The distinctive sound of a gas chain saw at work reverberating through the surroundings is familiar to many people. It is a sound that has been
around for a long time and when you think about chainsaws generally you will almost certainly visualise a gas powered chainsaw.
Although now days the buyer has the option of choosing between a gas powered chain saw and an electric powered saw, many people would still consider the gas powered saw to be the superior choice.
So if you are considering buying a gas chainsaw for yourself, which one would be the best suited to your needs?
There are many factors to weigh up in your decision making – here, in no particular order, are a few to consider: price, engine size, chain speed, weight, bar length, fuel type used, warranty, ease of service or service back up, availability of spares, working noise level, chain oiling mechanism (automatic or manual),anti vibration mechanisms, fuel consumption, reliability, ease of starting, environmental operating temperatures, new or refurbished – and the list goes on!
So lets consider various metrics that might influence your choice of gas chainsaw, as well as some of the more practical aspects of a chainsaw that you should consider.
Which is the Top Rated Gas Chainsaw
So which is the best rated gas chainsaw on the market? As you can guess this is actually an impossible question to answer here because it depends on which criteria are used.However, there is certainly a way we can find out what others, with similar needs, believe to be the top rated gas chainsaws.
Remember we are looking at chainsaws for non professional usage – a gas chain saw for the homeowner or camper who needs a saw for occasional use but needs it to do the required job without any drama.
If we look at Amazon’s best sellers lists, the top selling gas powered chainsaw at the moment is the Husqvarna 460 rancher, followed by the Husqvarna 455 Rancher, the Husqvarna 450 and the Poulan Pro PP5020AV. Interestingly they all fall within the top ten best selling chainsaws on Amazon but electric saws occupy the top 5 places!
Although the Amazon best Seller lists are apparently updated every hour, it’s safe to say that the people who have bought those gas chainsaws have done so because they consider them to be the best option available to them at the time.
So people from a wide range of backgrounds – geographic, income and so on, have rated these the best gas chainsaws to buy by simply buying them in enough numbers to push them to the top of the best sellers list.
Three more interesting factors to consider here:
One is that there is a direct correlation between position on the best seller list and price with the most popular gas chainsaw being the most expensive, the second most popular being the next expensive and so on.
The second interesting factor is that the only non Husqvarna badged gas chainsaw in our group is the Poulton Pro which is the lowest ranked gas chainsaw but is in fact owned by Husqvarna, although aimed at a different market segment (its the cheapest by far!)
Thirdly, the longer bars seem to be more popular – at least in the gas powered chainsaws.
By the time you read this, the specific gas operated chainsaws featured on Amazon best sellers might have changed (check them out here), but the principle still applies – those featured at the top end are the top rated by a wide variety of users.
Gas Chainsaw Reviews
Generally reviews are even more valuable than ratings when one is considering which gas chain saw to buy because they are usually written AFTER the reviewer has used the chainsaw.
They are therefore a judgement based on first hand, practical experience. But in the case of reviews by Joe public on platforms like Amazon, you do have to be a bit careful in interpreting what you see. Make sure you put in some time and effort to understand who is writing the review and what they are basing the review on.
This is important because for example, a reviewer might lambast a gas powered chainsaw for being hard to start but reading between the lines it becomes clear that the reviewer has not bothered to read the instructions on the procedures to follow to start the engine.
Another filter to apply to reviews is how often the same point comes up. If 20 out of 100 reviewers mention it is hard to start then that should raise a red flag for you compared to only 1 review out of 100 mentioning this problem.
Finally, the number of reviews will play a role in the ranking. So for example a new to market gas chainsaw with a single review that happens to be a 5 star review will outrank a chainsaw that has 600 reviews that average out at 4 stars.
In essence, the more reviews there are, the more accurate the assessment will be – so be careful of simply accepting review ratings at face value.
So while reviews may be more insightful overall, you do need to read through them and separate the wheat from the chaff whichcan be a time consuming and sometimes confusing process.
What about the Bar Length
The bar length determines the diameter of wood you can cut through and thus is a critical factor in your buying decision.So for example a chainsaw with a 16 inch bar should easily handle a 10 inch diameter log but would not be a good choice to tackle a 25 inch diameter log. Thats not to say it couldn’t get the job done but it wouldn’t be ideal for the occasional user.
The bar length is also linked to price simply because the longer the bar, the more chainsaw there is! 🙂 i.e. longer chain, and often bigger power unit – all of which pushes the cost up.
For example the Remington RM4214 is a 14 inch bar gas powered chainsaw (see it here) with a 42 cc engine that goes for a bit over 100 dollars. In contrast the Remington RM5520 has a 20 inch bar, is powered by a 55 cc engine and costs almost double.
In deciding on a chainsaw then, bar length should be near the top of your list of considerations.
Size of the Power Unit
Virtually all gas chainsaws are powered by 2 cycle (also known as 2 stroke) engines.
As a general rule, the bigger the engine size, the more power it has, the faster the chain speed, and thus the easier it cuts through wood.
On the downside, again generally speaking, the bigger the engine the heavier the saw is, the louder it is likely to be and the higher the fuel consumption!
