If you’re in the market for a chainsaw, you’ll probably be choosing from three main categories: gas, corded electric, and cordless. Gas models are smoothest and most powerful, and there’s no cord to worry about. But they’re also noisy, require more maintenance and even starting the motor can be a pain. Corded electrics are cheaper, lighter and lower-maintenance, but you’ll get less power – and you’re tethered to a cord. Cordless models have a rechargeable battery that lets you go anywhere, but... they’re usually reserved for light duty, and the battery may not last long enough for longer jobs.
Whatever you choose, safety should be your No. 1 priority. Most chainsaws are designed to limit dangerous kickbacks and have other safety features such as chain brakes, blade cases and anti-vibration technology. Proper maintenance can help prevent accidents, and so can common-sense tips like not wearing loose-fitting clothing or sawing with the end of the blade.
This corded electric chainsaw inspires unparalleled devotion among its owners, who say it is surprisingly powerful for a model that doesn’t have a gas motor. It features a 16-inch bar that users say is robust enough to cut through large logs and limbs with ease. Chain speed is 2,900 feet per minute.
This Makita is packed with features, including an ergonomic, rubberized handle, a soft-start trigger switch, a built-in current limiter that helps guard against motor burnout, an automatic chain oiler... and electric chain brake. Adjusting or replacing the blade and chain is as easy as turning a lever – no tools are required. Owners appreciate this ease of use and especially love not dealing with a high-maintenance gas engine, but they say the chainsaw doesn’t skimp on power, either. It weighs just over 15.5 pounds, and most users find it light enough to maneuver with ease; however, it is still heavier than comparable models and will require an outdoor-rated extension cord. It’s backed by a one-year warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
If a good amount of power is what you’re after, owners say you’ll love the Echo CS-400-18, a gas chainsaw with an 18-inch bar and a two-stroke, 40.2-cc engine. Experts rave about its ability to slice through imposing pieces of wood quickly and confidently, and they also give it high marks for ease of use and easy handling.
This professional-grade chainsaw features an automatic oiler, heavy-duty air filter, reduced-effort starting system with digital ignition, a side-access chain tensioner and an... air pre-cleaner. Though gas-powered chain saws can be hard to start, buyers report that this one is easy to fire up and keep balanced during use. They also say it’s relatively lightweight at just over 10 pounds without fuel, but it still packs enough power for even heavy-duty home projects. The fuel tank holds just shy of 14 ounces, and it’s covered by an impressive five-year warranty for non-commercial use.
As long as you’re willing to put up with a power cord, reviewers say it’s hard to beat the WORX WG303.1, especially for under $100. This electric chainsaw has a 16.5-inch bar and a 14.5-amp motor. Experts give it top marks in all of the important categories, including cutting speed, ease of use and handling.
Though it’s inexpensive, this WORX still has important features including a chain brake, ergonomic handle, automatic chain oiler and automatic chain tensioner. Testers say it’s faster and... more balanced than a similar saw with a bigger bar, and owners are impressed with its ability to easily handle light duty around the yard. They also love how light it is at just 11 pounds. You may experience some shaking with this model – experts say it lacks vibration isolation – and a few owners say the chain jumps off the bar too easily. A handful of others warn of oil leaks. It’s backed by a three-year warranty.
Maybe you just need a smaller chainsaw for very occasional light-duty use, and you don’t want to worry about staying in range of the nearest outlet. Buyers say you’ll be pleased with the Greenworks 20362, which has a convenient rechargeable 24-volt lithium-ion battery and a 10-inch bar.
This Greenworks chainsaw includes tool-free tension adjustment, an automatic chain oiler and an easy-to-grip ergonomic handle. The battery can make up to 35 cuts of relatively thick branches or boards before... needing a charge, which takes about 45 minutes; owners say the battery usually lasts more than long enough to tackle small jobs. While this isn’t the best choice for work on big logs or any other heavy-duty tasks, several users say it’s surprisingly effective for light duty. They also say it weighs next to nothing at under 8 pounds, making it easier to control for people who may have more limited strength or dexterity. It’s backed by a generous four-year warranty, too.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
While most battery-powered tools are best suited for quick, light-duty jobs, the EGO Power+ CS1401 is ready and willing to do more, owners say. Its 6,300 RPM motor is powered by a 56-volt lithium-ion battery, and it has a 14-inch bar. Experts give it top marks for ease of use and very good ones for handling and cutting speed.
The CS1401 features a low-kickback design with a chain brake, tension adjustment and high-efficiency brushless motor. The battery can handle roughly 100 cuts on a single... charge, and some users report going more than an hour off and on before needing to power up again, which they say is a relatively quick process. They also report using it to cut through limbs up to a foot thick – not too shabby for a battery model. At 14 pounds, it’s a bit heavier than some lighter-duty models, but most owners don’t complain. It’s backed by a five-year warranty; the battery is warranted for three years.
If you’re looking for a powerful chainsaw that can handle a lot of use and abuse, the Husqvarna 455 Rancher is a tried-and-true option that owners love for its ample power and reliability. Experts laud this saw too, giving it top marks for cutting speed and very good ones for ease of use. It has a large 20-inch bar and an impressive two-stroke, 55.5-cc engine that can go up to 9,000 RPM.
This Husqvarna is a low-vibration model with a low fuel-consumption, low-emission X-torq engine. It has a... centrifugal air-cleaning system that can help air filters last longer, a side-mounted chain tensioner, an inertia-activated chain brake, an ergonomic handle and a Smart Start system that means less time spent trying to get the engine going. By and large, owners say all these features make for an exceptionally easy-to-use chainsaw, especially compared to other gas models. More importantly, they say it’s powerful enough to easily slice through large logs and limbs. There are a few complaints of oil leaks, though. The saw weighs about 16 pounds with cutting equipment, so it’s on the heavier side. It’s backed by a two-year warranty.
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