The Husqvarna 135 Mark II is one of the best gas chainsaws for homeowners because it was specifically designed to be lightweight and affordable, while maintaining the high standards of the Husqvarna brand. It has a 16″ bar & chain with a 40.2cc engine. A well-balanced chainsaw for cutting wood under 14-inches. Most homeowners don’t want to spend $500 on a chainsaw so it makes sense for big brands to create quality gas or cordless chainsaws that the average consumer can afford. This is only one of the great chainsaws you’ll find in this buying guide.
In 2022, the best gas chainsaws are very similar than the ones worth buying in 2021. When deciding on the right chainsaw you want to buy a model from a reputable brand, with a history of quality and reliability. This pandemic coupled with current economic conditions has forced most people to think twice before spending their hard earned money. We’ve all had to adjust our way of life. But, life moves forward, and if you have firewood to cut or trees to fell then a gas chainsaw is a necessary power tool. In this article I focus on gas chainsaws that provide excellent value, and are proven to be reliable, as well as safe to use.
In addition to gas chainsaws, you might be surprised to learn that there are a few excellent cordless chainsaws as powerful as a 32cc to 45cc chainsaw. I show you those options as well.
Editors’ Picks : Best Gas Chainsaws in 2022
Husqvarna 460 Rancher / 42cc / 24″
The 460 Rancher is geared towards experienced users who need a powerful chainsaw capable of cutting wood in high-volume. Suitable for felling large trees, and cutting a lot of firewood. This is a true workhorse. Not fancy, but built to last.
- Centrifugal air cleaning system
- X-Torq engine = Efficiency
- LowVib : Reduced Vibration
- Adjustable oil pump
- Quick-release air filter
- Felling marks / Precise Cutting
- Three-piece crankshaft
- Smart Start
- Inertia activated chain brake
Remington RM4214CS / 42cc / 14″
This chainsaw is ideal for cutting wood under 12-inches. It’s one of the smaller gas chainsaws on the market making it suitable for medium-duty cutting around the yard. Very inexpensive and I’m impressed by the integrated anti-vibration system.
- QuickStart System
- 14” low-kickback bar & chain
- Tool-free access to filter and spark plug
- Metal bucking spikes
- Side access chain tensioner
- Adjustable automatic oiler
- 3-point anti-vibration system
- Lightweight design for ease of use
- Includes 2-cycle engine oil
When shopping for the best gas chainsaw as a homeowner your needs are far different than what a professional requires. What you want is a good well-rounded chainsaw that can tackle a variety of different projects but not too large, complicated or expensive — unless you have the experience to handle a heavy chainsaw with a large bar and chain like the Husqvarna 460 Rancher.
CRAFTSMAN S165 / Best Budget Gas Chainsaw
Craftsman and Remington make excellent gas chainsaws that are quite inexpensive.
I doubt you’ll find a better chainsaw for under $200. The S165 has a long history of proven reliability and high customer satisfaction, so you’re getting a great 16″ gas chainsaw. I love that it has a 3-point anti-vibration system. A lot of more expensive chainsaws don’t have this feature. It’s important to protect yourself against vibration as it can actually cause health problems, referred to as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) if you use vibrating tools for extended periods of time. You should always wear anti-vibration gloves as well. In 2022, this is the best cheap gas chainsaw, in my opinion. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- 42cc full-crank, high-output engine delivers steady power
- Simple pull starts: easy start technology
- low-kickback 16 in bar and chain
- Bucking spikes give you leverage when cutting
- Inertia-activated chain brake stops chain automatically
- Adjustable automatic oiler
- Cushioned full-wrap aluminum handle
- 3-point anti-vibration system makes this chainsaw balanced, maneuverable, and comfortable to operate
- Tool-free access to filter and spark plug for easy maintenance
If you want gas, it’s because you need a few things, such as — Raw power for felling thick trees or because you cut a lot of firewood and you want to work fast. Also, gas chainsaws are best suited when you’re away from a power source. A little bit of gas goes a long way.
But, things are changing. Battery power is beginning to rival the power of a small-sized gas chainsaw. Things aren’t what they used to be. If Tesla can power a car with batteries then surely you can make a powerful chainsaw powered by batteries and that’s why I also want to recommend some powerful cordless chainsaws to try and convince you that maybe you don’t need a gas chainsaw, even though you might be convinced that you do. I have heard from countless consumers that say how happy they are after buying a good battery-powered chainsaw that does everything their old gas chainsaw could do.
EGO 56V Chainsaw : Best Gas Alternative Chainsaw
Can replace a 45cc gas chainsaw :
- Speed: 6800 RPM
- Chain Kickback Brake
- delivers or exceeds the power of gas—without the noise, fuss, or fumes.
- Chain Tension Adjustment
- 56V ARC Lithium battery works with all EGO POWER+ tools.
- Water Resistant Construction (ipx4)
- Guide Bar Length: 14” / 16” / 18”
- Double Guard Bar and Narrow-Kerf Sprocket Nose
- Low Kickback Chain Design (complies with ANSIB175.1)
- Reversible Bar
- CUL Listed
- 5 Year Warranty
Why Buy A Gas Chainsaw?
