Table of Contents
- Best 20-Inch Chainsaw Reviews 2019
- Husqvarna 20 Inch 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw – Best Seller
- Poulan Pro 20 in. 50cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw, PR5020 – Top Pick
- Craftsman CMXGSAMY426S 46cc 2-Cycle 20-Inch Gas Powered with Carrying Case – Best Value
- Blue Max 8901 2-in-1 14-Inch/20-Inch Combination Chainsaw in 4 Color Carton – Runner Up
- Hitachi CS51EAP 50.1CC 20-Inch Rear Handle Chain Saw with PureFire Engine – Also Consider
- Best 20-Inch Chainsaw Buying Guide 2019
Best 20-Inch Chainsaw Reviews 2019
While there are plenty of chainsaws for small branches and firewood, most smaller chainsaws have some strict limits on their capabilities. However, whenever you need to cut down an actual tree or need to use a chainsaw for professional purposes, it helps to have a hefty tool that can get the job done. That is why we put together a list of the 5 best 20-inch chainsaw reviews of 2019. We also provide a helpful buyer’s guide and handy FAQ so you can figure out what features you truly need. We found the Husqvarna and Poulan Pro to be the best options for most people, but keep reading to see our best value pick.
Husqvarna 20 Inch 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw – Best Seller
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There are few companies that we found which can truly compete with Husqvarna in terms of prestige in the outdoor equipment market. On top of that, is seems Husqvarna knows how to keep their customers happy given that they have been around for hundreds of years. Granted, the company only shifted focus to outdoor equipment in the past half-century, but they quickly rose to the top of the market and enjoy a sterling reputation. On top of that, Husqvarna is also one of the few companies on our list that specializes in outdoor equipment. After a thorough look, it is pretty easy to see why the Husqvarna 460 Rancher 20-inch chainsaw is the best seller.
While cutting power is always one of the more important qualities of a chainsaw, it is not always the most important. Homeowners trimming hanging branches in their backyard likely do not require an exceptionally powerful chainsaw. That said, when you look for a 20” chainsaw, you are usually doing so with the intention of cutting thicker pieces of wood– perhaps even needing to fell a whole tree. With this in mind, the Husqvarna 20-inch chainsaw makes it a point to provide plenty of cutting power and is arguably the most powerful chainsaw that we reviewed. This begins with the 2-stroke engine where the 460 Rancher 20-inch chainsaw easily leads the pack with 60.3 cc of displacement. This massive engine is not simply for show, however, as the Husqvarna 20” chainsaw puts out 3.62 hp and generates 3.4 nm of cutting torque, both of which top our list.
This massive amount of ripping power allows the Husqvarna chainsaw to cut thicker pieces of wood than any other product we reviewed. On top of that, the 460 Rancher 20” chainsaw is able to make these cuts significantly easier and without some of the bogging issues that other chainsaws suffer. Keep in mind, most of the time, a maximum cutting thickness is determined by using the exact proper cutting technique. However, if you are not an experienced chainsaw user, chances are you do not use perfect technique. Thankfully, due to the sheer power of the Husqvarna 460 Rancher chainsaw, you can get away with less than perfect technique more than you can with the other options that we reviewed. Part of this cutting ease likely also comes down to a fairly quick chain speed of 26.6 m/s which is second on our list and helps ensure you do not simply grind sawdust into the cut.
Because a 20” chainsaw generally puts out significantly more power than smaller versions, it is important to upgrade the build of the tool as well. Without a solid build, that much power can quickly wear down the various components or even break part made with less durable materials. While the 460 Rancher chainsaw is fairly durable, it is noted for being one of the more difficult chainsaws to assemble. This will definitely impact you if you do not have much experience with chainsaws, but even professionals can struggle to put together the Husqvarna 460 Rancher. On the other hand, once you do get the Husqvarna chainsaw assembled, it offers a wide range of features that make using it a much easier experience.
