On the homestead, self sufficient farmstead, or permaculture community a chainsaw is an essential tool. From firewood to building and removing fallen trees from the road, a reliable chainsaw is a must. Here are the best chainsaws, rated by the homesteaders who actually use them.
The most recommended chainsaw brands by homesteaders across the USA are Stihl, with 55% of recommendations, and Husqvarna, with 33% of recommendations. This comes from a survey on a list of over 200k self-described homesteaders.
So what chainsaw models did the expert homesteaders recommend? Here are the best chainsaw models for the homesteader.
The Best Homestead Chainsaw on the Market
In terms of price, utility, and build quality the absolute best chainsaw on the market for homestead use is the Husqvarna 455 Rancher.
Husqvarna 455 Rancher
Dollar for dollar, the Husqvarna is worth every penny, and very capable of being a lifetime saw. While it is difficult to compare to Stihl, since they don’t list their prices on their website and every dealer may have a different rate. From what I’ve seen, Husqvarna have the most reasonable new chainsaws on the market.
Husqvarna saws are easy to get anywhere in the country — you can even order online and have one delivered to you. No need to drive in to a dealer location if you don’t want to.
See Husqvarna 455 Rancher on Amazon.
Why not a Stihl? While older stills are great saws, there are serious questions about the complexity of newer saw models. If you are looking to by a used saw, see below for info on buying used Stihl saws.
Husqvarna saws are becoming increasingly popular amounts serious chainsaw users. With owners rating them as “fantastic saws,” and “very simple to work on.” This contrasts modern Stihls which are seen as overly complex in design.
The only complaint I’ve heard about Husqvarnas are the trigger assemblies, which work just fine so long as you avoid abusing them any.
Why the 455 Rancher is the right size. If you only buy one saw, then the 455 is a happy medium. Capable of handling jobs of most sizes without being too heavy for light duty work like cutting small branches or firewood. Being a farm / ranch quality saw, it is made to be cost effective and durable for real hard use, especially when compared to the “homeowner” grade saws which make up the lower price brackets of most saw companies’ offerings.
On 455 owner said, “[the 455 is a] Husky that I absolutely love!”
Price the Husqvarna 455 Rancher on Amazon.
The Top Rated Stihl Chainsaws for Homesteaders
While Stihl is the clear winner in terms of chainsaw brands in the US. There is no consensus on which models are the best. This probably comes down to just how reliable and effective Stihl chainsaws are. In the end, you need choose a size and model that matches how you intend to use you chainsaw.
Many serious Stihl owners have two or more saws of different sizes for different needs.
Here are particular models of Stihl chainsaws that off gridders and homesteaders use and recommend, along with select comments, if provided.
- Stihl 044
- Stihl 036
- Stihl 066
- Stihl 088
- Stihl MS-170 — “I love them”
- Stihl MS-180 — “For pruning”
- Stihl MS-211 — “Really like it”
- Stihl MS-250 — “Long life, great worker”
- Stihl MS-261
- Stihl MS-270 — “I use it for firewood and for logs that I saw up on my band sawmill”
- Stihl MS-271 — “For firewood”
- Stihl MS-290
- Stihl MS-291
- Stihl MS-310 — “20 years old and works great”
- Stihl MS-311 — “Great saw”
- Stihl MS-362 — “Great all around saw”
- Stihl MS-391
- Stihl MS-460
- Stihl MS-661 — “With a 32” bar"
- Stihl MS-880 — “Magnum for the chainsaw mill (48”)"
Where to Buy a Used Stihl Chainsaw
You may notice that many models on the list are quite old. Stihl chainsaws are known for long life and reliability. While, I’ve heard it said before that you should ever buy a used chainsaw, a well cared for Stihl may be another matter.
The best place to buy a used Stihl is locally from someone you know took good care if it. This could be from a neighbor, relatives, or through garage sales.
However, people don’t sell good chainsaws often, and tend to hold on to them as long as they can. Estate sales, garage sales, and swap meets may be an option. In that case, bring someone who knows what they are looking at and learn what to look for in a good used chainsaw.
- Look at wear and overall condition
- Clean saws are generally well cared for saws
- Sharp chains also indicate proper use
- Brand new chains and bars on a clean body may indicate the saw is little used and practically new
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a good source of chainsaws locally, then online auctions are always an interesting option.
Where to Buy a New Stihl Chainsaw
New Stihl saws are expensive, but can be considered a lifetime investment for a homesteader, if well cared for.
Sales of Stihl chainsaws seem to be limited to authorized dealers, and may not be widely available in some areas. See the Stihl website for a list of authorized dealers.
Usually, the salesmen at the dealers will help you choose the appropriate model for your needs. However, the most recommend currently produced model by homesteaders in the MS-317 —