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Chainsaw Reviews

By: Amy Livingston on November 21, 2017

Editor's Note:
Once again, Husqvarna is the top name among gas-powered homeowner chainsaws, though we also found a Stihl saw that's nearly every bit as good. WORX makes the best corded electric alternatives, while Ego makes a powerful cordless model. Top chainsaw sharpeners are also named.

Husqvarna 440E Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Type – Gas Weight – 9.7 lbs. (not including bar and chain) Bar length – 16"

Best gas chainsaw

With its 2.4-hp engine, the Husqvarna 440E gas chainsaw provides enough power for everyday tasks like trimming branches or cutting firewood, yet it's still lightweight enough for most homeowners to handle. Its safety and convenience features include an inertia-activated chain brake, anti-vibration handles, and a tool-free chain tensioner that's easy to adjust with one hand. The starter is a little finicky, but once this chainsaw is going, it is an extremely able performer.

Buy for $299.95
Husqvarna 455 Rancher Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Type -- Gas Weight – 12.8 lbs. (not including bar and chain) Bar length -- 18" or 20"

Heavy-duty gas chainsaw

If you're looking for a chainsaw that can take on the biggest jobs a homeowner's likely to face, such as felling dead trees, the Husqvarna 455 Rancher has everything you need. Its mighty 3.5-hp, 55.5-cc engine makes short work of even the heaviest logs, and it starts more reliably than the smaller Husqvarna 440E. The 455 has a kickback brake and anti-vibration handles, but it requires tools to adjust the chain tension.

Buy for $429.23
WORX WG304.1 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Type -- Electric Weight – 11.2 lbs. Bar length -- 18"

Best electric chainsaw

Both professional testers and owners say the WORX WG304.1 electric chainsaw is light, well balanced, and surprisingly powerful. You have to haul an extension cord around with you and stay within reach of an electrical outlet, but in return you get a muscular, relatively quiet saw. Its auto chain tensioning and oiling make it easy to maintain, and its safety features include a low-kickback chain and sensitive chain brake.

Ego CS1604 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Type -- Cordless Weight – 8.7 lbs. (not including battery) Bar length -- 16"

Best cordless chainsaw

The Ego CS1604 cordless chainsaw gets top marks for its combination of speed, safety, and ease of use. In professional tests, it chews through wood as fast as a light-duty gas chainsaw, yet owners find it quiet and easy to handle and maintain. Its 5-amp Li-ion battery lasts a long time on a charge and is compatible with all other Ego cordless tools. The saw is backed by a five-year warranty.

Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Saw chain pitch -- 3/8" Saw chain gauge -- .05" - .08" Grinding wheel -- 4.25" x .125", 7/8" arbor

Best chainsaw sharpener

For sharpening your chainsaw's teeth to a consistent angle and depth, the Buffalo Tools ECSS Electric Chainsaw Sharpener is the best choice. You can sharpen nearly any chain with it by adjusting the angle. You must take the chain off the saw to sharpen it, and the instructions could be better, but once the ECSS is set up, most users find it gets their chains as good as new in 5 to 10 minutes or less.

Buy for $44.99
Anytime Tools Diamond Chainsaw Sharpener Burr
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Shank Diameter -- 1/8" Burr diameter -- 3/16" Total length --1-3/4"

Freehand chainsaw sharpener

If you own a rotary tool – such as a Dremel tool or even a drill – the Anytime Tools Diamond Chainsaw Sharpener Burr set makes a fast and cheap alternative to a dedicated chainsaw sharpener. Simply fit one of these diamond-coated burrs onto your tool, and you can sharpen your chain without even taking it off the saw. The whole process takes only a few minutes, though there's a learning curve to conquer for best results.

Buy for $8.95

Chainsaws make short work of cutting wood

When violent weather strikes and trees fall, a chainsaw is key to clearing your property and restoring access to the outside world. Consumer-grade chainsaws also make short work of cutting firewood, cutting framing timbers, and carving wood. There are three basic types — gas, electric, and cordless — and each is appropriate for different situations.

