Wahl Lithium Ion Stainless Steel Groomer #9818
This sturdy steel-bodied tool is sharp, precise, powerful, and versatile. No cordless beard trimmer is perfect, but this is the only one our pro barber testers said they’d use in their shop.
The Wahl Lithium Ion+ Stainless Steel beard trimmer (#9818) has the power and versatility of a professional tool in a cordless body, with one of the fastest, most high-powered motors we’ve ever seen in a rechargeable beard trimmer. It was the clear favorite among the barbers who tested 13 of our top contenders, and the only rechargeable trimmer they said they would actually use in their barbershop. It has more attachments and clip-on guides than most of the models we tested, an unusually sturdy all-metal body, and a resilient battery that delivered more than five hours of continuous power in our endurance test—enough to last several weeks without charging, depending on how often you use it. Like most cordless trimmers, it has occasional issues with its electronics, but it has a five-year warranty, and Wahl is reliably responsive to complaints.
If you don’t mind a corded tool, the Wahl Peanut has cutting power that no cordless trimmer can match, with a durable, easy-to-maintain design that will last for years.
If you want a reliable tool that can cut thick hair down to a stubble—and you don’t mind wrangling a power cord—we recommend the Wahl Peanut. This inexpensive and powerful trimmer has been our corded pick for some time now, and the only reason it’s not this guide’s overall top pick is because most men (ourselves included) prefer cordless trimmers. The Peanut has stood up to plenty of newcomers and beat everything we tested it against in terms of cutting power, durability, and closeness of trim. It’s stronger than our cordless pick, yet it’s lighter, smaller, more maneuverable, and easier to maintain than other tank-like pro trimmers and clippers. We’re not bothered by the short one-year warranty because it’s built well enough to last for years—a claim backed up by user reviews that are noticeably more positive than on any cordless tools, our pick included.
After more than four years of work on this guide, we’re a bit wary of cheap beard trimmers, having found them to be unreliable in the long run. But if a low price is your highest priority, we like the power and versatility of the Philips Norelco Multigroom Series 3000 MG3750, one of the most popular, well-reviewed trimmers on Amazon. The drawbacks: It has a stamped steel blade, which isn’t as strong, durable, or sharp as the ground blades of our other picks. It doesn’t feel as nice as our pick’s steel body, and it shares the same issues with battery life and other electronics problems as all cordless trimmers. But on cutting performance, the MG3750 was the best under-$35 trimmer we tested, and compared to others in its price range, it removed the most hairs per pass without pulling any in the process. While we didn’t put a big emphasis on accessories, the seven rigid guide combs are a touch nicer and more versatile here than on our Wahl picks. There’s only a two-year warranty (our pick’s is five), and customer support seems less responsive to complaints here than on the Wahl.
Table of contents
Why you should trust us
Since the guide was first published in 2014, we’ve interviewed a number of experts: mostly professional barbers, but also some product managers and everyday beard wearers. In 2017 we conducted new testing and interviewed a new round of experts, including:
- Jeff Bovee, senior product manager at Wahl
- Brett Rappaport, consumer marketing manager of male grooming at Philips Norelco
- William Cabrera Jr., owner of Billy’s Barber Shop in Lowell, Massachusetts
- Joe and Anthony Berriola of Razor’s Barbershop in Somerville, Massachusetts
The pros at Razor’s helped us conduct fresh testing, which we compared to our test results from hands-on barbershop tests from 2014.
On a personal note, at least three of the people who have worked on this guide for the past four years have thick beards and have owned dozens of trimmers throughout their adult lives.
Who is this for?
There are plenty of ways to shave, trim, or cut your beard. This guide focuses on corded and battery-powered beard trimmers designed to shape, angle, cut, or trim facial hair. If you’re looking for an electric razor, we have a guide for that. If you’re in the market for hair clippers, we have a guide for those, too. If you’re more old school and prefer a manual razor, we’ve got you covered.
Still, there’s a confusing array of devices designed specifically for cutting and trimming beards: those with all-in-one, adjustable guide combs, and those with clip-on guide combs; those with rechargeable batteries, and those with power cords; those with T-shaped blades for shaping and grooming, and those with precision-length combs meant for cutting hair at a uniform length. Each of these styles has its pros and cons. Our intent was to find the trimmers that could handle as many of these tasks as possible, as deftly as possible, and at a reasonable price.
How we picked
In searching for the best beard trimmers, we looked for devices that delivered the following criteria:
Tough motor. We wanted a tool with enough oomph to cut through the coarsest hair without pulling.
