Best 18-Inch Chainsaws – Reviews, Top Picks & Guide 2020
Eighteen inches is the perfect intermediate length for a chainsaw. Long enough for professionals, yet short enough that amateurs can comfortably use it with standard training and gear, these versatile power tools have something to offer everybody.
With an 18-inch chainsaw in your arsenal, you can fell medium-sized trees, cut through harder wood, prune obstructive and dangerous branches, and chop a week’s supply of firewood without breaking (too much of) a sweat.
It’s easy to decide that 18 inches is the length of chainsaw you want. It’s harder to decide which 18-inch chainsaw to buy. Shopping on the internet is mighty convenient, but it doesn’t give you the trust in the product that you get in person.
If you’re missing the help of that old man at the hardware store who seemed to know everything about power tools, let our reviews fill the void. We’ll help you sort the good chainsaws from the duds, and leave you confident you spent your hard-earned money on the right product.
Our Favorites Compared (updated in 2020):
|Best Overall||Husqvarna 450 18-inch Chainsaw||
|Remington RM4618 Outlaw 18″ Chainsaw||
|Best Value||Echo CS-400 18″ Chainsaw||
|Best Battery-Powered||GreenWorks GCS80420 18″ Chainsaw||
|WORX WG304.1 18-Inch Chainsaw||
The 6 Best 18-Inch Chainsaws:
1. Husqvarna 450 18-inch Chainsaw – Best Overall
An 18-inch chainsaw is all about meeting a wide range of needs. When it comes to versatility, nothing beats the Husqvarna 450 – it cruised to a first-place finish in our tests.
We always start testing a chainsaw by, well, starting it. The 450 blew us away with how little effort it took to get the engine going. The hits keep coming once the chain is moving, as everything about this chainsaw is geared toward ease of use. It’s light, sitting at just over 11 pounds, and the pliable handle is fitted at the perfect angle.
Amateurs will find the Husqvarna 450 a friendly entry point, while more seasoned landowners will be happy they can use it all day without getting tired. Under the hood, it’s got 3.2 horsepower and a maximum unloaded speed of 56.89 FTS – more than enough to tackle any mid-range job.
The only thing we found to warn potential buyers about is the customer service. If you do have a problem with the 450, don’t expect much help: Husqvarna doesn’t seem to employ support staff who know how the chainsaw actually works. It’s a good thing the 450 suffers mechanical problems so rarely.
All in all, we think that this is the best 18-inch chainsaw on the market right now.
2. Remington RM4618 Outlaw 18″ Chainsaw
The Remington RM4618 is our runner-up 18-inch chainsaw. It’s not quite as balanced or as powerful as the Husqvarna 450, but it’s an outstanding tool in its own right.
The RM4618 has a 46cc 2-cycle engine under the hood, and it’s full-crank for a smoother, lower-maintenance start. Chainsaw newbies will be able to start it fast and move right to getting their work done. Yard workers and homeowners of all skill levels will also appreciate how little it vibrates — an anti-vibration barrier separates the cushioned handle from the bar, keeping shaking to a minimum.
It’s incredibly convenient, too. The included carrying case is solid, the auto-oiler works exactly as advertised, and the chain tensioning system is easy to use. Your first oil refill is also included with the purchase. There’s also a 2-year warranty included (with some limitations).
The main thing keeping the RM4618 from being higher up the list is that the caps on the fuel tank and bar oil reservoir are not nearly as secure as they should be. That’s a potential safety issue, so if this is your pick for an 18-inch chainsaw, never turn it on without triple-checking the caps.
3. Echo CS-400 18″ Chainsaw – Best Value
On the hunt for the best 18-inch chainsaw for the money? Start with the Echo CS400. If you’re making every dollar count, this is the chainsaw you want.
This chainsaw has its good and bad points. On the good side, there’s the 40.2cc engine, which maxes out around 1.25 horsepower. We found that was more than enough to cut through hardwood, even the larger branches (though that took a little while). It only weighs about 10 pounds, too, which is an incredible ratio of power to usability. It also ships with engine oil.
