The 7 Best Top Handle Chainsaws – Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Top Handle Chainsaw

If most of your chainsaw cutting task involves cutting trees on the ground, a regular and heavy back-end chainsaw will be more than enough.

However, if you have to climb a tree or use a ladder to cut high limbs and branches, you need to think about getting the best top handle chainsaw.

As the name suggests, the top handle chainsaws are the kind that will have the handle at the top to provide better control and maneuverability. It is often available in battery powered and gas-powered models.

These chainsaws are sometimes referred to as the arborist chainsaw as arborists and homeowners that work around trees a lot are their main users.

And they will use it mostly to prune high branches because most of these chainsaws will also come with an attachment point for carabiner, safety strap or rope.

The greatest advantages of the top handle chainsaws are that they are small and lightweight, and the location of the handle makes them simple to maneuver and control.

Our guide below provides some reviews of 7 best-rated top handle chainsaws in the market and a detailed buying guide to help you find the perfect one for your needs.

7 Best Top Handle Chainsaws - Reviews

Your choice of top handle chainsaw will ultimately depend on your preferences and how you intend to use it. However, our comparison table below of 7 of the best models in the market will be very helpful when it comes to making the decision.

Product Name

Power

Bar Length

Weight

Rating

Current Price

1. Tanaka TCS33EDTP Top Handle Chainsaw With Pure Fire Engine

Gas, 32.2 cc

12 in

11.9 lbs

4.5

2. Makita XCU02Z Top Handle Chainsaw

Cordless, 36 V

12 in

10.1 lbs

4.6

3. DeWalt DCCS620P1 Compact Top Handle Chainsaw

Cordless, 20 V

12 in

8.8 lbs

4.5

4. Hitachi CS33EDTP Top Handle Chainsaw With Pure Fire Engine

Gas, 32.2 cc

14 in

12.4 lbs

4.5

5. Makita HCU02C1 Top Handle Chainsaw

Cordless, 36 V

12 in

10.0 lbs

4.2

6. Husqvarna T435 X-Torq Top Handle Chainsaw

Gas, 35.2 cc

12 in

7.5 lbs

3.9

7. Echo CS-355T Top Handle Chainsaw

Gas, 35.8 cc

16 in

7.0 lbs

5.0

#1. Tanaka TCS33EDTP Top Handle Chainsaw with Pure Fire Engine

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Tanaka TCS33EDTP Top Handle Chainsaw with Pure Fire Engine
  • Power: Gas, 32.2 cc
  • Bar Length: 12-inch
  • Weight: 11.9 lbs

The 12-inch Tanaka TCS33EDTP runs on a 32.2 cc gas-powered pure fire engine that is designed and built for commercial applications, and it will be great for a variety of tasks from pruning to shaping and hobby tasks.

The powerful engine makes this one of the best professional chainsaws as it provides clean and powerful performance but there is still more to the chainsaw than this.

Tanaka fits this top handle chainsaw with a sprocket nose bar and Oregon chain to provide better control and to make cuts easier.

Starting and warm-ups are also a lot easier thanks to the half throttle choke with purge primer bulb. Other features like the gear driven automatic chain oiler and side access chain tensioning help to make this an even more convenient and easy-to-use chainsaw.

There is also an anti-vibration system to enhance user comfort and built-in lanyard ring for easy climbing. This top handle chainsaw also offers great power-to-weight ratio, and the manufacturer will back it with an impressive 7-year consumer warranty.

Pros:

  • Automatic oiler
  • Convenient side access chain tensioning
  • Great control and easier cutting
  • Relatively less fuel consumption
  • Easy start and warm up

Cons:

  • Not good for heavy duty tasks

#2. Makita XCU02Z Top Handle Chainsaw

Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)

Makita XCU02Z Top Handle Chainsaw
  • Power: Cordless, 36 Volts
  • Bar Length: 12-inch
  • Weight: 10.1 lbs

If you prefer the convenience of a battery-powered top handle chainsaw, the Makita XCU02Z will be a great buy. It is 12-inch chainsaw that will deliver motor speeds of up to 1,650 FPM to make it a great for fast cutting.

This chainsaw runs on two 18V LXT lithium-ion batteries that deliver power and performance and relatively long run times. And it is also a relatively quieter chainsaw with a noise rating of just 89 dB.

The tool-less chain adjustment provides convenient operation and easy maintenance, and the top handle also has a rubberized grip to make it easy to apply even pressure.