If you prefer to do your own landscape maintenance and enjoy working on DIY projects, having a chainsaw in your tool arsenal helps out significantly. A simple 16” cordless chainsaw from a reputable brand like Makita or Black & Decker is all that the average homeowner needs. But sometimes electric power just isn’t enough. If you’re cutting firewood on a fairly regular basis or felling trees, we highly recommend a gas chainsaw as they are the industry standard when it comes to performance and mobility.
Refueling a gas chainsaw takes much less time than recharging a battery. And if you’re willing to get your hands dirty, gas chainsaws can last forever with proper maintenance (provided you don’t purchase one of those knockoff Chinese models). Less experienced buyers often get confused by the wide variety of chainsaw models and end up choosing a product that doesn’t fit their needs. But worry not, we’re here to clear things up for you.
Best Powerful Gas Chainsaw : Makita EA5000PREG / 11.9 lbs.
Makita makes some of the very best chainsaws on the market, as good as Husqvarna, Stihl, or Echo, etc. For some reason I don’t think Makita gets the same amount of respect it deserves. This 50cc gas chainsaw is exceptional in every way. It’s engineered with advanced features such as its advanced anti-vibration system. This is an essential feature on a powerful gas chainsaw. Excessive vibration causes long-term medical problems called Hand-arm vibration syndrome — and you don’t want it. The only way to avoid it or minimize the chance of getting it, is by having a high-end anti-vibration system, like the Makita EA5000PREG. And use anti-vibration gloves like the Ergodyne ProFlex (certified).
- Magnesium housing for improved durability and less weight (only 11.9 lbs.)
- Easy Start spring-assisted starter with optimized engine management for quick starting with less force
- 13,800 RPM with faster acceleration for more efficient cutting performance
- Compact design / Engineered with smooth rounded surfaces for easy cleaning and operator comfort
- Large dual spike bar for increased productivity
- Touch & Stop single lever control shuts off engine with just a touch
- Slide-out baffle can be configured for efficient cold weather operation
- Two point durable inertia/mechanical chain brake
- Chain compartment is easy to clean and clears chips away efficiently
- Lateral chain tensioning for easy adjustment
- Advanced Vibration Dampening System engineered to reduce vibration
- Large fuel and oil tank openings with S-form caps for easy operation
- Adjustable automatic chain lubrication for efficient operation
- Reversible sprocket nose bar with oil retaining feature for improved bar and chain lubrication
- Floating rim sprocket for easy maintenance and improved chain life
Continue : Why should you buy a gas chainsaw?
It is important to remember that no single chainsaw exists which can perfectly satisfy all the needs of every customer out there. Some people want a chainsaw that is light and easy to handle, because they only cut firewood occasionally. Others might prefer a heavy but powerful machine that can fell trees and slice through hardwoods such as oak or cherry.
In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference. Physical build and experience also play a significant role in choosing the right chainsaw. If you’ve never operated one before, we highly recommend that you take a chainsaw course or ask somebody to teach you the basics before buying a powerful 20+ inch gas model. For DIY projects and pruning, stick to the smaller gas powered models with engines under 40cc. They pack enough power to slice through logs up to 12 inches in size.
If you live on a ranch or work in construction, you’ll need something big (50cc and above) that can cut fast. Premium models like the Husqvarna 572XP and Stihl MS 462 C-M are equipped with heavy duty air filters and commercial grade engines. These professional models can run for extended periods of time in rough environments without overheating or clogging.
Here’s another excellent battery-power chainsaw that’s as powerful as a 32cc gas chainsaw (quote from Makita). It might be all you need. Great quality.
As Powerful as Gas : Cordless 36V Makita XCU04PT1 / Easy to Use
I highly recommend this Makita cordless if you were originally looking for a light-duty and compact gas chainsaw. Makita makes their chainsaws to the highest standards. Their internal components are steel, not plastic. There’s no maintenance or fumes and it’s very lightweight. Consider it. You’ll be surprised at how good it is.
- No gas, emissions, oil mixing or pull starts with reduced maintenance and low noise levels
- Makita-built outer rotor brushless motor direct-drive system delivers power of a 32cc gas chain saw
- Two 18V LXT® Lithium-Ion batteries deliver 36V power and performance without leaving the 18V LXT® platform
- “Tool-less” chain adjustment for convenient operation and maintenance
- Variable speed trigger and high chain speed (0-3,940 FPM) for improved cutting performance
- Adjustable automatic chain lubrication with large oil reservoir
- Large oil filling port with view window allows operator to easily add and check bar oil level
- Built-in L.E.D. on/off switch with auto power-off function; automatically shuts the saw off when operation is delayed for extended battery life
- Rubberized soft grip top handle is engineered for the user to more easily apply even cutting pressure
- Features Extreme Protection Technology (XPT™) which is engineered to provide increased dust and water resistance in harsh job site conditions
- Equipped with Star Protection Computer Controls™ to protect against overloading, over-discharging and over-heating
- 3-year limited warranty on tool, battery and charger
What’s In A Name | The Problem With Cheap Chinese Knockoffs
These days, it’s very common to find lookalikes of name brand chainsaws on the internet that sell at half price (or even less) of the original model. So you might be thinking “why spend 300 dollars on a Husqvarna, when I can buy this Chinese saw for 100 bucks?”. You see, all those professional loggers and ranchers who swear by Husqvarna and Stihl aren’t doing so because they like to waste money. These brands have refined the art of making chainsaws through decades of research and innovation. Yes, that cheap Chinese knockoff will cost less upfront. But chainsaws are a long-term investment, and what really matters is getting the most value out of every dollar you spend.
