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A powerful tool such as a chainsaw is nothing to be joked around with, whether during operation or during the attempt to make a purchase.
To explain everything you need to know about choosing a good chainsaw, I’ve created this guide as well as tailored a list to recommend the best chainsaws for different purposes.
Chainsaws can be used for a wide variety of jobs, from cutting wood to trimming it or even cutting metal and concrete.
Whatever you need a chainsaw for, you’ll find a choice that corresponds to that need, and you might even discover purposes you didn’t realize before.
List of the Best Chainsaws:
- WORX WG303.1 – Best Small Chainsaw
- Makita XCU03PT1 – Best for Maneuverability
- Remington RM1425 – Best Lightweight Corded Electric Chainsaw
- BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 – Best Cordless Chainsaw
- Greenworks 20312 – Best Value for the Money
- Sun Joe SWJ599E – Best Budget Choice
- Poulan Pro PR4218 – Best Gas-Powered Chainsaw
|Chainsaw||Power Source||Bar Length||Engine||Weight|
|WORX WG303.1||Corded-Electric||16 in.||14.5 amp||11 lbs.|
|Makita XCU03PT1||Cordless-Battery||14 in.||5 Ah||22 lbs.|
|Remington RM1425||Corded-Electric||14 in.||8 amp||6.25 lbs.|
|BLACK+DECKER LCS1240||Cordless-Battery||12 in.||2 Ah||10.4 lbs.|
|Greenworks 20312||Cordless-Battery||16 in.||4 Ah||10.36 lbs.|
|Sun Joe SWJ599E||Electric||14 in.||9 amp||7.7 lbs.|
|Poulan Pro PR4218||Gas-powered||18 in.||42 cc||13.25 lbs.|
The 7 Best Chainsaws for 2020
1. WORX WG303.1 – Best Small Chainsaw
The WORX WG303.1 packs plenty of power as it runs on a 14.5 amp, so it can handle some heavy-duty situations. Especially when you consider that it has a 16-inch bar length that enables you to tackle some professional logging.
I’d highly recommend it for anyone that’s looking to fell trees and wood up to 12 inches. It’s also great for limbing and cutting firewood.
It’s equipped with an automated braking and anti-kickback system and has a 200 ml oil reservoir. Moreover, it has automatic tension adjustment and lubrication systems.
Despite its strong capabilities, the WORX WG303.1 is relatively lightweight at only 11 pounds. It also comes with an ergonomic design that’s comfortable to hold for long periods of time.
In terms of safety, the WG303.1 includes a chain brake that automatically shuts off the tool in case of kickback. There’s also an auto-tensioning system on the chain that spares you the worry about tightening it.
- Equipped with chain braking and anti-kickback to ensure user safety
- Powerful motor
- Lightweight design
- Automated features make it convenient and easy to use
- Limited maneuverability due to the corded design
This powerful electric chainsaw is a great choice that provides an ample level of convenience. If you’re okay with a little movement restriction due to the corded design, you’ll enjoy the performance of this tool.
2. Makita XCU03PT1 – Best for Maneuverability
The Makita XCU03PT1 comes with an impressive speed variability option that allows you to reach a speed of 3,940 FPM. It’s 5 Ah battery kit makes its operation reliable and is equivalent to 32cc on a gas-powered model.
Being a battery-powered chain saw means that you’d get all the benefits of an electric saw without the hassle of an extension cable. These benefits include being easy to maintain and operate quietly.
At 11.5 pounds, it’s also lightweight enough to maximize its cordless maneuverability.
Although its performance is great, this is not an industrial-grade tool, so it’s more suitable for projects around the house or garage.
One thing that could be changed about the Makita XCU03PT1, however, is its safety off switch that stops the chainsaw after a few seconds. So, if you set it down to adjust your workpiece, you’ll have to turn it back on again.
- Cordless model allows for plenty of maneuverability
- Quiet operation
- Low maintenance
- Not the best safety features
If you’re a crafted user who wants to apply their skills to their work, you’ll love the maneuverability of the Makita XCU03PT1. However, how often you have to restart it due to the safety off switch can be a bit of a pain.
3. Remington RM1425 – Best Lightweight Corded Electric Chainsaw
The Remington RM1425 brilliantly combines being lightweight and affordable. With a combination of an 8-amp motor and a 14-inch bar length, the RM1425 is an ideal choice for pruning and general yard clean-up.
