9 Best Chainsaws for the Money (Gas and Electric)

best chainsaws
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Chainsaws have a long history in lumber work, even narrowly defeating Paul Bunyan and his trusty axe. But these rugged tools are finding more use among homeowners these days and have even gained some fame as sculpting tools.

For many, the best chainsaw may be a powerful 18 inch gas model while for others, a compact 12 inch cordless electric will be ideal. One of the following nine excellent models will be perfect for almost anyone’s needs.

Our 9 Favorite Chainsaws for Homeowners

ProductTypePowerBar LengthWeight
best-chainsawEcho CS-400Gas40.2cc18"12.1 lbs.
best-gas-chainsawHusqvarna 455 RancherGas55.5cc20"12.8 lbs.
chainsaw-reviewsJonsered CS2255Gas55.5cc20"15.5 lbs.
compact-chainsawTanaka TCS33EDTP/12Gas32.2cc12"11.9 lbs.
top-homeowner-chainsawRyobi RY3716Gas37.0cc16"10.0 lbs.
best-electric-chainsawDeWalt DCCS670X1Electric60V16"12.2 lbs.
top-cordless-chainsawGreenworks G-MAX 20312Electric40V16"10.4 lbs.
12-inch-chainsawDeWalt DCCS620P1Electric20V12"8.8 lbs.
cheap-chainsawBlack+Decker LCS1240Electric40V12"10.4 lbs.

Chainsaw Reviews

#1 – Echo CS-400 18-Inch Gas Chainsaw

best-chainsawThis professional grade 18-inch chainsaw has a 40cc, 2-stroke engine capable of handling almost any job on your property. Its length allows you to cut logs as thick as 32 inches in diameter, making it perfect for cutting firewood.

Lighter and more compact than 20-inch models, this Echo model cuts like butter and is one of the easiest chain saws you’ll ever use. It’s no wonder the CS-400 is so popular among homeowners.

A heavy duty air filter and engine air pre-cleaner help protect the motor from foreign particles and the i-30 starting system incorporates a digital ignition to make activating this chainsaw a breeze.

One thing owners can’t stop commenting on is how well this saw holds up to the test of time. Many are landowners with a large number of trees to maintain.

They note that the CS-400 can even cut through oak with little or no problem. It can run for long periods of time without overheating, and even after months of heavy duty use, the chainsaw continues to function flawlessly for most owners.

A small number of users have noted having issues with the chain tightening mechanism. They report having to stop work after approximately 15 minutes to tighten the chain, only for it to work loose again. This is not a universal problem, but it is one that has come up often enough to warrant testing the chainsaw upon arrival.

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#2 – Husqvarna 455 Rancher 20-Inch Gas Chainsaw

best-gas-chainsawWith a powerful 2-stroke 55.5cc motor and massive 20-inch bar, the 455 is the best gas chainsaw for heavy-duty work. This model uses a tool-less chain tensioning system and an easy-to-use start/stop switch for more user-friendly functionality.

An air injection and centrifugal cleaning system help prevent larger particles from reaching the filter, thus reducing filter cleanings and improving the motor’s lifespan.

Performance-wise, the 455’s X-Torq system reduces fuel consumption and emissions. The overall design reduces vibrations, allowing you to cut more for longer periods without needing a break. At just under 13 pounds, it’s one of the lightest 20-inch models available.

The 455 is a true beast that would make Leatherface jealous and has received a high recommendation by Consumer Reports. It can cut through thick, live oak like butter and is extremely durable. Using an ethanol-free fuel is best for this saw, which will last long enough to pass down the generations, if properly taken care of.

Every product has its share of defects or complaints, and the 455 is no exception. The biggest problem with Husqvarnas is dealing with warranty claims when not purchasing through a local dealer.

This is unfortunately the case with some brands that want you to purchase directly through a certified dealer where the product usually costs more. If you want to save money and have some patience, purchase online. Otherwise, purchase through a local dealer.

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#3 – Jonsered CS2255 20-Inch Gas Chainsaw

chainsaw-reviewsThis tough 20-inch chainsaw is a real heavyweight in the field. The design has been optimized for easy starting, maintenance, and handling. Its turbo intake air cleaning technology can remove as much as 97 percent of dust to reduce filter cleaning.

The 55.5cc motor is also designed for efficiency, with the Clean Power technology increasing fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent while also removing three quarters of harmful exhaust. An inertia-activated chain brake provides increased security while the entire saw is designed for reduced vibrations.

