Picking out the best chainsaw for the money can be difficult, because so much depends on your preferences and needs. If you’re a logger, your “best” saw is going to be much different from that of a typical homeowner who just needs help trimming a few trees. That said, after reviewing performance, features, brand reputation and user reviews, these are the stand-out chainsaw models of 2018:
What Is the Best Chainsaw Brand?
The best brand of chainsaw is often a matter of preference. Each manufacturer has their own unique design elements that endear them to users — or do the opposite. For instance, some homeowners swear by Stihl’s new easy-start mechanism while others don’t trust the plastic mechanics or struggle with the technique, flooding the engine in the process.
Still, there are some standout names in the world of chainsaws:
- Poulan Pro
And electric-only brands like Greenworks and Black & Decker.
Unfortunately, brand isn’t everything. There are bad Huskys and bad Stihls, just like there are good Ryobis. Each brand has many chainsaws for sales at any given time, so you really need to look at each model to decide.
What Is the Best Chainsaw Chain for the Money?
Every chainsaw you buy should come with a chain already affixed to your saw, but it’s probably not the only one you’ll ever need. Different jobs have different requirements. Different brands have their own benefits.
For instance, Oregon is considered one of the best chainsaw chain brands, despite being softer than, say, Stihl chains. The softness means it needs to be sharpened more often, but it also makes it easier for users to sharpen their own blades at home. Especially when armed with the right sharpener. It’s also important to use chainsaw chain and bar oil.
Stihl’s chains are heavy-duty but they might need a trip to the dealer in order to be sharpened properly, like with the Harbor Freight electric sharpener.
For the serious user, chainsaw chain is available in rolls. You simply disconnect what you need and link it together in the right length for your chainsaw bar.
Oregon also makes some of the best chainsaw bars on the market.
Did You Know the Best Small Chainsaw Could be the Most Dangerous?
Sometimes people focus on buying a small chainsaw – or an electric model – because they seem safer to operate and own. In actuality, the opposite is true. Small electric chainsaws are the most dangerous for a few reasons:
- Faster kickbacks
- Cuts through chaps
- False sense of security
Smaller, quieter electric Greenworks units look and sound unassuming compared to massive 32-inch Ulticors, but that’s one of the big reasons they are so dangerous. Peo ple use them without taking them seriously and without understanding how chainsaw accidents happen.
The Best Safety Gear and Practices for Chainsaw Users
It’s always safest to use the bottom of the chainsaw bar for cutting wood, followed by the top of the bar. You should never use the tip for cutting unless you’re very experienced, and only then, with proper precautions. Hit the chain wrong, and bar will bounce back – called a kickback – often right into your own face.
This is especially common with small, light-weight units.
You can also cut into a major artery in your leg, which is why safety chaps are strongly recommended. Filled with Kevlar strands, these protective leg covers will clog and stop the chain of your saw before it has a chance to do real damage.
One caveat: chaps don’t always work with electric models. This is the reason small electric chainsaws, while convenient, are among the most dangerous.
Head protection to save your noggin from falling limbs and other “widowmakers” is equally important any time you’re doing tree work. Often, you can find a hard hat that comes with a face and neck shield — even ear protection. If you’re working around the drone of chainsaws for long, you’ll need a good set of earplugs or ear muffs to keep your eardrums intact.
The Best Professional Chainsaw
The Husqvarna MX series consistently gets good ratings, but they’re not the only player on the market. Stihl’s top-shelf equipment often comes out on top in performance testing.
What is the Best Chainsaw for Home Use?
Electric models in the 30 cc – 40 cc range are good chainsaws for general yard work. A Poulan electric will prune, trim and cut the periodic 2×4. It’s not strong enough for cutting firewood or building fences.
What About the Best Chainsaw for Chopping Firewood?
The best chainsaw for firewood is a reliable mid-range model sporting at least 45 cc. In this range, the Stihl 230 is a wonderful option.
For properties with a lot of trees and a regular need for heavy-duty chopping and felling, a more robust chainsaw is needed. You don’t have to upgrade to professional equipment. A commercial chainsaw isn’t required to handle these tough tasks. The Husqvarna 455 Rancher is the perfect example of an all-purpose home chainsaw that is also popular with professionals.
What Is the Best Husqvarna Chainsaw?
The professional-grade Husqvarna MX line of chainsaws will handle anything you throw their way, but they might not be the best choice for your needs. Even a lighter version, like the popular Husky 455 Rancher offers up too much power for the average beginner. Unless you have large trees to fell, start with something with a little less power, like the Husqvarna 350.
Husqvarna offers features other brands skip, such as:
- Decompression valve
- Primer bulb
- Fell lines
- Cover clips
This is a brand you will rarely go wrong with, though the best one for you depends on your needs and experience.
Is a Chainsaw Even the Best Tool for the Job?
Trying to use a chainsaw on a ladder is one of the most dangerous situations you can be in. There are other options. Instead of a chainsaw, consider a pole saw. These are often battery operated and extendable up to 50 ft. or higher.
Who makes the best pole saws? Undoubtedly, Stihls. Unfortunately, they know it and price them accordingly. You’ll want something with more than 30 cc of power, but if that’s all you have, even a Black and Decker will (eventually) get the job done.
Where Should I Buy My Chainsaw?
Finding the best value chainsaw often comes down to finding the best chainsaw for the money. Some arborists swear by purchasing straight from a dealer. In our experience, most dealers will service products regardless of where you find them.
If you’re looking for a first chainsaw or you’re still fairly inexperienced, it’s best to look at new models. They’ll have the fewest problems and need the least work to get them – and keep them – up and running.
There’s nothing wrong with buying from a dealer, but you’ll often pay top dollar. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing from eBay, Amazon or Walmart. Unlike certain electronics, discount stores do not sell discount models made by third parties with cheaper parts. That said, there are plenty of cheap chainsaws you should avoid.
What Are the Best Cheap Chainsaws on the Market?
Due to outsourcing, there are plenty of cheap chainsaws today responsible for ruining the reputations of chainsaw manufacturers once held in high esteem. The lowest priced models made in China, for instance, often have reliability issues or quality issues straight out of the box. Poulan, made by Husqvarna, can be a decent cheap investment, as can some electric models, but if you’re planning to cut firewood on a regular basis, expect to spend at least $250.
We’ve done our best to link to the top performing, most trustworthy, reliable chainsaws on the market.
Be sure to check out our links to view the best chainsaw for the money.