Best Chainsaw 2018
Choosing The Best Chainsaw In 2018
Ranging from gas-powered monsters designed to fell large trees to battery powered for yard maintenance, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to choose the best chainsaw for you.
As with most power tools purchases’, choosing the best chainsaw comes down to firstly knowing what they’re capable of and what you need it for – After that, it’s easy to make a great choice.
This article breaks down our top chainsaw recommendations in several categories, and also provides a thorough feature guide.
Everything you need to choose the perfect chainsaw for your needs… Click below to get started.
Considerations before choosing your chainsaw
Back in the “good ole days” it was much easier to choose a chainsaw than it is today…
The reason is that today we have a much larger selection to choose from – There used to only be monstrous gas-powered beastly chainsaws for sale, but these days there’s also electric and even cordless versions, which come with a bunch of nice modern features.
All of this choice is great, but it can also make choosing your chainsaw a daunting decision – You want to be sure you get the one that best fits your needs of course.
But fear not…
This section of our buying guide has everything you need to know before choosing the right chainsaw for you.
We’ll do a breakdown of the types available (plus their strengths and weaknesses), and the important features you need to know about.
We’ll also consider what you actually need a chainsaw for (yard maintenance, or felling huge trees?), and which are the best chainsaws for your needs.
You’ll also find links to more thorough articles about all of these things throughout this guide.
So with that said, let’s get this show on the road…
As mentioned above, there’s a selection of different types to choose from:
- Gas powered
- Pole saws
Gas powered chainsaws
When you think of a chainsaw, you probably imagine a gas powered one.
These have been the most common type for the last several decades, with electric and cordless options only becoming available more recently.
You’ll find that these are truly beastly tools, and designed to tackle the toughest of chainsaw jobs. They’re by far the most capable of all types.
If you’re spending hours on end in the forest felling massive trees, then a gas chainsaw could be the right choice for you.
But if you’ll be managing small or medium sized trees around your yard or property, a gas chainsaw is likely going to be overkill.
There’s a sole benefit to these gas beasts: Copious amounts of power.
You’ll find that some of these monsters can even produce up to 3HP, which is a whole lot of power for a tool of this size.
But if you’re felling or limbing huge trees, that’s what’s needed.
You shouldn’t choose a gas chainsaw unless you absolutely need one for tough work, because they come with a lot of drawbacks as compared to the other types.
You’ll find that these gas versions are:
- Requiring much maintenance
- Dangerous and difficult to use
The weight of these things makes a big difference during extended use – those extra pounds straining on your hands and arms causes fatigue fast than you’d imagine.
Not only might your neighbours complain about the noise of a gas chainsaw, but it might also cause damage to your hearing. Of course though, you should always be wearing hearing protection.
There’s no getting away from the fumes with these gas powered beasts. If you’re using one, you just gotta get used to the stench.
Likewise, you can’t escape the maintenance. Using gas motors means these chainsaws include components like spark plugs and such – And this complex mechanical design means it’ll need regular maintenance.
You might consider this a benefit too though – If you’re mechanically savvy you should be able to repair a gas chainsaw if it breaks down. Unlike if a cordless or electric one breaks down and it needs a trip to the manufacturers service center.
As you can see, there’s quite a lot of trade-offs in return for the monstrous power that these gas chainsaws provide.
If this all sounds like a bit too much, you might be better suited to an electric option…
By “electric” I mean corded chainsaws…
Technically a battery powered/cordless version might also be considered an electric, but we’ll discuss those in the next section.
Remember that big list gas chainsaw drawbacks that we just discussed above? Well, corded chainsaws are like the complete opposite of that.
While they produce much less power than their bigger gas brothers, they’re also:
- Very easy and comfortable to use
While you won’t be felling 70ft trees with an electric chainsaw, they still do produce plenty of power to tackle small and medium sized trees.
Depending on the bar size (we’ll talk about the important features below) these electric versions should handle trees or limbs up to a thickness of around 12 inches in diameter.
