Briggs and Stratton 1696610 2-Stage Snow Blower Review
Briggs and Stratton have been making engines and power equipment for more than 100 years so they know a thing or two about building durable machines.
Their 950 series of two-stage snow blowers are perfect for tackling small to medium driveways and paths. The 1696610 model is the entry level 2-stage machine and is marketed as being able to handle light to medium snowfall.
At quite a low price for a quality 2-stage snow blower, this no-frills machine is built to last and we think it offers excellent value for money.
It can actually handle more snow than the spec sheet says as we will see when we take a closer look at this Briggs & Stratton model.
You can then decide if it's the right snow blower (also known as a snow thrower) for you.
Introducing the Briggs & Stratton Light-Duty Snow Blower
If you have a small to medium sized driveway with pathways to clear around your property, then a 2-stage snow thrower is going to be your new best friend. The B & S range of light and medium duty snow blowers have been built for this very purpose and are a great choice.
Their light duty machines are more than a match for frequent light to medium snowfalls, or occasional use in deeper snow as well. Adjustable skid shoes mean you can set this blower up for a range of surfaces and conditions so no matter where you need it, this snow blower will cope.
Currently boasting 5 models, the B&S 2-stage snow blower range has something for all homeowners. They go from the light duty blower with a 24-inch cut right up to a medium duty beast with a 29-inch cut.
By the way, we think that in the Briggs and Stratton world, medium-duty equates to the heavy-duty machines of other manufacturers!
The model that we are going to look at is a great value all-rounder for most people and has all the basic features you need for a capable snow thrower.
The impressive torque of 9.5 lb-ft and self-propelled friction drive make this just the job to tackle most average snow storms. If you get the occasional heavy dump of snow it can manage those as well according to some of the reviews we've found. More on that later.
What motor is in the B&S 1696610?
This model is powered by the reliable Briggs and Stratton 950 Snow Series engine. It is a 208cc 4-stroke motor that has that impressive torque rating of 9.5 lb-ft.
The 950 Snow Series of engines are designed to work through the toughest of winter conditions. Strong starting performance down to 20 degrees below zero is aided by the push button electric start with a manual recoil backup.
The electric starter requires plugging into a typical 110v mains outlet rather than using a battery and works extremely well. If you are away from a power outlet, then starting by the manual pull recoil only requires a couple of pulls at most.
The fuel tank holds around 0.75 gal (US) which is above average for this size of snow blower. That should be enough to keep you going through a normal clearing session without topping up.
How loud and heavy is it?
Briggs and Stratton don't publish the noise levels of their machines but other similar blowers are rated at around 88dB(A). That's around the same level as a loud gas powered lawn mower. Modern snow blowers are a lot quieter than older models though thanks to the improved muffler systems these days.
We recommend you always wear hearing protection when using gas-powered snow blowers. Just a few hours use without it can cause hearing loss.
This model of snow blower is quite light for a two-stage machine, coming in at around just over 170 lbs. Not surprising really considering the dimensions of 53 in (L) x 26 in (W) x 38 in (H).
What is the drive mechanism on the Briggs & Stratton Light Duty Snowblower?
The big 13" x 5" wheels have heavy tread tires fitted to them for lots of traction in all types of wintry weather.
The wheels are driven by a friction disc drive system with six forward and two reverse gears. There's no power steering on this model but as it's relatively light that doesn't seem to be a big problem.
The gearing seems to be about right on this machine with most people finding the lower forward gears perfect for clearing snow. As usual with snow blowers, many find the reverse gears a bit slow but usable.
How much snow can the 1696610 move?
Despite its light duty billing, this blower is powerful. No doubt about it. It can throw snow around 35 feet, even the wet slushy stuff.
As we talked about in our Husqvarna ST224P review, there's not an industry standard to be able to compare how much snow these blowers can clear.
As we know this machine has a 208cc engine with 9.5 ft-lbs of torque which you can use to compare to other blowers, but it does not mean that much in reality.
This Briggs and Stratton snow blower cuts a path 24 inches wide and 12 inches deep, which is the best indication of what it's capable of. The auger intake housing is actually 20 inches high so it can handle more than 12 inches depending on the type of snow.
We like to find real world examples of people using the snow blowers we recommend to get a good idea of what they're really capable of.
