Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaw… Ah, the age-old question Humans have been pondering for years… Which is best, Stihl or Husqvarna? Should I buy a Stihl chainsaw or a Husqvarna chainsaw? Let’s find out.
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You could argue that chainsaws have been around since the 1830s, albeit being steam-powered or working by some other strange contraption. But the true chainsaws that we know today aren’t quite so old. The first gas-powered chainsaw was built in 1929 by a man named Andreas Stihl – sound familiar?
That’s right, he was the founder (the “Father”) of one of the most popular current manufacturers of chainsaws in the world, Stihl. However, another company named Husqvarna is in direct competition for the title of “best chainsaw”.
Choosing Stihl vs Husqvarna is a decision that homesteaders, loggers and outdoor enthusiasts have agonized over for years. Opinion is pretty much split down the middle; some prefer Stihl chainsaws, while others prefer the Husqvarna lineup of saws.
Everybody has their reasons for leaning one way or another, but one thing is for sure; both of these brands are huge players in the chainsaw market and both have some high-quality chainsaws that perform well.
It’s no wonder that Husqvarna chainsaws are much-loved by power tool enthusiasts; they’ve been in business since the 1690s, with their first products being muskets! Clearly, they know what they’re doing when it comes to the production of tools, though we wouldn’t recommend tending to your garden with bullets. Their chainsaw production line started up in 1959 and has been going strong since.
Husqvarna 455 Rancher 55.5cc Gas 20 in. Chainsaw, 966037320 [More]
Here are a few quick facts about these saws:
- These chainsaws have large gas tanks, which mean that you can go for longer without needing to refuel.
- Husqvarna chainsaws are heavily-favored by many professionals, which lends further to their high-quality reputation.
- Patented X-TORQ technology results in much better fuel efficiency, as well as reduced emissions from the exhaust.
- Husqvarna chainsaws tend to have a reputation for cutting through wood faster than their Stihl counterparts.
Unlike Husqvarna, which originated in the Swedish town of the same name, Stihl is a German company that was founded in the mid-1920s. However, they’ve since upped and moved to Virginia and employ a huge number of citizens in the U.S.
Like its competitor, Stihl’s first single-operator chainsaw hit the market in the 1950s. However, Stihl was the first company to release a chainsaw to the market that consumers could purchase.
- Some users have mentioned how Stihl saws tend to need less regular maintenance.
- Quite the opposite to Husqvarna, Stihl saws tend towards smaller fuel tanks. This means a lighter saw, which means easier handling, but they don’t go as long as the Husqvarnas do.
- Despite their popularity and reputation for quality, Stihl’s chainsaws often run cheaper than Husqvarna’s.
- You can only buy Stihl chainsaws from a licensed dealer in the U.S.
Husqvarna vs Stihl Chainsaws
So, now you know the history behind each of these companies, but that’s not really the important part. It’s the differences, strengths, and weaknesses between these two brands that we really care about. The problem is that there are numerous models to choose from within each brand’s lineup and each saw is different from the last.
So, rather than comparing brand against brand, I’ve selected two of the most popular chainsaws — one from each brand — and we’ll compare those instead. These are the Husqvarna Rancher and the Stihl Farm Boss.
Husqvarna 440-E Rancher 18 in. 40.9cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw, 967650901 [More]
Stihl vs Husqvarna – First Impressions and Build Quality
First impressions are everything, but honestly it’s hard to distinguish any immediate differences in build quality between these two chainsaws. While they’re not really industrial, commercial machines, they’d also look out of place in the hands of an inexperienced homeowner looking to cut a couple of branches. This might be in part due to their names; each suggests that the true intention may be for use on a ranch, for light to medium tasks.
Stihl vs Husqvarna – Engines and Power
The two chainsaws I looked at had similar engines, though not identical.
Under the hood of the Farm Boss was a 50.2 cc engine, whereas the Husqvarna was packing a 55.5 cc machine. I’d expect this is related to Stihl’s drive to keep the profile of the saw and its components, like the gas tank, more lightweight and maneuverable.
That isn’t a great amount of power difference, but on sheer horsepower alone, the Husqvarna comes out on top. The power to weight ratio for each is roughly the same. Minus the bar and chain, the Stihl weighs 12.3 lbs, whereas the Husqvarna weighs in at 13 lbs.
Don’t miss our other reviews either if you’re looking for outdoor power equipment, we’ve covered the best self-propelled mowers under $300 (yes, you can get great mowers that cheap!), the best pole saws, the best string trimmers, even the best string trimmer line!
Stihl vs Husqvarna – Emissions and Air Filtration
A chainsaw’s air filter removes debris from the air and prevents it from reaching the engine. Since the engine needs a constant flow of clean air to operate, a clogged filter can impact your saw’s performance. Think about the compact size of a chainsaw; the sawdust and other debris dispelled by the saw comes dangerously close to your engine’s intake valve. It’s like trying to breathe while somebody’s spraying you with a hosepipe.
In both of these saws, the system for filtering air work in a similar way, so I won’t delve into that further. When it comes to cleaning out the air filter, something you’re supposed to do regularly, the process is roughly the same, too. Unlike some saws, both Husqvarna and Stihl have made it so that you won’t need any tools to get to the filter and clean it out.
So, how about emissions?
Built into the Husqvarna saw is X-Torq® technology, which guzzles less fuel and produces fewer emissions than a standard engine. Stihl doesn’t have the same technology to claim, but they did manage to cut exhaust emissions in half when compared to the previous model.
The bottom line here is that both companies are hot on emission control standards, and both generally exceed the requirements set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CARB regulations.