For safety, there is a front hand guard that will actuate the chain brake when engaged and the extreme protection technology improves dust and water resistance to make this a great chainsaw for use in harsh conditions.

The instant start-up is also perfect and adds to the convenience as all you need to do is to load up the batteries and the chainsaw is ready to use.

Pros:

  • Tool-less chain adjustment
  • Low noise levels
  • Faster cutting speeds
  • Relatively affordable
  • Instant start-up

Cons:

  • Battery and charger not include

#3. DeWalt DCCS620P1 Compact Top Handle Chainsaw

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

DeWalt DCCS620P1 Compact Top Handle Chainsaw
  • Power: Cordless, 20 Volts
  • Bar Length: 12-inch
  • Weight: 8.8 lbs

Despite this being the priciest item on our top handle chainsaw reviews, it is still a high-performing unit and also very convenient to use.

The 20 Volts battery-powered top handle chainsaw runs on a highly efficient brushless motor that delivers longer run times and is also quite durable. You can make up to 70 cuts on 4x4s for every single charge.

The low kickback 12-inch chain bar is ideal for outdoor cutting and constructing applications, and there is also tool-free chain tensioning for convenient adjustments.

Like with most other battery-operated chainsaws, this one is also easy to start with a simple pull of the trigger. And it is also a compact and lightweight chainsaw for maximum user control.

Pros:

  • Highly efficient brushless motor
  • Tool-free chain tensioning
  • Relatively longer run times
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Easy and quick start

Cons:

  • Relatively pricier

#4. Hitachi CS33EDTP Top Handle Chainsaw with Pure Fire Engine

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Hitachi CS33EDTP Top Handle Chainsaw with Pure Fire Engine
  • Power: Gas, 32.2 cc
  • Bar Length: 14-inch
  • Weight: 12.4 lbs

There are several factors that make the Hitachi CS33EDTP a good top handle chainsaw but the excellent power-to-weight ratio is probably what will impress most arborists and homeowners.

Although it is a relatively heavier chainsaw, it is still easy to take it up a tree with you. And the massive power also means that you can make more cuts up there hence making it one of the best arborist chainsaws on our list.

This 32.2 cc gas-powered chainsaw has a heavy duty 2-stroke engine with low emissions and a convenient gear-driven oiler to improve the overall performance. There is also an advanced anti-vibration system that provides user comfort and reduces fatigue.

The side access chain tensioner provides quick chain adjustments to keep the chainsaw at maximum cutting efficiency while the half throttle choke with purge primer bulb makes starting easy.

Hitachi will back this chainsaw with a 7-year consumer warranty.

Pros:

  • Excellent power-to-weight ratio
  • Advanced anti-vibration system
  • Easy starting
  • Heavy-duty low emissionengine
  • 7-year consumer warranty

Cons:

  • Relatively heavier

#5. Makita HCU02C1 Top Handle Chainsaw

Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)

Makita HCU02C1 Top Handle Chainsaw
  • Power: Cordless, 36 Volts
  • Bar Length: 12-inch
  • Weight: 10 lbs

Makita HCU02C1 36V battery-powered top handle chainsaw produces zero emissions and it is up to 40% quieter than the typical gas-powered chainsaws. And it will deliver up to 1,650 FPM for faster cutting speeds.

The tool-less chain adjustment provides convenient operation and easy maintenance. This chainsaw also has a rubberized grip that makes it easy for the user to apply more even pressure for better control.

Chain lubrication is also easy as the chainsaw uses an adjustable auto chain oiler and with a larger oil reservoir to minimize refilling frequency. There is also a large oil filling port and a view window to make it easy to monitor the oil level.

The electric brake helps to make this chainsaw safer and increase productivity. Makita provides a 3-year warranty for both tool and battery.

Pros:

  • Tool-less chain adjustments
  • Quieter and with zero emissions
  • Comfortable rubberized grip
  • Higher cutting speeds
  • Battery and charger included

Cons:

  • Not very long battery life

#6. Husqvarna T435 X-Torq Top Handle Chainsaw

Editor's Rating: (3.9 / 5)

Husqvarna T435 X-Torq Top Handle Chainsaw
  • Power: Gas, 35.2 cc
  • Bar Length: 12-inch
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs

The T435 Husqvarna top handle chainsaw might be the priciest item in our list but like any other power tool, you get what you pay for as it is also one of the most powerful and high-performing.

It's 35.2 cc 2-stroke gas engine uses up less fuel than many other gas-powered chainsaws and produces fewer exhaust emissions. And it is also a tough and highly durable engine with aheavy-duty magnesium crankcase.

