Best Top Handle Arborist Chainsaws (TOP 6): Reviews & Buying Guide

best top handle arborist chainsaw

Are you looking for a good top-handle chainsaw, yeah, there are tons of options out there, and picking one can be a tough task?

We have hand-picked and tested some of the best and top-rated top handle chainsaws, use them, and tested them.

Here are the Best Top Handle Arborist Chainsaws (TOP 6):

  1. DEWALT DCCS620P1 Chainsaw
  2. BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 Cordless Chainsaw
  3. Makita XCU09PT Brushless Top Handle Chain Saw
  4. Makita XCU02Z Cordless Chain Saw
  5. Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 Top Handle Chain Saw
  6. Makita XCU06Z Brushless & Cordless Top Handle Chain Saw

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Best Top Handle Arborist Chainsaws

Have you ever wondered how botanical gardens and arboretums are maintained so well? Do you ever think of the amount of work and effort that goes into making trees look uniform and beautiful, creating a visually stunning effect?

Most of the credit for this goes to professional arborists. They are trained to handle and cut trees, shrubs, and other types of fauna. They have a great knowledge of these plants and know the correct techniques to cut and modify the trees to make them look good without damaging them.

A chainsaw is one of the most important power tools used by arborists. They help speed up the process of cutting while giving them the power required to tackle even the biggest trees.

Arborists primarily prefer using a top-handle chainsaw because of the ease of access and balance they offer while cutting while allowing them to work at heights too.

I was intrigued to know more about the best top handle chainsaws used by arborists. My research about these products eventually allowed me to create a list of the six top handle arborist chainsaws according to me.

I will detail the features as well as the things and dislike about each product. Read on as I include a buying guide as well as additional information about chainsaws in general.

I hope that at the end of the article, you will have all the information you need to make a great choice that suits your every requirement!

1. DEWALT DCCS620P1 Chainsaw

The Dewalt DCCS620P1 is a cordless chainsaw that can be used for gardening and small construction applications. It is powered by a brushless electric motor that draws its powers from 20V batteries from the Dewalt FLEXVOLT range.

The 12” Oregon bar and chain has low kickback and is self-lubricating. The chain tension of the bar can be adjusted without tools.

best arborist chainsaw

The product weighs around 8.8lbs when the battery is installed. It can cut logs of upto 10” in diameter, with rubber grips on the handles provided for comfort. The product has a limited warranty of 3 years and a one-year free service provided by the manufacturer.

Things I Liked about this Product

  • Compatibility with the Dewalt FLEXVOLT range

I have worked with a number of Dewalt tools in my years of experience with power tools. The FLEXVOLT system of batteries manufactured by them offers great performance and runtimes, while giving me increased flexibility depending on my budget and requirement. 

This chainsaw is compatible with the same lineup. As a result, I could use the batteries interchangeably with other Dewalt tools. The higher amperage batteries also gave me the option of using the saw for longer periods of time, giving me the power I needed for the job.

  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver

The first time I held this saw in my hand, I could not believe how light it was. In fact, I had to get adjusted to the lightness during my first cuts. The battery added some weight when installed, but it did not affect the balance whatsoever.

This gave me the confidence to try cutting a few branches with a single hand. I was able to do so with ease, being in complete control of the saw the entire time. The brushless motor ensured minimum vibrations, which made it all the more comfortable to use. 

  • Build quality and design

I loved the attention to detail in this product. This gave me the feeling that I was using a high-end product from the Dewalt family.

The grip was comfortable, while the motor was quiet and efficient. As a result, I had a very pleasant user experience while operating this machine, giving me good value for money.

Things I Disliked about this Product

  • Oil issues

I was a bit surprised when the new product came without any oil from the manufacturer. My experience allowed me to go and fill the machine with the oil it needed. This might not be the case for inexperienced users, who may end up believing the saw is ready to be used.

This can lead to serious damage to the saw mechanism and pose a safety risk to the user. A number of users also reported leaking oil from the chain, especially when it was being stored.

I was concerned by this development as I did not want to have an oily cupboard when I came back to my workshop.

  • Poor design of the tightening mechanism

The plastic materials used on the caps and fasteners of the machine could have been better. A lot of them flex much more than normal. As a result, it required a lot more effort to open them up.

I was also scared at one point that I may end up breaking them, but it was not the case luckily. However, this disappointed me considering the amount I spent on the product.

  • Price point

Many might find this product to be affordable, considering it is a Dewalt machine and has good build quality. However, I found it to be on the slightly higher side when it came to the pricing when comparing it to other models with similar features. 