For example, one of the bigger general use issues with a 20-inch chainsaw is that they are heavy and generate a lot of vibrations. Both of these qualities combine to weigh down on the user and increase muscle fatigue after extended use. The Husqvarna chainsaw covers both of these issues, first by providing one of the lighter products we reviewed at 13.2 pounds. Even better, the 460 Rancher chainsaw also comes with Husqvarna’s patented LowVib technology which helps significantly reduce the number of vibrations transferred from the powerful engine. Even better, the 20” Husqvarna chainsaw also comes equipped with an inertia-activated chain brake and is one of the better such features that we found. It is worth noting that the Husqvarna chainsaw is not the easiest to use, requiring a tool to tension the chain. However, it is one of the easier chainsaws on our list to maintain with a tool-less access to the air filter and spark plugs.
- Has a 60.3 cc, 3.62 hp, 3.4 nm engine
- Has a LowVib system
- Has an X-Torq engine
- Has a great chain brake
- Is easier to maintain
- Has a chain speed of 26.6 m/s
- Is a more expensive chainsaw
- Is difficult to assemble
Poulan Pro 20 in. 50cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw, PR5020 – Top Pick
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Depending on your familiarity with outdoor equipment, you may not have actually heard of Poulan Pro. However, this is actually the longest-running maker of chainsaws on our list providing them the most experience. On top of that, Poulan Pro was also founded by a professional lumberjack over 7 decades ago, ensuring that the company knows what it takes to make a high-quality chainsaw. In fact, Poulan Pro is another of the few companies on our list that specializes exclusively in outdoor equipment. While the Poulan Pro PR5020 20-inch chainsaw is not the most powerful product that we reviewed, it does offer a solid mix of good specs at a fairly reasonable cost, earning it our top pick spot.
Considering Poulan Pro hails from a line of professional lumberjacks, it only makes sense that the company would produce a powerful chainsaw. That said, the Poulan Pro 20” chainsaw does give up a bit in the power department compared to more expensive options. However, for the more budget-friendly 20-inch chainsaws, it offers a surprising amount of power in its own right. This begins with a solid 2-stroke, 50 cc engine which is one of the largest on our list and is able to put out 2.8 hp. This is more than enough to handle thicker pieces of wood and affords the Poulan Pro PR5020 20” chainsaw a maximum cutting thickness of 40”.
That said, you will definitely have to use better technique for this chainsaw than you will some of the others on our list to prevent the chain from bogging down. On the other hand, the PR5020 20-inch chainsaw surprises in another respect with the fastest chain speed on our list at 27.8 m/s. This blinding chain speed allows the PR5020 20” chainsaw to remove sawdust at a quicker rate than the other products we reviewed and helps prevent the chain from bogging down even when applying plenty of force to the cut.
While the Poulan Pro chainsaw offers a solid amount of cutting power at a somewhat lower cost, it does have a bit more of a hit or miss quality with regards to the build. This is not to suggest that the PR5020 chainsaw is poorly made, but it seems to have issues with its starter. Despite the fact that the Poulan Pro PR5020 chainsaw advertises its SmartStart system, many people complain about having difficulty getting it to start. On top of that, the starter does not seem to be terribly durable with the pull-string’s spring being the main culprit– though that could be due to users applying too much force to get the chainsaw started. Regardless of the actual cause, customer support can be devilishly frustrating to deal with and have a tendency to shift all blame onto the customer rather than honoring the warranty.
Outside of the starter, though, the Poulan Pro 20-inch chainsaw does offer a solid range of different features that make using it nicer. For one, the PR5020 chainsaw comes with an Advanced Anti-Vibration system which, while the best we saw, does still provide one of the more ergonomic designs for extended use. On top of that, you do not have to worry about too many general maintenance issues thanks to the SuperClean air filter. Though it is worth remembering that you do need to use a tool to tension the chain with the PR5020 chainsaw. Even better, the powerful engine makes use of OxyPower technology that allows the Poulan Pro 20-inch chainsaw to keep its emissions down and fuel efficiency up without sacrificing cutting power.
