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The Best Chainsaws: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

The Best Chainsaws: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
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While the thought of a chainsaw might strike terror in your heart, the process of going about purchasing one, doesn’t need to anymore. A lot of people tend to get overwhelmed by the wide range of options — in terms of size, capability, power as well as price. For a beginner, this can seem like a daunting prospect; this guide should help you clarify some of those niggling doubts.

Let’s start with the basics — what is the chainsaw used for? It’s a power tool that’s great for efficiently cutting trees and branches, which works with an engine, or a power head. Besides the manual chainsaw, the most basic type, all chainsaws are equipped with a flat metal bar with a grooved track guiding the chain, which is fitted out with cutting teeth; it keeps running in a loop around the bar at fast speeds, driven by a power source that is either gas, battery or electric. When the moving chain and wood make contact, the cutting teeth drag across the surface of the wood, effectively cutting it.

You have to be careful, though! In the wrong hands, a chainsaw is a dangerous tool. For those who do know how to use it with precautions, however, it translates into some serious labor saving; this includes gardeners, carpenters, homeowners, firefighters as well as ordinary homeowners like you.

Reviews of Best Chainsaws Options

Let’s take you through some of our top picks of chainsaws, spanning power sources, including their features, pros and cons.

ImageChainsaw ReviewsPowered byBar Length 
Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless40V battery-powered16″Check Price
WORX WG303.1 Electric14.5 Amp Corded Electric16″Check Price
Husqvarna 440E40.9cc, 2.4 HP gasoline engine16″Check Price
Craftsman 41BY429S79942cc two-cycle engine 18″Check Price
PowerKing Combination 57cc Gas57cc two-cycle engine18″ & 22″Check Price
Husqvarna 24038cc two-cycle engine16″Check Price
Poulan 96766930142cc two-cycle engine18″Check Price

Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw, 4.0 AH Battery Included 20312: The Best Battery-Powered Cordless Chainsaw

Being able to use rechargeable batteries as a power source removes the need for regular refueling and servicing, and this is a big factor in going for a battery-powered chainsaw. This chainsaw is equipped with premium power of DigiPro brushless motor technology, and can cut up to 100 cuts on a single charge.

It also comes with a 4 Ah Battery and charger compatible with GreenWorks G-MAX 40V Li-Ion System offering a range of tools to choose from. This chainsaw makes user safety its priority, thanks to its chain brake and low kickback chain. Here’s a look at the features, pros and cons of this battery-powered chainsaw.

Features of the Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw, 4.0 AH Battery Included 20312

  • Batteries Included: Yes
  • Batteries Required: Yes
  • Item Dimensions: 9 x 31 x 8.5 inches
  • Item Weight: 10.36 lbs
  • Power Source: Battery-powered
  • Size: 16″ bar length
  • Voltage: 40v
Pros
  • Well-balanced, reliable and powerful battery-powered chainsaw.
  • This chainsaw cuts fast and efficiently, with the premium power of DigiPro brushless motor technology making up to 100 cuts on a single charge.
  • The brushless motor makes for 30% more torque, delivering the best cutting performance
  • The brushless motor design also reduces vibration levels up to 70%, making for a user-friendly experience.
  • Safety features include chain brake and low kickback chain to make sure the user or operator is safe while using the chainsaw.
Cons
  • Relatively very expensive compared to the output it provides.