Ground (not stamped) blades. A blade that’s been ground from hard steel has finer, more numerous teeth (and will actually feel sharper on your finger) than one made of stamped steel, which is pressed from a mold, not sharpened as precisely, and not likely to hold its edge as well. As Wahl product manager Jeff Bovee said, “A better trimmer is going to have precision-ground teeth.” We sought a trimmer with a ground blade, which isn’t easy to identify from the packaging or specs. (A blade that’s stamped will often have rounded edges and feel blunt to the touch.)
Tight spacing of cutting teeth. A good indicator of quality is the difference in length between the top and bottom blades. According to Joe Berriola of Razor’s Barbershop in Somerville, Massachusetts, there should be as small a gap as possible between the height of the top blade’s teeth and the height of the bottom teeth. You shouldn’t be able to fit more than a fingernail in that gap. This is by no means a foolproof test, but it does demonstrate more precise, detailed manufacturing. Cheaper trimmers will have thinner blades with fewer teeth that are both shorter and more widely gapped. We slightly preferred T-shaped blades, as they’re more equipped to handle shaping and detailing without compromising on power.
Slim, robust design: We like trimmers that are slender in shape but also durable enough to last years without breaking if dropped. A slim design offers more visibility in front of a mirror and allows you to better monitor where you’re cutting your beard, but you still want a balance. Clippers and all-in-one hair cutting tools are too bulky for trimming and shaping, but tiny trimmers are often too weak and cheaply built to deliver enough juice to the blade. As Bovee explains, with “a smaller-bodied haircutting device you’re going to get a shorter stroke, but with that shorter stroke you’re going to want to have more teeth.”
Rigid fixed-length guide combs. Joe and Anthony Berriola of Razor’s Barbershop favored trimmers with exposed blades and stiff, inflexible, fixed-length clip-on guide combs, or guards. As Paul Huxtable of Victory Barber & Brand explained back in 2014, the point of a beard guard is to pull each hair taut so that the trimmer can cut it to a uniform length. If the guard is too flexible, “there’s just not enough tension on the hair,” he said, “so it looks like rats chewed your face.” Adjustable guards that stay attached to the trimmer tend to have that flexibility Huxtable and the Berriolas avoid. On the other hand, Jeff Bovee told us he actually prefers adjustable-length trimmer guards because he doesn’t like to constantly have to switch between clip-on guides. In general, clip-on guards work better for big, thick beards, while adjustable guides are better for shorter, finer beards. We preferred the clip-on style for its better versatility (but didn’t rule out adjustable styles) and we set a minimum at four length options for the tools we considered.
Ability to shave with no guard. Beard trimmers are not meant to replace an electric shaver or razor blade for close shaving, but some men like the stubble that beard trimmers deliver. We wanted a tool that could at least approximate a shave, cutting the hair as close as possible without nicking hairs or agitating the skin.
Powerful battery (for a cordless tool): A major reason we moved away from our former pick was a battery that proved unreliable in the long term. We looked for a lithium-ion replacement, leaning on user reviews to help guide us toward batteries that seemed dependable. We leaned toward li-ion (instead of the main alternate, nickel-metal hydride or NiMh), because li-ion can generally charge faster and hold a charge better if the trimmer goes a long time between uses. We prioritized steady power over speedy charge times and wanted an LED indicator to show when it’s near depletion or when it’s plugged in and charging.
A pliable, long wire (for a corded tool): Corded trimmers are much more powerful and reliable than cordless, although they’re less convenient and less popular1. We looked for cords that were both long (at least five feet in length) and flexible for easy maneuvering and storage.
A good value. Cheaper trimmers tend to have cheaper batteries and less powerful motors that pull hair and leave visible stragglers. These are fine if you’re new to beard grooming, but you’ll soon find that the entry-level devices prove frustrating in the long run—and, not to mention, they generally don’t last as long. We wanted to recommend a tool that would last, and we found the sweet spot in terms of price was anywhere between $45 and $70. That’s not a guarantee of long-term quality or reliability, but our research and reviews suggested you’d be placing a better bet than with trimmers at $35 or less. We cut things that cost more than about $75; given the quality of what was available for less, it didn’t seem necessary to pay that much.
Grooming accessories: The trimmer is priority number one, but scissors, brushes, combs, and blade oil certainly makes a middling device look more attractive. We didn’t dismiss any trimmer for not having these things, but we were definitely impressed with how thoroughly some trimmers complete the “hair-cutting kit.”
