John Deere Sabre Specs and Review

Are you thinking of buying a used John Deere lawn tractor? There are a lot of things you need to consider before making your decision. This John Deere Sabre specs and review will show what people say about it.

The John Deer Sabre was a model lineup of lawn tractors produced by Deere & Company in collaboration with the Scotts brand. It was their economy line of lawn equipment. These lawn tractors were manufactured from 1995 to 2002. Big retailers like Sears and Home Depot sold these lawn mowers during those times.

However, buyers were somewhat confused by these lawn tractors because they had a green shade that did not match the standard green that John Deere tractors were known to display at that time. These machines were also called Sabre, which most people did not expect would be used by the John Deere Company.

Read on to learn more about the John Deer Sabre model lineup of lawn tractors, samples of their specifications, and some reviews about these machines.

What Is John Deere Sabre?

John Deere Sabre

Lawn Tractor Model Lineup Made by Deere & Company with the Scotts Company

The John Deere Sabre is a lawn tractor model lineup manufactured by Deere & Company in collaboration with the Scotts Company. These two companies started producing these tractors in 1995 and made their last unit in 2002.

Available in Home Depot and Sears During Production

Many big retailers in the country, including Home Depot and Sears, sold these lawn mowers during the years that it was in production. However, consumers were slightly confused about the Sabre because of its different shades of green.

John Deere did not use the standard green that its lawn equipment was known for. The use of the name ‘Sabre’ was something customers did not expect from the company.

Sabre Refers to John Deere’s Economy Line of Lawn Equipment

Some say this is the company’s distinguishing the John Deere Sabre lawn mower model lineup from its other farm equipment. The Sabre was the economy line of lawn equipment from John Deere.

To give you an example of the specs of one of its models, the Sabre 1438HS, its wheelbase is 44.7 inches, and its weight is 388 pounds.

It has a belt-driven hydrostatic transmission with infinite forward gears and reverses. This Sabre can run at a maximum speed of 5.8 miles per hour since its engine can crank up 14.5 horsepower.

Deere and Scotts Took Advantage of the Need for Affordable Lawn Tractors

Deere and Scotts took advantage of emerging markets when they produced the Sabre model lineup of lawn tractors. During those times, some landowners could not afford the prices of their premium lawn tractors. So, they produced the Sabre line.

L100 Series Replaced the Sabre Models

Later on, the L100 series took the place of the Sabre models. Although, used Sabres are available in the market. Deere and Scotts have discontinued the production of these affordable lawn tractors. As you continue reading this article, you will know why.

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John Deere Sabre Models

When Deere and Scotts produced the Sabre lawn mower models, they had 35 models. The shortest mow deck of these lawn tractors is 38 inches, and the longest is 54 inches. Engine outputs of these machines ranged from 13 hp to 25 hp.

Summary of John Deere Sabre Models, Production Year, and Deck Size

Below is a table that will show you the different Sabre lawn mowers and the production year:

Production YearModel NumberSize of Deck
1996 – 19971338GS38″
1996 – 19971538HS38″
1996 – 19971546GS46″
1996 – 199815.538GS38″
1996 – 199915.538HS38″
1996 – 19991646HS46”
1996 – 19991646HV46”
1997 – 19981538GS38″
1998 – 19991848GV48″
1998 – 19991848HV48″
1998 – 19992048HV48”
1998 – 19992254HV54″
1998 – 200115.542HS42″
1998 – 20011438GS38”
1998 – 20011542HS42″
1998 – 20011742GS42″
1998 – 20011742HS42″
1998 – 20021642HS42”
1998 – 20022554HV54”
1999 – 20011438HS38”
2000 – 20012046HV46”
2000 – 20021948HV48″
2000 – 20022148HV48″
2000 – 20022354HV54″

Two Different Types of Sabre Models

In general, John Deere made two different types of Sabre models:

Walk-behind Sabre Lawn Mowers

The walk-behind Sabre lawn mower models include the following:

  • 14PS,
  • 14SS,
  • M10,
  • M21, and
  • M23.

Sit-on Lawn Sabre Lawn Tractors

Sit-on lawn Sabre tractor models include the following:

  • 1338GS
  • 15.538HS
  • 15.538GS
  • 1538GS
  • 1546G
  • 1638HS
  • 1538HS
  • 1642HS
  • 1646HS
  • 1646GS
  • 17.542HS
  • 1842GV
  • 1842HV
  • 1742GS
  • 1846HMS
  • 1846GV
  • 1846HV
  • 1848GV
  • 1948HV
  • 1848HV
  • 1948GV
  • 2048HV
  • 2148HV
  • 2046HV
  • 2254HV
  • 2554HV
  • 2354HV

Customers Thought Sabre Was a Cheap Imitation

However, these lawn mowers/tractors did not have the needed support from consumers. Perhaps, one of the reasons why is that they don’t know what company manufactured them. Some people heard that John Deere made them.

