When you need some real power to get a job done quickly in the garden, nothing beats a chainsaw.
Cutting up logs and thick branches, cutting firewood, pollarding and pruning trees, or even felling small trees can take hours using a hand saw, not to mention the physical effort required. A chainsaw does all the hard work for you! But how do you go about choosing the right one? Which chainsaw brands can you trust? Who makes the best chainsaws?
spoiled for choice
Almost everyone has heard of Stihl chainsaws, but they are by no means the only option. There are plenty to choose from, but it’s difficult to know which you can trust.
If you’re new to the world of chainsaws or just need some guidance, take a look at our list of the best chainsaw brands to discover the right tool for you.
We’ve separated them into categories according to their power source to make things easier, and we’ll explore all the features each one has to offer.
Corded Electric Chainsaws
These models are ideal for general garden chores, such as trimming branches and shaping or pruning trees, and they are especially suited to smaller gardens in residential areas as they tend to be quieter and there are no exhaust fumes to worry about.
Electric chainsaws are generally lighter than other types so you can use them for long periods without too much trouble. Also, you don’t need to worry about recharging or topping up with fuel!
Another benefit is that corded electric chainsaws are typically cheaper than petrol or battery-powered models, making them an attractive option for many people.
The main downside is that you have to be connected to the power source at all times, which means you have trailing electric cables and extension cords to watch out for.
Here are a handful of the best electric chainsaw brands and some specific models for you to consider:
Makita is a trusted name in power tools, and if you’re looking for a corded electric chainsaw you could do worse than to choose the Makita UC3551A series.
- 2000w electric motor
- Automatic chain oiling system
- Chain brake and kickback brake
- Electric current limiter to prevent overload
- Speed 14.5 m/sec
- Ergonomic handles
- Large trigger switch for improved control
- Bar length 14 inches (36 cm)
- Tool-less chain tension adjustment lever
- 10-metre cord
- Weight 5.5 kg
This is a great example of why Makita is so popular. It’s a powerful chainsaw that delivers on efficiency and is an excellent tool to invest in. At between £100 and £130, it’s pretty much a bargain, and it’s tempting to say that you don’t need to look further in your search!
However, there are plenty of others to consider that are equally impressive.
Black & Decker Chainsaws
The Black & Decker CS2245-GB is a pretty powerful chainsaw if you anticipate any heavy-duty work.
Although many DIY enthusiasts and tradespeople have mixed opinions about some B&D power tools, this one is a definite hit in online chainsaw reviews. You can see why when you look at the specifications.
- 17-inch bar (45 cm) for extra cutting length
- 2200 watt high torque motor
- Speed 12.5 m/seconds
- Anti-vibration system
- Specially designed chain for reduced kickback
- Fast-acting chain brake (0.15 seconds)
- Integrated automatic lubricating system
- Tool-less chain tension adjustment
If you’re looking for a lightweight chainsaw, this may not be for you. This one weighs 7.7 kg, 2kg more than the Makita mentioned above! However, it’s powerful enough to get the job done quicker, so you won’t need to hold the machine for as long.
On the negative side, the power cable is only 4m long, but this can be overcome using an extension cord.
Another point in its favour is that this model is currently selling for under £100, so if you’re looking for a budget chainsaw this could ideal.
If you’re after a lightweight chainsaw that’s also easy on your wallet, then Hyundai might have the answer!
The HYC1600E offers exceptional build quality for around half the price of competing models.
You may have to compromise on the size of the electric motor, as this is pretty small compared to some others, but it is by no means weak, delivering around 2 horsepower.
Let’s look at some of the other plus points.
- 14-inch bar (35 cm)
- Easy set-up
- Light weight machine at 3.9 kg
- Speed 13 m/second
- Anti-kickback brake
- Tool-free assembly and tensioning
- Toughened steel spiked bumper
Overall, a great choice for lighter work in a small garden if you’re looking for a cheap, reliable chainsaw. Don’t expect to be able to tackle large projects!
The power cable is on the short side, too, at only 3m long. However, as with the Black & Decker chainsaw above, an extension cord will resolve this should you need extra length.
You can pick up one of these little beauties for about £80, which only adds to their appeal!
Another familiar name in power tools, Ryobi has built a reputation for sturdy, well-built and reliable tools.
One excellent example of this is the Ryobi RCS2340B corded electric chainsaw.
