be a happy gardener here.