How to buy - Chainsaws

The latest models are packed with helpful features and getting ever lighter, notes Sally Drury.

Q: Are there any new brands in the chainsaw market?

A: Last year, Sanli UK introduced 38cc and 45cc chainsaws. The rear-handled models are fitted with 40cm and 45cm bars respectively.

Q: What's new on the market from STIHL?

A: The busy developers at STIHL came up with four new models last year, including the 70.7cc MS 441 C-M. Described as a "chainsaw with a brain", the 441 has an engine that is not only self-tuning but also extremely efficient in use.

It boasts the M-Tronic engine management system, comprising electronic ignition timing management to consistently optimise engine performance, electronic fuel management to automatically adjust the carburettor to suit external conditions, a memory function to save optimised settings from the previous operating conditions and cold/warm starter recognition with one-position starting logic as well as immediate acceleration.

What is more, it has STIHL's new 2-MIX engine, long-life air-filter system with cyclonic pre-separation, optimal power-to-weight ratio and low vibration for productive use.

The other three new saws from STIHL - the MS 261, MS 271 and MS 291 - target horticultural and landscape users. The trio all benefit from the STIHL 2-MIX engine and long-life air filter, plus a new anti-vibration system.

Q: Are there any new top-handled models of chainsaw?

A: Husqvarna's T540XP is expected to be launched any time now. Visitors to the APF exhibition in Cannock Chase last September were given a preview of this saw. It boasts a high chain speed, fast acceleration, high centre of gravity to deliver low gyroscopic forces, air injection and low levels of vibration.

Weight, balance and cutting accuracy are aided by the new TechLite guide bar. Compared with the standard bar, the TechLite is 20 per cent lighter with better stiffness and a nine-tooth nose wheel. This 37.7cc saw weighs 3.6kg.

Remember, top-handled chainsaws are only for use by certified, professional users and must only be used off the ground.

Q: Are there many companies offering electric chainsaws?

A: Most of the main players offer electric saws. Husqvarna has the Husqvarna 317EL and Husqvarna 321EL - rated at 1.7kW and 2kW and having 35cm and 40cm bars respectively. Makita offers seven electric models. The MSE 140, MSE 180 and MSE 220 from STIHL provide 1.4kW, 1.8kW and 2.2kW of power in a number of variations with 30-50cm bar lengths.

Q: Who supplies battery-powered, cordless chainsaws?

A: New player Pellenc has three models supplied by Etesia. They are all top-handled and lightweight - 1.7-2kg. With outputs of 1.2kW, 1.5kW and 2kW, the saws are equivalent to 30cc, 35cc and 45cc. The battery is worn in a harness on the operator's back and gives two to five hours of use. Bar length is 30cm. Three cordless models are also available from Makita.

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