The 10 Best Top Handle Chainsaws (By Category)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

Chainsaws can prove to be highly effective tools to have at your disposal, especially if you have to deal with cutting thick branches, trees, or other thick pieces of wood. But as with any tool, you will quickly notice several options available on the market.

Now I know that then causes an immediate problem. After all, I like to think I have a bit of experience dealing with tools, but even I look at the number of top handle chainsaws out there and wonder where to start my search.

But at the same time, I also don’t want you to stress. Don’t worry; I have you covered. 

What I have done is I have sat and worked my way through countless top handle chainsaws to come up with a list of the top 10 on the market right now. But I’ve also sought to make it even easier for you by breaking things down into categories to help you find the right one for your needs.

my top handle chainsaw

How I Made My Selection

I’m aware that most people will look at the price straight away. It seems like a human thing to do, but there’s much more to a top handle chainsaw than just the price. 

So, when going through my list, I looked at different criteria. OK, so the price was one thing I looked at, but reliability, safety, blade length, chain tensioning, and overall what others thought of the chainsaw all came into play.

In the end, I could then come up with these 10 different top handle chainsaws. So, let’s start going through them and helping you find the perfect one for your needs.

Best Professional Top Handle Chainsaw – Makita XCU02PT

  • Power: 2 x 18V batteries
  • Speed: 1650 FPM
  • Blade: 12 inches
  • Weight: 10.1 lbs

Choosing a top handle chainsaw as my overall best one wasn’t easy, but I finally settled on the Makira XCU02PT for several reasons.

First, even though it is powered by two batteries, the entire chainsaw only comes in at just over 10 pounds. That’s pretty light when you consider batteries are one of the heaviest components.

Also, the two batteries deliver tremendous power with a speed of 1650 FPM. You should have no real problems ripping through branches due to this power.

But one thing I also look at in a chainsaw is how comfortable it is to hold it, and there’s no problem with this model. The front handle has a rubberized grip and is both soft and comfortable to hold. Also, the entire chainsaw feels well-balanced, reducing fatigue in your arms.

Lastly, I like how this chainsaw requires little in the way of maintenance, thanks to the auto-oiling mechanism. It is packed with safety features, such as an electric chain brake, and you feel confident when using this particular chainsaw.

Overall, it’s just an excellent chainsaw.

Pros

  • It is packed with power, so it makes short work of things
  • It feels comfortable when holding it
  • The chainsaw is not too heavy
  • It has an auto-oiling mechanism, so no need to keep on stopping
  • The chainsaw will cut off automatically if you lose grip

Cons

  • At 12 inches, the blade length may be too short for some jobs

Best Echo Top Handle Chainsaw – CS-271T-12

  • Power: 26.9cc 2-stroke gas engine
  • Bar Length: 12 inches
  • Weight 11 lbs

Echo is a well-known and respected brand, and if you want to know the best top handle chainsaw in their product range, then I suggest the CS-271T-12. I love the engine that comes with this model. Not only is it highly efficient, but it delivers ample power for most jobs.

But it’s also the technology in the engine that makes this version stand out. It comes with a purge bulb, which ensures the gas gets to where it needs to be to deliver maximum power. Also, I love how it comes with a pre-cleaner which prevents dirt build-up in the engine leading to less maintenance.

This model also has an anti-vibration mechanism that reduces fatigue and makes life more comfortable. But I also noticed several people state they can use this chainsaw with one hand, thanks to the grip.

Overall, this chainsaw does not have any unique additional features regarding cutting, but the engine is the one thing that has led to me including it on my list.

Pros

  • The engine requires little in the way of maintenance
  • It has a fantastic anti-vibration mechanism
  • You could actually use this chainsaw with one hand
  • The power it delivers is outstanding

Cons

  • It is slightly on the heavier side of things

Most Powerful Top Handle Chainsaw – Echo CS-355T

  • Power: 35.8cc 2-stroke engine
  • Bar Length: 16 inches
  • Weight: 10 lbs

I have another model from Echo, and this time it’s an absolute beast known as the CS-355T. I say it’s a beast as it comes with a 35.8cc engine and a 16-inch bar, so this has the power and reach to cut through most things.

