Table of Contents
- Best Chainsaw Reviews 2020
- Husqvarna 460 Rancher (60cc) Cutting Kit – Best Seller
- Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 14″ Chain Saw Kit – Top Pick
- WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch 4 15.0 Amp – Best Value
- BLACK+DECKER LCS1240B 12-Inch Lithium-Ion Chainsaw, 40-volt – Runner Up
- Poulan Pro 967185102 PP4218A 42cc Assembled Chainsaw with Case, 18-Inch – Also Consider
- Best Chainsaw Buying Guide 2020
Best Chainsaw Reviews 2020
As the weather warms and nature returns to her glory, it will soon become landscaping season which brings a number of projects for professionals and homeowners alike. Clearing brush is one of the bigger springtime jobs and it can be made much easier by employing the best chainsaw. Of course, that likely means different things to different people which is why we have the 5 best chainsaw reviews of 2020 as well as thorough buyer’s guide. We think the Husqvarna and Makita are the best picks, but they are also the most expensive.
Husqvarna 460 Rancher (60cc) Cutting Kit – Best Seller
- Comes with 3 WoodlandPRO replacement Chains
- Combined choke/stop control, great for easier starting and reducing the risk of engine flooding
Husqvarna is by far one of the most reputable brands of landscaping equipment and the manufacturer of the best gas chainsaw on our list. In fact, Husqvarna is one of the few companies on our list that not only leads the way in chainsaw innovation but includes these developments throughout their lineups. This 24 inch gas chainsaw features one of the better anti-vibration systems that we came across with Husqvarna’s patented LowVib system. In fact, not only is this the best selling chainsaw in its class, but it is also our best professional chainsaws reviewed.
The best gas powered chainsaw is going to do better what gas-powered chainsaws do best in the first place: produce serious cutting power for your toughest jobs. Granted, this is not an industrial-grade chainsaw, but it is arguably the best Husqvarna chainsaw for the money–even if the money does still happen to be significant. However, the Husqvarna 24 inch chainsaw is still able to produce the best cutting power on our list in a large part due to the 60.3cc engine and the 3.7 horsepower that it can generate. The chain speed is fast enough to cut through the hardest woods too, though it is not the fastest.
The Husqvarna 460 24 inch bar is in and of itself one of the better features on our list as the larger bar provides a larger cutting surface. This means that you can effectively use the big Husqvarna chainsaw for larger pieces of timber than you would for any other product on our list. Of course, this is also one of the heavier chainsaws on our list which will increase user fatigue. On top of that, the Husqvarna is able to accomplish this without putting out too high of emissions for restricted municipalities thanks to their X-Torq engine design. In order to prevent you from having to spend your time messing with the Husqvarna, most routine maintenance features are either positioned for easy access or are automated altogether.
- Is a gas-powered chainsaw
- Has a powerful 60cc engine
- Has 24” bar
- Has an efficient X-Torq engine
- Has a double post chain brake
- Is fairly convenient
- The most expensive chainsaw reviewed
- Is a heavier chainsaw
Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 14″ Chain Saw Kit – Top Pick
- Makita-built outer rotor BL Brushless motor direct-drive system provides high power efficiency Equivalent to a 32cc gas chain saw
- Variable speed trigger and high chain speed (0-3, 940 FPM) For improved cutting performance
- "Tool-less" chain adjustment for convenient operation and maintenance. Chain pitch : 3/8 inch
Makita may not be a brand which specializes exclusively in landscaping equipment, but they do specialize in power tools more broadly. On top of that, Makita actually got its start making electric motors and has carried that specialty into the modern day regularly making the most powerful tools in their class. The Makita XCU03PT1 is a perfect example of this principle at work as we definitely think that this is the best rated electric chainsaw on our list, though it is also the most expensive chainsaw too.
The most powerful electric chainsaw will still generally pale in comparison to the most powerful gas-powered chainsaw, but that does not mean that it does not have enough power for most people’s needs. In fact, the Makita is arguably the only electric chainsaw on this list that we would consider recommending for professional-grade jobs. However, considering this is the best 14 inch electric chainsaw, the size of the bar will definitely limit some of the jobs this chainsaw can comfortably tackle. Still, the brushless motor is as durable as it is powerful and can get the chain speed up to 3950 fpm which is about average for a gas-powered model.