The tool alone was priced competitively, but making additional purchases like the batteries can end up costing new customers a lot more than they initially expected. (Click here to check the latest discounted price from Amazon)

2. BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 Cordless Chainsaw

The Black+Decker LCS1240 is a 12” cordless chainsaw powered by a 40V electric motor. It is powered by 40V lithium-ion batteries of different amperages from the Black+Decker battery lineup. The 12” Oregon bar has low kickback and allows for tool-free chain tension adjustments.

best arborist chainsaw

It has a front handguard and lock-off button for improved safety features and a wraparound handle that gives the user a better grip while cutting at multiple angles. It comes with a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.

Things I Liked about this Product

  • Easy maintenance

One of the most irritating aspects of using power tools is the extensive maintenance they require. However, I did not have such an issue with the LCS1240. It had a simple construction that allowed me to take the machine apart and service it thoroughly.

I did not have too much trouble taking it apart or putting it back together, which was definitely a plus point. The only other maintenance required was having to refill the bar oil.

  • Lightweight and powerful

The product is quite compact and lightweight, with its powerful 40V motor providing a high power output. It was not as powerful as the gas models, but it definitely topped the charts for an electric chainsaw. 

However, I did not feel too much of a strain while lifting the saw, which weighs around 8.3 lbs. The wraparound handle gave me much more area to grip the saw. It was particularly useful when I had to cut at angles, allowing me to take a stance that was comfortable and offered better cutting stability. 

  • Quiet and user friendly

This was the biggest plus point for me. The motor was unbelievably quiet when compared to other electric chainsaws as well. It also resulted in reduced vibrations, which ensured comfort while working with the machine for long hours. 

The automatic oiling system and tool-free chain tension adjustment were nice features to have. They saved precious time and made sure I was efficient at getting the job done. The batteries from Black+Decker are compatible with other cordless power tools from the same company.

Things I Disliked about this Product

  • Consumes a lot of oil

The automatic oiling system was provided to increase user convenience. However, there have been a number of instances when the oil leaked, especially during storage. 

It created a mess and as a result, I had to drain my tank before storage, which was inconvenient. I also had to fill the oil reservoir again midway through a long job, much to my surprise.

  • Long recharge times

The batteries play an important role in determining the quality of cordless power tools. The Black+Decker batteries offer good runtimes. However, they take a long time to charge, with reports from other users estimating around 4-5 hours for a full charge.

As a result, you may have to purchase extra batteries, especially if you are someone who requires the saw for long jobs.

  • Chain loosens quite often

The chain tends to slip from the bar quite often while in operation. As a result, I had to stop midway through the job and adjust it back. Thankfully, the chain adjustment system was tool-free so I could do it quickly. 

However, it was still a major drawback as I had to do it multiple times in a single job, despite me doing light cutting only. (Click here to check the latest discounted price from Amazon)

3. Makita XCU09PT Brushless Top Handle Chain Saw

The Makita XCU09PT is the first of three top handle chainsaws from Makita that I really like. The chainsaw has a 16” bar with a low kickback. It has an 18V brushless electric motor that is powered by dual lithium-ion batteries.

The variable speed trigger and high speed of the chain ensure improved performance and efficiency. The product comes with a 3-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Things I Liked about this Product

  • Oil Flow Rate Adjustment

I was pleasantly surprised by the incorporation of this feature. It gave me control over just how much I wanted the chain to be lubricated, allowing me to tune the machine according to my preferences. Doing it was relatively simple, as all I had to do was remove the rubber seal on the left and adjust the setting.

  • Quick start mechanism and good performance 

The quick-start mechanism ensures that the machine starts quickly without requiring too much user effort. The motor is quiet and produces a good amount of power that allows users to cut through branches and wood. 

Professional top handle chainsaw

The torque boost mode of the saw also allows users to tackle the tougher branches with ease.

  • Battery management system

The dual battery management system along with the chargers provided allowed me to balance out my usage of the machine for long periods of time. The option to choose which batteries were powering the saw allowed me to get extra power when I needed to.

I also liked the inclusion of the battery indicators which gave me an idea of how much juice was left in the batteries.

  • Makita technology 

The Star Protection Computer Controls shut down the machine automatically to protect it from damage due to overload and overheating. This was done with the help of an advanced sensor system. 

The brushless motor has a direct drive mechanism to produce increased output while keeping the machine quiet. The Extreme Protection Technology allows the saw to be operated in tough weather conditions without any hassles.

