A chainsaw is one of the essential DIY tools to have at home.
Small, gas-powered chainsaws, in particular, offer incredible benefits over their full-size counterparts.
With a bar and chain of 16 inches or under, small chainsaws are compact, mobile, and easy to manage.
In addition, their rugged design packs enough torque to power through light-duty work in a small package.
After scouring the market, comparing features, and identifying what it takes to be a worthy, compact chainsaw, our choice for the best small gas-powered chainsaw is easily the Husqvarna 120 Mark II 16-inch chainsaw.
While it can’t fell big trees, this chainsaw can complete all-around branch work, including pruning, limbing, and cutting. On top of that, it’s powerful enough to cut firewood.
Read on for our full review of the Husqvarna 120 Mark II 16-inch chainsaw, along with some other popular choices.
Best Small Gas-Powered Chainsaws – Overview
|Husqvarna 120 Mark II
|Craftsman S165 2020 Model
|SALEM MASTER 4216H
1. Husqvarna 120 Mark II – Best Overall
Husqvarna is on top of the game when it comes to delivering powerful consumer-level chainsaws. The 120 Mark II model is a homeowner’s go-to tool for limbing and pruning fallen trees. However, this lightweight chainsaw is also ready for light-duty professional jobs like landscaping. And as we mentioned before, it delivers enough torque for cutting firewood.
Powerful 2-Cycle Gas Engine
With a 38.2cc engine and 1.88hp power rating, the 120 Mark II is your best bet for slicing through 2x4s and overgrown branches. It makes it easy to work on a large garden without having to call in a professional.
You can also complement the best retractable garden hose for your yard with this chainsaw.
The 120 Mark II also boasts a large 0.073 gas tank. Compared to its previous model, the 240, you get a high markup of 324% fuel capacity. Moreover, this chainsaw is designed to be fuel-efficient so that you don’t need to carry a gas jerry can for refills.
Lightweight and Portable
When you fully assemble the Husqvarna Mark II, together with the fuel, you will be wielding only 17 pounds. This weight is pretty manageable in a chainsaw. That means you can take it to the woods with ease. It’s also the item you’d want for pruning since it gives you better control than a full-size chainsaw.
Husqvarna does not leave any stone unturned when it comes to safety. The chainsaw includes a vibration dampening system to complement its lightweight. The mechanism isolates vibrations so that they don’t reach the handles. As such, the tool is easy to use for long periods.
We like that it also includes a low-kickback chain and a built-in safety brake to minimize any risks during the task.
Easy to Start
First, this chainsaw offers a choke/stop control which reduces the risk of flooding. There is also a primer bulb pump that Husqvarna likes to call an Air Purge system. Basically, it gets rid of air from the carburetor and fuel lines so that the engine can start with fewer pulls.
The Air Purge mechanism is also handy when starting the engine in cold weather. It replaces the air in the carburetor and pulls in fuel, and delivers it to the engine. As such, when you pull on the starter cord, the chainsaw won’t sputter to a stop. Instead, it will start quickly, even if the power tool has been sitting in your garage for weeks.
Simple to Use and Maintain
The straightforward tensioning system allows fast and easy adjustments when working. You’ll also like that it has an automatic oiler to ensure that the chain works safely and effectively every time.
What’s more, the chainsaw can remove large debris before it reaches the air filter because of the air injection system. As a result, you spend less time inspecting the saw and more time completing the task.
So, how capable is the Husqvarna 120 Mark II?
Well, since it has a 16-inch bar and chain, combined with the 38.2cc engine, you get robust power to cut through logs as thick as 14 inches. However, you may want to limit yourself to 12-inch logs for long-term reliability.
Since this is a small chainsaw, its engine and air filter cannot deal with the debris and heat from heavy-duty tasks.
What’s Not to Like
Unfortunately, Husqvarna has not used a high-quality chain for this product. Although it’s not a high-end model, we would’ve liked to see a better chain, so you don’t have to sharpen it after a few jobs.
