The 5 Best Chainsaws for Beginners of 2024

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By Jake Hill

Chainsaws

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Buying your very first chainsaw can often be overwhelming. There are many different types with various features and specifications you might not be aware of; however, understanding how a chainsaw works and what these features can do for you is crucial.

For example, the STIHL MS 170 offers an Intellicarb compensating carburetor, while the EGO Power+ CS1604 works with tool-free chain tension adjustment. These features might not make much sense to a beginner, but both are very compelling characteristics.

But how can you know which is more suitable for you and your needs? This article will lay out all the details to help you understand and make the right decision on what is the best beginner chainsaw of 2023.

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Best Overall
Milwaukee M18

Milwaukee M18

  • Looks good
  • Powerful and fast cutting
  • Great run-time
10
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Best Value For Money
Toro 51851 16 inch Chainsaw

Toro 51851 16 inch Chainsaw

  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Great power for larger trees and branches
  • Very simple to use
9.5
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Editor's Choice
Craftsman S165 16 inch Chainsaw

Craftsman S165 16 inch Chainsaw

  • Lightweight
  • Great safety features
  • Fits an 18-inch bar
9
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Best Seller
Stihl MS 170

Stihl MS 170

  • Lightweight
  • Lots of useful features
  • Easy to maintain
     
9
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Budget Option
EGO Power+ CS1604

EGO Power+ CS1604

  • Fast and powerful
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Durable product
9
Check Current Price

The 5 Best Chainsaws for Beginners of 2023

Milwaukee M18

Best Overall
Milwaukee M18
10/10Our Score
  • Looks good
  • Powerful and fast cutting
  • Great run-time
  • The chain tends to fall off

Our best overall chainsaw for beginners is the Milwaukee M18 FUEL battery chainsaw, a powerful contender. This machine cuts faster than a gas chainsaw and is known for delivering up to 150 cuts on a charge.

This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a battery-operated machine, which might be best for inexperienced users. With a battery, the startup and maintenance are simpler, and you won’t need to be concerned about fuel emissions, which means these tools are more eco-friendly.

A high-powered battery chainsaw like this has been said to be just as good, if not better, than a gas equivalent, but with less noise and fumes, making the decision of which to buy relatively simple.

This chainsaw is perfectly designed for landscaping and yard maintenance, typical tasks for a beginner, but it also functions great for any job on a farm site. It has a Power State brushless motor that provides speed and strength to handle even more heavy-duty jobs if you need it to.

The lasting performance of the M18 FUEL is great, and the Redlink Plus intelligence feature offers protection against overload, overheating and over-discharge, making it an efficient tool to run.

The M18 FUEL can be purchased as a complete chainsaw kit, including a battery and charger. Milwaukee recommends using its M18 RedLithium High Output HD12.0 battery which offers an outstanding run-time and 50% more power than standard RedLithium HD packs.

The equipment is lightweight and handles well too. This, coupled with the tool’s power and speed, makes for a super comfortable and manageable job – perfect for someone with minimal experience to learn how to get the hang of it.

As a bonus, the classic Milwaukee black and red color combo gives your chainsaw a stylish edge and essentially elevates it a step above most of its competitors as the best beginner’s chainsaw that’ll look great in your toolshed too.

Toro 51851 16 inch Chainsaw

Best Value For Money
Toro 51851 16 inch Chainsaw
9.5/10Our Score
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Great power for larger trees and branches
  • Very simple to use
  • Heavier than some competitors

Our best value-for-money choice for a beginner’s chainsaw is the Toro 51851 16-inch 60V battery chainsaw. This tool is one of the easiest to use on the market and still gets the job done really well.

The chainsaw is easy to start because it uses a button and a pull trigger. It’s also a light, manageable weight, comfortable to hold and carry, and offers great control, making it ideal for less experienced users.

Despite this comfort and ease, the tool is powerful too. The full 16-inch bar allows for easy cutting of larger trees and branches, and the battery offers up to 40 cuts through 6-inch by 6-inch branches on a single charge.

The Toro 51851 is sold as a full chainsaw kit, including the battery and charger you’ll need to run your chainsaw. This eliminates the need to purchase a battery on your own or decide which type of battery to buy. You can simply make the purchase and get to work right away.

The battery makes it easy to use, fast, and quiet, not to mention the fact that you won’t need to deal with engine exhaust fumes or the restrictions of working with a cord.

