What would be your choice of "lightweight" rear handle saw?

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NoPaint

Feeling the Heat
Jan 2, 2009
265
USA
What rear handle chainsaw would you pick for being light (but still reliable, decent power, and good quality)? Could be new or used. I'd think I want to stay in 40-49cc zone for this one. What do you think?
 

Tar12

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
1,732
Indiana
I love my Stihl 026 Pro saws...I have cut 100s of cords with this pair of saws without issue.I run 16 in. bars and full chisel chain on them and they are absolute animals!
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
582
SW Ohio
+ 1 for 50 cc Stihl - I have Stihl MS260 with a 16" bar. It's a great saw, and use MS261 at work, which I like even more.
That said more often now my go-to saw seems to be my MS462.​
I've used Husqvarna (Jonsered) too. Both Husqvarna & Stihl are well balanced, good ergonomics, features, with good power:weight.
If I were using saw frequently, I'd opt for a pro model.
The Stihl MS201 is purportedly a good ground, limbing saw, but it's pricey.​
A colleague is very happy with his 40cc class Shindaiwa that he uses for his side tree jobs.
Some arborists are using MS251 Woodboss (homeowner grade) as a ground/ utility saw for quick cutting and limbing around chipper.
If you are able, use a few saws first to determine what feels comfortable. So much is personal preference.
Buy for your anticipated typical (~85% of use) cutting needs. For MS260 I like to run a short (16") bar, even though it will take up 20" with 18" running well.
If I were cutting small wood for occasional use, I'd also consider battery saws, especially if I already owned another piece of equipment that used the same battery.
 
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MissMac

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2017
814
NW Ontario
MS261 for sure. I am a rather small person, and I can cut all day no problem on that saw.
 
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Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
940
Western Washington
I’m switching back to stihl in the small saw department because of the change in stud size on the huskies . All else I consider pretty even
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,418
Northern Canada
I’m switching back to stihl in the small saw department because of the change in stud size on the huskies . All else I consider pretty even
so just short built guys buying husky now?
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,257
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I have a nearly-stock (just a muffler mod and a carb tune) 30cc Echo with a 20" bar that I am real happy with. Everyone will tell you that you can't put a long bar on a small saw, but it makes my back happy. (My back would actually like a 36" bar, but you have to draw the line at some point. ;lol )

In a pinch (chainsaw joke there) you can bury the bar in oak and it cuts fine as long as you let it go at its own little 30cc pace. I run 3/8 low profile on it, and it has all the grunt I need for limbing. I keep the chain sharp and the rakers set at around 6°.
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,215
Northern IL
The 026/26x gets my vote. Good power to weight ratio. A 16 inch bar (keeping in the theme of light) would be a light saber to cut with and it does have the ability to pull a 20 inch if need be. Excellent reliability yet fully serviceable. Just one dudes opinion.
 
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Mike M.

Feeling the Heat
Mar 18, 2012
325
Green Bay, WI
Husqvarna 346XP is a very nice handling rear handle saw. Low vibration and excellent throttle response, wish they still made them.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,257
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I think I am slowly becoming an Echo guy.

I used to be a Dolmar guy, but Dolmar is gasping its last breaths this year. <>

Honestly I would like to find a brand where a couple parts doesn't cost more than the whole saw, but that's clearly not most of the big names out there.

Maybe I should just become a Poulan guy and buy every saw I can find for $10 or less so I always have parts....
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I like my 550XP MKII, it's reasonably light with enough power to do everything I need. But if you can can a used one the original 550XP were lighter.

But I also suffer from the affliction of believing one saw can do it all, so my saw is a cross between what most would consider a bucking and limbing saw.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,257
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I like my 550XP MKII, it's reasonably light with enough power to do everything I need. But if you can can a used one the original 550XP were lighter.

But I also suffer from the affliction of believing one saw can do it all, so my saw is a cross between what most would consider a bucking and limbing saw.
That IS an affliction when you have the kind of saw trouble that requires you to put the saw on the bench, or you get the bar pinched in something. Gonna drag your gear back out of the woods and go get another saw every time?