However, they noticed that the logo indicated “Sabre by John Deere.” The confusion came from the fact that the word “Sabre” has a much bigger font size than the word “by John Deere.” Many people thought at that time that the Sabre was a cheap imitation of the tractors made by John Deere.

But they didn’t know that John Deere produced the Sabre so they could compete with the cheaper tractors manufactured by their competitors.

John Deere didn’t want to sell ‘real’ John Deere units at lower prices than people were accustomed to paying premium prices for their lawn equipment.

JD Stopped Producing Sabres After 2002

That’s why John Deere manufactured lawn equipment under a semi-new brand, Sabre. However, JD didn’t expect this marketing ploy to confuse their customers. As it turned out, JD discontinued the production of Sabres after the year 2002.

When John Deere stopped manufacturing the Sabre line of lawn mowers, they replaced it with their new L100 series. So, the only Sabres that you will see being sold in the market today are the used ones.

Sabre Model 1438GS Specs

john deere sabre review

If you are in the market for a John Deere Sabre lawn tractor, you need to know the specifications that will satisfy your lawn mowing needs. Here are the specs of the Sabre Model 1438GS, one of the Sabre models made by John Deere.

The Sabre 1438GS is a lawn tractor powered by a Briggs & Stratton Intek gasoline engine that can deliver 14.5 hp. The engine is a one-cylinder, air-cooled, 465 cc. gasoline engine.

It’s a rear-drive tractor with a 5-gear manual transmission and a 38″ mid-mount mower deck, snow blower, and blade.

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Full Specs

Here are the full specs of the Sabre 1438GS:

Engine TypeBriggs & Stratton Intek gasoline 1-cylinder air-cooled
Horsepower14.5 hp
Displacement28.38 cubic inches/465 cc
Idle RPM1750-3300
Starter volts12 volts
Air cleanerpaper with foam
TypeDana 4360, belt-driven gear
GearsFive forward and one reverse
Lawn/turf front15 × 6.5-6
Lawn/turf rear20 × 8-8
Steeringmanual sector-and-pinion
Chassis4 × 2 2WD
CabOpen operator station
Charging amps4
Charging systemunregulated
Battery CCA230
Battery volts12
Battery GroupBCI U1
Length60 inches
Width36 inches
Height38.6 inches
Wheelbase44.7 inches
Weight388 lbs.
Typemid-mount Sabre
Cutting width38 inches
Cut height1 to 4 inch
Original Price$1,429

Again, what is a John Deere Sabre? Deere & Company produced the John Deere Sabre from 1995 to 2002. Sabre is a lineup of affordable tractors sold by many retailers, including Home Depot and Sears. Some of the Sabre models were also sold under the Scotts name.

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Sabre Model 1438HS Specs

To give you an idea of the differences between Sabre lawn mower models, here are the full specs of Sabre Model 1438HS.

This model was manufactured by Sabre from 1999 to 2001, just a year before the Sabre brand closed shop. It is powered by a 0.5 liter, single-cylinder gasoline engine with a belt-driven hydrostatic transmission. This engine can deliver 14.7 hp.

You can fit the John Deere Sabre riding mower with the following attachments:

  • Front-mount 42 inches snow blower with manual lift
  • Mid-mount 38 inches mower deck with 2-blade and manual lift
  • Front-mount 46 inches blade

Full Specs

BrandBriggs & Stratton Intek
Engine typeFour-stroke, air-cooled, inline
Horsepower14.5 HP
Displacement28.4 cu. in. (0.5 L)
Battery12V, CCA 230A, Group BCI U1
Fuel tank capacity1.2 US gal
Transmission and Chassis 
Chassis4 × 2, 2WD
Steering typeManual sector-and-pinion
Cabin typeOpen operator station
Transmission typeBelt-driven hydrostatic
Transmission modelTuff Torq K51
GearsInfinite forward and reverse
SpeedForward: 5.8 mph, Reverse: 2.9 mph
Front tiresLawn/turf: 15 × 6.5-6
Rear tiresLawn/turf: 20 × 8-8
Length59.8 inches
Width35.8 inches
Height38.6 inches
Weight386 pounds

Who Made Sabre Lawn Tractors?

john deere sabre specs

Scotts and John Deere Agreed to Make Manual Reel Mowers

The Sabre line of lawn tractors, particularly the Sabre 1438HS, were manufactured by Sabre, a part of John Deere, from 1999 to 2001, at their plant in Greeneville, Tennessee, USA. The story behind the making of Sabres is a long one. Let me give some of the highlights of its history.

John Deere and the American Lawn Mower Company made an arrangement.

They agreed to make manual reel mowers that bear the brand name Scotts. Under this arrangement, John Deere will produce power mowers. This arrangement produced several walk-behind lawn mowers.

High Demand for Lawn Tractors

But they were focused on producing lawn tractors because these machines were the buzz during those days. Lawn tractors are gaining popularity in the area of residential lawn care. So, Deere and Scotts chose a two-pronged approach.

