Acreage properties rarely have perfectly manicured lawns. Typically they are covered in brush, gravel and all sorts of mowing hazards that will tear up a traditional mower. A flail mower on the other hand, can power through them with ease. Since they are available in a ton of different sizes and power ratings, they can be tailor bought for specific situations. In our opinion, the best flail mower is the Titan 72” 3-Point Flail Mower with Hydraulic Side Shift. It’s powerful, easy to use and is built like a tank.
NOTE: Due to the current pandemic, the 72″ model is currently out of stock. However Titan has just released an updated 48″ version which performs incredibly well and won’t break the bank.
Best Flail Mower – Titan 48″ 3-Point Flail Mower with Hydraulic Side Shift
With a massive 6’ cutting width, the Titan 48″ 3-Point Flail Mower with Hydraulic Side Shift is truly a beast. It’s got an incredible 16” hydraulic slide offset so you can easily mow under fences or solar panels. When coupled to a 50 HP tractor with PTO connection, this flail mower can even power through 3” thick saplings with ease.
The Titan 48” also offers extremely resilient chain guards, a 100% none-slip 3 belt power transfer system and a standard 3 point category 1 connection for easy setup. Whether you’ve got a large plot of land that needs mowing or just want to quickly clean up a fence line, this unit will certainly do the job perfectly.
Flail Mower Buyers Guide
Research is the key to success, at least in our book. We’ve tested, browsed forums and talked with name brand manufactures to get the lowdown on the best flail mowers around. The folks over at Tractorbynet and Redpowermagazine have been especially helpful. The #1 thing we learned is that nobody seems to recommend the same brands, they do however, recommend the same types of features, power ratings, and maintenance techniques. As such, we’ve reviewed the various flail mowers and written the buyers guide accordingly.
What is a flail mower?
Paraphrased from Wikipedia, a flail mower is used to deal with thick heavy shrubs and grasses that a normal mower can’t handle. Specifically it provides a rough cut for taller grasses that tend to grow near gravel and debris, such as the side of roads and driveways. A flail mower uses a horizontal rotating drum to swing small Y or T shaped flails outward which cut the grass. In the industry, these flails can also be known as knives or blades.
The great thing about flails is that if they strike an immovable object such as a buried boulder or a large tree stump, they’ll just bounce right off. A rotary mower on the other hand, would completely stall out and fail. Plus, rotary mowers have a tendency to “throw” material outward which is far less safe than a flail mower. No more rocks flying into your windshield for one. You will most likely need a dedicated tractor to run one though. They typically operate using a PTO (Power Take Off) connection which directly connects to a lawn tractors driveshaft. Either way you look at it they are high powered, extremely reliable machines.
How does a flail mower work?
A flail mower is powered via a PTO connection to your lawn tractor (or dedicated engine if it’s a pull behind model). As the PTO begins to spin, motion is transferred via a gearbox and belts to a large horizontal drum. Attached to the drum are multiple small Y or T shaped flails. Each with an individual hinge or pin connection. As the drum speeds up, these are flung outwards due to centrifugal force.
Imagine spinning around in a circle and letting your arms go loose. Eventually they would rise outward at a 90 degree angle. This is exactly what the individual flails do.
Once spinning fast enough, these flails, or knives / scoops as they are sometimes called, are able to chop up thick grasses and brush with ease. However, because they are not welded directly to the drum they still have freedom of movement. As such, they bounce of immobile objects instead of damaging the gearbox and PTO connection.
How to sharpen flail mower blades
Sharpening a flail mower blade is actually quite easy. A bit of oil and a grinder will do the trick. Simply follow the existing blade angle and grind away material until the tip is sharp and free of dings and dents. Make sure to use a wet grinding setup to reduce heat stress. The flail blades are tempered and heat treated for strength. Any excess heat will cause them to lose their hardness and become more prone to damage in the future.
Mower effectiveness is directly related to three factors. Blade sharpness, the number of blades and the speed at which they spin. A mowers RPM (revolutions per minute) is the common way in which we measure their speed. In general, the faster they spin, the cleaner cut you’ll have.
