Best Gas Chainsaw

Overall, the best gas chainsaw on the market today is the Hitachi CS33EB16. It’s a great machine, with a strong design that makes it a fine choice for work in your garden, and also suitable for occasional heavier work. It’s fairly light and compact, easy to use, and has a range of features, such as soft-grip handles and tool-free tensioning, that make it especially user-friendly. If you’re looking for a chainsaw for heavy, professional use, you might need something a bit bigger and more powerful. But for most people’s needs, this model will be more than sufficient.

Hitachi CS33EB16 16-Inch 32.2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Rear Handle Chain Saw

Top Pick: Hitachi CS33EB16

Our Top Pick is the Hitachi CS33EB16, based on the assumption that what most chainsaw buyers are looking for is an all-rounder – a decent, mid-range saw that can be relied on to perform standard level cutting jobs such as trimming and chopping wood. This describes the Hitachi CS33EB16 perfectly. It’s not a specialist machine, but it is a durable and reliable gas chainsaw that will give you good service for years. This chainsaw is excellent value for money.

The Step-up Pick is aimed at those who are looking for a top-of-the-range product, and are willing to pay a correspondingly higher price. Our Step-up Pick is the Husqvarna 460 Rancher. It’s a serious power tool, suitable for heavy, regular use. This premium quality item comes with a premium price tag
but this is an investment worth making if you have to maintain woodland, fell trees and chop wood, as the Rancher’s construction and performance is second to none.

The Budget Pick, as its name suggests, describes a lower-priced product, but one that nonetheless maintains high standards. It’s suitable for those who are looking for a chainsaw that performs really well, but that is a bit easier on the wallet. Our Budget Pick is Poulan P3314. It’s the least powerful chainsaw out of our Top Picks, but it performs really well nonetheless and is perfectly sufficient for tasks such as slicing firewood and tree branches.

Why choose a gas chainsaw?

When buying a chainsaw, probably the first decision you will make is between gas and electric. Of course, both types have their own advantages and disadvantages, and are suitable for different contexts.

In general, gas chainsaws are the more powerful – if you compare a gas and an electric chainsaw of similar size and weight, the gas chainsaw will have a better power-to-weight ratio. This ratio is very important, as it indicates how productive you’ll be when working with the chainsaw. A great chainsaw will maximize this ratio in its design, so you’ll be able to get as much done as possible over any given time period.

On the other hand, gas chainsaws create smoke, and tend to be noisier than electric ones. For this reason, the electric option is often preferable for those carrying out simple garden jobs. However, gas saws give more sustained power, and are the better choice for challenging, longer-term work.

Another very important factor is that gas-powered chainsaws don’t require electric leads, whereas electric ones do. This obviously means increased mobility for gas chainsaws, which can be very important if you’re working with your saw over a big area of terrain.
Overall, gas chainsaws are generally the better option for sustained, demanding use, whereas electric chainsaws may be suitable for more casual use.

Chainsaw safety guide

It’s important to take proper care when using any power tool, to avoid injuries and accidents. Of course, by their nature, chainsaws are among the most dangerous tools of all, if used improperly – they involve sharp metal teeth moving at high speed near your body, as well as small pieces of wood flying out unexpectedly, and branches and trunks under high levels of tension. The potential for injury while using a chainsaw is high. Here are some brief hints on safe chainsaw use, for those who are inexperienced with this tool, or even as a reminder for those who are.

Whenever you use your saw, you should wear a full set of protective equipment. This includes eye protection, ear protection, sturdy boots, tough gloves, and long sleeves and pants. If you are felling a tree, you should wear a hard hat. A good option for overall head protection is a bespoke chainsaw helmet, which features a face-protecting mesh as well as ear muffs. For further protection, you could invest in chainsaw chaps. These are garments designed for body protection, featuring a Kevlar layer to guard your skin in the event of an accident.

