The perfect chainsaw takes no time to clear bushes or chop tree branches into logs but can be tricky to identify. After rigorously testing professionally recommended picks, I’ve found the overall best handheld chainsaw to be the EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw.
Being a carpenter and wood hobbyist of 20 years, I’ve used enough chainsaws to understand the ups and downs of each tool. My decade-old mini chainsaw has cut hundreds of logs which I’ve used to make Kumiko jigs and hand carvings. However, refreshed by the new upgrades from chainsaw companies, I set out to review the new best handheld chainsaw in the market.
I chose hardwood for this experiment to test each chainsaw’s power, chain, and kickback. By testing them in everyday home/shed applications (instead of uncommon situations), I understood the strengths and weaknesses of each tool and ranked accordingly.
The Best Handheld Chainsaw for Every Application
|What I liked
|What I did not like
|EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw
|– It is powerful without being dangerous
– It cuts super quietly
– The chain is easy to install and tighten
– The battery charges in 30 minutes
– The cordless feature provides flexibility to move around as you work
|– The chain came off a few times
– It consumes bar and chain oil quickly
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|Greenworks 40V Cordless Compact Chainsaw
|– Instant start without idling
– It is lighter and easier to handle than a gas-powered chainsaw
– It cuts quickly and cleanly while being easy to manage.
– It is easy to clean
|– The oil indicator is opaque, making it hard to determine how much is left.
– The chain loosens frequently
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|RLSOO 4-inch Mini Electric Chainsaw
|– Rips through green wood easily
– It cuts well with no kickbacks
– The bar and chain are easy to adjust
– It comes with two batteries and an extra chain
– The durable case comes with essentials like safety glasses, gloves, screwdriver, etc
|– There’s no chain break
– There’s no inner oil tank
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|Brushless Ryobi Handheld Chainsaw
|– It is remarkably powerful for its size
– The blade is sharp and cuts quickly and easily
– It is easy to handle and control
– Its compact size provides convenient access for small projects
– The rechargeable battery lasts long and is easy to charge
|– There’s no oil chamber to keep the chain lubricated
– It is difficult to operate left-handed because of the safety button’s location
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|Cordless Dewalt Handheld Chainsaw
|Best for Versatility
|– Its 4.6-pound weight is portable to carry without strain
– It has high torque
– Its long frame allows me to cut branches high up in the tree
– It has a safety feature to prevent accidental startups
– The battery lasts long
|– Its long frame doesn’t fit in a backpack or small toolbox
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|Gas-powered Milwaukee Handheld Chainsaw
|– It runs fast and whisper-quiet
– The chain has a thin kerf that creates cleaner cuts
– It feeds its bar oil efficiently
– Instant torque
– The battery lasts long
|– The blade spins for a second or two after releasing the trigger
– It leaks some bar and chain oil
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|Oregon 18-Inch Self-sharpening Electric Chainsaw
|Best Corded Chainsaw
|– The plastic build makes it lighter and cooler to touch
– The power remains constant regardless of the distance to the power source
– It is easy to clean
– The auto-oiler is effective
– The chain stops immediately after you hit the brake lever
|– The power cord is on the shorter side
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|SENDRY 6-inch Mini Chainsaw
|Best Mini Chainsaw
|– It comes with two rechargeable 7500mAh batteries
– It has a high-strength chainsaw chain
– It is lightweight and easy to maneuver
– It has high torque
– Comes with a box of accessories
|– It isn’t designed for left-handed use
|Check Price Here
Top 8 Handheld Chainsaws for Professional Results
I tested each chainsaw by limbing and sectioning branches from our local state forest. As part of my no-waste plan, the wood from the experiments went into making carving blocks, firewood, furniture, and homemade wood filler.
Here are my findings:
1. Best Overall – EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw
I tested the EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw on a red oak tree snapped in two by Minnesota’s spring wind. Unlike my gasoline-powered chainsaw, I skipped the starting-up hassle and the chemistry project of mixing fuels and inhaling strong fumes.
It tops my list as the overall best handheld chainsaw, and here’s why:
- It is hefty without being uncontrollable
- It cuts through thick logs without bouncing or jerking
- The battery only takes 30 minutes to fill
- Installing and tightening the chain is quick and easy
I initially thought the unit was hefty, but the weight helped ease the saw through the wood without strain. It cuts through 12” branches easily, and the cordless feature allowed me space to move around as I stacked and arranged the logs.