A typical flail mower will operate at around 540 RPMs. However, that number is a bit misleading as it represents the PTO’s speed. Because there is a gearbox between the PTO and the rotating flails, you can expect a speed variance, typically 4:1 with the flails rotating much faster. This can go up or down depending on the specific manufacturer. In general, higher is better, but at a cost. It’ll burn up oil faster and wearable components such as bearing will wear faster.
Best working width
If you were to drive a tractor flail mower over a patch of uncut grass, the width of the pass it cut is known as the working width. In a lot of areas a wider mower is not necessarily a better one. Especially if you’ve got tight corners or are worried about slopes. Sometimes a mower that is say 100” wide will have a smaller working width than a 90” wide option. This is the most important factor when it comes to mowing speed. A larger working width means less passes and of course, less time.
Flail mower maintenance
Maintaining a flail mower is no different than any other piece of hydraulic lawn equipment. You’ll need to make sure the oil is full in the gearbox, at least once a season if you can. If you use your mower very heavily, this might need to be checked more often. Another thing to look out for is any grease fittings. Over time, grease can wear out on rotating component and does occasionally need to be refilled. Check out the video below for how to assemble a flail mower and some common grease injection points.
Of course, you’ll also want to keep your flails nice and sharp for a clean and effective mower. Finally, the wheel should always be checked for gouges or any other imperfections. If they are solid this is less critical but it is still good to check them out on occasion. You might also want to give any cotter pins a check to make sure they are in working condition. The last thing you want it to lose a flail or component when your cutting. Often times, you’ll never recover them.
Flail mower offset position
Being able to offset, or move, your flail mower to the side of your tractor can be a huge plus. This allows you to get right near edges or concrete fire pits without risking your tractor falling into a ditch or gully. Most mid-ranged flail mowers don’t even include this feature. If they do, it’ll only be about 6” of movement to either side. While not a ton of movement, it’ll be enough to get the job done. You’ll also notice that this feature is only available on larger unit. Most of the smaller ones are mobile enough to not require it.
How much can I mow in an hour?
This depends on two things, the speed at which you mow, and the working width of the mower. Let’s look at an example. If you’ve got a 6’ working width flail mower and mow at 7 mph, you can cover just over 5 acres an hour. If you push you speed up a bit or own a wider mower, this can be increased significantly.
How long will a flail mower last?
With good proactive maintenance a flail mower can last easily upwards of 20 years. You might need to replace hydraulic hoses or bearings over time, but the unit itself will last quite a while longer. The only thing that will really cause some damage is hitting a huge ditch and the mower getting lost or the frame being warped such that the drum can’t rotate.
Best Flail Mower Detailed Reviews
Okay, so you know you’ve got some super long grass with rocks strewn about in it. As such, you’ve decided on purchasing a flail mower. In the next section we’ll go over the best flail mowers on the market. We’ve rated them by power, size, attachment points and more. This will let you get an idea of what’s available and how to choose the right mower for your situation.
#1 Titan 72″ 3-Point Flail Mower with Hydraulic Side Shift – Best Flail Mower
This mean, red, cutting machine is a true powerhouse. With a 72” cutting width, solid forged hammer flails and a 3 belt power transmission system, it’s built like a tank. When powered by a 50HP tractor it can chew up even the thickest branches and brush. Meanwhile, the included knives are extremely efficient and give your grass a nice, even finish cut.
If you often cut near ditches or treelines, the 16” offset slide will help you cut close, but keep your tractor safe. As is standard on most tractor flail mowers, this mounts on a standard fixed 3 point offset hitch. With a PTO turning speed of 540 RPMs you won’t miss even a single blade of grass. Even under heavy abuse, the Titan 72″ 3-Point Flail Mower will last for years and years to come.
If you’ve got a large swath of ground to cover, you’ll need something big. The Titan 72″ 3-Point Flail Mower is exactly that. With a wonderfully large 6’ cutting spread you’ll be done before you know it. Plus, the included PTO shaft is easy to attach and detach from your tractor. You’ll also need to hook up the flail mower to your hitch for added security. If you forget this step, you risk ripping the PTO shaft off as it’s not designed for a tension load, only rotational loads.
