The Remington RM3100 epitomizes a motorless reel mower’s ideal role in modern lawn care: it is the former go-to starting pitcher who couldn’t keep up with a rising generation of evolved players around him but became a reliable closer good for a few innings of cleanup on any given day. This is the aging tailback who no longer carries the job on his back every offensive series but can always be counted on for those last three yards and a cloud of dust needed to march across the goal line.
Frequent readers will know better than to assume I just denigrated the push-powered reel mower out of some sort of condescending prejudice. I grew up with my hands glued to my family’s manual mower every weekend in upstate New York long before I became a fairly successful commercial landscaper and blogger. I also realize that, while there is a gas-powered mower for lawns of every size or topography and electric mowers have advanced astoundingly in terms of performance and available runtime, these classic analog tools deliver a satisfyingly productive multitasking workout when manicuring fairly flat, small yards and become prohibitively exhausting and inefficient against any spread much larger than a quarter-acre.
In fact, allow me to revise my prior metaphors. The Remington RM3100 would have failed as a dependable primary mower when its kind was the only practical grass-grooming option around. It has potential as a supplementary sidekick to a more powerful model, but it never managed to impress me enough with its workmanship or performance that I wouldn’t consider it woefully overpriced.
- 18-inch cutting deck
- Weighs only 31.8 pounds
- 5-blade adjustable reel
- 10-inch front and six-inch rear wheels
- Ergonomic handle
- Dual-lever height adjustment with nine settings
- 2-in-1 mulching
- Limited two-year warranty
There are a great many literal moving parts in play when discussing a motorized lawn mower’s overall performance. Manual reel mowers are orders of magnitude simpler, but those streamlined standards notwithstanding, the Remington RM3100 still manages to underwhelm at nearly every turn.
I can give the RM3100 credit for this much: if noise-averse neighbors surround your home and deter you from tidying up your lawn after the sun goes down, take comfort knowing that this mower makes nary a ruckus that would awaken a mouse. Unfortunately, it makes such minimal racket in part because its reel jams frustratingly easily when met with debris, rocks and slightly thicker twigs. Your aggravated cursing is more likely to roust the neighborhood than the mower itself.
My suggestion? Should you plan on tasking the Remington RM3100 with trimming an entire yard all by its lonesome, invest in a rake, leaf blower or some other accessory capable of scooting small objects out of the way before you cut. My late grandmother’s dentures chewed through anything in their way more thoroughly than these blades.
Ease Of Use
Constant jamming aside, the Remington RM3100 is decently user-friendly. Assembly out of the box takes around 15 minutes and, at the very least, I appreciate Remington’s inclusion of an adjustable ergonomic handle. Combined with the generously tall 10-inch front wheels and a six-inch pair in the back, this mower pushes with delightful ease. Since it weighs in at a nanoscale 31.8 pounds, your shed or garage will never miss the trivial space it occupies and not a single member of your household will be physically overcome putting it to use.
Cut Quality & Options
In the rare settings in which the Remington RM3100 functions smoothly, its five-blade reel shows fleeting glimpses of living up to the uniformly neat finish a quality reel mower will consistently provide under almost any set of conditions. The rest of the time, taller and thicker grasses might as well be supple, green walls of stone erected for the express purpose of halting the mower in its tracks. An 18-inch cutting path may not sound like a broad swath when confronted with a sprawling verdant savannah, but it should make reasonably short work of a modest lawn through which a larger motorized mower could only maneuver through with all the grace of a baby rhino running a Westminster Kennel Club obstacle course.
“Should” is the operative word. Even at the lowest of its dual-lever height control’s nine settings between 0.75 and 2.5 inches, any progress is a slog. Sadly, moving too fast or tilting the mower at just the wrong angle will also either cause the mulch-gathering bag to fall off constantly or send clippings scattering all around the mower. At best, it catches around 50 percent of discarded grass shards. For improved results, consider taking a pair of pliers and personally re-wrapping the wire rings more tightly around the handle. As much as I can appreciate the value of fine, fresh mulch to maintaining a healthy lawn, you might be better served simply leaving the catcher by the wayside and raking clippings after the fact. That’s where most of them will wind up, anyway.
I suppose I could recommend the Remington RM3100 as an edging tool and clean-up aid to finish rough patches a more capable mower might have missed, but if that’s what you really want, there are far more reasonably priced options.
For all the defects I’ve run down, the Remington RM3100 actually requires virtually no actual “maintenance” on a regular basis whatsoever. You will want to have a professional sharpen the blades once a year. Come to think of it, having them sharpened before your first mow wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. Otherwise, limit unnecessary elemental exposure, and brush up on the terms of your limited two-year manufacturer warranty in the event something unexpected should knock your RM3100 out of commission. Certified service locations may be hard to find locally, but that guarantee should take care of any repair or replacement expenses.
If you come across a hazard in your path, stop walking. The blades will immediately cease rotating. Take your hands off the handle. Problem solved.
I couldn’t get around it: even under $100, the Remington RM3100 is barely worth its purchase price on its best day. Durable? Definitely. Glimpses of capable cutting? Sometimes. At the end of the day, though, you could save $10 to $20 and get a reel mower with sharper blades that don’t stick or need professional sharpening before they can be counted on to cut satisfactorily. The fact that the catcher barely stays put consistently only cemented that Remington disappointed me severely by serving a reminder that someone can botch the simplest lawn mower concept since the dawn of mass manufacturing, something craftsmen have been building more competently in simpler styles since before I was born.