Perhaps the best 20” gas chainsaw for the environmentally-minded, this saw is one of the most powerful in its price range. The easy start mechanism responds like a dream, and the balance is excellent. It neither looks nor feels like a cheap chainsaw, promising to last you for decades.

There have been a few isolated complaints about the CS2255, but they all appear to be isolated incidents ranging from damage due to shipping to leaking bar oil. No model is perfect, but the overall quality on this one is evident and compares well to Stihl but you don’t have to go out of your way to find a dealer.

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#4 – Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 12-Inch Gas Chainsaw

compact-chainsawThis compact 12-inch top handle chainsaw is perfect for all your pruning needs. The commercial grade, two-stroke Pure Fire engine produces ultra-low emissions at lower fuel cost without sacrificing power.

A low vibration design, high power to weight ratio, sprocket nose bar and Oregon chain give added control for shaping and carving, Other features include an automatic gear-driven oiler, half throttle choke with purge primer bulb, side access chain tensioning, and easy start.

Don’t let the size fool you, this little saw has some massive power. Users claim it handles like a dream and is quite fuel efficient. When you want the best 12” chainsaw in a nice, compact design, it’s tough to go wrong with this Tanaka.

There have been a few issues with the oiler. Some owners have noted it can leak if not emptied after use, and it doesn’t always do a good job oiling the bar. While not a common problem, you will want to check for leaks between uses and empty the oil if a leak is found.

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#5 – Ryobi RY3716 16-Inch Gas Chainsaw

top-homeowner-chainsawFeaturing a powerful 37cc engine, this 16-inch gas chainsaw is ideal for a wide range of jobs, from cutting firewood to hacking zombies. The anti-vibe handle makes it easier to work for long periods of time.

For safety, an inertia-activated chain brake automatically stops the chain, while the Safe-T-tip protects you from rotational kickback. Best of all, the RY3716 makes servicing easy, with a tool free air cover, side access chain tensioner, and adjustable automatic oiler.

The safety features and heavy duty case are a major winning point among consumers. A lot of attention was given to kickback, which is the biggest safety concern when using a chainsaw.

Additionally, the RY3716 does an excellent job of cutting small to medium-sized lumber, making it arguably the best homeowner chainsaw out there.

Several owners have had issues getting the chainsaw to start, and a few have had problems with the chain. Despite being a minority (a little under 10 percent of all owners), these problems should be taken into consideration prior to purchase.

You will also need to keep in mind that the two-cycle gas engine is not designed for heavy work, such as felling large oak trees.

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#6 – DeWalt DCCS670X1 16-Inch 60V MAX Cordless Chainsaw

best-electric-chainsawThis 16-inch brushless model that’s powered by a 60V MAX 3.0Ah lithium-ion battery is our favorite cordless model. It has a chain brake to help prevent kick back and tool-free chain tensioning and bar tightening knob to make achieving the proper tension a breeze.

See Also:  Is a Brushless Drill Worth the Extra Money?

Its lightweight (12.2 pound), ergonomic design and auto-oiling capability means you can work for longer periods of time without needing a break. The included 60V lithium ion battery can provide up to 70 cuts per charge (6×6 pressure treated pine wood).

When looking for the best electric chainsaw for the money, the DCCS670X1 is a major contender. It does a great job and boasts enough power for easy to moderate tasks. This chainsaw has been used for everything from basic pruning to disaster cleanup with consistently impressive results.

Several users have had an issue with a washer slipping loose, which in turn allows the chain to jump its rail. A few owners have also complained about the battery life, which is hindered by a standard charger being included instead of a high efficiency one. Make sure to buy some spares so you can work longer between charges.

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#7 – Greenworks G-MAX 20312 16-Inch 40V Battery Powered Chainsaw

top-cordless-chainsawWith a high speed brushless motor providing both power and performance, this 14-inch cordless chainsaw is a sure win. It features an automatic oiler complete with oil view window and side access chain tensioning.

The popular Greenworks model is compatible with 2.0Ah and 4.0Ah (included) batteries, allowing you to pick  the charge you need. Despite being a cordless model, this chainsaw is capable of carrying medium tasks with aplomb.

While not as powerful as a top-grade two-stroke, the 20312 holds its own in a wide variety of tasks and boasts up to 100 cuts per charge. Owners of this chainsaw love it so much that some have been swearing by theirs for years. The light weight and easy-to-control design make it an excellent choice for beginners and experiences sawyers alike.

Be sure to empty the oil reservoir before storing this chainsaw, as it may otherwise leak. Several users have also complained about issues maintaining chain tension. While this latter issue has only happened to a small percentage of owners, it is more common than with some similar models.

