Best Chainsaws for the Money

Top electric, battery, and gas models from Consumer Reports' tests—all highly rated, and all for $300 or less

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Person using a chain saw on a tree branch Photo: Getty Images

The priciest chainsaw in CR’s ratings costs 10 times more than the least expensive option. That’s a big difference between two tools that are designed to do basically the same thing.

And those models aren’t outliers—you can pay anywhere from about $50 to nearly $500, and you definitely don’t always get more for your money.

In fact, our testing routinely finds great chainsaws that don’t break the bank, and plenty more that are overpriced pieces of junk. Prices are driven, in part, by the type of saw you choose. "Corded electric chainsaws, for instance, tend to be the least expensive, while you’ll generally pay more for battery and gasoline options,” says Courtney Pennicooke, CR’s market analyst for outdoor power tools. 

More on Chainsaws

The vast majority of corded electric chainsaws in our ratings can be had for $100 or less, and many perform well enough for us to recommend. The gas saws in our ratings start around $140, while battery saws start closer to $190. You can bring down the total cost if you have other outdoor power tools that share the same battery platform—just opt to buy the chainsaw without the charger and battery. That approach will typically save you about 30 percent. Note that some retailers may not sell chainsaws in this configuration, so you may need to shop around. 

Of course, the kind of saw you buy should depend upon how and where you’ll use it. Corded electric saws are great for pruning close to the house or cutting smaller pieces of firewood. But you’ll be able to use them within only about 100 feet of an outdoor outlet, because outdoor-rated extension cords are rarely longer than 100 feet. They also have smaller cutting bars, typically 12 to 14 inches, so they won’t work on larger pieces of wood. 

Gas and battery saws can go anywhere and typically have longer cutting bars—those in our ratings range from 14 to 20 inches. Battery saws have the advantage of effortless starting, while gas saws are a better option if you have lots of cutting to do. So long as you don’t run out of gas, you can cut indefinitely. You can learn more about the different types in our chainsaw buying guide. CR members can also jump right to our chainsaw ratings

How Consumer Reports Tests Chainsaws

To evaluate chainsaws, we consider how well they cut, how easy they are to handle, and how safe they are to operate. Using 10-inch-thick oak beams, we 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 faster earn a higher rating for cutting speed.

We assess how each saw handles, considering its weight and how easy it is to make horizontal and vertical cuts, and check for any vibration.

For ease of use, we look at a number of factors, including how simple it is to start, adjust, and maintain a saw. We size up safety features, 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 incorporate ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction, which reflect what thousands of CR members told us about their experiences with chainsaws they’d 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.

Below, we highlight the best chainsaws for the money, no matter your price range. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate, but depending on when and where you buy, you may even find some saws on sale. 

Best Chainsaws Under $150

At this price, most models you’ll find are corded electrics and a handful of smaller gas saws. Expect shorter cutting bars, especially on gas models, and less powerful engines. 

Best Chainsaws Under $200

In this price range, you’ll find a handful of gas chainsaws—most of them smaller in size. We also spotted a few entry-level battery saws, though none that perform well enough for us to recommend.

Best Chainsaws Under $300

For $300, expect to find saws of any type, including battery options that perform well. 

Paul Hope

As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.