Fairly quiet from 50 feet away -- but you'll need ear protection up close. The Husqvarna 125BVx (*Est. $190) is identical to the 125B, except it adds a vacuum/mulching kit. In a leading test, the 125BVx matches the top-rated Stihl BG 55 in most ways -- including noise.
Both prove fairly quiet from 50 feet away, for a gas leaf blower anyway -- good for keeping your neighbors happy. But at the operator's ear level, both are among the loudest in the test. You'll need hearing protection, experts say.
However, owners don't complain about the noise. In fact, several users at Amazon.com say it's quieter than their old leaf blowers.
Little touches add up to great handling. Scads of thoughtful features make the Husqvarna 125B (and 125BVx) one of the best-handling handheld gas blowers in test after test.
It starts with the thick, rubberized handle, which is "very comfortable to hold," say testers at ThisOldHouse.com. At 9.4 pounds, the Husqvarna 125B's "light weight and good balance make it easy to handle," Popular Mechanics says -- although not quite as light as the 9-pound Stihl BG 55.
Another source awards the Husqvarna its highest possible score for handling ease. Like the top-rated Stihl BG 55, the Husqvarna 125B has a variable-speed trigger (so you can tread lightly around flowerpots, etc.) and a trigger lock (to give your trigger finger a break).
ThisOldHouse.com testers appreciate the adjustable blower nozzle, which you can lengthen or shorten to suit your height -- "a nice feature that should be standard on all blowers."
Finally, the slim housing "allows you to hold your arm at a natural position, rather than away from your body to accommodate a bulky housing," ThisOldHouse.com says -- as long as you're right-handed. If you hold the Husqvarna in your left hand, owners say your pants get sucked against the air intake and the engine races. The pants-sucking problem is a common one among handheld gas leaf blowers, but we found more complaints about it with the Husqvarna.
Great at leaf-blowing, but owners complain of breakdowns. Nobody complains about the Husqvarna's leaf-blowing prowess. It earns the highest possible scores for loosening embedded debris out of the lawn and sweeping piles of leaves in two top tests -- equaling the Stihl BG 55.
One rare feature that experts particularly like: The Husqvarna comes with two tube tips. The round one blows leaves out of corners or moves big piles, while the flat one pushes leaves across the yard or sweeps debris from pavement.
An Amazon.com user says he used to spend 25 minutes clearing leaves from his long, steep driveway -- but with the Husqvarna 125B, "now it takes 5 minutes flat."
Problem is, owners repeatedly report that the Husqvarna bogs, stalls or simply won't start after a while -- and Husqvarna won't cover the repairs under warranty, blaming the ethanol in gas for screwing up the fuel system. Another complaint that pops up fairly regularly: The pull cord stops retracting, making the Husqvarna impossible to start.
In tests, the Husqvarna 125B blows leaves and debris just as well as the best-reviewed handheld gas leaf blower, the Stihl BG 55 (*Est. $150). Effectiveness is not its problem. Unfortunately, we found plenty of complaints about fuel-system and recoil-starter problems, so it falls down to second-tier status. You're better off with the Stihl.
Report Credibility: Excellent Testers here rate 11 handheld gas leaf blowers, including the Husqvarna 125BVx. Each blower is graded on its noise level, handling and leaf-sweeping performance. Testers write individual reviews for each model, too. Twenty owners post their own feedback on the Husqvarna here, as well.
Review: Husqvarna 125BVx, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of October 2012
Report Credibility: Very Good Testers here like the Husqvarna 125B, awarding it 4.5 out of 5 stars -- just behind their favorite Stihl BG 55. They find the Husqvarna lightweight and very effective, with an included flat nozzle that helps blow debris from pavement. In fact, they don't find anything to dislike.
Review: Which Leaf Blower Is the Best? We Test 8 to Find Out, Roy Berendsohn, Not dated
3. This Old House
Report Credibility: Very Good ThisOldHouse.com tests 10 leaf blowers, including five handheld gas models. Testers find the Husqvarna 125BVx easy to start, hold and use, and they rate it "excellent" for blowing and "very good" for vacuuming. Still, its "small metal impeller blade didn't perform as well as bigger ones."
Review: TOH Tested: Leaf Blowers, Sal Vaglica, Not dated
Report Credibility: Good Most customers here rave about the Husqvarna 125B. With more than 670 reviews posted, almost nine out of 10 owners award it 4 or a perfect 5 stars. However, several complain that the carburetor or fuel lines went kaput and Husqvarna wouldn't fix them under warranty, blaming it on the ethanol in gasoline.
Review: Husqvarna 28cc 2-Cycle Heavy-Duty Gas Blower, Contributors to Lowes.com, As of October 2012
Report Credibility: Good The Husqvarna 125B averages 3.6 out of 5 stars in owner reviews here -- once again, with lots of complaints about fuel line and carburetor problems.
Review: Husqvarna 125B 28cc 2-Stroke 170-MPH Gas-Powered Handheld Gas Blower (CARB Compliant), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012