• April 14, 2024, 1:37 am

The best chainsaws of 2023 SoftAIT

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Update : Tuesday, November 7, 2023

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A chainsaw is one of those invaluable power tools that you find yourself using more often than you might have expected. Sure, it will cut down a tree, but it can do even more to make your life easier. Trimming overgrown hedges, wayward tree branches, or landscape timbers; cleaning up storm damage; and doing demolition before a remodeling project are just a few of the times when a chainsaw could be the best tool for the job. And chainsaws are not always heavy, loud, or gas-powered. Big, powerful gas saws have their place, to be sure, particularly for long days cutting up big logs out in the woods. But there are many times when a clean, quiet electric saw would be a better choice, like when you only want to trim a few branches around the yard. Read on as we consider the qualities that go into a quality pick and see our best chainsaws for various uses.

How we chose the best chainsaws

We looked at critical reviews and user recommendations, then performed heavy research (and some heavy chores) to narrow down our list of the best chainsaws. We considered important factors—like size, weight, fuel source, max cutting diameter, and bar length—to curate a list of the top chainsaws that can cut through various shrubs and trees for ultimate usability.

The best chainsaws: Reviews & Recommendations

These top-rated chainsaws are a cut above the rest—pun intended. From cordless options to electric and gas-powered varieties, the best chainsaw is perfect for you and your backyard needs (like clearing anything standing between you and an above-ground pool). Read on to find sharp chainsaws at a smart price.

Best overall: Worx Nitro 40V Chainsaw

Specs

Pros

Cons

Worx offers a number of very versatile tools in its Nitro series, and the chainsaw is no exception. The 16-inch bar is ideal for most typical users who don’t need to go chopping through Middle Earth-style forests. A pair of sturdy grips give both of your hands a comfortable place to rest and lots of control over the tool as you’re using it. During our testing, we chopped through tons of 3- to 4-inch sticks and some larger, full-grown trees. With two powerful batteries installed, it quickly gets up to speed, and we barely had any issues with kicking or getting stuck.

Worx has one of the most flexible battery systems on the market at the moment, and this tool relies on a pair of batteries (that charge simultaneously in one charger). The batteries give the chainsaw a nice balance, which is important when you’re wielding a tool that can quickly cause carnage when mishandled.

Installing and adjusting the chain is simple, and it self-lubricates as you run it, so it doesn’t require much in the way of maintenance. We spent several hours cutting away with this tool and ran into almost no issues, which is exactly what we’re looking for.

Specs

Pros

Cons

This single-battery model relies on a chunky 60V cell to provide the juice it needs to slice and dice through trees, shrubs, and whatever else may get in its way. During our test cuts, we hacked through everything from small branches to medium-sized tree trunks without issue.

It’s electric, so the throttle response is all but instant. As soon as you pull back the trigger, the chain quickly gets up to speed. The brushless motor inside this model promises 72.2ft of travel per second, which is on par with the most powerful 16-inch models we’ve tested.

The wide nose helps fight off kickback. We only managed to make it kick once or twice, but the Cat has a built-in safety feature that immediately cuts the engine when that happens. It’s handy and comforting. A dial adjustment system keeps the chain tight. We didn’t have any issues with the hand-tightened screw coming loose, but it’s worth checking each time you use it to ensure everything is tight.

Overall, this is a very well-balanced chainsaw that provides more uptime per charge session. That’s handy if you’re only doing longer, more sporadic cuts.

Best gas: ECHO CS-590-20 Timber Wolf

Why it made the cut: Feel better about your ecological impact with this California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant gas chainsaw.

Specs

Pros

Cons

This saw is loaded with premium features, including a dual post chain brake to keep you safer, a clutch-driven oiler to reduce bar oil consumption, an engine air pre-cleaner to help the engine last longer, a heavy-duty toolless air filter, and removable bumper spikes for better control. It’s built with a premium vibration-dampening system to reduce user fatigue. Includes a ⅜-inch pitch, .050-gauge chain, and 20-inch bar.

Best cordless: Greenworks G-MAX 40V 16-Inch Cordless Chainsaw

Why it made the cut: One charge warrants 90 minutes of use and 100 cuts—that’s a lot of trees to cut.

Specs

Pros

Cons

With a 90-minute runtime per charge, this cordless chainsaw will make up to 100 cuts between charges. Features of this Greenworks chainsaw include toolless chain tensioning, an automatic oiler, a push-button start, and an efficient brushless motor. The battery works with more than 50 tools in the Greenworks outdoor power equipment line.