One reason we find the Makita to be the best electric chainsaw is that this is actually one of the few chainsaws we found anywhere that has a genuine variable speed control. Some chainsaws, both electric and gas-powered, have the ability to control the speed of the chain with the throttle, but the Makita battery powered chainsaw can also simply adjust the chain speed as desired. Even better, the Makita electric chainsaw also features various seals designed to ensure that no water gets into the electronics. Finally, the Makita is the best battery electric chainsaw in part because it actually uses two battery packs simultaneously providing a longer use time. However, the inclusion of two battery packs does make the Makita one of the heaviest chainsaws on our list.
- Is a cordless electric chainsaw
- Comes with a complete kit
- Has variable chain speed
- Has a good maximum chain speed of 3950 fpm
- Has a brushless motor
- Has solid power
- A more expensive chainsaw
- The heaviest chainsaw reviewed
WORX WG304.1 Chain Saw 18-Inch 4 15.0 Amp – Best Value
- 15.0 Amp motor output delivers a more powerful cutting performance to the extended, 18 inch bar
- Patented auto tension chain system prevents over tightening; stays at the right tension for hundreds of uses
- Low kick back bar and built in chain brake for added safety; Chain Links : 63
WORX is likely not the first name that comes to mind when you think of power tools or landscaping equipment, but it just might be the best electric chainsaw for the money. This is because WORX was the brainchild of an ex-BLACK+DECKER executive who sought to create genuine competition in the consumer-grade market. As such, WORX specializes almost exclusively in consumer-grade landscaping equipment with a few odds and ends thrown in for good measure. That said, this focus on the consumer market pays serious dividends when determining its value.
As a consumer-grade chainsaw, it should come as little surprise that we think the WORX is the best electric chainsaw for home use. However, it is important to understand that this is because a unique combination of features not found on any other product we reviewed. Specifically, the WORX WG304.1 is the only corded electric chainsaw on our list. This is important because it means that the WORX is tethered to an outlet in order to derive power. On the other hand, this also means that the WORX is generally a bit better than most other electric chainsaws at generating cutting power. That said, the WG304.1 does have the slowest chain speed that we saw which will limit some of the woods that it can effectively cut.
One thing you do not often see is a large electric chainsaw, but the WORK is about as close as you are liable to get with an 18” bar that is suitable for smaller trees and medium brush. This is reinforced with the inclusion of a powerful 15 amp motor in a design that virtually anyone can use. First, the WORX features an incredibly compact design that is both lightweight as well as ergonomic, so you do not have to worry about user fatigue. On top of that, the automatic chain oiler and double-post chain brake are both somewhat unexpected but welcome additions. Altogether, the WORX WG304.1 is one of the easier chainsaws to use and maintain for extended periods of time.
- Is a corded electric chainsaw
- The least expensive chainsaw reviewed
- Has a 15 amp motor
- Is a more compact chainsaw
- Is ergonomically designed
- Is safe and easy to use
- Not the best cutting power
- Not the most durable
BLACK+DECKER LCS1240B 12-Inch Lithium-Ion Chainsaw, 40-volt – Runner Up
- New - Never Installed
BLACK+DECKER is one of the most well known and well-respected power tool manufacturers in the world and actually own almost half of all other power tool companies. That said, BLACK+DECKER is squarely a consumer-grade manufacturer who often wins with the lowest prices rather than the best product. Thankfully, it seems that BLACK+DECKER is listening and making more of an effort to provide a bit more substance to their rock-bottom prices. Still, their market remains the same which at least provides for the best small electric chainsaw on our list.
By far one of the best qualities of the BLACK+DECKER LCS1240B is its ability to go anywhere you might need it. A big part of this has to do with the fact that the BLACK+DECKER is a cordless electric chainsaw. In fact, we think that the BLACK+DECKER LCS1240B is the best lithium battery chainsaw that we came across. On top of that, the BLACK+DECKER also features a dual battery design which extends the use time of the chainsaw much more than a single battery-powered model. Even better, the LCS1240B is able to avoid the weight problem which so often accompanies cordless electric power tools.
