Chainsaws: The Best of 2019
Quick... What's your first thought when someone mentions the word "chainsaw?" If you said "Leatherface" or "disturbing 1970s horror classic," bonus points to you for your pop culture knowledge. But that's not why we're talking about chainsaws today. This is about real-life chainsaw uses — cutting trees, tree limbs, firewood, etc., and which ones are the best.
There are quite a few chainsaws out there, so which is right for you? If you prefer a cordless experience, a gas-operated model or a battery-powered unit is probably the way to go. If you don't mind extension cords, a corded electric chainsaw might be the perfect fit. There are lots of features to consider, so read on to see what we've identified as the best of the best when it comes to chainsaws.
Let's get one thing out of the way quickly — the Husqvarna 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw is not for the casual, weekend-only chainsaw user. This machine is a beast, the real deal. And it's a spectacular combination of power and convenience for those who are frequently working in the woods.
With bar lengths available up to 24 inches, the Husqvarna 460 Rancher gives you plenty to work with. And so does the powerful two-cycle X-Torq engine with intertia-activated chain brake. When you take this gas-powered chainsaw into the field, trees and brush simply don't stand a chance.
Now, let's talk about convenience, because the Husqvarna 460 Rancher is absolutely loaded with features that make operation — and therefore your life — easier. We'll start with...the starter! Smart Start technology ensures that revving up this saw is as simple as can be--especially for a gas-powered tool. For comfort, the LowVib vibration-reduction system does exactly what it says it does — reduces vibration so the chainsaw is more comfortable to hold and operate.
Hang on — we're still talking about how convenient the Husqvarna 460 Rancher is. There's an automatic chain oiler that delivers a steady supply of bar and chain oil. And also an easy-to-use, side-mounted chain tensioning system that allows for quick chain adjustments while working. And we can't forget the quick-release air filter, which makes cleaning and replacing the air filter a breeze.
If you've got demanding projects that require a powerful chainsaw, and you don't mind spending extra to get the incredible combination of power and convenience, the Husqvarna 460 Rancher is the chainsaw you're looking for.
- Two-cycle X-Torq engine with intertia-activated chain brake
- Automatic chain oiler
- Side-mounted chain tensioning system
- Up to 24" bar length
- 3.62 horsepower
- Dimensions: 12" x 12" x 38"
- Weight: 12.79 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Husqvarna
- Included Components: Saw, blade guide, and blade
- Warranty: 2 years
- Power Source: Fuel/Oil Mixture
- X-Torq engine reduces fuel consumption
- Easy Smart Start technology
- LowVib vibration-reduction system makes operation more comfortable
- Air Injection system keeps dust and debris out of air filter
- Some bar oil leakage
While many corded electric chainsaws are not as powerful as their gas-powered counterparts, the Makita UC4051A 16" Electric Chainsaw can proudly classify itself as an exception to that rule. This chainsaw packs the power, enough to take down any small tree and even some with medium-sized diameters.
Yes, you have to use extension cords... but if that's not a concern, you'll love the power that this Makita saw delivers--and the easy maintenance that a gas-powered chainsaw does not. For example, you'll appreciate the simple start-up that this chainsaw offers with the large trigger switch versus pulling and pulling the cord of a gas-powered saw. The Makita UC4051A also offers tool-free blade and chain adjustments for convenience.
The Makita UC4051A Electric Chainsaw is built with rubberized grip handles that are ergonomically designed for comfort during prolonged use. Between comfort, convenience, power, and the fact that you don't have to deal with the headaches that come with gas-powered tools, the Makita UC4051A 16" Electric Chainsaw is a smart investment.
- Tool-less blade and chain adjustments
- Built-in current limiter
- Electric chain brake
- Large trigger switch with soft start
- Automatic chain oiler
- Dimensions: 10" x 24.2" x 10.5"
- Weight: 14 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Makita
- Included Components: Saw, guide bar cover
- Warranty: 1 year
- Power Source: Corded
- Visible bar oil level
- Rubberized grip handles and large trigger switch for comfortable use
- Tool-free blade and chain adjustments for convenience
- Built-in current limiter helps protect motor from burnout
- Need to use power cords and extension cords
- Somewhat expensive
With an extremely affordable price tag, the Oregon CS1500 Electric Chainsaw is the right tool for anyone on a budget. It packs enough power to take care of small and medium-sized jobs, and it's loaded with some amazing convenience features, as well.
The exclusive PowerSharp self-sharpening system does exactly what it says — it sharpens the chain blade while in use. And the instant-start feature gets the saw powered up, well, instantly! No more pulling cords and priming and messing with gas.