But aside from the power, I also love the ignition with this model. It comes with their digital ignition system, which reduces effort and energy by around 30%. That makes things far more efficient, leading to more power being transferred to the bar.

I must also mention the handle because it’s ergonomically designed, making it comfortable to hold. Getting a good grip does help your confidence in using the chainsaw, so this is another bonus.

Overall, the main thing I love about this chainsaw is its absolute power. You stand a good chance of making short work of any job.

Pros

  • It has a fantastic engine
  • It comes with a wonderful grip
  • The starting mechanism makes life so much easier
  • The bar is long enough for most jobs

Cons

  • It’s expensive

Best Stihl Top Handle Chainsaw – Stihl MS 261 C-M Chainsaw

  • Power: 50.2 cc motor
  • Bar Length: 16 – 20 inches
  • Weight: 10.8 lbs

The Stihl MS 261 C-M chainsaw is a fantastic example of what this company can produce in the way of tools. It comes with a massive 50.2 cc motor, and with the option of up to a 20-inch bar length, you can already see how this model can deal with a wide range of projects.

But it’s not just the power I love here. I also like their engine management system. It means less care for the motor as the machine does so much for you. It also has an onboard computer that monitors and delivers the perfect fuel amount for optimum performance.

That’s clever, and it’s not something you see on many chainsaws. It also stops the chainsaw from overheating, which would then damage parts, so this chainsaw really does look out for you.

It comes with everything else you expect from a top handle chainsaw, but I feel the engine management system is the main reason it appears on this list.

Pros

  • The engine management system is one of the best things on the market
  • The motor has a considerable amount of power
  • The bar length is massive
  • The computer system helps maintain the chainsaw

Cons

  • It may be intimidating for anyone new to chainsaws

Best Battery Top Handle Chainsaw – Makita XCU08Z

  • Power: Two 18V batteries
  • Bar Length: 14 inches
  • Weight: 10.84 lbs

I’ve already mentioned Makita earlier, and this is yet another fantastic example of a battery-powered chainsaw. This version also comes with two 18V batteries, and the bar length is a perfectly reasonable 14 inches.

Makita states that the battery’s quality leads to it delivering 25% faster cutting power than the equivalent powered gas motor chainsaw. I like that this model comes with a lock lever that engages should an accident occur or if the bar jams.

Once again, I feel this chainsaw is comfortable to hold, and I always promote that as one of the critical things when choosing a chainsaw. It is slightly heavy at almost 11 pounds, but it’s not the heaviest.

Overall, the battery lifespan with this model is above average, even though it does involve you needing to buy the batteries as they are not always included. 

Pros

  • The motor is impressive and requires little maintenance
  • The bar length is perfectly reasonable for most jobs
  • The lock lever makes it safer to use
  • The handle feels comfortable to hold

Cons

  • You need to buy the batteries

Best Top Handle Chainsaw for the Money – DeWalt DCCS620P1

  • Power: 20V 
  • Bar Length: 12 inches
  • Weight: 8.8 lbs

I’ve always loved DeWalt tools, as you know precisely what you are getting, and this top handle chainsaw is no exception. It comes with an impressive 20V battery that will certainly make quick work of logs, and that 12-inch chain also works exceptionally well.

It also comes with a brushless motor, which means it needs little maintenance and is ideally suited for various outdoor jobs. In addition, DeWalt has managed to keep it lightweight, so it doesn’t feel as if it will tire you out in next to no time.

With its size and power, I see this as one of the best chainsaws for those smaller jobs in and around your property. It does have some limitations with the bar length, but you should still find it easy to cut through reasonable sized logs without too many problems.