As for the bad: the first time you use the CS400, you’ll find it very rough to start. After the first time, it gets easier, but reaching that point takes elbow grease. In our tests, we also found that the chain came loose more quickly than other 18-inch saws. Finally, there’s the total lack of a warranty or refund guarantee – if you get a lemon, you’ve got no recourse.
The weight and power still make this a bargain as far as 18-inch gas chainsaws go. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into.
4. GreenWorks GCS80420 18″ Chainsaw – Best Battery-Powered
The GreenWorks GCS80420 is one of our favorite electric 18-inch chainsaws. It runs on an included 80V, 2Ah lithium-ion battery, with an included charger. However, if you’ve already got a battery and charger from a GreenWorks GBA80200, GBA80400, or GCH8040, you can reuse it here and get this saw for half the price.
The saw itself is the ultimate argument against the tired notion that electric chainsaws are less powerful. Each charge of the battery can make around 150 cuts through 8-inch limbs (or 80 cuts through 16-inch limbs), and each cut happens fast. If our experience is anything to go by, you’ll run out of daylight before you run out of energy.
The electric engine is easy to start on cold days. The design of the GCS80420 is another high point – it’s got excellent balance, and all the controls are placed sensibly within reach.
Aside from the overpriced battery, there are a few drawbacks to beware of here. First and foremost is the leaky oil reservoir, whose cap comes off if it isn’t tightened between every cut. Also, the teeth on the factory-installed chain don’t bite. You’ll want to get an aftermarket blade, which raises the price.
5. WORX WG304.1 18-Inch Chainsaw
The WORX WG304.1 is a budget-friendly corded electric chainsaw. Think of it as the electric equivalent of the Echo CS400: not without its flaws, but worth it for the money you save.
Those flaws are simple enough. It’s corded, which limits use to places where you can reach a plug or haul a generator. It also uses a non-standard chain that’s annoyingly hard to replace if it breaks. The chain oil presents similar problems since it’s not only hard to find, but the included amount only fills about half the tank. Finally, the in-use chain tensioner is harder to use than it needs to be.
Even considering all that, though, this is an 18-inch chainsaw we’d recommend checking out. The WG304.1 cuts above its weight class, powering through trunks wider than its bar. If you’ve got the patience to cut from multiple directions, you can saw through a 36-inch trunk with this. The chain hardly ever bogs down, and from what we’ve observed, the engine never stutters.
In the end, what constitutes a dealbreaker comes down to you. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of reasons other than low price to give the WORX WG304.1 a look.
6. BLACK+DECKER CS1518 Chainsaw
It’s all right to be skeptical about electric chainsaws. They’re typically not as powerful as gas saws, but then again they’re not intended to be.
This saw is aimed at the homeowner who needs to do landscaping, branch trimming, or knocking down of small trees (10″ diameter or less) around the house. If you’re in range of an electric outlet—or have a long extension cord—this may be the chainsaw for you.
It’s easy to assemble out of the box. It’s fairly lightweight (12 pounds), so it won’t strain your arms and back. It’s well-balanced, easy to start, and quieter than a gas saw. Tightening or removing the chain doesn’t require any tools and the oiling system is automatic. It’s about as simple as any power tool can be.
However, because this saw isn’t as powerful as a gas saw and you’re limited by the length of your extension cord, we have to put it in second place.
There’s nothing uniform about chainsaws. Professional lumberjacks need different kinds of tools than weekend warriors maintaining their backyards. People who need a chainsaw to chop firewood in the winter have totally distinct requirements than those who plan to work mostly in the spring and summer (more on that below).
But it’s also true that we all want some of the same things. Everyone wants a dependable workhorse that can slice and dice logs. Nobody wants their chain to fall off or their battery to die halfway through the workday, and of course, nobody likes to overpay for anything.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll teach you how to thread the needle and find a high-quality chainsaw that will help accomplish your goals. After all, the best tool isn’t necessarily the best for everybody.
RELATED READING: 6 Types of Chainsaws & Their Uses
Chainsaws through the seasons
One commonly overlooked factor that determines what you need in a chainsaw is when you expect to be doing most of the work. Most people know that you need to get a saw with a bar long enough for you to cut the logs you have your eye on, but it’s just as important to keep the changing seasons in mind.
Check over the following sections to see what you’ll need from a chainsaw in each season.