At only 6.25 pounds, it’s easy to carry around and maneuver. It’s also equipped with an ergonomic wraparound handle with a handguard that guarantees a comfortable and firm grip as well as protection for your hand as you use the tool.
Although it’s not the most powerful, it’s super effective at cutting wood under 6 inches in diameter as well as light, small limb trimming requirements.
It’s equipped with an external chain tension system as well as a convenient one-button push oiling system that keeps it smooth.
- Lightweight chain that makes it easy to work with
- Convenient one-button oiling system
- Low kickback and enhanced safety
- Ergonomic wraparound handle with
- Restricted maneuverability due to being corded
- Doesn’t pack much power
If you’re looking for a chainsaw for home use, I’d highly recommend the Remington RM1425. It’s lightweight, budget-friendly, and perfectly suits light-duty jobs such as trimming and back-yard work.
4. BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 – Best Cordless Chainsaw
The BLACK+DECKER LCS1240B is an efficient battery-powered electric chainsaw that delivers amazing cuts relative to its weight class.
Perhaps the only drawback is its 12-inch blade combined with a 2 Ah operation power, which limits it to very small tasks like cutting firewood, small trees, or pruning trees.
Still, there’s a bright side to its electric operation, which is how it’s very quiet and portable. It does require frequent oiling, however.
On top of that, the batteries are rather expensive, so if you’re going to use it continuously or for high-volume work, you’ll probably spend a lot of money.
- Quiet operation
- Limited functionality
- Expensive batteries
- Requires oiling despite being a battery-powered chainsaw
For light-duty jobs around the house or the yard, the BLACK+DECKER LCS1240B is an ideal choice. However, if you intend to do lots of sawing or heavy-duty work, you should opt for another model that gives you more value.
5. Greenworks 20312 – Best Value for the Money
The Greenworks 20312 is a little modest in its features, but it still performs incredibly. It runs on 4 Ah batteries and has a 16-inch bar length. It’s a heavy-duty Oregon chain bar that withstands loads without bending or breaking.
The DigiPro motor technology enables you to cut up to a hundred 4 x 4-inch pieces in one full charge. Not only that, but it also delivers 70% fewer vibrations to provide more stability and comfort.
It can be run on a 2 Ah battery that’s rechargeable in an hour if you want to save some time as you wait for it to recharge.
Moreover, it’s around 10 pounds, so it’s easy to move around but may be a pain if you operate it for extended periods of time.
The Greenworks 20312 comes with a metal front guard and low kickbacks to provide you with safety during operation.
An added bonus is that if you have other GreenWorks devices like lawnmowers or other chainsaws, you can use the same batteries for all of them.
- Great value for the money
- Low kickback and an automatic chain brake
- 70% less vibration and 30% more efficiency
- Cordless design increases mobility
- Performance deteriorates as the battery runs out
- Some oil leakages occur
When you purchase the Greenworks 20312, you definitely get a lot of value for your money. It provides ample portability, power, and efficiency at an affordable price. However, if you want something that can handle heavy-duty tasks and operate for a long time, you should opt for a more powerful model.
6. Sun Joe SWJ599E – Best Budget Choice
If you’re looking for a super affordable chainsaw with decent performance, I’d highly recommend the Sun Joe SWJ599E.
Evidently, it’s not the best as it runs on a 9-amp motor and has a 14-inch bar length, but it has good features for the price. It’s also pretty lightweight at only 7.7 pounds.
These include a built-in automatic oiler and safety switch to prevent the tool from starting accidentally.
To top it all, the Sun Joe SWJ599E comes with a two-year warranty that protects your investment.
However, the chain has a tendency to loosen up while the chainsaw runs and needs periodic tightening. What’s more, the tightening requires tools for adjustments, which makes the process even more of a hassle.
- Highly affordable
- Very portable and lightweight
- Requires tools for chain tensioner adjustments
- Chain has a tendency to drop
- Not very powerful
It’s not the most powerful model on the market, but the Sun Joe SWJ599E is the perfect choice for someone who’s looking for a budget-friendly chainsaw. If you can deal with the hassle of the chain, you’ll enjoy what this machine has to offer.
7. Poulan Pro PR4218 – Best Gas-Powered Chainsaw
As the last two digits indicate, the Poulan Pro PR4218 is an 18-inch gas chainsaw. Running on a 42cc motor, its performance is pretty powerful.
So, if you’re looking to tackle medium-duty to relatively heavy-duty tasks, it’s the best choice you can make.
