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Chainsaw Reviews - Expert Analysis and Advice

Best Chainsaws:

There are few tools like a chainsaw when it comes to home power tools. They really only have one use and that is cutting through tree limbs or logs. If you live in an area where trees are prevalent or you need to cut logs up for winter firewood, then having a chain saw can be a huge timesaving piece of equipment. You may think of chain saws as being these big, behemoths that only giant men can handle, but most manufacturers produce home versions of their saws so that homeowners can tackle simple tasks at home and be safe doing it. The best known brands for chainsaws are Stihl and Husqvarna with the top selling models but other manufacturers like Poulan, Echo, McCulloch, Homelite, Dolmar, Jonsered, John Deere and Craftsman all make quality saws as well. We found that visiting a Stihl dealer or going to Home Depot or Lowes is a great way to start your search for the "best chain saw". A certified salesperson can fit the appropriate chain saw to your needs. Below we have given you a basic buying guide to help in your decision making.

Best Gas Chainsaw:

Electric and gas powered chain saws are what you get to choose from. Gas powered chainsaws are definitely more powerful and can cut through thicker logs or limbs than an electric version. Gas chain saws have two-cycle engines which means you will find yourself mixing the proper oil and gas mixture. The portability is why most people go with a gas saw versus a corded electric chain saw. Some electric saws will work just fine for cutting smaller branches and they are certainly much quieter than the conventional chainsaw. Having to drag a cord around behind is not only tiresome but it can be dangerous if the cord gets near the saw blade. Pole saws are another option and they come in either electric or gas models. The pole saws allow you to reach higher branches and limbs without having to get up on a ladder. Some of them reach almost 12 feet when fully extended. Before you buy a chain saw, take inventory of your yard to determine size of branches that might need to get cut since inevitably that determines the size of saw you go with. Two terms that you will hear a lot are bar length and engine displacement. Some occasional user models start at about 30cc and the larger professional saws have closer to 85cc's. The bar length will tell you how large of piece of wood you can cut through. Standard sizes are 14", 16", 18" and 20". The professional chain saws can go up to 36" and beyond. If you have never used a chain saw before keep in mind that you want a balance of power and size. Some hardwoods like maple and oak require a more powerful saw while pine and fir don't. Bigger saws are heavier and will put a strain on your arms and shoulders after just 15 minutes. Features to look for include anti-vibration, quick start ignitions, easily adjustable chain, muffler, self lubricating chain, and a carrying case. Each expert we talked with always recommended the proper safety attire as well (boots, chaps, hard hat, gloves, ear and eye protection). We found several chain saw comparisons online with one done by Popular Mechanics although it was conducted several years ago. Wayneofthewoods.com and About (Forestry section) offers some reviews on the latest chain saws which are very helpful. Consumer Reports tested 26 chain saws and came up with their results as well. We have gathered the "best of" and put them into their own categories below.

RECOMMENDED - We say that Stihl chain saws are the best for homeowners. Their website has an excellent 'chainsaw product selector' HERE - choose from gas/electric, wood diameter, and how you will be using the saw. A selection of saws is shown to your left that meet your requirements. The Stihl MS200 Chain Saw ($570) is an excellent choice for the occasional user in their yards. It features a 2.1 HP engine, 35.2 cc, weighs 8.4 lbs, handles wood 12 to 16 inches, and has toolless fuel and oil caps. The preheat shutter on the carburetor lets you run the saw in summer or winter conditions. The ElastoStart starter handle works great for beginners and intermediate users. At just over 8 lbs, you can run the chain saw for extended periods of time without having your arm give out on you. Reviews are favorable on the Gardenweb forums where rugged chain saw users discuss teh best saws. The Stihl MS 170 and the Dolmar PS-401 are two others that get good ratings in comparison tests. If you only need to use the chainsaw for a 1 time emergency, considering renting a model from your local dealer. Also, you won't find Stihl chain saws at stores like Home Depot or Lowes, go to their website (listed above) to find a dealer near you. BEST - In recent years Makita as really produced some solid gas powered chain saws. We suggest the Makita 64cc 20-Inch Bar 4.7 HP Gas Powered Chain Saw. Reviews are incredibly positive and it will give the Stihl a run for the money.

If you want an affordable, yet powerful chain saw, the Husqvarna 345($265) is perhaps the best deal out there. We read countless reviews on Amazon saying this was a "great saw" and even the so called chainsaw experts had good things to say about this one. Husqvarna chain saws are definitely top rated and the 345 18" is a quick starting and easy to handle saw. It features toolless chain tensioning, double acting chain brake, angled front handle for best grip, and a vibration dampened carburetor. The Homelite Bandit is another budget chain saw that works well on cutting firewood, cleaning up light debris, and felling small trees. BEST - The Poulan Pro PP3516AVX 16-Inch 35cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered Anti-Vibration Chain Saw is top rated on Amazon.com and worth a look.

The MS 650 STIHL Magnum Chain Saw ($910-950) is what the pros use and it's certainly not for homeowners unless you live in a forest. At almost 16 1/2 pounds you'll need some upper body strength to manage this bad boy. The 6.4 HP engine will take on wood 36" in size. The Echo CS-8000($830) is another monster saw with a 1 year commercial warranty. Has replaceable bumper spikes for improved control, an automatic oiler with manual override, and it holds 28.9 oz of fuel. Arborists and professional tree cutters will love this model as it delivers reliability and performance. Some homeowners don't like dealing with the maintenance of a gas powered chainsaw and they also don't want the added power. An electric chain saw could be the solution for you as well if you want a saw that is light, safe to use, and much cheaper in price. The cheaper electric chain saws are sold by Remington, McCulloch, and Craftsman with prices around $70. Some of the higher end electric saws are made by Makita and Milwaukee and cost between $200-$300 but can still tackle large jobs. We say check out http://www.remingtonchainsaw.com/chainsaw.html for a complete line of their saws with pricing, sizes and descriptions. BEST - The Poulan Pro 400E 18-Inch 4.0 HP Electric Chain Saw is the #1 selling electric chain saw on Amazon and gets excellent feedback from owners.

Top Selling Chainsaws:

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