- 16-inch bar (40 cm)
- Speed 16 m/second
- 2300 watts
- Weight 4.8 kg
- Anti-vibration system
- Innovative woodchip deflector
- Electrical and mechanical brakes
- Tool-less chain tensioner
- Ergonomic design and wraparound handle for better control, even at odd angles
If you are set on getting a corded electric chainsaw, this is one to add to your list of possibilities as it ticks all the right boxes! It has a good blade length and speed that will get those jobs done in no time.
And at around £130, this electric chainsaw won’t break the bank.
Another brand that’s popular in the US, especially for its gas-powered models, Craftsman chainsaws are robust and durable, and they tend to be pricey.
Even so, we’re suggesting a more reasonable option in one of their corded chainsaws, the CMECS614.
- Weight 3.22 kg
- 14-inch bar (35.5 cm)
- 3.5 horsepower
- 8 amp motor
- Auto-oiling system
- Bolt lock chain tensioning
This is an ideal tool for the urban gardener. It’s lightweight, easy to use and doesn’t make a lot of noise.
One thing to note is that this electric chainsaw has plastic anti-kickback spikes. As with the Worx model mentioned above, this doesn’t necessarily affect the perfomance.
If you can cope with this fact, this is a good little machine. You can find these on sale for around £170, which is a little higher than some of those listed above but it’s still worth keeping in mind.
Battery Powered Chainsaws
Battery-powered tools have come a long way in the last decade, offering power and efficiency almost equal to their corded or petrol-powered counterparts.
A cordless chainsaw also has the mobility of a petrol-powered chainsaw but is generally lighter and easier to handle.
Greenworks Cordless Chainsaw G40CS30
A relative newcomer to the chainsaw market, Greenworks was established in 2007 and has steadily grown its reputation as a leading brand with a focus firmly on reducing reliance on fossil fuels. To this end, they produce good quality cordless, battery-powered tools, including chainsaws, including the G40CS30.
This handy little machine has some attractive qualities.
- Weight 2.74 kg
- Speed 4.3 m/second
- 12-inch bar (30cm)
- Electric brake
- Tool-less tension adjustment
- 40-volt electric motor
If you want a reasonably-priced compact cordless chainsaw, this is one to consider. It’s a compact, lightweight machine that’s astonishingly easy to use, and at a shade under £100 it’s something of a bargain.
Greenworks chainsaws offer a viable alternative to petrol models, even competing with the best brands. Their good-quality electric motors may not pack the same punch, but they are ideal for most domestic garden jobs, especially as they are quiet and don’t produce fumes.
We’re returning to Makita again to look at the DUC355Z as it’s an amazing chainsaw. In fact, it’s hard to find a better battery-powered chainsaw on the market right now.
Although there are many to choose from, the MS181 is well worth a look.
- 14-inch bar (35 cm)
- 36-volt motor powered by two 18v lithium-ion batteries
- Comfortable, soft ergonomic design
- Easy to use
- Effortless cutting
- Kickback brake
- Automatic power-off system (for safety)
- Spike bumper
- Variable speed control
- Brushless motor
This powerful chainsaw easily matches a low-end petrol chainsaw, which is no mean feat!
Makita chainsaws have risen in the rankings over the years, especially when it comes to battery-powered chainsaws. This is due to their investment in battery technology; their batteries are now some of the best in the business.
However, this comes at a price. The DUC355Z is not a cheap chainsaw, coming in at around £220. Even so, it’s well worth the investment.
Oregon is a well-known chainsaw brand, producing powerful saws since 1947, so you can be confident that they know what they’re doing!
They’ve earned a place in our battery-powered chainsaws section with the CS300, which is a serious contender for the best battery-powered option.
You can see why when you take a closer look.
- Brushless motor
- 16-inch bar (40 cm)
- 36-volt lithium-ion battery
- Self-sharpening chain
- Electro-magnetic brake
- Automatic lubrication
- Well-balanced for easy handling
- Weight 5.4 kg with battery
The most impressive feature is the built-in chain sharpener. Simply by pulling a lever, you can sharpen the chain in around three seconds! This provides a highly-efficient cutting edge that lets you rip through the work more quickly.
These machines sell for under £200, which makes them a very attractive option.
This is another name familiar to DIYers and professional tradespeople alike. As you’d expect. Dewalt chainsaws are every bit as reliable as their other power tools, but we are focusing on the DCM565N in particular.
- Speed 7.68 m/second
- Weight 3.6 kg
- 18-volt lithium-ion battery
- Brake (stops the chain in less than one second)
- 12-inch bar (30 cm)
- Automatic oiling system
- Variable speed control using a trigger
- Very well balanced for better control
- Brushless motor delivering 2200 watts
- Quick chain adjustment without tools
This machine is so lightweight and finely balanced that it is possible to operate using only one hand, although for safety reasons this is not recommended!