When looking for a budget-friendly option, it is important to understand that you are going to have to sacrifice something to get a low price. When it comes to a budget chainsaw, the BLACK+DECKER included, the most common issue is low cutting power. This can also translate to durability issues if you attempt to use the budget tool for extended periods of time without a break. Though the BLACK+DECKER ostensibly has the juice, it does not seem to have the engineering necessary to generate the required torque for adequate cutting power. As such, the BLACK+DECKER is best relegated for light tasks around the house like trimming branches from trees and cutting thicker kindling.
- Is a cordless electric chainsaw
- Is a more compact chainsaw
- Is a less expensive chainsaw
- Has low kickback features
- Has an ergonomic design
- Is easy to use
- Not the best cutting power
- Not the most durable
Poulan Pro 967185102 PP4218A 42cc Assembled Chainsaw with Case, 18-Inch – Also Consider
- 42cc 2-cycle engine
- 18-Inch bar
- Automatic oiler
Poulan Pro is best known as a gas-powered chainsaw company that offers products across virtually every market class. However, some of the better deals you can find for the best gas chainsaw for the money come from Poulan Pro. In this instance, you get a solid consumer-grade gas-powered chainsaw that provides ample cutting power for tasks around the home without taking too much of a bite out of your wallet. In fact, while there are no major advantages to this chainsaw outside of its price, neither are there truly functional flaws.
One of the biggest reasons we think that this is the best gas chainsaw for home use comes down to its ability to generate cutting power. While electric chainsaws of either variety are popular choices for homeowners, they generally lack the higher level cutting power you get from a gas-powered chainsaw. Even though the Poulan Pro may be a bit more budget-friendly than most other gas chainsaws, that still does not prevent the 42cc engine from generating 2.1 hp. Combined with a solid chain speed and an 18” bar, the Poulan Pro is more than capable of handling even moderate levels of work without a problem. In fact, the Poulan Pro gas chainsaw is rated for timber with a maximum thickness of up to 36” in diameter.
Easy to Use
One thing you often have to sacrifice when shopping for a budget-friendly product are some of the creature comforts and other luxuries. Thankfully, the Poulan gas powered chainsaw does not force you to make any such choice, including a number of features that make life easier for professionals and homeowners alike. For instance, the Poulan Pro has an automatic chain oiler, though it is known for leaking more than some. On top of that, the Poulan Pro is also ergonomically designed with anti-vibration systems, even if it is also the heaviest chainsaw that we reviewed. To accommodate extenuating circumstances, the OxyPower engine is able to generate solid torque without going over local CARB emission standards.
- Is a gas-powered chainsaw
- Is a less expensive chainsaw
- Generates solid cutting power
- Is easy to maintain
- Has an OxyPower engine
- Is ergonomically designed
- The heaviest chainsaw reviewed
- Has a tendency to leak oil
Best Chainsaw Buying Guide 2020
Broadly speaking, chainsaws are often grouped up either based on the cutting power that they generate or, more commonly, by the power source that they use. This latter is important because it completely reclasses the chainsaw and forces a more nuanced approach. For instance, electric chainsaws are commonly less powerful than gas-powered chainsaws but they are also far more cost-effective in the long run since you do not need gasoline or motor oil. That said, even within the electric chainsaw class there is a further distinction which needs to be made between the corded electric and the cordless electric chainsaws.
This is the original type of chainsaw and is still the most commonly used type of chainsaw for professional jobs. This is because a gas-powered chainsaw has a couple of advantages over electric chainsaws regardless of their subtype. Specifically, gas chainsaws are able to generate significantly more cutting power than electric chainsaws of an equivalent class. This is because the gas engine is able to generate more torque from its combustion than an electric motor of the same ‘power’ could. Gas chainsaws also have the advantage over corded electric chainsaws particularly in regards to maneuverability. However, it is important to remember that gas chainsaws have the highest overhead costs as well with the need to continuously refill the gas and oil mixture used to fuel them.