Another thing we noticed is that the saw needs some time to wear in. It may stall during the first 3-4 times of using, but that’s it. However, after using it for a while, it starts quickly and runs smoothly.
Husqvarna 120 Mark II is a well-rounded chainsaw for homeowners. It comes with every desirable feature you’d want in a power tool that’s not expensive. Moreover, its fuel efficiency to reliable cutting power and even ease of maintenance make light work of yard tasks.
- Sufficient cutting power
- Low-kickback chain
- It is fuel-efficient
- Lightweight and portable
- Air-injection system for easy starting
- The suspension system could be better
- Idle is set too high on some models
2. Craftsman S165 2020 Model 16-Inch – Best on a Budget
Craftsman is all about affordable tools for DIY jobs in personal workshops. The Craftsman 42cc 2020 model competes on the same level as Husqvarna’s 38.2cc. This is an excellent tool for pruning fruit trees, clearing paths, limbing, and other light-cutting jobs.
High Output Engine
At the center of this model’s steady delivery of power is a 42cc, full-crank, 2-cycle engine. It provides excellent strength to cut through tough jobs and is paired with a premium-quality 16-inch bar and chain to go through different kinds of wood with less effort.
On top of that, it has a high-quality Oregon bar and chain, meaning it won’t give you a hard time if it ever hits the dirt.
What’s more, it has a pro-grade chassis, which makes it reliable if you throw in a few heavy-duty tasks.
Superior Weight Balance
One of the best attributes of the Craftsman S165 is its weight distribution. For a model that weighs 21 pounds, you’ll be surprised by how comfortable the chainsaw feels in your hand. That also reduces operator fatigue so that you can use it for extended periods.
Even better, it comes with bucking spikes that provide exceptional leverage for better control.
This chainsaw does not have lots of bells and whistles. But for the price, we’re pleased that it includes an inertia-activated chain-brake. This feature protects your left hand from being stabbed by tree branches when clearing or bucking.
In the event of a kickback/rapid movement, the brake activates automatically to protect your hand from cuts.
Effortless to Start and Maintain
Craftsman S165 has a pretty easy start mechanism, a modified recoil starter spring that allows you to start the chainsaw in 2-3 pulls.
Craftsman includes an adjustable automatic oiler that makes lubrication stress-free to keep the chain in perfect working condition.
Also, it has tool-free access to the air filter and spark plug to make maintenance a breeze.
Suppose you have a heavy-duty chainsaw for big jobs on a worksite and need a small tag-along for the simple tasks. This power tool is the perfect choice in such situations. It can fell small trees, slice through 14-inch hardwood logs with relative ease, and chew through any type of wood without bogging down.
What’s Not to Like
Since this is an entry-level gas chainsaw, it doesn’t start easily when you let it sit unused for months. As a result, it’s going to need lots of priming if the carburetor gums up.
The Craftsman S165 chainsaw is a medium-duty power tool. It showcases incredible versatility for use by DIYers, enthusiasts, and homeowners.
So if you are in the market for an affordable chainsaw that packs sufficient power for most yard tasks, the S165 is a suitable choice for your needs.
- Bucking spikes for leverage
- Low kickback chain
- Inertia-activated chain-brake
- Cushioned aluminum handle
- 2-year warranty
- 3-point vibration dampening
- Its oil cap is close to the front handle
- The fuel draw is relatively weak
3. SALEM MASTER 4216H 42cc – Best Affordable Choice
The SALEM MASTER 4216H is by no means a power horse. So while you won’t be felling trees for a log cabin, it’s a valuable tool for average work on a ranch, homestead, farm, and garden. This product is for people on a tight budget who want to skip any unnecessary features that rack up the price.