Before you start the saw, make sure that both the gas and bar oil reservoirs are full, and that the chain, bar, handles and controls are all in good working order. Then, you can start it either on the ground, or holding it between your legs. In both cases, the first thing you need to do is make sure that the chain brake is engaged, by pushing the handle forward. Then check the choke is on, and that the start switch is on. To start the saw on the ground, use your left hand to grip the handlebar while the saw is flat on the ground, brace the saw against your right leg by placing your right foot on the handle next to the throttle trigger, and pull the starter rope. Wait for the saw to ‘pop’ after a couple of pulls, then disengage the choke before pulling the rope once more. At this point, the saw should start smoothly, and in a controlled way.

To start the saw between your legs, hold it carefully between your thighs, with the rear of the saw braced by your right leg, while your left leg squeezes it in place. Then follow the same actions as for the ground start.

While handling the saw, make sure that your footing is always solid and stable, and watch out for tripping hazards on the ground. Keep a sturdy, upright posture and don’t overreach with the saw. Always keep a firm grip on the saw, with your thumb wrapped firmly around the handle. These common sense measures should keep you safe while using the tool.
To avoid kickback, you should always try to position the saw with the bottom edge of the bar first. Leading with the top corner of the bar can cause the saw to bounce back uncontrollably if the bar hits an extra hard object, or is pinched.

You need to maintain your chainsaw properly to ensure smooth, accident-free use over the long term. Some advice on this is included in the ‘Frequently asked questions’ section of this article.

Criteria for our picks

Several factors need to be taken into consideration to choose a chainsaw that’s right for you. We have based our picks on the following criteria, and selected those gas chainsaws that achieve a good overall balance of price and performance – bang for your buck.

Of course, safety is the most important consideration of all when considering the purchase of any power tool. We have assessed a large range of gas chainsaws on their safety, and all of the saws on our list are designed very much with safety in mind. As well as smooth, problem-free action, they all feature failsafe options such as safety brakes and stop buttons, which ensure that accidents can be easily avoided as long as the tools are used properly.

We’ve considered gas chainsaws across the board with regard to price. The market ranges from around a hundred dollars at the cheapest end, to several hundred at the most expensive. Naturally, bigger and more powerful chainsaws tend to be more expensive than smaller ones. For our list, we’ve focused mainly on the middle of this spectrum, and have chosen gas chainsaws with mid-range price tags, that nonetheless offer a good range of features and represent great value for money.

Power and performance
The power of a chainsaw is determined by its motor, and the size of its bar. We’ve evaluated the relative power of each gas chainsaw, and also considered its power to weight ratio, as the balance between these two factors determines how good actually working with the chainsaw is. Of course, each user’s needs vary, and a small, streamlined chainsaw might be suitable for one person, while another needs a bigger, more powerful saw.

Range of features
This refers to additional design features, beyond safety and the power to weight ratio, which improve the chainsaw by making it easier to use or more efficient. Examples include anti-vibration systems and maintenance features.

Our top pick

Top Pick: Hitachi CS33EB16 16-Inch 32.2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Rear Handle Chain Saw

Hitachi CS33EB16 16-Inch 32.2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Rear Handle Chain Saw

Top Pick: Hitachi CS33EB16

The Hitachi CS33EB16 gets our Top Pick spot because we feel that it achieves the best balance of quality and price – in other words, the best bang for your buck. Its 32.2cc, 1.6 hp engine is not as powerful as some on the market, but it is commercial grade, and more than adequate for the needs of most users. It’s a pretty lightweight machine, at 11.5 lbs, so its power-to-weight ratio is good. You can manage to be highly productive, even over long periods of time, with the Hitachi CS33EB16; your fatigue will be reduced by its efficiency, and minimized further still by its 5-point anti-vibration system, which makes the saw really comfortable to use.

The Hitachi CS33EB16 has a 16′ bar and chain, which gives great cutting performance and reduces kickback. The chain also features 2-bar mounting studs to keep its cutting efficiency at peak level, and the saw also has a side access chain tensioner, so the chain can be adjusted quickly and easily when necessary. The tensioner is a feature especially worth having, as saw chains tend to tighten a lot, particularly when you first start using them, and having to tighten them again and again can really become a nuisance.

This saw also scores highly when it comes to safety. Firstly, its design features a dual trigger (also known as ‘trigger lockout’), which means that a pair of trigger components both need to be held in to start the chainsaw, minimizing the likelihood of accidents. A stop button is combined with the choke, so it’s easy to reach. Finally, the Hitachi CS33EB16 features a chain brake which can be activated either manually, or by inertia – in case anything does go wrong, the brake will automatically and immediately stop chain rotation. This greatly reduces the risk of injuries caused by chainsaw kickback.

