Good Enough to Replace a Classic?
The ‘old’ Arrow T50 is, to my mind, a classic. Reliable, well-made, and also repairable, so it should have a very long working life. It must be tempting to keep things like that forever, but as we all know, life isn¹t like that. Arrow has therefore developed the new RED range that is ‘new and improved’ in many different ways.
One of the first things that retailers might notice is the packaging that is becoming increasingly common on some products these days. Being transparent plastic, it provides good display and product information as well as a level of security via a marker tag and non-pocketable ‘bulk’, but also allows potential buyers to try out the staple gun¹s ‘feel’ in use. A large section of the packaging is a ‘cutaway’ above the trigger handle, so buyers can easily take it off the peg and try it for size. Since my hands are quite small and I sometimes have difficulty getting my hands round a really big stapler handle, it was a big plus for me to be able to demonstrate to myself that I could easily handle the new T50 elite.
The staple gun itself departs from the traditional pressed steel Arrow staple gun manufacture by using cast alloy to form the body and trigger. These castings are first rate. They are accurate, neat, well finished in a sliver grey colour and held together with well-recessed screws. The trigger handle, the top of the stapler and the bottom grip handle all have a grippy rubber overmould that not only looks striking but also makes for comfortable sustained use.
In your hand the new T50 does feel like a bit of a monster. It is not heavy because of the cast alloy construction but it is obviously meant for trade users who want a high level of stapling and nailing power. However, Arrow has done quite a lot of development on the stapling handle mechanism that seems to use a kind of levered system to reduce the amount of effort for the user at the same time as allowing, a claimed, up to 60% more power when driving staples.
There are also a number of other new features that make the T50 elite a bit different. On the left hand side of the body near the handle fulcrum is a small lever that can be used to select either Minus or Plus power. This obviously means that you can choose the correct power setting according to the size of the brads or staples being used. As far as I could tell, when I chose the Minus setting the effort needing to press the handle was noticeably reduced. I could certainly see the difference when I actually stapled some pieces of plywood together. Using the Plus setting ensured that the staples pierced right through the top layer of the ply.
Handy, also is a small window in the body that allows the user to see at a glance if there are enough brads in the magazine.
Loading the new T50 has been made very simple, using either brads up to 25mm long or 14mm long staples. The magazine is revealed by simply pulling down the black triangular handle on the back of it and sliding the carrier back. Staples are then simply added into the space with points facing down. Brads are also just as easy to load, but they have to be loaded onto the window side of the T50, again with points facing up. Engraved into the sliding metal carrier are the reminders of how to do it, so even those who know nothing about staplers would know what to do. Once loaded the carrier is slid back until it clicks into place and you are ready to go.
Finally, bearing in mind the target market of the new T50, there is a new and very handy feature that will enable users to safely install low voltage wire cables. A small rotatable wheel on the very front of the stapler lowers and raises a half moon-shaped metal piece that can be placed over small cables. The shape fits neatly over small cables and guides the user when stapling.
There would be no point in displacing the ‘Classic’ T50 if it¹s replacement was no good, so I was determined to put the new T50 elite through a few of the sorts of tasks that it was intended for.
Simply stapling into some hard oak was a pretty good indication that the new T50 is not short of power. The new design of stapling handle does make it easier for users with small hands like me to get the maximum power as it seems to have a two-stage action where it is initially easy to push down the trigger and then the lever action takes over to finish off. Of course it helps if your other hand is placed over the head of the stapler to ensure that the recoil does not prevent the staples from being driven completely home. I did experiment a bit with the adjustable power setting, and it is necessary when using the smaller staples and brads otherwise they could be driven too deep in some softer materials.
I also tried a range of other materials from softwood and fabric to insulation to plywood. In each case it was possible with the adjustments and range of staple sizes available, to do a good job.
Although I couldn¹t exactly work out how the jam resistant mechanism worked, when I was using the T50 elite, I suffered no jams or stoppages. It helps that I was using good quality staples and brads provided by Arrow, but it isn¹t often that users can say that stoppages are not an issue sometimes.
Overall, I think the new T50 elite is a worthy successor to the old one, but in truth, I think I will still use both of the staplers for slightly different purposes. The new T50 is just an up-to-date version that takes account of modern users¹ needs.