Before operating the unit, you’ll want to ensure the gearbox is full of 90 weight oil. This will keep things nice and lubricated. Any grease fittings should also be checked just in case. The 4.5” diameter rotor shaft rapidly for a high performance cut. The shaft is powered by 3 independent belts for reduced power slipping and power loss. When at full speed, you’ll have a 14” blade swing for extra flexibility.
You’ll find that the ultra hard forged hammer flails can mulch material up to an incredible 3” thick. That means you won’t need to worry about saplings, shrubs or thick grasses ever again. If you do happen to hit a large rock, the flail mower design will keep things safe and in place. For any rocks to do get kicked up, the ¼” solid steel side plating will rebound them back into the ground. The enclosed body also helps to reduce dust and debris while cutting.
When you’re hooking up the Titan 72″ 3-Point Flail Mower you’ll need to back into it like any other large attachments. At over 700lbs., it isn’t feasible to move the mower without mechanical help. You’ll also want to make sure that your lawn tractor of choice is between 45 and 55 HP for optimal performance. If it’s less, you won’t get the required power and if it’s greater, you’ll risk over torquing the PTO shaft. There is a shear pin just in case, but it’s best not to test your luck.
If you want to use the hydraulic slide offset feature you’ll also need to connect up the two hydraulic hoses. These power the slide mechanism and let you slide the mower 8” in either direction. This lets you get right up near fence lines and roadways while keeping your tractor out of harm’s way.
Overall, the Titan 72″ 3-Point Flail Mower is a great large flail mower and the biggest on our list. It’s powerful, relatively quiet and very easy to use. If you’ve got long driveway or roadway side that need to be mowed, this will make a great choice. Even better, Titan Attachments has a wonderful customer service department that is responsive and very easy to work with. Buy this and soon you’ll be king of the grass.
The Farmer Helper 60” Field Flail Mower is a lightweight flail mower designed for smaller acreage lots where a traditional rotary mower just won’t cut it. With a 60” working width, this unit is very cost effective and will provide a significantly better cut than a brush mower. While it won’t be quite a clean as a rotary mower, it is much more durable. You’ll find the 54 Y-blades are extremely robust and provide a long lasting mowing solution.
While this won’t deal with ultra thick tree stumps, it is perfect for residential use. With features such as a hinged rear gate, included PTO shaft and an adjustable cutting height. It will most certainly make your weekly landscaping tasks a little bit easier. Plus, if you plan to store it in a shed or barn it’ll take up way less space than a larger unit.
Long grass, scattered stones and hidden obstacles have been the bane of many rotary mowers over time. The Farmer Helper 60” Field Flail Mower is a perfect way to protect your mower and your pocketbook from any pesky repair expenses. With an adjustable cutting height from 0” to 6” it is very easy to work with and great for any cutting conditions.
However, if you have bigger stones or plan to mow a huge area, you might want to look elsewhere. This is primarily designed for lightweight work and for areas of about 10 acres or less. Any more and you’ll just be wasting your time. We’d suggest you opt for our #1 choice instead which has a larger 6’ wide working width.
This unit hooks up using a standard PTO shaft and can be modified to work with a quick hitch as well if you make some minor modifications. It only weighs in at 527 lbs. and is fairly light when it comes to flail mowers. Don’t think that it’s not strong though. It has a solid steel plate body and can take some abuse.
You’ll also find it has a hinged rear gate for added usability. You can lift it up to inspect the y-blades, clean the roller, change blades or do any type of maintenance imaginable. The hinged rear gate basically means you don’t have to lift the mower up to get under it. On larger mowers this can be a real pain and something you’ll want to avoid doing. It can be dangerous and is frankly not very comfortable.
The Y-blades themselves are completely reversible. This allows you to flip them around in case one side gets dull. That saves you from having to sharpen them one side at a time and is a great boost in efficiency. Once the blades are sharpened you can really chew through some grass. Plus, you can leave the rear gate open for easier discharge in particularly heavy mowing conditions.
Related Link: If you want to save some time with yearly landscaping, consider putting in rubber mulch for a maintenance free, yet always fresh look.
