Choosing The Best Chainsaw | Great Days Outdoors

Choosing The Best Chainsaw

Andreas Stihl created the first commercial electric chainsaw in 1926. The following year, the first gasoline-powered chainsaw began production. These early saws were heavy and often used wheels for mobility. It wasn’t till around 1950 that lighter metals resulted in the first one-man saw. Selecting the best chainsaw is not just about power and performance. It’s also about safety and efficiency. This guide aims to assist buyers in choosing the best chainsaw for their needs. We’ll explore various factors to consider when making those choices and examine specialized chainsaws for specific applications while addressing common questions to ensure you’re well-equipped for any woodcutting task that comes your way.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Chainsaw

When choosing a chainsaw, several key factors should be considered to ensure you select the right tool for your needs. The saw’s power source, either gas or electric, plays a crucial role in its performance. Bar length is another important aspect, with longer bars suited for larger trees but potentially more challenging to handle. Safety features, such as chain brakes and vibration reduction, are essential for your protection. Weight and ergonomics are also significant, as a comfortable, well-balanced chainsaw reduces user fatigue. Finally, factor in your budget and maintenance requirements, as different models vary in terms of cost and upkeep.

Power Source

The first pivotal decision in choosing a chainsaw is selecting the power source. Each has advantages and limitations.

Gas-Powered Chainsaws

Gas chainsaws are renowned for their raw power and versatility. They are suited for heavy-duty jobs like felling large trees or milling lumber. They offer dependability and endurance when adequately maintained and properly fueled. Nevertheless, they tend to be louder, produce exhaust emissions, and require regular upkeep.


Electric Chainsaws

Corded chainsaws are convenient and come in various sizes. Their relatively quiet operation, lighter weight, and convenience make them an ideal choice for homeowners. Their range is limited to how many extension cords one owns, but they require less maintenance. They are well suited for pruning branches or cutting firewood near power sources. 

Battery-Powered Chainsaws

Cordless saws have gained popularity owing to advancements in battery technology. Several models possess the power of gas chainsaws. They are quieter and emission-free, but their battery life can be a limiting factor. Higher amp batteries make them attractive when portability and lighter weight are needed.

Engine Size and Power

A chainsaw’s engine size and power output determine its performance. The term most frequently used to describe gasoline engine size is cubic centimeters (cc). Generally, a larger engine signifies more power and is a significant factor when choosing the right saw.


Consider the type of tasks you’ll undertake. A smaller engine may suffice for light to moderate jobs such as pruning or cutting firewood. However, if you anticipate tackling mature trees, opt for a chainsaw with a higher cc rating.

Bar Length

Bar length is a good indicator of the types of cutting a saw is best suited for. This measurement dictates the maximum wood diameter it can cut in a single pass. Longer bars tend to be heavier and require more strength to handle. The bar is the chain’s guide and comes in lengths ranging from 8 to 30 inches. 

Shorter bars are easier to handle but are limited to smaller cuts. Your bar needs to be one to two inches longer than the thickest tree or log you’ll be cutting to help prevent kickback.

A 14″ bar is adequate for most homeowners, but an 18″ length may be better for larger properties. For landowners with roads to keep clear or for storm damage, a 20-24″ bar is better.

Safety Features

Safety should always be a paramount concern when wielding a chainsaw. Look for models with comfortable handles and safety features like centrifugal chain brakes for better kickback protection and chains engineered to minimize kickback.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Operating a chainsaw can be physically demanding. Choose a model with ergonomic design features and anti-vibration systems that diminish strain on your hands and arms. Comfortable handles and a balanced weight are more manageable. 

Noise and Emissions

Noise levels and emissions can impact your comfort and the environment. Gas saws are considerably louder than electric models. Choose an electric or battery-powered model if you value quieter, eco-friendly operation.

Maintenance and Ease of Use

Routine maintenance is vital to keeping your chainsaw running smoothly and safely. Determine how easily you can perform essential tasks like chain tensioning, cleaning, and sharpening. Some models feature tool-free chain tensioning systems and self-sharpening options. Choose a chainsaw that allows easier maintenance, refueling, and quick access to air filters.

