Automatic wins, hands down! More productive and way less fatiguing to operate for long hours. If you were doing roads or lots which had very long pushes a manual might be fine, but in a lot of shuck and jive work the automatic gets the nod from me.
Im no expert snowplower, but i prefer an automatic transmission. Just makes it one less thing to have to do when plowing. I have used a stick shift truck for plowing too and it was just a little more work, trying to shift, do the clutch, brake, gas pedal, raise, lower and angle plow all at same time with only 2 feet and 2 hands. Im not saying its impossible, alot of guys do it, just my preference. Now the other thing is this, plowing with an auto, the tranny is taking alot of abuse and when it comes time for fixing, youll need a whole new tranny/converter rebuild. With a stick shift truck, the clutch is taking the abuse and when it comes time for fixing, you put in a new clutch for way cheaper than how much an auto tranny would have costed and your back in business. Just my thoughts. I still prefer an auto even if in the long run its more money to fix than a clutch job on a stick shift truck. Mike
EDIT: Alan was posting same time as me and just wanted to add i agree fully with what Alan said, Auto gets the nod.
STICK for me ! I prefer the control, the ground speed control at idle by choosing gears is much better, and I can choose a shift point rather than the transmission, based on engine rpms, load, engine vacuum, or my timing going up or down a steep grade.
Humans are still smarter than a c6, AOD, GM 350, GM 400, or GM 700, or that lady Mrs. Allison 545.
My first plowing experience was in a 1984 F-150 4X4 stick shift. That was during the blizzard we had in 1996. I don't ever want to plow in a manual shift again. I was working for a friend and we were doing all residential work, and in addition to learning how to operate the plow, I had to shift, etc. What a way to learn how to plow! Now, it is all automatics for me. But it really depends on the type of plowing you do. Good luck and welcome. Mike
Automatic, but not for the reason above! Most standard trannys have a reverse that is the same ratio as bold low, or lower then 1st,where most automatic have a higher reverse ratio then #1, so they back up faster, any as most of my plowing is commercial lots that translates into $$$! Make sure the truck you get has a trailer towing pkg if its automatic, that usually gives you heavy duty engine cooling, and a tranny cooler, a must have for plowing.
But...I plowed for a few years with a 4-speed and what I did was to make a mount for the plow controls that was attached right to the shifter. I could hold the shifter in my palm and move the controls with my thumb. Never had to take my right hand off the gearshift (until my power steering blew a seal...)
Auto for me too. Just make sure you get the trans flushed and fluid changed in the spring. Forget what the service intervals in the owner's manual say. (Who goes 7,000 miles before they change their engine oil?)
It's cheap insurance, along with an aux. trans cooler.
Started many years ago in a 1968 Scout with manual tranny and manual angle Fisher, next truck was a 1970 F-100 with standard tranny and power angle Fisher and I thought I was in heaven then. All the trucks since have all been Automatics and my left knee has been thanking me ever since!
I have one truck that is auto and one that is stick. Like everyone else said, each has its advantages. My one ton dump is stick and I have the plow controls on the gear shift as well. My auto truck has controls to the left of the steering wheel.