- Is a less expensive chainsaw
- Has a 50 cc, 2.8 hp engine
- Has an OxyPower engine
- Has a SuperClean air filter
- Has an Advanced Anti-Vibration system
- Has a chain speed of 27.8 m/s
- Is not easy to start
- Has a bad warranty
Craftsman CMXGSAMY426S 46cc 2-Cycle 20-Inch Gas Powered with Carrying Case – Best Value
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Craftsman is a fairly well-known brand, though it may not necessarily be known for its chainsaws. This is because Craftsman Tools actually started as a maker of hand tools but quickly expanded into power tools. Craftsman is actually a fairly experienced company with more than 90-years of experience producing high-end tools. That said, the standard Craftsman lineup is actually a mid-tier brand that was once owned by Sears but is now owned by BLACK+DECKER. While it is certainly not the most capable option on our list, the Craftsman 20-inch chainsaw is definitely the best value.
One thing to keep in mind when looking for a cheap 20-inch chainsaw is that it will not provide the same kind of cutting power as more expensive options. This is clearly reflected in the Craftsman 20” chainsaw’s 2-stroke, 46 cc engine which is one of the smaller on our list. That said, the Craftsman chainsaw is still able to generate a respectable 2.1 nm of cutting torque. However, the Craftsman 20-inch chainsaw is definitely one of the slower options we reviewed with a chain speed of only 16.57 m/s. While this will not necessarily prevent the Craftsman chainsaw from cutting well, it will definitely increase the amount of time you have to spend cutting.
While the low price of the Craftsman 20” chainsaw may limit some of its top-end cutting power, it does not seem to have that same impact on its build quality. In fact, this might be the most durable chainsaw that we came across, at least when it comes to the body. This is because the Craftsman chainsaw comes with a pro-grade die-cast chassis that can handle significantly more abuse than most of the other options we reviewed. Though, it is worth noting that this is also easily the heaviest chainsaw on our list because of it. On top of that, the Craftsman 20-inch chainsaw is noted for being somewhat difficult to start, and it will also leak chain oil left in the reservoir.
- Is a less expensive chainsaw
- Has a 46 cc, 2.1 nm engine
- Has a 5-point anti-vibration system
- Is a safer chainsaw
- Is more durable than some
- Is easier to maintain
- Is not easy to start
- Will leak oil
Blue Max 8901 2-in-1 14-Inch/20-Inch Combination Chainsaw in 4 Color Carton – Runner Up
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Whether you are familiar with chainsaws or not, you may be asking yourself “who makes Blue Max chainsaws”? As it turns out, Blue Max chainsaws are manufactured by Homier LLC and have been since their origin. It is also worth pointing out that both Homier and Blue Max can trace their origins back to the late 70s, so they have a decent amount of experience. That said, the parent company does not actually specialize in outdoor equipment, instead offering a wide range of contractor tools. On top of that, the Blue Max brand is currently being phased out, though the same company will still make a similar product under a different brand name.
Like most other budget-friendly 20-inch chainsaws, the Blue Max does not necessarily wow you with its massive cutting power. On the other hand, it does stand a bit above some of the other cheap 20” chainsaws we reviewed. Still, the Blue Max 8901 20-inch chainsaw comes with the smallest engine at only 45 cc, though it still produces an adequate 2.1 nm of cutting torque. Even better, the Blue Max 20” chainsaw also has a respectable chain speed of 21.2 m/s, so you do not have to worry about it bogging down as much as other underpowered 20-inch chainsaws. On top of that, this is the only chainsaw on our list that also comes with a 14” bar for lighter work and adds significant versatility and value.
While the Blue Max comes through with more cutting power than some of the other cheap chainsaws we found, it still shows its budget-friendly weaknesses in other ways that will force you to use it differently than most. Specifically, most of the components not related to the engine, gears, or cutting implements are made out of plastic. While this is not terribly uncommon, it seems as if the Blue Max plastic is weaker than most and can melt. This occurs across various parts of the design, some of which can make the Blue Max chainsaw non-functional. This means that you will need to keep track of the chainsaw’s general temperature and give it breaks every now and then. On the plus side, the Blue Max 20” chainsaw is easier to use than some of the others we reviewed.
