Chainsaw

4 gas-free chainsaws for the cottage

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Juiced by lithium-ion cells, battery-powered chainsaws have from toy to big-boy tool. I field-tested four 40V cordless chainsaws by running them repeatedly through a 5×5 timber. They all offer quiet, fume-free operation, instant starting, and remarkable power and run time. You can even use them for some indoor demolition jobs. And, unlike their gas-powered brothers, they don’t need winterizing or leave any fuel stink in your car if you take them home.

1) STIHL MSA 160 C-BQ
This 12″, 36V product from one of the most popular chainsaw makers ranked first overall in my testing: fastest cut time, longest run time, and superb ergonomic design. It’s also the lightest saw at 10.8 lbs, and features tool-free chain tensioning. But superior performance doesn’t come cheap: The saw retails for $299, the charger $75, and the battery $199 (buy a spare battery for any of these saws to avoid downtime). More info: STIHL

2) OREGON CS250-E6
Oregon’s 14″, 40V saw had the second- fastest cut time and a long run time, but tended to stall and was the only saw I tested where setting the chain tension is old-school (you loosen the retaining nut and adjust with a screwdriver). A big plus is the self-sharpening feature, similar to Oregon’s PowerSharp technology (see p. 96): Simply lift the lever for a few seconds to sharpen the custom chain. Weighs 12 lbs. Saw, battery, and charger: $399; extra battery: $100. More info: OREGON

3) Ryobi RY40510
Selling for about $229 (including battery and charger; $129 for an extra battery), Ryobi’s 12″, 40V model is the lowest-priced saw I tried. While its cut time was slowest, it was one of the hardest to stall. I found the throttlerelease mechanism awkwardly positioned and, unlike the others, this machine lacks a chain brake (it does have a kickback guard). A tad heavy, it tips the scales at 15 lbs, but it is well balanced. Like the Stihl, it features tool-free chain tensioning. More info: Ryobi Tools

4) Makita HCU02ZX2
Already own Makita cordless tools? This 12″ can use two 18V Makita batteries ($199 each) or one 36V battery ($399). It tied with the Oregon for second-fastest cut time and was hard to stall. While it’s only 11 lbs, I found the two batteries make the saw rear-heavy and least comfortable to work with. It’s also pricey: The saw sells for around $510 (without batteries); a high-speed charger is $119. More info: Makita