What’s the best chainsaw winch? Chainsaw winches are a very niche product. Let’s be honest, most people don’t even know what they are, but the fact is, these are ingenious tools that harness the power of a powerful gas chainsaw to operate. We’ve selected two fantastic chainsaw winches that we feel are worth your money; depending on your budget — the professional Lewis Winch 400-MK2 and the affordable Powerhouse XM-100.
Intro | Chainsaw Winch
The Best Way to Stretch your Money —
So many of us use a winch and if you’ve got a chainsaw, it makes perfect sense to use a chainsaw winch. It’s logical to say that the savings of using a chainsaw winch make them worth every cent. Why buy a winch with its own motor, when you already have a powerful motor on your chainsaw?
It’s obvious that this is the perfect tool for loggers. You’re already lugging a chainsaw with you, so taking a portable chainsaw winch with you saves you space, weight and of course, money. That’s not to say that these are the only guys who will benefit by owning a chainsaw winch. They’re extremely powerful, lightweight and versatile.
Video | Lewis Winch 400-MK2
If you’ve been thinking of getting a chainsaw but haven’t been able to justify the cost of buying one with how often you’re going to use it. You now have one more reason to get one. Your chainsaw will double up as a winch. So, in the end, this is going to save you on the purchase price of getting a separate winch.
What are you looking for in a chainsaw winch? You want the power to pull a decent weight – this will depend on the chainsaw that you’re using and we’ll suggest some great chainsaws to use with your chainsaw winch. Along with pulling power, you want the winch itself to handle the weight. You also want something that is tough and durable. Your chainsaw winch is very likely going to be used in some pretty tough conditions.
So what are your best options for a reliable and tough chainsaw winch? Keep reading because this review will give you the answer. We’re going to review two of the best chainsaw winches, offering exceptional value for money and, as always, we’ve done the research to find models that have proven themselves to rise up to the challenges faced when putting them to work under any conditions.
So, we’re going to be covering the Powerhouse XM-100 chainsaw winch as a very affordable option for hunters and other people who are going to be using it for recreational or medium-duty use. For the professional who’s going to be working the machine hard day and day out, or anyone looking for a top grade industrial quality machine, the Lewis 400 Mk2 chainsaw winch has to be the ultimate in tough design and indestructible quality.
- Extremely Tough
- Rugged cast-aluminum alloy housing
- Uses oil-bathed steel gears
- Includes : One Lewis Winch Model 400 MK2 with clutch and brake
- variable line speed of 60 to 80 ft/min
- able to pull 4,000 lbs. in a straight line
- able to pull 8,000 lbs using one winch snatch block
- Extremely Lightweight – 22 lbs./10 kg without the cable
- Includes a Universal Adapter Kit to fit any chainsaw
- Can be anchored to:
- the ground using a ground anchor
- a tree stump using a cant hook
- a vehicle using a trailer hitch mount
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Powerhouse XM-100.
The Powerhouse XM-100 Chainsaw winch attaches easily and quickly to any gas or electric chainsaw by using the universal adapter kit. It combines versatility with affordability in an incredibly robust unit.
It’s manufactured mostly from cast aluminum and this has two advantages. Firstly, aluminum won’t rust so you can be sure that it’s going to keep working for a long time. Secondly, the use of aluminum keeps its weight down, making it much easier to transport and carry. Without the cable, the Powerhouse XM-100 weighs only 22 LBS, once you add the standard length 150 Ft ³/16” galvanized cable and hook that comes as part of the kit, your weight increases to 39 LBS. It should fit in easily into any area when storing or transporting with dimensions of 15” X 11” X 13”.
It’s really easy to set up and use the Powerhouse XM-100. You’re able to secure it using a ground to ground anchor, a cant hook (if you want to secure it to something like a tree stump), and a trailer hitch mount, to attach it to a vehicle. It attaches very easily to the chainsaw bar mount and you’re ready to go. A large spring loaded locking knob allows you to quickly lock it from the free spool action to engaging the motor. It also comes with a brake handle.