When the Chinese saw falls apart within a couple of months, you’ll wish you had the name brand model instead. Spend 30 dollars on a clutch today, 50 on a new piston and cylinder two weeks later, 6 dollars on a new throttle, and eventually the cost of owning a Chinese saw will catch up to the more expensive branded ones. A chainsaw has to work when you need it the most, otherwise it’s useless. When a storm takes down a tree and blocks your driveway, you rely on your chainsaw to start up and clear out the obstruction. When you’re living off-grid and want to gather some firewood for the night, a malfunction in your chainsaw can seriously cripple everything you’ve got planned up until that point.
Cheap chainsaws from China use inferior plastics that are more likely to crack or buckle under pressure. A lot of people who buy these cheap Chinese saws complain about leaking fuel tanks or bad oil pumps, stuff like this can potentially cause a fire hazard in the garage. And some of them don’t even comply with US emissions standards like CARB or EPA, so you’re more likely to inhale toxic fumes and harm the environment. Imagine the disaster that could happen due to a bad spark arrestor when you go to cut firewood deep within the jungle, a few stray sparks could easily start a fire.
It’s not just their build quality and performance that makes Chinese knockoffs bad, it is also their post-sales services which are practically nonexistent. When you buy a cheap no-name saw off eBay, you’re essentially praying that it doesn’t break down. Because when it does, finding spare parts will be a major headache. Unless your local chainsaw repair shop or hardware store has parts that fit your particular chainsaw model, you’re on your own.
If you’re not a mechanic or have zero experience working with small 2-stroke engines, we highly recommend that you stick to reputable brands such as Husqvarna, Echo, Oregon, etc. These companies have built a vast support network across the country and likely have a dealership in your locality to honor the warranty provided alongside your chainsaw purchase. And if you absolutely don’t have the budget to go with a brand new saw, used pro models from Husqvarna or Stihl are your next best choice. A lot of those old pro saws are built like tanks and as long as the previous owner followed standard maintenance procedure, you’ll easily be able to get another 5 or 6 years out of them.
TIP: Husqvarna offers an extended warranty option for their customers. You can extend the default consumer warranty (which is 2 years) by purchasing Husqvarna 2-stroke oil or Husqvarna pre-mixed fuel at the same time you purchase your chainsaw (online registration is also required).
It’s worth mentioning that not all Chinese products are cheaply made, some of them use original/ semi-original designs and are actually pretty good for casual users who don’t cut a lot of wood. The hard part is distinguishing trash from treasure, since some of these Chinese saws actually offer amazing value for money and will last a long time if you take proper care of them. Finding parts is still going to be hard, as you have to fish across multiple sites on the internet before you find a retailer who sells spare parts for your saw.
A lot of experienced chainsaw users will often purchase Chinese knockoff saws and mod them with OEM parts from Husqvarna or Stihl to create a fairly reliable tool. They mix in parts like the flywheel, clutch, muffler, etc. from their old saws and purchase new engine blocks, it’s a lot like building a project car. But we believe most people reading this article aren’t experienced chainsaw users, so we recommend you stick with known brands just to be on the safe side.
TIP: Local garage sales are a great place to find used chainsaws, just make sure it’s from a reliable brand like Stihl, Echo, Husqvarna, etc. Thoroughly examine the saw before you purchase it, check if it starts properly and looks clean. Inspect the cylinder walls with a flashlight, make sure the oiler works, and look at the chain to ensure that it’s in good condition.
Reviews : More Options / Best Gas Chainsaws
Husqvarna 120 Mark II (14″ / 16″) 1.8 hp | Best Value Gas Chainsaw
- Powerful X-Torq engine combines high performance with better fuel economy and lower exhaust emissions
- Lightweight chainsaw is compact and maneuverable with excellent ergonomic comfort features
- Automatic oiler delivers a steady supply of chain lubrication for safe and effective use
- Husqvarna 14 inch chainsaw for homeowner use is ideal for everyday tasks such as tree pruning, hobby work or firewood cutting
- Simple tensioning system allows for quick adjustments while working
- Ideal for light duty, light-duty, occasional trimming and pruning
- Exclusive X-Torq engine reduces both fuel consumption and gasoline emissions
- 2-year limited warranty
Husqvarna’s Special Upgrade Warranty / IMPORTANT
NOTE : Husqvarna has a special program where you can increase your warranty.
With Husqvarna’s pre-mixed fuel, not only do you get fuel you can depend on, but you can extend your warranty from the standard 2 years up to a 5 year warranty by buying 96 fluid oz. of the fuel at the time of your purchase of select handheld products. That’s up to 5 years of protection by our limited consumer warranty. What can you accomplish in that time?Husqvarna / Learn More by visiting their warranty offer page or our dedicated article to explain it.