This is a very solid chainsaw, ideal for cutting firewood, pruning and hobby work. Yet another great aspect is its warranty – Hitachi offer a seven year consumer warranty with all their outdoor power equipment, which is the best warranty deal in the industry.
The vast majority report positive user experiences, and that the Hitachi CS33EB16 is a reliable and durable machine.

Flaws but not deal breakers

There aren’t really any glaring flaws to be found in the Hitachi CS33EB16. One thing that should be noted is that this machine isn’t really suitable for sustained, long-term professional work – it’s a saw for working in your garden, trimming branches, chopping wood and felling the occasional tree. If you do need a saw for professional forestry work, you should invest in a heavier, more powerful machine. This isn’t really a flaw of the the Hitachi CS33EB16, as it performs very well in the niche for which it was designed. For the majority of users, who want a good all-round machine for the right price, the Hitachi CS33EB16 comes highly recommended.

A few users seem to have received products that didn’t work, but this has only happened in a handful of cases, which suggests a fault in a particular batch rather than an overall issue. Hitachi seem to be fairly good about replacements if you are unlucky enough that this happens to you.

Our step-up pick

Step-up Pick: Husqvarna 460 Rancher 20-Inch 60.3cc 2-Stoke X-Torq Gas Powered Chain Saw

Husqvarna 460 Rancher 20-Inch 60.3cc 2-Stoke X-Torq Gas Powered Chain Saw

Husqvarna 460 Rancher 20-Inch 60.3cc 2-Stoke X-Torq Gas Powered Chain Saw

Husqvarna is the original chainsaw manufacturer. They have been making tools for hundreds of years, and introduced the first chainsaw in 1959. Since then they have enjoyed a well-earned reputation as industry leaders, producing high-end power tools that perform excellently and are built to last. The 460 Rancher is our pick from their range of chainsaws, and it’s one of the best models on the market today.

What puts this chainsaw ahead of its competitors is its high quality construction and a range of great features. The first thing to consider is the 460 Rancher’s great engine. At 60.3cc, it’s as powerful as some road bikes, but its X-Torq design means that it can also deliver efficient fuel consumption and lower exhaust emission levels, reducing the pollution caused by the chainsaw. This engine, combined with a 20-inch bar, makes the 460 Rancher the biggest and most powerful chainsaw on our list, giving maximum torque through the rev range. In spite of this, it’s a, astonishingly light machine, clocking in at under 13 lbs, which also gives it an amazing power to weight ratio.

You start the chainsaw using a traditional physical pull mechanism, and Husqvarna’s ‘Smart Start’ starter is designed to start the machine quickly and with minimum effort. Other features that help the saw to start easily include an air purge, which removes air from the carburetor and fuel system, a cylinder decompression valve, and a combined choke / stop control, which also reduces the risk of engine flooding.

During operation, the 460 Rancher’s continuously high performance is ensured by an air injection centrifugal air cleaning system. This removes larger particles before they reach the machine’s air filter, which means that air filter cleanings are required less often and the engine’s life is increased. It’s comfortable to use, due to an ergonomically designed front handle, which gives a strong grip and is offset at 7∞; this reduces fatigue, as does the saw’s highly effective anti-vibration system.

Maintenance of the 460 Rancher is similarly well-designed and convenient. The oil pump is adjustable, allowing you to control the oil flow, so you can make adjustments according to weather conditions and application. A snap-lock cylinder cover gives easy access to the spark plug and air filter, making routine maintenance much easier. Another great feature is the side-mounted chain tensioner. A three-piece crankshaft is forged to give maximum durability, even in the toughest conditions, and the side mount makes access to the chain tensioning device much easier.

Finally, this chainsaw is designed to ensure safety as well. Its inertia-activated chain brake works really well, and minimizes the danger if you do lose control of the saw. The 460 Rancher comes with a 2 year warranty, and Husqvarna are currently offering a deal whereby this warranty is increased to 4 years at no extra cost, if you buy the saw together with 3 32 oz cans of Husqvarna pre-mix fuel.