It’s equipped with an OxyPower engine that results in low emission levels and regulates consumption while providing exceptional power. Plus, it features a SuperClean air intake system that filters the input to keep the tool running efficiently.
In terms of ergonomics, the Poulan Pro PR4218 comes with soft grip handles that reduce vibrations. Mix that with a 13.25-pound weight, and you get a tool that you can easily work with for longer durations.
However, a drawback is that its chain tends to come off, and it requires tools to adjust. Also, being a gas-powered model means that you’ll have to lubricate and oil it more often.
- Reasonably priced
- Very powerful operation
- Pull strings tend to break
- Chain tends to come off
- Chain tension adjustments require tools
If you’re looking for a strong, heavy-duty chainsaw that can help you tackle tough jobs, I’d highly recommend the Poulan Pro PR4218. But generally, if you’re not bent on a gas-powered model, you might want to check out the other options on the list for their better value-to-price ratio.
What are the Uses of a Chainsaw?
Chainsaws are pretty versatile, and their uses can expand as far as your imagination can.
Mainly, they’re used to cut woods. This includes tree felling where you cut an entire tree at once, limbing where you remove branches from a tree that you already took down, or bucking where you cut specific measurements to be log sections.
You can also use them for pruning to clean up trees without taking them down, or logging and milling.
On the other hand, you can use more powerful chainsaws to cut through metal, concrete, bricks, and much more.
How to Pick a Chainsaw
If you’re still confused about how to pick a good chainsaw that perfectly fits your needs, I’ve made this guide to help you understand the features and specs that make each unit different from the next.
While there are obvious factors like price or portability, some others may not cross your mind as being so important. So, here’s what you need to know.
1. Guide Bar Length
This is one of the most important features of a chainsaw, especially that it’s pretty unique to this tool. The longer the bar is, the more powerful the chainsaw. However, sometimes that’s not the case.
Besides power, the important thing that the bar length indicates is what your tool will be able to do well and what it will fall short of.
Typically, the shortest bar would be around 6 inches, and the number goes up in increments of 2 inches until it reaches a maximum of 24 inches.
8 to 14 Inches
Smaller models usually have more safety features, with an ability to grab onto the workpiece as you cut it, which makes them look like a branch lopper. They also feature similar scissoring action.
The average bar length on chainsaws is 8 inches. These focus on being lightweight and easy to carry around and are good for cleaning up tree branches, cutting narrow wood, or trimming bushes. Such activities and pruning can be tackled using a chainsaw up to 14 inches.
16 to 20 Inches
If you’re looking for a mid-range to a heavy-duty chainsaw, you should pick something between 16 and 20 inches long. These are great for people who are more experienced with chainsaws and want to get a lot of work done. While they tend to be more powerful, they have intense kickbacks.
Even though you can use them for trimming and pruning, if that’s all you intend to do, you should opt for a smaller model to get extra control. As a chainsaw gets bigger, it becomes bulkier and harder to maneuver. Consequently, they become more suitable for activities that need delicacy.
So, with a 16 to 12-inch model, you can cut down medium-sized trees. As long as the diameter of the tree is 2 inches shorter than the bar you’re using, you’re good to go.
20 to 24 Inches
Now you’ve gotten to the professional-grade level. These saws can cut through the majority of trees in a single pass, and their powerfulness makes the process quick.
You should bear in mind, however, that with great power comes great kickback. In other words, you shouldn’t use such big chainsaws if you’re still starting out.
Moreover, they’re pretty hard to maneuver as they’re on the heavy side. And although there are some electric models, most are gas-powered.
2. Power Source
Power is measured in engine displacement, voltage, amperage, or horsepower. It highly depends on what source actually powers your tool, in which case, would be gas, electricity, or a battery.
Each of these is good for a certain purpose, so there isn’t a clear winner. And the best part is that you can choose the model that works best for you.
Gas-powered models are the most powerful. Accordingly, they’re the hardest to start and produce plenty of kickbacks. Their power is measured in cubic inches (cu. In.) or cubic centimeters (cc), where bigger numbers mean more power.
Plus, they run on a mixture of oil and gas that you have to purchase or mix on your own.
Their advantage is that they’re highly portable and operate for as long as their tank of gas is filled -which is often long. So, these suit people who like to finish their work, especially heavy-duty jobs, in one go.
