The iconic Oster hair clippers brand has been ubiquitous in my life. My father was a barber and used an Oster Classic 76 as his primary clippers for as long as I can remember. And, I do the same.
The difference between then and now, though is that there are some clippers out that do beat the power and precision of the Oster Classic 76.
When my father was a barber, when you wanted the best professional barber clipper, it was going to be the Oster Classic 76. These days I have been led astray by some others, and notably, they have even been made by Oster, to better serve the needs of the modern barber.
What makes me think that Oster makes the best professional hair clippers for barbers? Well, this entire article is about the different Oster hair clippers models and what makes them an excellent choice for the professional or home haircutter. If you don’t want to read the full reviews about these Oster clippers, then check out the comparison table below to see how each Oster clippers model compares.
- Oster Classic 76
Universal Rotary Motor, Detachable Blades, Quiet
- Great For:
New or veteran barbers who need a reliable clipper
- Motor Power:
- Oster Model 10
Lighter, Rotary Motor, Detachable blades
- Great For:
When you need something lighter and smaller than the 76
- Motor Power:
- Oster Octane Cordless Clippers
Long Lasting Charge, Powerful, Lightweight
- Great For:
Professionals who want the same power as a corded clipper
- Motor Power:
- Oster Outlaw Clippers
Small, Lightweight, Professional Grade
- Great For:
DIY haircuts at home with professional quality clippers
- Motor Power:
- Oster Fast Feed Adjustable Blade Clippers
Adjustable Blade, Rotary Motor, Lightweight
- Great For:
Doing fades with an adjustable blade system that uses a rotary motor
- Motor Power:
A Brief History of the Oster Brand
Though John Oster didn’t invent the electric clippers, he did see an opportunity to improve the design and engineering way back in 1928. Since that time, Oster has been innovating the hair clipper for professionals and DIYers alike.
He started out using those hand powered ones that you used to see in the old movies. They were not only cramp inducing, but they were inefficient and pulled people’s hair quite a bit.
Time to improve the electric models that were already out on the market.
Very quickly the Oster brand became the go to for professional barbers all over the world.
By World War 2 they were also producing blenders and other small household appliances. Then they bought Sunbeam and started focusing in that area.
By the 1970’s the company started once again focusing its efforts on making quality clippers for barbers and animal groomers.
With a renewed focus on improving the rotary driven motors for their clippers, they simply cannot be beaten.
Though Andis and Wahl are starting to catch up with some of their newer models that feature the same type of motor.
Rotary Motor vs Electromagnetic
The biggest difference between Oster clippers and the competition is clearly the motor. Oster uses a rotary motor that spins around a piston.
The competition, ie Andis and Wahl, use an electromagnetic motor that has two magnets on either side of the body and an arm rocks between them which powers the blade.
Think of it like this: A piston has magnets all around it, similar to a dynamo in an electrical plant like a dam. These magnets spin around and at the top of the pivot, there is an arm. It is this small little arm that attaches to the blade. Rather than the whole mechanism rock back and forth, it is only the arm that attaches to the blade that does.
This makes it way stronger and more efficient than the electromagnetic. By spinning it can maximize the power it gets and uses much more torque.
The best way to imagine it is like a lawnmower. Back in the day, they used to use a scythe to cut grass. They would rock their torso back and forth swinging the blade to cut the grass. Then somebody came up with the lawnmower. This also used human power, but the wheels spun a set of gears that would spin the blades. Which one seems more efficient?
Back to the torque thing. This type of motor has way more torque since it spins. This makes it much better at cutting any kind of hair. Torque is way more important than SPM or strokes per minute. Yes, it is better for a clipper to have a higher SPM than lower, but when you are talking about torque this matters more.
This is why Oster is considered the workhorse clipper in any barbershop or salon. They can cut through wet or thick hair with no effort or the motor slowing down.
Even the highest SPM rated clippers will slow down or pull hair when faced with very thick hair.
Why do I think Oster make the best clippers?
Just like any set of hair clippers, each model is designed for a specific purpose. Each Oster clippers model, then, to me is up there as a best in class for its given purpose. There are a couple of areas where there are better options than Oster clippers, but for the reasons I detail below, I think that there is hardly a reason to not buy Oster clippers.