The durable design includes oil-bathed gears that reduce the chainsaw speed and increase the torque, allowing for a line speed of 60-80 Ft/min and gives you enough torque to pull 4000 LBS in a straight line. Using a single snatch hook, you’re able to double this capacity to 8000 LBS.
If I were to look for something to complain about, I’d say that I don’t particularly like the plastic carrying handle and plastic turn knob for engaging the winch. I know that you get very durable plastics these days. But, none the less, I’d prefer to see metal fixtures on a machine that I’m going to be lugging into tough situations. This is, I suppose a minor complaint and I can’t see it being a major problem.
If you consider what you’re paying for the Powerhouse XM-100 chainsaw winch, you could hardly complain. Other than this issue (which is very much a personal opinion) it’s an incredibly well-built piece of machinery and comes with an excellent repair or replace 1-year warranty with very reasonable limitations.
Package Includes (Powerhouse XM-100):
- Powerhouse Chainsaw Winch (XM-100)
- 150 feet long 3/16″ galvanized aircraft cable with a safety hook
- Break Handle
- Universal Adapter Kits to fit all chainsaws
- Owner’s Manual
- One year free-replacement warranty from the manufacturer
Lewis Winch 400-MK2 | Best Chainsaw Winch
- One Lewis Winch Model 400 MK2 c/w clutch and brake
- 150 feet long 3/16″ galvanized aircraft cable with a safety hook
- Universal Adapter Kits to fit all chainsaws
- One year free-replacement warranty from the manufacturer
- variable line speed of 60 to 80 ft/min.
- 3/16″cable supplied with your Lewis Winch is 150 feet long which is the maximum amount of 3/16″
- cable the drum will hold
- portable Lewis winch powered by a gas-driven chainsaw
Overview | Lewis Winch 400-MK2
If you’re looking for the best chainsaw products in the world, Canada is probably the place to find them. Lewis is a Canadian manufacturer that is proud of their heritage and aim to provide the highest quality products for serious professionals.
The Lewis 400 MK2 chainsaw winch is built to the exacting quality standards that one would want to see from a product that is probably going to outlive you. With a cast aluminum alloy body, it’s designed and built for durability and lightweight portability. It weighs 38 LBS as the complete kit.
Video | How to Setup the Lewis Winch 400-MK2
You get a 150 Ft ³/16” galvanized cable and hook with the chainsaw winch. If this cable is longer than you’ll ever need, there are options for a shorter cable. Of course, a shorter cable is easier to use and won’t take as long to spool. The winch moves at a speed of 60-80 Ft/min through an oil-bathed gearbox with steel gears.
You can secure the Lewis Winch 400-MK2 chainsaw winch with a ground anchor or a versatile trailer hitch attachment. The spool locking mechanism and carry handle are made from strong metal with, what looks like a chrome electroplating, so these are of the best quality. The chain brake is also made from durable metal and is a simple, trouble-free mechanism.
Essentially you’re getting all the same features and specs with Lewis 400 MK2 as get on the Powerhouse XM-100. So, you could say that they are basically the same chainsaw winch. Now, you may be asking why pay more for the Lewis 400? It’s fairly pricey – about double what you’ll be paying for the Powerhouse equivalent. If you look at the Lewis 400 MK2 chainsaw winch, you immediately see that it’s built to take a knock, you can load it onto a pickup and head off into the roughest terrain without any worries.
To many, my concern about plastic fittings may seem petty. However, I maintain that if you want to determine a manufacturer’s attitude toward quality, look at the details. You can save money on less essential fittings, like handles, but if you intend for your product to keep performing perfectly for the longest time, you’ll ensure that every part of it is designed to handle the toughest conditions.
The Lewis 400-MK2 chainsaw winch is designed and built for people who expect top performance, even when it has to endure some punishment. It’s a hard-working machine for the hard-working artisan. This product comes with a 1-year free replacement warranty.
