As far as grip and hands are concerned, there are two primary types of chainsaws — top handle chainsaws, and rear handle chainsaws.

Rear handle chainsaws, as the name suggests, are chainsaws with a handle bar at the rear. They are generally used to saw through large trees, and are also quite heavy. Top handle chainsaws are usually found in lightweight chainsaws as it involves you having to lift the chainsaw from the top. However, it’s also a lot more convenient to use, especially if you’re sawing down on a tree branch to cut it.

Top handle chainsaws, beside convenience, also offer a lot of other advantages. They help increase productivity because they are usually found in chainsaws with higher weight to performance ratio. As such, using top handle chainsaws you can compete a larger amount of task without getting tired.

Top handle chainsaws are also usually easier to start as they come packed with the right set of features. This is crucial when you’re on a tree and need to stop and start the chainsaw repeatedly.

Now that you know about the basics of top handle chainsaws, it’s time to buy one that matches all your needs. In this review I’ve compiled a list of 5 top handle chainsaws, all of which are unique in their own ways. You can go through their reviews and compare their features to determine which one you should buy for yourself.

Top Handle Chainsaws Review

The top 5 top handle chainsaws in the market are — Tanaka TCS33EDTP, Husqvarna 966997234, Echo CS-271T-12, Hitachi CS33EDTP, and Makita XCU02PT.

After you go through their detailed reviews, and after you’ve read about the factors to consider, you should look at this comparative table. This will help you compare the different specifications of these chainsaws and narrow down your options.

1.Tanaka TCS33EDTP/Perfect Household Chainsaw

The Tanaka TCS33EDTP is powered by a 32.2 cc pure fire engine that’s used to power a 14” bar. The engine is powerful enough to cut through small trees effortlessly. However, the really unique feature about this engine is that it lowers both fuel consumption and emission rates considerably.

Furthermore, the chainsaw comes with a purge primer bulb and a half throttle choke. Both of these features help the chainsaw start more smoothly without much of a lag. Because the bar isn’t too long, the chainsaw is easy to control. Furthermore, the chainsaw uses an Oregon chain, and this is famously known to minimize the risk of experiencing kickbacks. The presence of the top handle makes it easier to control and deliver neat and clean cuts.

Some of the other great features in this chainsaw are the tool-free chain tensioner, and the auto-oiler. The auto-oiler releases the oil into the chainsaw, keeping it running smooth at a uniform rpm, and the tension can be adjusted by just turning the knob at the side of the chainsaw.

Another great aspect of this chainsaw is its impressive warranty. It comes with a 7 year consumer warranty, along with a 2 year commercial, and 1 year rental warranty. As such, no matter what problem comes up, you can get the chainsaw replaced or repaired easily.
Ideal for: Prune and cut down tree branches.

PROS:Easy to handleThe pure fire engine is fuel-efficientCutting down tree branches is made easier with itThe engine helps lower emission rates, making it eco-friendlyCONS:The bar isn’t large enough to saw through larger trees

 2.Husqvarna 966997234/Great Chainsaw For Trimming Or Bucking

Whenever Husqvarna is involved with a chainsaw you know it’s going to be of premium quality. As such, you can already take it for granted that Husqvarna 966997234 is a great  chainsaw. The question isn’t about how well it performs, rather than what it performs for.

Husqvarna 966997234 is a top handle gas chainsaw with a 14” bar powered by a 35.2cc trademark X-Torq engine. The first impression from these specifications is that the chainsaw is ideal for cutting small trees effortlessly and perhaps even medium sized trees with some effort. This is owing to the bar length which is powered by a strong engine. Furthermore, X-Torq is extremely well acclaimed for its fuel-efficiency and eco-friendliness. The engine helps maintain the weight to performance ratio of a chainsaw, thus even rendering a lightweight chainsaw into a powerful beast. Furthermore, it reduces fuel consumption drastically and lowers emission rate by at least 70%. This makes it an environmentally conscious choice of chainsaw.