Fall & Winter
Spring & SummerIn the warmer seasons, you’re more likely to be using chainsaws for clearing brush and cutting down waste trees, though the tasks of chopping firewood and getting rid of dangerous branches continue all year round.
- In the spring and summer, most gas chainsaws will start without any problem. They’ll also give you far more flexibility than electric ones. You’ll be able to come and go as you please without having to worry about extension cords or generators.
- Cordless electric chainsaws provide a lot more flexibility than corded, but it’s still easier to carry gas with you than to constantly keep a pair of lithium-ion batteries charged. Also, electric chainsaws tend to be lighter and less powerful.
- In the spring and summer, the best reason to go with electric over gas is to avoid pollution. If you live near neighbors who don’t want to listen to your gas motor every weekend, or if you can’t stand gas fumes for any reason, electric is the solution.
RELATED READING: Electric vs Gas Chainsaws
Once you’ve decided when you’ll be doing most of your work, you can move on to other considerations that are equally important in making your final decision.
What makes a good chainsaw?
When you have your eye on a chainsaw, talk to other people who have bought it, and read the reviews they’ve written. With the information they give, you can judge the saw on these points:
- A good chainsaw should be able to cut for hours at a time without undue trouble. As long as you tighten the chain regularly, and keep the bar properly oiled, it should work dependably without causing you grief.
- Chainsaw blades normally lose tension during regular use. No matter how well-made, every chain gets a little bit looser when the chainsaw comes in contact with wood. The best chainsaws recognize this and make it as simple and painless as possible to re-tighten the chain. Look for a saw with a tool-free chain tensioning system, and you’ll save a lot of time every day.
- Dependable self-oiling is another mark of a good chainsaw. It’s great when the chainsaw handles a thankless chore so you don’t have to. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on a self-oiler without paying any attention to it: many of them deliver too much lubricant at once and tend to leak when stored for the winter.
- At the same time, you buy your new chainsaw, check and see what replacement parts are available. Look for oil and gas as well. A good chainsaw should be supported by a robust backup ecosystem.
Chainsaw warranty tips
Follow these rules to make sure you don’t spend money you regret.
- Warranties are indispensable for power tools. Unfortunately, some manufacturers don’t live up to their written warranties because they don’t think you’ll go to the effort to sue. This is where brand-name and reputation come into play.
- A well-known company is more likely to live up to their warranty than a lesser-known one. The older brand names have reputations to protect, and can’t afford to lose loyal repeat customers.
- New companies, or companies that are new to chainsaw manufacturing, might be willing to play fast and loose with the rules to bolster their bottom line. On the other hand, some new manufacturers are working very hard to overtake the big boys, so they’re willing to go the extra mile to make you happy.
- There’s no surefire way to prevent yourself from being hosed on a warranty, but by taking the time to research, you can find out what companies are worth your money.
- Have a spare bar and extra chain oil on hand. You don’t want to have to trek back to the garage every time something goes wonky.
- For gas chainsaws, premixed fuel will save you a lot of time and ensure the fuel-to-oil ratio is always accurate.
- You should have at least one spare chain on hand at all times, as well as a sharpening kit for the chain’s teeth.
- If your chainsaw doesn’t come with a hard plastic carrying case, consider getting a bar scabbard for it. They’re priced fairly, and help protect the bar and chain during storage.
The Husqvarna 450 took the top spot in our reviews. It seems like it was designed to shut up everybody who’s ever sneered that a chainsaw’s bar is “only 18 inches.” It runs so well, cuts so quickly, and feels so good to use that the only thing we could find to complain about was the customer support hotline.
We were pleasantly surprised to find the Remington RM4618 in second place. We’ve had some issues with this model in the past, but Remington has clearly stepped up their quality control game. This is far and away the best 18-inch chainsaw for beginners: everything works wonderfully, from the blade to the auto-oiler to the anti-vibration technology.
The best 18-inch chainsaw for the money is the Echo CS400. It’s quick and easy to use and delivers a real bang for the buck. Spare parts might be hard to find but for the price, it’s well worth it.
- Our Favorites Compared (updated in 2020):
- The 6 Best 18-Inch Chainsaws:
- Buyer’s Guide