Good moderate-use chain saw for $200?

thefuzApril 3, 2006

Hello all,

Looking for a chainsaw that's good for moderate use (tree maintenance and possibly downing a few small trees) and am wondering what I should look for in the range of around $200.

The local Costco has a 40cc (or is it 44cc), 18 inch Pousan for $160, and home depot has a slightly larger one for $199. Both of these seem packed with all sorts of buzz words like anti-vibration, self lubricating, breaking, etc. Is this a model I should consider or should I be looking for something else.

I've never owned a chain saw, nor do I have a great deal of experience with them. Any advice is much appreciated.

- Mike

PS - Checked around on the forums and haven't seen anything specific to the Pousans on sale today. Not stuck on Pousan by any means though - just want something reliable that's easy to use (and I don't want to go electric).

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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

In my opinion, the best chain saws are made by Stihl and Husqvarna. I prefer the Husqvarna chain saws. You can buy a model 340 over the internet for $236 including shipping with no sales tax for CT. Another option would be to buy it from a local dealer if you prefer a dealer relationship.

Here's a link:

Husqvarna 340

This saw is a bit over your budget but it is a step up in quality compared to the Poulan saws you've looked at. I'm sure you would like it.

-Deerslayer

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 3:50AM
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canguy(British Columbia)

I agree with Deerslayer. A few dollars more now will save a lot of grief later, particularily when you need parts and service. This is not Poulan's strong suit. Given your lack of experience with saws, I strongly suggest you purchase from a knowledgeable dealer. He will get you set up with the right saw for your needs along with safety equipment and operating tips. I sell saws and spend as much time as possible with the first time buyers. I don't want to read about them in the Monday paper.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 4:20AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

+1 on the above comments. Try searching this forum for chainsaw. The topic has been covered a few times.

You will find that people also like the Echo line too. Additionally, dealer support should play a good part in your decision. For these type of tools it is very nice to have a shop that can actually repair and maintain your saw for the long haul. You'll be glad you purchased the saw from them when you need something. Plus it does feel good to support a local merchant. The big box stores probably get enough of your money as it is.

I have not heard good things about newer Poulan's. Some have said their older models could be good (20+ years old?). In any case, you are almost gauranteed to not find good support for them.

I like my Stihl. Husky, Echo and Stihl will have a model(s) that will fit your needs. You won't regret the purchase when it works all the time.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 9:56AM
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montesa_vr(Minnesota)

I agree witht he above posters that Husky and Stihl are the names to start with if you want best price\quality ratio in a medium sized saw, i.e.. Husqvarna's 350 and Stihl's MS250. However, Echo has a better quality reputation on the smaller saws.

For your intended use I would take a hard look at the Echo CS-305 Chainsaw. Speedway has it for $199, although you would be better off to buy it from a local full service dealer.

A small saw will cut anything, if slowly. However, a too-heavy saw will be dangerous and unpleasant to use. My hat is off to guys who can cut firewood all day with a Stihl 290. I'm too wimpy for that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Echo at Speedway

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 1:27PM
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thefuz

Thanks much for the advice thus far, all.

I called a few places nearby and dropped by a store this afternoon to check out the different models in person. The Husqvarna 340 felt much heavier than the comparable Stihl model I was shown (I'm pretty sure it was the MS250, as montesa_vr mentions). Prices were $265/$229 respectively. With taxes and everything figured in, that's about $45-60 more than buying online from Speedway. The dealer didn't mention anything specifically about service or maintenance through them - should I expect better service if I buy from them?

Also, being a first time owner of one of these appendage mangling devices... any good safety tips beyond "don't touch the spinning chain"? Anything I should avoid when making cuts (old wood vs. new, etc.)?

Thanks again for the help - I love this forum!!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 4:16PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Try this site: Chainsaw FAQs

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 4:35PM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

The Husqvarna 340 powerhead weighs 10.4 lbs and the Stihl MS 250 & 230 weigh 10.8 lbs. Did the chain saws have the same size bars?

-Deerslayer

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 7:18PM
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computeruser

Like everybody else said, avoid any current production Poulan/Homelite/McCulloch like the plague. Complete junk. Sure, there are occasional people who have good experiences with them, but they are a definite minority. The Husqvarna 1xx series saws should be avoided, too. They are simply rebadged Poulans that Husqvarna provided some (limited) input on. They are better than Poulans, but not nearly as good as the true Husqvarnas.

As I'm sure you're finding, at $200 you are at the very lowest price bracket for a decent saw. If there is any way to stretch your budget a bit, I would save/skrimp a bit. You will be much happier in the long run.

For saws that are worth considering at $200 or less, Stihl's 180 is a good choice and it gets a good report from a lot of users. Just don't try to use it like a big saw. It is probably the best sub-$200 saw you'll find.

Also, the tail-handle Echo saws like the CS346 (not the top handle ones, those are for use while in trees and not on the ground!!!) are extremely durable and will tolerate a great degree of neglect and still work. They are not extremely powerful, but they are as durable as can be. One point of critique and a quick solution: the internal-tensioner "Intenz" feature of the Echo-supplied bars is annoying and problematic. A conventional tensioner screw-and-pin can be obtained from any Echo dealer for about $7. It can be retrofitted to the saw in less than 2 minutes and used with the Intenz bar to make a much happier setup (just use this in place of using the Intenz feature to adjust the chain tension).

Beyond that, if you can swing the extra dollars it a Stihl MS250 is a superb choice and will last the average homeowner a lifetime. It is an excellent saw for homeowner use and can be reasonably expected to run a 18" bar in a pinch (16" being a better everyday setup). It is the same physical size as the 210/230 saws, but packs a bit more oomph. If I was limited to one saw for homeowner-type uses and couldn't justify the cost of a pro-grade saw (like the Husqvarna 346, Stihl 260pro), the MS250 would be my choice.

The Husqvarna 340 and 345 are also good little saws worth considering for your purposes, though I would give the edge in this size/power class to the Stihl MS250.

And whatever you choose to buy, don't forget your protective gear - eye and ear protection, good gloves, and protective chainsaw chaps or pants. Seriously, don't skimp out on the leg protection. Sure, they cost a couple bucks, but they're a heck of a lot less expensive than having your leg sewn back up.

For loads more chainsaw information, you might wish to look at the chainsaw forum at arboristsite.com.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 7:41PM
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