Recommend me some high quality hair clippers?
December 18, 2013 8:40 AM   Subscribe

After watching this scene from Full Metal Jacket, my SO wanted to get a pair of similar quality clippers.  He has shaved his head by himself for more than 10 years but often complains of clippers that clog, or have a slow motor or "miss spots".  He was blown away by the clippers in that Full Metal Jacket scene.  After searching online Wahl seems to make good ones. Can anyone recommend me some good high quality clippers? He shaves his head with no guard on the blade down to 1/8".  
posted by denimchair to Shopping (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the scene you mean, but Babyliss make a rotary clipper designed for crew cuts. A colleague of mine speaks highly of it.
posted by mippy at 8:43 AM on December 18, 2013

This from the Blue might be of interest. GI Jane's scene is better, too.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:54 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here at the veterinary hospital we use exclusively the Oster Turbo A5. They work at least as well as the clippers in that clip.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2013

I used Wahl clippers for ages and they were great. Not as high-powered as the ones in that scene, but they were sturdy and lasted forever. I used them for ten years, then when I stopped shaving my head, I gave them to my brother, who, as far as I know, still uses them 10 years after that.

I think the key here is that you need professional clippers rather than personal/home clippers. My non-pro Wahl had plastic guides, which, if you went quickly, would bend and shift, resulting in an uneven cut. With the pro tools, that won't happen. The pro-level Wahl is here.

The Oster 760 also gets good reviews.
posted by looli at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wahl is great, I've been shaving my head for over 10 years now and I'm only on my second set. I just use a ~$20 set I bought at a big box store. As for missing spots, I could be wrong, but I think the "one pass and done" he wants from the credits is more "FMJ is a movie" than "these are magical clippers." Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:58 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, the ones shown in that scene are probably some commercial-grade clippers that were period to the 1960s and clippers like those will probably be rather difficult to find.

However, if you want to get something that will be powerful and long-lasting, I'd start looking for modern (or vintage but never-used) commercial-grade clippers. They'll be more expensive than anything you'll find at a retail store, but will probably be worth it. Consumer-grade clippers are pretty crap, I agree; they tend to dull quickly, they're finicky, not powerful enough, and they fall apart after a while. I've tried several different models over the years and never found one I was really satisfied with.

My first inclination as far as looking for heavy-duty clippers was eBay. I've found a couple of options there, and while I can't personally vouch for either they both look like they're a cut above (no pun intended) the stuff that is usually sold for home use.

Option 1: 2013 Oster Model 10
Option 2: Babyliss Forfex Professional FX665

To me, those both look much more like the sort of thing that you'd see in an actual barbershop, where the clippers have to work well and last a long time. If I were you I'd start looking up reviews of pro-grade clippers (starting with those models, perhaps) and see if anything appeals to you.

Another thing that is important to note is that your clippers will work much better if they're well-maintained. That is to say, they should be thoroughly dried after ever use, cleaned of all loose hair, and given a little bit of light mineral oil (sewing machine oil, for instance). That will keep them working smoothly and the blades sharp for as long as possible. The blades will eventually go dull no matter what you do, but for a commercial-grade clipper it should be possible to buy replacement blades when that happens. That is probably not possible with most consumer-grade clippers.

Good luck! Let us know what you pick and how it works out!
posted by Scientist at 9:02 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Added the link to the question text.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:02 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

A recent Ask along very similar lines, in which I recommended the Wahl Super Taper that I use. Don't go by brand alone -- make sure you get something aimed at stylists rather than consumers.
posted by pont at 9:11 AM on December 18, 2013

I'd be tempted by these cattle clippers. You'd have to wear hearing protection though.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:12 AM on December 18, 2013

If I were you I would go to a local beauty supply store and see what they have in stock and what they have available in replacement blades. I used professional human Wahl clippers to groom my poodle. (that was a looong time ago so can't remember the model #) I thought the clippers were sturdier,stayed sharp for quite some time, came with all sorts of blade guards, and the replacement blades were readily available.
posted by PJMoore at 9:42 AM on December 18, 2013