There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a long day at work when your primary clipper goes on the fritz. It will happen, it’s just a question of when. After all, these things are dropped, banged and buzzing all day long. Pieces get jarred loose and parts eventually wear down.
If you’re a professional, then, of course, you have a backup clipper for this eventuality.
But, most of the time, the backup is a clipper that you are not really crazy about.
It will get the job done, but you’re constantly thinking about where it falls short compared to your main tool.
Oster clippers are built to last and they rarely fail unless they are not properly maintained.
I still have the first Oster Classic 76 that I bought out of barber school 10 years and use that as one of my back up clippers and for cutting my son’s hair at home. My other primary clipper is, obviously an Oster Classic 76.
The only time I have ever had Oster clippers fail during a cut was when I dropped it and for some reason, it went all out of whack.
That reliability is paramount when you are faced with a waiting room full of customers who need you to be at the top of your game.
I have used countless different professional hair clippers over the years and none are as reliable as the brand Oster clippers.
You won’t be going over the same spot multiple times to make sure all the hair is cut evenly.
If you read the last section then you know the reason it is so good at wet hair. The torque from the rotary motor. This is the moment when you will be so glad you got the Oster and not another brand.
Since time is money, then an Oster pays for itself over time. Since it takes you less time to do a haircut due to the power of the rotary motor, you can do more haircuts in a day. Over the course of the year, we are talking about hundreds of haircuts. Assuming you make commission and are not the owner, that can add up to at least a couple of thousand extra dollars per year. That is no exaggeration.
One swipe over even the thickest hair is knocked down with ease with just about any model of Oster clippers.
Tapers take no time since the blades can be swapped out while the clipper is running.
Buzz cuts or crew cuts are done in mere minutes due to the powerful motor.
The Oster clippers models that don’t have the adjustable blade are made with a powerful pivot, or rotary motor. Instead of an electromagnetic motor that rocks the blades back and forth, the motor whirls a pivot inside that turns a piston that works the Oster clipper blades.
This makes it not only very quiet, but also very powerful. The Oster clippers blades don’t move as fast as the electromagnetic motors, but don’t let strokes per minute fool you into thinking that is the only metric for power.
The Oster clippers rotary motor uses more torque, which, in turn, means that the blades are able to cut through more with less effort needed.
You won’t have Oster clippers blades pulling the hair like with some electromagnetic motor driven clippers.
These Oster clippers can also handle cutting hair when it is wet.
This power also leads to more precision. When you can make one pass with the clipper and it is cut evenly, then it makes it much easier to make precision cuts.
And this leads to more money.
One because you can cut more heads during the course of the day, but also because an accurate cut won’t go unnoticed by the customer, leading to repeat business.
Easy to Maintain
You don’t need to be a mechanical engineer to keep your Oster clippers maintained and in good working order.
They are easy to oil and lubricate and I have done numerous fixes that don’t require a professional, and believe me when I tell you that I am not mechanically inclined.
Your Oster clippers will last you years by taking care of them with oil, lubricating grease and replacing things like the carbon brushes occasionally. The Oster clipper blades also last for a very long time as they are made out of high carbon stainless steel.
The blades are expensive so it does pay off to take care of them to keep them sharp. If they do get dull, there may be a sharpening service near you where you can drop them off and have them come back like new. The new sharper edge won’t last as long as when you bought them but it will buy you more time before you have to shell out for a new blade.
Cool and Quiet
I mentioned this in the power section, but it bears repeating.
One of the best things about Oster clippers is that they are so quiet. They don’t have a loud buzzing sound like the Andis. They have more of a hum of the motor which is not only quiet but sounds quite nice.
If you keep the Oster clippers chamber lubricated, then it will stay quiet even after years of use.
The body doesn’t heat up either, and neither do Oster clipper blades.
One reason is that the rotary motor causes very little friction as it spins and doesn’t rub against various parts like a magnetic one.
Another reason is the thick plastic body of Oster clippers doesn’t conduct the heat the same way an aluminum one would.
Whatever the reason, it makes it super comfortable to use. Even after a full day of cuts and using an Oster professional hair clipper as your main set you won’t find yourself with a hot hand or breaking your eardrums with the clack of a magnetic motor.