These chainsaws sit in an odd position in that they are almost exclusively reserved for the consumer-grade market. This is because a professional landscaping crew, even one that can find a use for an electric chainsaw, still needs to remain untethered to an outlet. You can always get a gas-powered portable generator, but then you are defeating the purpose of an electric chainsaw in the first place. Still, these are some of the least expensive chainsaws on the market and are further buttressed with the lowest overhead costs as well. On top of that, the corded electric chainsaw is generally able to generate more cutting power than cordless models because it can handle a far more powerful motor with an AC power source.
The cordless electric chainsaw is meant to provide the maneuverability that a corded electric chainsaw lacks with the same electric power source. Of course, to maintain its power, a cordless electric chainsaw requires one or more battery packs. In fact, the secondary method of powering cordless electric chainsaws is becoming more and more popular as manufacturers realized that they can both generate more cutting power as well as provide a longer use time if their cordless electric chainsaw accepted two battery packs. While this helps put the cordless electric chainsaw in a power rating that is acceptable for light commercial work, it does make the cordless electric chainsaw in question much more expensive and heavier than a corded electric chainsaw.
While the cutting power is always important, the maximum cutting power you need will depend on the kinds of tasks you have to do. If you only intend to use the chainsaw for light pruning and cutting up thick brush around your home, you do not need the screaming power that accompanies the Husqvarna 460 Rancher’s 60.3cc engine with 3.7 hp. That said, it is often a better idea to overestimate how much power you will need that way you will always have enough, can potentially handle the occasional big job, and will not have to worry as much about the long term motor durability either. It is worth noting that while electric chainsaws can often achieve comparable chain speeds as a gas-powered chainsaw, rarely can they generate the same kind of torque which is far more important for cutting power.
Ease of Use
The ease of use of a chainsaw is likely important to all groups of consumers, but it is definitely more of a ‘luxury’ quality than anything else. That said, some chainsaws can be designed so poorly that they actually make it harder to use than their contemporaries. A good example of this is a chainsaw with an air intake at the base of the chainsaw’s body as this will generally lead to a clogged filter much quicker than if the intake is oriented at the top of the body. Another important consideration involves starting the chainsaw, though this is generally more relevant for gas-powered chainsaws which commonly use a pull-start mechanism as opposed to an electric chainsaw which always has an electric start.
The weight of a chainsaw matters for a couple of reasons but they ultimately boil down to fatigue and maneuverability. Basically, the heavier a chainsaw is the quicker you will fatigue while using it and the harder it will be to maneuver it. Thankfully, most chainsaw manufacturers have been able to get their products under 20 lbs, but there are still winner and losers in this comparison. Unsurprisingly, corded electric chainsaws are the lightest, on average, with gas chainsaws often being the heaviest–though there are a few cordless electric chainsaws which are as heavy or heavier than gas-powered chainsaws in the same class when the battery weight is included. Still, most cordless chainsaws will be lighter than their comparable gas-powered competition and heavier than the corded ones.
This is becoming a standard feature more and more as we learn how the use of these products affect the human body. Aside from the fact that the vibration from a chainsaw is responsible for the lion’s share of the fatigue caused by using it, long-term use of heavily vibratory chainsaws can also cause long-term damage to your joints. In order to alleviate this concern, manufacturers employ a number of different solutions to account for the chainsaw’s vibrations with everything from added weights, an internal suspension system, and designing the chainsaw with a specific center of gravity. Though not technically in the same boat, the handle will also be constructed from materials and designed in a way that mitigates vibrations further. A wrap-around handle with thick, foam padding is the most common way to accomplish this.
While there are numerous features included with chainsaws to help make using them safer, it is good to be clear that chainsaws are inherently dangerous power tools. Aside from the fact that they are designed to cut some of the toughest jobs with wood, they also have a design that makes them dangerous in other ways too. As such, it is important to consider how experienced you are and how proper your cutting technique is. If you are not terribly experienced, you should probably look for a chainsaw with more and superior safety features than others–even if it costs more and comes at the expense of other considerations.