OVERVIEW / Husqvarna 120 Mark II
“The Husqvarna 120 Mark II is the only small gas chainsaw that we would recommend for enthusiasts and hobby users. Its lightweight and compact design, coupled with the rugged construction and great performance make this saw ideal for tasks that require a high degree of maneuverability”
Ideal for: Homeowners who want to maintain tree branches and do some light post storm cleanup, DIY enthusiasts, lawncare professionals looking for a lightweight trimming/ pruning saw, etc.
Husqvarna didn’t pull any punches with this one, they went all out. Even though you can buy a 120 Mark II for under 200 bucks, the amount of technology and innovation poured into this saw makes it an amazing performer. Hands down, the most value you’ll ever get for your dollar when buying a gas chainsaw.
It features Husqvarna’s signature X-Torq engine technology which increases fuel efficiency and lowers emissions. X-Torq also boosts low RPM torque, so you can slice through gummy and sticky wood without bogging down your saw. Another interesting feature of this saw is its “Air Injection” prefiltration system which uses centrifugal forces to filter out larger dust particles before they reach the air filter. This reduces the frequency of air filter cleaning and lowers maintenance costs significantly, especially in environments with a lot of saw dust flying around (workshops, jobsites, sawmills, etc.). And then, there is “Air Purge” which is Husqvarna’s fancy term for a primer bulb.
Another option comparable to the Mark II. The specs are identical :
Husqvarna 130 / 16″ : Similar to the 120 Mark II
By pressing the primer bulb, you clear out any air bubbles stuck within fuel lines. And it also comes in handy when you’ve just cleaned the carburetor or installed a new carburetor, since you have to prime it before it starts drawing fuel from the tank.
If you’re having trouble starting your saw, a few presses of this bulb will inject fresh fuel into the carb and start the engine. It can be used in combination with the choke for cold starts. Talking of the choke, Husqvarna has implemented a really smart control layout where the choke and start/ stop levers are located right next to each other within the same cutout. And all of this is less than an inch away from the textured rear grip, so you can access everything without taking your hand off the throttle.
In case you do take your hand off the throttle by accident, your saw will stop turning because there is a throttle safety switch built into the top of the handle. All this goodness is packed into a 10.7 lb. (before bar and chain) package. The 120 Mark II is equipped with a 38.2cc engine which is a bit on the smaller side, but it still outperforms most cordless electric saws and delivers consistent performance throughout the day no matter how hard you push it. It is amazing that Husqvarna extracts 1.88hp out of such little displacement, a lot of that comes down to the increased combustion efficiency achieved through X-Torq.
Several professionals consider Husqvarna’s LowVib to be the best anti vibration tech in the entire chainsaw industry, and the 120 Mark II uses the latest implementation of this system.
Note: Buy the 14” version of this saw for general lawn maintenance and DIY projects. But if you want to cut firewood and do some post storm cleanup work, we recommend the 16” variant.
Upgrade: More Gas Power
Review : Husqvarna 135 Mark II / 16″ / 2.1 hp
- Chain tensioning from the side
- Inertia activated chain brake
- efficient X-Torq engine cuts both engine emissions and fuel consumption
- Centrifugal air cleaning system removes larger dust and debris particles before reaching the air filter.
- Anti-Vibration : System designed to reduce vibration levels
- Smart Start
- Power output : 2.1 hp
- Cylinder displacement : 2.3 cu.inch
Lighter, smaller engine, and more power… wait, what? How did they manage to create a chainsaw that is lighter yet generates more power, all while using a similar engine size? The 135 Mark II uses a 38cc engine, as opposed to the 120 Mark II’s ever so slightly bigger 38.2cc engine. But it makes 2.1hp peak power, compared to 1.88hp on the 120 Mark II. And even more impressive is the fact that it manages to do all this while being over 5 ounces lighter.
The weight difference may not seem like much, but both of these are extremely light chainsaws to begin with. So how did Husqvarna do it? Well, it appears they are using the same basic engine block. The 135 Mark II features all the same technologies as the 120 Mark II — X Torq, Air Injection, LowVib, etc. But Husqvarna is running a different tune on the carburetor (evident from the higher fuel consumption rate), and the engine features a higher compression ratio. It is worth noting that the 135 Mark II is louder, and vibrates harder than the 120 Mark II. It will also go through a tank of fuel faster than the 120 Mark II (fuel consumption is 725g/ kWh vs 428g/ kWh).
The 120 Mark II is more of a pruning/ DIY project saw. The 135 Mark II on the other hand, is more of a medium-duty saw intended for tasks like bucking, felling small trees, cutting firewood, etc. The 120 Mark II is also available in a 16” configuration, but it won’t perform as well as the 16” 135 Mark II since there is a power deficit between the two.
Learn more about the Husqvarna Mark II series, and their latest generator of chainsaws in our full guide.
Husqvarna 455 Rancher (18″ / 20″) — Best Heavy-Duty Gas Chainsaw for Homeowners
- Husqvarna 20-inch 455 Rancher chainsaw is ideal for tasks such as professional tree work and land clearing
- 3.49-HP X-Torq engine reduces fuel consumption and gasoline emissions
- LowVib anti-vibration system reduces vibration levels for the operator
- Side-mounted tensioning system allows for quick adjustments chain while working
- Effortless Starting helps the chainsaw start quickly with minimal effort
- Automatic oiler delivers a steady supply of chain lubrication for safe and effective use.