The detachable Oster clipper blades never get hot as they are not a part of the actual clipper. With other clippers, if the body gets hot then the blade can also be hot on your clients’ skin.
I have never had a blade get hot on Oster clippers ever.
You may have read about people complaining about how loud the Oster clippers are and how they tend to heat up. Well, I can tell you from experience that it is not the clipper that is loud it’s a barber not taking care of his equipment.
I’ll give you a personal example. At the shop where I work, we had a new barber. He had been workign a while in another shop but he was new to us. He had an Oster he never used to use and I asked him why. He said it’s too loud. So I asked him if I could take a look at it.
I opened up the chamber under the blade and it was dry as a bone. There was no clipper grease in there. I filled it up with grease and turned it on and it was quiet as can be. He never once lubed it up and it showed.
Guys, take care of your gear and it will take care of you.
The Best Professional Hair Clipper for Barbers
Oster Classic 76 Hair Clipper Review
|You’ll love it for these||But you won’t like these|
If you have been on the fence about what kind of professional hair clipper to get for use at the barbershop or salon, then look no further and just get this all-time classic.
There may be better clippers out there at this point, but this just does such a good job that it makes little sense of wasting time looking for exactly the right clipper. It is called a workhorse and for good reason.
These Oster clippers are built to last.
With regular maintenance, these professional hair clippers will last you for many, many years. I go through about 100 to 150 haircuts a week and find that a new Oster Classic 76 lasts me about 4 years before I replace it. And if I wasn’t doing so many cuts it could last a lot longer.
And, really, I don’t have to replace them, it’s just by the time they hit the 4 year mark, they do end up making some noise and can start getting hot due to the wear of the parts. But, every old set of Oster Classic 76 ers that I have still work. None have died on me.
The body is made out of a very hard plastic that can handle some bumps and bruises that inevitably happen in the shop. I’ve only broken one when it was flung from my hands when a client walking by got his foot caught in the cord.
There is a lot to like about these Oster clippers aside from the durability. Getting through a haircut quickly is the best reason to own these. Oster clippers seriously cut through even the thickest hair without showing any signs of a struggle. For regular tapers, I think this is the best you can get.
A haircut starting with a 2 Oster clipper blade on the sides will be blended in perfectly by the time you get to the crown to do your shear work. The way the Oster clipper blades lift the hair when it cuts makes the blend in so much easier to do when you go from clipper to shear and comb.
The key here is to not flick when you finish the pass but to rock. Use your hand like it is on a lever and gently rock it away from the head when you get to where you want to blend it in so it doesn’t leave a hard guideline. This Oster Classic 76 clipper comes with a #000 and a #1 blade to get you started.
Don’t be tempted to save money and go for the plastic guards that can attach and do your cuts using just the #000. The detachable blades are expensive, but they last a very long time and are perfectly suited to cutting hair the way the machine is meant to.
Check out our article that explains the Oster clipper blades. If you end up using the plastic Oster clipper guards over the #000, you will have to go over the same spot multiple times to cut the hair.
What would I change if I could design my own Oster Classic 76?
The first thing I would try to do is make it lighter. It is pretty heavy and when you are doing up to 30 cuts in a day, your hand can get fatigued. Particularly since many of the cuts I do on a daily basis are done with my Oster Classic 76. So many of the cuts I do are just regular haircuts with a #2 or #3.5 that I rarely use another clipper.
The other thing I would change is the shape and I actually hate the ridged design of the body. It just doesn’t fit the hand well. If the grip were slimmer and smooth like other professional hair clippers, it would be more comfortable and maybe hand fatigue wouldn’t be as bad.
Also, I would put the vents on the bottom of the Oster Classic 76 clipper. As it is the intake vent is on the bottom and the outtake is on the top. So when the air blows out to cool the motor, it tends to blow the cut hair around. If you use this as your primary clipper, it likely won’t be your only one. You will need a good adjustable blade clipper like the Wahl Senior if you want to do any skin fades. There is a #000000 Oster clipper blade that gets right down to the bare skin, but to make the incremental adjustments to avoid leaving a line or shadow, you really need to use an adjustable blade.