Another feature, which is fairly common, is the reverse rotor rotation. This means the drum spis opposite to the wheels of the tractor. In turn, this lets the blades sheer foliage right off and throw it back on the drum for extra mulching. It’s a great system and really help to finely chop and residual grass.
One thing we do want to point out is this unit is made in China. To us, it’s not a big deal. The unit is sturdy, well built and performs incredibly. However if you want a 100% American made product you’ll need to look elsewhere. Due to the long shipping process, you’ll want to tighten all the bolts and nuts before use. Often times they can loosen during shipping and are hard to find once they fall into the grass.
We’ve also been asked if this can be used as an ATV flail mower. The answer is no, unless your ATV happens to have a power take off connection. If you’re after an ATV flail mower you will want to look at the Nova Tractor ATV Pull Behind Flail Mower later in this list.
Overall, the Farmer Helper 60″ Field Flail Mower 20HP FH-EF155 is a great lightweight flail mower. It’s cost effective, extremely well built and perfect for residential or small lot use. If you don’t have need of a big monster mower and won’t be mowing over trees, this is the one to get.
While the Farmer Helper 60” Flail mower is a light duty machine the FH-EF175 has a bit more power than the previously reviewed FH-EF155. With the ability to handle 8 more HP it can mow over thicker grasses, bushes and even small saplings with ease. While it isn’t as beastly as our #1 choice it’s work for most light to medium density fields and road edges.
Just like its smaller cousin above, it is very cost effective and extremely well built. The low cost mainly comes from its Chinese origin. This is not an American made product, but I wouldn’t count that against it. It can perform just as good as any of the top name brand flail mower and is only a fraction of the price. What’s not to like?
With a standard 3 point category 1 hitch mount and an include PTO shaft, this can easily attach to any lawn tractor. You’ll find that at a little of 500 pounds it is quite robust. As such, you’ll need to back your tractor into in instead of bringing it to your tractor.
It has got ultra sharp reversible Y flails which are great for finish cutting grass and provides a better cut than some other options. We also like how easily these can be removed and sharpened. The access gate in the back of the machine lets you have easy access to the blades for any maintenance you may need to do.
If you happen to be working in rough conditions with a lot of ground cover and stones, this unit is up to the task. It’s got very thick 4mm steel wall plating that won’t let debris escape. This is perfect for work near roadways. Any small stones will hit the ground instead of flying into a windshield.
We were also pleased to note that it had a wide range of available cutting heights. The Farmer Helper 60″ Flail Mower 28HP FH-EF175 is adjustable between 0” and 6” for a perfect cut. Whether you want to take a little off the top or bring it down to the dirt, this mower can do it.
As with most flail mower, this has a reverse spin rotor. This allows the grass to be easily sheared off and thrown back over the drum for additional cutting. The roller wheel in the back also helps keep this unit low to the ground for even cuts. You won’t need to worry about scalping the lawn or excessive tearing of the grass. Plus, if you mow just right, you can get some stunning lawn striping going on.
Overall, the Farmer Helper 60″ Flail Mower 28HP FH-EF175 is a great entry level flail mower. It’s got the power, size and cost to make it a great choice. While you should avoid using it for heavy duty jobs, it can still man up if required. With sharp flails, a sturdy body and well designed roller, this is a home run.
- 68" cutting width
- Italian brand Comer heavy duty transmission
Moving up in power, we have the Nova Tractor 68″ Middle Duty Ditch Bank Flail Mower. With the ability to mow -60 degrees and +90 degrees of slope, it’s perfect for hills, banks, road and fence edges. It’s also rated for up to a 60HP tractor for some truly spectacular results. This medium duty flail mower can power through brush, weeds and saplings like they weren’t even there.
While it is powerful, it’s also very well designed. The unit comes with skid plates, guard flaps and push bars for enhanced usage. Plus, it has an extremely generous 43” hydraulic side shift mechanism. This let’s it get into tough spots while keeping your tractor safe. When combined with the heavy duty hammer flails, vertical drive system and an adjustable cutting height, it’s easy to see why we recommend this unit.
Once you get the crated Nova Tractor 68″ Middle Duty Ditch Bank Flail Mower in, you’ll need to spend a bit of time assembling it. Folks have found it takes right around 2 hours to get it up and running. That includes bolting on the side mounted skid plates, attaching the hoses, etc. You might run into some trouble with bolt holes aligning, but a quick drill or file should take care of those.
