Best Small Chainsaws of 2020 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

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If you are a little intimidated at the thought of operating an intense power tool such as a chainsaw, it may be best for you to start out with a smaller model.

These smaller chainsaws are just as effective at onerous tasks such as yard work, and are often much smaller and easier to maneuver. Read on to learn more about these awesome tools and how they can make your life easier.

Comparison Chart of the Best Small Chainsaws

Product

Our Rating

​Price

​Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2

​Best Overall

​Oregon Cordless 16-inch Self-Sharpening Chainsaw

​Runner-up

​Remington RM1425 Limb N Trim

​Best for the Money

​Dewalt DCCS620B 20V MAX XR

​Best Small Electric Chainsaw

Tanaka TCS33EDTP/14 32.2cc

​Best Small Gas Powered Chainsaw

​Husqvarna 120 Mark II 16-inch Gas Chainsaw

​Best Small Husqvarna Chainsaw

What Length Chainsaw Do I Need?

The best length for you heavily depends on two key factors: what kind of cutting you will be doing, and your own experience level. Longer chainsaws are better for cutting larger items such as thick felled trees, while shorter chainsaws are ideal for more precise work, such as limbing.

If you plan on cutting firewood regularly, you may want to go with a longer saw, while if you just want to keep a saw on hand to clear up your yard, a shorter one will probably work just as well. And keep in mind that the less experience you have with chainsaws, the more difficult it will be (and the greater safety risk it will pose) to maneuver one with a longer bar.

Are All Small Chainsaws the Same?

No, not all small chainsaws are the same. Like chainsaws of any other size, these models can vary widely in terms of their power sources and what they are specifically designed to cut.

On this list alone, we have small models that are powered by gasoline, by battery packs, and by electrical cords, all of which have their pros and cons (for example, gas powered chainsaws tend to be more powerful, but are also louder, more dangerous, less fuel efficient, and worse for the environment).

These saws also have a wide range in terms of what they are intended to cut – some of the models on this list are best used for light yard work, while others are ideal for cutting firewood, and there is even one (the DEWALT) which is recommended to be able to handle construction level cuts as well.

Pay close attention to a saw’s attributes when you are considering whether or not to buy, and think about what you will most need from your saw.

What Makes a Great Small Chainsaw?

Here are some of the factors that can help you narrow down your decision making:  

Durability

Small chainsaws are extremely versatile, so you will probably want to use yours all the time! The last thing you want is a saw that will bust out on you after only a few months of using it. Invest in a quality saw that will go the distance.

Weight

It is a common misconception that smaller chainsaws weigh less than larger ones. For some models, they may weigh even more! Pay attention to the weight when selecting your saw to ensure it is something you can work with.

Safety Measures

One of the only problems with working with a smaller chainsaw is you can tend to forget how dangerous they actually are. They are so light and easy to maneuver – but that actually ups the probability of you accidentally hurting yourself. Make sure to choose a model with enhanced safety features, like an automatic brake or a two button start system.

Quick Take: Best ​Small Chainsaws

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Below are the best ​small chainsaws:

  1. Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2
  2. Oregon Cordless 16-inch Self-Sharpening Chainsaw
  3. Remington RM1425 Limb N Trim

Review of the Best Small Chainsaws

Now that you have a better sense of small chainsaws, let’s check out some of our top product choices:

​Best Overall:
​Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2

PROS

  • ​Packs two batteries, so really delivers thirty six volts instead of the advertised eighteen
  • ​Has a lock off lever as an additional safety feature
  • ​Engine life is extended by the brushless motor
  • ​Cordless and unlimited by cord length
  • ​Not particularly loud

CONS

  • ​Two battery packs are not included and can be expensive to purchase separately
  • ​Chain requires frequent adjusting
  • ​Not super easy to maneuve

What Are People Saying?

Users are big fans of this model’s variable speed motor, with a dial system for quick and easy adjustment. And, you will always be able to see this saw’s power button thanks to its LED light.

What We Love About It

We really appreciated the automatic lubrication system this Makita boasts. It always keeps the saw running smoothly, prevents rust, and does not require a large amount of extra work to constantly be oiling the saw.

Who’s This Perfect For?

This is an excellent saw for cutting firewood, particularly if you are on the smaller side. Because it is lighter than many of its competitor brands, this saw is especially apt for female users.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a saw that will make your life easier, you can’t go wrong with this Makita model. Its automated oiling system, variable speed motor, and lighter weight are all qualities to look out for, while its double battery pack sets it apart from other, competitor battery powered models.