Things I Disliked about this Product

  • Consumes battery power very quickly

While I praised the battery management system, it didn’t make up for the fact that this machine drank up batteries faster than I imagined. I was forced to have a second set of batteries charging so that I would not be stranded in the middle of a long job. 

  • Expensive

I found the cost of this product to be much higher than some of its competitors. While some sources online pointed out that it costs the same as a similarly powered gas chainsaw, I personally felt that I was not getting the most value for money for the product.

The lack of a solid battery system further shaped this opinion of mine. (Click here to check the latest discounted price from Amazon)

4. Makita XCU02Z Cordless Chain Saw

Up next on my list of the best top-handle chainsaws is the Makita XCU02Z. This saw has a 12” guide bar which is powered by an 18V brushless electric motor that draws its power from dual lithium-ion batteries.

It has low noise emission and toolchain adjustment for easy user access. It comes with a one-year warranty and 30 days return period.

Things I Liked about this Product

  • Makita technology 

The Extreme Protection Technology increases the durability of the saw in rugged and tough conditions. The direct drive mechanism of its brushless motor helped deliver a higher output power compared to other electric motors. 

best top handle chainsaw

The saw has Star Protection Computer Controls, with sensors that shut down the machine automatically to protect it from damage due to overload and overheating. 

  • Good battery life

I was happy with the battery systems on this particular model by Makita. It lasted for a fair amount of time, without draining too quickly or having serious drops in performance.

A number of online reviews agreed with me about the good battery life, with no reports of the batteries fading out quickly over usage.

  • Quiet and comfortable operation

This saw is light and easy to handle, making it suitable for users with little to no previous experience when it comes to operating a chainsaw. It is also one of the quieter models available, making sure that you are not a nuisance to your neighborhood when carrying out regular garden maintenance. 

Things I Disliked about this Product

  • Reports of power switch issues

A number of users reported that the power would turn off after 4-5 seconds of use. This might have had to do with the auto-power function working improperly, as a result of which the chip shuts the machine down automatically.  However, this can be quite annoying if you are in the middle of a job.

  • Reports of adjusting dial getting jammed

I personally did not face this issue but came across a few reviews where users could not move the dial that adjusts chain tension. This means you will have to open up the saw and inspect it for wood accumulation.

The issue was reported in brand new pieces, which could hint at a design problem.  (Click here to check the latest discounted price from Amazon)

5. Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 Top Handle Chain Saw

The Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 is a gas-powered 12” chainsaw with a 32.2cc gasoline engine. This top handle saw has a total weight of 11.9 lbs and has an easy start mechanism to assist users.

top handle chainsaw

The 12” Oregon chain has an automatic oiling system and a side access chain adjustment mechanism for easy adjustments. The company offers a 7-year consumer warranty to customers.

Things I Liked about this Product

  • Quick and reliable starting mechanism

I was able to get this chainsaw started within the first or second pull itself without exerting myself too much. The mechanism was quite reliable and worked well even after a couple of months of use. 

Online reviews by other users regarding the same were equally positive, which convinced me that it was a well-designed starting mechanism that made my life so much easier. 

  • Gas power improves mobility and power

Having a gasoline engine serves two main advantages. The power output of a gas engine is higher, giving users a lot more power compared to electric chainsaws.

As a result, it helped cut through tree branches with ease but still struggled against bigger trunks due to the chain size.

The mobility provided by this machine was a refreshing change as well. The semi-transparent tank allowed me to monitor my gas levels while ensuring that I was not dependent on factors like electrical sockets and battery charging times to get the job done at remote locations.

  • User-friendly design

The product incorporates features like serrated rubber grips and a lightweight design for maximum user comfort. The grips allow the users to have a firm grip on the machine while operating it. It also reduces the vibrations felt by the user.

The lightweight design allows users to use it for single-handed cutting in cramped spaces.

Things I Disliked about this Product

  • The chain tends to be oiled too much

The automatic oiling system tends to lubricate the chain a little too generously. This causes the chain to be susceptible to slips, which is a frequent occurrence on the product. Users have to use the side access, which is not toolless, to keep adjusting the chain back onto the bar. 

However, aligning the holes of the bar with the chain adjustment is quite the task in itself.  This reduces the overall user experience over time.

  • Noisy operation and overheating

The gas-powered engine does well in other parameters regarding power and mobility. However, it falls short of being the most eco-friendly.

