6 Best Top Handle Chainsaws of 2020

Last update: Nov 25, 2020

A heavy-back end chainsaw seems useful in most situations of falling a tree and cutting wood. But not everyone has to wreck trees daily.

Home use purpose needs merely the best top handle chainsaw to deal with daily wood cutting.

My arborist fellows, and I have picked out a number of choices on the market and tested them in our garage.

Then, we have sorted out the most reasonable options, which will make your life of cutting wood easier. Don't miss them.

Here are the best top handle chainsaws you can buy in 2020:

  • Best Overall (Battery-Powered Chainsaws): DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw Kit, 5-Ah Battery, 12-Inch (DCCS620P1)
  • Lightweight - Battery-Powered Chainsaws (Battery-Powered Chainsaws): CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1)
  • Best For Arborist (Battery-Powered Chainsaws): Makita XCU06Z LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 10-inch Top Handle Chain Saw
  • Best Overall (Gas-Powered Chainsaws): Husqvarna 966997203 T435 Top Handle Saw
  • Best For Chopping Wood (Gas-Powered Chainsaws): Ridgeyard Petrol Chain Saw Cutting Wood Gas-Powered Chainsaw
  • Best For Trimming Trees (Gas-Powered Chainsaws): ECHO CS-271T 12 In. Chainsaw
6 best top handle chainsaws
Best Overall
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw Kit, 5-Ah Battery, 12-Inch (DCCS620P1)
  • Battery-Powered Chainsaws
Lightweight - Battery-Powered Chainsaws
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1)
  • Battery-Powered Chainsaws
Best For Arborist
Makita XCU06Z LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 10-inch Top Handle Chain Saw
  • Battery-Powered Chainsaws
Best Overall
Husqvarna 966997203 T435 Top Handle Saw
  • Gas-Powered Chainsaws
Best For Chopping Wood
Ridgeyard Petrol Chain Saw Cutting Wood Gas-Powered Chainsaw
  • Gas-Powered Chainsaws
Best For Trimming Trees
ECHO CS-271T 12 In. Chainsaw
  • Gas-Powered Chainsaws

Battery-Powered Chainsaws

Best Overall (Battery-Powered Chainsaws): DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw Kit, 5-Ah Battery, 12-Inch (DCCS620P1)

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw Kit, 5-Ah Battery, 12-Inch (DCCS620P1)
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw Kit, 5-Ah Battery, 12-Inch (DCCS620P1)
9.6Outstanding
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet operation
  • High-efficient motor
  • Compact design
  • Come with an Oregon chain and bar
  • Safe start
Cons
  • Oil leaks a bit
  • Lack of longevity

DEWALT has always been my favorite brand for many years. The first impression of this unit was it is pretty lightweight while having all the features a chainsaw should have. Even with the battery on, the unit is still handable.

I appreciate the most on this unit because it is the safety chain break that locks the engine when it's an emergency. More than that, safety also comes to the trigger, which you need to push another to start the chainsaw.

For most tasks out and around, a 12-inch bar is slightly sufficient for cutting, pruning, trimming, even falling a small oak. With the high-efficient brushless motor, it is truly a powerful chainsaw that eats wood like butter.

Right on the unit, there is a knob for you to adjust the chain tension. Next to that spin is another knob that allows you to access the chain. It also features some little detents that let you hear the clicking sound so that you don't over tighten the bolt.

From the factory, the chainsaw comes with an Oregon chain and bar. When I started the chainsaw up, it actually was considerably quieter than a gasoline chainsaw.

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw Kit, 5-Ah Battery, 12-Inch (DCCS620P1) Specifications

Voltage

20V

Bar/Chain Length

12 inches

Charge Time

5 hours

Runtime

90 cuts per charge

Highlight Features

Compact and lightweight. High-efficient brushless motor. Safety bar break and lock trigger button

Verdict

If falling trees is a common occurrence for you, this is the chainsaw you need to carry to the wood routinely.