Learn more about the Lewis Winch 400-MK2 on Lewis Winch site.
What chainsaw do you need for a chainsaw winch?
Choosing the best chainsaw to use with a winch is as important as choosing the winch itself. You want enough power to handle the load that you’re pulling but too much power can make things difficult for you. Chainsaws of 100cc and upwards ( more than 7HP) have more torque than you need, this means that you have to go really easy on the throttle or you could end up ripping through whatever you’re pulling and even damage your winch.
An electric chainsaw can be fine for lighter loads but a gas chainsaw is going to be your best option if you want to use the chainsaw winch to its maximum potential. Remember that using an underpowered chainsaw is going to cause it to overheat and it can easily burn out. Here’s a basic guide as to what power you need for the weight that you’re pulling. The weight to HP (bhp) rate that we’re listing is for pulling the weight in a straight line, you can double this weight by using a snatch hook.
- 2000 – 2500 LBS – 3HP
- 3000 – 3500 LBS – 5-6HP
- 4000 LBS – 7HP
If you’re going to be using the Powerhouse XM-100 or Lewis 400 MK2 chainsaw winch, I’d recommend one of the following chainsaws if you want to meet at least the minimum requirements for these chainsaw winches. You can go more powerful, but then you will, obviously be paying more.
- Anti-Vibration handles
- Adjustable oil pump
- Quick-release air filter
- Centrifugal air cleaning system removes larger dust and debris particles before reaching the air filter.
- X-Torq : Delivers lower fuel consumption and reduced exhaust emission
- Felling marks
- Combined choke/stop control
- Side-mounted chain tensioner
- Three-piece crankshaft
- Smart Start
- Front handle ergonomics
- Inertia activated chain brake
- Air Purge
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Husqvarna 460 Rancher.
Overview | Husqvarna 460 Rancher
It goes without saying that Husqvarna is one of the top brands in outdoor gas-powered machinery. As with any of their products, the Husqvarna 460 Rancher chainsaw is designed for optimum performance and ultimate durability.
The 60.3cc, 3.62HP two-stroke engine is able to handle a 0.5 gauge 24” bar with ease – you get a 20” bar with the chainsaw when you buy it. If you’re looking at its power in relation to its winching capacity, you can it expect it to pull up to 2500 LBS without straining the engine. This engine has a number of outstanding design features that make it highly durable, efficient and low-maintenance. The X-torque engine is designed for fuel efficiency and low emissions, which means that it complies with the environmental standards, even in countries where environmental legislation is very strict. It is certified CARB compliant.
Apart from a standard high-quality air filter, the Husqvarna 460 Rancher has a unique centrifugal air cleaning system. This means that a large percentage of the dust and debris is removed from the air intake before it reaches the air filter. This eliminates the need to clean the air filter as frequently as with other chainsaws. This is a big advantage, as chainsaws are notorious for collecting wood chips and sawdust in their filters – it’s unavoidable, considering the type of conditions that they work in.
Another big plus point of the Husqvarna 460 Rancher is the low vibration levels. Vibration is one of the disadvantages of gas chainsaws and make them very uncomfortable for the operator when working for long periods. At the front handle the vibration level measures 3.5 m/s² and 4.5 m/s². If you look at these vibration levels and an incredibly low weight of 12.79 LBS (without the bar and chain), it’s a very comfortable machine to use – even if you’re working with it for long hours.
Replacement Chain for the 460 Rancher | Husqvarna-531-30-04-41
Sound levels are also excellent for a gas-powered machine, 104 dB at the operator. The guaranteed sound level at the engine is 114dB. At maximum power, it runs at 9000 RPM (chain speed 65.62Fts) and it idles at 2700 RPM. Maximum torque is 3.4 Nm. It has an adjustable oil pump so that you can control the rate of the automatic chain lubrication to match your working conditions. The pump will feed a minimum of 6 ml/min and 17 ml/min at its maximum setting. The gas tank holds 0.9 pts. For your safety, it has a well-designed chain guard that also functions a chain brake.