The high-efficiency motor allows for extended cutting sessions, helped by the light weight of the machine. You can usually find these on sale for around £160 which is a good price for what you’re getting. All in all, a seriously good chainsaw!
Many tradespeople and professionals in the UK have come to rely on the rugged, reliable power tools produced by Worx.
Their chainsaws echo these qualities, with a no-nonsense durability at a reasonable price. While you could spend around £400 for Stihl chainsaws with the same specs, you can pick up a Work model for less than half that amount!
We’re looking specifically at the Worx WG322E range.
- 18-volt motor
- Weight 4.3 kg
- Auto-chain tension
- Auto-lubrication system
- Compact and lightweight
- Optional 3-metre extension bar (for longer reach)
- Speed 3.7 m/second
- Easy to assemble and use
- 9-inch bar (25 cm)
- Quiet motor
This machine is firmly aimed at beginners or those without much experience with chainsaws. That’s great, although you do need to be aware that the anti-kickback spikes are plastic, which some users feel give it a slightly cheap feel.
However, reviews show that these seem to work almost as well as steel ones and at £130 you can’t really complain!
A petrol chainsaw is the ultimate in cordless chainsaws if you’re after that extra bit of power. They are typically more powerful and robust than electric and battery-powered chainsaws, able to handle most large-scale jobs without too much difficulty. Having said that, most aren’t designed for taking down full-grown mature trees! These are made for general garden use.
Petrol chainsaws also require a lot more maintenance than the other models. On top of this, they’re noisy, they kick out a lot of fumes, and some models vibrate a lot, so you need to be aware of this before choosing.
Even so, modern petrol chainsaw brands are highly-efficient and well designed.
Here are some of the best petrol chainsaws on the market right now:
Husqvarna is considered one of the best chainsaw brands around, so it’s no surprise they made it onto our list. There are several that we could mention, but the one that captured our imagination is the Husqvarna 120 mark II.
- Inertia chain brake for safer use
- Speed 16.8 m/seconds
- 38 cc 2 stroke engine delivering 19 horsepower!
- 14-inch bar length
- Very easy set-up with clear instructions
- Weight 4.85 kg
- Low vibration system
- Specially designed system to reduce emissions and fuel consumption
- The air filter doesn’t need cleaning as frequently due to the innovative design called Air Injection
It’s a great all-rounder that comes with a host of extras, including a carry case, along with the excellent customer service we’ve come to expect from this company.
And best of all, this machine is particularly good value at under £200.
No list of the best chainsaw brands is complete without the premium products made by Andreas Stihl and his team.
This brand has earned its place at the top, but nobody can accuse them of resting on their laurels. The MS261 C-M has been enhanced and upgraded with a range of improved features to tempt buyers back to the Stihl brand.
Here’s what you’ll get:
- Cutting performance increased by 20% on previous models
- Anti-vibration system
- In-built technology to improve air and fuel mixture
- Available with 14, 16 or 18-inch bar (35.5, 40.5 or 46 cm)
- Captive nuts for easy removal without losing small parts
- Electronic engine management system to ensure consistent performance and efficiency in all conditions
- Advanced air filter with quick-release lock
- Easy starting system
- Powerful 50 cc engine
- Easy-open fuel and oil filler caps
- Automatic chain lubrication
And this doesn’t cover everything! All these impressive specs come at a price though: the MS261 C-M will set you back between £530 and £580 depending on where you shop.
However, you are paying for a premium chainsaw brand and you can be sure that it won’t let you down.
While they may not be as familiar in the UK as some names, Echo chainsaws have been around since 1963!
They deserve better recognition, at least as much as they get in the US where they are prized for their gas chainsaws.
In particular, we’d like to draw your attention to the Echo CS-310ES. The ‘ES’ stands for Easy Start, and that’s just one attractive feature, making the starting process incredibly simple -even on cold days!
Here’s what else you can expect:
- 30.5 cc two-stroke engine
- 14-inch bar (35 cm)
- Greater fuel efficiency
- Reduced exhaust emissions
- Enhanced power capability
- Weight 5 kg
- Inertia brake
- Top-mounted air filter
This really deserves its place among the best chainsaws, especially when we’re talking about a gas chainsaw list.
Just to confirm, gas-powered models are petrol-powered. You may come across listings for gas chainsaws, even in the UK. None of them run on gas! It’s an American term that’s short for gasoline, which is known as petrol here in the UK. You probably knew that already, but it’s best to be clear!