Good Power to Weight Ratio
The power on this chainsaw can give you as much as 8500 RPM of the chain, but it doesn’t make the saw challenging to handle. The high-performance 42cc engine goes well with its 14.97 pounds body. These features are critical if you plan on using the saw daily.
The saw particularly shines at small jobs, including light firewood cutting, trimming, pruning, and DIY projects. It manages to output 2.1hp peak power while being way more lightweight than other small gas-powered chainsaws.
Aggressive Chain for Tough Tasks
The SALEM MASTER 4216H uses a 16-inch 3/8 pitch chain. This is a low-profile chain that cuts smoothly. It’s beefy with large teeth to ensure it can cut through tough wood relatively easily. Another thing to like about the chain is that the teeth are easier to sharpen than on .325 chains.
A comfortable handle is a must-have on any chainsaw. That’s why Salem Master has invested in a slip-resistant grip with shock-absorbing features. Although we would’ve liked to see a softcover like polyester, you may still find it pleasant to use as long as you’re wearing gloves.
Like other chainsaws, this model includes an automatic chain-brake and safety switch. The chain brake minimizes the chances of you hurting yourself in kickback, while the safety switch prevents the unit from starting while you’re carrying it.
Ease of Use and Maintenance
You’ll notice that most parts of the SALEM MASTER 4216H are not professional-grade. However, it comes with a quality primer bulb which helps to push fuel into the carburetor. This feature facilitates easy starts when the engine is cold.
As for the starter, the chainsaw has a big rope wheel design for the pull cord. It decreases the pull resistance to allow the chainsaw to start super quickly. And thanks to its air cleaning system, this power tool can eliminate gas emissions and keep the internal temperature low.
SALEM MASTER 4216H can handle any light-duty task you throw at it. With a 16-inch bar, it has a decent length to cut through thick branches but versatile enough for yard clean-up. Most people find it sufficient for everyday yard work since it cuts well right out of the box and idles without any chain movement.
What’s Not to Like
If it’s your first time assembling a chainsaw, the instructions for this model don’t help much. You’ll have to watch a few YouTube videos to get it right. Also, getting a replacement chain can be difficult. You’ll have to order the 57-link from the Oregon company since Amazon is selling the 56-link chain, which does not fit this model.
We like that SALEM MASTER 4216H is feature-packed at an affordable price. It delivers consistent power, effortless maintenance, and well-thought safety features. This chainsaw is ideal for light jobs like felling bushes, though it can also tackle challenging tasks once in a while. Just know its limits, and you’ll have a fantastic time with this tool.
- Low kickback chain
- Non-slip handle
- Shock-absorbing system
- Quick stop chain brake
- Auto-oil system
- The replacement chain is hard to find
- Assembly is relatively difficult to understand
4. ECHO OPE CS-310 14-Inch Chainsaw – Best for Beginners
With proper practice, anyone can fell and limb trees. However, you shouldn’t start with large, gas-powered models. Instead, a compact, lightweight model like the ECHO OPE CS-310 is just what you need as a beginner.
This chainsaw is not only lightweight but is also properly designed to offer easy control and maneuverability. So why should you opt for the ECHO OPE 14-inch saw over others?
Impressive Power to Weight Ratio
If you have to climb with a chainsaw on your hip, you should have a small but powerful unit. This chainsaw delivers full power in a compact size. In addition, it weighs only a pound higher than Echo’s lightest model, the ECHO CS-2511T. This combo makes it an ideal choice for the pros, too, since it improves maneuverability and productivity.
The ECHO CS-310 comes with a 30.5cc 2-stroke gas engine. It’s a professional-grade engine that is air-cooled to reduce emissions and maintain a low operating temperature.
ECHO also utilizes what it calls the Power Boost Vortex technology on its engine. Simply put, the technology makes the engine fuel-efficient by reducing heat scattering and friction.
A textured grip and side-access tensioning system are some of the features that make ECHO user-friendly. Also, the unit has an even weight distribution over the chassis. It also has a vibration reduction system that minimizes vibrations by up to 70 percent.
