My favorite pruning shears are the ARS HP-VS8R pruners with a rotating handle. They’re fantastic for serious pruning work and the rotating handle makes it less tiring for a long pruning session. You’ll find my detailed review here.
But for lighter duty pruning and deadheading, the HP-VS8R is overkill. So I use the HP-130DX 7-inch bypass pruning shear instead. It has many of the same features that make its larger cousin a hit but it comes in a compact, lightweight package that’s easier to manage.
Smaller Size Won’t Fit Everyone
The HP-130DX is best for people with small hands. It has an overall length of 7 inches and the handles are just over 4 inches long. It fits me perfectly but my husband finds the handles too short. If you have large hands, this probably isn’t the right pruner for you.
I like the smaller size – not just because I have small hands, but because I can easily slip the pruning shears in my pocket when I head out into the garden. They’re much more portable than larger pruners.
Sharp, Tough Blades
The blades are made of high carbon, marquenched steel, meaning that they’re incredibly strong and keep a sharp edge for a long, long time. I haven’t yet had to sharpen mine despite nearly daily use.
The pruner blades are hard chrome plated and have a special coating that prevents buildup of resin or sap. The company also claims that the coating repels stains and prevents rust. After over a year of constant use and leaving the ARS HP-130DX outside most of the time, the only real rust I’m seeing is around the lock nut that holds the blades together, not on the blades themselves. There’s some light staining on the blades but it’s nowhere near what I see on other brands, especially after the kind of abuse I put my pruning shears through!
Although these are lightweight pruners, they’ll easily cut through hard wood and thick stems. Still, they’re best used to cut through stems that are ½ inch or less (although it will cut through thicker stems, it’s not designed to do that and you could end up bending the handles). I’d use the HP-130DX for deadheading, cutting back plants and cutting through small twigs on shrubs. They’re also great for trimming cut flowers.
Replacement parts are available from GrowTech (the exclusive US distributor for ARS) for the spring, rubber cushion, and the bolt and nylon nut that hold the blades together.
The blades can be resharpened but not replaced. But given the high quality of the blades, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to replace them unless you use the pruners in a way they’re not intended for.
It’s easy to take the pruning shear apart by unfastening the lock nut holding the blades together. This will allow you to sharpen the whole blade with your favorite sharpening tool.
Effective Locking Mechanism
The locking mechanism is a simple thumb toggle at the base of the blades. It’s easy to open or close with your thumb and keeps the blades closed when not in use (which is a good thing when the pruners are in your pocket!).
Sturdy Spring & Rubber Bumper
Another sign that these are high quality pruning shears is the design and material used for the spring and bumper. On these ARS pruners, the spring is firmly held in place (so it won’t unexpectedly pop out in mid-cut) and is strong enough to push the handles apart without making it overly tiring to close them. The rubber bumper effectively cushions the shock with each cut.
The HP-130DX comes in five pastel colors (ivory, violet, pink, green, yellow) and red. It was originally intended for the flower arranging industry, which is perhaps why ARS chose this particular color palette (yes, I’m stereotyping here). I don’t particularly care for the colors (other than red, which costs more).
This is my everyday, go-to choice for lighter duty gardening work. I keep the pruners by the door to the garden and grab them whenever I head out. They’re sharp, comfortable, lightweight and cut beautifully. There’s very little in my garden that I can’t easily cut with these pruning shears. And at this price point they’re a good value.
Where to Buy
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 the ARS HP-130DX pruners through Amazon.
The one downside to buying on Amazon it that you can’t choose which color you want – and some of the colors are not particularly attractive.
[Editor’s Note] There have been reports of the HP-130DX being sold without the locking mechanism on the blades; instead, they just have a wire latch at the end of the handles. Please note that this is not the model that is approved for export to the USA. ARS pruners are made in Japan and models for the Japanese and US market do differ. If you purchase through a Japanese reseller (such as on Amazon), you may end up with the wrong version of the HP-130DX. There are also Chinese-made knockoffs sold on Amazon from time to time.
Be sure to buy only through a seller based in the US or directly from Amazon (look for the words “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.”). The links provided in this review will take you to the official Amazon page.
Now over to you – Have you used ARS pruners? How did they work? Let us know in the comments below!