- Quick-release air filter for easy cleaning and replacement
“Perfectly capable of handling anything you throw at it, be it on the farm or around the home. The 455 Rancher blends raw power with ease of use, resulting in a machine that performs a wide variety of cutting tasks.”
Ideal for: General landscaping work, DIY projects, felling and limbing, cutting firewood, portable sawmills, etc.
Even though it shares features with commercial chainsaws, the 455 Rancher was actually designed to be an all-purpose saw for homeowners and ranchers who require raw power coupled with tons of endurance. Its powerful 55.5cc prosumer-grade 2 cycle engine can generate up to 3.5hp of power, and the fuel consumption is surprisingly low for an engine of this size. X-Torq technology delivers more torque across a wider RPM band while reducing emissions and increasing fuel efficiency. Chain speed at max power is a rapid 65.62 ft/s, so if you keep the chain sharp this chainsaw will slice through giant logs of wood in no time. Modern chainsaws are all about high RPMs and extreme chain speeds, and the 455 Rancher delivers precisely that. Professional grade cutting performance in a package that is easy to maintain, easy to handle, and relatively light for how much power it packs.
Let’s talk about features. This chainsaw uses a 3-piece crankshaft which increases engine durability, and can support higher torque figures for extended periods of time. The 455 Rancher’s air filter isn’t professional-grade, but its effectiveness is increased significantly by the Air Injection centrifugal prefiltration system. An adjustable oil pump lets you decrease or increase bar oil flow rate depending on the type of chain and bar you’re running. Felling marks on the saw allow for higher precision while felling trees, and an easy start system reduces resistance on the starter rope. A slight 7° offset angle on the front grip reduces wrist and forearm fatigue, while also providing a more stable grip. The combined choke + start/ stop lever reduces chances of engine flooding by ensuring that you take the choke off whenever you want to idle or cut wood. Finally, you’ve got the tool-free quick release air filter which greatly speeds up field maintenance.
Maybe you’ve got a large piece of land that needs some post storm cleanup. Or perhaps you want a chainsaw to help you prepare that pile of firewood for winter. You might even want to fell some trees on the ranch that have really thick trunks. For all the aforementioned tasks, the Husqvarna 455 Rancher will do an excellent job. It is easy to operate, and east to maintain. And it has the power to tackle even the toughest of cutting jobs. The 455 Rancher is available in two different bar lengths —
- 18” for limbing, bucking, post storm cleanup, and cutting firewood.
- 20” for felling trees and usage in portable sawmills.
Even More Power
Husqvarna 460 Rancher Review / 24″ / 60.3cc
- Smart Start starter helps the chainsaw start quickly with minimum effort
- Inertia-activated chain brake reduces the likelihood of injury due to kickback
- Rugged chainsaw is durable and maneuverable with excellent ergonomic comfort features
- Automatic oiler delivers a steady supply of chain lubrication for safe and effective use
- Husqvarna 24 in. Rancher chainsaw is ideal for tasks such as tree pruning, yard cleanups and firewood cutting
- Simple, side-mounted tensioning system allows for quick adjustments while working
- LowVib anti-vibration system reduces vibration levels for the operator
- 3.62 HP X-Torq® engine reduces both fuel consumption and gasoline emissions
OVERVIEW / Rancher 460
If you’ve got a little extra money to spend, consider the 460 Rancher which is a step up from the 455 Rancher in terms of cutting performance. You can choose between 3 different bar lengths — 18”, 20”, and 24”. You also have two different chain gauges to choose from : .050” and .058”. The latter is perfect for cutting through dirty lumber with nails, wires, sand, etc. hidden underneath the surface. Drive links on .058” gauge chain are thicker and heavier, capable of handling higher stress. But if you’re cutting clean wood or doing some general lawn maintenance stuff that kind of chain would be overkill. We recommend .050” gauge for most homeowners and enthusiasts.
If you want to maintain some branches and cut a few tree stumps, the 18” 460 Rancher will do a fine job. It is also cuts firewood really well, and can even fell small trees. Stepping up to the 20” 460 Rancher, you gain a little bit of headroom for bucking larger logs. The 24” 460 Rancher is best suited to professionals and ranchers who genuinely require that extra bar length to handle larger cutting tasks. Remember, a longer bar means more weight and less maneuverability. Bigger isn’t always better, so make your purchase decision based on what you need, not what you want.
Gas Chainsaw Buying Guide | Facts
Gas chainsaws come in all sizes, with engine displacements ranging from 30cc on the low end to over 100cc on the pro models. You’ll also see a ton of variety in terms of ergonomics and bar lengths. The pole saws like the CRAFTSMAN V20 Pole Saw has an 8″ bar and chain. Because chainsaws are such versatile machines, they can be equipped for a variety of cutting jobs. And the size of wood you want to cut dictates your chainsaw’s bar length. Technically, a bar that is X inches long will be able to cut through a circular log of wood that has a diameter of 2X inches. You cut through half the log on one side, then switch over to the other side to meet the first cut in the middle. But we recommend you select a bar length that is as big, or slightly bigger than the log size. Because inexperienced chainsaw users cannot get the most out of their bar length, and might even encounter accidents while trying to cut logs that test the limits of their saw.