Choosing The Best Chainsaw For Specific Applications

Chainsaws are incredibly effective for those woodcutting tasks around your yard or homestead. But with so many different types and models on the market, searching for a new or replacement saw can be challenging. Below are examples of top-rated saws:

Best Corded Electric Chainsaw

Oregon CS1500 18″ 120V Electric Chainsaw

best chainsaw corded


  • Built-in PowerSharp self-sharpening system minimizes downtime by allowing you to sharpen your chain on the saw in 3 to 5 seconds
  • The first corded electric chainsaws on the market with a chain that can sharpen itself – perfect for DIYers and homeowners
  • Tool-less tensioning system included; simple to adjust without tools – allowing you stay productive
  • Get to work right away with the instant start capability
  • Low noise, silent between cuts
  • No assembly required, comes fully-assembled
  • Chain brake for added safety
  • 15 amps provide plenty of power behind each cut
  • Long-lasting 18-inch (45 cm) guide bar with built-in Lubri-Tec automatic oiling system, for longer lasting bar and chain
  • Meets UL Certified safety and quality standards

The 18″ bar makes this versatile enough for most homeowners. It has impressive power and yet weighs only 12.6lb. It features a two-year warranty, integrated self-sharpening, chain brake, and tool-less chain tensioning. The ergonomic design makes it a solid choice for those requiring a versatile electric chainsaw. 

Best Cordless Electric Chainsaw

The EGO Power+ CS1611 56V Lithium-ion 

Best Cordless Electric Chainsaw


  • 40CC gas equivalent
  • Up to 130 cuts on a 4×4 with the recommended 56V 2.5Ah ARC Lithium™ battery
  • 16-inch bar and chain
  • 20m/s chain speed
  • IPX4-rated weather-resistant construction
  • Tool-free chain tensioning system for quick, easy bar and chain adjustments
  • Low kickback chain design with brake indicator
  • Automatic oiling
  • Spill-free oil reservoir
  • 3/8-inch pitch, .043-inch gauge chain, 52 drive links
  • 5-year tool warranty

This highly rated 16″ model delivers the equivalent power of a 40CC gas chainsaw. The tool-less chain tensioning system allows fast, easy bar and chain adjustments through independent dials. Three available battery sizes offer flexible runtime for up to 130 cuts through a 4”X4″ post.

Best Gas Chainsaw

Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Husqvarna 455 Rancher


  • Powerful X-Torq engine combines high performance with better fuel economy and lower exhaust emissions
  • LowVib anti-vibration system reduces vibration levels to the operator, reducing fatigue
  • Air Injection centrifugal air cleaning system that removes larger debris particles before reaching the air filter reducing air filter cleanings and improves the engine life
  • Distinct, colored felling marks on the chainsaw assist in aiming the direction of timber fall
  • Gas chainsaw features a forged three pc. crankshaft for maximum durability for the toughest applications

With a 20″ bar, the latest low-vibration technology, and a decompression valve for easier starts, this 55.5cc engine can handle larger timber yet weighs only 13.2lb. Its ergonomic design and advanced X-Torq engine technology make it a preferred choice among professionals and landowners for tackling strenuous jobs.

Best Mini Chainsaw

M12 Fuel Hatchet 6″ Pruning Saw

M12 Fuel Hatchet 6" Pruning Saw


  • POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor delivers the power to complete cuts in demanding materials
  • Full House Chain minimizes vibration and delivers clean cuts
  • Easy Access Chain Tensioner allows for quick adjustments to chain tension
  • Automatic Oiler delivers proper chain lubrication and increased productivity
  • Translucent Oil Reservoir allows for clear visibility to oil levels
  • All Metal Bucking Spikes allow for increased leverage during applications
  • Variable Speed Trigger increases user control
  • Onboard Storage for Scrench Tool with battery weighs less than 5 lbs
  • Part of the M12™ System, featuring over 100 solutions.

This six-inch saw is easy to control and can cut 3″ hardwoods while delivering up to 120 cuts per charge. Its variable-speed trigger allows ultimate control over this sub-5 lb mini saw with a full house chain for clean cuts, easy-access tensioner, automatic oiler, metal bucking spikes, and onboard tool storage.

Best Chainsaw For Cutting Trees

STIHL MS 271 Farm Boss

STIHL MS 271 Farm Boss


  • Anti-vibration system has developed a system for minimizing the vibration levels of handheld outdoor power equipment
  • Tool less fuel and oil caps with retainers
  • Simply lift the lever and twist the caps to remove or tighten
  • The side-access chain tensioner makes it much more convenient for the user to adjust the saw chain with a bar wrench as opposed to the typical location of the guide bar adjustment screw
  • Front handle is designed for a secure grip and ergonomically angled for comfort
  • Protected spark plug is protected, yet easy to change
  • Large starting handle is easy to grip
  • Smooth clean design has no rough edges to snag on clothing or brush
  • Air filter cover is easy to remove for fast and easy filter cleaning or replacement

Fitted with an 18” or 20” bar, its 50.2 cc engine weighs 12.3lb, making it well-suited for tree felling and heavy-duty cutting. It’s engineered for reduced emissions and more efficient fuel consumption. Stihl’s reputation for quality and durability makes it an excellent choice for rural landowners.