It runs on a brushless motor with RunSmart onboard intel – technology that optimizes your RMPS and torque to provide you with the right amount of power when needed. This also increases the efficiency of your tool without needing to think about it.

This tool also offers professional-style chain tensioning and an automatic chain oiler designed to eliminate the need for too much maintenance on your tool. The Toro is easy to use and maintain, making it a complete win-win for beginner users.

As an ideal option for beginners doing small jobs around the yard, the Toro 51851 is a great value-for-money chainsaw in 2023.

Craftsman S165 16 inch Chainsaw

Editor's Choice
Craftsman S165 16 inch Chainsaw
9/10Our Score
  • Lightweight
  • Great safety features
  • Fits an 18-inch bar
  • Not well-suited to heavy work
  • Leaks oil from time to time

If you’re looking for a cheap alternative, the Craftsman S165 42 CC gas chainsaw might be your best option as a beginner.

This 16-inch chainsaw is the most affordable on our list but still offers excellent performance and steady speed. The 42 CC high-output engine offers a good amount of power to get some basic yardwork done and chop your firewood neatly and quickly.

The chainsaw can also take an 18-inch bar and chain, ideal for any bigger branches and trees you might need to work with while sawing.

This is yet another lighter and more comfortable option – weighing 12 lbs; Craftsman has also included a cushioned full handle wrap and anti-vibration system to ensure the tool is comfortable to operate.

It’s further well-balanced and maneuverable due to its weight, size, and overall design. The Easy Start Technology makes starting the tool simple and easy – simply pull the mechanism, and you’re running and ready to go.

As far as safety goes, the S165 has an inertia-activated chain brake, which stops the chain automatically to ensure your safety when using this equipment. Keep in mind that you always need to take extra precautions when using dangerous equipment, regardless of safety features.

The Craftsman is, unfortunately, a little light on the automatic oiler, so there’s a chance you’ll have to do the oiling job manually from time to time, and it might leak a little oil, too – keep this in mind if that’s something that would bother you.

This chainsaw might not be your go-to selection for more significant, heavy-duty jobs. However, if you’re looking for lightweight and durable machinery to keep in your tool shed, you can’t go wrong.

Stihl MS 170

Best Seller
Stihl MS 170
9/10Our Score
  • Lightweight
  • Lots of useful features
  • Easy to maintain
  • Best suited to smaller jobs
  • Carburetor issues
     

If you feel like you’re up to the task of using a gas-powered chainsaw, then you should consider our editor’s choice, the STIHL MS 170 16-inch 30.1CC gas chainsaw. The MS 170 is lightweight, compact, and comfortable to use – the perfect combination for a beginner.

This gas chainsaw is ideal for smaller home jobs such as trimming your yard, cutting small trees handling fallen limbs after a storm, and other general outdoor tasks. You can also use it to chop firewood for camping and even larger tasks around the yard when needed.

It uses a simple pull-start mechanism to increase the ease of use, and the tool is overall straightforward to maintain. It’s renowned for being a great piece of equipment for even the most inexperienced chainsaw users.

The STIHL makes use of an Intellicarb compensating carburetor. This is designed to automate the air/fuel adjustment in the machine, which means that it will automatically use air from the clean side of the filter without you needing to make any changes manually, simplifying the process.

The Ematic guide bar is another excellent feature of this product. When used in collaboration with a specified STIHL Oilomatic chain, it helps to reduce your oil consumption and further lubricate the chain more effectively.

Combined with the anti-vibration system and compact size, these characteristics make it an ideal product for someone picking up a saw for the first time: it’s small and light enough, comfortable, and safe too.

Unfortunately, a common issue with the MS 170 is that users often find that the carburetor needs frequent replacing, which might be seen as a challenge. However, for new chainsaw owners only using their chainsaws for odd jobs around the home, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

EGO Power+ CS1604

Budget Option
EGO Power+ CS1604
9/10Our Score
  • Fast and powerful
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Durable product
  • Difficult to set up
  • Heavy

Our bestselling chainsaw for beginners is the EGO Power+ CS1604, a super powerful battery-operated machine.

This chainsaw is also sold as a full kit, including the EGO Power+ 5.0Ah 56V ARC Lithium battery and charger. This is the battery recommended by EGO to achieve the promised 250 cuts on a 4×4.

The battery is also long-lasting, allowing you to keep working for extended periods of time and get more done on your job site without needing to stop for a charge. Battery operation also allows for a quicker and easier start than a gas chainsaw.