Perhaps the best feature of this chainsaw is the brand name. Oregon has been producing high-quality bars and chains for several brands of chainsaws for years, and the CS1500 is no exception! While you will need a generator or extension cords for power, this electric saw provides gas-like performance.
The Oregon CS1500 chainsaw doesn't skimp on comfort either. It's ergonomically designed to be lightweight and balanced, it offers an Over-Mold handle for even more comfort, and it produces very little vibration while you're working.
All in all, the Oregon CS1500 Self-Sharpening Electric Chainsaw offers high-quality performance and power —especially considering its budget-friendly cost.
- PowerSharp self-sharpening system
- Instant start capability
- Chain brake
- Automatic oiler with view-through window
- Tool-less chain tensioning system
- Dimensions: 37.5" x 18" x 10.5"
- Weight: 12.6 lbs
- Manufacturer: Oregon
- Included Components: Saw, bar oil, cover, bar, and chain
- Warranty: 2 years
- Power Source: Corded
- Lightweight design
- Easy-to-use tensioner and blade sharpener
- Instant start-up for convenience
- Quiet operation
- Power cord isn't long; will require extra extension cords
- Chain comes off occasionally
Don't let its size fool you: The DEWALT DCCS620B 20V MAX XR 12 Inch Cordless Chainsaw isn't the biggest saw out there, but it can sure do its job... as long as you're not trying to cut down a giant tree.
For small or medium-sized trees, branches, and brush, the DEWALT DCCS620B does a phenomenal job. The 12" Oregon bar and chain help minimize kickback, while the compact, lightweight design ensures ease of use. It's also designed with a high-efficiency brushless motor that maximizes run time and motor life.
This specific version of the DEWALT DCCS620B chainsaw doesn't include the battery, but once you purchase it separately, it opens a world of possibilities. That's because the 20V MAX lithium-ion battery is compatible with well over 100 DEWALT battery-operated tools. So, if you already use DEWALT cordless 20V MAX tools, you can even use those batteries! And on a full charge, the battery offers plenty of life for light to moderate usage.
If most of your chainsaw usage is for cleanup, firewood, and other lighter chores, then the DEWALT DCCS620B 20V MAX XR Compact 12 Inch Cordless Chainsaw is the right model at the right price.
- High-efficiency brushless motor
- Low kick-back 12" Oregon bar and chain
- Tool-free chain tensioning and bar-tightening knob
- 25.2 feet per second chain speed
- Lightweight design
- Dimensions: 25" x 9" x 9"
- Weight: 8.8 lbs.
- Manufacturer: DEWALT
- Included Components: Saw, guide bar, and chain
- Warranty: 3 years
- Power Source: 20V MAX lithium-ion battery (not included)
- High-efficiency brushless motor maximizes run time and motor life
- Tool-free chain tensioning and bar-tightening knob for proper bar clamping force
- Compact, lightweight design makes it easy to use
- 20V MAX lithium-ion battery can be used interchangeably with several DEWALT tools
- Battery not included with this model (available separately)
- Some issues with oil cap and oil leakage
With the Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12 Inch Top Handle Chainsaw, you certainly get what you pay for — a chainsaw that rivals some of the most powerful and dependable on the market.
Let's start with the 32.2cc commercial-grade Pure Fire engine — this powerhouse is designed to provide clean performance with plenty of oomph, all while consuming less fuel. Speaking of fuel, the half throttle choke with purge primer bulb guarantees an easy start and warm up — and with a gas-powered chainsaw, that's a big plus.
There's plenty of convenience packed into the Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 chainsaw as well. The automatic gear-driven oiler keeps the bar and chain well lubricated, and the side access chain tensioning ensures quick and convenient chain adjustment whenever you need it. And if you're going to be doing some cutting, you want to be comfortable; fortunately, the anti-vibration system reduces some of those vibrations for easier operation.
The Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12 Inch Top Handle Chainsaw still offers a lot of bang for the buck. You're getting professional-grade performance yet paying far less than you would for a commercial-grade chainsaw.