So, back to Echo chainsaws and the CS-310ES. This model is easy to use, comfortable to hold, and highly manoeuvrable. It has one of the best power-to-weight ratios on the market and is a very durable machine. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better one for the price, which will be somewhere between £200 and £240.
We’re returning to Hyundai to mention the HYC6200X and you could say we saved the best until last!
This amazing machine gives Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws a run for their money. Check out these specifications to see why:
- Weight 7 kg
- 20-inch bar (50.8 cm)
- 62 cc 2-stroke engine
- Low fuel consumption and emissions
- Automatic lubrication system
- Easy-start system with soft recoil
- Anti-vibration handles
- Ergonomic design for extra comfort
All of this means that the HYC6200X can handle bigger tasks, such as felling larger trees as well as tackling general gardening chores. It’s an all-purpose tool that justifies Hyundai’s reputation as a top chainsaw brand.
What’s more, this model sells for around £160 which is exceptional value for money. If you’re after a petrol chainsaw, then this is definitely one that should be at the top of your list.
Now we’ve looked at some of the best chainsaws out there, let’s take a moment to find out a bit more about choosing one.
What To Look Out For Before Buying
It’s essential to do some research before buying a chainsaw and to consider some of the following points.
The bar is the metal plate that holds the chain in place. These bars are different lengths depending on the model, though most tend to be between 12 and 20 inches (30 to 51 cm).
You measure the bar from the very tip right up to where it enters the body of the chainsaw, and this is also known as the cutting length.
Bear in mind that the longer the bar length, the heavier the chainsaw will be. This will impact how long you can comfortably hold the tool before needing a rest.
Bars of up to 72 inches (182 cm) are available, although these are usually for professional chainsaws used by landscape gardeners and tree surgeons.
As with all power tools, safe use is essential. Chainsaws are particularly dangerous if not used with caution, and some brands fit special features to make the tools safer to use.
Many chainsaw models have anti-kickback spikes (also called metal bucking spikes). These stick into whatever you are cutting and stop the tool from bouncing up towards your face or veering off to hit your legs, causing severe (and sometimes fatal) injuries.
the dangers of kickback
Kickback occurs when the upper edge of the tip of the chain hits a heavy object (like a large log). It may initially bite into the wood, but this causes a violent physical reaction, sending the bar upwards at great speed – usually too fast to do anything about it. The face, head, shoulders and neck are usually the areas most affected.
putting on the breaks
As well as anti-kickback spikes, you might also want to select a model with a chain brake, as this springs into action much like a seatbelt in a car, potentially saving you from catastrophic injury. The brake clamps on the clutch drum or drive sprocket to stop the chain from moving. Most are so efficient that the chain will stop almost immediately.
It’s important to note that all chainsaws sold in the UK should have a brake fitted. You may come across reviews for certain models (including some on our list!) stating that they don’t have chain brakes fitted. These are mistaken, assuming that reviewer is looking at a genuine chainsaw brand item. If in doubt, check with the seller before buying. And if you do come across a model without a brake, avoid it at all costs.
A broken or derailed chain isn’t just inconvenient, it can also cause serious injury. This feature grabs the chain before it can do any damage.
Usually a right-hand guard (sorry, lefties!), designed to protect your hand from the chain if the chain catcher fails (or one isn’t fitted).
This device stops you from accelerating the engine/motor accidentally. This gives you control over the machine and confidence to operate it safely.
Your chainsaw must have an obvious and easily accessible off switch to power-down the machine in an emergency situation.
Any well-known chainsaw brand will have most of these, if not all of them.
First, it’s essential to note that bigger doesn’t always mean better! You don’t really need a super-powerful chainsaw for small to medium-sized gardens and small-scale projects. If you’ll be mostly cutting firewood or pruning thinner branches then you won’t need anything too big.
Electric chainsaws are measured in watts and battery-operated chainsaws by voltage, while petrol-powered chainsaws are rated by engine size in cubic centimetres, with most being between 32 and 45 cc. The higher the cc, the more powerful the engine.
There are three types of chainsaw to choose from – petrol, electric and battery-powered.
The choice is entirely yours, but each type has its uses, benefits and drawbacks:
A petrol chainsaw needs more maintenance, kicks out polluting fumes, is extremely noisy and you need to store flammable liquids somewhere safe. However, these machines are highly effective, robust, and durable.
A battery-powered chainsaw is very portable but needs recharging to keep working efficiently. Modern technology has produced some excellent long-lasting batteries, but there are limits! It’s wise to buy two batteries so you can charge one while using the other, but this is obviously more expensive.