Lightweight - Battery-Powered Chainsaws (Battery-Powered Chainsaws): CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1)

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1)
CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1)
9.4Outstanding
Pros
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Sharp blade
  • Easy to tension
  • Good size for cutting
  • Minimal maintenance
  • 3-year warranty
Cons
  • Short runtime
  • Not suitable for firewood cutting

I got this unit probably eight months ago, and there are a lot of reasons to like it. And lightweightness is the flagship this chainsaw has to offer.

First of all, this chainsaw is super light to handle. It weighs only 9.9 pounds that is relatively non-bulky for a chainsaw.

And if you need a chainsaw that comes sharp, this one won't let you down. Sawing with this saw, I could see the chips coming out, leaving the cut surface nice and smooth.

There is a knob on the side; you can twist to make sure the tension is correct. It provides a pretty fast way to adjust the tension.

Though small, there is plenty of power on this chainsaw. You won't be able to fall a tree with it but smaller jobs like getting the branches off, cutting, notching, or trimming.

However, if you have too much firewood to deal with, you probably need a gasoline chainsaw.

Another great thing is this chainsaw comes with a 3-year warranty. That quite comforts me when buying such a small power tool.

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Chainsaw, 12-Inch (CMCCS620M1) Specifications

Voltage

20V

Bar/Chain Length

12 inches

Charge Time

N/A

Runtime

20 minutes

Highlight Features

Designed to be compact and lightweight. Sharp included blade. Tool-free tensioning

Verdict

It's great to have this chainsaw with you to conduct small cutting work around the house as it works and doesn't tire you in a short time.

Best For Arborist (Battery-Powered Chainsaws): Makita XCU06Z LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 10-inch Top Handle Chain Saw

Makita XCU06Z LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 10-inch Top Handle Chain Saw
Makita XCU06Z LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 10-inch Top Handle Chain Saw
9.4Outstanding
Pros
  • Super compact
  • Lightweight
  • Outstanding performance
  • Built for pro use
Cons
  • Likely to overtighten the chain
  • Only applicable for small jobs

You might be tempted to say that this saw is adorable. Seriously!

But this is a professional saw considered a climber saw or an arborist saw.

It enables you to climb up the tree and take the top out with Makita's brushless motor. Besides, the unit uses a single 18V battery. If you're not looking to cut a tree down, the power and battery life are quite sufficient.

This chainsaw weighs only 6.6 pounds with the battery on. From tip to tail, it is about 19 inches. It is a truly compact unit. Climbers can easily hang the unit on the belt and do the work.

More than good, the chainsaw features a torque boost mode for sawing thicker materials.

Makita claimed that this saw is built for the professional tree care industry. I can't judge that statement, but based on my experience, the performance it provided truly belongs to the team of arborist experts.

Makita XCU06Z LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 10-inch Top Handle Chain Saw Specifications

Voltage

18V

Bar/Chain Length

10 inches

Charge Time

N/A

Runtime

175 cuts per charge

Highlight Features

Made to be light and compact for arborists. 5.0 amp battery capable of 175 cuts per charge

Verdict

Specifically made to serve climbers, this chainsaw is a winner in the race of compactness and light in weight.

Gas-Powered Chainsaws

Best Overall (Gas-Powered Chainsaws): Husqvarna 966997203 T435 Top Handle Saw

Husqvarna 966997203 T435 Top Handle Saw
Husqvarna 966997203 T435 Top Handle Saw
9Outstanding
Pros
  • Great for small jobs
  • Lower fuel consumption
  • Easy to steer
  • Reduce vibration
Cons
  • Small gas tank
  • A bit tricky to pull start

This is a great climbing saw, but you can use it as a ground saw if you have to do a lot of work with two hands. What's also nice about it is you can operate the unit with one hand or do a lot of cutting.

The design comes with an anti-vib system that reduces the vibration. Using the tool, you won't be feeling fatigued in a short time.

This chainsaw commits to a number of environmental regulations by consuming less power. I have been using non-ethanol gas on this unit, and it has had no issues starting ever. With 15 gallons filled, the machine can last around 30 minutes.

On the technical side, the saw features a 35.2 cc engine for the cylinder displacement. The power wire comes at 2 HP, and the RPM speed is 10k.

If you need a small chainsaw with easy maneuverability, this is the one. I have had no problem cutting down small trees and branches.