So, how do you decide on bar length? Here are some general recommendations:
|Application||Recommended Bar Length|
|Pruning, trimming, and general lawn maintenance||8” to 12”|
|DIY work and occasionally cutting firewood||12” to 14”|
|Felling small trees and cutting firewood regularly||14” to 16”|
|Felling medium trees and bucking hardwood logs||16” to 18”|
|Building log cabins, ranch work, construction||20” to 28”|
|Logging and sawmills||28” and above|
Remember that longer bars make a chainsaw heavier and more unwieldy. You can’t maneuver the saw in tight spaces, and chances of kickback go up exponentially if you aren’t aware of your surroundings while operating a long chainsaw. You can also purchase aftermarket parts like new bars and chains for your saw to tackle certain workloads with greater speed and efficiency. Manufacturers are often quite conservative with the bar length they provide from the factory, and most saws can support an extra 2 or 4 inches above the default bar they come with. But don’t go overboard with it, since a bar that is too long will generate extra friction and bog down your saw. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Slapping a 28 inch bar on a 40cc homeowner chainsaw is ridiculous, as it will actually cut slower than a 20 inch bar. Matching the bar length with your chainsaw’s power output is crucial. If it doesn’t have enough RPM or torque to move a longer chain, then you might experience a stall or overheat the engine. Longer bars will also go through bar oil at a faster rate, so keep that in mind. For gas chainsaws, here are some guidelines that will help you match the right bar with the right saw:
- 30 to 40cc engine: 12 to 16 inch bar
- 40 to 50cc engine: 16 to 22 inch bar
- 50 to 60cc engine: 22 to 28 inch bar
- 60cc to 70cc engine: 28 to 40 inch bar
- 70cc and above: 40+ inches
These are approximate recommendations, always make sure to follow your manufacturer’s specifications when it comes to guide bar length. They often specify the maximum bar length that a specific model supports. If you aren’t sure, check out online forums and videos to see what bar lengths other people are running on the same saw. Some 40cc chainsaws will generate more power and torque compared to other models, since different manufacturers use different engines and technologies.
Even with the exact same engine, you can tune the carburetor to change the power band of your chainsaw. You can make the engine generate more power at a higher RPM, or tune it for extra grunt at lower RPMs. Manufacturers often use the same basic engine platform across an entire lineup, and manage to get higher power outputs on more expensive models by using different carburetors and air filters. The point we’re trying to make is that engine displacement alone won’t give you good idea of how much power a chainsaw generates.
Pairing The Right Type Of Chain With Your Chainsaw Bar
Another layer of complexity is added to the equation by the type of chain you use — full compliment, semi skip, full skip, etc. A standard or full-complement chain will have more cutters within the same length compared to a full skip chain. It requires more power to drive as there’s less room for wood chips to exit from the cut, resulting in more friction. That’s why loggers and other professionals using 40+ inch bars often run semi or full skip chains. But don’t run a full skip chain on your 20” bar, otherwise you’ll decrease cutting speed significantly.
You need more cutters to make short, smooth cuts. Limbing, pruning, and firewood cutting is done with standard chains. With bars under 24” in length, standard or full-complement chains are recommended (it is the same type of chain you get from the factory by default). For really long bars (34 inches and above), you need some type of skip chain to maximize cutting efficiency.
TIP: When you assemble your chainsaw, make sure the chain is mounted in the correct direction (pointy edges of the cutters must be facing away from the saw). It is possible to mount the chain backwards, and people who make this rookie mistake find out that their chainsaw isn’t cutting any wood.
Why Does Chain Gauge Matter?
Husqvarna sells the 460 Rancher in multiple configurations; you can choose from 3 different bar lengths. But wait, the official page displays a total of 6 variants. But how can this be, when there are only 3 choices of length — 18”, 20” and 24”? Well, take a closer look. There are two different chain gauges : 0.050” and 0.058”. And there’s is a third attribute called “pitch” which is 3/8” across the board. What do these terms even mean? Let’s break them down for you.
- Pitch: Distance between any three consecutive rivets on the chain, divided by half.
- Gauge: Thickness of the drive links, or the space between the bar rails.
Your chainsaw bar isn’t a solid block of aluminum, it has a groove built into the sides. The chain has “drive links” that fit into this groove, so the chain stays in place while spinning around the bar at speeds in excess of 60mph. Now, it is extremely important that you match the drive link thickness with the groove thickness. Every bar has a gauge, and this should match with the gauge of the chain. We have a few standard gauge measurements, specified in inches : .043″, .050″, .058″, and .063″. .050″ are the most common.
Gauge is printed somewhere on the chain, as well as on the bar. If you put a .043” gauge chain into a .050” gauge bar, it will flop around and might even fly off the bar causing severe injuries. The reverse is going to be much harder, since you can’t physically fit a .063” gauge chain into a .058” gauge bar.
Longer chains are typically higher gauge, this means their drive links are thicker and tougher. A .058” gauge implies that the chain can take more abuse and higher shear stress before it breaks (compared to .043” gauge), this comes in handy if you work with dirty or repurposed lumber that might have nails or wires hidden underneath the wood. Stihl uses Oilomatic RDR (Rapid Duro Rescue) chains for its rescue saws, which are operated by firemen and police forces. These are .063” gauge chains, which guarantees maximum toughness for cutting through roofs, hatches, pillars, poles, car doors, etc.
