Whether you're a seasoned lumberjack, a hobbyist who enjoys doing yard work, or someone who needs a reliable tool for storm cleanup, a gas chainsaw is an essential piece of equipment. This guide will take you through the key factors to consider when purchasing a gas chainsaw, as well as recommend some top models on the market.
Why Choose a Gas Chainsaw?
While there are electric and battery-powered chainsaws available, gas chainsaws hold several advantages:
- Power: Gas chainsaws generally offer more power, making them suitable for heavy-duty tasks such as felling large trees and cutting thick logs.
- Mobility: Unlike corded electric chainsaws, gas chainsaws don't require a power outlet, allowing you to work anywhere.
- Run Time: Gas chainsaws can run for a longer period of time, as long as you have enough fuel.
However, they also have a few potential downsides, such as requiring regular maintenance, being heavier, and producing more noise and emissions.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Gas Chainsaw
Measured in cubic centimeters (cc), the engine power of a chainsaw determines its cutting power. Higher cc means more power but also means a heavier and potentially harder-to-handle chainsaw.
The bar length determines the size of wood the chainsaw can cut in a single pass. Longer bars can handle larger trees and logs but are more challenging to control. A 14-20 inch bar is often sufficient for most homeowners.
Look for chainsaws with features like a chain brake, which stops the chain if the saw kicks back, and a chain catch, which protects the user if the chain breaks or jumps off the track.
Gas chainsaws are heavier than their electric counterparts. Make sure to pick a model that you can handle comfortably for the duration of your tasks.
Gas chainsaws require regular maintenance, including cleaning and replacing the air filter, sharpening the chain, and changing the spark plug. Some models make these tasks easier with tool-free access and automatic oilers.
A good warranty can provide peace of mind. The longer and more comprehensive the warranty, the better.
Recommended Gas Chainsaws of 2023:
1. Stihl MS 261: Best Overall
Stihl has long been known for its high-quality power tools, and the MS 261 is no exception. It's equipped with a 50.2cc engine that delivers enough power to handle most tasks, from cutting firewood to felling medium-sized trees. Its fuel efficiency is praiseworthy, thanks to the 2-MIX engine that reduces fuel consumption by up to 20%.
The MS 261 also features an anti-vibration system that makes it more comfortable to use for extended periods. The pre-separation air filtration system extends the service life of the air filter, reducing maintenance requirements. It's a bit on the pricey side, but the build quality and performance justify the cost.
- Powerful and fuel-efficient
- Anti-vibration system
- Durable build quality
- High price point
2. Husqvarna 455 Rancher: Best for Homeowners
The Husqvarna 455 Rancher is a versatile and robust chainsaw that's perfect for homeowners. It's powered by a 55.5cc engine and has a 20-inch bar, making it suitable for a wide range of tasks.
The 455 Rancher features Husqvarna's X-Torq technology, which reduces fuel consumption and emissions. It also comes with a LowVib anti-vibration system and an inertia-activated chain brake for safety. The adjustable oil pump allows you to control the oil flow depending on the weather conditions and task.
- Versatile and robust
- X-Torq technology for reduced emissions
- Safety features
- Can be heavy for some users
3. Echo CS-400: Best Value for Money
The Echo CS-400 offers excellent value for its price. It's equipped with a 40.2cc engine and a 18-inch bar, providing enough power for most home tasks.
The CS-400 stands out for its Easy Start system, which reduces the effort required to start the engine. The side access chain tensioner allows for quick and easy adjustments. It also features an automatic oiler to keep the chain well-lubricated during operation.
- Good value for money
- Easy Start system
- Automatic oiler
- Not suitable for heavy-duty tasks
4. Poulan Pro PR5020: Best Budget Option
If you're on a budget but still need a reliable chainsaw, the Poulan Pro PR5020 is a great option. It's powered by a 50cc engine and has a 20-inch bar, providing plenty of power for its price.
The PR5020 features an OxyPower engine for extra power, while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The Effortless Pull Starting system reduces the pull force by 30%, making it easier to start. It also has an automatic chain oiler and an easy-access air filter.
- OxyPower engine
- Easy to start
- Lower build quality than more expensive models
5. Makita EA6100P53G: Best for Professionals
For professionals who need a heavy-duty chainsaw, the Makita EA6100P53G is a top choice. It's powered by a 61cc engine and has a 20-inch bar, making it suitable for even the most demanding tasks.
The EA6100P53G features Makita's SLR technology for lower emissions. It also has a Heavy Duty Air Filter system for extended air filter life and improved durability. The Easy Start, spring-assisted starter, and touch & stop single lever control makes for easy operation.
- SLR technology for reduced emissions
- Durable with extended air filter life
In 2023, the best gas chainsaw for you depends on your specific needs and budget. The Stihl MS 261 is our top pick for its power, fuel efficiency, and build quality. The Husqvarna 455 Rancher is the best choice for homeowners, while the Echo CS-400 offers the best value for money. For those on a budget, the Poulan Pro PR5020 is a reliable option, and for professionals, the Makita EA6100P53G is worth the investment.
Remember to consider the chainsaw's engine size, bar length, weight, safety features, and additional features when choosing the right chainsaw for you. Always prioritize safety when using a chainsaw, and don't forget to maintain it properly to ensure it lasts for many years.
Whether you're a homeowner, DIYer, or professional, a good gas chainsaw is an invaluable tool. With the right chainsaw, you can make quick work of your yard maintenance tasks and tackle bigger projects with confidence.