What we like most about the ECHO CS-310 is how easy it is to pull the starter rope and turn the engine using the i-30 starting system. Most people agree that their Echo starts with the second pull every time.
You can go for extended periods without cleaning the air filter because of Echo’s air pre-cleaner. This feature keeps away dust and debris from the air filter. It also reduces maintenance costs in the long run.
Moreover, you have a tool-less air filter cover for easy cleaning of the two-piece mesh air filter.
ECHO CS-310 is one of the few power tools that feature almost all safety features in the book. Firstly, the chainsaw has a tip guard to reduce kickbacks. Secondly, there’s a front and rear handguard, and lastly, it comes with a chain catcher to protect the right hand.
This chainsaw is perfect for arborists, hunters, carvers, ranchers, and homeowners. It is ideal for climbing, bush clearing, pruning, etc. The chainsaw punches above its weight since it can cut a 19-inch hardwood log like it’s nothing. It can also go through any amount of firewood, whether it’s wet or dry, without stalling.
What’s Not to Like
Starting this saw in the cold can be an absolute pain. Over-cranking will cause it to flood if you haven’t used it for a while. However, you can practice proper storage to prevent flooding. For example, you can remove all liquid and store the spark plug in a dry location until the following season.
The ECHO CS-310 is everything you could want in a gas chainsaw for beginners. It’s powerful for small trees and branches, generally, yard maintenance. Moreover, it boasts a high-quality Japanese build and is ready to go in ten minutes.
- User-friendly for a first-timer
- Easy to maneuver tight spaces
- Straightforward chain replacement
- It can take 14 and 16-inch chains
- It needs a lot of priming to start in the cold
- Leaks a bit of oil during use
5.Poulan P3416 16-Inch – Best for the Money
The Poulan P3416 is a reliable tool drawing from the many years that the company has been around. Everything from the chassis to the bar and chain is designed to deliver outstanding results.
Durable 2-Stroke engine
If you have a Husqvarna, you’ll notice that the engine on Poulan is pretty similar. It has an effective cleaning system to keep away dust and debris from the air intake.
However, it’s important to dust the tool before storing it since dust often accumulates on the saw. This will reduce stress on the saw, meaning you can go longer between air filter cleaning.
Poulan P3416 is one of the easiest chainsaws to start. It comes with a primer bulb that you can press to allow fuel intake to the carburetor. This process makes your engine ready so that it starts with one or two pulls on the cord.
Since this is not a pro unit, it does not have a bulb pump, so the engine cannot start without pulling the recoil starter.
Lightweight and Comfortable
Like other units here, Poulan P3416 is easy to handle and weighs only 11.8 pounds. The chainsaw includes an anti-vibration handle. Moreover, the extra-thick padding on the soft-grip handle means you can use it for long stretches without hurting your wrist.
As for safety, you get a chain guard that allows access to the chain brake. Also, the chain brake can activate automatically to reduce any risk caused by kickback.
Poulan includes clips on the side cover for instant access to the spark plug and air filter. It also offers an automatic chain lubrication system with variable oil flow. As a result, you can easily adjust the chain’s lubrication in any working condition.
Poulan P3416 is best used for lighter jobs. The medium-sized bar is excellent for felling small trees and cutting firewood. It makes easy work of getting into tight spaces while the large cut diameter can handle many types of wood.
What’s Not to Like
We noticed that this chainsaw has starting problems when it’s new. After digging further, we found that the engine rings are tightly packed. When you pull on the recoil starter, the fuel in the carburetor vaporizes, so you have to pull on it again. Regardless, you can expect simple starts once the rings wear in.
If you want a Husqvarna equivalent without spending a fortune, the Poulan P3416 is the top choice. Anyone, even those with limited strength, will find this tool manageable for everyday projects.
