Review: Go Electric for Your New Chainsaw

With hundreds of trees spread across the farm, we knew that trimming branches and clearing downed limbs would be a part of the ongoing maintenance. In fact, on day one we found a small tree that had been knocked down by the previous week’s wind storm and was blocking a path. Time to go tool shopping!

The Contenders:

My requirements for a chainsaw weren’t too picky, but still helped me whittle down the field to a handful of options.

  1. Cordless electric. I didn’t want to deal with a gas saw. While they’re powerful and have longer run times, they can require more maintenance – like winterization – and can be heavier. A cordless electric saw is ready to go at a moment’s notice.
  2. Light. While there may be situations where I need a more powerful saw, most of the upkeep will involve cutting up small branches. I’d rather have a smaller, maneuverable saw that doesn’t weight a ton, since it’ll get lugged all around the property.
  3. Long-lasting. Some battery-driven saws can poop out pretty quickly. This is a hassle if you only have a single battery, as those batteries can take up to an hour to recharge. So I looked for saws with a good run-time.
  4. Affordable. While it’s tempting to buy the absolute top-of-the-line, this isn’t a tool I’m going to be using every day. I’m a big believer in buying quality tools, but I’ve found opting for the mid-range model of a great brand will often be the best mix of affordability and quality.
  5. Immediate availability. Since the tree was blocking a path that needs mowing, I wanted a saw that was available to buy here in town, which knocked a number of good options out of contention.

DeWalt FlexVolt

Wouldn’t arrive until next weekend

I’ve had pretty good luck with an assortment of DeWalt power tools over the years, so this saw was high on my list. It’s quite powerful and has a huge battery – both plusses – but it seemed a little heavy for its intended uses and wasn’t immediately available. A deal killer, unfortunately. More info on the DeWalt FlexVolt.

Makita XCU07PT


I’ve been a big Makita fan – my beloved Makita drill and impact driver never let me down; their batteries eventually died on me but the units were still running as-new. So I was excited at the prospect of getting another excellent tool from them. Unfortunately, the saw in my price range was an 18 volt setup. While the small size and maneuverability was really appealing, I was worried that it was too small for dealing with any bigger branches. Ultimately, it wasn’t the right fit for our needs. More info on the Makita XCU07PT.

Stihl MSA 200

The big daddy stihl

Okay, this is the saw I wanted. It’s the bigger, badder Stihl. But…being bigger and badder carries a $350 premium, and I’m just not going to use it all that much. But it’s an excellent all-rounder saw with tons of power, great durability, and, from what I have read, very good ergonomics. I will probably regret not buying this one at some point in the future, but the $350 I saved will keep the supply of puppy treats steady for a good long while. More info on the Stihl MSA 200.

Stihl MSA 120

The saw I bought

It’s light. It’s pretty powerful. It has a great battery. It was available. It’s a handsome saw, as they go. For a number of reasons and a lot of good reviews, the Stihl MSA 120 is the capable cordless that ended up in our barn. I have to say, as a first-time chainsaw owner, I’m happy with how fast and easy it was to clear up a bunch of branches. Heck, with all the wood cuttings, we may even have to build a little fire pit. Stay tuned! More info on the Stihl MSA 120.

Chris Shows His New Chainsaw in Action

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