Pros

  • It’s relatively lightweight to use
  • It doesn’t feel as if you will be left fatigued
  • It’s perfect for small jobs 
  • The brushless motor is highly efficient
  • The battery gives enough power for most jobs

Cons

  • The battery can drain quite quickly
  • Some people have reported chain oil leaking from time to time

Biggest Top Handle Chainsaw – Farmertec Holzfforma G111

  •  Power: 35.2cc engine
  • Bar Length: 16 inches
  • Weight: 10 lbs

If you prefer a top handle chainsaw aimed more at heavy-duty tasks, then this G111 model is certainly one I would tell you to look at. 

With a 35.2cc 2-stroke engine and a 16-inch bar, this chainsaw is a force to be reckoned with. Also, at only 10 pounds in weight, it’s not too heavy to hold either. This model is big and bulky for me, but it also feels like a solid piece of kit in your hand.

While the model may not be the most comfortable to hold, it’s certainly still capable of performing admirably in harsh conditions. You just know by the feel of it that this is a reliable and sturdy chainsaw. With a good sized tank, you will notice it is also relatively fuel-efficient, which is always a real bonus.

Pros

  • This is a powerful chainsaw
  • It is very fuel-efficient
  • It is a heavy-duty chainsaw
  • A 16-inch bar is long enough for most jobs

Cons

  • It’s not the most comfortable to hold

Best Gas Powered Top Handle Chainsaw – Pinkway 2-Cycle

  • Power: 26cc 2-stroke engine
  • Bar Size: 12 inches
  • Weight: 8.27 lbs

While Pinkway may not be the most prominent name, this gas powered chainsaw is actually one of the best. The 26cc 2-stroke engine delivers enormous power, partly helped by the fact it’s pretty light for this type of chainsaw.

Also, I love that this model does not cost the earth, which is another huge bonus. In addition, the company states its chainsaw is very resistant to wear, so it appears capable of putting up with a lot of use.

The chainsaw has also been ergonomically designed, so it’s easy and comfortable to use. It does also come with the usual additional features to help keep the bar running smoothly, so overall, this chainsaw is a fantastic possible option for you.

Pros

  • It has a wonderful motor offering amazing efficiency and power
  • It is very resistant to wear
  • It has been ergonomically designed
  • You can use it with one hand

Cons

  • The bar may be too short for bigger jobs

Best Budget Top Handle Chainsaw – Greenworks G-Max 40V

  • Power: 40V battery
  • Bar Length: 16 inches
  • Weight: 10.36 lbs

If you are looking for a budget top handle chainsaw capable of performing at the highest level, I suggest the Greenworks G-Max 40V. 

This model comes complete with a 40V battery that delivers impressive power, and that 16-inch long bar will rip through thick logs and branches with fantastic ease. But that’s not the only reason why I have included this model.

Greenworks may offer lower-priced chainsaws, but their reliability is right up there with the best. Also, people report that this chainsaw is exceptionally easy to start, and that’s important.

Plus, the anti-vibration system works well in this model. I find that makes things far more comfortable and makes the chainsaw easier to use. 

But on the downside, it is lacking in a tool less chain tensioning system. That means you need to stop and do it manually. However, correct maintenance should reduce the chances of running into too many problems.

Overall, this budget chainsaw packs a punch, and that is why I’ve included it.

Pros

  • It doesn’t cost a fortune
  • It has a potent motor
  • The bar length is long enough for most jobs
  • The anti-vibration system works well

Cons

  • Not having a tool less tensioning system is a drawback

Best Husqvarna Top Handle Chainsaw – T435 Top Handle Chainsaw

  • Power: 35.2 cc engine
  • Bar Length: 14 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds

If you are in the market for a reliable brand, then Husqvarna is undoubtedly one name to consider. However, with several options within the brand, I’ve gone for the T435 as the best top handle chainsaw from Husqvarna right now.