Once you’ve got it all together it’s nice to see how much thought was put into its design. Even the hydraulic hoses have nice mesh covers for added protection. You’ll also find debris flaps on the bottom of the flail mower to prevent any escaping rocks and help reduce the noise level. Furthermore, the unit is equipped with brush push bars to help push down bushes and saplings. This will prevent the mower from locking up or stalling out on larger items.
The included skid plates help to keep the mower a bit above ground level. Some users have complained they are not 100% effective, but most folks have had no issues with them. If you are worried, you can adjust the cutting height from .75” to 2.95” tall. This will give you a bit of wiggle room in getting your cut height just right.
Once attached via the included PTO (power take off) shaft, the Nova Tractor 68″ Middle Duty Ditch Bank Flail Mower shaft will spin at 2200 RPMs. The actual PTO shaft will only spin at 540 RPMs for a 4:1 transmission. This power transfer occurs in the vertical belt drive box. Inside 4 belts, the PTO shaft and some gears are paired up to spin the flail shaft.
If you’ve got a particularly difficult area you need to mow, this unit also offers a built-in hydraulic offset system. It can shift up to 43” to one side for superior cuts near fences, roadways and driveways. The included 28 forged steel hammer flails simply destroy vegetation and are very robust. While the cut isn’t quite as good as a Y-knife, they are still very effective.
When running at optimal speeds and RPMs you should expect to cut between 1.7 and 3.4 acres per hour. This makes the Nova Tractor 68″ Middle Duty Ditch Bank Flail Mower great for both small, medium and large areas of land. The powder coated steel frame is also very weather resistant and will handle the worst mother nature can throw at it. It’s extra large 68” cutting width means less passes and less time when cutting big fields or long roadways.
You’ll want to make sure your tractor is at least 45 to 60 HP to get the max performance out of this unit. The Italian brand Comer heavy duty transmission is certainly up to the task. Equally so, is the 5.3” diameter rear roller which is incredibly reliable and will last for years to come.
No matter your situation, the Nova Tractor 68″ Middle Duty Ditch Bank Flail Mower is a great general purpose flail mower. If you’ve got a tractor powerful enough, we highly recommend this model. While it isn’t quite as cheap as some of our other choices, it’s immense side shift and heavy duty build are worth the price.
#5 Farmer Helper Flail Mower 33″ 15HP FH-EF85 – Budget Flail Mower
- Standard 3-Pt Category I Hitch Mount
- 3-point connection has 2 right offset positions
Next up on our list we have the Farmer Helper 33” FH-EF85 which is a great budget flail mower. With a smaller working width, compact body and a lightweight frame, it is perfect for smaller areas and when storage space is at a premium. This is by far the most cost effective option on our list. If money and costs are your key concerns, this is the one to get.
Don’t be put off by its small size though, as it packs quite a punch. With 30 durable Y-blades and a robust cutting shaft it is most certainly up to the task. Plus, it comes with all the goodies and add-ons that you’ll need to get up and running. From the PTO shaft to every single cotter pin, you’ll be covered.
As a light duty weed and grass field mower, the Farmer Helper Flail Mower 33″ 15HP FH-EF85 is about as cost effective as it gets. With a 33” working width, it’s big enough to make small jobs go quickly, but not quite adequate for large areas. If you’ve got anything more than 5 acres, we’d suggest looking at 60”+ models.
This mounts with a standard 3 point category 1 connection and has two right offset positions. While the offset isn’t hydraulic like some of the more expensive options, it is available. It’ll just take a bit of manual labor to get everything set up. You’ll also have the option of adjusting the cutting height. The height can be changed anywhere from 0” to 6” depending on your preference and ground. If you’ve got bumpy, uneven ground you might want to take it up a few inches to play it safe.
One of the good things is this unit weight only 285 pounds. If your in good health and don’t mind blowing out your back, it’s possible to move it yourself or at least rotate it a bit. With any of the heavier units, this is downright impossible. We do want to note that this unit is not quick connect compatible. So if your tractor only has that connection, you’ll want to look at a different model.
