Best Chainsaws of 2022

We've put more than 70 gas and electric models through our extensive tests. Here are the top performers that balance speed with easy handling and safety.

Test engineers evaluate chainsaws at Consumer Reports' headquarters.

By Paul Hope

If you live in a rural or heavily wooded area, a chainsaw can be a must-have, especially during hurricane season and snowy winters.

These are simple tools as far as the mechanicals—essentially an engine or a motor, a handle, and an oblong metal piece called a bar that guides the cutting chain. Yet a good chainsaw does what no other tool can: It lets you clear brush, cut down limbs and small trees, and prep firewood, all without breaking a sweat.

To learn more about which kind of chainsaw might be right for you, see our chainsaw buying guide. CR members can also browse our comprehensive chainsaw ratings for the best ones in each category. There, you can sort through more than 70 models according to type, budget, and other criteria that matter most to you.

Below, we highlight some of the best chainsaws across the categories we test: gas (both light- and heavy-duty), battery electric, and corded electric. These include popular brand names like Echo, Ego, and Stihl. Models are listed according to Overall Score within each category.

How We Picked the Best Chainsaws

The best chainsaw for you depends on the size of your yard and what you need to cut. That’s why we organize our ratings by chainsaw categories: heavy-duty gas, light-duty gas, battery electric, and corded electric. Nevertheless, we believe that all shoppers are entitled to expect the following from any category of chainsaw:

  • Capable cutting. We expect these machines to cut thick pieces of wood quickly and efficiently.

  • Safety. Chainsaws should include adequate fail-safe features that prevent accidents.

  • Seamless handling. The chainsaw’s weight and size shouldn’t get in the way of a user’s ability to manipulate it.

  • User-friendliness. A chainsaw should be designed so that users can operate and maintain it with ease.

How Consumer Reports Tests Chainsaws

Using 10-inch-thick oak beams, our engineers time how long it takes for each saw to work its way through the wood. We use oak because it’s one of the hardest woods most users will encounter on their property, and it makes for a particularly demanding test that reveals differences among models. Those that cut fastest earn a higher rating for cutting speed.

To size up safety, we check for any kickback during the course of cutting, and assess whether a model’s exhaust parts, like the muffler, get hot, which can pose a burn hazard. We also evaluate how protected the cutting chain is from accidental contact during storage.

To evaluate how well a chainsaw handles, our engineers consider its weight and how easy it is to make horizontal and vertical cuts. We also use a meter to measure its vibration, which can impede a user’s ability to make cuts efficiently.

To zero in on an ease-of-use score, our engineers inspect a range of features, including how simple the tool is to start, adjust, and maintain.

For each chainsaw’s final Overall Score, we incorporate ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction, which are awarded on a brand (not model) level. These ratings reflect what thousands of CR members told us about their experiences with chainsaws they purchased. Specifically, they reported whether their chainsaws ever broke or stopped working properly over the first five years of ownership, as well as whether they were extremely likely to recommend their chainsaw to a friend or family member.

Best Heavy-Duty Gas Chainsaws

Heavy-duty chainsaws work best for people living in very wooded areas who tackle very heavy work, such as cutting large quantities of firewood for winter heating. With larger engines plus a cutting bar and chain between 16 and 26 inches, these chainsaws cut through larger limbs or trees in a single pass. And you simply need to top off the gas tank to keep them running.

Best Light-Duty Gas Chainsaws

Light-duty gas chainsaws typically max out with a 16-inch cutting bar and generally pack a little less power. They’re helpful for homeowners in the suburbs (as opposed to more thickly wooded rural areas) who want to clear fallen limbs in their yard, and maybe do a little bit of wood cutting for an outdoor fire pit. Cutting larger limbs and trees is doable but may take a lot longer. To keep these chainsaws going, simply top them off with gas, as opposed to pausing, as you’d have to do with electric models in order to recharge.

Best Battery-Powered Electric Chainsaws

Battery-powered electric saws have vastly improved in recent years. “The best electric models now cut every bit as well, and sometimes better, than many of the lighter-duty gas-powered saws we’ve seen,” says Misha Kollontai, a Consumer Reports test engineer in charge of chainsaws. In fact, our top-rated battery-powered model scores higher overall than the best gas saws.

Best Corded Electric Chainsaw

You’ll find a handful of plug-in electric chainsaws in the marketplace. These tools offer limited flexibility because you can work only within a certain radius around a power outlet. But the best can cut just as quickly and effectively as smaller gas models.

Oregon 603352

CR’s take: For light cutting close to your house, you don’t need anything more than this modestly priced corded saw from Oregon. It starts instantly, runs quietly, and earns a rating of Very Good for cutting speed, which is plenty of power for trimming hedges or other small jobs. At 13 pounds, it’s one of the lighter saws in our ratings. (The one model above the Oregon in our ratings, the Stihl MS 170, costs about $200 more and rates only slightly higher.)

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