This gas-powered chainsaw comes with a 35.2 cc engine, which packs a punch right from the outset. While I’ve mentioned the 14-inch bar model here, it’s also available in 12 and 16-inch bars.

At under eight pounds, this chainsaw also comes across as very light. That is one reason some individuals mention it’s the perfect chainsaw to use when holding down something with one hand and cutting with the other. 

The chainsaw feels balanced when in use, and don’t worry too much about it being gas-powered. This is viewed as a chainsaw with very low emissions and doesn’t use up too much fuel.

But one thing I do absolutely love about this model is its anti-vibration system. It helps you feel in complete control at all times, and you just believe you won’t run into too many problems when using the model.

Overall, it’s simple and highly effective as a top handle chainsaw. Oh, and don’t forget you get that Husqvarna reliability as well.

Pros

  • It weighs almost nothing for a top handle chainsaw
  • It has a powerful gas-powered engine that’s easy to use
  • You get three different bar lengths to choose from
  • It won’t shake you up with vibrations
  • You could, in theory, operate it with one hand

Cons

  • Some may not like the fact it’s so light

How to Choose the Best Top Handle Chainsaw

using top handle chainsaw

I know you will probably look at the different top handle chainsaws listed above and still feel partly confused as to which one to purchase, so let me help. 

I’ve been there myself, trying to weigh everything up, so I have a few tips that could make a difference regarding the things to look out for.

Bar Length

The bar length undoubtedly plays a role in your decision. After all, if you know you will cut through thicker logs, will a 12” bar length actually do the job? Probably not leaving you somewhat frustrated.

So I suggest thinking about what you will be cutting to narrow things down according to bar length. Typically, you are looking at 12”, 14”, and 16” models being available.

Battery or Gas?

Top handle chainsaws will fall into two power categories, those powered by a battery and those by gas. Often, it’s personal preference as to which one people go for. 

However, gas-powered chainsaws tend to require more maintenance as they have more parts to pay attention to, which could be a deciding factor. 

But the key here is to, once again, think about the jobs you will be doing with your chainsaw. Generally, gas-powered is better than a battery for larger jobs. It comes with more power and can rip through more challenging materials with more ease.

Yet if you plan on cutting smaller logs, and don’t mind re-charging batteries, then the battery option is better. Also, it tends to feel lighter.

Weight and Vibration

I would also suggest looking at the weight of the chainsaw before buying. This becomes even more important when you plan on doing longer jobs with the chainsaw. Fatigue is brutal and can make using the chainsaw more dangerous. 

As I mentioned earlier, gas-powered chainsaws tend to weigh more. But there’s another point here, and it’s vibration. 

The problem with excess vibrations is how it exhausts your hands and arms. I suggest checking if the chainsaw has any anti-vibration mechanism. That cutting down of vibration makes a huge difference.

Safety Features

Safety remains a huge deal, and you want to own a chainsaw that cuts out as soon as you let go or if the bar jams. This is something that should happen automatically. A chainsaw that leaves the blade spinning is not something you want to own.

Additional Features

While the points mentioned above remain key, I suggest you check out several other features.

First, try to purchase a chainsaw that has auto-lubrication. That keeps things running smoothly, which means you don’t need to continually stop and start your project. 

Another key area is the automatic tensioning of the chain. Once again, you don’t want to have to keep stopping to tighten things up. You need your chainsaw to do the hard work for you, and there are enough examples on the market that will do just that.

But overall, the key is to know what you plan to do with your chainsaw and focus on buying one with a long enough reach and enough power to allow you to complete your project.

Overall Conclusion

If you intend to cut things off the ground, then a top handle chainsaw should be your primary focus. It makes life so much easier and is also the safer option for actual cutting.

But as I’ve said several times, pay attention to what you will be cutting and the reasons behind purchasing a top handle chainsaw. That helps you narrow things down and allows you to stand a better chance of selecting the perfect top handle chainsaw for your needs.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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