​Runner-up:
​Oregon Cordless 16-inch Self-Sharpening Chainsaw

PROS

  • Provides at least 85% of the power of other gas chainsaws on the market
  • ​Easy to use, senior women report handling it just fine
  • ​Does not produce as much vibration as gas saws
  • ​Durable, will last for a long time
  • ​Self-sharpening system

CONS

  • ​Built in chain sharpener requires the additional purchase of a particular Oregon chain
  • ​Takes a while to assemble upon arrival
  • ​Instructions are not super clear

What Are People Saying?

People love how quickly the charger for this bad boy is able to return the battery to full juice. Instead of waiting around for half a day, the battery on this model will be ready to go again within an hour and a half to two hours.

What We Love About It

We are always drawn to new, innovative safety features on dangerous power tools like chainsaws – and so we were big fans of the automatic stop feature on this model. When the blade is no longer cutting through something, the chain automatically stops running.

Who’s This Perfect For?

Users report that this model is ideal if you plan on using your saw to clean up downed limbs around your yard. Recent buyers say that this saw is great for large downed limbs ranging from four to six inches in diameter, but it could also easily handle limbs as big as fourteen inches in diameter if needed.

Final Thoughts

A saw that can handle a wide range of cuts, with innovative safety features and a speedy battery charging system – there is not much this Oregon model will not be able to do for you! Add to that list its self sharpening capacity and you will be hard pressed to find a more awesome option.

​Best for the Money:
​Remington RM1425 Limb N Trim

PROS

  • ​Arrives fully assembled and tuned, so you will be able to use it as soon as you get it
  • ​Only weighs six and a quarter pounds, anyone could use this chainsaw
  • ​Chain does not overheat very often or very quickly
  • ​Has a chain tensioner that is easy to access
  • ​Will not cause a huge level of kick back

CONS

  • Teeth on the chain are more spread out than other models tend to be
  • ​Some users reported their oiling systems leaking over time
  • ​The front hand guard is not particularly effective

What Are People Saying?

People are big fans of the push button oiling system on this model. If you are sick of needing to constantly oil your saw’s chain, the simplicity of a one button operation will certainly make your life easier.

What We Love About It

We thought we were seeing things when we first glimpsed the price tag on this model. Remington is a well known, reputable brand, and they are selling this awesome little saw for such a low price? You need to hop on this deal now!

Who’s This Perfect For?

Users are saying that this saw is true to its name – it is a fantastic limber and trimmer. If you are needing to cut through smaller branches, saw firewood logs, or just do some general pruning around the yard, this is the model for you.

Final Thoughts

This Remington model is a real example of effectiveness and convenience, all available at a low, low price. This saw will make your limbing and trimming life much easier and not cause a huge hit to your bank account in the process.

Best Small Electric Chainsaw​:
​Dewalt DCCS620B 20V Max XR

PROS

  • ​Will not require high quality (read: expensive) oil in order to function properly
  • ​Can cut through tree trunks that are up to sixteen inches in diameter
  • ​Oregon chain is included and comes pre sharpened
  • ​Both easy to set up and easy to operate
  • ​Lightweight: under nine pounds in total

CONS

  • ​Users say this saw required a decent amount of maintenance to keep it running well
  • ​Overheats faster than some of its competitor brands

What Are People Saying?

Users love that DEWALT was able to mix manufacturers when it came to the parts on this saw. Everyone knows that Oregon makes the best saw chains in the business, and this DEWALT model comes with an Oregon chain, so you will not need to buy an additional one to replace the factory model!  

What We Love About It

This saw is almost entirely toolless to operate. When it comes to tightening the bar and tensioning the chain, neither process will require anything beyond your bare hands. Say goodbye to lugging that heavy toolbox around to your work sites!

Who’s This Perfect For?

If you have a versatile range of needs for a chainsaw, this is the model for you. It is the only option that users recommended not just for casual yard work and cutting firewood, but also professional level construction projects.

Final Thoughts

This DEWALT model with an Oregon chain is definitely one of the best models on this list, and certainly our best option for an electrically powered saw. With its toolless operation, its included, pre-sharpened Oregon chain, and its professional capacity, this saw is an absolute beast.