- Low-kickback Oregon chain
- Anti-vibration handle
- Effective primer bulb
- Auto-oiling system
- Comes fully assembled
- It can be difficult to start when new
- Requires a special tool to adjust the carburetor
Buying Guide – Choosing the Best Small Gas-Powered Chainsaw
While you may have nailed down the size of a small chainsaw, there are other features to consider in a high-quality model.
Remember that a chainsaw is a considerable investment, so be on the lookout for the best attributes before adding the tool to your arsenal.
An automatic oiler is helpful for the proper lubrication of the chain without having to activate it. Furthermore, a properly oiled chain is safe and efficient.
Spring Assist Starting
This feature reduces the effort required to gain the pulling force for a gas-powered chainsaw.
It’s best to work with a chain and bar with minimal risk of the saw being forced back unexpectedly.
Carbide Tip Chain
The last thing you want is blunt teeth if you accidentally hit a nail or dirty wood. But it only takes a fraction of a second to dull the saw’s teeth, which is why you need one with carbide tips.
However, carbide-tipped chains are not cheap. Still, it’s worth the investment since it rewards you with excellent durability.
As long as the chainsaw is gas-powered, it’s bound to have some level of vibrations. However, anti-vibration features make the tool a lot more comfortable to handle. Such a system is beneficial when you have lots of cutting to do.
Benefits of Small Chainsaws
Best for Light-Duty Work
From pruning to trimming, a small chainsaw is more efficient than a massive model, especially if you are dealing with small trees.
Most People Can Handle a Small Chainsaw
Thanks to their small weight, anyone will find a small chainsaw manageable. In addition, they don’t require much upper body strength, and you don’t have to worry about the long-term effects of wielding a heavy chainsaw.
Perhaps the best feature about a small chainsaw is its minimal weight. You can find these tools as light as 8 pounds. This makes it easy to carry them around, unlike the big-size models that weigh 20-30 pounds.
Easy to Maintain
Come to think of it, large, gas-powered chainsaws don’t just guzzle gas. Instead, your time is spent fixing and adjusting its numerous moving parts. On the other hand, small chainsaws have fewer moving parts, which means maintenance is usually painless.
Disadvantages of Small Gas-Powered Chainsaws
Limited Cutting Power
Sounds obvious, right? You cannot compare the power of a small chainsaw to a full-size one. The smaller motor means you probably won’t be able to fell big trees. As a result, heavy-duty work is better left to full-size tools.
You aren’t going to get through a thick trunk without moving around. In addition, the short bar length of these tools limits your reach. Therefore, we recommend having the bar at least two inches longer than the width of the tree.
1. Why does my chainsaw start and die?
The most probable reason is stale gasoline. If you had the chainsaw stored for a long time, the carburetor might be clogged. If this is the case, you can call in a professional to service the unit.
2. How often should you sharpen a chainsaw?
It depends on the type of cutting you perform. For example, wet wood can dull a chainsaw faster than dry wood. But, at the same time, dirt, nails, and rock dull the chain instantly.
3. Is it okay to guess the gas/oil quantity ratio?
Well, the simple answer is No.
Guessing or putting the incorrect amount of gas/oil can lead to premature engine failure and expensive repairs. Therefore, it’s best to stick with the manufacturer’s recommended ratio.
4. When is the right time to replace the chain?
When you notice that the drive links and teeth are broken, or the drive links are burred and no longer fit the bar correctly, it’s most likely time to replace the chain.
By now, we believe you have a pretty good idea of what chainsaw to get. We’ve recommended the best small gas-powered chainsaws to cover the needs of homeowners, DIY enthusiasts, arborists, and farmers/ranchers.
Overall, the Husqvarna 120 Mark II takes the top slot since it showcases every aspect of a small but powerful chainsaw. However, you can also go for the Poulan P3416 if you are looking for similar qualities as the Husqvarna. As for the most affordable yet efficient tool, you’ll be pleased with the Craftsman S165’s qualities.