This is much less power than a gas version, but it should be perfect for maintaining many of the trees found in the yards and properties across America.
Aside from lower power output, the other main drawback is the power cord…
Not only can this be a hazard during use (it could snag, or trip you), but it means you’re restricted to only using your chainsaw within a certain distance of a power outlet.
If you’ve got a small yard or some external power outlets, this won’t be an issue for you. There’s also the option to string out some extension cords of course, but that can be a real hassle.
These corded chainsaws are perfect for maintaining small trees that are pretty near your home (and its power outlets), but if you’ve got larger spaces to cover then you might consider a cordless chainsaw instead…
When you think of felling a tree with a battery powered chainsaw, what’s the first issue that comes to mind?
If you’re thinking “surely it’ll lack power!” then I’m afraid to say you’re wrong…
Ok, ok, maybe you’re not totally wrong… The batteries in these chainsaws certainly won’t produce anything near the level of power you get from a gas powered version.
But battery technology these days has come on a long way from the lack luster tools you might remember from 10+ years ago.
When it comes to cordless chainsaws of today, they can definitely produce the same (or greater) power as a corded version and are suitable for similar tasks – felling or limbing trees up to around a 12 inch diameter.
The second concern you may have is about the battery life…
If there’s one thing to remember from cordless tools of 10+ years ago, it’s how after what seemed like only a few minutes they’d be struggling to produce power, and then eventually they’d stop working altogether as the battery died.
And then, you’d have a 5 hour wait to recharge the darn thing!
This can still be an issue with the batteries of today, especially in the cheaper chainsaw models.
But the good news is, many of the larger manufacturers have invested a lot in battery technology and there’s some really great options out there today.
From the likes of Dewalt and Makita, which you could easily call the best chainsaw brands, you’ll find battery powered chainsaws that produce good power and also have batteries that not only hold charge for a long time but are also fast to recharge.
The benefits of these cordless chainsaws are much the same as with the electric ones we discussed in the previous section – They’re lightweight, easy to use, quiet, and easy to maintain.
The main drawback is the battery itself… No matter how good it is, it will need to be recharged eventually.
The good news is that you won’t notice this as an issue unless you’re using a chainsaw for extended periods of time… In that case, you might want to have two batteries so you can charge one while using the other.
Do be sure to check the battery quality before buying though. It’s probably best to stick to the top tier manufacturers, as you might feel that you’ve traveled back in time with some of the cheaper options.
As well as the different types available today, you should also know about the important features of chainsaws…
Important chainsaw features
Chainsaws are fairly simple tools overall, and the main features you’ll want to be aware of are:
- Bar & chain
- Power source
- Safety features
- Ease-of-use features
Bar & chain
A chainsaw is made up of two main parts…
There’s the body which houses the motor and other mechanics, and then there’s the bar which is the long part attached to the body. The chain runs around the bar.
The most important thing to know here is that bars come in different lengths – generally from around 10 inches (at the very smallest) up to over 20 inches.
The size of the bar determines the cutting capacity of the tool. You’ll generally want to have about 2 inches more depth than what you’re trying to cut – so a 16 inch bar has the cutting capacity to cut through a 14 or 15 inch thick tree or limb.
You’ll find that electric and cordless chainsaws tend to top out around 16 inches. For larger than that, you’ll probably want to consider a gas version.
We’ve pretty much already discussed the power sources in the previous section – There’s gas, corded, and battery powered chainsaws.
Each have their own benefits and drawbacks which we covered in detail above – Go ahead and scroll back up to check that out again.
Power output of a chainsaw not only affects what the saw can actually cut through (or not)… But, it also determines how fast it’ll make cuts.
Having adequate power is always nice to make cuts quick, which makes your work more efficient.
The handles on a chainsaw are easy to overlook, but they’re very important.
Poor handles can be not only uncomfortable to use (increasing user fatigue), but also a safety hazard.