Husqvarna vs Stihl – Chainsaw Bar Length
Your chainsaw’s chain wraps around the bar, or guide bar, which is the main bulk of your machine’s saw — or, to put it simply, the long piece of metal.
Different bars are suited for different chainsaws, and they come in different lengths. Larger, longer bars are best suited for the most powerful saws, as it takes a larger amount of energy to pull a chain around a longer bar. This is why you’ll usually find saws of 18″ or less on battery-powered saws.
Some gas-powered chainsaw bars go as high as 24-inches, but the maximum bar size for both of these saws is 20-inches. For fairly involved tasks, this should be sufficient, though a larger size may be more effective for commercial jobs. See one of Husqvarna’s 24″ chainsaws below.
Husqvarna 460 Rancher, 24 in. 60.3cc 2-Cycle Gas Chainsaw, 966048304 [More]
Purchasing and Replacement Parts
I know what you might be thinking: why does there need to be a category winner for this? Well, whereas you can buy your Husqvarna saw from any good online retailer or offline DIY store, the same can’t be said for Stihl.
If you want to buy a Stihl saw, or need any replacement parts, then you’re going to have to drive down to a licensed U.S. dealer. Honestly, in the age of the internet, it seems like an unusual choice, but then with a reputation like theirs, they seem to be able to get away with it, without hurting their business.
Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaw Conclusion
Husqvarna seems to come out on top in several of these categories, though it’s worth bearing in mind that we’re only looking at two specific chainsaws here. When you start to compare other saws from both manufacturers, there are likely to be some differences. Still, it’s difficult to choose any clear winner here and largely, it comes down to personal preference.
For me, I didn’t discount Stihl even after finding the Husqvarna better in several of the above categories. However, I was slightly put off by the fact that I wouldn’t be able to buy anything from Stihl without travelling to an official dealership — the closest one to me was over 50 miles away! The thought of making a 100-mile round trip every time I needed replacement parts was not something that I wanted to deal with.
Gas vs Electric Chainsaws
Of course, gasoline-powered chainsaws aren’t the only type available. You’ve also got two types of electric chainsaws: corded-electric and battery-powered. If we expand further to electric chainsaws, then there are more advantages and disadvantages to take into account. Knowing the pros and cons associated with both types of saw means you can make an informed choice on which one works for you.
- Perfect for heavy-duty yards or commercial work. Cuts down large trees with ease.
- Bar length varies on gas-powered models, allowing you to tailor the chainsaw to the job.
- No limitations on movement, as you have no cord to contend with.
- The additional engine and fuel weight makes these harder to carry for long periods.
- Produce much more noise than electric chainsaws.
- You’ll have to mix oil and gas, as well as dealing with the missions and smells produced.
- Typically more expensive.
- Electric chainsaws are compact and lightweight. The absence of a fuel tank and gas engine make them far easier to carry.
- Quieter than gas-powered chainsaws.
- Electric chainsaws produce no emissions and don’t give off a smell either.
- Starts with the push of a button.
- Requires less maintenance and doesn’t cost you anything for gas.
- These saws mostly lack the stamina and power needed to cut down anything larger than a very small tree.
- You can get corded-electric or battery-powered models. The corded types limit your movement and the distance you can travel from the socket.
- The battery on some models lasts less time than a full tank of gas.
How Does a Chainsaw Work?
There are two main components to a chainsaw: a chain that’s crafted into a sawing blade and wrapped around a metal guide bar, and a one-cylinder gasoline engine. The engine used in a chainsaw is much smaller than you’d find in a car, and a little smaller than you’d find in machines like lawnmowers.
Think of the chain as being similar to a bike chain, which runs around gears that turn the chain around the bar. Except, this chain has teeth built-in. As the engine’s piston moves into and out of the cylinder, it forces a rod that turns the crankshaft. This rotates gears that are linked to the sprockets where the chain is mounted and thus it turns around, cutting through wood.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Chainsaw
Guessing the main advantage of using a chainsaw is fairly easy; it’s the speed with which you can achieve your mission. Cutting through a number of trees with a handsaw would take forever by comparison. Let’s imagine that it might take five to ten times longer to cut through a tree trunk with a hand saw than it would with a chainsaw. If you had multiple trunks to tackle, then you’d be spending hours or even days achieving the same task.
As for drawbacks, there are two main disadvantages to chainsaws, which are the required maintenance and their safety. It’s easy to forget that you’re literally holding a machine that’s spinning sharp metal around just inches from your body.
In terms of safety, the biggest issue is something called kickback. This occurs when your chainsaw’s chain snags on something, yet the engine continues to run. When this happens, your chainsaw will jump up and towards your head.
I don’t need to tell you that this is a bad thing and you don’t want it to happen. Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent it, but you can wear protective equipment like helmets and visors, or entire apron-style wrap chaps. The most popular chainsaw chaps on Amazon are Husqvarna’s, you can see them in the picture, or follow this link to buy.
The other issue, maintenance, is something that every chainsaw shares. While a handsaw doesn’t need any maintenance, your chainsaw can get clogged up with fine sawdust. When the dust combines with chain oil, you’ve got a thick ooze that’ll clog your saw’s innards up completely.
You’ll want to conduct regular cleaning before you use the saw each time. You’ll also have to make sure that you have a steady supply of gasoline and oil to hand, as well as a chainsaw sharpener and bar & chain oil, otherwise you might get stuck halfway through a job.
Manual and Power Chainsaw Sharpeners
You can get manual chainsaw sharpeners and power chainsaw sharpeners. Some power chainsaw sharpeners are wall-mounted, making the job of sharpening the chain a breeze.
Chainsaw Sharpener Recommendations