When examining these criteria, a lot of the attributes—cutting power, blade quality and sharpness, trimming versatility, battery life—proved impossible to identify from specs or packaging alone. And for all the distinguishing features that a trimmer might have—things like blade size and shape, adjustable guide combs, and rechargeable batteries—there are undoubtedly going to be folks who have different opinions about what’s best. Other qualities like weight, balance, hand-feel, and button design also warrant hands-on testing to fairly measure. This opened up our pool of candidates and forced us to rely on user reviews, popularity, price, availability, warranty, and personal recommendations to draft a spreadsheet of more than 30 beard trimmers for this guide’s 2017 version.
We eliminated any trimmer with an overall rating of less than 3½ stars out of five, any trimmer with an abnormal number of user complaints (especially about build quality, battery reliability, or blades that pulled hair or jammed). Some finalists we discarded were rebranded versions of other gear in our pool; some were products from a single manufacturer with redundant features; and others just seemed kind of cheap or gimmicky. Beyond that, a combination of popularity, availability, and warranty allowed us to winnow the list of models down to 17 that we wanted to test ourselves.
How we tested
As with past versions of the guide, we solicited the help of a local barber shop to help test out the contenders. This year we worked with Joe and Anthony Berriola of Razor’s Barbershop, a popular Boston-area shop that specializes in beard care and shaves. Before leaving the full shipment of beard trimmers with them for hands-on testing, we looked at all 17 of the contenders and dismissed a few for being too expensive, too bizarrely designed, or too specialized for most people. There were also a couple of trimmers we dismissed because one or two among us had owned them in the past and had few nice things to say about them. Joe and Anthony were kind enough to test all 13 of our top contenders.
Over the course of one week, Joe and Anthony used the trimmers on their customers’ beards and heads, looking first and foremost for trimmers that could cut through hair with adequate power and without pulling any hair. They also looked for trimmers with sharp blades, an even balance, a slim body, and versatility for cutting different lengths of hair, including whether or not it could approximate a shave. The goal was to find the trimmers that would work best for most men in an at-home environment while relying on the experience and expertise of pros to identify any potential problems. They took notes, ranked the quality and features of each trimmer, and winnowed the pool down to a few of their favorites. To assist them, I had Joe and Anthony answer and take notes on the following questions:
- How much hair could each trimmer remove in a single pass? How many passes did it take to remove all of the hair in the test area?
- How close did each trimmer trim?
- Are the trimmers easy to use in hard-to-reach areas like under the nose?
- How clean were the lines the trimmer made?
- Did the trimmer’s blades catch more hairs than it cut?
- Could you use the trimmer to approximate a shave in a pinch?
- How many attachments or beard guides does the trimmer come with, and are the attachments useful?
- Are any interchangeable heads easy to swap out?
- Can the blade produce a long, well-defined trimmed edge to a beard?
- Is the blade width short enough to detail a mustache and under the lip?
- Can you easily get a single stray hair with it?
- Is it comfortable to use and hold?
- Does it require oil? Do you need tools to open it up for regular cleaning and maintenance?
A week later, I returned to the shop and had my beard trimmed with Joe and Anthony’s favorite, looking out for any pinching or pulling the thing might cause. I then took all the trimmers back and spent a few days tinkering with the top picks, noting any final design, performance, or reliability issues they might have posed.
Our pick: Wahl Lithium Ion+ Stainless Steel (#9818)
Wahl Lithium Ion Stainless Steel Groomer #9818
This sturdy steel-bodied tool is sharp, precise, powerful, and versatile. No cordless beard trimmer is perfect, but this is the only one our pro barber testers said they’d use in their shop.
The Wahl Lithium Ion+ Stainless Steel (#9818) beard trimmer offers the best balance of power, sharpness, precision, and handfeel of all the cordless trimmers we tested—and it’s the only cordless model that the barbers who performed our tests said they would use in their shop on their own customers.
The motor and blade are powerful and sharp enough to approximate a shave or to cut through thick, fully-grown beards with ease, but it’s also slim enough for grooming and precision detailing. In all our tests the trimmer pulled only a few hairs—fewer than any other cordless model. With a stainless steel exterior, it has the strongest, most durable body of all the trimmers we tested, and it has more clip-on guide combs, hair cutting accessories, and supplementary blades than all but one. The battery is advertised to last an average of four hours on a single charge, but our tests showed it lasting even longer with virtually no signs of power fade; most online user reviews seem to corroborate the trimmer’s long-term reliability. It also includes a charging LED to let you know when it needs a charge and when the charge is complete, and it comes packed with a few useful accessories: a beard comb, a small cleaning brush, and oil for lubricating the blade (which is recommended every month or so).
