The J-250 Titanium Xtra series of shovels from Jackson Professional Tools is a cut above and certain to satisfy those looking for a stiff, dependable tool for all your digging needs. There are shovels, and there are shovels. When we saw the “Titanium” label placed on these shovels at this year’s STAFDA show in Atlanta, we simply had to take another look. Rather than make the shovels out of pure Titanium, which is about half as stiff as steel, Jackson opted for a titanium steel alloy which inhibits corrosion and gives the surface of the shovel a tough, long-lasting finish. This is smart for a number of reasons. For one, Titanium is extremely expensive, and using it in whole for a shovel is probably overkill for most applications. Second, a Titanium alloy takes away the biggest gripe I’ve had with shovels – they tend to rust rather quickly. It’s also just plain cool and easy to market… go on, admit it. The Jackson Titanium Shovel J-250 is something new and innovative for sure.
There were several physical features we liked about the Jackson titanium shovel. For one, the 48-inch handle is long enough to afford us a good grip and plenty of leverage for most applications. Second, the extra-long 11-inch titanium-alloy socket really gave you the feel that you wouldn’t snap off the handle so easily should you decide to apply extra force when leveraging a heavy piece of ground material. This socket is about 2 inches longer than those found in a typical shovel. We frequently have to apply lots of leverage-force and it was nice to feel a little more confidence in the tool.
The handle was also a bit thicker in girth than our classic shovel and was much rougher in texture. While this provided a better grip and offered less slippage, it also resulted in the feeling (not necessarily a reality) that you might come away with some splinters when using it without gloves. From the back you could also see that Jackson had the handle conform to the curved shape of the socket, resulting in a lot more wood being placed at a stress-point of the shovel, rendering it stronger and more substantial. This is also required, one would assume, a more difficult manufacturing process since the wood had to be correctly shaped prior to treating it and inserting it into the handle. You don’t see this on typical generic shovels.
The J-250 series Jackson Titanium Xtra Shovel weighed in at 4 lbs 2 ounces, about 9 ounces more than our standard shovel. While heavier, it was also two inches longer (thanks to the extra-long socket) and felt a lot more robust.
In our testing we used the Jackson Titanium Shovel to plant an oak tree. This involved breaking up existing St. Augustine grass with the J-250, a tough ground material with stronger interconnecting fibers, and also breaking through several smaller roots that got in our way. Since we needed to dig nearly 24″ deep and wide to accommodate the root ball, we were excited to try out the prying capabilities of this shovel. Thrusting the shovel into the earth, we found it to be very good at cutting through the turf and into the soil. As we progressed, the stiff Titanium-alloy seemed to feel more confident in our hands. About the only thing we could see improving upon was the tip of the blade itself. Since it was blunt, there wasn’t much aid given to our cutting efforts when encountering a root structure. Of course taking an angle grinder to the blade will fix that up quite nicely, and we’d leave it to the user to determine whether they have a need for that modification.
Jackson builds a high-quality shovel. They’ve taken the old-fashioned wood-handle approach and improved upon it in several areas. Rather than gouge the consumer, they’ve offered a unique handle and socket design and titanium alloy product at a very reasonable price. Picking up a shovel this nice for under $25 is practically a steal. For this reason we gave the Jackson J-250 Titanium Xtra Round Point Shovel a 9/10 in terms of value, and an 8/10 for its above average performance. Highly recommended.