The Husqvarna 455 Rancher is actually the best-reviewed chainsaw we cover. It's just that it's really more saw than the average homeowner likely needs, which is the only thing that keeps us from naming it a Best Reviewed model -- it's certainly not for lack of positive feedback.
The 455 Rancher has a 20-inch bar (according to the manufacturer, it's designed for use with bars 13 to 20 inches in length) and is designed to handle frequent, heavy use; Husqvarna rates it a landowner rather than a homeowner model. It includes all the features found on homeowner models like the Best Reviewed Husqvarna 240 e-series (*Est. $240) chainsaw: auto chain oiling, an inertia-activated chain brake, vibration dampening and Smart Start technology. In addition to those, the 455 Rancher has an eco-pump that stops the auto chain oiler when the engine is idling; a push-bulb primer in addition to the choke; and a streamlined air filtration system. If you don't need a heavy-duty chainsaw and your budget is limited, reviews indicate the Poulan Pro PP3516AVX (*Est. $150) is a solid pick.
We found the best expert review of the Husqvarna 455 Rancher at ConsumerGuide.com, although it's not clear how much testing was done. An older review in The Washington Post recommends the 455 Rancher along with three other models, based on the author's experience. Owners review the Husqvarna 455 Rancher at Amazon.com, Lowes.com, Sears.com, ReviewCentre.com and BackyardBoss.com, and Wayne of the Woods (Wayne Murray) recommends it for homeowner use.
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In this 2006 review, ConsumerGuide.com names the Husqvarna 455 Rancher a Best Buy. Editors say, "The Husqvarna 455 Rancher will meet the needs of the biggest and most demanding homeowner wood cutting chores. It applies Husqvarna's professional saw technology to this residential version." They rate it a perfect 5 out of 5.
Review: Expert Review: Husqvarna 455 Rancher, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com, June 12, 2006
About 450 ratings and reviews by owners appear on the Husqvarna 455 Rancher product page at Lowes.com; the average rating is an amazingly high 4.8 out of 5 stars. One owner writes, "Ordered this after hurricane Irene went through and my old chainsaw died. Cut through large oak trees (2 ft diameter and larger) like butter. Helped clear the road and yards quickly. Excellent product."
Review: Husqvarna 20" 55.5cc Gas Chain Saw, Contributors to Lowes.com
Both ratings and comments from owners are available at Sears.com. The Husqvarna 455 Rancher has just over 35 reviews and gets the highest rating of any gas chainsaw, with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Owners praise its power and safety features.
Review: Husqvarna 455 Rancher 55.5cc 3.5 hp 20" Chain Saw, Contributors to Sears.com
Almost 40 owners post ratings and reviews of the Husqvarna 455 here; the average rating (3.5 out of 5) is not as high as at other retail sites. Complaints are all over the place, ranging from dislike of the owner's manual to problems with the chain. The comments from one owner sum up the overall ambivalence: "Restart can be a hassle otherwise love the fuel economy. Had to take the saw to a shop pro to put it together because of a glitch in the clutch brake. Still really like it."
Review: Husqvarna 455 Rancher 20-Inch 55-1/2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Chain Saw (CARB Compliant), Contributors to Amazon.com
5. The Washington Post
In this older review, Mike McClintock, Home Sense columnist for The Washington Post, recommends four chainsaws ranging in cutting power from entry-level to pro. Of the Husqvarna 455 Rancher, he says, "This basically commercial-grade tool packs as much power and capacity as you could want -- and a quick-tripping chain brake just in case. There are more powerful saws. But unless you're going into the logging business, there's no need to look past this tool."
Review: Chainsaws on the Cutting Edge, Mike McClintock, Jan. 20, 2005
ReviewCentre.com is a U.K.-based site that invites consumers to rate and review different products. The site itself doesn't sell anything, and the only reviews are those posted by consumers. About 45 owners post reviews of the Husqvarna 455 Rancher, which are generally positive.
Review: Husqvarna 455 Rancher Reviews, Contributors to ReviewCentre.com
Over 60 people have posted reviews of the 455 Rancher here, and they're all over the place. Many people are quite satisfied with this chainsaw, but several say that the auto chain oiler doesn't work right. Ratings aren't averaged, but over half the owners seem to be happy with their Husqvarna 455.
Review: Husqvarna 455 Rancher, Contributors to BackyardBoss.com
8. Wayne of the Woods
This site consists primarily of a comparison chart detailing the price, power, weight and special features of 15 gas chainsaws. Much of the information appears to be out of date, judging by how many of the models in the chart are discontinued. Wayne Murray begins, however, by recommending two Husqvarna models for homeowner use, one of which is the 455 Rancher (then sold as the 55 Rancher). The recommendation appears to be based on the fact that Murray himself, a logger he knows and several relatives all use Husqvarna chainsaws and have had great experiences with this brand.
Review: Chainsaw Reviews, Wayne Murray