Best Gas Chainsaw Picks: Power Hungry, Cutting Machines
Chainsaws are an awesome addition to your tool collection for when you have the need for both property management, and DIY building projects. My interest in chainsaws started when I was receiving my degree in Forestry, and felt I needed to understand the industry from the bottom up. And as a wildland firefighter, it didn’t take long before I found a few personal favorites makes and models for various jobs.
Of course, I have a healthy respect for any quality saw, whether gas or electric powered, but when I want a portable, durable, lifelong product for moderate to heavy-duty jobs- a gas-powered saw is always my go to. Below I’ve provided a list of current popular gas chainsaws geared more towards homeowner use. Although there are many more available products, this short list provides a good example of what you may want to consider for your own needs.
Table of Contents
- What do you plan to use the chainsaw for?
- How much experience do you have with a chainsaw?
- Are you aware of the safety features of your saw?
- Tanaka 32.2cc 14-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw
- Homdox 20″ 52CC Chainsaw
- Husqvarna 450 18-Inch Gas Powered Chain Saw
- Echo CS-400 18″ Gas Chainsaw
- Poulan Pro 50cc Gas Powered Chain Saw
Chainsaws are a popular choice to have available for a wide variety of jobs. They are quite the handy tool for cutting any sort of vegetation, and with the power a gas engine lends to the chain, you have a serious cutting machine to make short work of anything requiring pruning, cutting down, or cut to length. They also are handy when it comes to any sort of construction work, as chainsaws can be used with attachments for measuring, planning, and milling- amongst other things.
They also come in a wide variety of sizes and are available to fit just about any budget. With proper care and storage, many gas chainsaws can last a lifetime, making them a great investment. Over time, these are tools that can save you a lot of time and effort, and aide in all sorts of property management, DIY, or even crafting projects you may have.
If chainsaw safety is a concern, consider the fact that over 95% of chainsaw accidents are due to improper use and poor safety measures. Chainsaw safety classes are easy to sign up for a local extension service offices, and you might be surprised at how many people know who could give you some hands-on guidance until you become comfortable working with the tool.
Gas powered chainsaws are actually a very simple design. Although they do require care and maintenance, they work from a very simple premise which makes this an easy task. Gas saws are powered by a 2-stroke engine that creates a strong force to create rapid piston movement in order to provide energy to the drive shaft. Controlled by the clutch, when released energy to the gears power the socket upon which the chain is connected to a guide bar.
Proper air intake through the filter and a good spark for combustion is required for the entire process to occur, but it is a very common process used in much smaller power-driven equipment found for home maintenance and construction purposes. The engine requires a gas and oil mixture to run correctly as well.
Although you may have a different reservoir for bar and chain oil, do not confuse it with the oil your engine needs to run. Bar and chain oil is specifically for the chains as it spins upon the guide bar. This is what keeps it lubricate and helps it from overheating and binding up.
Your 2-stroke engine needs to be fueled by a gas and synthetic oil mixture ratio of 50:1 or 32:1 (or anything in between). Always be sure to check your owners manual for which is needed for your particular model, although either mixture will work with most saws. One may run cleaner and better than the other and sometimes you need to play a bit to see which works the best- but if in doubt always use what is suggested by the manufacturer.
Also- using a premium gasoline of at least 89 is recommended to avoid elevated temperatures and piston seizure over time. When mixing, add the oil to the approved container before the gas to mix it well, and be sure to shake your mixture up before each use.
Gas powered chainsaws come in an amazing array of engine and chain sizes. Larger engines obviously are more powerful, and can handle larger bar and chains- but most engines can handle various bar sizes if you feel the need to swap out shorter chains for longer ones, or vise versa. Smaller bars are obviously better for more compact, light to moderate work, with larger ones required for large tree cutting and heavy duty jobs. On average, chainsaw engines for home use will fall between 30 and 50cc and support 10 to 20-inch bars.
Many gas saws also often have the ability to work with various attachments for different types of woodworking jobs. Although there is some that work just fine with electric models, occasionally there may not be enough power, or the correct setup to support certain attachments.
Debarkers clean logs for cutting, and beam and milling machines allow properly sized cuts for structural boards, planks, and beams. This is incredibly helpful for your own DIY projects and can save a lot of money in the long run. Some saws also have the capability to attach to poles for extended reach. Or can be bought as a separate machine when pruning and trimming higher areas is a need.
- Wear the correct safety gear. This includes eye and ear protection, gloves, boots, and kevlar chaps that are cut resistant and will jam a blade that it comes in contact with.
- Stand in a boxing stance with your dominant foot forward, to the side of the cut, and be sure you are well balanced.
- Keep both hands on the saw, and never take your eyes off the blade while you cut.
- Plan your cut and know where the bar will exit the cut. It isn’t where you start, it is where you finish that is important.