Best Chainsaw For Milling Lumber

Husqvarna 460 Rancher

Husqvarna 460 Rancher


  • 24-inch gas chainsaw provides superior power with exceptional ergonomic features for easier handling and mobility
  • Smart Start allows easy start up with minimal effort while inertia-activated chain brake reduces the likelihood of injury due to kickback
  • Powerful and efficient 60.3-cc, 3.6-HP X-Torq engine reduces emissions (up to 60%) and increases fuel efficiency (up to 20%)
  • Air Injection technology expels larger dust and debris particles before they reach the air filter for improved engine life
  • Recommended for use with bar lengths between 13 inches (min) and 24 inches (max)
  • Features LowVib technology that uses dampeners to reduce vibrations and an offset, ergonomic front handle for a better grip
  • Gas powered chainsaw features combined choke/stop control for easier starting and reduced risk of engine flooding
  • Side-mounted tensioning system on these Husqvarna chainsaws is positioned for easy chain adjustments
  • With Husqvarna’s pre-mixed fuel, you can extend your warranty from 2 years to 5 years when you buy 96 fl oz of fuel when you purchase select products

This is an exceptional choice for those passionate about woodworking and milling lumber. It boasts a 24” bar and a 60.3 cc engine designed to easily cut large logs into lumber. Serious woodworkers appreciate its durability and power for their milling operations to ensure precision and efficiency.

Best Chainsaw For Home Use

Oregon CS1500 Self-Sharpening Electric Chainsaw

Oregon CS1500 Self-Sharpening Electric Chainsaw


  • The first corded electric chainsaws on the market with a chain that can sharpen itself – perfect for DIYers and homeowners
  • Built-in PowerSharp self-sharpening system minimizes downtime by allowing you to sharpen your chain on the saw in 3 to 5 seconds
  • Tool-less tensioning system included; simple to adjust without tools allowing you stay productive
  • Get to work right away with the instant start capability
  • Low noise, silent between cuts
  • No assembly required, comes fully-assembled
  • Chain brake for added safety
  • 15 amps provide plenty of power behind each cut
  • Long-lasting 18-inch (45 cm) guide bar with built-in Lubri-Tec automatic oiling system, for longer lasting bar and chain
  • Meets UL Certified safety and quality standards

This corded electric chainsaw offers the perfect balance of power and ease of use, making it ideal for homeowners. With its self-sharpening feature, you can effortlessly maintain a sharp cutting edge, ensuring consistent and efficient cuts. An 18″ bar with low vibration makes this an easy choice for most urban dwellers.

Best Professional Chainsaw

Husqvarna 572XP

Husqvarna 572XP


  • Higher cutting capacity
  • Excellent cooling capacity for a longer engine life
  • Equipped with state-of-the-art filtration system
  • 10 times quicker air/fuel mix adjustment
  • Low vibrations
  • Flip-Up Fuel Cap
  • Optimal chip ejection avoids clogging
  • Soft cut-out system
  • Better manoeuvrability gives full control
  • Felling sight to last a lifetime
  • Rubber handle inlay for safer grip
  • Fuel Indicator
  • Air Injection filters 98% of incoming dust
  • AutoTune
  • Magnesium crankcase
  • Smart Start® Technology
  • Powerful and Efficient X-TORQ® Engine

At 14.5lb, this one is a favorite among professional chainsaw users. This high-performance machine boasts a 70.6 cc engine, providing an exceptional power-to-weight ratio, and can handle a bar up to 28″. Its magnesium crankcase ensures durability and excels at heavy-duty tasks like felling large soft or hardwoods. The AutoTune system provides optimal engine performance, and the LowVib anti-vibration system and ergonomic design enhance comfort during extended use.

Best Chainsaw For The Money

Echo CS-590 Timber Wolf

Echo CS-590 Timber Wolf best cahinsaw


  • 59.8 cc professional-grade, 2-stroke engine for outstanding performance and durability
  • Decompression valve reduces rope-pulling effort for easier starts
  • G-Force Engine Air Pre-Cleaner extends air filter life and reduces maintenance intervals
  • Automatic, adjustable clutch-driven oiler operates only when the chain is moving to reduce oil consumption
  • Rear-mounted, heavy-duty two-piece air filter provides for easy access and easy cleaning
  • Translucent fuel tank for quick fuel level checks
  • Available in 18 in. and 20 in. bar lengths perfect for any chore around the farm, ranch or homestead

A perfect blend of performance and affordability, with a 59.8 cc engine and 18-inch bar to provide ample power for various tasks without breaking the bank. This gas-powered chainsaw offers reliability and durability, making it an excellent value for the money. It’s suitable for landowners who require a capable tool for routine maintenance and the occasional larger tasks.