For most weekend warriors just about any gas powered chainsaw will be sufficiently powerful for your needs, so weight and bar length may be better factors to consider.
A quick word for the uninitiated – “gasoline powered” might be a bit misleading. What goes in the tank is not just any old gasoline – it has to be premixed with 2 cycle oil at a specified rate and should meet manufacturer’s specs with regards to octane rating and how much ethanol the engine can tolerate.
Lastly, if you are concerned about the effects of 2 cycle gas engine emissions on the environment then you should check out what, if any, emission standards the power unit complies with.
The Best Cheap Gas Chainsaws
If you have only the occasional need for a chainsaw then it stands to reason that you don’t want to spend a fortune on a chainsaw but at the same time you want the best chainsaw for your money.Remember though that the cheapest chainsaws, particularly cheap gas powered chainsaws, can land up being very expensive if they need constant repairing.
So the idea of shopping for the cheapest chainsaw bargain you can find needs to be approached with some caution.
In my opinion one of the best ways you can acquire a good cheap gas chainsaw that is good value for money is to…
1) Buy a refurbished gas powered chainsaw
There are several advantages to picking a rebuilt chainsaw:
a) You can generally get a well refurbished top rated chainsaw for a lot less than it would cost brand new and at the same time you get the benefits of the inherent better qualities of a more expensive chainsaw.
b) Your reconditiond chainsaw has been through a series of checks, cleaning and part replacements, so the wear and tear you inevitably buy
when you buy second hand is not nearly as bad as if you bought a non refurbished secondhand chainsaw.
Also, and this is of particular importance when it comes to used gas chainsaws, the refurbisher would have started and run the saw – so you can be fairly certain it works!
c) Depending on who has done the reconditioning of the chainsaw, you may well enjoy the benefits of a limited warranty that covers a number of things that might go wrong in the short term. It might not be a mind blowingingly comprehensive warranty, but its better than nothing!
The alternative to a refurbished gas chainsaw is to take a chance and pick up a cheap secondhand chainsaw at a charity shop or some similar retail outlet.
The less you know about chainsaws in general, and gas chain saws in particular, the bigger the chance you are taking, but at least you now understand the risks of going this route.
Lightweight Gas Chainsaws
Gas chainsaws are not the easiest beasts to handle – they can vibrate like crazy, shaking your arms and hands into mushes of jelly if you are not built like a WWE wrestler :)Okay, maybe that’s stretching it a bit but the fact is that if you are not fairly fit and strong then operating a gas powered chainsaw for more than a few minutes at a time could be very challenging.
One way to off set this challenge is to buy a lightweight gas saw. It will of course depend on what you want the chainsaw for in the first place because going light usually means you are going to sacrifice on power, chain speed and bar length.
Probably the biggest contributor in the weight department for gas chainsaws is usually the engine so smaller engined gas chainsaws generally (but not always – the Husqvarna 460 20 inch Rancher being a case in point) are lighter.
For most people who have occasional use of a chainsaw and go for a gas powered unit, light weight and thus easier to use would be a more important consideration than sheer power and bar length.’So aim for a saw with a 30cc+ capacity engine rather than a 50cc + engine.
The chain itself would probably not rate too high on your list of important factors, despite the chain having a very definite influence on the cutting capacity and cutting efficiency.However, there are several chain related factors that you perhaps should consider.
One of these is that a cheaper chainsaw invariably has a cheaper or lower quality chain on it to help reduce costs.
So a very cost effective way to upgrade your chainsaw’s performance is to simply upgrade your chain 🙂
Keeping the chain oiled while cutting is an essential part of maximising the performance of your saw. As the buyer you have the choice of selecting a saw with an automatic oiler or a manually operated oiling mechanism.
There are pros and cons to either choice as more can go wrong with an automatic oiler but it is one less thing to worry about when it is fully functional(apart from making sure the oil is topped up!)
Although perhaps not THE deciding factor in your decision making, you shouldn’t totally ignore the chain and its workings – it will play an important part in how satisfied you are with your newly acquired gas chainsaw.
Chainsaw Safety Features
When someone buys a chainsaw they are generally not looking at safety features – which is a pity and a mistake.
Chainsaws are a (painful) mistake waiting to happen in untrained hands and the occasional user should be paying a lot of attention to safety features when deciding on a chainsaw.
The aim of almost all chainsaw safety features is to prevent contact between a spinning chain and human flesh and thus avoiding a very painfull life experience!
So please pay attention and look for features like a chain brake and front handle guard, the chain catcher, a throttle safety mechanism or lock, an anti vibration system and an on/off switch.
Have a look at this video which will identify the most important safety features on a chainsaw for you 🙂
In addition, safety clothing can help prevent injury or reduce the severity of injury so don’t make the mistake of saving a few dollars and not equipping yourself properly.
There are many gas powered chainsaws on the market which can make choosing one a bit confusing. But if you are clear in what job you expect the saw to perform for you, then you can cut the choice down to less than a handful of options.
Then it’s simply a case of taking a decision! Good luck 🙂