- 32.2cc commercial-grade Pure Fire engine
- Half throttle choke with purge primer bulb
- Automatic gear-driven oiler
- Side access chain tensioning
- Sprocket nose bar with Oregon chain
- Dimensions: 11.2" x 15.4" x 11.8"
- Weight: 11.9 lbs
- Manufacturer: Tanaka
- Included Components: Saw, chain
- Warranty: 7-year consumer
- Power Source: Gas
- Half-throttle choke with purge primer bulb for easy start and warm-up
- 7-year consumer warranty
- Sprocket nose bar with Oregon chains for increased control and easier cuts
- Anti-vibration system for comfort
- A bit heavy
- Air filter cover occasionally comes off
- Some oil drippage
With a 16-inch bar and chain, the Craftsman CMXGSAMA426S 42cc 2-Cycle 16 Inch Gas-Powered Chainsaw offers plenty of length to tackle just about any small to medium-sized job. That's because its powerful 42cc 2-cycle full crank gas engine delivers steady power and is engineered to handle tree limbing, pruning, cutting, and trimming tasks.
The Craftsman CMXGSAMA426S chainsaw is also designed with comfort and convenience in mind. From simple pull starts and a cushioned, full-wrap aluminum handle to a three-point anti-vibration system, this chainsaw is comfortable to operate. Despite this chainsaw's size, it's surprisingly easy to control thanks to the low kickback bar and chain, bucking spikes, and inertia-activated chain brake.
If you've got branches to trim, firewood to cut, brush to clear, and small trees or shrubs to remove, the Craftsman CMXGSAMA426S 42cc 2-Cycle 16 Inch Gas-Powered Chainsaw is a solid, sturdy tool that will get the job done time after time.
- 42cc 2-cycle full crank gas engine
- Three-point anti-vibration system
- 16-inch low kickback bar and chain
- Adjustable automatic oiler
- Inertia-activated chain brake
- Dimensions: 31.25" x 10" x 11.25"
- Weight: 13.84 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Craftsman
- Included Components: Saw, chain, carrying case, and 2-cycle oil
- Warranty: 2 years
- Power Source: Gas
- 42cc 2-cycle full crank gas engine with pro-grade chassis delivers steady power
- Automatic oiler keeps bar and chain lubricated
- 16-inch bar and chain provide plenty of length
- Easy start-up
- Not suitable for heavy-duty jobs
- Heavy design
DIYers and homeowners who do occasional yard labor will love the Worx WG322 20V Cordless Chainsaw. Arborists and lumberjacks? Probably not. But most of us are not arborists or lumberjacks, so this little chainsaw does just fine for smaller jobs, such as clearing brush and trimming limbs from smaller trees.
It's powered by a 20V Power Share battery, which is great if you own other Worx Power Share tools — the batteries can be used interchangeably for convenience. The downside is, the battery can take a while to charge, so you'll want to make sure it's ready and charged when you need to use it. And while you're using it, the ergonomic grip keeps your hand comfortable during operation. The lightweight, compact design certainly doesn't hurt either. For further convenience, the automatic chain tensioning keeps the chain tight during operation, and auto lubrication keeps the chain oiled for optimal performance.
While the Worx WG322 20V Cordless Chainsaw isn't ideal for tougher work, with its reasonable price tag and ability to take care of smaller jobs, this saw gives you a good tool for the money.
- Automatic, tool-free chain tension system
- Automatic chain lubrication with oil lever indicator
- Includes 20V battery and charger
- Dimensions: 25" x 7.5" x 9.5"
- Weight: 6.19 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Worx
- Included Components: Saw, chain, Power Share 20V lithium-ion battery, and battery charger
- Warranty: 3 years
- Power Source: 20V lithium-ion battery
- Automatic chain tension system and lubrication keep saw going
- Ergonomic grip for comfort
- 20V Power Share battery compatible with other Worx Power Share tools
- Lightweight design
- Chain sometimes comes off
- Battery takes a long time to charge
- Not suited for bigger jobs
Think about it... no gas or oil to fill or mix, no nasty fumes, no pulling on a cord to start, minimal noise. Yes, those are the benefits of any cordless chainsaw. But with those positives generally comes the negative of less power than a gas-powered saw. No such sacrifice is made with the Milwaukee Electric Tools 2727-21HD Chainsaw Kit.
This 16-inch saw delivers the power and performance of a gas-powered chainsaw with the convenience of a cordless design. Its "redlink plus" intelligence ensures top-notch performance and provides overload protection to prevent damage during heavy applications. The powerstate brushless motor maintains speed under heavy loads, perfect for professional landscaping and clearing jobs.
Unlike some cordless models, the Milwaukee Electric Tools 2727-21HD Chainsaw offers impressive battery life with the redlithium high-output HD 12.0 battery pack — up to 150 cuts per full charge!
