The world of gas-powered chainsaws has a lot of players, and finding the best gas chainsaw requires some research.
Here is an introduction to some of the more popular names in the field along with a review of one of their saws. We chose saws of roughly the same capacity and engine size. These are typically referred to as “homeowner” saws intended for regular but not necessarily daily hard use.
Most come with a 16” bar which will easily handle the tasks of trimming, felling small trees, and cutting up firewood, and similar tasks you will find on the average small property.
TL;DR – Our Top 3 Picks
Benefits of Gas Chainsaws
Perhaps the greatest benefit of owning a gas chainsaw is the sheer power and speed available to handle those forestry related tasks.
Whether you’re clearing land, cleaning up after a storm, or stocking up on firewood for the winter, the productivity of a gas chainsaw is simply unmatched.
Additionally, you have the ability to work continuously for hours, limited only by your own energy and the amount of fuel you can carry. There’s no “forgetting to charge the battery”.
Jonsered originated in Sweden where nearly 75% of the country is covered by dense forest. They began making chainsaws in the 1950s and eventually became part of Husqvarna.
The CS2245 features a powerful 45 cc engine protected by an air intake pre-cleaner. Robust anti-vibration reduces operator fatigue. Snap-lock covers enable easy access to the air filter and spark plug. A side-mounted chain tensioner requires no tools, and a visible fuel level window keeps the operator from guessing when to refuel.
- High quality anti-vibration system
- Easy start fuel pump design
- Fuel efficient and cleaner burning
- Carburetor adjustments require special tool
2. Echo CS-400
Kioritz Corporation from Japan has long been manufacturing agricultural and forestry machinery. In 1963 they began production of their first chainsaw and it became their first tool to wear the Echo brand name. A long history of innovation and product development has made the Echo brand well known.
The CS-400 enjoys considerable popularity with users. Easy assist starting makes for less effort to pull the starter, and reliably starts in the first or second pull. The 40.2 cc engine provides outstanding power and speed, and is protected by an engine pre-cleaner for improved air supply. The air cleaner is easily accessed without tools. Vibration dampening is achieved with bushings rather than springs.
- Industry leading 5 year consumer warranty
- Heavy-duty automotive-type air cleaner
- Fuel efficient and cleaner burning
- Tools required to adjust chain tension
- Vibration isolation is minimal
Homelite has the distinction of being the creator of the first one-man operated chainsaw in 1949, and by the mid-1960s was one of the largest chainsaw manufacturers in the world. The 38cc engine provides good power and the vibration isolation handle helps reduce operator fatigue. Clear fuel and oil tanks allow for easy monitoring of vital fluids.
- Safe-T-Tip design help avoid kickback
- Comes with case and scabbard
- Can not run on fuels supplemented with ethanol
Sweedish manufacturer Husqvarna has been in the outdoor tool business beginning in the early 1900’s. Their first chainsaw was produced in 1959 and since then has become a favorite of professional arborists. The company owns several brands including McCulloch, PoulanPro and Jonsered.
This 40.9cc Husqvarna saw features anti-vibration dampening to reduce operator fatigue when operating the saw for extended periods. A combination choke/stop control prevents accidental engine flooding. Air pre-cleaner system keeps the air filter from premature loading.
- Strong three-piece crankshaft
- Visible fuel level
- Air pre-cleaner
- Initial starting may be difficult; pay careful attention to directions
Remington came on the tool scene in 1921. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin firm added chain saws to their product line in 1954 and have since then continued to provide a variety of models to choose from.
The RM4216CS features a 42cc engine and 16” bar. Their Qickstart technology makes for smooth, easy pull starts. Tool free access to the air filter and spark plug makes maintenance easier. The chain oiler is adjustable-automatic, and the saw comes with a generous carrying case that has extra room for extra oil and small tools or other items.
- Nice features at lower price point
- Comes with case
- Air pre-cleaner
- Vibration can become an issue during prolonged use
- No visible fuel or oil level gauges
Stihl chain saws are commonly seen in use by professionals, and they have a reputation for professional-grade tools. They designed tools that revolutionized the forestry industry and are now present in 160 countries.
