Craftsman M310 163cc Briggs & Stratton 21″ Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower Review
Walk behind, gas-powered lawnmowers often have to walk a delicate balance between weight and power. The heavier a lawn mower is, the harder it is to maneuver. Yet a powerful engine is very much needed if you want to say mulch, instead of a side discharge.
Over the years customer’s complaining about heavy, hard to maneuver walk-behind lawnmowers, led to the invention of self-propelled systems. This essentially takes a significant burden of effort off the operator to let them essentially guide, while the wheels did the work of moving it across the lawn.
The Craftsman M310 represents one of the higher units in their line of self-propelled gas-powered lawnmowers. It comes with a powerful 163 cc Briggs and Stratton engine, which delivers enough power to mulch or bag, while also making sure that the rear wheel drive propulsion system has the torque to bear the load of moving it. The end result is a nearly 85-pound lawnmower that moves along like a 20-pound unit!
The 21-inch cutting path is just about right if you have a lawn that’s half an acre or less. The self-propulsion system is also integrated with dual lever controls that allow you to easily change the speed.
There is also a deck wash adaptor to help clear away lawn debris from the underside. This also helps reduce the risk of rust and corrosion issues.
- Powerful 163 cc Briggs and Stratton engine
- Rear wheel drive self-propulsion system
- 3-in-1 versatility to bag, mulch, or side discharge
- Dual lever variable speed controls
- 21-inch mower deck
The rear wheel drive self-propulsion system on the Craftsman M310 helps it move along smoothly even on uneven turf. The dual variable speed control levers allow you to set it just to the speed you want.
The 163 cc OVH Briggs and Stratton engine give it the power to be a versatile 3-in-1 mower. This means you can leave it set up for side discharge, change it over to a mulching mower, or set up the bagger attachment to collect spent grass clippings.
Ease of Use
The rear wheel drive self-propulsion system is relatively easy to use. If you have a lot of trees, flowerbeds or other landscaping features to worry about, it might take you a little while to get used to the rear wheel drive. Sometimes it’s easier to lift the front wheels slightly when making a sharp turn.
The dual lever variable speed controls are well-designed and easy to use. This isn’t always the case with self-propelled lawnmowers, so it’s definitely a feather in the M310’s cap!
Unfortunately, the recoil pull start system can be a problem. A lot of larger mowers like this come with some form of electric start or assistance. The Craftsman M310 comes with the same basic pull start that you would have found on a 1980s lawnmower!
Now, on the face of it, the recoil pull start does generate enough torque to fire up the 163 cc engine within the first three pulls. It can help to pull the mower close to you and then push it to arm’s length when you pull the cord.
When it’s operating normally, there’s no complaint here. You can call it a little bit of an arm workout exercise and be on your way. However, the M310 also has a nasty habit of occasionally locking up the pull cord, which means you will have to fiddle with it from time to time. The issue seems to be with the cord biting down into the remainder of the spool. Keeping a flathead screwdriver nearby might help you loosen the bound area.
Cut Quality & Options
The 3-in-1 versatility of the Craftsman M310 allows you to set it up as a mulcher, bagger, or side discharge. The 21-inch deck’s cutting path is just about right for a larger lawn around half an acre to perhaps an acre.
The self-propulsion of the M310 is handy for getting around the yard without a lot of elbow grease. Yet it can also make it hard to tell how much grass is really in the bagger. If you do have it set up to the bag, make sure to keep an eye out excess grass clippings escaping under the rear of the deck.
Some self-propelled walk-behind lawnmowers call for a lot of assembly, to a degree that might make them a little frustrating. Craftsman was wise to design the M310 to be easy to assemble. Even the instructions are easy to read. With some basic hand tools and a reasonable amount of mechanical ability, you should have it together in less than half an hour. Then you just pour the oil in and you are ready to go!
The M310 will need periodic oil changes, and the air filter does need to be cleaned out from time to time. Craftsman also designed it with a deck wash adaptor. You simply hook it up to any standard garden hose, and it will help clean debris out from under the mower deck. This really helps prevent rust problems and can also keep the bagger attachment from clogging up.
The Craftsman 310 has the same hand controls that you find with most walk-behind lawn mowers. The dual lever speed controls are also easy to use, which lets you set the self-propulsion to match your preferred speed.
The deck wash adaptor isn’t necessarily all that special, but it is nice, and not something you find in all the competitors
The 3-in-1 versatility allows you to bag, mulch, or side discharge.
Being able to bag or mulch your grass clippings, without having to spring extra money for them as “Optional Extras” helps keep your lawn tidy and prevent aeration problems.
- Powerful 163 cc Briggs and Stratton engine
- Self-propelled with rear wheel drive
- Deck wash adaptor
- Easy to use dual lever speed controls
- 3-in-1 bagger, mulcher, or side discharge
- Pull start with no assistance features
- Pull start coil can jam
- The gas tank is a little small
- Heavy when the self-propulsion isn’t engaged
- Bagger can get overly full