With noise emissions of upto 100 dB(A), it has the potential to wake up my entire neighborhood, especially if I’m working at odd hours. It also emits more pollutants than its electric counterparts, which can be problematic.

professional top handle chainsaw

On the other hand, a number of users have reported problems with the machine overheating during constant use. As a result, they had to give it some time to cool down before it could be operated again.

  • Irregular fittings

The cap sealing the bar oil compartment was quite difficult to open. It took quite some effort from my side to get it opened, which was frustrating. This may be attributed to a design flaw while combining the aluminum parts alongside hard plastic parts. (Click here to check the latest discounted price from Amazon)

6. Makita XCU06Z Brushless & Cordless Top Handle Chain Saw

The last product on my list is the Makita XCU06Z. This chainsaw has an 18V brushless electric motor that powers a 10” bar. It has a torque boost mode to provide increased cutting power when required.

The product is available with 4 batteries and a charger as part of the packaging. It also comes with a three-year limited warranty from Makita.  

Things I Liked about this Product

  • Grip and ergonomics

This product has a comfortable oversized grip with a couple of controls attached to it. This allowed me to be quite comfortable while operating the machine. It also gave me easy access to the power trigger, which allowed me to use the saw with a single hand. 

  • Lightweight and compact design

I was surprised by how small it was. It was tiny compared to other gas-powered saws I have used, or even in competing for electric chainsaws. As a result, it was also amongst the lightest chainsaws I had ever come across.

best top handle arborist chainsaw

But as mentioned above, a good quality build and great ergonomics made sure I had balance and accuracy while making my cuts. The 10” bar also gave me the advantage of cutting branches in a dense area of the tree with precision.

  • Makita technology 

Makita has incorporated a number of its trademark features that have made it a leader in the power tools industry. 

The saw has the Star Protection Computer Controls, with sensors that shut down the machine automatically to protect it from damage due to overload and overheating. The Extreme Protection Technology increases the durability of the saw in rugged and tough conditions. 

The direct drive mechanism of its brushless motor helped deliver a higher output power compared to other electric motors.

Things I Disliked about this Product

  • Doesn’t work well in the cold

Lithium-ion batteries do not like the cold weather. Makita’s batteries were susceptible to having lower runtimes in the weather, while the chain oil was getting stiff. As a result, the saw loses smoothness and efficiency, making it quite cumbersome to use as a result. 

  • Consumes a lot of oil

After topping off my oil and starting my work with the saw, I suddenly had the saw shut down. I thought it was due to a different issue but eventually realized that my bar oil had run out. Topping it up was an easy process, but I was taken aback by just how quickly I had run out of oil. (Click here to check the latest discounted price from Amazon)

Buying Guide: Things to Keep in Mind before Buying a Chainsaw

Buying a chainsaw is not as straightforward as picking up one from your nearest store. Many people consider it a long-term investment and look at a number of parameters regarding the operational capabilities of this machine. Here are some of the important aspects of a chainsaw that you must keep in mind before finalizing a purchase.

  • Type of saw

There are three different types of chainsaws available commonly in the marketplace today. They are standard saws, pole saws, and enclosed saws.

Standard saws have a common design with the chain jutting out. The user has to grip the machine with a set of two handles placed at the back end of the blade. These saws are the most commonly available and come in different sizes.

 They serve a number of purposes from felling trees to regular garden maintenance. They are further classified into the top handle and rear handle saws depending on the position of the secondary handle.

Pole saws are smaller in size and lighter, with a saw being mounted on top of a pole. The advantage of these saws is that they allow users to reach branches at a height without having to climb the tree. 

Most models nowadays come in the 8” – 12” chain size range, with the focus on light branch cutting and pruning. The saw can be controlled from the bottom as the controls are on the pole. It can also be detached from the pole and used as a lightweight standard saw.

Enclosed saws incorporate a jaw-like structure around the chain to reduce the possibility of accidental contact with limbs or other body parts. The design allows the user to grip the branch they are cutting, ensuring they can get the job done faster. These saws are also designed to be compact and lightweight.

  • Power Source

There are two main ways by which a chainsaw is powered; gasoline engines or electric motors.

Gasoline engines are used in chainsaws that require a large power output and long runtimes. The two-stroke engine runs on a mixture of fuel and oil, which gives the user a lot more mobility. 

These saws can be used for professional applications as well as regular garden maintenance. However, the disadvantages of these machines include the difficulty in getting them started, their noise levels, and increased emission of pollutants.

Electric chainsaws are powered by an electric motor housed within the saw. These saws are used primarily for household applications.

