What makes something an industry standard? Why one product and not another?
When you think about it, something becomes an industry standard because people buy the same product over long periods of time. Word of mouth increases the product’s footprint, until decades later that same product becomes crucial to an industry.
Oster clippers are like that. When groomers need a new clipper, they go to their industry standard: Oster. They don’t even think about it.
And over the years, not much has changed with the Oster A5 clipper. Probably because so many people have purchased the same tool for so long. Like the saying goes, why fix something that isn’t broken?
Oster has produced the A5 clipper since the mid-1970s. Since then, Oster has made the clipper in McMinnville, Tennessee, a sleepy town southwest of Nashville. For almost fifty years the same city has manufactured the same clipper.
And here I am, reviewing a professional clipper used by generations of groomers. Like them, I’ll stick to my traditions. Every product I review must go through the same rigorous process.
Will the A5 stand up to my tests, or has this industry standard grooming clipper lost its magic along the way?
Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
Oster A5 Clipper Specification
|Speed Setting||2 Speed|
|Low speed||3000 Spm|
|High speed||4000 Spm|
|Blade Size||Size 10|
|Cord length||12 foot|
Unboxing the Oster A5 Turbo Clipper
I’d be lying if I told you the A5’s unboxing experience was thrilling. I don’t think this comes as a surprise to you. Tools like the A5 are items meant to be used daily by professionals. They do away with the sleek packaging and advertising of consumer products.
The packaging remains simple and to the point. I think the professional line of Oster products could be summed up as practical. And the included items back up my claim. This is what you get with the Oster A5 turbo clippers:
- Oster A5 Clipper
- #10 Cryogenic Clipper Blade
- Cleaning Brush
- Clipper Oil
- Clipper Grease
I’m a proponent of oiling and greasing professional clipper products. I religiously maintain mine. So, I was happy that Oster not only included clipper oil but clipper grease too.
If you don’t know how to use clipper grease on the Oster A5, I explain below in the maintenance section of this review. Trust me, it’s worth it to know how.
The other extras are your standard stuff. The package is light on extras. But that’s not a surprise with a professional product that strives to be unpretentious. The selling point is obviously the clipper. Let’s look at it now.
First Impressions with the Oster A5 Clipper
When it comes to an animal clipper, you need it to be durable. And that’s exactly the word that came to mind when I picked up the A5 for the first time. No way could I call this a lightweight tool. But looking at the full line of Oster clippers, the A5’s weight is average, about 2 pounds.
If you desperately need a lighter clipper, you’d have to upgrade to one of their cordless options. That will also come with a higher cost.
You can blame at least a quarter of the device’s weight on the 10-foot professional electrical cord. This thing is rugged. I can’t imagine even a large animal’s hooves pinching or crimping the cord. And I think the length should be long enough to plug into an outlet and still reach a grooming table or barn stall.
The design of the A5 isn’t eye-catching. Upon my first impression I’d dub the clipper utilitarian. This thing was made to work on animals both large and small. So, durability was clearly the word on the engineers’ mind when conceptualizing this device.
The look of the A5 hasn’t changed in decades. The impact-resistant plastic case is thick. Knocking on the shell with my knuckle felt as sturdy as rapping on a solid hunk of wood or steel.
I like the ribbed body on the housing, too. It provides just enough grip to keep the clipper glued to your hand even when your hands are covered in horse hair.
The straight-tube design of the clipper means that your arm must do most of the work. There’s nothing wrong with the A5’s ergonomics exactly, but I imagine long stretches of using this device could lead to a sore shoulder. We’ll see if that’s true after I spend hands on time with the clipper.
When I add together the pros of heavy plastic body and the less than ideal ergonomics of the clipper, I’m left feeling like this is the clipper you buy when you need a job done. It doesn’t quite win me over on aesthetics alone. But then again, should a tool please the eye when it’s mostly used on dogs, cows, and horses?
Leaving that question for smarter men than me to answer, I will say that another plus of the A5 is its detachable blade system. If you own other Oster or Andis blades, you can swap them into the A5 by lifting the tooth ends away from the house.
There’re dozens of blades that can snap into the A5. They aren’t all animal blades either. I think this adds a versatility to the product you can’t find in other brands.
So, what’s my takeaway first impression with the A5? It’s a hefty, durable clipper that’d fit comfortably into a groomer’s shop. But maybe not so comfortably into an award show for best looking professional tools!
How Does the Oster A5 Turbo Perform?
The second I turned on the A5 I had an a-ha moment. I realized the heavy body of the clipper has a purpose. The weightiness dampens heavy-duty motor’s vibrations.
