Best chainsaws 2020: remove unwanted trees and branches whilst feeling ever so macho

It’s the T3 Chainsaw Massacre, if by 'massacre' you mean 'top 7'

Best chainsaw

The best chainsaws aren’t just for waving around your head in horror movies. You might not need a petrol-driven monster capable of cutting down giant redwoods, but chainsaws are handy for pruning small trees, cutting branches into logs, making firewood, fighting zombie apocalypses, and so much more.

We generally recommend electric cordless chainsaws for anyone who isn't an actual lumberjack in the Canadian rockies, but if you want to really and truly chop some trees the hell down, these petrol offerings are just right for you.

Chainsaws: a beginner's guide

There are two and a half kinds of chainsaw: petrol ones, electric ones and cordless electric ones. Petrol and cordless have the benefit of going far from the reach of any extension cable, provided you have fuel or remember to charge them, but petrol chainsaws are noisy while battery-powered saws soon run out of puff. 

No matter what kind of chainsaw you buy, it’s essential to remember that they are incredibly dangerous: they’re arguably the most dangerous power tools you can buy. Tens of thousands of people injure themselves every year with chainsaws, so make sure you know how to use one safely and wear the correct protective equipment. If you check YouTube for Husqvarna chainsaw safety you’ll find some useful advice. If in doubt, hire an expert to do the sawing for you.

It’s also a good idea to ask yourself, do you really need a chainsaw at all? If you just need to tame some smaller trees or hedges, one of the best hedge trimmers may be a more sensible (and altogether safer) option. 

The best chainsaws, in order

Best chainsaws 2019

1. Husqvarna 450 Pruning Chainsaw

Best petrol chainsaw

Power: 2.4KW
Type: petrol
Speed: 9000rpm
Sound pressure: 103.5dB(A)
Bar length: 33-50cm
Weight: 4.9kg excluding cutting equipment
Reasons to buy
+Huge cutting size+Very powerful
Reasons to avoid

The Husqvarna is “expensive but worth it,” Chainsaw Journal says - but it’s heavy too, at 4.9kg plus cutting bits. That means it’ll start to feel like a dead weight during protracted pruning sessions, so it’s not one for the slightly built. It’s powerful, though, with the ability to cut through wood up to 24 inches across as if it were made of mousse.

Now in its second generation, the 450 boasts a quick release air filter for easy cleaning, a flip-up tank cap for simpler refuelling, a centrifugal air cleaning system to reduce wear and reduce cleaning frequency and what Husqvarna calls X-Torq, its system to deliver maximum performance while meeting the world’s most stringent environmental legislation.

Best electric chainsaw: Greenworks GD40CS40

2. Greenworks GD40CS40

Best cordless electric chainsaw

Power: 40v
Bar length: 40cm
Weight: 5.1kgs
Battery included as standard?: No
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Good run time+Comes with fitted chain
Reasons to avoid
-Quite heavy

With a long 40cm (16-inch) Oregon bar and chain, a brushless motor that will last forever, and a full gamut of safety features, including a brake guard hand protector that must be pulled back to engage the drive. A large 40-volt G-Max Li-Ion battery keeps it sawing for around 25 minutes and recharges in 90 minutes.

The Greenworks is available with or without a battery and charger. If you already have one of the company’s excellent lawnmowers – or any other Greenworks products – you’re in luck since the batteries are easily swappable. Otherwise you’ll need to fork out another £108 for the battery and charger. 

It's got a decent heft to it, and makes short work of cutting tree trunks, branches and logs up to 70cm (28 inches) across. The chaincomes pre-fitted so there’s no chance of cocking up setup. Not that you would, of course.

Best chainsaws 2019: Einhell GH-EC 2040

3. Einhell GH-EC 2040

Best corded electric chainsaw

Power: 2000W
Type: corded
Speed: not stated
Sound pressure: not stated
Bar length: 40cm
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Long blade+Handles big cuts+Cheap
Reasons to avoid
-Quite heavy-You'll probably need an extension cable

• Buy Einhell GH-EC 2040 from Amazon for just £64 (40% off RRP)

Looking for a keenly-priced and extremely effective electric model that comes highly rated by a horde of chainsaw-wielding gardenistas? Step right this way. 