A corded electric chainsaw runs on electricity and is equipped with a power cord that you must plug in for it to work. Naturally, there’ll be a lot of cords, and you’ll only be able to reach as far as the cord extends. Their power is measured in amps or amperage.
So, a corded electric chainsaw is perfect if you’re going to tackle some repetitive tasks in a small area like trimming bushes, pruning trees, or cutting firewood from small logs.
In other words, if you’re going into the woods to cut down some trees, this isn’t the ideal choice.
What’s great about them is that they don’t require frequent maintenance like gas-powered models, which will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. They’re also a lot quieter in operation.
Finally, battery-powered chainsaws aren’t a very reliable choice, but the ones that run on lithium-ion batteries have ample power and runtime.
Still, they can’t compete with the performance of gas-powered or corded electric ones. Especially that their performance weakens as the battery is drained.
I’d recommend battery-powered chainsaws for someone who’s going to work around the yard. They have the advantage of not requiring frequent maintenance like gas-powered models and operate a lot more quietly.
3. Safety Features
When you’re dealing with a power tool, you must put safety above all else. That’s why you should carefully inspect the safety features with which the chainsaw is equipped before you decide on buying it.
Some of these features include chain brakes that immediately stop the chain from rotating in case of an emergency to prevent any injuries. Whether you should get an inertia-driven mechanism or one that works with a handle depends on your preference.
The former automatically detects if the chainsaw is moving too fast and brings it to a halt while the second lets you do this manually.
I think that if you’re a beginner, you should opt for the first as it works ideally if the chainsaw has been dropped or in situations where there’s severe kickback.
And this brings us to the features that reduce kickback. Typically, a chainsaw is equipped with low-kickback bars that help you a lot if you’re inexperienced with chainsaws.
Moreover, check for the existence of a throttle interlock where there are two triggers: a safety one that must be held down while you start the chainsaw and another to run the blade.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which is Better, a Battery-powered or Gas-powered Chainsaw?
The answer to this question depends on what you’ll be using your chainsaw to cut, how long you’ll be operating it, and the space in which you’re going to operate it.
Gas-powered ones suit more professional-grade work and heavy-duty as well as frequent use. However, if you’re a homeowner that’s looking to finish some work around the yard, an electric saw will suit your lighter-duty jobs.
Do Chainsaw Chains Stretch?
Over time, your chainsaw chain will definitely wear out and begin to feel a little stretchy. This is especially true if you don’t oil your chain enough, which causes it to rub against the guide. This friction produces heat that wears out your chain more quickly.
This is why you should regularly maintain your chainsaw, especially if you use your chainsaw to cut dry wood or dirty bark.
Also, a worn-out sprocket may cause the chain to stretch. So, if your chain doesn’t grip to the sprocket as well as it should, there could be a loose fit along with the guide.
Do Chainsaws Need Oil?
Plenty! Properly lubricating your chainsaw will result in extended longevity as well as smoother and more efficient operation. It also reduces overheating and, consequently, the wear and tear.
There’s no such thing as too much caution when dealing with power tools that are designed to make sharp cuts. That’s why you should take strict safety measures.
- Wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, goggles, protective trousers and jacket, earplugs, safety mitt or gloves, and steel-toe boots.
- Make sure that your chainsaw is in tip-top condition before using it.
- Match the guide bar length to the job that you’re doing. If you use one that’s too long, it could cause instability and lead to injury.
- Be prepared for chainsaw kickback, especially on more powerful models with long guide bars and when you’re working with harder objects.
- Clean your chainsaw, with extra focus on the drip oil tank and maintain it well.
- Pack a well-equipped emergency first aid kit.
- Always hone your chainsaw-using skills by practicing different techniques.
- Carry a shovel or extinguisher when you’re cutting hardwoods. This is because sparks can be produced upon the contact of the chainsaw and the hard surface.
It’s tough to determine which of the seven options I’ve mentioned is the best chainsaw by and large, but it’s easier to decide when you consider a particular aspect that concerns you.
For example, if you’re looking for something that’s compact and easily stored, you should go for the WORX WG303.1.
The Remington RM1425 is a great choice for anyone that’s looking for extended periods of operation as you only have to connect it to a power source and get down to business for as long as you want.
If you’re on a budget, however, and aren’t going to use your chainsaw often or for demanding tasks, I’d recommend the Sun Joe SWJ599E.
Finally, if you want something that’s gas-powered for the solid performance they deliver, you should opt for the Poulan Pro PR4218.