Throughout my time with the A5 I had moments like this. Things that at first seemed cumbersome and tough revealed their soft, malleable centers.
The biggest and most important of these moments though is how well this clipper cuts. Because it cuts incredibly well. The versatile motor breezes through thick undercoats and refuses to bog down in matted hair.
And when you need to cut through exceptionally thick hair, you just flip the device into second gear. The turbo designation with this A5 clipper is because it has two speeds, 3,000 strokes per minute (SPM) and 4,000 SPM.
1,000 SPM may not seem like much of a difference, but you just need to flip back and forth between them once to notice how much it matters. 4,000 SPM shouldn’t have a problem cutting through anything you put in its way.
One downside to the turbo-speed high gear is that it can run hot. It won’t burn you or the animal you’re grooming, but it can reach that point just below the threshold. I noticed it took about forty minutes to an hour for the blades to reach that level of heat. Dropping back down to 3,000 SPM seemed to solve the problem.
I admit that the included blade does some work here, too. Oster quenches the blades in a cryogenic treatment for extra durability. They also stay cool and sharp longer than the competition. Although detachable, the blade won’t pop off while you’re working.
And because it’s detachable, I can envision plenty of other practical applications for the A5. You could throw on a T-blade for quicker horse grooming. Or for those of you that do styled cuts, swapping from a #10 to a #5 mid way through is easy, too.
I think the A5 works just as well for at-home groomers as it does for professionals. The weight will take some getting used to as most consumer-level dog clippers are fabricated for a tenth the price, and often overseas.
Throughout my tests I never had a single problem with the A5 clipper. I think whatever judgements I placed on the A5 during my first impressions were just that, impressions. With some experience using this clipper I found it exceeded my expectations. It’s a great product.
Maintenance and Lasting Impressions
The one downside, if I were to call it a downside, of professional equipment is that you need to take care of it at a higher standard than consumer products.
By that I mean you need to oil and grease the clipper routinely. This should be no surprise to most of you reading this. Maintenance is just a part of life. Your body is no different.
But not maintaining a professional tool just means it’ll cost more to fix later. Thankfully, the A5 is easy to keep greased and oiled.
Oiling the blades prior to using them ensures that the blades cut and stay sharp. It also limits the friction and therefore less drag on the motor. It literally takes a second. Just one drop on the blade and you’re done.
Greasing the A5 is a little trickier. But you don’t have to do it as often. The grease stays on the connections much longer than the oil. To grease the A5, you pop off the blade and add a dollop onto the metal bib that connects the blade to the motor.
That’s the only maintenance this clipper requires, aside from wiping it down after using it. I also recommend storing it in a case when not using it to protect the blade teeth.
Having spent more time with the Oster A5, the positives only became more positive. Yet my initial concerns with the clipper’s ergonomics didn’t completely dissipate either.
There’s no denying what the A5 can do. It’s a professional grade product, well-built and made of quality components. Ultimately, I’m being unfair to the A5 by wanting it to be more pleasing to the eye.
Regardless, this isn’t a tool you keep on your kitchen counter, or that anyone even sees aside from the animals you’re grooming. Oster thought of everything you’d need this tool to do. It has a long thick cord, a sharp blade, and a powerful motor. What more could you want?
I think my last impression with the A5 is that Oster built the product around the needs of a niche industry. With that in mind, I enjoyed my time with the A5. And I think you will too.
What I Like About the Oster A5 Turbo
- I think the A5 must be one of the toughest set of clippers I’ve reviewed yet.
- They can cut through thick, matted coats without tugging or snagging.
- The heavy-duty 10-foot cord won’t crimp or tear easily.
- Ribbed grip keeps the clipper secure in my hand even during long sessions.
- Detachable blade system means you can switch out blades on the fly.
- The A5 is easy to maintain and should last you a very long time.
What I Dislike About the Oster A5 Turbo
- Design dates to the 1970s and I think it shows its age a little.
- Although the heavy body is a positive, it can tire your arms after a few hours.
- After approximately 40 minutes running on high gear, the blade and the body can run hot.
The truly standout products are the ones that last. Sometimes I forget that. I get caught up in the newest iteration, the loudest advertising campaign.
But the Oster A5 Turbo Clipper attests to the hallmarks of tradition. It really is an industry standard for a reason.
However, it isn’t without a few flaws. On high gear the clipper can overheat over extended sessions. But it never gets so hot that it burns or forces you to stop clipping. And while it’s no exemplar of clever ergonomics, it’s not uncomfortable either.
Throughout my review I wondered what groomer wouldn’t enjoy the A5. I can’t think of any. No matter if you’re starting out or in need of an upgrade, the A5 is a great choice.