Handles that lack grip or steadiness diminish your control over the tool – Not what you want when handling such a dangerous saw.
Cheap chainsaws tend to skimp in this area, and often include handles that are basically just plastic tubes. Whereas top end saws from the likes of Makita or Dewalt will have sculpted ergonomic handles that are a dream to use.
A hefty chainsaw might be fine for making a few cuts.. But if you’re not used to using such heavy tools or you’re using it for long periods of time, you’ll find it very draining.
Hand cramps and strains in your arms will be common with a heavy tool.
This, once again, can lead to a safety hazard as you’ll be in less control as you fatigue during use.
Being excessively heavy can also just make it harder to do the task at hand and be generally uncomfortable.
The good news is that modern cordless and electric chainsaws can be very lightweight indeed, with some even being down around 8 lbs.
First things first – Go check out our chainsaw safety guide. These are dangerous tools, and you really need to know what you’re doing and be aware of the risks.
The main safety feature on a chainsaw is the chain brake.
This sort of looks like another handle, and is positioned between the actual top handle and the chain itself.
The idea here is that if the saw kicks back during use, the chain brake will be pushed into your arm or hand. This causes the brake to engage, and instantly stops the saw from spinning.
It’s a crucial safety feature.
Speaking of kickbacks, those are common with chainsaws, and you should be sure to learn about them before using your own.
In addition, there’s a bunch of other secondary safety gear that any reasonable chainsaw user should at least consider:
- Safety glasses
- Hearing protection
- Protective chaps
- Non-slip work boots
- Protective gloves
Take this seriously – chainsaws can be incredibly dangerous. Just take a look at this video and you’ll understand what you’re dealing with.
Because of this, a lot of safety gear is needed to be fully protected.
You won’t usually find these on gas chainsaws, but many cordless and electric options include some very handy extra features:
- Automatic chain oiler
- Tool-less chain adjustments
- Oil reservoir window
These are small features, but very beneficial.
Most saws will have the automatic chain oiler (which keeps the chain lubricated during use) – but the tool-less adjustments and reservoir window are less common.
Tool-less adjustment is a very desirable feature, as without that you’ll need a little tool kit to adjust the tension of your chain – Talk about awkward!
The oil reservoir window is handy, letting you check the oil level at a glance. You’ll find that on many of the Makita chainsaws.
You’ll see that during this section we’ve linked out to several other articles where you can learn more about chainsaw features and things you might want to consider before making your buying choice.
Here’s a complete list of the resources we covered:
- Chainsaw safety guide
- How to use A chainsaw
- A guide to chainsaw features and types
- How to sharpen a chainsaw
Now let’s move right along to the real reason you’re here – Recommendations for specific products…
Top Rated Chainsaw Reviews
As with any power tool purchasing decision, you should keep in mind that the best chainsaw for you is going to be the one that’s most suitable for your needs…
By that I mean, if you’re trekking deep into the woods for hours at a time to deal with some monstrous trees then you’re not going to want a corded saw as that would be totally useless.
Likewise, if you just need to maintain the trees around your home then a gas guzzling 24-inch beastly chainsaw from Husqvarna is going to be total overkill and cause you a lot of hassle.
In the previous sections we’ve talked about the strengths and weakness of the different chainsaws out there, so by now you should have a good idea of the type that’s going to be best for you.
With all that out of the way, now we can start making some specific product recommendations… Here are the chainsaw reviews you’ve been looking for!
Best cordless chainsaw: Dewalt DCCS620P1
DeWalt is one of the first companies consumers turn to when it’s time to buy a cordless power tool. While they make some of the best cordless drills on the planet, the DeWalt DCCS620P1 is a cordless chainsaw that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
At this point it’s worth mentioning we have a full Dewalt DCCS620P1 review that you might be interested to check out.
With a 20V battery, you wouldn’t expect too much from a cordless chainsaw, but DeWalt has managed to pack a lot of power into their MAX Compact batteries.