- Is a less expensive chainsaw
- Has a 45 cc, 2.1 nm engine
- Is easier to use
- Is a combination chainsaw
- Has an anti-vibration system
- Has a chain speed of 21.2 m/s
- Not the most durable
- Is not easy to start
Hitachi CS51EAP 50.1CC 20-Inch Rear Handle Chain Saw with PureFire Engine – Also Consider
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Hitachi is actually one of the older and most experienced companies on our list with a history that stretches almost a decade past a century. Like a couple of other Japanese tool manufacturers, they actually started by making electric motors. However, they quickly branched out into power tools to put their high-quality motors to good use in consumer goods. That said, the company was recently branded as Metabo, a German manufacturer, before being reacquired by Hitachi Koki. Hitachi is definitely more of a mid-tier manufacturer, though their prices can sit a bit high in that category.
One thing that should not really surprise about the Hitachi 20-inch chainsaw is that it is able to provide good cuts. The functional power of most Hitachi products, whether contractor tools or outdoor equipment is not much of an issue. With the Hitachi 20” chainsaw, this is bolstered with the inclusion of a 2-stroke, 50.1 cc engine, the second-largest on our list. This engine puts out a solid 3.5 hp which provides more than enough cutting power to take down trees. Even better, the Hitachi CS51EAP 20-inch chainsaw also offers one of the quicker chain speeds on our list too at 26 m/s.
For all of the power that the Hitachi chainsaw offers, it is only a shame the company did not provide a body to match. The issue once again comes down to the inclusion of too many plastic parts, though this time melting is not the issue. Instead, it seems as if the various plastic components are not always able to withstand the rigors of the power that the Hitachi chainsaw puts out. That said, this is actually one of the few chainsaws we found that is noted for how easy it is to start it. On top of that, it also comes with an effective anti-vibration system, though it does introduce an uncommon wiggle to the bar that does not feel natural.
- Has a 50.1 cc, 3.5 hp engine
- Has a double-pole chain brake
- Is a safer chainsaw
- Is easier to start
- Has an anti-vibration system
- Has a chain speed of 26 m/s
- Is a more expensive chainsaw
- Not the most durable
Best 20-Inch Chainsaw Buying Guide 2019
While it is not always the most important factor with a chainsaw, cutting power is always one of the more relevant. However, 20-inch chainsaws are generally expected to handle tougher cutting tasks and ultimately require more cutting power than most. That said, there is a fair range of difference in cutting power between 20-inch chainsaws, though they all stem primarily from the engine. The size of the engine, which is rated in cubic centimeters or cc, is a good measure of this, but even engines of similar size can vary a good bit in their actual power.
While the size of the engine can help guide you, horsepower or hp is generally a more reliable metric. That said, the most reliable spec to tell you how much cutting power a chainsaw provides in newton-meters or nm as this measures cutting torque. Secondary to these qualities, the chain speed is also an important quality, though this does not actually tell you how well the chainsaw will cut. Instead, the chain speed tells you how well the chain will remove already cut sawdust that would otherwise pinch or bog the chain down.
Safety is another quality that matters regardless of the size of chainsaw that you use, but the sheer power of many 20” chainsaws makes this even more meaningful here. Depending on your familiarity with chainsaws, some features are more or less important, but one feature that weighs heavily for every user is the chain brake. The chain brake is a component of the chainsaw that moves into place to stop the driving gears of a chainsaw. One thing that can make a big difference in the chain brake is whether you must manually engage it or whether it automatically engages due to inertia.
The automatically engaging chain brakes are usually triggered by a kickback which is when the chain grabs the wood, rather than cutting it, and propels the chainsaw back towards the user. This generally occurs when using the nose of the chain bar to cut, though it can happen otherwise. There are special chains as well as chain bars that use various designs to provide anti-kickback qualities.
This is not inherently the most important quality to look for with a chainsaw, though it can definitely weight heavier for a 20” chainsaw than for smaller models. For one, 20-inch chainsaws have a tendency to be a bit heavier than even 16-inch or 18-inch models. That said, manufacturers do work to reduce the weight of these larger chainsaws, often by making various components out of plastic or other lighter materials.