While cutting a log sideways, a branch put uneven pressure on the bar, causing the chain to come off. Luckily, it was easy to reinstall. After the chain popped off a few more times, I learned to tighten it frequently because the chain loosens up as it warms. I loosened the handle, dialed the adjustable tensioner, and tightened the chain.
Asides the minute-long breaks I took to arrange my progress, I used the chainsaw for 4 hours without running out of battery. This is longer than most sessions and more than enough for large projects like tree cutting. The battery is also rechargeable, so if you have other EGO tools, it’s a breeze to rotate the batteries
Based on its performance, I plan to add more EGO power tools to my toolbox. The EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw belongs in every woodworker’s collection.
2. Best Runner Up – Greenworks 40V Cordless Compact Chainsaw
The Greenworks 40V Cordless Compact Chainsaw is a workhorse that cuts 10-inch logs in a jiffy.
The lightweight nature proved me wrong by processing the tree without causing any fatigue. I made 37 cuts through a 10” diameter ash tree before the battery died, which is plenty of work for most home/shed jobs.
With this tool, I’ve learned not to muscle through the log or risk overheating or running down the battery. It’s a classic case of letting the tool do its job. Even before realizing this, it charged fast enough for me to take a small break without losing daylight. The battery lasts 3 hours, which is as much as I can do at once.
Like the EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw, this saw only needs even pressure otherwise it grabs and jerks.
For negatives, the oil indicator isn’t transparent so I had to add fresh oil every 30 minutes or so. By then, the oil is depleted because the small tank doesn’t hold much. However, it isn’t rare since most handheld saws have small oil tanks.
3. Best Budget-friendly – RLSOO 4-inch Mini Electric Chainsaw
The RLSOO 4-inch Mini Electric Chainsaw makes small jobs a piece of cake. In 40 minutes, and on one battery with plenty of juice to go, I cut up a pile of 4-inch cherry limbs.
Much better than using a lopper, it is so lightweight that I easily cut with one hand while stabilizing the other. It ripped through the green wood like butter. I got 67 cuts off the battery and still had power left, so I’m confident that two batteries can cover a full day’s work.
I love that it came with two battery packs allowing me to charge one while using the other. My batteries are still healthy, but to know the ease of replacement, I found the O-CONN Mini Chainsaw Battery Replacement.
I noticed that there’s no chain brake, so there’s about 3-4 seconds before it comes to rest. There’s also no oil tank, so I purchased a spray can of oil to frequently spray the chain. This later became a perk because I don’t deal with mid-session leaks or oil puddles on the garage floor.
The RLSOO 4-inch Mini Electric Chainsaw is not going to clean 5 acres of heavy timber, but it makes light work of small to medium wood cutting tasks.
4. Best Lightweight – Brushless Ryobi Handheld Chainsaw (KIMO)
The Ryobi Compact Handheld Saw has the strength of a gas-powered chainsaw and the size of a handsaw. I used it to chop 4-inch ash branches and loved how the small frame entered small spaces when cutting upper tree branches.
Made with premium materials, the build quality first stood out to me as solid and powerful. Weighing 3.7 pounds with a 6-inch chain chainsaw, I loved the lightweight and portable design.
The compact build allows me to cut at shoulder length without fatigue and is much safer to use on a ladder than a gas-powered chainsaw. With lightweight chainsaws, you need to perfect your hold to prevent it from skittering across the wood. This saw has high torque for its size, making it likely to kick back when cutting smaller branches.
I learned that resting the motor housing on the branch helps stabilize the tool and prevent kickback. However, the saw’s lightness has a tradeoff because you can’t rely on its weight to push down while cutting a limb. It also means that there’s no oil chamber, and this explains why the unit came with a small oiling bottle.
Surprisingly, after two hours of on-and-off use, I had only used half of the battery. Despite its lightweight frame, the Ryobi Compact Handheld Saw packs a punch at chopping 4-6 inch branches.