As one of the best chainsaws on the market, the Husqvarna 460 Rancher is a worthy investment. If you’re going to be using a chainsaw winch, you’ll need a chainsaw with at least this amount of power to be able to pull a decent weight without straining the engine.
64cc Powerful gas chainsaw
- Easy-starting automatic half throttle lock
- Chain compartment is easy to clean and clears chips away efficiently
- Slide out baffle can be configured for efficient cold weather operation
- Large metal spike bar for increased productivity
- Two-point durable inertia/mechanical chain brake
- Decompression valve reduces force required for starting
- High power-to-weight ratio: weighs only 13.9 lbs. (with chain)
- Maximum engine speed of 13,500 RPM
- Lateral chain tensioning for quick and convenient chain adjustment
- Advanced vibration dampening system engineered to reduce vibration
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Makita DCS6421RFG.
Overview | Makita DCS6421RFG
Makita is a brand that I’ve trusted for many years and I know that they offer outstanding quality and workmanship. While they are mostly known for electric tools, Makita can certainly hold their own against brands like Husqvarna when it comes to gas-powered machinery. The Makita DCS6421RFG certainly holds its ground when compared to top chainsaw models in this class.
It matches up well to the Husqvarna that we’ve just looked at, beating it by quite a bit when it comes to power. The 64cc two-stroke engine delivers 4.7HP and comes standard with a 20” bar and chain. As a chainsaw winch, it’s not rated for a full 3000 LBS but comes very close, it will probably pull a weight of 3000 LBS without too much strain, but you will be pushing the engine to its limit.
The Makita DCS6421RFG housing is made from magnesium. This affords it a high level of durability and reduces to its weight to 13.9 LBS excluding the chain (21.8 LBS with the standard 20” bar and chain). This weight is marginally higher than its rival from Husqvarna, but if you take into account that the Makita is a more powerful machine, it actually beats the Husqvarna when it comes to the power to mass ratio.
The Makita DCS6421RFG must have one of the best power to mass ratios in its class. The weight is made perfectly manageable, using excellently designed handles with a perfectly balanced center of gravity. The two point inertia-mechanical chain brake is designed for durability as much as it is for the greatest level of safety.
Starting the chainsaw is made easier with an automatic half throttle position and a decompression valve. It also has a slide out baffle for better running in cold weather. The chain tensioning requires the use of tools but this is made simple with a lateral chain tensioning mechanism. Maintenance is also simplified and the chain compartment is easily accessible, reducing the effort it takes to clean it.
Like many modern chainsaws, the engineers have made a concerted effort to reduce vibration levels. The Makita DCS6421RFG is, in every aspect of its design, a comfortable, safe and easy to use chainsaw. It has an excellent cutting action with an engine speed of 13500 RPM. The fuel tank capacity is good (25.4 Oz) which, combined with the fuel efficient engine, gives a good working time on a tank of gas.
The Makita DCS6421RFG costs quite a bit more than the Husqvarna 460 Rancher. Though, in my opinion, the Makita is a superior machine. Husqvarna is one of the premium brands when it comes to gas-powered tools and Makita may not have built up the same reputation in this field. But, make no mistake, Makita has been around for more than a century and are renowned for excellent quality and innovative design. I think that the Makita DCS6421FG is proof of this.
Not only is it more powerful than the Husqvarna equivalent, but it has an excellent power to mass ratio. Probably one of the best power to mass ratios you’ll get from any chainsaw. Like the Husqvarna, it’s designed for usability and durability and in this regard, they probably match up quite evenly.
Whether you want to pay more for the Makita that’s a winner in the power to mass ratio or choose the more affordable (less powerful) Husqvarna, you’ll be getting a fantastic machine either way. The Makita DCS6421RFG comes with a 1-year warranty and a 30-day replace or refund guarantee.