You can mitigate some of that by carrying spare bars and chains and sprockets, but if the saw needs work you can't do with a scrench.... have a nice trip.

Aside from the practical need to have a backup saw, it's just plain nice to have a small, light, fuel sipping saw for limbing, and a big saw that rips through whatever is in front of it for felling and bucking. In a pinch (chainsaw joke there), either one can do the other one's job... but you won't want them to.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,862
Downeast Maine
Does Echo make a light 40-50cc saw that is competitive with the 550xp or 261 cm?
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
That IS an affliction when you have the kind of saw trouble that requires you to put the saw on the bench, or you get the bar pinched in something. Gonna drag your gear back out of the woods and go get another saw every time?

You can mitigate some of that by carrying spare bars and chains and sprockets, but if the saw needs work you can't do with a scrench.... have a nice trip.

Aside from the practical need to have a backup saw, it's just plain nice to have a small, light, fuel sipping saw for limbing, and a big saw that rips through whatever is in front of it for felling and bucking. In a pinch (chainsaw joke there), either one can do the other one's job... but you won't want them to.
I carry an extra bar and 3 extra chains. I've also got a 20volt dewalt chainsaw, and an axe. I'm more than covered.

My saw is light enough to do a lot of limbing, and bucking is quick, I limb as I buck, so 2 saws is a waste for me.

Maybe the hardwoods down south are a bunch different, but it sure seems some turn getting firewood into more of a process than it needs to be. I drive up to a tree I want to cut, fell it, limb it and buck it, load it in the truck, and drive home. Between the wife and I it's about an hour from the time the saw starts to the time last piece is put into the full truck box.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,862
Downeast Maine
I like the two saw approach for our North Eastern spruce and fir trees. They all have tons of limbs, all the way up and down. Basically I am dealing with giant bottle brushes and I don't like slinging 15 lbs of power head and cutting equipment 75' up and down a log.
 

Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,164
Ottawa, ON
Chainsaws are like cars. You are happy to have one. You buy a second one....you are a bit happier. You buy a third....you think you are complete!
Then comes the forth.......and it is an addition !
 
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jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,257
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I don't know how many times over the years I've been glad to have a second saw with me. Stuff breaks.... dumbasses get their bars pinched.... ;em

It's really less of a production when you have a backup saw, not a bigger one.
 
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jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,257
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
Chainsaws are like cars. You are happy to have one. You buy a second one....you are a bit happier. You buy a third....you think you are complete!
Then comes the forth.......and it is an addition !
I am currently eyeballing milling saws; this is at least partly your fault (Spacebus too).... ;lol (though it doesn't help that 2x4s are on track to be twenty bucks each by next year at this rate...)
 

Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,164
Ottawa, ON
The funny thing is.....it all starts with a wood stove!
 
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jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,257
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
The funny thing is.....it all starts with a wood stove!
"Oh, honey, wood is FREE!" ;lol

In defense of every guy who has ever used that line on their spouse, I have spent thousands on stoves and saws and trailers and toys, but it pays us back a couple grand per year, too. We're well ahead on the deal overall! There are further benefits too: I get toys, and the wife gets to have me out of the house frequently, and have any temperature she wants all winter. :)
 
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Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,164
Ottawa, ON
Could not agree more!

Every wood stove manufacturer should add a small/big section in their manual. “Items prerequisite before considering a wood stove”:

1. wooded lot
2. Pickup/suc/trailer
3. Combo of saws
4........
5........
6........
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,862
Downeast Maine
I am currently eyeballing milling saws; this is at least partly your fault (Spacebus too).... ;lol (though it doesn't help that 2x4s are on track to be twenty bucks each by next year at this rate...)
Mine paid for itself in one year of projects.
 
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Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,164
Ottawa, ON
Mine paid for itself in one year of projects.
I have not used my mill yet. Hoping for the beg of May. I do not see it as a saving to mill my own slabs. I see it as satisfaction and legacy. I just hope it works out as I hope it will.
 
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