Chainsaw Rating Sources
For this report, Doug Mahoney puts six cordless and gas-powered chainsaws through a series of tests. He runs them through 4-by-4s in the workshop, tests them on a variety of soft and hard trees out in the woods, and lends them to a pro to use on the job for three days. He then names his top picks based on battery life, speed, comfort, maneuverability, and overall ease of use.
ConsumerReports.org tests 41 chainsaws -- gas, plug-in, battery-powered and power loppers -- by cutting through a 10-inch square oak beam. Testers rate each model based on cutting speed, safety, ease of use, and handling. Eighteen models earn recommendations, and six are named as Best Buys.
Michael Springer tests four cordless chainsaws that run on 36-volt batteries. He runs the models through fresh-cut, 6-inch cottonwood limbs to test their power and run time. He also takes them to the woods to prune limbs and remove small trees. Each saw gets three to four paragraphs evaluating its features, handling, and overall ease of use.
As the name suggests, this retail site specializes in chainsaws and their accessories. Along with star ratings from customer reviewers, many models get a letter grade from Dale Vogelsanger, the site's chainsaw expert, who has spent over 20 years in the small engine and power equipment industry. The site also provides a helpful summary of users' top pros and cons for each chainsaw. Gas chainsaws have the most reviews here; we found three with high ratings from 50-plus reviewers.
Lowes.com sells a limited selection of chainsaws, including about 50 gas, corded electric, and cordless models. Gas chainsaws get the most reviews from users, with a few models receiving hundreds of reviews and ratings of 4.5 stars or more. One problem with this site is that model numbers are not shown on the main page, so you have to click on each individual listing to see exactly which chainsaw it covers.
This magazine's DIY experts describe the most important features of a chainsaw, then test seven lightweight and medium-duty gas models hands-on by "making hundreds of cuts." Each model gets a brief write-up outlining its strong and weak points compared to others in the same category. However, two of the tested saws are discontinued. The piece also recommends three heavy-duty chainsaws, but there are no reviews for these.
Each of the five top chainsaws in this article receives a brief review, with a decent balance of praise and constructive criticism. Write-ups are obviously based on hands-on testing — Sal Vaglica mentions sinking one saw into "a 17-inch diameter log" — but he doesn't mention any other chainsaws he tested that didn't make the grade.
This site sells about 35 chainsaws, including gas, electric, and cordless models. Gas chainsaws have the most reviews, with three models receiving high ratings from 100 owners or more. We also found lots of reviews here for chainsaw sharpeners; the top-rated model has over 500 comments. Individual reviews are generally short, but the site makes it easy to sort them by date, rating, and helpfulness.
HomeDepot.com's selection of chainsaws includes more than 120 gas, corded, and battery-powered models. Many well-reviewed brands, such as Husqvarna, Stihl, and DeWalt, are not sold here, but it's a good place to find reviews for brands like Echo and Ego, which aren't widely covered elsewhere. We found several models with 4.5-star ratings from 100 users or more. Chainsaw sharpeners get fewer reviews, but we found one with high ratings from over 60 users.
Amazon.com sells hundreds of gas, electric and cordless chainsaws, and shares a wealth of user feedback. Electric chainsaws get the most reviews, but there are also some gas chainsaws with ratings of 4.5 stars out of 5 or better from at least 150 owners. Chainsaw sharpeners are covered on a separate page; we found two top-rated models with more than 100 reviews.
Sears itself sells only around 50 chainsaw models, and most of them have few or no reviews. However, this is the best site to find reviews of Craftsman chainsaws, which are sold only at Sears. There are also a variety of additional chainsaws sold by other retailers listed here, some of which receive substantial feedback -- thought that's sometimes drawn from the manufacturer's site. Altogether, we found five chainsaws with ratings of 4 stars or better from at least 150 users.