One reviewer we found talked about how it plowed through 11 inches of wet snow with ease. Another cleared a 250-foot long gravel driveway of a foot of snow over three days. Yet another said that it had no problem with 24 inches of snow! All in all, we're confident this snow blower is going to get through your average heavy snowfall without much of a problem.
One last important thing to look at is the auger itself. The auger on the B&S 1696610 is a notched steel ribbon type rather than stamped metal. This helps mix air into the snow as it chews it up. In turn, this makes it easier for the snow blower to process the snow and throw it a greater distance.
Is it easy to assemble?
The blower comes around 75% pre-assembled so there is a fair bit of assembly at home required. There is a video from Briggs and Stratton on how to do this plus instructions in the operator's manual. It will take you around 45 minutes to complete.
Basically, most of the setup is attaching the handles, cables, and controls. There is also the discharge chute to put on and the turning handle for it and checking the oil and tire pressures.
Note that the tires are overinflated for shipping so you need to drop these down to the pressure stamped on the tires to get the best performance.
Make sure you check the oil as some customers have reported that it only comes with a minimal amount of oil and will need topping up.
Then it's just a case of adjusting the skid shoes to the right height, adding some gas and away you go!
What is it like to use?
We've taken a good look at all the review sites and pretty much all customers that have taken the time to give feedback are happy with the performance.
As we know, starting the engine is not a problem these days even in very cold weather. Many customers report it only takes one pull to get it started if not using the electric starter.
Even though it's lighter than average for a 2-stage blower, the Briggs and Stratton Light-Duty snow blower is still a heavy machine. Most people report that it's fairly easy to maneuver though and there are no reported problems using it.
The power-driven wheels with deep tread tires are the main reason it works so well as these seem to have plenty of grip.
The central console is a fairly basic affair with just the one lever to change the gear. That does mean it's simple to operate, though. There are no headlights on this model which is a bit disappointing so a good headlamp will be required for early morning or after dark clearing.
The chute crank is on the left about half way down the handle and allows you to change the direction of the snow stream through around 200 degrees. The height of the snow stream is set by undoing a wing nut and changing the angle of the chute deflector by hand. Not something you will want to change very often but easy enough to do.
The usual blocked chute tool is provided that clips to the top of the auger housing so that it's always to hand.
The snow stream can be thrown up to around 35 feet so care is needed when around cars, houses, and people.
There are no heated handles on this model, not that they seem to be very effective on other models that have them mind you! A decent pair of gloves or mittens is the best solution to prevent frozen hands.
There is no facility on this model to lock the auger control handle so that you can operate it one handed. That means you will need to stop the machine to change the chute direction or blow your nose for instance.
Like all snow blowers, how you handle it together with the weather conditions and type of snow can affect performance. Here are some tips from the operating manuals on how to get the best from your snow thrower in case you are new to this.
• Do not operate the snow thrower without wearing adequate winter clothing.
• Never operate the snow thrower without good visibility or light. Always be sure of your footing, and keep a firm hold on the handles.
• Do not clear snow across the face of slopes. Use extreme caution when changing direction on slopes.
• Go slower in deep, freezing or heavy wet snow. Use the drive speed control to adjust speed.
• It is easier and more efficient to remove snow immediately after it falls.
• The best time to remove snow is the early morning. At this time the snow is usually dry and has not been exposed to the direct sun and warming temperatures.
• Do not overload the machine capacity by attempting to clear snow too quickly.
• Never operate the snow thrower at high transport speeds on slippery surfaces. Look behind the snow thrower and use care when operating in reverse.
• Slightly overlap each successive path to ensure all snow will be removed.
• For extremely heavy snow, reduce the width of snow removal by overlapping the previous path more and moving slowly.
• Throw snow downwind whenever possible.
• Adjust the skid plates to the proper height for current snow conditions and the terrain being cleared.
• After striking a foreign object, shut OFF the engine, thoroughly inspect the machine for any damage, and repair the damage before restarting and operating the snow blower. •
• Keep engine clean and clear of snow during use. This will help air flow and extend engine life.
• After snow throwing is completed, allow the engine to run for a few minutes to melt any snow and ice covering it.
• Clean the entire snow blower thoroughly after each use and wipe dry before storing.
Are there any problems with the Briggs and Stratton snow blower?
Happily, there only seems to be the odd isolated incident of a machine not starting that we can find.
