In this review, we will delve deep into the latest and greatest chainsaws of 2023. We have selected a mix of gas, electric, and battery-operated chainsaws, each with their unique strengths and weaknesses.
Chainsaws consist of a motor (either gas or electric) that powers a metal chain, moving it at high speed around a guide bar. The chain features sharp teeth that cut into wood as it rotates, making it perfect for tasks like felling trees, pruning branches, and cutting firewood.
There are three main types of chainsaws:
- Gas-Powered Chainsaws: These are the most powerful and versatile chainsaws, making them ideal for heavy-duty tasks. However, they are heavier, noisier, and require more maintenance than other types.
- Electric Chainsaws: These models are lighter, quieter, and easier to handle than gas-powered chainsaws. They're perfect for small jobs around the yard but are limited by the length of their power cord.
- Battery-Powered Chainsaws: These provide a good balance between the convenience of electric chainsaws and the mobility of gas-powered models. They're perfect for moderate tasks and offer cordless operation but have limited battery life.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Chainsaw
The power of a chainsaw determines the size and hardness of the wood it can cut. Gas chainsaws are the most powerful, with engine sizes ranging from 30cc for light tasks, to over 60cc for heavy duty jobs. Electric and battery chainsaws are less powerful, with most having a motor between 8 to 15 amps or a 20 to 60-volt battery.
The bar length, or the size of the blade, dictates the size of the wood that the chainsaw can cut in a single pass. Larger bars can cut larger trees but are also heavier and harder to control. As a rule of thumb, choose a bar length 2" longer than the wood you intend to cut most frequently.
Chainsaws, while incredibly useful, are also potentially dangerous tools. Look for features like a chain brake, which stops the chain if the saw kicks back, and anti-vibration systems that can reduce fatigue and loss of control. Some models also feature a safety throttle to prevent accidental startups.
Weight and Ergonomics
The weight and design of the chainsaw can significantly impact your comfort and fatigue levels during use. Look for a model that you can comfortably hold and control, and that has ergonomically designed handles.
Here are some recommended models across various price points and usage levels:
1. Husqvarna 460 Rancher (Gas)
The Husqvarna 460 Rancher is a robust all-round chainsaw, ideal for demanding cutting jobs where more power is required for a longer guide bar.
- Engine: 60.3 cc, 3.62 hp
- Bar Length: 24 inches
- Weight: 12.79 lbs
- Fuel Capacity: 14.88 fl oz
- Noise Level: 104 dB
The 460 Rancher boasts a 60.3 cc, 3.62 hp engine that is powerful and reliable. The quick-release air filter facilitates easy cleaning and replacement, which is a boon when you need to maintain the saw in the field. The saw's LowVib system significantly reduces vibration, making it easier on your body during extended use.
On the downside, the 460 Rancher is heavier and noisier than some other models, but for those who need its power, these may be forgivable trade-offs.
2. Stihl MSA 200 C-B (Battery)
The Stihl MSA 200 C-B is a cordless chainsaw that combines power and cutting-edge tech for a clean, quiet, and comfortable cutting experience.
- Battery: 36V, 4.9 Ah
- Bar Length: 14 inches
- Weight: 7.7 lbs
- Battery Run Time: Up to 50 minutes
- Noise Level: 84 dB
The MSA 200 C-B provides a great balance of power, weight, and runtime. At 7.7 lbs, it's lightweight and easy to handle. A single charge can last up to 50 minutes of cutting, depending on the cutting conditions. It's also significantly quieter than gas chainsaws, making it a great choice for residential areas or noise-sensitive environments.
However, the primary drawback of this saw is the need for multiple batteries for extended work sessions.
3. DeWalt DCCS670X1 FLEXVOLT (Battery)
The DeWalt DCCS670X1 FLEXVOLT is another excellent cordless chainsaw that offers a combination of power, flexibility, and ease of use.
- Battery: 60V, 3 Ah
- Bar Length: 16 inches
- Weight: 12.2 lbs
- Battery Run Time: Up to 70 cuts per charge
- Noise Level: 87 dB
DeWalt's FLEXVOLT system allows this chainsaw to run on a powerful 60V battery, delivering impressive cutting power for a battery-operated tool. It also features a tool-free chain tensioning system and a bar tightening knob for proper bar clamping force.
The FLEXVOLT’s significant advantage is its longer runtime compared to other battery chainsaws. However, it is heavier than the Stihl MSA 200 C-B, which can lead to fatigue during extended use.
4. Makita UC4051A (Electric)
The Makita UC4051A is a top-notch electric chainsaw that excels in power and ease of use.
- Power: 14.5 Amp
- Bar Length: 16 inches
- Weight: 14 lbs
- Cord Length: N/A (extension cord required)
- Noise Level: 90 dB
This chainsaw features a 14.5 Amp motor that provides ample power for most residential cutting tasks. It has a tool-less blade and chain adjustments for convenient operation and easy maintenance. The large trigger switch with soft start makes it easy to get the saw up and running.
The main disadvantage of the Makita UC4051A is the need for an extension cord, which can limit mobility.
5. Echo CS-400 (Gas)
The Echo CS-400 is a versatile, high-performance gas chainsaw that's ideal for a wide range of applications.
- Engine: 40.2 cc, 2.0 hp
- Bar Length: 18 inches
- Weight: 10.1 lbs
- Fuel Capacity: 13.9 fl oz
- Noise Level: 100 dB
The CS-400's engine provides excellent power-to-weight performance, and its 18-inch bar is versatile enough for many cutting tasks. It also has an i-30 starting system for reduced effort.
While the CS-400 is lighter than the Husqvarna 460 Rancher, it's not as powerful. However, it's a top pick for those needing a balance of power, weight, and cost.
Each of these chainsaws stands out in its own right. The Husqvarna 460 Rancher and Echo CS-400 are powerful gas-powered options, with the Rancher being more powerful and the CS-400 being lighter and more affordable.
For those interested in cordless options, the Stihl MSA 200 C-B and DeWalt DCCS670X1 FLEXVOLT are excellent choices. The Stihl is lighter and quieter, while the DeWalt offers a longer runtime and a unique battery system. Lastly, the Makita UC4051A is a powerful and easy-to-use corded electric chainsaw that's perfect for residential use.
Choosing the best chainsaw depends on your specific needs, including the type of work you do, how often you'll use the saw, and your budget. Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down your options. Remember to always prioritize safety when using chainsaws and happy cutting!