Combine all of those incredible features with instant start-up and quiet operation, and you can see why this chainsaw is one of our favorites available. When you invest in the Milwaukee Electric Tools 2727-21HD Chainsaw Kit, you get exactly what you pay for.
- Powerstate brushless motor
- Redlink plus intelligence technology
- 16-inch Oregon bar and chain
- M18 redlithium high-output battery
- M18 fuel technology
- Dimensions: 10" x 36" x 11"
- Weight: 21 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Milwaukee Electric Tools
- Included Components: Saw, chain, bar guide, M18 redlithium battery, and charger
- Warranty: 5 years
- Power Source: Lithium-ion battery
- Redlink plus intelligence: ensures optimal performance and provides overload protection to prevent damage to the tool and battery
- Powerstate brushless motor generates power and performance of gas chainsaw
- M18 fuel technology allows saw to reach full throttle in under a second
- Impressive battery life
- Quiet operation
- Chain falls off occasionally and needs to be tensioned
- On the heavy side
Made for quick, light jobs around the yard, the BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX 12 Inch Cordless Chainsaw is a good tool to have handy. This chainsaw isn't going to help an arborist much, but if you're looking to clear out some brush, remove some shrubs, or handle some smaller trees, this BLACK+DECKER model gets the job done.
It uses a 40V MAX lithium-ion battery to provide the cordless convenience of a gas-powered chainsaw, minus the hassle that comes with gas tools. The automatic oiling system delivers plenty of lubrication to the 12" premium bar and chain for consistently smooth performance.
A unique feature of the BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX Cordless Chainsaw is its full wrap-around handle that makes sure you stay comfortable even when you're cutting in different orientations.
As long as you have realistic expectations, you'll appreciate what the BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX Cordless Chainsaw brings to the table. It's not a heavy-duty tool that you can clear a forest with, but it's also not a "toy"; it's a solid tool that offers tons of convenience and is plenty effective on smaller-scale jobs around your yard.
- Includes 40V MAX lithium-ion battery
- 12" premium bar and chain
- Automatic oiling system
- Tool-free chain tensioning
- Dimensions: 28.56" x 8.81" x 9.63"
- Weight: 10.4 lbs
- Manufacturer: BLACK+DECKER
- Included Components: Saw, bar, chain, 40V MAX lithium-ion battery, battery charger, chain scabbard
- Warranty: 2 years
- Power Source: 40V MAX lithium-ion battery
- 40V MAX lithium-ion battery works with Black & Decker's other 36V or 40V tools
- Full wrap-around handle for comfortable cutting in different orientations
- Tool-free chain tensioning for quick, easy adjustments
- Automatic oiling for constant bar and chain lubrication
- Not designed for larger limbs or trees
- Some issues with oil leakage
- Relatively short battery life
Perfect for lighter projects, the Greenworks 12 Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw is compact and convenient to use. If you're clearing out brush and cutting branches or small trees, this battery-operated chainsaw is an effective tool.
The Greenworks 12 Inch saw uses a high-performance 40V G-MAX lithium-ion battery; best part about that is, the battery works with more than 40 different Greenworks tools that utilize the 40V G-MAX battery. Talk about versatility!
Convenience is key, and the Greenworks 12 Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw offers plenty. The automatic oiler applies oil to the bar and chain to ensure durability and help extend the life of the chain, while the transparent oil tank gives you a clear view of the oil supply. If you're tired of the pulling and yanking a cord to start a gas-powered chainsaw, you'll LOVE the instant electric start, which powers up the tool at the pull of a trigger. Adjustments are inevitable — but Greenworks makes them easy thanks to tool-free chain tensioning.
What the Greenworks 12 Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw lacks in overall power, it makes up in convenience and ease of use— the perfect tool for smaller projects around the yard.
- High-performance G-MAX 40V lithium-ion battery
- 12 inch steel chain and bar with tool-less chain tensioning
- Automatic oiler
- Dimensions: 26.4" x 8.1" x 11"
- Weight: 6 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Greenworks
- Included Components: Saw, scabbard, 40V lithium-ion battery, and battery charger
- Warranty: 4 years for saw, 2 years for battery and charger
- Power Source: G-MAX 40V lithium-ion battery
- Tool-less chain tensioning for quick adjustment
- Automatic oiler applies oil to the bar and chain to ensure durability and extend the life of the chain
- Translucent oil tank for clear view of oil level
- 40V G-MAX lithium-ion battery compatible with more than 40 Greenworks tools
- Instant electric start for easy operation
- Not as powerful as similar compact chainsaws
- Some oil leakage issues
If you're anything like me, you're probably not going to be using a chainsaw for heavy-duty projects. In fact, unless you're Paul Bunyan or that strapping paper towel guy, you're most likely only going to need a chainsaw for some minor projects and yard work. Even if that's the case, there are still plenty of things to consider when buying a chainsaw — what you're using it for, what size, and what type of power source, for example. Don't worry... we've got you covered right here.
