Craftsman 6.5hp 21" Deck Rear Bag Mower (38866)

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I Actually Shopped....and Bought a Winner! Craftsman 6.5 hp Mower

Aug 3, 2003 (Updated Aug 22, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:6.5 HP Briggs and Stratton engine, more power!!!

Cons:Power switch a bit goofy.

The Bottom Line: Excellent at the price. Powerful and easy to use, a great buy at $299!


Usually, when it comes to buying a new "anything", I forget the reasons why I am buying it in the first place. Over the course of my life, I have become a "need" shopper, leaving the "want" part of shopping far away, in a previous life. We I shop and buy, it is because of need. In this case, I needed a new lawn mower!

A new lawn mower? My "not to old" Lawn Boy self-propelled bit the big one after about seven years. It's engine blew! It was over-rated anyway, as I bought the Lawn Boy on someone else's recommendation. I had bad lawn mowing karma with this monster from the beginning. With my previous model, about a twenty year old Snapper push mover, I had great success with it, in fact, the Snapper is still in my garage as my back-up. I would still be using it, but it is not self-propelled and it is a rear-bagger, both making life more difficult. However, it does have a Briggs and Stratton engine, which is why it is still running. Not sure what the Lawn Boy had, but it wasn't a Briggs! Still, this decision shows my mechanical genius as having great success with a Snapper model, I go out and buy a Lawn Boy. Go figure.

Here is a list of what I was looking for in a lawn mower.

1. Not a Lawn Boy model. I guess you cannot fool me twice. All other models are fair game in this quest.

2. Must be a Briggs and Stratton engine. While the headquarters of this company is only a few miles from my house and loyalty is important, they make a great small engine. In my survey, everyone except for the Lawn Boy geek, mentioned have to have a Briggs engine. Even a Honda affectionado mentioned Briggs makes a great, powerful, lasting engine.

3. Must be self-propelled. I'm a tweener! My lot is just big enough where I could justify a rider mower but I need to get some exercise. Plus, for some strange reason, I find walking behind a lawn mower theraputic. Call me strange.

4. Must be a four cycle engine. I hate mixing oil and gas for two cycle engines. I do that for my crappy Weed Eater accessories and I don't need a third gas can in my garage. I did that with the Lawn Boy. Two cycles seem noisier and smellier, too. I think that could be part of the problem with the Lawn Boy, the settling or mixing of oil with the gasoline.

5. Bagging is an option, not mandatory. I thought bagging the grass clippings was cool, until the second time. In Wisconsin, we have land fill and garbage limitations with clippings. You use more energy loading up your van/trailer and take the grass clippings to the land fill than other options.

5. Mulching is a good thing. Mower must mulch the grass clippings.

6. Powerful engine in case of long grass. I figured I needed 6 to 6.5 horsepower. The LawnBoy was less than that and I tried a 5 HP which was good, not the best.

7. A nice warranty, two years or more on the lawn mower.

This quest for a new lawn mower took over a year. Originally, last fall, I had my heart set on another Snapper but by the time the sales rolled around, the model I was looking at was gone, sold, all over town. This spring, I started to look again and one day, in May, I fell off my chair! Sears? A Craftsman? Having everything I wanted, at a great price? I always felt Sears Craftsman products were good, at a fair price, not spectactular, but this deal on this mower knocked my socks off.

This model had everything I was looking for, a 6.5 HP Briggs and Stratton engine, self-propelled, a rear-bagger option with mulcher, and a 21" deck for larger mowing "swipes". What floored me was the cost! Originally, the price was $399, same as a similar Snapper product, however, it was marked down to $329 with a $30 rebate, a $400 mower for $300! I was sold, I think........

Shopping was easy. This model was on sale at our local Sears Hardware store. I asked the salesperson about the mower, he could not believe the deal, either. I mentioned I had up to $500 to spend and I was waiting for the "upsell". That did not happen! He mentioned this was a great mower at a great price. I was sold. Here I am, two months later and my thoughts about the Craftsman mower?

1. Easy to assemble. It was put together, in the box! All we had to do is: take the mower out of the box, put up the handle bars, charge the battery, put in the oil and gas! That is truly it! Nothing more, except for reading the owner's manual!

2. Powerful! The engine gave me a ride for the first few times. 6.5 horses is plenty for the size of our yard and length of grass. The self-propelled front wheels work better than the back wheeled, in fact, the power actually digs up some turf! Never happened with the old mowers!

3. Starts easy! As a bonus, the Craftsman mower included a battery self starter. So far so good! One key crank, gets the motor going. I also use the "one-pull" method on ocassion, just to check the pull cord and starter.

4. Grass catcher, when needed, works and has a high capacity. I only used it once for practice to see if it did work, it does! Easy conversion from mulcher to rear bagger if need be.

5. Easy to maintain. Heavy duty steel is tough, speed and power set in factory, no need to "choke" engine.

6. Simply, a two year warranty. Good enough for me.

Negatives: There are a couple:
1. Too much plastic, seems that way, especially the self-propelled switch which gets a lot of use.

2. Engineering on the mower deck, seems to keep many of the clippings and needs to be clean often. Has nooks and crannys where clippings get caught.

3. Do you really need a key start for a simple lawn mower? A bit of over-kill but still, a nice free option.

When it comes to lawn mowers, shop early, list what you need in a mower. After a few months, I am pleased with this model of Sears Craftsman mower, plus saving $100 on sale is a good thing, too! There are my comments on my much "needed" lawn mower. Now, what did I want in a lawn mower? I suppose, a big honkin' John Deere rider, with fog lights, a trailer, an aerator, and power rake. You know, the one that costs the same as your second car!


Recommend this product? Yes

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