5. Best for Versatility – Cordless Dewalt Handheld Chainsaw
The Cordless Dewalt Handheld Chainsaw is a mean tool with the perfect weight to cut large logs easily.
Resembling a pole saw, its long frame provides the needed reach for higher tree branches. So, it is light enough to walk through small oak limbs and strong enough to cut through myrtle trunks.
After an hour of limbing smaller tree branches, I learned that it works better on thicker pieces because of its high torque. Using high-torque tools to cut smaller branches increases the chances of kickback because their size can cause the saw to bounce toward you. Totaling 3.5 hours, the battery has outlasted me all the 5 times I’ve used it.
When cutting an unwanted palm in my backyard, the chain choked from the fibers and needed frequent repositioning. I figure it’ll encounter the same problem with softwood. Luckily, the chain is a breeze to reinstall. Unlike smaller contenders, it didn’t come with chain replacements but I found the Opuladuo 2pcs 8-inch Chain after some digging.
There’s a safety feature where you push the safety switch and trigger simultaneously to start the saw. This helps to prevent accidental starts, which is unfortunately common with electric chainsaws.
Overall, the Cordless Dewalt Handheld Chainsaw is perfect for a wide variety of trimming jobs that are too big for a lopper and too small for a 10-pound gas chainsaw.
6. Best Gas-powered – Gas-powered Milwaukee Handheld Chainsaw
I typically use a Stihl 310, so I was skeptical about a gas-powered-electric unit. However, after a 6-hour torture test, the Gas-powered Milwaukee Handheld Chainsaw proved me wrong and gave me 74 cuts in total.
The chain has a thin kerf, which equates to a razor-sharp edge, and toothpick-size shavings. It cuts so quietly that I can make high-tension cuts while listening to the tree’s cracking, which I consider a safety feature because I can hear warning signs in my surroundings better.
I have a Milwaukee tool collection, so I tested it with the 5AH and 6AH batteries. Progressively, the tool became heavier and by the 12AH mark, the tool was comparable with the Stihl handheld chainsaw and lasted for six hours of on-and-off use.
It leaks some bar and chain oil out the bottom, but most chainsaws do anyway so I wasn’t put off. Even tools that don’t initially leak do later due to weakened oil plugs.
The combination of high torque and maneuverability makes the Gas-powered Milwaukee Handheld Chainsaw a worthy alternative to gas-only chainsaws.
7. Best Corded Chainsaw – Oregon 18-inch Self-sharpening Electric Chainsaw
The Oregon 18-inch Self-sharpening Electric Chainsaw is the best corded chainsaw to make light work of hardwood. The 18-inch blade is the perfect size for cutting thick trunks and branches, proven by the 16-inch diameter oak logs it melted through.
To start, I laid old newspapers, removed the chain and bar, added oil, and ran the motor until the oil was flowing correctly. Unlike other models, just adding bar oil and idling the chain isn’t enough. It also has a toolless chain tensioner with an adjustment knob to lock the wheel in place. After coming loose a few times, I started tightening the knob out of habit.
When cutting, I kept the log off the ground to prevent the blade from digging into the dirt and dulling the blade. Instead, I cut the log 75% through, rolled it, and finished the cut.
The self-sharpening feature was a first for me, but I only needed to pull the red lever for the Powersharp chain to grate and sharpen the cutting chain. Following 5 seconds of sharpening, there was a noticeable difference in the cut quality. This is a major upgrade from removing and manually sharpening the chain mid-session.
A slight complaint was the cord, which is on the shorter side. But, I rarely use chainsaws in my shed, so I need extension cords anyway. With two 100ft extension cords, I covered an acre easily.
Safety-wise, I appreciated how the chain brake instantly halts the chain to prevent kickback, which can be a lifesaver if the user isn’t paying attention.
8. Best 6-inch Mini Chainsaw – SENDRY 6-inch Mini Chainsaw
For the SENDRY 6-inch Mini Chainsaw, convenience is the name of the game. Instead of pulling out my gas saw for light limbing and trimming, this is my go-to.
The saw is light and nimble as it cuts through dead 3-inch oak branches like a champ. I needed to cut wood for a small fire pit that couldn’t hold full-sized logs, so I tested it on and off for two days and still haven’t reached for the second battery. I imagine the two batteries can cover a full day’s work.