Husqvarna 966997203 T435 Top Handle Saw Specifications

Displacement

35.2 см³

Bar/Chain Length

12 inches

Weight

7.5 lbs

Highlight Features

High-efficient X-Torq® engine. Lower power consumption. Designed for easy maneuvering

Verdict

Whatever you need for a compact chainsaw that works efficiently, this one has them all.

Best For Chopping Wood (Gas-Powered Chainsaws): Ridgeyard Petrol Chain Saw Cutting Wood Gas-Powered Chainsaw

Ridgeyard Petrol Chain Saw Cutting Wood Gas-Powered Chainsaw
Ridgeyard Petrol Chain Saw Cutting Wood Gas-Powered Chainsaw
8.4Good
Pros
  • High-efficient engine
  • Great for the price
  • Durable chain
  • Compact design
Cons
  • Vibrate
  • Too sensitive safety bar

Chopping timber for your fireplace would become enjoyable if you had this chainsaw in hands.

The unit comes with a 25cc engine that has a lot of torque. It works quite well with a great balance. I had time using this saw cut down pine without having the edge of the chain deformed.

In fact, it bites wood more than I expected. It astonished me by how the saw eats through wood like butter. And the starting was a piece of cake as it only took one choke to get ignited.

Better than that, I have used the saw to cut trees that are 20 inches in diameter. The largest size I cut was 30 inches.

So far, the bar has shown no sign of wear. But defects appear on the safety chain break. Basically, it is too sensitive to the activation. And that makes the assembly a bit tricky.

Ridgeyard Petrol Chain Saw Cutting Wood Gas-Powered Chainsaw Specifications

Displacement

25.4cc

Bar/Chain Length

10 inches

Weight

9.3lbs

Highlight Features

High torque 25cc engine eats trees like butter. Portable and lightweight. 0.058 inch chain saw gauge

Verdict

This chainsaw makes chopping wood a breeze, even when the task is a routine.

Best For Trimming Trees (Gas-Powered Chainsaws): ECHO CS-271T 12 In. Chainsaw

ECHO CS-271T 12 In. Chainsaw
ECHO CS-271T 12 In. Chainsaw
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • Can be used with one hand
  • Sufficient power for trimming
  • Compact saw
  • Easy to assembly
Cons
  • Pricy

I fell in love with this saw right at the first look. It is a compact, lightweight, and high-performance chainsaw. If you have a lot of tree work to do and a bigger saw is too heavy for hours, this is the one you should not skip.

I'm not quite sure, but this could be one of the lightest gas-powered chainsaws on the market. And for trimming trees, it's outstanding.

Though looking a little toy-like, the saw is no joke to trimming. The unit features a 26.9cc engine and 12-inch bar for biting branches with the least effort. Lots of my fellow arborists and tree climbers love the saw.

The bar tensioner on this unit is right on the side for easy adjusting. I also want to mention that the saw has a clutch driven adjustable oiler. It spits out oil when you need it.

Because the unit is lightweight, it is super easy to handle. Though I don't recommend using the saw with one hand, it is possible with this unit.

ECHO CS-271T 12 In. Chainsaw Specifications

Displacement

26.9cc

Bar/Chain Length

12 inches

Weight

N/A

Highlight Features

Designed to be lightweight, compact, and portable. 26.9cc engine with plenty of power

Verdict

The saw is a workhorse for trimming. No arborist or tree climber should ever reject this chainsaw.

How To Choose The Best Top Handle Chainsaw?

Power tools are never easy to buy, especially for non-regular users. If you wonder which factors determine the best top handle chainsaw, I'll share with you right here.

Corded vs. Cordless

We all know the versatility of a cordless device. Those machines free you from the hassle of wirings and electrical issues. More than that, they are portable units allowing you to bring with no distance in mind.

But the downside of that freedom is less power. You will have to accept that there will be a limit in the cutting force on the unit and time of usage.

Corded chainsaws, on the other hand, are more powerful and stable. All you have to commit is the length of the cable. But you can extend the working distance by providing an extension to the cord.