Underneath the unit, you’ll find the flail shaft and the 30 individual y-flails. These are attached in overlapping positions to ensure maximum cutting power and no grass stragglers. There is also a handy rear gate to easily access them for maintenance it also doubles as a way to let debris out while cutting and help when you just want to inspect whatever it is you just hit.
These Y-blades are fully reversible and made from sharpenable hardened tool steel. If you want your blades to remain sharp after a mowing session, these are perfect for the job. You’ll also find this light duty flail mower comes with a shear bolt PTO shaft. This uses a standard 1-⅜” 6 spline PTO which is common on most mid and lightweight tractors.
Overall, the Farmer Helper Flail Mower 33″ 15HP FH-EF85 is a great budget flail mower and well worth the price. It’s not the biggest or the strongest one on the market, but it is well built and made to last. If you want something compact and cost efficient, this is a great choice.
#6 Nova Tractor ATV Pull Behind Flail Mower – Best ATV Flail Mower
- 57" cutting width
- 0.7 lbs forging flail hammer
Last up on our list is the stand-alone Nova Tractor ATV Pull Behind Flail Mower. This is the only option which doesn’t require a PTO connection. It’s a gas powered flail mower than can be used with a truck, ATV, or whatever wheeled vehicle you have. You’ll find it’s quite powerful and very reliable. Plus, without all the 3 point connection nonsense, it’s super easy to hook up.
With an impressive 57” working width, it’ll breeze through big and small yards alike. The Briggs & Stratton XR2100 engine also provides great power and can destroy grass, bushes and thick ground cover with ease. If you don’t have a dedicated larger lawn tractor, this’ll be what you want to get.
So you want a flail mower but don’t have a giant 45 HP tractor with a PTO connection. What are you to do? The answer is grab an ATV pull-behind flail mower. These can be used with nearly any vehicle that has a standard ball mount and are very easy to set up.
The Nova Tractor ATV Pull Behind Flail Mower weighs in at 580 pounds and is powered by a reliable 420cc Briggs & Stratton XR2100 electric start engine. With just a push of a button, you’ll be cutting grass in no time. The starter also include a manual choke to ensure power is even and won’t cut out when your starting it up.
One the engine is nice and warmed up, the three belt drive system and high performance clutch ensure nearly 100% of the power is transferred to the flail shaft. This system uses no-slip technology to prevent power loss and ensure a nice, even cut. At max speed, the flail shaft can turn up to 3200 RPMs which is perfect for dense pastures and tall grass.
The mowing height can be adjusted between ¾” and 2-¾” based on your preferences. Although before mowing, you’ll want to fill up all the grease connections, top off the oil and get some gas in the tank. This mower does not ship with any fluids due to shipping regulations.
Accessing all the various ports and opening is quite easy though. There is a handy rear gate which can be opened to access all the internals. It’s great for maintenance and to get access to the flails. Speaking of which, this unit ships with 32 forged hammer flails. All of which have a durable galvanized coating to prevent rust. Weighing in at .7 pounds each, they are super tough.
One of the great things about the Nova Tractor ATV Pull Behind Flail Mower is it has a fuel capacity of 1.725 gallons. At a standard fuel usage rate that’ll give you hours of mowing time so you don’t have to keep stopping and starting. When you throw in the powder coated frame and durable steel plating, It’s easy to see how this ATV flail mower will last a lifetime with proper maintenance.
Overall, this is the best ATV flail mower on the market. It’s cost effective, requires no PTO connection and can be used in a variety of settings. With ultra-durable components and a world class engine, there is no reason to consider another pull-behind flail mower when this one is an incredible offering.
If you’ve got rocks and debris or solar panels and fence lines, a flail mower is truly a time saver. With offset cutting, limited debris ejection and a clean finish cut, they are perfect for the job. Our top pick is by far the Titan 72″ 3-Point Flail Mower with Hydraulic Side Shift due to its working width, power and reliability. If instead you want a stand alone unit, the Nova Tractor ATV Pull Behind Flail Mower makes for a great choice as well. No matter which one you pick, your life is about to get easier and your mowing much more enjoyable.