Pitch gives us info on the overall size and weight of the saw chain. Most homeowner and prosumer saws use 3/8” pitch chain. Even the professional saw users in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska prefer 3/8” pitch chain because it offers a nice balance of everything. It’s lightweight, has more than enough strength, and can be operated at high RPMs. Other pitch sizes commonly found in home saws are : 1/4″, .325″, 3/8″, and 3/8″ low-profile. Tree harvesters use .404” or ¾” pitch chains.
Gauge tells us how strong a chain’s drive links are. Heavier gauge chains can cut through harder and larger stuff, which is why you’ll often see them on rescue saws or harvesters. Harvesters typically run .404” pitch and .080” gauge chains. Really long saw chains generally have a larger gauge compared to shorter chains.
Advice: If you’re only cutting branches and firewood, you don’t need the 24” 0.058” gauge version of the 460 Rancher. It is heavier and will wear you out faster. Get the 20” .050” gauge variant instead. But if you’re working with frozen lumber, tree stumps that are really close to the ground, or repurposed lumber, you should definitely consider the heavier gauge option.
Chainsaw Features To Look For :
Chain brake: This is located next to the front handle, and is crucial to prevent kickback related injuries. It also comes in handy whenever you want to stop the saw chain while transitioning between cuts (sometimes the clutch doesn’t provide enough security).
Throttle lockoff switch: Prevents accidental throttle activation, kind of like the dead man’s switch in a train. You have to press both the lockoff and throttle simultaneously to activate your chainsaw.
Kill switch: Instantly cuts off power to the ignition coil in case of an emergency, effectively stopping the engine. Also known as the ON/ OFF switch, it should be marked clearly with larger letters. Some Stihl chainsaws combine ignition and choke into one lever.
Easy start: Gas chainsaws can be a pain to start up in cold weather, especially the larger models. Some chainsaws feature spring assisted recoil starters which reduce the strain on your arms and shoulders by making the pull action much lighter. Chainsaws with large engines often have a decompression lever which temporarily opens up a port in the cylinder allowing air to escape. This helps the piston cycle much more easily and reduces resistance in the starter rope.
Bucking spikes: Useful for keeping the saw steady when you’re making a crosscut through a large log.
Toolless access to air filter and spark plug: Speeds up field maintenance significantly.
Heated carburetor and handle: A heated handle keeps your fingers from going numb in winter season. And a heated carburetor keeps the engine running smoothly in freezing weather.
Adjustable oiler: Lets you adjust bar oil flow rate to prevent unnecessary wastage of oil.
Good Anti-Vibration system: HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome) is often caused by inadequate vibration dampening in power tools. Operating a gas chainsaw for extended periods of time on a daily basis can have a permanent effect on the nerve endings within your hands and wrist. Make sure you purchase a quality chainsaw with a good vibration dampening system that isolates the engine from the handle and a good pair of anti-vibration gloves.
Modern cordless chainsaws like the Milwaukee FUEL M18 and Oregon CS300 deliver performance comparable to entry-level gas models in various applications ranging from firewood cutting to felling small trees and even bucking. Which makes you think, is it even worth buying a small gas chainsaw at this point? Well, there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument. Let’s list them-
|Cordless Electric Pros||Gas Pros|
|Clean, zero fumes, recharging costs less than refilling a gas tank||Refilling a tank takes much less time than recharging a battery|
|Instantaneous throttle response and full torque across the entire RPM band||Once you go past 42cc, gas chainsaws are undeniably more powerful than even the best cordless models|
|Minimal maintenance, all you have to do is refill bar oil and tension the chain||If something does go wrong, individual parts are cheaper to replace|
|Much less noise while operating||Does larger jobs much faster|
|Cordless Electric Cons||Gas Cons|
|Battery packs are really expensive, and you must replace them every 5 or 6 years||You have to keep spending money on gas and 2-stroke engine oil|
|If the motor or circuit board breaks down, you must take it to a certified technician for repair||You’ve got to clean the air filter on a regular basis and replace spark plugs after every 100 to 150 service hours|
|Not powerful enoug for larger jobs||Heavier than cordless electric chainsaws|
Both sides have their advantages and disadvantages, and you must decide if the benefits of gas power outweigh its cons. For most pruning, trimming, and DIY work we actually recommend electric over gas. It is simply easier to handle and maintain, compared to any gas saw. If you only cut firewood occasionally, you probably don’t even need a second battery pack as you’ll get the job done with a single charge. But if you’re going out into the woods, carrying multiple battery packs is a must. That adds a lot of weight, once you get past 3 or 4 packs.
Felling trees and bucking large hardwood logs with a cordless chainsaw is possible, but it all depends on how much wood you’re cutting and how often. If you make a livelihood out of cutting wood, gas power is the best choice. When time is money, nothing beats the speed of a well tuned Husqvarna or Stihl professional saw. You also have a lot more options in terms of bar length and chain types with gas saws, since they support longer bars and semi or full skip chain. Maintained properly, gas saws will outlast cordless models.