WORX WG303.1 16-Inch 14.5 Amp Electric Chainsaw: Best Corded Electric Chainsaw

Features of the WORX WG303.1 16-Inch 14.5 Amp Electric Chainsaw

  • Item Dimensions: 8.07 x 19.69 x 14.57 inches.
  • Item Weight: 11 pounds.
  • Power Source: Corded-electric.
  • Size: 16″ bar length.
  • Voltage: 120 volts.
  • Motor: 14.5 Amp motor delivers consistent performance, durability and reliability.
  • Patented auto-tension chain system means no over-tightening, also extends the life of the bar and chain.
  • Additional safety features including the built-in chain brake and low kickback bar.
  • Auto oil lubrication and built-in oil reservoir with level indicator.
  • Rubber over-molded rear handle and ergonomic full-wrap front handle for increased control and comfort during use.
Pros
  • This electric chainsaw’s 14.5 amp motor delivers high performance consistently, and is durable and reliable.
  • The patented auto-tension chain system translates to the maintenance of proper tension while working, without any over-tightening, and also ends up prolonging the life of the bar and chain.
  • Lightweight in design, this chainsaw comes with several additional safety features including the built-in chain brake and low kickback bar, which makes for a more operator-friendly experience.
  • Auto oil lubrication and oil reservoir with level indicator ensure you know when you need to refuel.
  • Increased control and ease of use take precedence, thanks to the rubber over-molded rear handle and ergonomic full-wrap front handle.
  • Much cleaner, quieter and much less hassle compared to its gas counterparts.
  • This is a great pick for light-duty cutting work, and much less expensive than gasoline-powered chainsaws.
Cons
  • Worx doesn’t sell repair parts for their power tools, which can hinder long-term usage.

Husqvarna 440E 16″ 40.9cc 967650902 Fully Assembled Gas-Powered Chainsaw: The Most Versatile Chainsaw

General tree care, landscaping, timber harvesting, cutting firewood; this is just some of the tasks that this gasoline-powered chainsaw executes with power, high performance and an ergonomic design that makes it as comfortable an operator experience for homeowners as it does for professionals. Husqvarna chainsaws have long set the standard, as far as outdoor power tools are concerned.

This is exactly why we decided to go back to basics for our last gasoline-powered chainsaw recommendation; this one goes through wood like knife through butter. Here’s a look at the features, pros and cons of Husqvarna 440E 16″ 40.9cc 967650902 fully assembled gas-powered chainsaw.

Features of the Husqvarna 440E 16″ 40.9cc 967650902 Fully Assembled Gas-Powered Chainsaw

  • Item dimensions: 11 x 9 x 37 inches
  • Item weight: 9.8 pounds
  • Power source: Gasoline-powered
  • Engine: 40.9cc, 2.4 HP
  • Easy to start
  • Ergonomic rear handles
  • Air injection
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Visible fuel level
  • Combined choke / stop control
  • Snap-lock cylinder cover
  • Slim design X-Cut chain
Pros
  • Equipped with a transparent fuel indicator, it is easy for the operator to check fuel level in this chainsaw.
  • The anti-vibration system reduces vibration levels in the chainsaw, and thus fatigue levels to the operator.
  • The X-Torq engine reduces exhaust emission levels.
  • The combined start/stop switch, smart start and fuel pump are three features that together make the saw very easy to start.
  • The air injection or centrifugal air cleaning system in the chainsaw removes larger dust particles and debris before it even reaches the air filter, for a second filtration. This also translates into a decrease air filter cleanings required, and prolonged engine life.
  • Snap-lock cylinder cover make the air filtration system more accessible to the operator, without unscrewing any screws.
  • Extremely lightweight, easy to store and move.
Cons
  • This chainsaw is relatively expensive for its size.

Craftsman 41BY429S799 18″ 42cc Gas Chainsaw: The Best Chainsaw for Big Jobs

This chainsaw is all about the power and durability. Its 42cc two-cycle engine powers the saw with fuel efficiently, and is able to cut through a log at an inch per second. Not too shabby.

Of course, with great power comes, in this case, great noise, at a loud 90+ dBs. Besides this factor, this chainsaw is chock full of features that help get a job done well and quickly. A low-kickback chain made with specialty depth gauges and guard links, the handguards at the front of the saw, the chain catcher, the spark arrestor and the reaction time of the chain brake are all designed having prioritized the user’s safety. Well suited for felling trees and bucking logs, this is your answer to all the big jobs on your list.