As for the features, it comes with an auto-oiler and as such you don’t need to remember to oil the chain always. It does so automatically. However, if you’re worried about wasting oil, the oil pump can be adjusted and as such you can limit the oil flow. Another great feature is that the air filter has a quick release and thus it can easily be cleaned on a regular basis to keep it functioning in ideal condition. It also comes with a tool-free tensioning system, and as such you can tension the chain from the knob on the side effortlessly. As such, this chainsaw has all the necessary features that a good chainsaw needs to have.
Ideal for: Cutting through small and medium size trees and branches.

PROS:PowerfulAuto-oiler and tool free chain tensionerFuel efficient and eco-friendly X-torq engineCONS:Expensive

 3.Echo CS-271T-12/Lightweight & Easy to handle Chainsaw

Echo CS-271T-12 is a lightweight gas top handle chainsaw with a 12 inch bar powered by a 26.9 cc engine. As such, it’s ideally suited for cutting small trees and limbs, and not really for any heavy duty work. One of the great features of this chainsaw is the i-30TM starting system, with which this chainsaw starts immediately with minimal risk of kickback. It also comes with the G-Force Engine Air Pre-CleanerTM and this lowers the need for air filter maintenance. The chain can be tensioned simply by turning a knob on the side, no tools necessary.
Ideal for: Cutting small trees and limbs.

PROS:Ideal for small treesi-30TM starting systemTool free chain tensionerG-Force Engine Air Pre-CleanerTMCONS:Expensive

 4.Hitachi CS33EDTP/Best Hitachi Top Handle Chainsaw

The Hitachi CS33EDTP is one of the leading gas top handle chainsaws when it comes to small tasks. It’s the preferred chainsaw amongst beginners and hobbyists. It comes with a 14” bar powered by a 32.2 cc engine. This is a commercial grade PureFire Engine, and it helps greatly reduce emission levels and lowers fuel consumption as well. The use of an Oregon chain helps minimize vibrations and thus reduces arm fatigue. This makes it suitable for sawing on top of trees. However, a great drawback of this chainsaw is that overheats quickly, and as such it’s not ideal for long sessions.
Ideal for: Beginners and hobbyists, and for professionals who need to cut high branches from trees.

PROS:Eco-friendlyFuel efficientLow vibrationsCONS:Not ideal for professionalsCan’t be used for a long period

 5.Makita XCU02PT/Perfect For Small Jobs

The Makita XCU02PT is the only electric battery-powered top handle chainsaw in this list because it’s one of the most powerful of the lot. The engine on this chainsaw can cut at 1,650FPM, and as such the high speed can easily slice through small trees. The chainsaw has a 12” bar powered by two 18V LXT lithium-ion batteries. This combines to make this chainsaw powerful, durable, and fast. Since this is an electric chainsaw, it’s also a lot quieter than the other chainsaws in the model, and as such it’s ideal for noise-sensitive areas. Finally, the chainsaw is only 6 lbs in weight, and as such it can be used by anyone at all.
Ideal for: Household tasks and pruning and trimming of bushes.

PROS:NoiselessLightweightEco-friendlyPowerful and FastCONS:Not meant for large tasksBattery drains very fast and takes a long time to charge

 Factors to Consider when Buying Top Handle Chainsaws

There are a lot of different factors to consider when buying any chainsaw, even a top chainsaw. Below is a list of some of the factors to take into consideration. These will help you narrow down your options.

Necessity

First off, you need to seriously consider the purpose you need the chainsaw for. Top handle chainsaws are meant for single hand operations, such as sawing through a branch by climbing a tree because then you need one hand for balance. As such, you need to figure out your own needs, and decide whether a single-hand top-handle chainsaw can fulfill them.

Personal Strength

Top handle chainsaws are usually held with a single hand, and as such they need to be light weight. As such, not only do you need to consider the weight of the chainsaw and get the lightest one possible, but you also need to assess your own strength and decide whether you can use it effortlessly.

Bar Length

The bar length can be as low as 10” or it can be as high as 20” or even 24”. The longer the bar, the more surface it can saw through at a single go. So the bar length you decide to use depends on the kind of wood you’ll be sawing through.