Types of Chainsaws

Gas Chainsaws

Chainsaws that run on gasoline are the most powerful and capable models overall. They don't limit the user by either cord length or battery charge time, and they can run during a power outage with no problems. On the downside, gas chainsaws tend to be heavier and noisier than electric or cordless models, they require more maintenance, and they pollute the air with unpleasant-smelling fumes. Light-duty gas chainsaws, generally priced between $150 and $300, are suitable for clearing brush, cutting firewood, and removing dead branches. Larger, heavy-duty chainsaws, sometimes known as "rancher" models, are good for larger properties and tougher jobs, such as removing full-grown trees; they cost anywhere from $200 to $500. (The still more powerful "professional" chainsaws, which typically sell for $500 or more, are not covered in this report.)

Electric Chainsaws

Although not as powerful as gas, electric chainsaws offer several distinct advantages. They're much easier to start than a gas chainsaw, as all you have to do is plug them in and squeeze the trigger -- and as long as you have access to a working electrical outlet, they never run out of fuel. They're also lighter, quieter, and easier to maintain, and they don't spew exhaust into your face or the environment. Cost is another plus, with even the top-rated models priced around $100. However, they do require a heavy-duty extension cord, which confines you to a limited range — typically about 100 feet — and makes it unsafe to work in wet conditions.

Cordless chainsaws

Battery-operated chainsaws aren't as powerful as gas models, or even corded electric ones, but they offer unlimited range and all the environmental benefits of an electric model. Powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, they're super-convenient for working in trees or other awkward situations, and light enough to carry over large acreage for small, scattered jobs. Expect to pay between $200 and $300 for a cordless chainsaw kit with the battery and charger included, or $150 to $200 for the bare tool. (All prices in this report are for the kit.)

Chainsaw Sharpeners

Even the best chainsaw only cuts well if its cutting chain is sharp. At $10 to $30 per chain, replacing the chain every time it gets dull really isn't practical, although it's not a bad idea to have one or two spare chains in case you need to swap out the chain in a hurry. In most situations, though, it's more practical and cost-effective to sharpen the chain yourself when it gets dull. Chainsaw sharpeners for home use range in price from $10 for a sharpening burr that works with a rotary tool to over $200 for a bench-mounted grinder. However, a good, basic electric sharpener shouldn't set you back more than $50 or so.

A word about chainsaw safety

All of the chainsaws in this report offer at least basic safety features. These include brakes to stop the chain if the saw kicks back, and for bigger saws, an anti-vibration shield to keep the vibration of the saw from causing numbness and pain in your hands. However, a chainsaw is still a dangerous tool, so don't forget to add your own safety measures as well. Always suit up properly when using a chainsaw, with protective clothing, goggles, and ear protection. (See our report on earplugs for recommendations.)

Because they're exhaust-free, both electric and cordless models can be used indoors in a garage or workshop, or for demolition work. Gas models pose the same risks as any exhaust-producing engine when used indoors and should be limited to outdoor use.

Finding The Best Chainsaws
Our Sources
"The Best Chainsaw"
"Chain Saws"
"36V Cordless Chainsaw Shootout Comparison"

Regardless of their power source, the best chainsaws provide the same perks: fast cutting speed, ample power and a tolerable noise level. They should also be safe and easy to use.

To find the best chainsaws, we look first at professional comparison tests from sources like Wirecutter and Consumer Reports. We then factor in the hundreds of owner-written reviews on retail sites like Amazon, Lowe's and Home Depot. We analyze feedback regarding performance, safety, and ease of use to identify those chainsaws that best handle their intended workload -- be it light or heavy -- and a good sharpener to keep any chainsaw in top cutting condition.

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  • A trigger lock.
  • An anti-kickback chain.
  • A chain brake.

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