It really depends on what the predominant haircut in your shop is. I do mostly business regulars. A number 3.5 blade on the sides with the sideburns and neckline tapered with a 1.5 and then scissored into the top is by far the most common. This means I can have a haircut done in less than 15 minutes with the 76. For regular haircuts, there is no better clipper.
Best Professional Hair Clippers Runner Up
Oster Model 10 Review
|You’ll love it for these||But you won’t like these|
If you really don’t like the weight of the 76 and feel like it is just too wide to give you the right grip, then you should consider the Oster Model 10. It uses the same Oster clipper blades as the 76 and works in the same way.
The body is a little more squat, it is slightly slimmer and it weighs a little bit less. The Oster Classic 76 weighs about 2 pounds where the Oster Model 10 weighs 1.6 pounds. That might not seem like a lot, but between the slimmer profile and the half pound difference in weight, your hand might not feel as tired at the end of the day by using the Oster Model 10.
I like the looks of the Oster Model 10 better as it has a slightly retro feel to it. Sort of like how clippers looked back when they were first invented.
Aside from those things, you are essentially getting the same clipper as the Oster Classic 76 and for just about the same price. Performance is the same. Operation of both professional hair clippers is the same. The results are the same. If you feel like you need a lighter clipper or simply like the look of these better, then you are still getting a solid Oster hair clipper.
Best Oster Cordless Clipper
Oster Octane Wireless Clipper
|You’ll love it for these||But you won’t like these|
When you want everything the Oster Classic 76 and the Oster Model 10 have to offer but don’t want to deal with a pesky cord, there is the cordless Oster Octane.
You get the same detachable Oster clippers blade system, the same Universal motor and the same level of performance with the added benefit of mobility.
In just 45 minutes, you get a full charge that lasts 2 hours. Of course, since it has a handy docking system, it really never needs to run out of juice since you can just let it charge in between haircuts or while you use the trimmers or shears, for instance.
The only time I can see the battery being an issue is if you live in a state where you are required to keep the clipper in a drawer with fume type of disinfectant. In this case, you aren’t allowed to keep your clippers or other gear out on the workstation or hanging from a clip. If this is the case, then you need to get a second battery.
Luckily there is a charging space on the dock for an extra battery that can be used to swap out with the other one. (Full Disclosure! I live in Massachusetts that has that requirement and have never kept my clippers in the drawer! I spray them down with disinfectant before and after every use. I keep my shears in the drawer with the fumigant, though)
If you do want the security of an extra battery you can always order one from Amazon.com. What I really love about these Oster clippers cordless type is the fact that they are so lightweight, the shape is very ergonomic and the grip is smooth instead of ridged like the 76 and Oster Model 10.
I’ve read that these tend to heat up, but I haven’t used them enough to have that happen to me. In all honesty, I have only borrowed these from a friend to try them out and don’t use them on a daily basis. I will likely buy these the next time I need professional barber clippers, though and will update to let you know if I feel they heat up a lot. I just can’t see that being an issue compared to the Andis models that almost all heat up since they use an electromagnetic motor.
I did notice a slight drop off in power compared to the Oster 76, but nothing that felt like it couldn’t handle the job. It still cuts through hair without any slow down or sign of struggle.
Cordless Oster Octane vs Andis Supra. How do they compare?
I think the Supra is a very fine cordless clipper that works very well. I think the main difference is the fact that you can set the Supra to different speeds which I think is a nice feature that the Oster Octane lacks. That said, though I would take the cordless Oster Octane over the Supra just about any time because of the power you get. I think it is more durable and can handle any type of cut. They both have an ergonomic shape and weigh about the same. If anything, I think the cordless Oster Octane also gets the nod for the fact that the body material feels more solid and can handle a bump or drop better, but I have never tested that.
Best Clippers for Home Use
Oster Outlaw 2-Speed Turbo Boost Review
|You’ll love it for these||But you won’t like these|
Working on cutting your own hair at home can be tricky when you use a cheap pair of hair clippers from a drugstore.
They never have enough power and in inexperienced hands can look very unprofessional.
You can hedge your bets even if you are new to cutting your own hair or giving your friends and family haircuts at home by using these Oster clippers. Yes, these are much pricier than some Conair variety that you can get anywhere, but these Oster clippers will pay for themselves through longevity since they last a long time and by the quality of the cuts you can achieve.