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#8 – DeWalt DCCS620P1 12-Inch 20V MAX Cordless Chainsaw

12-inch-chainsawThis 12-inch chainsaw kit is one of the lightest out there, weighing in at a mere 8.8 pounds. The high efficiency brushless motor allows for a 25.2 feet per second of chain speed while maintaining a low kick back.

It’s compatible with DeWalt’s 5Ah 20v MAX lithium-ion batteries for increased work time and faster charging. Meanwhile, tool-free chain tensioning and a bar tightening knob help ensure you have good clamping force during use.

For such a tiny chainsaw, the DCCS620P1 has a devoted following. It can hold its own in a wide range of tasks and outlasts many other cordless models for runtime on a single battery.

The compact design and short bar length make this a perfect chainsaw for sculpting and tight pruning. Imagine taking this out next December to cut down your own Christmas tree instead of that old bow saw like you normally use. Your friends and family will want you going with them as well.

The single biggest complaint with this model lies in the oil reservoir cap. The cap arrives tightly attached and many users end up damaging the thin plastic trying to loosen it. Please use caution when adding oil for the first time.

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#9 – Black+Decker LCS1240 12-Inch 40V Electric Chainsaw

cheap-chainsawThis 12-inch model is perfect for pruning and cutting fallen limbs and will blow away any manual pruning saw if you have a good number of trees. Its 2.0Ah 40V MAX lithium-ion battery has been measured to cut approximately 60 4×4 pieces of pine on a single charge and running up to five times longer than similar models.

A wrap around bale handle ensures a comfortable grip in a variety of possible orientations. Automatic oiling, tool-free tensioning, and low kickback make this an excellent choice for most homeowners.

For the small size, the LCS1240 can do a surprising amount of work. It’s best suited for smaller jobs but is capable of felling small trees, and many owners use it for cutting firewood.

Best of all, owners are able to break it down for cleaning and maintenance quickly, allowing it to be stored or put back to work in short order.

As with many other chainsaws out there, complaints about the LCS1240 span a wide range of issues, many of which come down to personal preference. Despite this, it should be noted this model can use up a lot of oil, depending on the job. Be prepared to refill as needed during tougher jobs.

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Choosing the Right Chainsaw

With all of the choices out there, it can be a tough call finding the best chainsaw model for your own personal needs. Thankfully, you can narrow the list down greatly for this type of saw by taking a few key factors into consideration first.

See Also: Best Pole Saws for Pruning and Trimming

What are the Best Chainsaw Brands?

Stihl chainsaw

There are a large number of chainsaw manufacturers out there, many of which produce quality tools. The following brands are the creme of the crop with good reason.

  • Echo – Built for durability and power, you can’t go wrong with an Echo chainsaw. This company has earned its place at the top of almost every list with its excellent track record. One of the most popular chainsaws for homeowners and professionals alike.
  • Stihl –Stihl has been making quality chainsaws since 1926. They are accredited with many innovations and are considered one of the most reliable brands on the market. Available only through Stihl dealers, they’re a bit harder to purchase.
  • Husqvarna – Having been in the business of outdoor equipment for more than 300 years, Husqvarna is a name to be trusted. Their chainsaws are some of the best in the world.
  • Jonesered – Chainsaws from this Swedish company aren’t just tools, they’re works of art. Each model is carefully designed to the finest detail to bring the perfect balance of efficiency, power, and comfort.
  • DeWalt – If you haven’t heard of DeWalt, you’ve really missed out. One of the leaders in tools, DeWalt’s chainsaws are among the best out there and live up to the company’s famous standards.

Electric vs Gas – Which Type Should I Get?

Cordless tools have come a long way, and the rising popularity of electric chainsaws is good proof of this. However, gas and electric each have their own advantages, so it’s best to weigh the pros and cons before choosing between them.

  • Electric chainsaws save money of fuel and are much quieter. They’re zero emission, making them better for the environment. Less maintenance and no pull cord are also major draws for an electric model.
  • Gas chainsaws, meanwhile, can run longer and handle tougher jobs. You can get them in a larger range of sizes, for a wider range of tasks.

In most cases, the best 18” chainsaw will be a gas, while the best 12” chainsaw will usually be electric.

What Size Chainsaw Should I Get?

When it comes to chainsaws, size really does matter. Shorter bar lengths are ideal for detail work and pruning, while longer sizes can tear through larger trees at the cost of fine control.

Choose the one best suited for the jobs you’ll most likely be performing, or choose a 16-inch to get a perfect balance between the two.

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