My ex used the Wahl Peanut (suggested by my SIL hairdresser) for 5-6 years before he had to get a new one and is going on about 4 years on that one. It's relatively inexpensive and is easy to clean. I think, though, that you aren't going to get an exactly smooth cut doing your own hair. A lot depends on how your how grows and the angle you're using when reaching the back parts, etc.
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:43 AM on December 18, 2013

I always recommend the Oster Classic 76. Its expensive but worth it.
--sorry looli had it above...used a different model #
posted by Busmick at 12:26 PM on December 18, 2013

I concur, a barber supply shop is worth a visit. I used to pick stuff up for my Dad (who was a barber) at the Toronto Barber & Beauty Supply shop. They sold the (stylist-quality) clippers and also replacement parts such as the blades and such. My dad had the same clippers for years and they did a great job. The brand he had was Wahl -- a professional model.
posted by Lescha at 1:17 PM on December 18, 2013

The Oster Classic 76 is the only set of clippers you'll ever need. I'm a woman but I cut my hair very low and that's what I use ... based on a previous AskMe recommendation.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 1:39 PM on December 18, 2013

I used a Wahl Balder with the smallest (1/16") guard for a long time and had good luck with it.

Missed spots and uneveness have a lot more to do with the operator than the machine, though. The blade is straight and your head is curved, so to get a consistent length you have to make a bunch of tightly overlapping passes. If you try to "mow the lawn" and barely overlap at all, you will end up with stripes that are short in the middle and long at the sides.

I eventually gave up on an electric trimmer and started shaving with a disposable razor. Even though I prefer the slightly stubbly look, the razor is more consistent, at least twice as fast, and doesn't leave my bathroom coated in a fine layer of trimmed hairs.
posted by indyz at 3:51 PM on December 18, 2013

I recently did some research along these lines to replace my boyfriend's crappy model.

Found these two:

Wahl Peanut (mentioned above)

Oster Fast Feed (I don't think this one has been mentioned, but Oster 76 looks similar)

Haven't decided what to buy him yet!
posted by dahliachewswell at 11:12 PM on December 18, 2013

Do note that the Peanut and Fast Feed cost less than half as much as the professional barbers' clippers people have been linking to, and that there's probably a reason for that. They both get good reviews so if that's your budget then I'd say go for it. They'll probably be a lot better than most of what you find at the drugstore or WalMart or whatever, and your clipper isn't going to be cutting hair for eight hours a day five days a week like a barber's clipper is.

Most of the differences between a quality consumer-grade clipper (which is what it looks like you're looking at right now) and a pro-grade clipper will come down to power, durability (especially under heavy use), and serviceability (i.e. ability to repair/replace parts as they wear out rather than replacing the whole clipper). Pro clippers are going to have bigger motors, beefier construction, and replaceable blades. Those are very important features to a professional and well worth the extra cost, but maybe not so much to someone who's just cutting their own hair once a week.

The only problem is that it can be hard to tell the differences between reasonable compromises and unreasonable ones. Hair clippers seem to be a product type that is rife with flimsy crap, since manufacturers assume that consumers are not going to be able to usefully differentiate between a good and bad product without buying it and then finding out six months down the line whether or not it's going to fall apart on them. That said, the two clippers that you're looking at both have hundreds of reviews and very high ratings so they're probably very good for the price and I bet they would suit your needs.

If your budget can easily sustain it I still would bet that the Oster 76 would be worth the extra money. It would probably be the last hair clipper he'd ever need, and if well-maintained it could probably be passed on to his kids. If not though then I'd go with the Oster Fast Feed. The Peanut is probably good too, but it's built with small size and light weight as its major design objectives. That's great if he intends to travel with it a lot, but making something small and light also means using smaller and lighter components (weaker more trouble-prone motor, narrower blade, etc.) which all else being equal will almost always have a negative impact on power and durability.

So, if being tiny isn't important then the Fast Feed is probably the better tool. Also, at only 4" long the Peanut might actually be so small as to be a little awkward to hold. Between the two, I think the Fast Feed is probably the clipper of choice.
posted by Scientist at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2013

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