The German-made electric Einhell features a 40.6cm chain bar with ‘kick back’ cut-off protection in case it does what all chainsaws occasionally do – rear up suddenly towards your face. It also comes with the usual gamut of electric chainsaw safety features, including a hand protector and a cable relief clip that prevents the 5m cable from disconnecting. The chain rail – manufactured by top supplier Oregon – will cut through most woods with ease; many users report it that tackles branches and logs up to 20cm in diameter. 

As with most chainsaws, this product requires fitting the chain onto the chain bar your self, but thankfully it’s a relatively straightforward procedure. However, be sure to orientate the chain in the correct direction because the internet is full of comments by people who put chains on the wrong way round and then wondered why their chainsaws never cut through anything. You will also need to pop out for some chainsaw oil to keep everything nicely lubricated (£5.74 from B&Q).

In the pantheon of electric chainsaws, this model is Amazon’s biggest seller. It comes with a decent run of cable, a good set of safety features and it performs exceptionally well.

4. Bosch AdvancedCut 18

Best mini chainsaw

Power: 18v
Type: cordless
Speed: 7000rpm
Sound pressure: not stated
Bar length: 65mm
Weight: 1 kg
Reasons to buy
+Empty List
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

• Buy AdvancedCut 18 from Amazon for £169

Perhaps more of a hobby and DIY tool than something for gardening – although it does make short work of pruning – this is a pocket-sized chainsaw, although maybe don't actually put it in your pocket. It's actually a little hard to say quite what this tool is for, but it's a very well-engineered device that operates very effectively. Maybe it's just right for some obscure cutting need you have…

The AdvancedCut18 cuts through wood up to 65mm and is designed for sawing through things and for doing plunge cuts. It's low vibration and also low maintenance given that no oiling is needed ever, and the blades are easily swopped out via Bosch's SDS system. The chain is self-tensioning, too. Hilariously, Bosch doesn't quote a battery life in hours but instead states that it will 'Cut 250 roof laths (24x43 mm) with just one charge'. Thanks for that, Bosch.

Best chainsaws 2019

5. Black & Decker 18V Pole Pruner

Best for tall branches

Power: 18V
Type: cordless
Speed: not stated
Sound pressure: 85dB(A)
Bar length: 20cm
Weight: 3.7kg
Reasons to buy
+Long reach+Fairly light
Reasons to avoid
-Jams occasionally-Battery life ins't exceptional

If you’re planning to prune high branches, a dedicated pole saw is a much more convenient kind of chainsaw - and it’s less likely to end in a pink mist than teetering on a ladder with a massive petrol-driven monster. 

The 18V battery lasts for up to 130 cuts on a single charge, it reaches up to 4.5m (including you: the usable length is 2 to 3 metres) and weighs a reasonable 3.7kg, so it doesn’t feel as if you’re waving a lawnmower over your head. 

There’s an anti-kickback system to keep you safe, non-slip ergonomic grips so you don’t drop it on your face and it’s easy to clean - something you’ll be glad of, because small bits of debris can jam it quite easily.

Best chainsaws 2019

6. Black & Decker GK1000

Best handheld powered secateurs (possibly the only one, too)

Power: 550W
Type: corded
Speed: not stated
Sound pressure: 87dB
Bar length: 10cm
Weight: 3kg
Reasons to buy
+Safety chain guard+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Not for big jobs

Okay, this isn't really a chainsaw, it's some electric secateurs. Good product, though. Unlike real chainsaws, which have the spinning chain rail completely exposed and therefore ripe for quick amputation, this lopper-style number comes with heavy steel jaws that clamp around a short 10cm chain bar. Short of actively sticking your arm between the clamps, there’s very little chance of injury with this system. 

To use, simply pull the power trigger, open the jaws and clamp them round the offending branch. Voila, job done, and with none of the usual will-I lose-an-arm-today apprehension associated with chainsaws in general.

Despite its short stature, this chainsaw easily slices through branches up to four inches in diameter, is relatively light (3kgs) and, above all, confidence inspiring. The jaws also trap a lot of flying sawdust so safety goggles aren’t mandatory though still advised. A top choice for scaredy cats, although it is, strictly speaking, more like an extremely hardcore pair of secateurs than a chainsaw in the classic sense.