If you've got a lawn to take care of and have grown tired of gas or electric lawn mowers over the years, there is another option you could try out. Reel mowers are still as popular now as they were years and years ago when every household owned one.
I recently reviewed the Qualcast Panther 30 and am going to talk you through the things I liked, the things I didn't like so much and who should consider purchasing this mower. Qualcast claim this model is the U.K.'s bestselling hand mower - let's see why!
Qualcast Panther 30 Review - Specifications
|Cutting Width||19 cm|
|Blade||4 Bladed Cylinder|
|Cutting Heights||12 - 40 mm|
Qualcast Panther 30 Review – Key Features
- Setting Up – First things first, the instructions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on – when will these companies learn? Luckily you don’t really need them though as there’s not too much to do. It’s really just about setting up the handle. You’ll need to tighten up some nuts so make sure you’ve got some spanners handy.
- Cylinder Cutting System -The Panther 30, like all other hand mowers, uses a cutting cylinder to cut your grass blades and the cylinder on this one contains four blades. I don’t know whether you are familiar with the difference between rotary and cylinder lawn mowers – but the way the cylinder mower cuts the grass blades is much healthier. Your grass will be cut as cleanly as if you were cutting it yourself with a pair of scissors. Rotary mowers on the other hand don’t actually cut; they hack your grass.
- Size and Build – The Qualcast Panther 30 is a lot smaller than any gas or electric mower, even when you’re making use of the grass catcher. This is very advantageous when it comes to storing it. At 19 cm the cutting swath isn’t the biggest but it isn’t ridiculously small either – meaning it cuts a decent amount on each pass. In terms of build Qualcast have done themselves proud as it feels pretty sturdy when you’re using it and I’d personally expect it to last a good number of years if you treat it right. The fact that you hardly ever have to spend time maintaining it is another plus. Sharpen the blades, oil it now and again – that’s all it takes!
- Cutting Heights – You can change the cutting height of the blade cylinder to suit different conditions. This is something you’ll want to play around with when you first get the mower as it can have a big influence on the quality of cut. The method of actually changing the heights is a little primitive but it works. You’ll need to loosen the nuts, change the height and then tighten the nuts up again. Almost forgot to mention that you can set the height between 12 mm and 40 mm – that’s a pretty decent range!
- Rear Roller – Having a rear roller is beneficial for two reasons. Firstly the obvious one – theoretically it should provide your lawn with a striped finish (more on that later) and secondly (and possibly more importantly) it offers you that extra bit of stability around the borders of your lawn. You won’t have to carefully balance the mower in these areas as the roller will do this for you.
- Grass Box – A lot of hand powered mowers don’t actually come with grass catchers, so the fact that this one has one could be seen as a bit of a luxury. However don’t get too excited as it’s not as effective as you might expect. The box itself is an open topped one and holds roughly 20 Litres of grass clippings.
Qualcast Panther 30 Review – How Did It Perform?
- Cutting Ability – When buying a lawn mower you obviously want one that is going to cut the grass to a decent standard. Like many people, I was more than a little skeptical prior to wheeling this one out onto my lawn. However, after the first two or three passes those doubts vanished!I need to mention that I do keep my lawn in good condition – it wasn’t an absolute jungle when I tested this mower out – and I believe this is critical to achieving the desired results with this particular model (and every other hand powered mower if I’m honest). The sound of the cylinder of blades crisply cutting through my grass was like the gardener’s equivalent of listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. The blades are sharp and the cut is clean.
- Grass Collection – Sadly the Panther 30 doesn’t perform so well in this area. I think the problem really lies in the fact that the grass box is open topped and a significant proportion of the clippings end up flying either over the top of or to the side of the grass box. In my personal experience this model collected around 70% of the clippings, with the other 30% being thrown back onto my lawn. However this is not as disastrous as it may sound because to be honest you don’t really need to use the grass box. Instead (if cut regularly) you can remove the grass box and leave the clippings on your lawn as they will decompose and provide valuable nutrients to your lawn. You also obviously have the option of raking the clippings up (providing your lawn isn’t too big).
- Manoeuvrability – The great thing about a hand powered mower is that you are not restricted by a cable. When you combine this with the Panther 30’s lightweight construction (only 6.5 kg) you have a mower that is truly manoeuvrable for practically any user. It doesn’t take too much effort to push it and its wheels roll easily over the surface of your lawn. At the same time, as you are technically powering the mower, it provides you with a light cardio workout – so not only are you saving money on fuel but you’re also saving on a gym membership too!
- Ease of Operation – The Panther 30 is as simple a mower as you could wish for. There’s really nothing to using it. As long as you’ve got the cutting height set appropriately for your grass, all you need to do is carry it from the shed to your lawn and push in the direction you want to cut.
- Lawn Stripes– To be honest with you it really takes a mower with a bit of weight behind it to create decent lawn stripes. This mower only weighs 6.5 kg and whilst it does produce a striped effect of sorts, don’t expect to achieve professional grade stripes.
Qualcast Panther 30 Review – Who Should Buy This Mower?
This mower is absolutely perfect for anyone that has got small to medium-size garden and is prepared to mow the lawn fairly frequently. It could also be used by people who have larger lawns, but you have to accept that the time it takes you to mow your lawn will probably increase. It provides you with a cheap, convenient and easy way to mow your lawn. Another thing to mention is that it does work best on flat surfaces (as all cylinder mowers do).
Qualcast Panther 30 Review – Who Shouldn’t Buy This Mower?
If you don’t maintain your garden as often as you probably should and let the grass grow knee-high in between cuts, this is definitely not the mower for you (try looking at a gas or electric powered motor). It will leave you frustrated, won’t produce a very good cut and will take a lot more effort. It’s also not a great match for any garden that contains a very uneven surface or numerous bumps and mounds. If you think that this mower would be a great fit for your lawn maintenance requirements, then you can pick one up for an extremely affordable price and they even offer you free shipping.