Features of the Craftsman 41BY429S799 18″ 42cc Gas Chainsaw

  • Size: 18”
  • Engine: 42cc engine two-cycle
  • Bar Length: 18”
  • Power Source: Gasoline-powered
  • Incredi-Pull™ starting system
  • Anti-vibration Handle
  • Automatic oiler
  • Side screw tensioning system
  • Aluminum frame chassis
  • Includes a durable carrying case
  • Uses 2-cycle pre-mix fuel
Pros
  • Able to cut through any wood of 18″, the chainsaw is equipped with a full complement chain making for fast, precise cuts.
  • The Incredi-Pull™ starting system makes for much easier starts, due to the reduction in pull force required.
  • The anti-vibration handle on this chainsaw is designed to reduce user fatigue.
  • Continually lubricating the bar and chain, the automatic oiler ensures fast and precise cuts, maximizing the life of the chainsaw.
  • Side screw tensioning system translates to easier access to tightening the chain.
  • This gasoline-powered chainsaw is great for all sorts of cutting conditions, thanks to the aluminum frame chassis that provides durability.
  • Includes a long list of safety features such as a low-kickback chain made with specialty depth gauges and guard links, throttle lockout, the handguards at the front of the saw, the chain catcher, the spark arrestor and the reaction time of the chain brake.
  • This chainsaw has been designed keeping in view the aim of the extension of its life; the durable hard-shell carrying case it comes with lets you store the unit securely.
  • Included in the case of this chainsaw are accessories including a spare chain, bar scabbard, a very useful owner’s manual, hybrid tool called a scrench and engine oil.
Cons
  • Due to the noisy engine, this particular chainsaw would probably be more suitable in the countryside, rather than an urban one.

PowerKing 18″ & 22″ Combination 57cc Gas Chainsaw: The Chainsaw with the “Beast” Engine

The PowerKing gas chainsaw combo includes both 18″ & 22″ bars, and is powered by a mind-boggling 57cc two-cycle power king engine. This two-in-one chainsaw is purely about the power, the kind to have professionals paying serious attention. The ultra quiet muffler keeps things relatively less noisy at under 97.8 dBA, considering the output and speed it can deliver.

Weighing in at a mere 14.8 lbs, this lightweight and well-balanced gasoline-powered chainsaw has a lot going for it. Let’s take you through the other features, pros and cons of the PowerKing 18″ & 22″ combination 57cc gas chainsaw.

Features of the PowerKing 18″ & 22″ Combination 57cc Gas Chainsaw

  • Size: 14.8 lbs
  • Engine: 57cc two-cycle
  • Fuel Capacity: 24.69 oz
  • Chain Oil Capacity: 8.47 oz
  • Sound Level: 97.8 dB
  • Fuel Mix: 40:1
  • 18” and 22” bar and chain included
  • CDI easy start ignition
  • Textured over-molded comfort handle
  • Auto chain oiler
  • Balanced with vibration isolation
  • Quality certified
  • Top access spark plug
  • Fiber washable air filter
  • Scrench, oil mix bottle, bar cover included
  • Tool-less chain tensioning
Pros
  • The 57cc two-cycle engine is incredibly powerful can execute cutting work reliably and quickly.
  • The over-molded comfort handle makes for a comfortable operator experience, and reduces fatigue.
  • Includes an easy start CDI ignition with an automatic, adjustable bar oiler.
  • The anti-vibration system buffers the engine, and reduces vibrations while chainsaw is at work.
  • The quick adjust chain tensioner is conveniently located on the side cover.
  • This PowerKing chainsaw is equipped with a fiber washable air filter, which lowers exhaust emission levels.
  • The easy access spark plug safeguards the chainsaw and operator against risk hazards.
  • Includes scrench, oil/gas mixing bottle and bar cover.
Cons
  • This chainsaw is meant mainly for professional or commercial use, due to its power and noise levels.
  • Not CARB-compliant.

Husqvarna 240 (16″) 38cc Gas Chainsaw: The Best Chainsaw for Homeowners

The Husqvarna chainsaw brand is pretty popular and trusted amongst professional chainsaw users, and this model comes armed with a clean, fuel-efficient X-Torq gas engine and high performance in fast cutting work. Its exhaust levels are low, due to the inbuilt air injection system, and there is relatively less vibration with this chainsaw model thanks to its petite engine, as well as the anti-vibration system.

All in all, this one’s just right for lighter cutting tasks like pruning and hobby work in the garden. Here’s a look at the features, pros and cons of the Husqvarna 240 (16″) 38cc gas chainsaw to figure out why.