Corded chainsaws are great for smaller gardens. They are lightweight and easy to operate. You don’t have to worry about fumes or too much noise, or having to constantly recharge or refuel. You do have to watch that cable though, and you’re limited by its length unless you use an extension cord.
This, as you may have gathered, is the speed at which the chain moves around the chain guard. The faster the chain, the more efficient the cut and the quicker the work is done.
Automatic Chain Oiler
A handy feature that ensures smooth cutting and reduces wear and tear on the chain. This saves you from having to keep lubricating the chain and means that the chain should last longer before being replaced.
Chains often stretch during use and become loose, so it’s essential to tighten them to avoid an accident as a loose chain may slip off the guide bar.
Some chainsaw models require a tool of some kind to adjust the chain tension, which can be fiddly and involved. Many of those on our list incorporate a system that allows you to adjust the tension easily without having to use a tool.
Think about what you’ll be using the tool for and be sensible about how much weight you can hold. Most chainsaws weigh between 3.5 to 7.5 kg (8 to 16.5 lb) and while this might not seem too heavy your arms will soon tire while cutting for any length of time.
In general, corded chainsaws tend to be lighter and petrol models heavier, though there are exceptions. With battery-powered chainsaws, those with lithium-ion batteries will be lighter.
Best Chainsaw Brands: In Conclusion
So, which is the best chainsaw brand? It’s difficult to say! Stihl chainsaws are still widely recognised as the leading brand, though it’s clear that others are rapidly catching up, offering equally good models, often at more competitive prices.
Husqvarna chainsaws are also up there with Stihl, and deservedly so. But once again, there are other brands that are serious contenders these days.
On a side note, you can also trust Poulan chainsaws as they are owned by Husqvarna so you can expect a similar quality and reliability. However, you may struggle to find them on sale in the UK as they don’t seem to be as accessible as some other brands.
Now let’s try to recap what we have learned!
Unless you really need a heavy-duty chainsaw, most homeowners would be advised to invest in a decent battery-powered chainsaw. These are far superior to early versions, adequately coping with general garden jobs, such as trimming branches, cutting firewood, and even felling smaller trees.
A battery-powered chainsaw is a sensible option for many reasons:
- They are portable and generally lightweight (especially if they use a lithium-ion battery)
- Cordless chainsaws are not as noisy as petrol models
- They don’t produce fumes
- The advanced battery technology gives increased cutting power for longer
- They can be recharged quickly (if you have more than one you can rotate them, charging one and using the other)
- The batteries can often be used in other tools
- They require less maintenance than gas chainsaws
As we’ve seen, Makita and Dewalt have produced some excellent battery chainsaws, although Oregon, Hyundai and Greenworks are definitely worth a shot.
While there’s nothing wrong with corded chainsaws, you don’t have the same freedom as you do with a battery-powered model. However, the electric corded chainsaw still has an advantage over the petrol chainsaw in that it is easy to maintain, it doesn’t produce fumes, it isn’t as noisy, and is typically lighter.
In our list, Makita and Black & Decker chainsaws made the grade, although Ryobi and Hyundai probably have the edge in terms of value for money.
If you have a large garden with mature trees you might need a powerful chainsaw, in which case a petrol chainsaw could be the answer.
Compared with older gas models, today’s petrol chainsaws are more efficient, more powerful and much safer to use. Modern technology has taken onboard concerns about pollution and the potential damage from vibrations.
Even so, you still have more maintenance and you’ll need to store liquid petroleum safely, so you’ll have an ever-present fire hazard to be aware of.
If this isn’t too much of an issue for you, then by all means go ahead and get a petrol chainsaw.
We mentioned Husqvana, Stihl and Echo, and all of these are perfect examples of good brands. But, for sheer value for money and astonishing cutting power, you’d be well advised to go for the Hyundai.
The Last Word
To finish up, here’s a handy tip that might save you from inconvenience and hassle: don’t buy a no-frills chainsaw! You can find un-branded or little-known chainsaw brands on places like eBay and Amazon, but they should be avoided. At the very least, they won’t have the same warranty as any of the main brands.
While a cheap chainsaw might appeal, it won’t be as well-made as any of the brands we’ve mentioned in this article. And some won’t include the safety systems that reduce the risk of injury, or any of the other technological advances that make the quality brands so appealing.
So, take advantage of the high-tech models and choose a reasonably-priced option offered by a known brand.
Finally, even though modern chainsaws are made as safe as possible, always use appropriate safety gear when operating your machine. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll injure yourself, is it really worth taking the risk, for the sake of wearing protective clothing?