This is definitely the safety feature that gets the most attention because kickbacks are arguably the second-most dangerous situation when using a chainsaw. It is important to note that by taking time and using the proper technique, you should not encounter many instances of kickbacks in the first place. However, there are a couple of things that manufacturers do to further help ensure that you do not have to worry about their chainsaw kicking back into your face.
Both of the measure manufacturers employ follow a similar logic by utilizing a toe-like design to prevent the chainsaw from kicking backward when it gets caught in timber. Arguably the more important of the two is the anti-kickback bar which can help prevent most instances of kickback with proper technique on its own. However, you can further reinforce the anti-kickback bar by using an anti-kickback chain whose teeth have the same toe stub to prevent the teeth from getting stuck in the timber.
Though it is not necessarily the most important in terms of ultimate protection, the chain brake is arguably the more functional of the safety measures manufacturers include on their chainsaws. This is because you can use good technique to help prevent kickbacks from ever occurring in the first place, but sometimes, a chainsaw’s chain is simply going to break. Having a chain brake to help prevent the chainsaw from slinging the loosed chain towards you is a necessary precaution. That said, there are actually a couple of different ways to design the chain brake such that it offers a better user experience. Specifically, the chain brake should either have a double post construction or some way to see the tip of the bar to provide a good sightline for proper technique.
This may seem like a bit of an odd safety feature considering the throttle is what you use to engage the chainsaw’s cutting action, but a number of different manufacturers are attempting to use the throttle to make their products safer as well. The primary method of accomplishing this is to tie the throttle to a trigger so that if you release the trigger, the throttle turns off automatically. Even better, this feature can be included on both gas-powered and electric chainsaws of either variety.
Which Kind of Chainsaw Should I Choose?
When figuring out what kind of chainsaw you should use, the ultimate decision will come down to an electric or gas chainsaw. The real issue with this choice comes down to how often you intend to use the chainsaw, for what tasks you need the chainsaw, and your preferred budget. Gas chainsaws are more powerful and better-suited for tough jobs than are electric chainsaws. Of course, gas-powered chainsaws are also often more expensive than an electric chainsaw of the same class. Basically, if you think you will need to use the chainsaw all day or to cut timber that is thicker than 8” in diameter, you should probably bite the bullet and get a gas-powered chainsaw.
What Kind of Gas Does a Chainsaw Use?
While it might surprise you, chainsaws generally use regular unleaded gasoline unless they are either antiques or used for incredibly particular purposes. Extreme cold weather chainsaws may use diesel gas because it performs better in incredibly low temperatures, but there are few instances outside of that where you should expect to see a gas chainsaw not powered by regular unleaded fuel. It is worth noting that many gas chainsaws are not designed to be powered by ethanol or other mixed types of gasoline either. Still, the more important consideration is that a gas-powered chainsaw almost always is a 2-stroke engine which requires a gasoline and oil mixture. Consult the owner’s manual to determine the exact ratio of the mixture for your particular chainsaw.
How Good are Electric Chainsaws?
When trying to answer the question ‘are electric chainsaws good?’ it is important to narrow the question down further. Instead of asking how good electric chainsaws are you should be asking ‘what are electric chainsaws good for?’ Electric chainsaws are a tool which has an indicated use and then some grey area where you may or may not be able to get effective results using it. Most electric chainsaws are meant for consumer or light commercial work and are not really suitable for timber and brush thicker than 8” in diameter more often than not. That said, they are a cost-effective and efficient way of quickly taking down smaller jobs that would seem overkill to a powerful gas chainsaw.
Ultimately, it is probably more important that you find the chainsaw best suited for tackling your particular tasks than simply looking for ‘the best.’ If you are a professional or have some serious landscaping projects to take care of, the Husqvarna 460 Rancher is by far the best professional-grade chainsaw we came across. No other chainsaw on our list comes close to matching the sheer cutting power of the Husqvarna 460 Rancher.
For the closest thing to a professional-grade electric chainsaw, Makita comes out on top with more torque and cutting power their peers. That said, the Makita is also the most expensive chainsaw reviewed, though this does at least include the entire starting battery and charger kit. If you are looking for a less expensive option, the WORX is a solid corded chainsaw for a homeowner.