Features of the Husqvarna 240 (16″) 38cc Gas Chainsaw

  • Item Dimensions: 9.5 x 11 x 32 inches
  • Size: 16″ Maximum Bar Length
  • Item Weight: 10.3 pounds
  • Engine: 38cc 2-Stroke Engine
  • Maximum Power Speed: 9000 rpm
  • Idling Speed: 3000 rpm
  • Power Source: Gasoline-powered
  • 16-inch bar, 3/8-inch pitch, 050-inch gauge 2 HP
  • Side-mounted chain-tensioner
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • Air cleaning system
  • LowVib® Design
Pros
  • The 38cc X-Torq two-cycle engine of the Husqvarna 240 (16″) 38cc works on a fuel to oil mix ratio of 50:1, delivering lower fuel consumption.
  • The air injection system in this chainsaw removes larger dust particles and debris, resulting in lower levels of exhaust emissions. This also prolongs the engine life.
  • The combined choke/stop control makes starting the chainsaw much easier, and cuts down the risk of engine flooding. Also contributing to this is the air purge system, which gets rid of air from the carburetor and fuel system.
  • The smaller-sized engine causes less vibration while the chainsaw is at work; combined with the anti-vibration technology it is equipped with, this chainsaw is built in a way to prioritize the comfort of the operator, as it reduces fatigue.
  • The inertia-activated chain brake reduces the chances of injury to the operator because of kickback.
  • Husqvarna is a trusted and reliable brand amongst professional chainsaw operators, and this chainsaw’s capability is about industry average.
Cons
  • The power of this Husqvarna chainsaw is approximately average when compared with other models. In spite of this, its noise levels are pretty high, ranging from 75-90 dBs.

Poulan 967669301 Handheld Gas Chainsaw, 18″: Best Value-for-Money Chainsaw

There is no other chainsaw that offers the kind of value and output at this price range, like the Poulan 967669301 handheld gas chainsaw. Perfect for the occasional user who needs to do some light to medium duty storm clean-up or light firewood cutting and limbing.

The engine of this chainsaw allows for longer periods between cleaning and servicing, and the anti-vibration system makes sure that the operator experience is comfortable and reduces fatigue. Let’s take a look at the various features on offer, and the pros and cons of this gasoline-powered chainsaw.

Features of the Poulan 967669301 Handheld Gas Chainsaw, 18″

  • Item Dimensions: 11 x 10 x 24 inches
  • Weight: 13.25 lbs
  • Engine: 42cc, 2-stroke engine
  • Shipping Weight: 18.8 pounds
  • Power Source: Gasoline-powered
  • Comes with 18″ Bar Automatic gear driven oiler
  • Inertia activated chain brake 3/8″ chain pitch and 0.050″ chain gauge
  • Includes bonus chain and scrench
  • One-year limited warranty
Pros
  • The 42cc two-stroke engine is comparatively powerful, especially considering the fact that it weighs in at just over 13 lbs.
  • Easily portable, and great for occasional or new users.
  • The SuperClean engine of this chainsaw allows for longer periods to lapse between cleaning of the air system and servicing, making it more convenient for the operator.
  • Anti-vibration system of the engine helps in decreasing of operator fatigue.
Cons
  • This chainsaw is not ideal for work that requires very fast work, or work that requires a lot of power.

STIHL MS 261 C-M: Your “Go-To” Gas-Powered Chainsaw

Its maddening versatility and maximum output are the reasons why we consider this a great “go-to” option for both the professional as well as the occasional user. Jampacked with impressive features, the MS 261 boasts of low exhaust emissions, great fuel efficiency and high performance, as well as the advanced STIHL M-Tronic™ engine management system.

This is an onboard microprocessor which monitors the conditions you are working in, digitally, and makes adjustments accordingly to factors such as temperature, fuel quality, elevation, dirty air filters and varying octane levels. Eliminating the need for manual adjustments saves on many efforts, and equipped with redesigned cylinders and an admirable power-to-weight ratio, this gasoline-powered chainsaw is all about fantastic performance.