Power and Engine

You need to look out for chainsaws with a strong fuel-efficient engine with a good torque power so they can cut through large masses of wood easily.

Features

Like with most chainsaws, you need to look out for those additional features that makes it more convenient to use than the rest. Does it have an auto-oiler so you don’t have to keep oiling the blades? Does it have a tool-free chain tensioner so you can tension the chain by turning a knob? Does it have vibration minimizing handlebars so that it causes less fatigue? These, and several other features can make it easier to use the chainsaw.

Battery Strength (only for Electric Battery-Powered Chainsaws)

If you’re using an electric battery-powered top handle chainsaw you also need to consider how long you’ll be using the chainsaw, how long it lasts on a single charge, and how long it takes to charge. If your necessity is to cut through a lot of wood for hours at a stretch, you’ll need a chainsaw with a very long duration and fast battery recharge.

Budget

Finally, you need to tally all the previous factors against your personal budget.

How to use Top Handle Chainsaws

Chainsaws can be very dangerous, and as such you should always use them after you’re completely familiar with their safety measures and tips for use. Different types of chainsaws come with different techniques. In this part of the article I’ll tell you all you need to know about using Top Handle Chainsaws safely.

Preparing to use Top Handle Chainsaws:

  • Wear all necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This includes a heavy fabric with all parts of the body covered, along with thick boots and gloves. You should also wear headphones that can sound out the excessive noise of the chainsaw, and protective eye gear to prevent debris from scraping your eye. If you’re climbing a tree, it’s absolutely essential to wear a helmet with a chin strap.
  • Make sure that the chain tensioning is correct and that the saw is sharp.
  • Make sure that all the safety features in the chainsaw are functional.
  • Check to make sure that all the nuts and bolts are fastened.

How to start the Chainsaw on the ground?

  • While starting the chainsaw, the right knee should be on level with the top handle, and the left hand should hold on to the front handle.
  • Make sure the chain brake is functional.
  • Use the right hand to pull the cord.
  • Make sure the kill switch works perfectly.
  • The chain should be well lubricated. Check to see that the oil gauge is at least halfway full.
  • Before climbing the tree, attach the saw to the climber’s rope and clear the area under the tree until the saw has been harnessed.

How to start the Chainsaw on the tree?

  1. Whatever you do, the chain brake must be engaged and functional at all times.
  2. Pull the cord with the right handle while holding the front handle with the left hand. The left hand should be straight and locked in place.
  3. Alternatively, you can hold on to the top handle with the right hand, and pull the cord with the left.
  4. If there’s a fork on the tree branches, you can place the chainsaw between it. Hold the front handle with the left hand, and pull the cord with the right.
  5. At all times, be careful that the saw shouldn’t rotate towards your body.

Safety tips

  1. Even though top handle chainsaws can be used with a single hand, you should always use two hands when you’re up on the trees.
  2. Examine the surface you’re about to cute carefully. Are there any knots, pins, or nails to steer clear of? This is necessary because sawing on to the wrong surface may cause kickback.
  3. You should only saw through hard wood as soft wood may start tearing.
  4. The top handle chainsaw should never go above shoulder level.
  5. Always position yourself in such a way that even if you fall, the chainsaw shouldn’t come in contact with your body.
  6. The chainsaw shouldn’t be used for support.
  7. If your chainsaw gets stuck to a piece of wood, turn it off before working on detaching it.

These are just the basics of top handle chainsaw safety measures. Before you start using the chainsaw you should explore the safety measures in detail as well.

In Conclusion…

So now you know all there is to know about Top Handle chainsaws. You know what they are, and how they’re different from rear handle chainsaws, and you know which are the 5 best top handle chainsaws in the market.

To help you decide which of the 5 chainsaws is right for you, you can go through the factors listed out earlier. And please read up on the safety tips for chainsaw use before you start working with them. Having said that, please feel free to leave a comment down below and let me know which chainsaw you think is ideal for you. I’d love to hear from you.