The ground steel teeth of the Wahl 9818 cut with more power—and less hair-pulling—than any other cordless tool we tested.
With a ground T-shaped detailing blade, the Lithium Ion+ (9818) is ideal for shaping and grooming beards, but it’s also powerful enough for shaving or removing beards altogether (though no beard trimmer will get as close as a manual razor or electric shaver). This was far and away Joe and Anthony’s favorite cordless trimmer. In testing, they gave it their highest scores (5 out of 5 points) for how much hair it could remove in a single pass and how close the trim came to the skin. They also praised the Lithium Ion+ for leaving clean, detailed lines. When I had my beard trimmed with the 9818 I didn’t feel a single pulled hair, and in the weeks after it pulled maybe three or four—more a testament to my thick beard than anything else. This thing is just good at cutting, and you can tell from looking at the blades. Using the fingernail test, we could just barely fit our fingernail between the top and bottom blades, which suggests you’re going to have very precise, very close cutting performance. Barber Joe Berriola was pretty blunt in his fondness for the Wahl 9818, telling us it’s “almost as good as our professional trimmers.”
With a stainless steel exterior, the Lithium Ion+ 9818 has the strongest, most durable body of all the trimmers we tested. No other trimmer we looked at was made from stainless steel, which has the added benefit of preventing hairs from sticking to it, a problem in plastic trimmers with rubberized grips (like our former pick). It weighs a bit more than most trimmers of its size and shape (a bit less than a pound), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That dense-but-slim handfeel ensures a comfortable and secure grip for precise detailing and trimming—another reason this is ideal for grooming. Joe and Anthony both agreed that they enjoyed the weight and feel of the Wahl 9818 more than the others, even if the steel proves a bit slippery in humid environments (like a bathroom after a shower).
Barber Joe Berriola was pretty blunt in his fondness for the Wahl 9818, telling us it’s “almost as good as our professional trimmers.”
In our several weeks of testing and living with the 9818, we did not have to charge its battery more than once. The 9818 is advertised to last four hours on a single charge, but in our endurance test, it lasted a whopping five hours and 19 minutes on a full charge and only showed signs of power fade within the last few minutes when the LED was blinking. This light also shines when plugged into the wall to let you know it’s charging—or, at least, it’s supposed to. The 9818 also has a one-minute “quick charge” that delivers three minutes of continued use, which is something we found in only a few other trimmers.
There are more total accessories included with the 9818 than almost any other cordless tool we tried (the quality of them individually is not amazing).
The Lithium Ion+ Stainless Steel comes with 11 guide combs, as well as a detail trimmer, a detail shaver, and a rotary nose hair trimmer. Their quality is not amazing, but that’s more total accessories than you get with all but one of the cordless trimmers we considered. Combined with the T-shaped blade, it’s plenty of versatility for just about any beard trimming or grooming needs.
Wahl offers a five-year full warranty on most of its trimmers (including this one), which is longer than any other warranty we’ve seen from other manufacturers. This should help allay any fears you might have about the price or the chance you’ll get a lemon. Most user reviews seem to suggest the 9818 will last well into the warranty period. Some verified purchase reviews claim they’ve gotten months of use out of a single charge, while others claim they’ve had the thing for more than three years with no problems to speak of.
Some of our staff members own the 9818—we learned after independent testing that several staff members have owned this model for years—and they agreed they’d recommend it as a strong long-term performer and a better overall value than the cheaper trimmers they’ve owned in the past. Everyone agrees the tool is not perfect, but in one example, it has lasted through regular weekly use on a thick beard through five years (and counting) with minimal maintenance.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Negative reviews of the 9818 make up between 15 and 20 percent of its total, which is slightly higher than average for cordless trimmers (and much higher than what you’ll find on our corded pick). They mention problems common throughout this category, including issues with charging, defective on/off switches, occasional broken parts, and some faulty units. The good news is Wahl responds consistently with contact and warranty info. These problems are so repetitive among so many tools we considered that this quality of customer service (on the 9818 model in particular) really sets it apart from competitors.