Features of the STIHL MS 261 C-M

  • Displacement: 50.2 cc (3.06 cu. in.)
  • Engine power: 3.0 kW (4.0 bhp)
  • Powerhead weight: 4.9 kg (10.8 Ibs.)
  • Fuel Capacity: 500 cc (16.9 oz)
  • Chain oil capacity: 270 cc (9.13 oz)
  • Oilomatic® chain: 26 RM3
  • Guide bar lengths (Recommended ranges): 40 to 50 cm (16″ to 20″)
  • Power source: Gasoline-powered
  • Anti-vibration system
  • Pre-separation air filtration system
  • Side-access chain tensioner
  • Decompression valve
  • Tool-less fuel and oil caps with retainers
  • Reduced-emission engine technology
  • Features STIHL M-Tronic, a new generation of Intelligent Engine Management 
  • Built in the USA
Pros
  • STIHL Inc. has made “caring for nature” a way of life, with a seal indicating that their power tools are more environmentally-conscious, producing zero or low exhaust emissions, meaning cleaner than EPA and/or CARB exhaust emission standards, at STIHL.
  • Equipped with the STIHL M-Tronic technology, this chainsaw saves a lot of user effort by getting rid of the need to make manual adjustments corresponding to work conditions.
  • This is a chainsaw that has an impressive power-to-weight ratio, translating into high performance levels.
  • With a system for minimizing the vibration levels of the chainsaw, STIHL has taken big steps in cutting down on user fatigue and has facilitated better work conditions.
  • Removing and tightening fuel and oil caps is that much easier, with retainers that you can simply lift the lever and twist the caps off of.
  • The engine’s filter system has a pre-separation air filtration system, which saves a lot of time and boosts efficiency. Air entering the engine is separated by a centrifugal force, eliminating the heavier dirt particles before being routed to the air filter; translating into less frequent cleaning required of this part.
  • Easy to maintain and use.
Cons
  • There are some reports of the occasional vapor lock, after the second or third refueling in a day. The trick is to let it putter for half an hour, before getting back to work.

Jonsered CS 2250 S Gas Chainsaw: The Best Chainsaw for Cutting Firewood

Features of Jonsered CS 2250 S Gas Chainsaw

  • Cutting equipment (recommended bar length, min-max): 13″-18″
  • Weight (excl. cutting equipment): 11.2 lbs
  • Cylinder displacement: 50.2 cc
  • Power output: 3.22 hp
  • Fuel tank volume: 15.22 fl oz
  • Oil tank volume: 0.55 US pint
  • Sound pressure level: 104 dB(A)
  • Sound power level, guaranteed (LWA): 115 dB(A)
  • Engine designed for clean power
  • Air cleansing system
  • Anti-vibration system
  • Spin Start
  • Snap-locked covers
  • Tool-less chain tensioning
Pros
  • The Clean Power engine of this chainsaw cuts down exhaust emissions by a whopping 75% and increases fuel efficiency by up to 20%.
  • The air cleansing system of this Jonsered chainsaw extracts up to 97% of the sawdust from the air before it travels to the air filter, where a second filtration takes places
  • The anti-vibration system this chainsaw comes with is based on damping elements that provides one of the best vibration dampings on the market.
  • The “Spin Start” decreases the resistance in the starter cord by up to 40%.
  • The chainsaw has snap-locked covers on the cylinder that release quickly, making the air filter and spark plug much more accessible, without having to deal with any screws.
  • Inertia-activated chain brake for increased safety.
  • Lightweight in design and easily portable, this chainsaw is recommended for occasional firewood cutting or part-time forestry work.
  • Two-year warranty.
Cons
  • There are some reviews of trouble starting up the chainsaw, even when the engine is warmed up.
  • Let’s give you a breakdown of the different types of chainsaws you have to choose from; figuring out how much you’re going to use it, and what for, should help you cut the chase and narrow down your choices considerably.

Your Options: Different Types of Chainsaws and What They Offer

There are broadly four different kinds of chainsaws, and they are classified with regard to how they’re powered, and their corresponding structure.

