Best Chainsaws of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Multimedia & Home Improvement Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

Over the years, we’ve spent more than 250 hours researching, testing, rating and ranking the best chainsaws on the market today. At the end of our analysis we chose the Echo CS-310-14 as our best overall pick. The 14-inch bar and 30.5cc two-stroke engine packs enough punch to take down trees and power through lumber. It features an innovate i30 starting engine, a 14-in guide bar, anti-vibration systems and safety features such as a throttle lock and chain catcher. It’s the best chainsaw you can buy for under $200.

Best Overall
Echo CS-310-14
Of all the chainsaws we reviewed, the Echo CS-310-14 is the best you can buy. It’s two-stroke 30.5cc engine delivers the power you need for a chainsaw project of any size.
View on Home Depot
Best Value
Worx WG303.1
It’s hard to beat a high performing chainsaw that costs less than $100. We were highly impressed by this saw’s ability to cut through lumber and do moderate yard work.
View on Amazon
Best Battery Powered Chainsaw
Kobalt KCS 120-07
This chainsaw is lightweight, portable and has a long-lasting battery. It’s a great solution for people who don’t want to mix fuel or deal with extension cords.
View on Lowes
Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Design
Power & Peformance
Safety
Warranty
Overall Performance
Power Source
Power Distribution
Two-stroke Engine
Guide Bar Length (inches)
Weight (pounds)
Anti-Vibration
Auto-Oiler
Tool-Free Chain Tensioning
Throttle Lock
Chain Catcher
Bucking Spike
Warranty Period
$191 Amazon
8.4 10 10 10 10
A
Gas
30.5cc
14
8.8
False
5 Years
$76.44 Wal-Mart
8 8.1 8 6.7 7.5
B
Corded
120V
False
16
11
False
False
3 Years
$199.95 Stihlusa
7.7 10 8.1 10 2.5
A
Gas
30.1cc
16
8.6
False
1 Year
$150.15 DealDisk
7.7 9.8 7.8 10 5
A-
Gas
38.2cc
16
10.3
False
2 Years
$74.97 Home Depot
7.3 6.8 7.9 3.3 5
C
Corded
120V
False
18
9.5
False
False
False
2 Years
$110.27 Amazon
7.2 8.4 10 6.7 5
B
Corded
120V
False
16
11.1
False
2 Years
$61.38 Wal-Mart
6.8 6.4 5.9 6.7 5
C-
Corded
120V
False
16
9.2
False
False
False
2 Years
$139.99 Wal-Mart
6.8 9.6 5.6 6.7 5
B
Gas
42cc
18
11.8
False
False
False
2 Years
$179 Lowe's
6.5 6.8 7.7 6.7 10
B+
Battery
40V
False
12
8.84
False
False
5 Years
$87.99 Wal-Mart
6.5 5.2 9.9 0 5
C+
Battery
20V
False
10
7.2
False
False
False
2 Years
Best Overall
Of all the chainsaws we reviewed, the Echo CS-310-14 was our top overall choice. Its 30.5cc two-stroke engine is marginally bigger than the Stihl MS170, but just a tad weaker than the Poulan Pro PP4218A. It delivers enough muscle to cut through wood quickly and smoothly. It’s also quite light – only 8.8 pounds.
During our testing, it reached about 90 decibels. You’ll want to use protection like earmuffs or plugs when you use it, although we recommend taking those safety precautions while using any chainsaw. The plastic and aluminum body are quite sturdy and can take some punishment. This saw clocked in some of the fastest times we saw during our testing phase. You can expect this chainsaw to cut at about an inch per second. It’s 14-inch guide bar is adequate, but not the longest we saw. Models such as the Worx WG304.1 and Craftsman 34120 have 18-inch bars. Nevertheless, we never felt that we needed any more length when we were using it to cut lumber or doing other yardwork with it. While this is the best overall chainsaw in this category, it may be overkill if you’re not a regular user or have hefty cutting tasks. If you aren’t going to use it regularly, or don’t have a lot of experience with chainsaws, you may want to look into a less expensive, more manageable model.
Pros
  • It’s two-stroke engine delivers enough power to make quick work of any wood.
  • It’s quite light – just 8.8 pounds.
  • It’s durable, plastic/aluminum is both lightweight and durable.
Cons
  • You must mix your fuel with oil before using.
  • It’s quite loud – up to 90 decibels when in use.
  • Its guide bar is about four inches shorter than the longest we ones saw.
US$199Home Depot
Read the full review
Best Value
If you want a quality chainsaw at a great price, the Worx WG303.1 is exactly what you’re looking for. This corded tool has a lengthy 16-inch guide bar, making it a good choice for medium to large sized jobs.
