What are the most skilled shovelers using today? No, we’re not talking about the underrated shoveler duck that we give a free pass over our decoys because they taste funny.
At DHF, we believe that every family should have an heirloom shovel and out of hundreds of standard shovels on the market, we managed to whittle down to a few final contenders.
As you know, duck hunters aren’t always sitting in cubicles for their day jobs. While conducting our research and testing, we wanted to ensure we catered to the outdoor professionals – landscapers, arborists, miners, and construction workers.
Really what we were looking for was the perfect balance amongst details like handle type, amount of lift, and gauge of steel.
Once you get out of the $15-or-so dollar range for the common shovel found in nearly every hardware store, you step into a whole new class of shovel.
One thing to realize is that outside of this price range, shovels become more like pro tools. They’re built more robustly than the generic shovel with enhancements to things like handles, handle-blade connection, and grade of steel.
Pro-grade shovels indeed have their differences. For instance, every one of the shovels that were tested have extremely strong handles, but they’re made of wood, steel, fiberglass, or some combination thereof.
Some blades are sharpened to a fine and delicate edge designed to cut roots like a knife, while others have a sturdy edge for chiseling work. Some have extra wide surface area to step on, while others were made to keep a low profile.
Lift, weight, and ergonomics play a huge part in deciding the perfect shovel as well.
Out of the dozens of shovels researched and the 10 tested, we’re going to give you our top 2 selections that are sure to last in your family for generations to come.
We settled on a draw between the two because one outranked every other competitor for overall utilitarian purpose and reliability, while the other, took the gold for an absurd amount of grit on the most demanding jobs.
Here’s what we’ve come up with:
This shovel might be the end all be all for the team at Duck Hunting Fanatics. Out of all the candidates, we found this shovel to be lighter, stronger, and more comfortable than any other model we’ve tested. It may just be the most thoroughly engineered and the best last shovel you’ll ever buy.
(and did we mention cheaper?)
This was the most efficient and effective pick for us and here’s why:
- Cost: $40 *approximately* at both Amazon and Walmart
- Weight: 4 ⅜ pounds
- Step: Wide
- Blade: 14-gauge
The Bully Tools 82515 has the ideal combination of material, form and function. This shovel could be listed at twice the price and still be considered a steal. What’s unique about the 82515 is the step.
Other shovels compared to the Bully have a step that is simply uncomfortable for the foot. The Bully offered optimal grip without creating an irritating pressure point on the ball of your foot after prolonged use.
A notable feature on this shovel is it’s superior blade. Unlike any of the others, the Bully has a creased blade that increases the blades stiffness while prying up rocks and roots.
Think of it kinda like corrugation turning floppy paper into stiff cardboard. The crease acts as a sense of reinforcement that makes an appreciable difference.
This is one of the most rugged shovels on the market. It’s the one you will want when facing the toughest digging jobs, but not necessarily one that you’d enjoy lugging around day to day.
Ultra heavy duty shovels like this are more of a specialized tool. It may not be needed inside your lettuce patch, but if you’re uprooting tree stumps and tireless amounts of shrubs, this is your weapon of choice.
Otherwise, it’s just a bit too much for our preference.
- Cost: $120
- Weight: Whopping 8 pounds
- Step: Wide & padded
- Blade: 12-gauge
This thing is built more like a backhoe and is designed for the most punishing jobs. Irrigators, orchardists, and farm workers listen up as this digging stick might tickle your fancy.
We loved this shovel because although made for Andre the Giant, it does have some pretty slick features and abilities.
We tried breaking this thing and simply couldn’t, let’s begin there. It has a handle that is about 20% beefier than the Bully we mentioned above.
The blade size is the same as the Bully’s, however it’s 12 gauge heat-treated steel might give it the upper hand on strength when it comes down to tackling tougher digs.
The Corona has 2 inches less lift than the other shovels tested. This means that when you’re digging out fence posts, excavating trees, or digging trenches, the handle stays pretty vertical when digging straight down.
One of our favorite features is the rubber footstep that comes bolted on to the steel blade. It proved to remain ultra comfortable throughout the entire job.
The steel handle is great too, though we found it to transfer a bit of vibration to the hands and shoulders. Not a huge deal, but causes additional fatigue over time.
Overall, this shovel is great, but we wouldn’t recommend it for everyday chores like scooping fill or manure into a wheelbarrow. There’s no sense in adding an additional 3-4 lbs to already tedious work.