- The top of your chainsaw bar at the tip is called the chainsaw kickback zone. Because of the rotation of the chain, if you suddenly come in contact with a hard object you risk allowing the bar to kick back towards you. Always be mindful of this zone as you cut, even if you have special chains and features to help keep this from happening, and do not stand directly behind the blade.
Regular maintenance and basic care is a necessity to keep your saw running for as long as you need it. Quality saws should run for a long time, with obvious engine wear and tear is the only reason you would want to replace it as it ages with regular use.
To avoid your saw from burning out prematurely, all you need is to invest a little time and care each and every time you use it. First off, always make sure you are using proper gas and oil fuel mixture ratios, and also that you are using bar and chain oil to ensure the engine runs properly and smoothly.
After each use, be sure to clean your saw of the dirt and sawdust that will accumulate, and stick to the oil ports, guide bar grooves, and even around the power sprocket (easily accessible under the cover). Also, check the sharpness of the chain as dulled edges will work less efficiently and place the strain on the motor as it has to run longer to get the job done. Also always check for bad links, wear, and damage.
Your air filter and spark plug should also be checked and cleaned regularly. A clean spark plug with a correct gap will work more efficiently overall, and a free flow of air helps make your engine run smoothly. When either of these gets too dirty, it places unnecessary strain on the engine or could keep it from starting altogether.
Replacing your fuel every 2 months or so, and cleaning the fuel filter is a great way to ensure you are getting a clean running engine each time. To do so, simply drain the tank, and fish out the screen to rinse with a solvent before replacing.
Look at the rest of the saw and parts and clean as needed as well. Cooling fins, the exhaust system, oiler, and carburetor could all do with a periodic cleaning and adjustment.
Obviously, you will want to seriously consider your sues for a chainsaw prior to purchase. The wide range of models and price ranges reflected within them should be taken into account in order to get the best saw for your job.
What do you plan to use the chainsaw for?
Are you simply looking for regular property maintenance, or are you a weekend warrior out cutting firewood on a regular basis? The strength of your saw should reflect the jobs you need it for. Larger, more powerful saws will go to waste on small pruning and trimming activities- plus, you will become fatigued under the weight and power they exert. But if you want a saw that can handle your wooded lot, then you may want something more powerful.
How much experience do you have with a chainsaw?
Gas saws are generally significantly more powerful than their electric counterparts (although there are some seriously powerful electric versions out there). If you have little, or no chainsaw experience, you may want to consider informing yourself of safety hazards, safety tips, and proper handling techniques prior to use. Classes are often offered to this effect, and those familiar with chainsaws are usually very helpful in sharing their tips as well.
Are you aware of the safety features of your saw?
Basically, this asks if you know how to use your particular saw. Each saw is going to run pretty much the same, but with slight variances in features and safety offerings. Not every saw has a wrap around handle, however, and if you are used to one- but now do not have one, that can significantly impact your comfort and cutting efficiency. Moving from a low kickback blade design, chain brake differences, and vibration impaction can all make or break a decision surrounding a model purchase.
- Weight: 12.4 lbs
- Bar Length: 14 inch
- Power: 32.2 cc
- Warranty: 7 year
This Tanaka is a homeowners dream. With a perfectly powerful 32.2cc engine and 14-inch bar, everything from light work to the occasional heavy job can be taken care of with relative ease. The Pure Fire Engine is made specifically for powerful performance, ultra-low emissions, and less fuel consumption- making it highly efficient. Automatic oiler and side access tensioning allow for quick adjustments and maintenance while you work.
Low kickback, anti-vibration, a top-handle, wrap around grip, and other beneficial features provide easy startup and use to provide less fatigue during use. At only 12.4 lbs in weight, it is a great saw for using larger jobs that require consistent trimming and pruning- and is perfect for large loads of firewood. It also has a built-in ring for safety climbing purposes, as the lightweight design is conducive to lifting.
- Awesome for climbing needs
- Very economical
- Surprisingly powerful
- May over oil
- Air cleaner cover not snug and can fall off
Perfect for residential use, this is a small, handy saw that is compact enough for any small cutting you need to take care of without worry of fatigue. It also has the power and capabilities to handle larger, more complex jobs when you need to ability to do so.
- Weight: 17.6 lbs
- Bar Length: 18-22 inch capabilities
- Power: 52cc
- Warranty: minimum of 2 years
Although not one of the more recognized chainsaw brands, Homdox (also sold under the store name Meditool) offers an extremely powerful, and durable chainsaw for home use that has gained some serious recognition. The powerful 52cc engine rivals some of the most powerful names in the business, and with a durable 20-inch bar, this is a tool that can handle heavy jobs with no problem. Compatible with both 18 inches and 22-inch bars, you can change out these options to better fit the job you have in mind.
