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The nitty gritty on pistol grip hydros

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by brucec32, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I've read all the posts on various steering systems. I know everyone has their favorite. I've used T bars on hydros and belts and think they're superior on belts and problematic on hydros. I know the advantages of the H bar and find some of the other systems interesting.

    But that said, I want to know the whole truth, so please put your personal ego investment in your choice aside. Are pistol grips a problem? I have done quick dealership demos on various steering systems, but that's not the same as using it in real life situations, such as hills, under trees, backing out of tight spots, etc.

    I have ocassional opportunities to pick up hydro pistol grip mowers for a lot less than a new Hustler hydro, so I have to consider that, especially since my current need is for a 36-44" deck unit that will only see use on occasional gated back yards, berms too steep for a ZTR, small lawns with lots of backing and turns, and as a backup, and even then, only in situations where pulling a 21" mower off the truck quickly won't do. So I won't be able to say I can pay $2500 more now and earn it back in productivity quickly. For technical reasons I need to sell my two belt drive units (one can't mow high enough, the other can't mulch, and neither can back in and out of tight spots w/o wearing me out ) and if I'm making a change I want to go hydro.

    If I can manage with a pistol grip that does everything I need and have it not instantly send my hands into cramp mode, then I would consider it. So, is it reasonably relaxing and fatigue-free to use a pistol grip for short periods? Or not?
  2. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    We'll I can say from real time experience that my 1st 36" was a Encore 36 with pistol grip ... nice little mower BUT in this 'Southern" enviroment ..... most starter yards ... are small compact .... lot so turns ..... n very hot .... hot summers

    So it get's OLD real quick using those grips all the time with the arms out nnn getting sweaty .... that have to make a turn under or near a citrus tree, bougainville or what ever may force you to take your hand to a grip

    That old mower is long gone .... BUT I still do have a 36" Snapper Hydro ... that even at it's best is only used on gated backyards .... is a T grip n every one has no problem jumpin on to .... does not match a Z .... but if using a walkbehind Hydro T bar is the only way to go ...... far as I am concerned

    You may consider a Walker Z ....throw away ANY thing read on the forum ... if you have never demo'd one .... do it .... atleast see what it does .... Down here .... in my town ..... I could NOT be productive in these small yards with LOTS of obstacles ... N my Walkers mowers ... don't get me wrong I also have Lazer 60" for the big areas
  3. Haley Lawn Care

    Haley Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    from NC
    Messages: 119

    If you are used to using pistol grips and belt drives most of the day then you will do allright with the pistol grip hydros. After using my hydro for a while and then using the belt drive some I can tell that the hydro is much easier on the hands. My hands would get tired using the belt drive. But using the hydro it takes a lot longer for my hands to get tired.

    David :)
  4. PaulJ

    PaulJ LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    Pistol grips are OK. I never really had a problem with them but my hands would get tired by the end of the day. But that would go for any of the "release to go" type controls. Exmark ECS, Snapper loop grip, and others like tis are all basically the same mechanical. They just have the control levers at different angles. and no matter what you are always working against the springs tension to maneuver it. The same goes for the push to go type controls like Great dane, or Wright, Bunton, Toro or any that use ZTR type levers. With these you are always pushing against spring tension to go.

    That is what I like about the Hustler. No almost no spring tension. To go forward you turn the handle forward. If you let go it stays almost where you left it. The only tension against it is the pressure of the pumps. There is a spring that hold it in the center so when turning you push against this spring but it is a light spring that is just enough to self center the handle when you are done turning. The same goes for reverse, there is a light spring to help return to neutral. It is very much like driving a steering wheel. That easy. And at the end of the day my hand aren't tired and cramped from squeezing grips all day. you use more of your whole arm to move the controls not just you hands.

    So that's why I chose the h-bar. A pistol grip will do all this, just not with the same ease and with more fatigue at the end of a long day.

    sorry for the long post.
  5. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Lets compare apples and apples here…. If you don’t have a hydro drive with pistol grips, do not reply. Belt drives with pistol grips are much much more fatiguing than hydros with pistol grips. I know because I’ve used both and I do own a hydro with pistol grips (have owned two actually). They’re not bad Bruce on a hydro. They have one or two things other systems don’t, like for instance you can pop up the front end of the mower easily with the handlebars which I could never do when I tried ECS or H-bar. You can do it on Tbar as you know, but I found it near impossible unless moving forward (more experience would have help I’m sure). The pistol grips allow you to pop up the front end no matter which direction or speed your traveling. This can be nice with a sulky to transfer weight to drive tires to make a turn on a steep hill, or to pop over a problem bump area, cut off low stump that might catch, or going over a berm, whatever the case may be. They’re not very fatiguing unless you’re on them more than 25 or 30 minutes at a time in my experience, and then they’re not too bad especially once you get used to them. I wish there wasn’t so much spring tension against you when in reverse with them and I wish you could go faster in reverse but that’s a pretty minor issue with me so far. I think for what you’re doing they’ll be just fine.
  6. imograss

    imograss LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 796

    Pistol grips never bother me.
  7. dfor

    dfor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 828

    I agree with what Frankenscag said. I don't have big hands, and I do not get fatigued with the hydro. I actually like the pistol grips. And I think they are a little easier than on belt driven machines.
  8. Turf Technologies

    Turf Technologies LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 587

    If you have big hands then you have no worries, if not you will cramp up after 30mins or more of mowing at the least, until your use to it. A postive about pistol grips, you will have some strong hands in a few months.

    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282


    When I had pistol grips my main gripe was never with having hand pain, it was with other factors. For instance, If you aren't real careful you're always hitting your hands off of things you try to trim next to (hedges, fences, trees etc.). Another problem was with making 180 turns at the end of runs. If I was on a sulky I had to make all kinds of body gyrations to avoid getting hit in the stomach by the grips. Also the reach to the outer handle gets pretty far too. If you were to run a castering sulky this would not be a problem however. The best control system I ever used personally was the Snapper loops. They are solid and comfortable and have plenty of room to move your hands around in turns - hitting your hands off of objects is a non-issue with them. I run the Toro's now with t-bar, which to me is almost as good as the Snapper loops were. The hydro t-bar is a bit jittery though. I wish Toro would adapt the ecs steering, because that to me looks like a winner.
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    Yeah, Brian. That could get ugly, especially since I'm not as careful as I probably should be out there.

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