Best small: Worx WG322 

Why it made the cut: Fast, clean cuts don’t have to come in large packages, and this compact chainsaw is proof.

Specs

Pros

Cons

This cordless 20V small chainsaw includes convenient innovations such as automatic chain tensioning, automatic chain lubrication, and a battery compatible with dozens of Worx power tools. Features a 12.5-feet-per-second chain speed that cuts through branches quickly and smoothly. Weighing in at only 6.2 pounds, this Worx chainsaw works hard but won’t tire you out.

Best budget: Oregon CS1500 

Why it made the cut: Pull this pre-assembled electric chainsaw out of the box and you’re ready to trim branches in your yard.

Specs

Pros

Cons

Electric chainsaws are not known for feature upgrades, but this Oregon chainsaw includes three significant improvements, including a chain brake for safety and an upgraded oiling system for smoother operation. The other feature of note is the PowerSharp chain that lets you sharpen the blade in only 3 seconds without removing it. This electric chainsaw comes pre-assembled and ready to start cutting right out of the box.

What to consider when buying the best chainsaws

If you’ve already stopped in your local hardware store to check availability, you may have noticed a somewhat limited range of options. Often these places carry only one or two brands, with a heavy focus on gas chainsaws. Buying a chainsaw online is a great way to see the full options. Whether you need a gas, corded electric, or battery-powered chainsaw, you’ll find an excellent range of options. Read on for what you need to know before clicking “add to cart.”

Are you looking for professional quality and power for long days in the woods?

Gas chainsaws are the tool of choice for those who regularly spend long days cutting up big logs away from the house or shop. They offer lots of power to cut through the thickest tree trunks and are limited only by the fuel tank size. Often the user needs a break before the saw runs out of gas. Engine size is expressed in cubic centimeters of displacement (CC), ranging from about 24 to 60 CC in residential models. The larger the engine, the longer the bar and chain it can power, with sizes of 14, 16, 18, and 20 inches commonly available.

Is clean and quiet operation something you value?

Corded electric chainsaws offer unlimited clean, quiet power anywhere within the length of an extension cord. Electric is also an excellent choice for indoor home improvement and DIY projects. Electric saws are significantly quieter and lighter than gas saws and offer impressive power. Plus, they require almost no maintenance other than topping off the bar oil and sharpening the chain. Most utilize either a 12 or 15-amp electric motor. Guide bars on these saws come in 10-, 12-, 14-, 16-, 18-, and 20-inch lengths. The shorter bars are convenient for detailed work in and around shrubbery or landscape trees that could be subject to accidental cuts, scuffs, and scrapes from longer bars.

Battery power offers total mobility with zero emissions

A cordless saw could be a great choice if weight is not much of an issue. The battery pack makes the saw heavier, but mobility improves. In enclosed spaces where an extension cord would cause a trip hazard, cordless would be the safer choice. Cordless chainsaws offer the benefits of clean, quiet electric saw performance without being attached to the outlet. And if you’re worried you’re going you’ll run out of powered packs during an extended job, take along a portable generator so you can swap out and recharge them.

Guide bar sizes include 4- and 6-inch mini saws, as well as more conventional 10-, 12-, 14-, 16-, 18-, and 20-inch lengths. Battery power is expressed in a combination of voltage (V) and amp hours (Ah) ratings. Voltage represents the total available power, while amp hours indicate the runtime. Often these saws are part of larger tool lineups from the same brand that use the same batteries, so it’s pretty easy to have an extra power pack available for extended work time. 

Smaller is better for detailed work in thick vegetation

With the right tools, yard maintenance, and home improvement can become much easier. For many users, the handiest cutter to use around the home is a small chainsaw—often a lightweight corded electric model. A short to mid-size bar in the 12- to 16-inch range is often adequate and, in many cases, most convenient while working around hazards like fences, house siding, landscape lighting, and plants you wish to protect from scars. And it makes a perfect complement to (if not a replacement for) a hedge trimmer.

FAQs

Final thoughts on the best chainsaws

Whether pruning a hedge, cleaning up fallen limbs, or stocking up a woodshed, a good chainsaw is an essential tool for you. The best chainsaw may not be the biggest, fastest, strongest one you can find. It could be the quiet one, the lightweight one, or the one with the lowest maintenance requirements. If you know you’ll only use it once yearly to trim the bottom of the Christmas tree, an electric saw would be perfect. But if you need to thin your 10-acre woodlot, a top-rated powerful gas saw is probably the best choice. If you enjoy working with quality power tools, and you take care of them as they require, the best chainsaw will provide many years of satisfaction.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.



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