Our personal experience with the 9818 backs up some aspects of the negative reviews. While our battery tests showed the 9818 can last well over five hours on a single charge, our long-term experience with it (among models owned by staff members) has been a bit more temperamental. The smart LED is designed to blink when the battery is nearing depletion and to light up when charging, but sometimes it doesn’t light up, and it can be difficult to tell whether you are getting a charge at all. The on/off switch can feel mushy, as can the connection with the charge cord. With this and other trimmers, it seems the electronics are more prone to failure than the mechanical parts.
The 9818 doesn’t run while plugged in to an outlet, meaning if the battery if fully dead, you’ll have to wait a few minutes to get a decent charge. This is a pretty common feature among rechargeable beard trimmers, but one which we’ve found to be a bit annoying when you’re out of juice.
We would have appreciated the clip-on guides to be a bit more rigid in their construction. These things are pretty standard (and usually lame) from trimmer to trimmer, so this is not a flaw unique to this Wahl. They’re a problem because flimsy guide combs tend to cause pulling and pinching because they’re not able to pull your hair taut.
The 9818’s flimsy guide combs would cut better if they were rigid enough to pull hair taut.
Some folks may have preferred a textured or rubberized grip to make it easier to hold the trimmer in place in a slippery, humid bathroom. We think the considerable weight of the 9818 makes up for the lack of a grip, but it’s certainly true that the slick stainless steel body could slip in your hand if you have butterfingers. We feel the tradeoff of the less grippy surface is worth it, as it makes this tool far easier to clean of hair shavings after each use.
The 9818 is a bit pricey, usually found for around $60. That’s not outrageously expensive, but if you’re new to the world of beard care, it may seem a bit steep. We think it makes more sense to spend a bit more on something that will last you a long time, and Wahl’s 5-year warranty is certainly reassuring. For example, our old pick, the Wahl Lithium Ion #9854, cost far less upfront, but its strong performance in our initial tests didn’t continue long-term, with many folks who bought the 9854 eventually finding problems with power fading, short battery life, and weak motor performance. It made us rethink our entire approach to price versus value in a beard trimmer.
Also great: Wahl Peanut
If you don’t mind a corded tool, the Wahl Peanut has cutting power that no cordless trimmer can match, with a durable, easy-to-maintain design that will last for years.
If you have a thick, coarse beard and find battery-powered trimmers to be too weak, you’ll want the Wahl Peanut. It’s more powerful than any of the cordless trimmers we tested, on par with professional corded tools. But unlike the typical tank-like professional corded trimmer, this has a slim design, making it more practical for home use and precision grooming. After years of testing and living with this tool, we can also say with confidence that it is among the most durable trimmers we’ve ever found. The main reason this is not our pick is that most people prefer cordless beard trimmers.
This has been our favorite corded trimmer since we first published the guide back in 2013, and our latest round of testing only confirms what a great option it is. Of the four finalists we asked barbers to test in 2014, the Peanut did the best job of removing the largest amount of beard hair in one pass, and it also managed to remove the stubble that all three of our battery-powered finalists left behind. In our most recent tests at Razor’s Barbershop in Boston, it performed just as well, with Joe and Anthony giving it the nod as their overall favorite corded trimmer. “It’s got a small head that makes it easy to get into small areas,” Anthony said, adding that it’s particularly useful on close beards, thanks to the slim but sharp blade.
At 4 ounces in weight and 4 inches in length, the Peanut is easy to maneuver on detailed work.
Weighing 4 ounces and measuring only 4 inches in length, the Peanut is easy to hold and maneuver around your face, even with a 7-foot-long cord attached to it. Compact, solid, and heavy for its diminutive size, this model’s motor speed alone sets it apart from any other battery-powered trimmers we tested. “A battery is never going to be quite as powerful as you want it to be,” said Paul Huxtable. “Any time I’ve used any home models, the battery-powered ones haven’t been as strong as one with a cord.”
Compared to other corded trimmers, we picked the Peanut because it’s more affordable, simpler to use, and easier to maintain. It has only one switch, which turns the device on or off, and that switch feels as sturdy and high-quality as the rest of the machine. Underneath the Peanut’s shell (sorry) is a powerful single-speed rotary motor that pairs nicely with the trimmer’s stainless-steel blades to cut through any type of hair. In his test notes on the Peanut, Anthony pointed out that the blade gets “close enough for people to be comfortable to not have to shave with a razor.” Clip-on guards simply pop on or off the Peanut; other corded tools require a screwdriver to make these adjustments.