Weight

Handling a heavy-weight chainsaw is a nightmare. You will know the pain when using it for hours.

For me, anything weighs less than 10 pounds is relatively acceptable. However, not many gas-powered chainsaws are available in such a weight. I know cordless chainsaws that weigh around 8 pounds. But of course, it sacrifices the weight to the efficiency of the motor.

When choosing a chainsaw, you can avoid strain by choosing a chainsaw that is not too heavy for your effort.

Battery life

This is a matter of wireless chainsaws. A lot of them don't last more than an hour.

Usually, for small jobs, a chainsaw that works 20 minutes is reasonable. But if you bring the unit to the wild, short battery life is likely to take you home sooner than you realize it.

My best advice is to have more than one pack of charged batteries to replace when the one you're using drains.

Safety

Safety is always the priority of using power tools. Features like a safety bar and second trigger are quite useful. It prevents accidents when you start the chainsaw or lose control of the tool.

Warranty

Don't trust devices that don't offer at least one year of warranty. Usually, a reliable chainsaw comes with a warranty of 2 years or more.

Many of them also offer a money-back guarantee. That said, you can rely on the warranty to decide.

Which Brands Make The Best Top Handle Chainsaw?

DEWALT

It's hard not to mention Dewalt in any list of power tools. Operating with sustainability and a woodworking spirit in mind since day one, DEWALT has a transparent definition in the way they produce. That means, products from DEWALT always come as the optimal solutions for garages, job sites, houses, and gardens.

Craftsmen

The history of Craftsmen has been growing as an epic with a number of chainsaws that serve and win tons of hearts. No wonder why they have been on the market for more than 90 years. Generations of American and worldwide customers have trusted and used devices from Craftsmen for good reasons, so do you.

FAQs

Are top handle chainsaws dangerous?

At some points, using a chainsaw can be dangerous. But that is only in case you don't follow the safety rules. Chainsaws from trustable brands always come with safety features to reduce the chance of risks.

Compared to other kinds of power tools, chainsaws are not more dangerous to use.

Why should you use a top handle chainsaw?

Top handle chainsaws are preferred mostly by arborists. They use the device to climb trees and prune branches.

Being less bulky than other types of chainsaw, top handle chainsaws are easy to maneuver. The power those power tools provide is also efficient enough to handle small to medium limbs.

Top handle vs. rear handle chainsaws?

In fact, the major difference between a top handle and rear handle chainsaw is the method we handle them.

You will hold a top handle unit from its top and tackle limbs from the above. That is why this chainsaw kind is more suitable for taking down branches from the tree's highest parts. They also come in a more compact size for better maneuverability.

However, top handle chainsaws drain energy. You will also find the kind more challenging to function as it requires a bit of familiarity.

Rear handle chainsaws bring in better control that reduces the risk of kickback or loss of control. Those machines are friendly to beginners and routine use.

On the bad side, rear handle chainsaws are two-handed units. They require you to use both hands to handle. Also, those chainsaws are only applicable for on-the-ground chores. Due to the design, they can't be used to reach higher branches, which is relatively inconvenient at some points.

How big of a tree can a 20-inch chainsaw cut?

Chainsaws with a bar of 20 inches can fall large hardwood trees around 30 to 36 inches in diameter. You can expect to cut down an oak, birch, hemlock, spruce, or beech.

Can you put an 18-inch bar on a 16-inch chainsaw?

The capability of blade size is usually indicated in the specs of the saw. Particularly, it relies on the engine power. It should be capable of handling the length you want to change to. Just make sure you read that before buying.

Or, follow this power-to-bar chart:

6 Best Top Handle Chainsaws of 2020

Reference: https://burlybeaver.com/chainsaw-longer-bar/

However, increasing the bar length is equivalent to decreasing the power. Meaning, having a longer bar means you have less cutting power.

Conclusion

It should not be hard to choose the best top handle chainsaw if you gather all the right information and merge with what you want. Simply put, just follow the buying guide I provided.

Using chainsaws, you should commit to all safety rules. And that's all I want to remind you of.

If you have any further questions about top handle chainsaws and chainsaws in general, please leave them in the comments. I'll answer as soon as I can.


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