John Deere Made Tractors with Scotts and JD Brand

John Deere will make a range of lawn tractors bearing the Scotts brand and several tractors with the JD brand. The two companies produced very similar machines, but only with different skins.

John Deere chose to name its machines Sabre, but the Scotts machines were not given any brand name.

Additionally, the top managers of Deere and Scotts have agreed that these machines should be available to consumers at affordable prices so they will have lower prices than the ones they were producing commercially at that time.

Sabres Production Began in 1996

In 1996, production of the Sabres began at the Horicon factory of John Deere. They chose to power these machines with Briggs & Stratton engines, with some models using Kohler motors.

Unfortunately, because they are making these machines affordable, they resorted to cost-cutting measures that affected the quality of the finished Sabres.

As a result, many Sabre models were discontinued near the end of 1997. A short life span characterized the Sabre model lineup. Most of these machines lasted only from 1 to 2 years.

However, not all was gloom and doom with the Sabres. The machines that were made and introduced in 1998 were still going strong up to the end of the production of the series in 2002.

Sabres Vs. John Deere Mowers’ Quality

The Sabre series, as you now know, was made to take advantage of the need of landowners who couldn’t afford the more expensive lawn tractors of John Deere. Essentially, the Sabres were the ‘economy’ John Deeres.

Not as Sturdy as the More Expensive John Deere Lawn Tractors

So, they were built for those who need to mow their lawns without spending so much. Naturally, they are not as sturdy as the more expensive lawn tractors that John Deere makes.

Common Issues with Sabres Lawn Mowers

Since they were built with cheaper materials, the Sabres were plagued with many issues. Some of these issues include:

  • Starting problems
  • Choking problems
  • Issues with drive belts
  • Paint chipping
  • Leaking problems
  • Battery issues

By far, the biggest issue that confronted Sabre owners was the hydrostatic systems of their machines. They would just malfunction seemingly without any warning. It came to the point where the level of customer dissatisfaction was so high that no dealers were willing to sell Sabres anymore.

So that they may preserve their long-standing reputation, John Deere finally stopped production of the Sabre line of lawn equipment and its association with Scotts, which it terminated in 2002.

Is a Used Sabre Worth Buying?

Consider Several Factors

Now, we get to the most important question: is it worth buying a used Sabre? The answer to that is: it depends. You should consider several factors to determine if a certain John Deere Sabre riding tractor is worth your money.

The machine you should buy should still have some life left in it. Its engine must still be in good running condition, and most parts should still be operable.

Some Recommend Buying a Well-maintained Sabre 1642HS

Some recommend buying a well-maintained Sabre model 1642HS because it seems that this model is the best that JD or Sabre was able to build.

You can, of course, modify a John Deere Sabre lawnmower so it can last longer and mow harder. But you still have to consider that these machines were not made to last.

Frequency of Mowing

Purchasing a used but good Sabre is probably worth it if your mowing is infrequent. You should stay on top of its regular maintenance service so it can last as long as possible.

Not Worth the Money

Note that Sabres were discontinued because many customers have experienced issues with their machines during their seven years of production. That was to be expected since Sabres were made affordable because of John Deere’s cost-cutting measures.

Considering that the Sabre was made for those looking for budget lawn tractors and was designed to be the economical versions of expensive John Deeres, it is safe to say that, in general, they are not worth your money.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the answers to the most often asked questions about the Sabre lawn tractors:

What Is a Sabre Lawn Tractor?

The Sabre is a model lineup of lawn tractors manufactured by John Deere or Deere & Company. It was the economy of John Deere, as some people put it. The Sabre was designed for those who couldn’t afford the more expensive lawn equipment of John Deere.

JD began producing the Sabre line in 1995 but discontinued it in 2002. At the time of its production run, big retailers such as Home Depot and Sears were selling Sabre lawn tractors.

How Big Is the Model Lineup of Sabre?

At the height of its production, Sabre was manufacturing 35 Sabre models of lawn tractors and mowers.

Why Did John Deere Discontinue the Sabre Line?

A lot of problems were encountered by many buyers of the different models of Sabre lawn tractors. So, instead of risking its reputation as a builder of long-lasting and high-performing lawn equipment, John Deere decided to discontinue the production of Sabres in 2002.

The only Sabres that you can buy in the market today are the used ones.

In Closing: John Deere Sabre Specs and Review

The John Deer Sabre was a model lineup of lawn tractors manufactured by Deere & Company in cooperation with the Scotts Company. These small tractors were their economy line of lawn equipment. John Deere produced this lawn tractor from 1995 to 2002.

During those times, Sears, Home Depot, and other big retailers sold these lawn tractors.

However, the Sabre line of lawn tractors encountered many problems during its production run of 7 years. That’s the natural consequence of building a lawn mower with the object of making it affordable to those who can’t afford expensive John Deere lawn equipment.

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