Most snow blowers will throw a belt or breakdown in some other way now and again but the Briggs and Stratton machines are very reliable.
There is a good service network for Briggs and Stratton machines as well in case you do get any problems.
What accessories can I get for this blower?
There are no accessories that we can find supplied by Briggs and Stratton themselves. However, you can pick up some useful generic ones on Amazon.
An example would be if you have some steeper slopes to clear, then you may appreciate some snow chains
You might also want to get a cover for your snow blower when winter is over. There are several universal ones on Amazon that will do the job nicely.
Apart from that, you will want to invest in safety goggles, ear protectors, and gloves.
What maintenance will I need to do on it?
The owner’s manual has a detailed breakdown of all the maintenance tasks, how to do them and when.
Here's a quick rundown of what they recommend to keep the snow blower in top condition
• Before Each Use
Check engine oil level
Perform Safety System Tests
• Every 8 Hours or Daily
Check engine oil level
• Every 25 Hours or Annually
Lubricate control lever linkages
Lubricate the auger assembly
Lubricate the discharge chute rotation gear and deflector
Lubricate the hex shaft and gears
• Every 50 Hours or Annually
Check muffler and spark arrester (if equipped) •
Check tire pressure
It's all straightforward and the instructions are easy to follow so most owners with some DIY tools and a bit of knowledge will be able to do their own maintenance.
Shear bolts are used to protect both the right and left-hand augers as well as the impeller shaft. They are designed to shear if something gets stuck in the rotating parts rather than damage the snow blower. A spare set is included in the box.
The skid shoes on this model are made of steel and reversible, so they will last longer than the plastic ones fitted to many other snow blowers. They are easy to change if you need to though, just check the parts manual or contact Briggs and Stratton for the correct part number.
The Briggs and Stratton website has download links for all the operator (OM) and part number (IPL) manuals in case you don’t have one. You will need the model number stamped on the blower itself to find the correct ones. The instructions on the website guide you through this and are easy to follow.
How long is the warranty on the Light-Duty Snowblower?
The warranty period on the 1696610 is for 3 years.
This covers both the engine and the machine itself.
The warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship and provides free repair or replacement at any authorized servicing center or dealer.
What are the specifications of the B&S 1696610 Snowblower?
Just in case you like to know the specs as listed by the manufacturer, here they are in all their glory!
Working width 24 in
Gross Torque 9.5 lb-ft
Snow depth, max 30 cm (12 in)
Intake height 20 in
Throwing distance 35 ft
Fuel tank volume (with reserve) 0.75 gal (US)
Engine manufacturer Briggs and Stratton
Engine series Snow Series
Cylinder displacement 12.7(208cc)
Transmission type Friction Disc
Transmission steps forward 6
Transmission steps reverse 2
Chute material Steel
Chute rotation 200 deg - Left side crank
Chute deflector Manual
Size/Thread 13" x 5"
Base machine, length 53 in
Base machine, width 26 in
Base machine, height 38 in
Weight 170 lbs
What are the Pros and Cons of buying this snow blower?
Here are all the Pros and Cons in a nice list to refresh your memory on how good this snow blower is:
Easy to use.
Powerful enough for most average homeowner snow blowing jobs.
Starts easily with both the electric and recoil starters.
Great build quality.
Cheaper than many good 2-stage blowers.
Power driven wheels provide good grip in adverse weather.
Lighter than average for two-stage snow blowers.
Noise levels are high enough for the operator to need ear defenders.
No heated handles.
No power steering.
Chute deflector is manual adjustment.
The Briggs and Stratton 24" Light-Duty Two-Stage Snowblower is simply a great buy if you want a straightforward machine that's going to last you a long time.
The 24-inch wide cut, solid build quality, and reliable operation puts it more in the medium duty range rather than a light duty machine.
It may not be big enough to keep large open areas clear of snow, but then you would go for something more like the 29" model for that anyway.
With all that in mind, consider this if you have a medium sized driveway or possibly even a large one. As long as you live in an area where you only occasionally get 12" snowfalls and most of the time it's in the 2-8 inch range then the B&S 1696610 will serve you well.
At a price not much above budget two-stage or top end single stage snow blowers, this model is definitely worth checking out on Amazon for the best deals.
If you think this B&S model might not be powerful enough, check out our review on the best two stage snow blowers for some other recommended models.
Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API