A recurring theme here at A&A is our love for manual tools. We love anything that require you to put in a little elbow grease to use properly. It must be the primal nature of it that makes it all so appealing.
But, there's a time and place for manual tools, and there's a time and place for when using technological advancements like the combustion engine makes the most sense. When you need to cut down a lot of trees on a short amount a time, and axe might not do it. You'll probably go the chainsaw route.
However, just like all the tools we cover here, choosing a chainsaw that's best for you requires a bit of legwork. We've tried to do most of that legwork for you below.
What to Look for in a Quality Chainsaw
There is no shortage of chainsaws on the market, so knowing how to find a quality one is very important. A good one is going to meet a few criteria: suitable for the job(s), fits your budget, reliable, and safe.
If it doesn't meet all four of those, then you might want to keep looking.
Aside from that, you also need to consider there are actually different types of chainsaws. By deciding what type you want early on, you greatly narrow down your options.
The four major types are:
- 1Gas Powered
- 2Corded Electric
- 3Battery Powered
The most common type is gas-powered. This is the type of chainsaw you can hear the neighbor using down the street. They are noisy, but they are powerful. A gas-powered chainsaw is going to be able to handle most tasks you throw at it.
The corded electric versions are exactly what they sound like. They require an electrical outlet for power. They aren't as powerful as gas powered options and are far less mobile, but for small tasks they are fine. They tend to be less noisy and less expensive than gas models too.
Battery powered models are similar to corder ons except they are much more mobile as you wont be anchored anywhere. You of course need to mind how much work you can get out of a battery, and you might need to buy and carry extras to get a full day's work in.
Lastly, there are still manual chainsaws. They are rare and unless you're camping or hiking, they aren't incredibly common.
Reviews of Our Top Picks
There are so many options to choose. Take a look below to see what we feel are going to give you the best results. We picked two from each major type.
Looking for a gas-powered chainsaw? Here are two top options.
Husqvarna 455 Rancher
If you are looking for a budget buy, this is not the right tool for you. The Husqvarna 455 is on the higher end of chainsaws covered here. But, it's also our top pick.
About the 455 Rancher
The 455 is a 2-stroke gas-powered monster. It's bar is a little smaller than many professional super high-end models measuring in at 20 inches instead of 24. But, you can swap it out for a 24 inch bar if you really want.
It's a fantastic option for cutting firewood and limbing trees as is has the power to handle it without weighing too much (a little over 20 pounds).
Pros & Cons
The Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 is not the biggest gas powered chainsaw out there, but what it lacks in bar length it makes up for in quality.
About the TCS33EDTP
If you had to ask for only one word to describe this nice little machine, the answer would almost certainly have to be "effortless". It's extremely easy to start due to its half throttle choke and primer bulb, and it's easy as pie to adjust the chain tension.
This model has a 12 inch bar, but there is a 14 inch bar model as well if you need something thats a little bit bigger.
Pros & Cons
There are plenty of electric chainsaw options but these two stand out above many of the lesser choices.
A lot corded electric chainsaws get a bad reputation for being too weak or flimsy to handle any real work. This Makita model is not one of them.
About the UC4051A
Aside from the cord and lack of need for gas, the first thing you'll notice about this beauty is how easy it is to start. If you have never used an electric chainsaw before, prepare for a pleasant surprise.
It's also just extremely easy to maintain as chain adjustments can be done without and special tool and you can easily check the oil level due to a transparent window on the revision.
And, as already stated, it can handle most home jobs since the 16 inch bar gives you plenty of chain and the 2900 FPM of cutting gets work done quickly.
If you're looking for a decent gas-free option that won't break the bank, this WORX model is exactly what you need.
About the WG304.1
This corded chainsaw has a nice long 18 inch bar, a 15 amp motor, and comes fully assembled so it's ready to use right away. It's more than enough machine for small cutting jobs, say around 3 inches in diameter or less. However, it has shown the ability to work well on thicker logs too.
It's very easy to use and maintain. The 200 ml oil reservoir has a transparent window so you can easily check the level whenever you want. And, it's safe coming with a kickback bar and chain brake.
There aren't many bells or whistles, but it has everything you really need.
Battery powered chainsaws give your the portability of gas models with the environmental benefits of electric models. Here are two very solid options that won't disappoint.
This is by far one of the coolest looking tools to have in your arsenal. The DeWALT DCCS620B looks like it could be used for hard work, fighting off zombies, or both.
About the DCCS620B
This little monster is on the smaller size, with a 12 inch bar. It uses a 20V battery so you get the best of both mobility that corded options don't give you and being environmentally friendly that gas options don't give you.
You can buy it with or without the battery. And, like other DeWALT battery powered tools, you can swap the batteries.
When people think about quality chainsaws they don't always think about the Black & Decker brand. But, this model is a reason why that should not be so.
About the LCS1240
Like the DeWALT model above, this one has a 12 inch bar. However, it uses a 40V battery that you can swap around with other Black+Decker battery powered tools. You can purchase the LCS1240 with or without a battery.
It's a pretty straight forward machine. You don't need any special tools for tightening the chain and the oiling system is simple and easy to use. Just remember to buy some oil as it does not come with any.
These two choices are for those of you looking for more of an emergency tool for survivalism or long distance hiking.
LIVWILD Camping Pocket Chainsaw
If you're looking for a nice little pocket chainsaw kit, LIVWILD has you covered.
About the LIVWILD Kit
There's not much to go on about as far as the inner workings as this is not a machine. However, you do get a well designed product. You get chain with 26 inches of cutting teeth. It also has a convenient carrying pouch.
But, you get some more survival tools too. You also get a Mylar emergency blanket and a small wilderness survival guide book.
Sportsman Industries Emergency Kit
If yyou need a longer chain than the 26 inch option above, Sportsman Industries makes this 36 inch long model.
About the S.I. Emergency Saw Kit
Many people feel short chains make cutting more difficult, so this model has a much longer 36 inch chain, and that does not include the handles. So, you get a full 36 inches.
This is a kit though so aside from the saw you also get nylon carrying pouch and an 8mm magnesium fire starter.
In the world of chainsaws, there are plenty of quality options for no matter what your personal preferences are. If you want pure power, you can go with a gas-powered model. Or, if you like to go with electric, there are both corded and battery pack powered models. You even hand manual hand chains for those of you needing something lightweight.
The most important factor you'll always want to keep in mind when choosing any saw including the best of best featured above is that it must be the right tool for the job you are planning to use it for.
Happy cutting, and if you're looking for some help with all of the logs you're about to make, check out these top splitters.