This chainsaw is a more powerful tool than the casual, home user is likely to need. However, if you’re looking for a professional quality chainsaw that is suitable for heavy, sustained forestry work, then the 460 Rancher is the saw for you.

Our budget pick

Budget Pick: Poulan P3314 14-Inch 33cc 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Chain Saw

Poulan P3314 14-Inch 33cc 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Chain Saw
Poulan P3314 14-Inch 33cc 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Chain Saw

The Poulan P3314 is a nice gas chainsaw, and a good option if you want a garden saw at a low cost. For a little over a hundred dollars, you get a decent power tool with a good range of features. Its starting mechanism is designed for convenience, with a primer bulb and pulley starting system. It has a gear-driven automatic oiler, which keeps its bar and chain lubricated at all times. Another strength is Poulan’s unique ‘SuperClean’ air filter system, which keeps the air filter in good condition for longer.

This saw has a couple of good safety features as well. The bar and chain are designed for reduced kickback, and even if kickback still occurs, the inertia-operated chain brake (common to so many saws), with improved sensitivity to movement, reduces the danger risk. The saw comes with a 2 year warranty, which protects you against short term problems.
Admittedly the Poulan P3314 doesn’t have the best power to weight ratio – with a 33cc engine and a 14 inch bar, it tips the scales at 16 lbs. This means that you might find it difficult to use for sustained periods or heavy work, but at the price it’s perfect for light cutting jobs around the garden. Nonetheless, several users report that they use the Poulan P3314 successfully for work beyond its ‘casual garden’ remit, suggesting that it can be pushed past this limit to some extent.

Specialized picks

In this section, we deal with products with unusual or especially notable features, which make them suitable for use in specific contexts. Gas chainsaws generally don’t vary very much from one basic design structure; the differences between them are in terms of power, performance, price and so on. As such, there isn’t really a range of unusual gas saws to assess for specialized picks. We were able to find one saw that differs from the standard mould.

Specialized Pick: Blue Max 52721 2-in-1 Combo Chainsaw

Blue Max 52721 2-in-1 Combo Chainsaw
Blue Max 52721 2-in-1 Combo Chainsaw

* Blue Max 52721 2-in-1 Combo Chainsaw offers an interesting innovation on the concept of a gas chainsaw: it comes with a pair of interchangeable bars, effectively giving 2 saws in one. In this way, the Blue Max 52721 is suitable both for smaller pruning and trimming jobs, with the 14 inch bar, and for larger cutting or felling work, using the 18 inch bar. Its motor runs at a fairly powerful 38cc, and it has some useful features such as anti-vibration and automatic chain lubrication. It’s also quite affordable.

The competition

For our main picks, we’ve chosen the gas chainsaws that we feel represent the best balance of price and performance. However, there are many other great models on the market that are also worthy of consideration. Here’s a run-through of some of the competition.

Husqvarna T435 12-Inch 35.2 cc X-Torq Gas Powered Chain Saw

Husqvarna T435 12-Inch 35.2 cc X-Torq Gas Powered Chain Saw
Husqvarna T435 12-Inch 35.2 cc X-Torq Gas Powered Chain Saw

* If you like the sound of the Husqvarna 460 Rancher, but need a smaller saw, then the Husqvarna T435 could be the machine for you. It sports many of the features of the 460 Rancher, including Husqvarna’s trademark X-Torq engine design, but has a much smaller 35.2 cc engine and 12 inch bar. However, like all of Husqvarna’s premium range, it doesn’t come cheap.

Poulan Pro PP5020AV 20-Inch 50cc 2 Stroke Gas Powered Chain Saw With Carrying Case

Poulan Pro PP5020AV 20-Inch 50cc 2 Stroke Gas Powered Chain Saw With Carrying Case
Poulan Pro PP5020AV 20-Inch 50cc 2 Stroke Gas Powered Chain Saw With Carrying Case

* Poulan’s range also extends well beyond the P3314, our Budget Pick. If you want a bigger, more powerful gas chainsaw with Poulan’s combination of good performance and affordable price tag, a good option is the Poulan Pro PP5020AV. It’s a strong machine, built for heavy work, with a 50cc engine and a 20 inch bar. For this price, you get some really good features such as a reduced vibration handle and Poulan’s SuperClean air filter system. A carrying case is also included.