Most people who buy a Wahl Peanut seem very satisfied with it. On Amazon, the Peanut currently has a 4½-star overall rating (out of five) across 1,200+ reviews, with 73 percent of those awarding it five stars. One Amazon customer, RibsBrisket4me, bought his Peanut in 2007 and used it for seven years (updating his review along the way) until finally buying a new blade for it in August of 2014. Another commenter in the same thread said he’d had his Peanut for 15 years.
Wahl covers the Peanut with a one-year warranty. Chances are, you won’t need it. If you break any of the Peanut’s accessories or require a new blade, replacement parts are readily available. There are a handful of negative reviews (a far lower percentage of the total than our other picks, or most any other beard trimmers anywhere) and they don’t really show any kinds of troubling patterns.
One drawback of the Peanut is its lack of beard-guide options.
The Peanut comes with only four different beard guides (3.0 millimeters, 3.8 mm, 6 mm, and 13 mm). Paul Huxtable and Ian Smith said the Peanut’s beard guards were sturdier plastic than some competitors’, but both barbers noted that the single clip that attaches a guide to the back of the trimmer can pop off midway through a trim if the guide isn’t correctly locked in place.
Budget pick: Philips Norelco Multigroom Series 3000 MG3750
If you’re in the market for something inexpensive and effective (but mostly just inexpensive), we think the Philips Norelco Multigroom Series 3000 MG3750 is the best bang for your buck. It performed well enough in our most recent hands-on tests, but, more importantly, it performed better than any other trimmer in its price range ($20-$35). For the money, it’s about as good as you can expect. It has a surprisingly fast and powerful motor that proved more than capable in all of our hair trimming tests, and it comes packed with seven sturdy guide combs. It has a slim, lightweight design that ensures plenty of dexterity for detailing and shaping, with a good grip that feels more secure than most trimmers its size. It also has one of the highest average ratings on Amazon.
The MG3750 fared pretty well in our hair cutting tests. Joe and Anthony gave it a slightly-above-average score (3 out of 5) on measurements of how much hair it could remove in a single pass and for how close each trim could get to the skin. They also commended the MG3750 for not pulling or catching too many hairs; while it certainly did catch a few, it did far better than the other budget options. In comparison, these were still the highest scores for a trimmer that costs less than $35. The MG3750 was the only budget option that did not require multiple passes to trim all the beard hair in a given stroke, and it delivered a closer shave than all others in its price range. There was one Philips Norelco model (the Multigroom 5100) that received pretty much the same performance scores, but it cost $15 more.
Compared to our pick, the Wahl 9818, you’re likely to get more hair pulling with the MG3750. The steel is stamped here (our pick’s is a ground T-blade), which also means you may have a bit more difficulty detailing your beard. Physically, the blade feels duller than the Wahl 9818, and it’s not going to get any sharper with age, so you should expect more hair-pulling and stragglers in time. Given our long term experience with cheaper trimmers in the past, we would expect to see signs of power fade, slower motor speeds, or shorter battery life after a while.
While Joe and Anthony were hesitant to recommend using the MG3750 to approximate a shave in a pinch, some online user reviews claim to have done just that without problem. It’s certainly powerful enough to cut through most beard hair—as mentioned, it could trim/remove all the hair in a single pass—but it’s not going to get closer than a thick stubble, which is still fine for a lot of people. Just turning it on and listening, you might be surprised by how fast the motor is. We compared the noise of the motor to that of similarly priced trimmers and there was an obvious difference. Of course, this is not a foolproof measure of sharpness or cutting potential, but it’s definitely an indicator of quality.
We didn’t put a huge emphasis on accessories, but the Multigroom 3000’s were among the best we saw.
The Multigroom 3000 comes with seven guide combs that were probably the most sturdy clip-on combs we found in all our hands-on tests, including more expensive models. That’s a good sign the trimmer won’t pull a lot of hair and that it will cut at a fairly uniform length. The MG3750 also includes a nose and ear hair trimmer and a metal detailer blade, both of which have to be manually screwed into the attachment head. All this adds up to a surprisingly versatile trimmer for such a cheap asking price.
We liked the MG3750’s size and shape, as it’s the slimmest, most lightweight trimmer we tested in our most recent round of tests (by a narrow margin). Joe and Anthony both commented that it was extremely comfortable to hold and offered a good grip for detailing and trimming. The slim body also makes it easy to see where the blade is cutting when watching its edge a mirror; bulkier tools can be harder to watch as closely.