This one is rated at 5.0 Ah and capable of laying down 70 cuts on a 4” x 4” before it goes dry. While you probably won’t use the saw to cut stock from hardware stores, it will tear down trees and branches with ease.
Another obvious perk is the fact you won’t have to deal with gas anymore which cuts down on trips to the repair shop. The only real maintenance costs will come from oil and chains.
Eventually, you may have to replace the battery on the DeWalt DCCS620P1 although it has a solid warranty. If something does go wrong, you can always pull a hot battery from another tool in DeWalt’s 20V Max system. There are plenty to choose from.
The DeWalt DCCS620P1 is quiet, powerful, constructed from quality parts, and is a great all-around choice if you want a solid chainsaw that’s compatible with their tool system. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can learn more in our guide to the best cordless chainsaws.
While we recommended this one for general use, it’s not something you would necessarily want for heavy-duty work.
Best electric chainsaw: Makita UC4051A
The Makita UC4051A is another solid option although not as beefy as our top overall choice. It still has plenty of pop, however, and is a great chainsaw for beginners and among the best electric chainsaws with a cord.
We also have a full Makita UC4051A review – But, here’s the gist of it…
Comfortable is a word generally not used to describe chainsaws but one we’ll use here. The Makita UC4051 has an ergonomic handle with rubberized grips to keep your hands fresh with extended usage.
We also like the large trigger which makes it simple to start and the fact you can check in on the oil level courtesy of a see-through window.
Tensioning a chainsaw can be a tall order for beginners, but shouldn’t be an issue with this particular saw. It has a “Tool-less” system in place which utilizes a system of knobs and levers instead of wrenches and screwdrivers.
Safety is always a concern when using a tool of this nature. That includes your safety and not overworking the saw as well. While we can give you tips on chainsaw safety, the Makita UC4051 has built-in protection for the saw.
A current limiter ensures you don’t burn the motor out through overuse or high heat. Other features to note for the UC4051A include a speed of 2,900 FPM, bucking spikes, and a 16” bar.
There’s a lot to like about this saw, and only one glaring drawback – the cord. Corded chainsaws are not going to be for everyone, especially if you have a large lot to keep tidy or lots of trees on your properly.
If you do need a light-duty saw and don’t mind the cord, it’s hard to beat what the Makita UC4051 brings to the table. It gets high marks across the board in all the key areas including reliability and performance.
This saw comes with a 1-year warranty but no accessories so you may want to pick up a scabbard for the bar.
Best gas chainsaw: Husqvarna 240
Now we’re going to take a look at something a little more traditional in the Husqvarna 240 chainsaw. It uses good old-fashioned gas and oil and is considerably more powerful than our top two choices.
When you buy Husqvarna, you know you are getting a quality tool, and they are well-known for their chainsaws. The 240 has a 38cc motor that produces 2 HP with a maximum speed of 9000 RPM.
The saw idles at 3000 RPM, and if you are worried about excess emissions, you can put those fears aside.
The company’s X-Torq engine is rated for low emissions. That won’t stop oil from leaking onto your floor, but it’s certainly a plus. The same can be said for ease of use thanks to a chain tensioner mounted on the side.
We chose the Husqvarna 240 as our choice for the best gas chainsaw due to the balance of power and affordability. It’s one of their base models, and not without a few drawbacks, but performs like a champ for the price.
The only major downside on this model is the fact it tend to leak more than other saws in this class. It’s something you are likely to experience no matter what, but we feel it could have been handled better on the 240.
Best budget chainsaw: Earthwise LCS32010
Budget and chainsaw are two words that when combined, can scare consumers off or lure them in. In the case of the Earthwise LCS32010, it’s a good thing as it’s an affordable saw that delivers what it promises.
Earthwise has gained ground in the tool world over the past few years thanks to their affordable lineup or products. The Earthwise LCS32010 fits that bill and is one of the cheapest chainsaws on our list and also one of the smallest at 10-inches.