The Stihl MS 251 Wood Boss is designed for the homeowner or small landowner who regularly needs a chainsaw to maintain their property or provide firewood for heating. A combination choke and on/off switch helps prevent flooding. Users praise the light weight of the unit and the 45.6cc engine provides the speed and power to make quick work of even the hardest of woods.
- Easy to maintain
- Light weight
- Fluid caps can be difficult to seal
Poulan began in Louisiana in 1946 manufacturing some of the earliest chain saws for lumberjacks. The well-known company is now owned by Husqvarna and makes a variety of groundskeeping equipment.
The PL3816 comes in at a lower price point but unfortunately suffers from unreliable performance. Anti-vibration is weak and there are consistent complaints of hard starting and hard to keep running.
- Weak anti-vibration
8. Efco MT5200
Emak, the maker of Efco power equipment, is an Italian born company internationally known for its gardening, forestry and agriculture tools and machines.
The MT5200 is a 3.4hp 51.7cc powered saw that comes with either a 16” or 18” bar. It features an easy start system “decompressor” and tool-less access to the air filter and spark plug. The chain tensioner is designed to enable quick adjustments. The automatic oil pump automatically regulates oil flow.
- Quality vibration dampening system
- High quality forged driveshaft
- 5-year consumer warranty
- Will want to verify warranty service is available nearby
Tools bearing the Craftsman moniker enjoy a long history and popularity. Craftsman chainsaws are associated with Husqvarna as is Poulan so these brands share designs, features and sometimes even swap parts.
The 16” 42cc saw is equipped with Easy Start technology, an important feature when using a saw for long periods involves starting and stopping the saw repeatedly. An automatic oiler, tool-free access to filter and spark plug, and vibration control are additional features. Bucking spikes provide greater control and safety.
- Tool-free maintenance access
- Lower cost for similar features
- Vibration control not robust
- Can bog down under heavy loads
10. Hitachi CS33EB16
Hitachi has been making power tools for over 70 years and has a truly global presence. In 2018 the name was changed to Metabo HPT.
This saw excels at smaller cutting tasks but may struggle with heavier loads and begin to overheat. It is a light saw which helps with maneuverability and can be easier to handle for smaller individuals. An automatic oiler system keeps the chain lubricated, but watch for leakage when storing the saw. The consumer warranty is the longest of any saws we reviewed.
- Low weight
- 7-year consumer warranty
- Slightly underpowered
- Higher vibration
Gas Chainsaw Safety
The speed and power of chainsaws coupled with the inherent dangers of working with trees warrant attention to be paid to safety. Clearly a tool designed to cut through dense hardwood must be respected.
Trees in their natural state present varying degrees of difficulty when working on them. Different characteristics of trees, wet versus dry wood, hidden nails or other items demand care and attention. Fallen or leaning trees can have pent up stresses on portions of the tree that must be assessed and carefully addressed.
Dress appropriately for the work.
Because these saws exceed 85dB, hearing protection is mandatory. Remember that gas-powered equipment creates carbon monoxide. Don’t operate these tools in an enclosed area without proper ventilation.
Expect to pay about $120 for safety equipment.
Before beginning work, assess the conditions. Secure footing is essential. Avoid wet, slick, or muddy surfaces.
Start the saw on the ground. Keep work below your shoulders and don’t use the tip of the saw to cut.
If limbs are out of reach, don’t climb the tree or use a ladder. A pole pruner is a more appropriate tool, or consider hiring a professional to do the work. One careless second can cause a life-threatening injury, so pay careful attention to your conditions.
Gas Chainsaw Maintenance
Proper maintenance will make equipment safer, last longer, and operate better.
Make sure you use the proper gas-oil mixture and keep this boldly labeled on your fuel can.
Keep your blade sharp, properly tensioned, and oiled. This will lead to better cuts that are faster leading to less wear on the engine. Remember, a new chain will stretch and require frequent adjustments to begin with, so keep an eye on it for the first cuts.
Many manufacturers recommend against the use of any fuel containing ethanol.
If you will be using a gas-powered chain saw on a regular basis, it would be worth considering one of the costlier saws. These units are built with stronger components, such as forged connecting rods rather than stamped, and better-designed airflow to keep dust and debris from clogging the air filter. It would be hard to go wrong with the Stihl MS251.
A quality gas chainsaw can turn hours of labor into minutes. Sorting through the various manufacturers and available features is time well spent before deciding on your purchase.