An assist starting system, a quick stopping control, low kickback bar and chain, and anti-vibration technology provides a more comfortable work experience. With 70% fewer emissions and 20% less fuel consumption, this saw is designed with residential use in mind for a more efficient, quieter, long-running gas engine. Plus, the weight of the saw (minus bar and chain) is come in under 18 lbs, making it a fairly light weight saw for the engine size.
- Interchangeable bar length
- Long lasting and extremely durable
- Impressive power
- Oil may leak into the storage
This is a large, powerful tool and is best used for moderate to heavy work. It is also an excellent choice for serious woodworking and tree cutting. Although it may not necessarily be considered a professional grade choice, it does have the power to rival one for property owner use.
- Weight: 10.8 lbs
- Bar Length: 18 inch
- Power: 50.22cc
- Warranty: up to 4 years with registration
Husqvarna chainsaws are a leading industry standard, and I am lucky enough to get to showcase the availability of a model that is built specifically for powerful home use. The 450 model boasts a 50.2 cc engine, and 18-inch bar for long-lasting, efficient cutting in moderate to heavy situations. Plus, the X-Torq engine is designed to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency, an important consideration in residential settings.
Smart start and a combined choke/stop control equal further efficiency as well as a safety feature for an easy shutdown. The chain brake is inertia activated as well for further peace of mind. Maintenance is also made easier with a snap-lock cylinder cover for durability, and easy access. The centrifugal air cleaning system also allows the saw to run more effectively as it cleans itself out, saving you time in the long run on maintenance.
- Great for landowners who need regular tree maintenance solutions
- Cuts smoothly and quickly
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Check for correct chain installment- factory installed maybe backward
- Oil flow not adjustable
This is an excellent heavy duty saw for landowners who do not cut regularly. At only 10.8 lbs it works well in climbing situations as well. And the bar size can work with other complaint sizes.
- Weight: 10.1lb
- Bar Length: 18 inch
- Power: 40.2cc
- Warranty: 5 year
Echo Chainsaws are known for their reliability and easy performance. This 40.2cc, 18-inch saw is another model made specifically for durable homeowner use. Considered highly reliable, affordable, and efficient, the simple design allows for long-lasting work. At only 10.1 lbs, this is a great size to handle light to moderate work, with the occasional heavy cutting job thrown in for good measure.
Once started, the reduced effort starting works well, and with a low kickback, reduced vibration, and easy wrap around grip and chain brake- you are all set to start cutting right out of the box after the addition of fuel and chain oil. The easy to follow manual allows you to use your saw correctly and keep it properly maintained as well.
- Very reliable
- Easy to use
- Popular with, and recommended by, well-versed chainsaw owners
- Hard to start the first time
- May work better with a smaller bar
This is a great choice to consider as a reliable tool to have available for a variety of cutting jobs. The lightweight design and moderately powerful little motor allow you to cut through your work with ease.
- Weight: 17.8 lbs
- Bar Length: 20 inch
- Power: 50cc
- Warranty: 2 years
This is a saw that keeps popping up on our lists of best saws as a highly rated, affordable, and recommended tool. Known as a durable brand name, Poulan Pro’s 50cc Saw has a 20-inch bar and is made specifically for moderate to large job homeowner use. Chain brakes, a wrap around handle, and low kickback allows for easy use in any home or property situation that requires powerful cutting. The OxyPower engine also means you have a cleaner running, more powerful engine and fewer emissions in residential areas.
Made for easy home use, fast filter access, easy start systems, and a combi-tool for chain tension and cleaning are stored directly in the handle. A combined choke/stop control is an additional safety feature that works helps avoid flooding the engine and ensures an easy start every time.
- Very powerful and durable
- Starts easily
- Idles nicely
- The bar is a bit flexible but can be changed
- Ignition modules may have issues (covered under warranty)
This is a power hungry machine that can handle regular heavy cutting with ease. If you have heavy property maintenance or cut firewood and other large loads regularly, this is worth considering.
As mentioned, there are many makes and models in the industry, not all that are represented here. Finding what works best for you truly should require a little bit of research, but for light to heavy duty homeowner use- the top 5 we have highlighted are due to positive consumer review, high overall ratings, and current chainsaw availability.
I can always appreciate a well-built machine and have learned that brand names are not always an indicator of the best tool for the job. Consumer experience and reviews are excellent ways to determine if something will work for you- hence the list of the top 5 provided above. With that being said, my personal pick is the Husqvarna 450 18-Inch Gas Powered Chain Saw due to the added features for easy maintenance and care, powerful cutting force, and long-lasting reliability.
If you have any questions pertaining to the above models or have a favorite gas powered chainsaw you would like to share, please leave your comments below. And, as always, please share!