A chainsaw is a tool not to be taken lightly. Even though many safety precautions are built into the saw, it's still a tool that should be respected and handled smartly. With that in mind, knowing what type of project you'll be using a chainsaw for is key. If you're looking to do some brush cleanup, limb trimming, or small tree felling, you're probably fine going with an electric chainsaw. You definitely don't need the power of a gas chainsaw for projects like these, so spend wisely and don't go overboard with power if it's not necessary. On the other hand, if your projects include felling some medium-sized trees or cutting larger limbs, a gas-powered chainsaw is probably the way to go. Let's look at each type.
Electric (Corded) Chainsaws
As mentioned above, an electric chainsaw with a power cord is more than likely suitable for smaller, around-the-yard types of jobs. You'll get enough power to handle brush, thinner tree limbs, shrubs, and smaller trees, but probably not much more than that. The pros? Electric chainsaws generally start up very quickly (almost instantly) with a push-button or trigger starter. Not having to prime and pull a cord--that alone makes an electric worth it to me (but that's just me). Along those lines, there's no gas and oil to mix, no refueling, no fumes--just smooth, easy, and quiet operation. Sure, you sacrifice some power with an electric chainsaw, but you make up for it with convenience. Yes, you'll need a power source, like a generator or extension cords, which are a pain for some people. But if you're working in a smaller area, it's probably worth the trouble.
Battery-Powered (Cordless) Chainsaws
This category is my personal favorite. In fact, I made the switch to all cordless yard tools a few years ago, and I've never regretted it for a second. The convenience far outweighs the fact that I lose some power — that said, I'm generally using my tools for a medium-sized yard, so I don't require the features of gas-powered tools. With battery-operated cordless tools, you get all of the convenience features mentioned above, plus the bonus of not dealing with cords. On the flip side, cordless tools tend to be a bit more expensive, and you need to make sure your batteries are charged and ready to go; otherwise, you'll be waiting a while. But if you're looking to do some pruning, light limb removal, or small tree felling, a cordless chainsaw is a good fit.
Designed to provide maximum power, gas-powered chainsaws are ideal for bigger projects. If you're in the woods or plan on cutting down some medium-sized to large trees, a gas chainsaw is a must. Gas chainsaws are available in larger sizes and offer faster cutting speeds than electric saws. If you need the power, go with gas. There are drawbacks, however. There's the inconvenience — and cost — of fueling the saw. Gas-powered tools tend to require more maintenance than their electric counterparts as well. Plus, you'll have to deal with fumes, noise, and a heavier design. For general yard tasks, go electric. For heavy-duty work, you have to go with gas, because electric power just won't cut it (pun entirely intended).
Which Size Is Best?
For lighter-duty work, a 12-inch or 14-inch guide bar will do the trick. You don't want to be lugging around a 20-inch chainsaw for pruning or clearing brush. The general rule of thumb is, add 2 inches to what you'll be cutting to determine which bar size is ideal. For example, if you're taking down a tree with a 10-inch diameter, a 12-inch bar will get the job done in one pass. Most light-duty work can be handled by a 12-inch or 14-inch chainsaw. If you're cutting some light- to medium-sized firewood, anything in the 14-inch to 18-inch range is suitable. For big projects, you'll want to consider 18 inches or larger. For gas-powered chainsaws, a 30cc to 40cc engine will take care of small tree felling, pruning, and trimming. Cutting light- to medium-sized firewood requires something in the 35cc to 50cc range. If you're doing any bucking, a 50cc (and a minimum of 20" bar) or higher engine is recommended.
Other Things to Consider
As I said before, safety is huge when it comes to operating a chainsaw. In addition to the built-in safety features, take extra precaution and get yourself some safety pants and boots, goggles, gloves, head protection, and noise protection. You can't be too careful. Also, be sure to consider the weight of the chainsaw itself. They can be heavy (especially gas-powered saws), so think about how long you'll be able to comfortably hold a chainsaw before fatigue sets in. Unless you're a lumberjack, you're not going to want to be operating an 18-pound chainsaw for a long period of time.
Hopefully, this information will guide you to the chainsaw that's right for you. Be safe... and happy cutting!