The Husqvarna 450 and the 450 Rancher are, you might imagine, identical in just about every way. In fact, it’s hard from a cursory look and feel to see why you’re paying more for the Rancher submodel. Both are equipped with Husqvarna’s latest in efficiency, safety, and maintenance features. Both are CARB compliant, which means they both meet strict air quality standards and are legal to use anywhere. Both are designed to reduce the headaches of a complicated startup.
The answer comes at the end of a job. The 450 Rancher’s rear handle is better designed to promote easier, more comfortable use. If you have a lot of land to manage, that extra couple of bucks will feel worth the investment by the end of a day’s work. The question is whether your average workload will warrant spending extra for a more comfortable rear handle, or whether you can get away with one that won’t reach payoff point until after a few hours of use. We aren’t in a position to judge an individual’s choices, but if you’re just an average homeowner who might have to clear out some storm damage or cut down the odd tree or three a season, you can get away with paying less for the standard 450.
The most substantial difference between these two chainsaws comes in the Rancher’s ergonomically designed back handle. Do you need to invest a few dollars extra for more intuitive use after several hours’ work, or can you skate by with a basic handle for a basic job? If you have a lot of trees or a little extra money, by all means, invest in a more comfortable rear handle. If you’re frugal and can get everything done in a morning, take yourself out for a low-priced meal with the money you save on the other saw.
All things considered, you’re not paying all that much more for the rear handle. If you can’t afford it, the real question is why you’re comparison shopping for chainsaws in the first place. The actual cost isn’t all that great, so it boils down to whether you want to pay a few extra bucks for more comfortable control.
The only other difference between the two models is also a matter of personal taste. The stop switch on the 450 Rancher returns to a default start position once you turn the saw off, for easier starting. The 450 features a combined choke and stop switch that won’t correct a mistake, but will help rookie users not flood the engine out so often. This is the sort of feature that caters to a full day of use, but for an immediate comparison choice, it’s like choosing an apple with red skin or an apple with green skin.
There’s otherwise little difference between the two models of saws. Both have Husqvarna’s standard X-Torq engine that reduces fuel usage and exhaust emissions. Both have vibration control to reduce wear and tear on the operator. Both have Husqvarna’s latest air injection system to reduce debris load on the air filter, and a snap-lock cylinder for faster access to spark plugs and filters when you’re cleaning it out. No matter which of these two you purchase, you’re going to get the same basic suite of features.
The Husqvarna 450 is a rock-solid, all-around chainsaw, and priced and designed to handle just about any piece of work typical home users can throw at it. It’ll turn most dead trees into cords of winter-warming firewood, and can clean up trees felled by storms. If you’re looking for a basic chainsaw to use around the house, this is a great workhorse. It isn’t designed for professional-grade use or for managing large tracts of land.
Husqvarna’s 450 Rancher has all the great features and applicability of its non-Rancher cousin. It’d be fine to purchase for typical home use, though you’d have to pay a little extra for added comfort that might not translate into superior performance. Where this saw separates itself is if the work you have hits the four-hour mark or longer. Then, you might start to see a payoff in investing in a better-designed rear handle. You might also see a little material benefit in the start switch feature, but that’s really pretty doubtful.
Sometimes, when assessing two slightly different takes on the same tool model, it’s easy to pick a winner. There is either some new innovation that clearly gives a new model a leg up on the old one, or the manufacturer thought it was improving on perfection and made it worse. That’s not the case here. The standard 450 and the 450 Rancher are basically the same chainsaw, except that the Rancher’s rear handle is designed to be a little more comfortable after long hours of use. It also costs just a little more. Beyond that, there are features for starting it that cater either to those prone to forgetfulness during a job, or rookies who might flood the engine due to inexperience. We have to yield to the fact that most people do not, in fact, own ranches, and suggest that most people can get by comfortably with the 450 standard.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!