The fact the Oster Outlaw fits so well in the hand and have a non slip grip means you can cut with precision. They are not the most powerful of the Oster clippers models, but for most uses they don’t need to be. For home haircuts, the first speed is probably more than you’ll ever need. It is nice having the turbo boost speed when you encounter some thick or long hair.
The Oster clippers blades are the same that you use on the other detachable models like the Oster 76. They are very sharp and very strong and can cut through any type of hair without any problem. If you cut kids hair then you know how important it is to work quickly. This is when you will be glad you spent the extra money on Oster Outlaw clippers instead of some other budget ones. You can work much more quickly since you won’t be going over the same spot multiple times to cut the hair evenly.
The Oster Outlaw has a feature that is baffling even though it has a legitimate use. It doesn’t have vents as those vents tend to blow hair around while you cut. Sounds nice until you realize how important those vents are for keeping the motor cool and not letting the body and blades heat up. You can probably get around 20 minutes before the Oster Outlaw starts to heat up to where it gets uncomfortable.
You can spray some Cool Care on the blade if it starts to get hot which you can buy on Amazon.com. These Oster Outlaws are not just for home use, either. If you work in a salon and need a handy lightweight clipper, then the Oster Outlaw will fit the bill.
Is the Outlaw good for barbers? Only for barbers on a serious budget, as they are not nearly as powerful or precise as a 76 or Oster Titan for instance. I think stylists will get better use out of them as they don’t need to use hair clippers for as long as barbers do over the course of a working day.
Best Adjustable Oster Blade Clippers
Oster Fast Feed Clippers Review
|You'll love it for these||But you won't like these|
If you need an adjustable blade clipper to really knock out some nice fades quickly, then the Oster Fast Feed is for you. Like an Andis or a Wahl, the Oster Fast Feed does really well with fades since the blade can be incrementally adjusted.
Unlike the Andis or Wahl, the Oster Fast Feed uses a pivot motor which is much better. The pivot or rotary motor uses much more torque for more power. Which is very deceptive.
This small and lightweight clipper packs way more of a punch than you would expect. Out of the box, The Oster Fast Feed can only fade down to a #000, but it can be zero gapped to go right down to the skin.
Don’t expect the classic Oster clippers blades that detach. Even though this is made for barbers and professionals, it is great as either an at home clipper for cutting your own hair or even better, as a beard trimmer. If you get frustrated by cheap hair clippers pulling your beard hair, then you will love how the Oster Fast Feed cut right through even the thickest, most wiry beards.
If you’re looking for a great professional beard trimmer, then this is perfect in your shop or salon. The thing that I like best about them besides the great cuts they provide, is how silent they are. I mean it’s like you’re not even sure if they are on they are so quiet.
Then there is the fact that the Oster Fast Feeds don’t heat up. This is the biggest difference between these and the electromagnetic clippers. The pivot hair clipper motor doesn’t have parts that are rubbing and causing friction that heats it up.
That pivot motor also helps the blade to power through some thick hair. If you have ever used some cheap hair clippers you no doubt have experienced when the hair sort of gets folded in the blade. That never happens with these. Even if the hair is wet, the power is enough to cut right through.
My only real gripe is that the Oster clippers guards are not as good as the Andis magnetic ones. The only thing that I think would really put these over the top is if they ever make a cordless version of Oster clippers. As it is, the cord is essential for the power the pivot motor needs. For now, I can put up with the slight inconvenience of having a cord.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Oster Blade Clippers
Taking care of your equipment is essential no matter what kind of tool we are talking about. I keep talking about the durability of Oster clippers, but they are only going to last as long as you maintain them. Don’t worry, though. It’s nothing complicated.
How to Maintain Your Oster Blade Clippers
Here is an easy step by step guide to taking care of your Oster clippers to keep them running for years.
If you’ve read the rest of the article then you have seen that I think the Oster clippers are very quiet. Others think they are loud, but the reason they are making noise for them and not for me is that I lubricate my Oster clippers often.
Behind this cover is where the pivot is that moves the blade back and forth. Once every couple of months, you will need to remove this and add some clipper grease that you can get on Amazon.com. This is not lubricating oil, though. This is a thick petroleum grease that you goop into the Oster clippers chamber.