Both of these chainsaws make for an excellent option when using them with a chainsaw winch. If you need more power to pull a greater weight, you’ll need to look at much more expensive professional grade machines. I’d say for the needs of the average home user, hunter or off road enthusiast, these two chainsaws offer the best in terms of usability and affordability.
Caring for Your Chainsaw Winch
A chainsaw winch utilizes very basic technology and the only moving parts that require any kind of maintenance are its gears. The gearbox will usually use an oil bath, meaning that the oil lies in a sump and the gears pick up oil as they pass through it – there’s no oil pump or any other complicated technology to pose any problems. With the right maintenance and proper use, there’s no reason why your chainsaw winch shouldn’t last a lifetime.
At the bottom of the gearbox housing, you’ll find an oil filler point that is sealed with a regular bolt head. It’s a good idea to check the oil level regularly – preferably every time you use it. This is done very easily. Place the chainsaw winch on a flat, level surface, standing in the normal upright position. You then loosen the bolt with a wrench and remove it. There should be a small trickle of oil flowing from the filler point. If not, pour oil into this opening until it starts to flow out and replace the filler sealing bolt when you’re done. Always use the oil that is recommended by the manufacturer.
You’ll usually find a vent screw at the top of the chainsaw winch gearbox housing. When the winch is in operation this screw needs to be loosened to allow air to escape from the gear box. Under normal operating conditions the friction of the turning gears will generate heat, causing the air in the gearbox to expand. If this air is not allowed to escape, pressure will build up and a gasket or seal will probably blow under this pressure.
When transporting the chainsaw winch, it’s important to close the vent by properly tightening the vent screw. This is to prevent oil leaking out from the gearbox during transportation. You should always store the chainsaw winch with the vent screw securely tightened to prevent dust from collecting in the gearbox and causing unnecessary wear.
Follow these few simple rules and you should never have any problems with your chainsaw winch.
Using Your Chainsaw Winch
It’s very likely that your chainsaw winch will need to be assembled when it arrives. Before you start, read the owner’s manual thoroughly and make sure that you understand how the machine works. Assemble it according to the instructions, making sure that you install the chain correctly and tension it as needed.
Once your chainsaw winch has been assembled correctly, you’re ready to fit it to the chainsaw body. You first need to remove the chainsaw bar. You’ll probably be using the same mounting bolts for your chainsaw winch as you do for the bar, so keep these to one side. You’ll then mount the universal adapter to the chainsaw’s sprocket and secure it properly. The chainsaw winch will attach to the adapter and this should be an easy, self-explanatory process.
You’re now ready to use the chainsaw winch and all the usual safety and operational considerations need to be observed, as with any other winch.
- Make sure that the cable is spooled correctly before you use the chainsaw winch. The cable should be fed onto the spool barrel without any kinks or knots. When spooling your cable, make sure that you lay the cable down evenly.
- Secure the cable into the holes provided and make sure that it pulls tight. You then lay the cable in a straight line on the ground and begin spooling it onto the barrel. Make sure that with each revolution, the cable fits directly beside the previous turn. So, each wind of the cable will fit tightly to the previous one with no gaps in between. You also need to make sure that no winding is higher than the previous one. In other words, the cable windings must lie perfectly next to one another and not one on top of the other.
- Once you’ve filled the entire length of the barrel, the next winding should be placed directly on top of the last winding at the previous level. You then continue to place the windings directly next one another and continue, layer by layer until the cable is evenly wound.
- Make sure that the chainsaw winch is properly secured before you attempt to pull anything. You don’t want the winch coming loose and pull itself toward the item that you’re supposed to be pulling.
- Work at an even speed and observe how the cable winds onto spool barrel – it must always move evenly as described above. If the cable winds unevenly, stop the chainsaw winch immediately and unspool the cable up to the point where it is uneven, then wind it back correctly.
- Use leather gloves whenever you use the chainsaw winch. The moving cable can cause serious harm to hands.