Another benefit of the battery is that you won’t be dealing with exhaust fumes or as much noise as you typically might expect from a chainsaw.

The Power+ CS1604 offers the performance and power of a 35CC gas chainsaw but without the fumes and a reduced sound, making it an excellent choice for any bigger job you may need to do.

The cuts are smooth and efficient due to the brushless motor, which delivers 6800 RPM, allowing you to cut through hardwood, softer woods, branches, thicker tree trunks, and more.

The 16-inch bar is also reversible and is equipped for IPX4-rated weather-resistant construction. It allows easy cutting through up to 12-inch diameter trees at a ferocious speed and a neatly done job, too, ideal for someone less experienced.

The speed and power make this chainsaw incredibly easy to use. Even for beginner users, getting a task done quickly and efficiently is no trouble, which helps to make up for the fact that this is a slightly heavier model weighing 16 lbs in total with its battery.

Aside from speed, power, and ease of use, the Power+ CS1604 is also packed with other features you might be looking for. The tool-free chain tension adjustment makes it easy to manage and maintain, and the low kickback design makes for more comfort, too, offering a manageable tool and peace of mind.

The chainsaw might be considered slightly tricky to set up at first, which might pose a problem for beginner users. However, for a consumer-grade product, it provides all the power needed for working in your yard, chopping firewood, or cleaning up after a severe storm, which makes up for this minor setback.

How to Choose the Best Chainsaw for Beginners

When you’ve never used a chainsaw before, picking the right tool can be extra daunting. You probably won’t know what to look out for, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the options.

To help you through the process, here are the most important features you should look for, especially as a beginner user.

1. Ease of Use

First of all, a beginner should be looking for a no-fuss tool. Your first chainsaw should be simple to use without too many complications or too much maintenance to worry about.

Seek out a chainsaw that’s easy to start and doesn’t require in-depth knowledge or skills to get up and running. The perfect example of an easy-use chainsaw is the Toro 51851. The fact that this tool is battery-operated makes it even simpler to get going, and the maintenance is minimal.

Looking for uncomplex equipment will help you become familiar with what it’s like to use a chainsaw, and you’ll be able to figure out your needs so that your next purchase is more in line with other preferences you might have.

2. Weight and Size

Next, as a beginner, you’re looking for something comfortable. Nothing will make your first chainsaw experience an utter disaster like struggling to simply hold the tool upright!

For ultimate comfort, you’ll want to opt for a lighter and more compact chainsaw. These will be lighter to hold and carry around, and a smaller piece of equipment will be easier to maneuver too.

The Craftsman S165 does an excellent job in the size and weight department if this is your main priority. This chainsaw also offers the cushioned full handle wrap, which makes holding the tool for an extended time much more comfortable.

3. Speed and Power

As a beginner, you’re probably only thinking of investing in a chainsaw to use in your backyard for some odd landscaping jobs. This might give you the impression that you don’t need much power out of your tool.

However, opting for a more powerful chainsaw is actually important for a beginner user. In the same way that a new driver will struggle with a car with less engine power, you’ll want to make sure that your chainsaw has the strength it needs to complete the job.

A speedier and more powerful cut will also mean that you don’t need to hold the chainsaw for as long, making the job quicker and more comfortable overall.

For optimal power and speed, an option like the Milwaukee M18 FUEL might be just what you need. This chainsaw is already a comfortable fit, but its power and speed will greatly enhance your job.

4. Safety

Safety is a critical concern for users of any ability level, especially for a beginner. Choosing a chainsaw you feel safe, and confident using should be a top priority, even once you gain more skills and experience.

Each chainsaw discussed has been designed with safety in mind, but the Craftsman S165 might be your best safety-focused option. Not only is the tool light and comfortable to use, but it also has specific safety features to consider.

The main benefit of the Craftsman is the inertia-activated chain brake, which stops the chain automatically. This can help prevent accidents that might result in injury and will put your mind at ease while working.

Remember that even with safety features in place, it’s vital to work carefully and mindfully with any piece of equipment and to have protective gear and other safety precautions in place before starting.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the best chainsaws for beginners in 2023 are any of the above five tools. Each one offers fantastic features and will make the user’s first chainsaw experience simple, easy, and painless.

Remember to conduct thorough research, consider your personal needs before purchasing a chainsaw, and consult with the salespeople in-store before making a final decision. You should also always wear protective gear, especially when working with powerful equipment for the first time.

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