The rigid guide combs on the Multigroom 3000 were better than the flimsier ones on our pick—these clipped on securely and pulled hair taut for a clean cut without tugging.
The Multigroom 3000 MG3750 is one of the most popular and best-selling trimmers we’ve found, with consistently positive users reviews on both Amazon and Target. At the time of this writing, the MG3750 had an average score of 4.4 stars (out of 5) on Amazon, spanning more than 1,200 reviews. Of those reviews, 85 percent were 4 stars or higher. On the flip side, it has its share of negative reviews (for the usual reasons, like defective batteries and on/off switch issues), and unlike the Wahl 9818, reviewers rarely hear back from manufacturer after a complaint.
While we think this trimmer will serve its purpose for some people, it is not the high-performance tool you’d expect to find in a barbershop. If you’ve tried cordless trimmers in the past and felt you needed something with more power—or if you just want a tougher, more resilient tool that you can expect to last for many years—we recommend going with one of our other picks.
The 2017 competition
Wahl Lithium Ion All In One Grooming Kit #9854: This was our previous top pick. It’s a decent cheap trimmer, but our experience with it is a major reason we think you should spend a bit more to get something that will last longer and remain more satisfying. Between those of us on staff and commenters who bought it, the trend was clear: It is not reliable as time passes; the battery gets flaky, its performance diminishes, and it begins to pull hair. Our new pick (the 9818) rectifies all of those ills in that it is sturdier, sharper, more powerful, and more reliable. The new budget pick, in comparison to this Wahl, has better attachments and a better price.
Wahl Power Pro Corded Grooming Kit #9686: If you’re looking for a corded trimmer that’s a bit cheaper than the Wahl Peanut, this is an excellent pick. While Joe and Anthony found it to be just about equally as sharp and powerful as the Peanut, capable of mowing through thick beard hair with ease, we’re not convinced it will prove as resilient or dependable. It’s just too new and not as widely reviewed to make the leap in front of the Peanut. We also prefer the slim, peanut-shaped design of the Peanut over the candy-bar shape of the Power Pro.
Wahl T-Styler Pro Corded Trimmer: This is virtually identical to the Power Pro, such that Joe and Anthony gave it all the same scores. It just has a wider T-shaped blade; beyond that, all the same pros and cons apply. Its price was also the same as the Power Pro during our research.
Wahl Lithium Ion Slate Stainless Steel Trimmer #9864: This is just a pricier version of the Wahl #9818 (our current top pick). We did not test it, but we expect it works every bit as well as the 9818. The only difference is that the 9864 comes with a full-size dual foil shaver, which we didn’t think justified the extra $20. (But maybe you want the added versatility of a trimmer-shaver combo.) One endorsement in its favor: this was a unit Wahl offered to send to one negative reviewer who had issues with several 9818 models.
Remington PG6025 All-in-1 Lithium Powered Grooming Kit: The PG6025 is a very popular model that costs as much as our budget pick but doesn’t perform quite as well. Joe and Anthony gave it slightly lower scores in terms of how close it could cut. The motor is also slightly weaker and the attachments more flimsy.
Remington PG6171 The Crafter: Beard Boss Style and Detail Kit: The PG6171 has a nice shape to it that allows for precision cutting, but we don’t think the so-so cutting power warrants the price. It showed just middling performance, but it costs as much as more high-end trimmers. It has a dual-speed motor, which is unique but kind of silly when you think about it. As Joe pointed out, why wouldn’t you just max out the power every time? What situation would there be where you would require less hair cutting power?
Remington MB4045B The Beardsman Beard Boss Full Beard Kit: Another popular model, the MB4045B features an adjustable guide comb with nine length settings and a flip-out detailing blade. Joe and Anthony were not fans, however, docking the trimmer for requiring several passes to remove all the hair in a path. They also didn’t like its bulky shape.
Panasonic ER-GB60-K: This is our old runner-up pick. It’s a very powerful, very versatile beard trimmer with a whopping 39 length settings. It’s easy to clean and well designed with a comfortable hold. But does anyone really need that many length settings? In our tests it seemed to pull too many hairs for comfort, and the price, which has fluctuated greatly since we first recommended it, has averaged between $60 and $70—way too much given the performance flaws.