Best Small Gas Powered Chainsaw​:
​Tanaka TCS33EDTP 14 32.2CC

PROS

  • ​Comfortable to hold on to thanks to ergonomic features that also make it easier to maneuver
  • ​Tanaka provides a seven year consumer warranty and a two year commercial warranty
  • ​Side chain tensioner allows for easier access
  • ​Has a gear driven automatic oiling system
  • ​Will not burn through a ton of fuel

CONS

  • ​Not super great at cutting larger pieces of wood – should really only be used for smaller pruning jobs
  • ​Does not have a ton of bottom end torque
  • ​Not particularly well balanced

What Are People Saying?

For a gas powered saw, users are extremely impressed with how easy it is to start up this saw. Thanks to its purge primer bulb and half throttle choke, it is a breeze to get this model up and running, even if it is freezing outside.

What We Love About It

We were big fans of the anti vibration system built into this model. When you combine that system with its sprocket nose bar, this is one of the easiest models on this list to control. This quality allows for added safety and more precise cuts.

Who’s This Perfect For?

This model is particularly awesome for arborist chainsaw jobs. If you need anything pruned, the smaller size (meaning easier to maneuver) and tougher gas power on this Tanaka is the best option for you.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for the best pruning saw on the market, you have got to go with this Tanaka model. You can use this saw all day thanks to its fuel efficiency and ergonomic design, so what are you waiting for? Go prune those unruly bushes!

Best Small ​Husqvarna Chainsaw​:
​Husqvarna 120 Mark II 16-inch Gas Chainsaw

PROS

  • ​Husqvarna is a reliable, established brand that has been making high quality power tools for the last sixty years
  • ​Chain tensioner does not require any tools to operate
  • ​Has an anti vibration feature
  • ​Good for casual use
  • ​Easy to handle

CONS

  • ​Has a tendency to stall out until it is broken in
  • ​Doesn’t feel super powerful
  • ​Chain tends to dull quickly

What Are People Saying?

People love the balance between size and power on this model. The engine boasts 2.4 horsepower, but the overall saw still only weighs just under ten pounds. That size to power ratio is practically unheard of, and means this saw is easy to use and can handle pretty much anything!

What We Love About It

We like the intentional design on this model to make it as pleasant as possible for users to operate. This design includes features like a built in safety brake to enhance user safety, as well as specific ergonomic comfort aspects that make it easier to hold onto. 

Who’s This Perfect For?

If you are a Husqvarna brand loyalist who is searching for the best chainsaw for casual yard use, look no further. This saw’s maneuverability make it a top option for bushwork and other yard work issues, and Husqvarna provides excellent customer service if you ever require support.

Final Thoughts

This Husqvarna model is an excellent option for a variety of reasons, from its lighter weight, to its more powerful motor, to its safety features, to its ergonomic design. There will not be much for you to dislike with this Husqvarna!

How to Use a Small Chainsaw

  1. ​Before even turning on your saw, make sure the area around you is clear and free of debris. 

  2. ​Put on all of your safety apparel. This includes chaps, gloves, and either a helmet with built in hearing protection and eye protection, or ear plugs and safety goggles.  

  3. ​Check and double check that nobody is near your work site – children, pets, random passerby, anyone!

  4. ​If you’re cutting a large log or branch, it can be helpful to use your saw to trim off any smaller branches sticking out from the bigger trunk before you start sawing the main log.

  5. ​Place your left foot slightly in front of your right to create a strong stance.

  6. ​Put your left hand on the front handle of the saw, where it can easily access the brake, and your right hand on the rear handle, where it will activate the throttle.

  7. ​Throttle your saw, place it lightly on the wood, and ensure you have steady pressure all the way across the blade.

  8. ​Cut cleanly through the wood, maintaining that same consistent level of pressure. When you are done, immediately activate your saw’s brake and set it down on the ground.

The video we have linked below gives a more in depth overview of the process we just described:

People Also Ask

Here ​is one of the most common questions in regards to small chainsaws:

How Much is a Small Chainsaw?

There is no standard price for a small chainsaw, as many saws feature different components that could raise or lower their price. However, a rough range of what you could reasonably expect to spend on a smaller chainsaw goes from around $50 for the smallest and cheapest models, all the way up to close to $400 for the most powerful options.

​Conclusion

Smaller chainsaws can get the job done for you at a fraction of the price and with a much lower safety risk. Just make sure you are investing in a saw that can handle the specific task you are intending to use it for, whether that is limb work or cutting firewood. We promise you will not be able to go wrong with a model from our list above.