Thanks to their motor, they do not produce much noise or cause any pollution, making them ideal for use in neighborhoods with strict emission regulations. However, they have lower power output compared to gas models.

Electric chainsaws are further divided into two. Cordless models use a battery pack to power the motor. While this gives users increased mobility and range, it compromises runtime.

Cordless models solve this issue by allowing the machine to be plugged into an electrical socket. However, the length of the cord restricts the mobility of the user.

  • Chainsaw features

The most common features of a chainsaw include improved ergonomics for easy handling and materials that absorb vibrations. These allow for the user to comfortably operate the saw for long periods of time.

Chain brakes and kickback bars are safety features provided by manufacturers to reduce the risk of accidental contact with the human body while operating these saws. Other features provided included carrying cases, tool-less chain adjustment, and spring-assisted starting mechanisms.

  • Safety equipment

If you already own a chainsaw, you may have basic safety equipment. If this is your first purchase, make sure to buy the following safety gear as well.

If you are new to chainsaws or if you want to teach a beginner about how to use chainsaws, then you can share this article with them, we have covered everything about Best Beginner Chainsaw Tips in our detailed guide.

  • Safety helmet and goggles to protect the head and eyes from falling debris and flying splinters
  • Ear protection to prevent temporary or permanent hearing loss due to loud sounds emitted by the saw
  • Chainsaw clothes, gloves, and jacket. These specialized items of clothing have fibers within that get trapped within the chain and stop it before causing serious contact injuries with the skin
  • Steel toe shoes heavy boots to protect your feet from falling debris and the chainsaw itself.

Benefits of a Top Handle Chainsaw

Top handle chainsaws allow for the side handle to be shifted to the top, or has a fixed handle provision in the upper part of the machine. This can be of great use to arborists but has other benefits in general 

  • Top handle chainsaws are small and compact. This makes it easy to carry it while cutting branches at a height. This is also an important factor considering most arborists have to climb the trees with all their equipment. The lightweight nature of the chainsaw ensures increased safety and speed while climbing up.
  • Top handle chainsaws can be used single-handedly. As a result, they can be used to make cuts in tight spaces. The top handle also ensures better balance, which improves stability while operating it in such a manner. As a result, maneuvering such machines becomes easy for the operator.

These benefits are the main reasons why professional arborists use top handle chainsaws for cutting down branches at a height and other gardening applications.

Difference Between Top Handle and Rear Handle Chainsaw

If you are a new customer buying your first chainsaw, you may be confused if you should buy a top handle or a rear handle chainsaw. Understanding the basic differences between these two types will help you answer your doubt.

Top handle chainsaws are designed primarily for working at heights, with a handle on the top. They are shorter and more compact in design.

They are also slightly lighter, allowing for better maneuverability in small spaces. These types of saws are suitable for applications that have a certain ground clearance and cannot be used on the ground.

Rear handle chainsaws are designed for heavy-duty woodcutting applications, with the second handle sitting at the rear of the machine. They are used to fell trees and cut through the trunks.

These models are a bit bulkier but are more ergonomically designed. As a result, they are suitable for continuous usage without straining the user too much. 

Top handle chainsaws are not easy machines to use, especially if you do not have prior training. They require a certain level of skill and training. In fact, certain states have certification requirements before you can even purchase one.

On the other hand, rear handle chainsaws are easy to learn and use, even for someone with no prior experience. The bigger frame and position of the handle give them great control while cuts, improving the precision and efficiency of the cuts as a result.

Top handle saws are more expensive and complicated to use because they are designed for skilled professionals who require such saws for very specific needs. A rear handle chainsaw is quite affordable for regular household usage.

If you ask us which one is the best among all, then I'll go with the DEWALT DCCS620P1, the best thing about this saw is how quiet it is, you will not hear any kind of noise while using it, and it is very easy to use. It can easily last for cutting around 5-6 trees at a time, it can easily last a full day of cutting. (Click here to find the latest price of this product from Amazon)
And if you are looking for a more affordable one, then BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 is for you, it has a smaller battery and because of that you will get around 1-2 hours of cutting time, this saw is perfect for a medium kind of work. It comes with a battery level indicator which is missing in the 20V model, and it is very lightweight to operate. (Click here to know what the current price of this saw on Amazon)

1 thought on “Best Top Handle Arborist Chainsaws (TOP 6): Reviews & Buying Guide”

  1. Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
    I’ve been looking to buy a good arborist saw and finally found one! Thank you


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