Best Pole Chainsaw

DeWalt 20V MAX XR Brushless Cordless Pole Saw

best chainsaw pole


  • Extension pole for up to 15 ft. reach
  • Cordless pole saw features a brushless motor for up to 96 cuts per charge on a 4 in. x 4 in. pressure treated pine wood
  • Pole saw features auto oiling
  • Metal bucking strip and tree hook for durable cutting grip & to easily remove pruned branches
  • 8 in. low kick back full compliment bar and chain included with pole saw
  • Pole saw features a comfort grip handle

This category’s top contender weighs under 10 lb, featuring an 8-inch low-kickback bar and telescoping pole that extends to 10 feet. Its brushless motor can make up to 96 cuts through a 4X4″ post on a full charge.

FAQs About Chainsaws

How to sharpen a chainsaw chain?

A sharp chain is crucial for maintaining cutting efficiency and safety. You’ll need the correct round file, a file guide, and leather gloves.

  1. Secure the chainsaw and make the saw inoperable.
  2. Place the file guide in the chain’s tooth with the file at the correct angle. 
  3. File each tooth from the inside out in one direction, following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the number of strokes. 
  4. Repeat this process for every tooth, reverse the chainsaw, and repeat for the teeth facing the other direction. 
  5. Use a depth gauge tool to check the raker height. File if necessary.

How to measure a chainsaw bar?

Unplug or remove the battery, then measure from the bar’s base (where it enters the chainsaw’s housing) to the tip. Round up to the nearest even number or remove the side plate to find its length.

How to use a chainsaw safely?

Although specialized protective clothing and accessories are available for saw users, there is always an inherent risk while holding a machine that rapidly spins a sharp chain. 

Built-in safety features can reduce the risk of kickback, but every operator should familiarize themselves with all aspects of their saw’s operation and learn safe-cutting techniques. According to the CDC, there are approximately 36,000 chainsaw accidents annually. The most common injuries are to the left arm, hand, or finger regions, primarily the result of kickback. 

A helmet with a face shield or safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves, and chainsaw chaps or pants are vital to the operator’s safety. Ensure you have proper footwear, maintain a stable stance, and always check your work area before cutting.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for starting, operating, and maintaining your chainsaw. Periodically inspect the chainsaw for loose parts or damage and keep the chain sharp and properly tensioned.

How to start a chainsaw?

For gas models:

  1. Place the chainsaw on a flat, stable surface.
  2. Engage the chain brake, if present.
  3. Set the choke to the cold-start position.
  4. Pull your starter cord slowly until you feel resistance, then pull quickly.
  5. Once the engine sputters, move the choke to the run position and continue pulling the cord handle until the engine starts.
  6. Let the engine warm up briefly and hold the saw with both hands before disengaging the chain brake to begin cutting.

How tight should a chainsaw chain be?

Properly tensioned chains prevent derailing or jumping off the bar during operation. A general rule of thumb is to tighten the chain until you can pull it slightly away from the guide bar. Ensure it slides freely while manually rotating. Avoid over-tightening, as it can cause overheating, damaging the chain and bar. Your owner’s manual should have specific directions for the correct chain tension.

best chainsaw
Setting up and replacing the chain on a chainsaw isn’t too difficult of a task.

How to put a chain on a chainsaw?

Disconnect the power or spark plug wire during this procedure. Replacing the chain involves the following steps:

  1. Engage the chain brake.
  2. Remove the cover or side plate that houses the chain and bar.
  3. Loosen the chain tensioner.
  4. Place the chain around the guide bar in the groove, ensuring the cutting teeth point towards the front of the chainsaw.
  5. Thread the chain around the sprocket at the rear of the guide bar.
  6. Carefully reattach the cover or side plate, ensuring the tension adjustment pin aligns with the hole in the guide bar.
  7. Tighten the cover’s nuts or screws snugly but not excessively.
  8. Release the chain brake and manually rotate it to ensure it moves smoothly along the guide bar.

Final Thoughts On Choosing The Best Chainsaw

Selecting the right chainsaw for your cutting chores might seem overwhelming. Once you’ve established a budget, consider factors like power source, engine size, bar length, safety features, comfort, and maintenance requirements. Your specific applications can help narrow the choices to help you find the perfect model.

Before starting your saw, thoroughly read your owner’s manual, then check the surrounding area to keep you and the landscape safe. With the proper knowledge and equipment, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle any woodcutting task while prioritizing safety and efficiency.

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