That said, one of the biggest issues with a 20-inch chainsaw comes down to the amount of vibration generated. Aside from the fact that vibrations generally tire out your muscles, extended exposure to significant amounts of vibration can actually have long term side-effects that cause numbness or even pain. To limit the development of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome or HAVS, many manufacturers include anti-vibration systems to their 20” chainsaw with varying degrees of success.
Why Choose a 20-Inch Chainsaw?
Unlike a number of chainsaws, from 10” all the way to 18”, a 20” and larger chainsaw is generally expected to perform significantly more difficult tasks. For instance, smaller chainsaws are often used for lighter work like cutting firewood or trimming branches. While a 20” chainsaw is able to perform these functions, they are also often able to handle heavier-duty tasks, including cutting down entire trees. A big part of this usually comes down to the maximum cutting thickness of a chainsaw, and the 20-inch chain bar is around the size you should look for to cut down a tree.
In general situations, a 20-inch chainsaw is often used for professional landscaping or if you have a large piece of property. If you own a forest or farm, a 20” chainsaw can be immensely useful for a wide range of different raw wood cutting applications. It is worth noting that if you only expect to use a chainsaw to cut branches of less than a foot in thickness, you may not need to spring for the extra cost of a 20-inch chainsaw. Aside from the fact that it is more expensive, a 20” chainsaw can be a bit unwieldy and difficult to control for those types of cuts.
How to Use a 20-Inch Chainsaw?
How to use a 20-inch chainsaw really depends on the kind of cuts you expect to make with there being a big difference in cutting down trees compared to cutting felled trees into smaller, more manageable pieces. For the former, one of the first, and most important, things to consider is the direction you want the tree to fall. Make a top-cut that angles down 60-degrees and about 20 to 25-percent into the tree from the direction you want to fell the tree. Then make a horizontal cut meeting the top-cut. Then move to the opposite side of the tree and make another horizontal cut that is a few inches above your previous horizontal bottom-cut. You should then use a felling wedge to help fell the tree with the previous cut acting as a hinge.
Once the tree is on the ground, you may then need to cut it into more manageable pieces to be cleared away. Once you trim all of the branches leaving the bole, which is the full trunk until it reaches the branches, you need to decide whether it can be moved onto a V-groove or flush. The V-groove is usually just a piece of the tree with a v-shape cut out of it to support the rest of the tree, making it easier to cut. If you cut the log while it rests flush with the ground, it is important to make sure that you do not actually cut into the ground.
What to Look for?
While all chainsaws need to be able to produce a decent amount of cutting power, but 20-inch chainsaws especially require significant amounts of cutting power. Granted, this definitely depends on whether you intend to use the chainsaw to fell a tree, but even ground-level cutting of thicker logs or timber require more cutting power than most. In this regard, the cutting torque is definitely key, though the horsepower will also play a big role in how well the chainsaw can keep cutting before the engine bogs down or gives out.
Considering that 20” chainsaws are generally used for tougher tasks or larger jobs, this is also an instance where ergonomics can really come into play. While a lightweight chainsaw is also nice for extended periods of use, an anti-vibration system is far more effective considering the increased amount of vibration that more powerful engines produce. Finally, safety is always important for a chainsaw, but due to the increased cutting power of 20-inch chainsaws, it is especially relevant. In this instance, the chain brake might be the most important feature, though the other safety features discussed are still meaningful.
As we can see, just because multiple chainsaws come with a 20” bar does not mean that they can all handle the same tasks. The Husqvarna definitely takes the best-performing spot on our list and can handle heavier tasks than the others, but is a pain to assemble. The Poulan Pro is a bit of a step down in performance and has an iffy starter, but is less than half the cost. Of course, if you need a cheap 20-inch chainsaw, the Craftsman is inexpensive but not as powerful. The Blue Max is another inexpensive option and has body concerns, but is also a combo chainsaw with more versatility. Finally, the Hitachi offers plenty of power and is fairly safe, but it also has some body concerns and is a bit pricey.