This saw pulls its power from a 20-volt Lithium-ion battery and has a 10” bar and chain from Oregon.
It also has steel bucking spikes to help you get a better grip and is comfortable to use with a large trigger and wraparound handle.
The LCS32010 has an automatic oiler to keep the chain running smoothly and sports a tool-less system to set the tension. It can go from a zero to 100% in only one hour as well, which is quite impressive and a huge bonus.
While the price may be what draws you to this saw, it’s far from the only reason to consider it. It’s highly rated for a reason, and while small, packs a nice punch so it’s undoubtedly the best chainsaw for the money.
If you do need something a little larger, Earthwise has this saw in larger sizes for a bit more money and have a few cordless models as well.
Best homeowner chainsaw: Dewalt DCCS620P1
The DeWalt DCC620P1 took the top spot as the best cordless chainsaw, and it’s making an encore performance on our list as the best option for homeowners. It’s just that good…
At only 8.8 pounds, the DeWalt DCCS620P1 is a lightweight saw which makes it ideal for home use. 20-volts may not seem like much considering there are 56-volt saws, but this one has excellent battery life and plenty of pop for light to medium-duty usage around your property.
Ease of use is another important factor to consider and one where the DCC620P1 excels. It starts up in seconds and with no need for gas, there is very little maintenance.
While DeWalt makes quality products, it’s nice to have peace of mind. You’ll get plenty of that with the company’s unique warranty. It has a 3-year limited warranty along with 1-year of free service and a 90-day money back guarantee. That’s had to beat.
If you already have 20-volt DeWalt tools in your arsenal and have been on the fence about “electric” chainsaws, now’s the time to hop off.
The DeWalt DCC620P1 is powerful, affordable and a tool that will surprise you once you attempt to take down your first tree. The outstanding warranty is the icing on the cake, and we also like the fact they have service centers in almost every state in the country.
Best small chainsaw: Makita UC3551A
The Makita UC3551A is a dead ringer for our top choice for the best electric chainsaw. They share the same design and a similar set of features although there is one key difference between the two models.
This is a smaller corded model with a 14” bar and chain. That makes it easier to handle if weight is a concern or you just want a smaller saw. It still runs at 2900 FPM and has those handy bucking spikes in the front.
Other standout features for this model include the see-through oil reservoir, ergonomic handle, and tool-less tensioning system. You can read more about the Makita UC3551A in our guide to the best small chainsaws.
If you want a lightweight chainsaw that won’t strain your back or break the bank, this one is well worth a look.While underpowered compared to larger models, it a reliable saw and one we highly recommend.
Best professional chainsaw: Husqvarna 460
Husqvarna was a lock for our best gas chainsaw, and they ran away with the title of the best professional model as well. This time around it’s the Husqvarna 460 however, which is a bit more beastly than the previous model.
Whereas the 240 has a 38cc 2-stroke engine, the Husqvarna 460 kicks things up to 60cc and 3.62 HP. The engine is powerful, and the 24” bar and chain on the Rancher is certainly in the pro class.
Tensioning is handled through a system on the side of the saw, and you can expect all the usual features like a chain break and automatic oiler. The latter is actually adjustable –something you don’t see every day.
We covered this 24” saw in-depth in our guide to the best professional chainsaws if you’d like to learn more about what it’s capable of.
At 21 pounds, this saw is heavy, which will rule it out automatically for some consumers or those with back issues. Professional saws are generally not lightweight.
If you can handle the heft, we highly recommend the Husqvarna 460 as it’s a saw that will outlast and outperform the competition.
Chainsaws aren’t just for taking down 6-foot trees and are no longer something homeowners should shy away from. They are still dangerous tools, but as long as you keep our safety tips in mind, you’ll be just fine.
Choosing the best chainsaw to suit your needs should always come before fancy features or brand names. Once you know what how you’ll use the saw and how often, narrowing the field will come naturally when you use our tips.