Anyway, once you have it open you simply add about a tablespoon of this inside and close it back up. You will hear a big difference when you turn it back on.
To keep the blades from slowing down you should use lubricating oil. As usual, you can get this on Amazon.com.
Just put a drop on the tines of the Oster clipper blades and then a drop at the base of the blades where the screws are. Just one drop. Too much is actually not good for the blades.
A couple of times a year, you will also need to add oil into the body. You will see a little nipple where you will add literally a drop of the oil that goes into the motor.
Clean the Blades
Before and after every haircut you should use a small brush to get any hairs off of the blade. Hair is actually quite corrosive so it will eventually cause the blades to rust if the hair builds up.
Also before and after every cut, you should spray it with a disinfectant that also lubricates.
Something like this 5 in 1 from Oster that you can order from Amazon.com.
Once a week, you should do a thorough cleaning of your Oster clippers blades with a blade wash.
This blade wash from Amazon.com will clean off all the gunk that gets left on the hair. Sweat, pomade, salt all will slow the blade down and end up making them dull, too.
Make sure you wear gloves as this stuff smells pretty strongly of chemical and is hard to wash off. It’s almost like a kerosene.
While the clipper is running dip the tips of the blade into the blade wash. You will literally hear the machine start to speed up as the dirt build up on the blades gets swept away.
Replace the Carbon Brushes
If you start to notice your Oster clippers starting to slow down and your blades are clean and lubed, it is a sure sign that your carbon brushes are worn down and need to be changed.
If you don’t change them your professional Oster clippers eventually won’t turn on.
If you don’t have a back up set, then you’re out of luck with that machine until you get some.
Changing them is as simple as it gets. There are two big screws on the side of the clippers. Just unscrew them, take out the old ones and snap the new ones in. It literally only takes a few seconds.
Once a year it pays to send the Oster hair clippers out to be professionally tuned up. They open up the body, clean it all out and replace the parts that are worn out. It’s like getting new clippers back every time.
The only problem is it is very difficult to find a guy that does these tune ups, especially one that is certified by Oster as an official technician.
For example, I am from the Boston area. There are hundreds of shops in the city. And only one guy just outside the city that can do these tune ups. Needless to say, he is way backed up and it can take a couple of weeks to get your clippers back after bringing them in.
Need a good business idea? Open up an Oster hair clipper repair shop in your area!
Wrapping it Up
Am I an Oster hair clipper fanboy? I don’t know. I wouldn’t wait in line overnight for the newest Oster hair clipper model or anything. I guess I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I am or not! In any case, I feel like I have enough experience with the Oster brand to almost be an ambassador for them. If you need to know more about any of these models of Oster clippers or others, then don’t hesitate to drop a question or comment in the box below. I know how particular barbers are about their preferred brand so I definitely expect to get some comments about how wrong I am about Oster!
I’m an outdoor enthusiast and have sported a full beard since I was in my early 20’s. Originally, growing a beard was a way to save time when getting ready each day, but I quickly realized that keeping a neatly trimmed beard takes work and some forethought. That’s where this site comes in.
You get to benefit from my years of experience. I’ve reviewed many of the top hair clippers on the market today and also included some information on what works best for me. A great beard will turn lots of heads in your direction.
Since I never know when I’m going to find myself being photographed, whether it’s climbing in Yosemite, or playing volleyball on the beach, it’s important to me to always look my very best. Maintaining my beard is part of my daily routine and I hope you’ll find some useful tips and information on this site to help you on your journey.
Hello! I am looking at ordering the oster octane for at home use. We would be doing 3 hair cuts at a time every 2 weeks. These would all be simple, crew cut/buzz cut styles. After doing much research, this is the one I have my heart set on, I just can’t seem to pull the trigger to buy yet because of the high cost. What would be comparable to this (cord or cordless) that would be the same quality cut for this hair style? Thank you!
Great article! answered my questions about manufactures and the motor types. I prefer the rotory motors and was not sure which manufacturers made them. It appears that the manufactures (wahl) hides the type of motors they use in their product discriptions by using terms like Heavy Duty instead of electro-magnet.