Braun BT5070 Beard Trimmer for Men, Cordless & Rechargeable: Another trimmer with an adjustable guide comb, the Braun BT5070 barely squeaked into our list of contenders. It has so-so user reviews and an odd design. Joe and Anthony were similarly mystified by it, most of all because of the odd placement of the length selector for the guide comb. This is an okay trimmer for certain beard lengths, but there’s no versatility for detailing of grooming.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the Walker and Company Bevel Trimmer over the past few years. We were finally able to get our hands on one. Its heavy metal and rubber chassis feels solid and expensive (which it is—$200, to be precise). It comes with a replaceable lithium-ion battery that provides four to five hours of power. If you happen to run out of juice, the trimmer can run while it’s plugged into the wall and charging, too. It’s one of the most powerful battery-powered trimmers we’ve tested since we began curating this guide. Its stamped steel blades, which are covered in a proprietary oil and dirt-repellent coating, seem incredibly sharp, replaceable, and easy to clean. I had no trouble trimming, touching up, or completely cutting off my beard with the Bevel. In two months of testing it, I’ve yet to feel a single tug at my beard. But there are a few things that keep us from recommending it. First, at close to $200, the Bevel is significantly more expensive than any of our picks. Its performance is admirable, but not so much that we can look past the trimmer’s high cost. Second, the Bevel currently doesn’t come with an option to attach a beard guide, which is essential for many people. Finally, when we showed the Bevel to Joe and Anthony, they were certainly impressed by the cutting power but found the design had a strange, unintuitive feel. For example, the rubber grip that covers half the unit is located on the opposite side that people tend to grab when holding onto a beard trimmer. The power-on button was also in an odd location. The whole thing felt like an exercise in form over function.
We also checked out a few pro-style trimmers from Wahl: the Wahl Chrome Pro Complete Haircutting Kit (corded), the Wahl Elite Pro High Performance Haircut Kit #79602 (corded), and the Wahl Lithium Ion Clipper (cordless). While we found each of these models worked well for balding and other general haircutting duties, the wide, sharp blades were simply too large to trim facial hair effectively. And while the Lithium Ion Pro comes in a kit that includes a smaller, more nimble touch-up trimmer, we found that it often tugged at facial hair instead of trimming, and the fact that the smaller trimmer required AA batteries was a big turn-off.
The Brio Beardscape was “not able to produce a clean cut,” according to Anthony, and since our tests it has become unavailable.
The older competition
The Wahl Lithium Ion Total Beard costs about the same as our main Wahl pick and includes a similar battery, blades, and accessories, but it was once recalled for problems with its battery and is not as popular or easy to find as our pick.
The Panasonic EG-GB60-K was a former also-great pick in this guide, but it doesn’t make sense as a recommendation today, as it costs about the same as our Wahl pick and doesn’t offer equal performance. The Panasonic ER-GB80-S, a similar tool at a higher price than the former pick, comes with a body-hair grooming guide and a built-in detailing blade for cleaning up difficult areas such as along the lip line. Given that the ER-GB80-S costs considerably more than the ER-GB60-K, we can’t recommend it.
We can’t recommend the Wahl Beard & Body. Like our main pick, the Beard & Body comes with a wide variety of attachments, including a foil shaver head (which provides a terrible shave), four beard guides, and eight hair-clipper guides (which feel weaker than those that come with the picks).
The Andis T-Outliner is a corded, professional-grade trimmer that’s built like a tank. But in order to clean and oil it, which you should do frequently, you need to use a screwdriver to take it apart. In addition, its thick, sharp, and strong blades sometimes need adjusting—and that also requires opening the toolbox. It works well, but it’s too much trouble for home use.
We dismissed the Wahl Lithium Ion Beard & Stubble for having a built-in adjustable guard that isn’t as versatile as a clip-on style.
In 2014, we tested these by Philips Norelco: the QT4070/41 BeardTrimmer 7300 (which comes with a built-in vacuum), the QG3330/60 Multigroom 3100, and the QG3364/42 Multigroom 5100. They all failed to impress our barbers, with cheap beard guides, a stiff click wheel mechanism, and other minor issues.
Paul Huxtable and Ian Smith liked the Remington MB4040’s blades, as they proved strong, sharp, and easy to clean and oil. But the Remington’s guard was too flimsy and poorly designed.
The Conair for Men i-Stubble features a floating trimmer head that moves as you run it over the contours of your face. An interesting idea, and one our 2014 barber testers found acceptable, although they said the guide itself felt flimsy. At this point, we feel our pick offers much more versatility with the removable guide heads.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)
1. We had long suspected cordless tools were more popular and recently confirmed it with representatives at both Wahl and Philips Norelco. Jump back.