Typical gas saws spin for seconds, but when I took my finger off the trigger, the chain stopped dead. It also has a safety feature where you push the lock and switch button simultaneously to start the saw, preventing accidental startups.
As a slight downside, there’s no oil chamber so I needed to lubricate the chain after each use. However, many mini saws skip features like oil chambers to maintain their light build and regular lubrication is a small price to pay for this saw’s convenience.
The SENDRY 6-inch Mini Chainsaw is perfect for trimming branches you normally would with a handsaw.
What is The Overall Best Handheld Chainsaw?
After meticulously testing each unit, my verdict for the best handheld chainsaw goes to the EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw.
It has the best combination of torque, weight, battery power, and ease in a cordless unit. Charging in 30 minutes and lasting for 4 hours, it holds charge well without bogging down or overheating.
It tears through 12-inch diameter logs while providing flexibility to move around and adjust your cut. Even when the chain pops off naturally (due to warming), it is easy to reinstall and tighten.
The EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw is an all-rounder I’d recommend to any woodworker and homeowner looking for power with ease
The Buyer’s Guide for Choosing the Perfect Mini Chainsaw
A chainsaw’s power determines its chain speed and largely depends on the source. For instance, gas chainsaws are fueled by a motor, making them the most powerful.
Corded saws are next because they receive a high energy output directly from an electrical source. They also tend to be lighter than battery-powered since they aren’t lugging a battery around.
Lastly, battery-powered tools carry the least power because they run out and need replacements often. The batteries can weaken from use, high temperatures, and charging/discharging cycles.
A chainsaw’s noise level is a crucial safety factor because higher decibels drown out the surrounding environment. This might not be vital for small projects like clearing bushes, but it is crucial for felling trees. Quieter decibels can also alert you to other people’s warning calls.
As a rule, gas chainsaws reach up to 120 decibels because of their motors. Contrarily, electric chainsaws are quieter and hover around 70-80 decibels.
Weight and Portability
The weight of your chainsaw helps ease it into the wood, which is why lumberjacks prefer heavier models for felling trees. However, heavy chainsaws can be inconvenient to move around.
Carrying mini chainsaws is a breeze since they are shorter and weigh less. As a caveat, they are best suited to small projects of 6 inches or less due to their short length.
Some chainsaw manufacturers add chain brakes to halt the chain after the turn-off to counter accidental start-ups. Brake-less chainsaws take seconds to stop, leading to accidental contact.
Electric models tend to have chain brakes since they usually work with a button. Larger models also have more safety features since manufacturers aren’t focused on minimizing weight.
Let ‘er Rip
The best handheld chainsaw combines power and torque with ease and safety. After carefully reviewing 8 industry leaders, the ultimate choice is the EGO Power 14-inch Cordless Chainsaw.
If you want precision, convenience, and safety in a lightweight frame, I wouldn’t miss out on this chainsaw.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Best Portable Chainsaw?
The best portable chainsaw is the e Ryobi Compact Handheld Saw because it has the power of a gas chainsaw in a 3.7-pound body. Despite its small build, it is made from high-quality materials, giving it high torque and a sturdy feel. It also has a quick-charging battery that lasts for up to 3 hours, which is longer than most users go before taking breaks.
What is The Best Chainsaw for Cutting Branches?
The best handheld chainsaw for cutting branches is the SENDRY 6-inch Mini Chainsaw. Its light frame is perfect for shoulder-length and ladder-height applications while providing enough aggression to walk through branches. It also comes with convenient accessories like gloves, eye protection, and an extra battery to prevent mid-session hitches.
How Thick Can a Chainsaw Cut?
A chainsaw can usually cut 2 inches less than its length in a single pass, so a 10-inch chainsaw will cut an 8-inch diameter log. However, if you’re cutting the log from both sides, subtract the saw’s length by 2 and multiply it by 2. For instance, a 10-inch saw will cut a 16-inch tree from both sides.
What Type of Chainsaw Chain Cuts the Fastest?
Full chisel chains make the fastest and most aggressive cuts because they have square-toothed cutters on each link. These links split wood fibers easily, providing clean and efficient cuts. However, they lose their edge relatively faster and require skill to sharpen.
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