Of course, it doesn’t deliver quite as much power as gas models like the Echo CS-310-14, but it will cut as well as the rest of them, just not as fast. In our tests it took us about 14 seconds to cut through a 6x6-inch piece of lumber. The Echo, by contrast, took less than five seconds. The corded nature of this saw offers a few benefits. The most important of which is that you don’t have to worry about running out gas or battery power, as long as you’re connected to an outlet. But the obvious counter to that is that you’re tethered to a wall for the entirety of your job and you’re limited by the length of your extension cord. But if you’re keeping work to your yard, that shouldn’t be a problem – and that’s where you’re most likely to use this type of chainsaw anyway. And you can’t beat the price, at less than $100.
Pros
  • Lengthy 16-inch guide bar.
  • Never runs out of fuel.
  • Costs less than $100.
Cons
  • Requires an extension cord.
  • Less powerful than gas models.
  • Not good for ranching or forestry jobs.
US$76.44Amazon
Read the full review
Best Battery Powered Chainsaw
The Kobalt KCS 120-07 is a unique entry in our review of the best chainsaws. It’s a battery powered model that gives the best chainsaws we reviewed a run for their money.
The main attraction on this tool is the convenience and portability that comes with using a battery as a power source. The battery itself is quite hefty and can hold a charge for hours at a time. We tested all the chainsaws we compared for more than a week and we never ran out of power while using the Kobalt, so as long as you put the battery on the charger after you use it, it will always be ready for you when you need it. Another advantage this battery powered chainsaw offers is that it is very easy to use. Gas powered models require you to mix fuel with oil, require a special tool to tighten the chain and pulling on a recoil cord to start. The Kobalt, by contrast, only requires you to insert the battery and fill the chain-oil tank. Starting is as easy as holding down the safety button and pulling the trigger. You can get started in just a couple of minutes with this chainsaw, right out of the box. And after that, it takes just seconds. We were impressed by the power and utility this chainsaw provides. It has a 12-inch guide bar, which is shorter than most of the other saws we reviewed, but it can handle heavy tasks almost as well 14- or 16-inch saws. It even rivaled our top pick in our performance tests. It’s a good buy all around.
Pros
  • Long lasting battery.
  • No need to mix fuel and oil.
  • Easy startup.
Cons
  • Relatively short 12-inch guide bar.
  • No anti-vibration technology.
  • Costs as much as a gas-powered model.
US$179Lowes
Read the full review
Best Corded Chainsaw
The simplicity of this model may be its best attribute. You simply fill the tank with oil, plug it in and pull the trigger.
You can start using it immediately with little prep. It features an 18-inch guide bar which is good for larger cuts. We had our testing crew cut through a 6 x 6-inch piece of lumber to test each chainsaw. Gas models were the fastest and most powerful, but this corded chainsaw wasn’t far behind. It only took the Craftsman 12 seconds to cut through the wood, which is much faster than other corded and battery-powered models. Even though we liked the performance of the Craftsman 34120 a bit better than the Worx chainsaw, it is a bit more expensive, so you’ll have to pay extra for a bit more performance.
Pros
  • It takes little prep to start up.
Cons
  • Its more expensive than other corded models.
US$114.90-
Read the full review
Worth the Money
This chainsaw is the right combination of size and power. For a gas-powered chainsaw, it started up right away and made quick and smooth cuts.
It’s a small chainsaw with a 16-inch guide bar. We recommend using it for small tree felling and cleaning up branches. The lightweight plastic and aluminum housing put the chainsaw below 11 pounds – making it a lightweight option. Our test crew was impressed with this model. They liked the way it made easy work of our 6 x 6-inch test board. One tester did comment that the Stihl saw produced more smoke than he would have liked to see, but that was one of the only negative comments. We recommend this saw, but you do have to pay a bit extra to obtain this great combination of power and size.
Pros
  • It is one of the most powerful chainsaws we tested.
Cons
  • It is expensive.
US$199.95-
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We purchased all the models we compared in this category for hands-on testing. Whenever possible, we test products by using them just like you would. Each chainsaw was subjected to the same battery of tests, and we rated the chainsaws by comparing performance, power, safety features and price.

We also reached out to industry professionals who use chainsaws regularly. We spoke with Caesar Bustos, Corporate Safety Supervisor and Trainer at Asplundh – a nationwide tree care company. He emphasized safety above everything else. “You have to respect the saw, if you don’t you can definitely get killed.”