Another thing to consider when buying cordless is the battery platform. Today the manufacturer supports 18V batteries, a few years down the line they might upgrade to 36V batteries across their entire tool lineup. This will make your old cordless chainsaw obsolete, and support for older battery packs will stop. Cordless technology is constantly evolving, and you need to keep spending money every few years if you want the best. Gas chainsaws on the other hand have very little room left to grow in terms of efficiency and performance. If you buy a good gas saw today, it will still keep up with gas saws of the same size 10 years from now.
► We’ve updated our comprehensive GUIDE on the BEST Chainsaws for Homeowners — for 2022. Check it out. Our latest recommendations. Plenty of new chainsaws.
How to Choose the Best Gas Chainsaw
Recommended : Husqvarna 455 Rancher — Raw Power : 55.5cc
To decide upon the best gas chainsaw you first have to spend a little time to learn some of the basics about chainsaws. Unlike some power tools, chainsaws are a little more complex than the average tool. More importantly, they’re dangerous if not used with care, attention and a strong commitment to following safe operating procedures. My point is that if you’re new to chainsaws then you should begin learning the basics by reading my Chainsaw Buying Guide.
Husqvarna 445 | Best Older Gas Chainsaw
18 inch / 45.7cc / 2.8 hp
- Snap-lock cylinder cover saves time when changing spark plugs and cleaning.
- LowVib : Effective anti-vibration dampeners absorb vibration, sparing the user’s arms and hands.
- Air Injection : Centrifugal air cleaning system for reduced wear and longer operating time between filter cleanings.
- X-Torq : Deliver lower fuel consumption and reduced exhaust emission levels in accordance with the world´s most stringent environmental regulations.
- Quick-release air filter : Facilitates cleaning and replacement of the air filter.
- Felling marks : Distinct felling marks for better felling precision.
- Combined choke/stop control : Combined choke/stop control allow for easier starting and reduce the risk of engine flooding.
- Side-mounted chain tensioner : Side-mounted chain tensioner makes chain adjustment quick and easy.
- Visible fuel level : Transparent fuel indicator makes it easy to check fuel level.
- Easy to start : Combined start/stop switch, Smart Start® and fuel pump make the saw very easy to start.
- Inertia activated chain brake : Reduces the likelihood of injury due to kickback.
- Three-piece crankshaft : Forged three-piece crankshaft for maximum durability for the toughest applications.
- Air Purge : Removes air from carburetor and fuel system for easy starting.
- Smart Start : The engine and starter have been designed so the machine starts quickly with minimum effort.
OVERVIEW / Husqvarna 445
An excellent all-around Husqvarna gas chainsaw with enough power to tackle light duty projects around the house. It’s lightweight at 10.3 lbs allowing you to comfortably use over extended periods of time without feeling fatigue. Also, it has excellent anti-vibration technology, which is an essential component of any quality chainsaw. Husqvarna never disappoints when it comes to features and ergonomics, and the 445 is no different.
Easy to start and extremely durable with a chain that cuts exceptionally well, I’m certain this saw will handle all your clean-up work around the house, and more.
If you’re not cutting hardwoods, such as, maple, balsa, oak, elm, mahogany, and sycamore then this is an excellent choice for your home projects.
Popular Mechanics has this to say about the Husqvarna 445:
The 445 proved to be our most aggressive cutter. Just give it full throttle and let it pull its way through the log—that’s how it clinched the Firewood Champ title. Its XTorq engine evacuates the spent fuel–air mixture with a burst of fresh air, instead of the incoming fuel–air mixture. This gives the saw clean emissions, good fuel economy, and a pleasing torque curve. We also liked its crisp chain brake, side-mounted chain tension screw, and compression-release button for smooth and easy starting.
How do you decide upon the best gas chainsaw?
First, you need to know how you plan on using the chainsaw. The Husqvarna chainsaws cost a little more but it’s a very reputable brand. You can’t go wrong with Husqvarna, but I will say that you get better value with the Poulan Pro PR4218 or the Craftsman 16″ S165, but they don’t have all of the advanced features of a more expensive chainsaw.
Nothing beats the power, speed and versatility of a gas chainsaw when it comes to tackling tough jobs around the home, or on the job, if you’re a professional. The best gas chainsaw for you will depend on the size of wood you need to cut, the type of wood (hard vs soft) and your physical strength. Always read the owner’s manual before operating your saw. Also, if you’re new to chainsaws consider taking a local chainsaw training course. Most major cities or towns likely have a course for you to attend.
Always follow proper safety procedures when operating a chainsaw; read my article on: Chainsaw Safety Tips.
If you’re doing relatively light-duty cutting with small trees with the occasional need to cut medium-sized trees an electric chainsaw might be a better bet. In addition, electric chainsaws are great for pruning. They’re not as powerful as gas, and lag behind when it come to speed and durability but they’re good for small jobs and perfect for occasional chainsaw usage. Read our article on electric chainsaw to find the best corded-electric or cordless chainsaw for your wood cutting projects.
If you’re looking for a chainsaw with complete freedom and mobility, without the hassle of an extension cord then you should read our Best Battery Powered Chainsaw Guide.
You may also be interested in reading about top handle chainsaws if you need to work from an elevated position or perhaps the practical Black and Decker Alligator lopper is the right tool for you — a great alternative to chainsaws for cutting branches under 4 inches.
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