Gas-Powered Chainsaws

These refer to the heavier and noisier kind, those perfect for serious woodcutting, where the aim is to be as efficient and fast as possible. As popular amongst professional chainsaw users as occasional ones, gasoline or petrol-powered chainsaws cut more smoothly than electric ones and their chain speed, which is faster, requires less pressure.

With two-stroke or two-cycle engines using a mixture of gasoline and oil, used for combustion and lubrication of parts respectively, the gas-powered chainsaw is effectively more powerful and faster than other types.

Upkeep is very much required, though; these chainsaws require fueling and regular servicing of the engine. They also emit exhaust fumes and produce more noise and vibration. While lighter-duty gas-powered models cost less, a heftier model will work out to be much more expensive compared to other chainsaw models.

Corded Electric Chainsaws

A smaller type of chainsaw, the corded electric variety use electricity to run and, instead of engines, have a plug-in power-cord. The perfect complementary tool for a corded electric chainsaw would be a movable generator, which can be attached to the chainsaw with the help of a long extension cord, increasing the portability of the chainsaw many folds.

Without a portable generator, however, this kind of chainsaw needs to be connected to a power outlet, and they have much less power than their gas-powered counterparts. Small tasks requiring less power such as cutting of small trees, bushes, branches and limbs can be done with the corded electric chainsaw. Unlike gas-powered chainsaws, these don’t emit exhaust fumes or make too much noise.

This is the perfect option for someone who is just starting out and trying their hand at using a chainsaw. Using this power tool in the woods is advised against, as the cords it is connected to can cause a risk hazard. Corded electric chainsaws require special extension cords, between 14-gauge and 12-gauge to get the amperage right for optimum performance of light chores.

Battery-Powered (Or Cordless Electric) Chainsaws

Using rechargeable batteries as a power source instead of electricity or fuel, battery-powered chainsaws or cordless electric ones gets rid of the need for regular refueling and servicing. However, one needs to ensure the batteries are charged regularly, and one way to do this is to charge batteries well in advance before the chainsaw is to be used, and to have several batteries revolving within the battery charger for longer sessions. This can become a chore if you don’t have a second battery as backup, though, so it’s an investment worth looking into.

Less powerful than the corded electric chainsaw, the battery-operated kind is designed for relatively lighter tasks including pruning of bushes, trimming, and cutting of small trees or limbing work; essentially, work that is less time consuming and can be finished in a single session, such as landscaping or basic maintenance work.

Regardless of the fact that they are considerably less powerful than both corded and gas-powered chainsaws, battery-powered chainsaws tend to be amongst the most expensive in the industry. If your tasks include the likes of landscaping or basic maintenance of your backyard or small grounds, and you have the budget for it, this is a good pick for you.

Manual Chainsaws

No fuel, no electricity — these are the “old-school” chainsaws that use the power of the user’s own arms. The name of this variety is pretty self-explanatory; you use a chainsaw’s saw chain to manually cut the wood. Cutting firewood or trimming wood are general uses of the manual chainsaw, often bought because it is relatively affordable to many.

Naturally, there is no noise or exhaust to speak of — besides perhaps your own exhaustion and the manual labor and effort that is required in the process of using this type of chainsaw. A hand-powered chainsaw has less power, comparatively, as it is not a motorized process like the others. On the other hand, they are easy to move around as well as store (which is why they are also known as pocket chainsaws), faster and also much less expensive, even including few accessories you might need to purchase. The double-sided chain this type uses is perfect for smaller cutting work of limbs or small trees. If the manual labor isn’t too much of a chore for you, this portable and affordable manual chainsaw might just be the thing for you.

As always with big purchases, it’s more important to know exactly what your use of the product is going to be like, more than anything else. Once you identify your specific requirements, it’s easy to piece the rest together to have a job that’s done well, regardless of whether you are clearing up fallen trees after a storm, doing some light gardening work or fighting off the undead. 

Are you ready to get to work?

After going through these reviews of our top picks for chainsaws, we hope you have a much clearer idea of your needs, and what your chainsaw can provide you. You’re practically in a power tool wonderland as far as your options are concerned; now all you have to do is pick wisely, and you can be all set to get to work.

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