He likened buying a chainsaw to riding a motorcycle, “If you have bought a motor cycle, you get a safety course, you should have one for chainsaws too.” He recommended asking the dealer you buy your chainsaw from if they offer classes or recommend ones you can take. He cautioned against the mindset that chainsaws are just another power tool. “When you take that tool on, you don’t think it’s dangerous - any model at any level can hurt or kill you,” said Bustos.

When we asked him about the different types of chainsaws, he said it’s all about the situation you use them in. Of gas vs. electric he said that, “Gas ones can go quite a while,” noting there’s about a two-hour limit on electric models. However, he said that electric powered models are good for area’s that are fire prone since the motors don’t get quite as hot as gas saws.

Of the length of a guide bar, he said it’s all based on what you’re doing with it. “You can accomplish a lot with small bars, it depends on the size of the tree’ said Bustos. But the most important things he recommends looking for is durability, you want “something that you can depend on whenever you start it.”

How We Tested

Our four-member lab team subjected each of the saws we reviewed to a battery of tests. Additionally, each member of our testing team gave feedback and comments and expressed a preference on which one they would buy. This subjective feedback, weighed against the raw data of our tests is how we arrived at the overall performance letter grade.


We used each saw we reviewed to cut through a 6x6-inch piece of Douglas Fir lumber. We chose this type of wood because it’s what contractors use for home construction. We timed how long it took for each saw to cut all the way through. The gas-powered models performed the best – all making the cut in just a few seconds. The corded and battery powered models generally took between ten and twenty seconds to accomplish the same task.

We also tested how easy it is to start the different gas models. We started each gas chainsaw out of the box. We tracked how many starting attempts it took for each saw to start on the first pull of the recoil cord. The Husqvarna 240 did top this test with just three attempts, while it took the Poulan Pro seven attempts.



In addition to the tests the lab crew performed, we took these chainsaws to an overgrown residential back yard and spent several days clearing out half-dead bushes, unwanted wild trees, trimming back hedges and reducing the size of hardened, dead tree stumps. All the saws were put through these tests for more than a week. This gave us a great idea of how well each saw would perform for common yard work.

How Much Does a Chainsaw Cost?

The cost of chainsaws varies widely depending on the type of chainsaw, brand and size of the motor. Corded and battery-powered models cost anywhere from $62 to $179. The gas models that we compared cost $175 to $200. If you aren’t a professional and just need a chainsaw for smaller cleanup projects around the yard, this is the price range you should be looking at.

Safety

According to the CDC, an estimated 36,000 people per year are treated in emergency rooms for chainsaw related injuries. This number increases after storms and natural disasters.

To keep yourself out of harm's way, we strongly encourage you to use ear protection, chaps, goggles and gloves. It's best to wear fitted clothes that cover your whole body and a helmet, especially when working in trees.

Never, ever operate a chainsaw under the influence and be sure to keep children and pets away from the work site. There are many online chainsaw safety courses available that can teach you how to operate, store and maintain your chainsaw properly. Proper maintenance keeps the saw's chain sharp and well lubricated, preventing kickback.

The grip and weight of a saw have a huge effect on its performance of the user. A saw without anti-vibration features can fatigue your hands quickly, making it hard to hold the saw and work safely. Since power source comes down to preference, if you don't need a powerful beast of a saw, go with an electric model. If you want power and use the saw often, gas is a good direction to take.

Parts and Maintenance

We tested each chainsaw’s performance as thoroughly as possible, but other factors play a role in the experience you have owning and using your chainsaw. If you're new to chainsaw maintenance, you may want to consider a saw available through licensed dealers.

Chainsaw brands like Stihl, Husqvarna, and Echo can be purchased from licensed dealers. In case you encounter problems with the chainsaw, you can take it back to these dealers for repairs. This ensures the people working on your chainsaw are experts and have the parts you need. The websites for these models have store locators to find a dealer nearby to help with maintenance and repair.

Whether it's a gas or electric model, storage, cleaning and routine replacements are essential to keeping your chainsaw operational. For both power types, you should complete several routine procedures before and after use. Before you start your chainsaw, check for leaks, cracks or obvious damage, test the throttle, choke, trigger lockout and stop switch. The chain brake, chain, bar, fuel and oil levels will also need your attention before you start a job. After you've finished the job, clean the entire chainsaw while paying special attention to the air filter and cylinder fins.

Chances are you store your chainsaw away during the winter, and both gas and electric models store similarly. Before you put your saw away for an extended period, drain the fuel and oil from the chainsaw. This prevents residue build up and potential fire hazards that come with storing such flammable materials. For gas models, run the engine until the carburetor is dry. This keeps the diaphragms from sticking together. For both types of chainsaw, remove the chain and guide bar before storing and wipe the machine down.