Remington RM5118R Rodeo 51cc 2-Cycle 18-Inch Gas Chainsaw

Remington RM5118R Rodeo 51cc 2-Cycle 18-Inch Gas Chainsaw
Remington RM5118R Rodeo 51cc 2-Cycle 18-Inch Gas Chainsaw

* The Remington RM5118R is a heavy-duty, powerful machine with a 51 cc engine and an 18-inch bar. It weighs a hefty 25 lbs, which is a downside when compared to the Husqvarna 460 Rancher; on the other hand, however, it is a much more affordable machine. It features vibration damping and an adjustable, automatic chain oiler.

Tanaka TCS33EDTP 12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw with Pure Fire Engine

Tanaka TCS33EDTP 12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw with Pure Fire Engine
Tanaka TCS33EDTP 12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw with Pure Fire Engine

* This saw is smaller than most of the other gas chainsaws on our list, with a 12 inch bar and a 32 cc engine. In fact, a shorter bar is useful for some jobs, and this saw works very well for pruning and smaller diameter cutting, as the short bar makes it more maneuverable in smaller spaces. It’s fairly lightweight, at 11.9 lbs. This saw’s price is towards the more expensive end of the scale.

XtremepowerUS 22 2.4HP Gasoline Gas Chainsaw Cutting Wood EPA

XtremepowerUS 22 2.4HP Gasoline Gas Chainsaw Cutting Wood EPA
XtremepowerUS 22 2.4HP Gasoline Gas Chainsaw Cutting Wood EPA

* This is a solid, powerful gas chainsaw. At 22 inches, its bar is the largest of any saw on our list, and it has a decent 2.4 hp motor. It’s a bit more expensive than some other saws, but not ruinously so. Some of its other features include an anti-kickback chain, an engine clean air-intake system, and a rapid mechanical chain brake handguard for safety.

Earthquake CS4518B Chainsaw with 45cc Viper Engine and 18-Inch Bar

Earthquake CS4518B Chainsaw with 45cc Viper Engine and 18-Inch Bar
Earthquake CS4518B Chainsaw with 45cc Viper Engine and 18-Inch Bar

* This is another heavy-duty gas chainsaw, which comes fairly cheap. It has a big, 45cc engine and an 18 inch bar, making it suitable for heavy work such as felling trees. Its bar and chain are from Oregon, a reputable manufacturer, and it also features a primer bulb for quick starts and an easy access air filter.

Frequently asked questions

How do I maintain my gas chainsaw properly?
Maintaining your saw involves a small series of quick steps that should be taken regularly, to ensure problem-free operation of your saw for many years. Firstly, make sure that you always use high-quality fuel and oil. You should buy gasoline in small amounts, to make sure that it’s always fresh. It’s worth investing in good quality bar and chain and 2-cycle oil, as it’s more viscous, and so gives better lubrication and lasts longer between fillings. Make sure that both the gas and oil bar reservoirs are full every time you use the saw. On each day of use, you should ideally, remove and clean the air filter, inspect the bar for wear, check the muffler and spark arrester, clean the bar’s chain groove, and tighten the chain when it’s back on the saw.

How should I mix the gas and oil for best operation of my chainsaw?
The recommended ratio of fuel to oil for most gas-powered chainsaws is 40:1. This means that you should mix 3.2 ounces of air-cooled engine oil to one gallon of fresh unleaded gasoline. Under no circumstances use straight gasoline in a two-cycle engine, as this will quickly lead to friction and overheating.

Wrapping it up

We’ve looked at a fairly wide range of gas chainsaws over the course of this review. Our top pick for the best gas chainsaw, the Hitachi CS33EB16 16-Inch 32.2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Rear Handle Chain Saw, will be appropriate for most users. For the most part, we’ve focused on mid-range equipment that will meet the needs of the home user, while maintaining high standards of performance and safety. While cheaper machines exist on the market, you’ll definitely benefit in the long run by investing in a decent chainsaw which you can trust to deliver years of safe, problem-free action.