The centrifugal air injection cleaning system will remove the large dust particles and debris which results in fewer filter cleanings while also improving the engine life.

Husqvarna's LowVib reduces the vibration to ensure minimal user fatigue, and this is also a relatively safer chainsaw. The safety is thanks to the inertia activated chain brake and chain brake window that increases the visibility of the guide bar tip.

Read More: 10 Best Husqvarna Chainsaws

Pros:

  • Relatively lower fuel consumption and emissions
  • Side chain tensioning
  • More efficient air injection cleaning system
  • Transparent fuel indicator
  • Reduced vibration levels

Cons:

  • Expensive

#7. Echo CS-355T Top Handle Chainsaw

Editor's Rating: (5 / 5)

Echo CS-355T Top Handle Chainsaw
  • Power: Gas, 35.8 cc
  • Bar Length: 16-inch
  • Weight: 7 lbs

The 35.8 cc gas engine makes the Echo CS-355T the most powerful top handle chainsaw on our list. And so it will be handy for most pruning and other cutting tasks around the home.

Besides the massive power, this will also be an easy to start chainsaw thanks to the digital ignition system that ensures you never have to struggle to pull cords.

Using it is comfortable enough and it is also easy to control even for extended periods as itcomes with an ergonomic anti-vibe handle which also has a palm rest.

The 16-inch bar is the longest on our list and this means that this chainsaw will have more cutting capacity than most other top handle chainsaws and it is also quite reliable.

The integrated choke and the fast-idle feature with trigger release also help to make this an easy-to-start chainsaw. And it comes with a replaceable metal bumper spike for improved control. Echo provides a 5-year consumer warranty for this top handle chainsaw.

Pros:

  • Highly powerful engine
  • Easy to start
  • Ergonomic and anti-vibe handle
  • Lightweight
  • 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Quite a loud chainsaw

How to Buy the Best Top Handle Chainsaw

How to Buy the Best Top Handle Chainsaw

Whether you are buying a top handle chainsaw for its convenient one-handed operation or the great balance, it is important to make sure you choose the best. And for this to be so below are some of the most important factors to consider

#1. Weight

While a heavy top handle chainsaw might be great for doing a few cuts, they can be quite draining for extended use or when you need to make several cuts at the top of a tree.

As convenient and easy to maneuver as the top handle chainsaws might be if you go for something that is too heavy it will always leave you with hand cramps or severe strains in the arms.

However, it is important to note that the right weight for you will depend on your physical capabilities and also how and where you intend to use the chainsaw.

Also, the type of chainsaw determines the weight because the electric corded and cordless types can weigh as little as 8 pounds or slightly less but the lightest gas-powered chainsaws will still be upwards of 10 pounds.

#2. Size

Size is a broad term and this means that there will be a lot to consider here if you want to get the best top handle chainsaw. And the weight is also part of the size because the heavy models are also often the largest ones.

While the right idea is always to go for a compact top handle chainsaw as it is easy to use and maneuver, there is more to this than this.

A compact chainsaw will also have a smaller guide bar length which means it will only be ideal for light and medium duty task. And it will also probably have a smaller and less powerful motor or engine.

Hence when it comes to the size, you need to strike a balance between the power and performance and the ease of use or handling.

#3. Safety

A top handle does not make a chainsaw any safer, and so you still need to think about safety when choosing one of these convenient chainsaws.

While a lightweight chainsaw that is easy to handle is often safer to use, there are still many other essential safety features to look out for.

Safety features like anti-kickback chain and chain brake are vital when it comes to preventing chainsaw accidents and any top rated top handle chainsaw should have them.

In addition to the safety features on the chainsaw, you will still need secondary safety features like safety glasses, hearing protection, protective gloves and a pair of nonslip boots.

#4. Ease of Use

Convenience is one of the things that make top handle chainsaws popular. Hence, the ease of use is always an important point to consider before settling on any model as it is one of the key factors that make the chainsaws convenient.

There are several factors that will determine the ease of use of a top handle chainsaw. But, one of the first and probably the most important ones to consider is the ease of starting. As an arborist or homeowner, you do not want to find yourself at the top of a tree and struggling to start your chainsaw.

Other features like automatic chain oiler, tool-less chain adjustment and oil reservoir window and battery indicator will also help to make the chainsaw easier and more convenient to use.

#5. Warranty

Every company that makes the top handle chainsaws will always claim that their products are the best. But, the best brands are those that will back this claim with a warranty.

And while the length of the warranty varies between brands, it is always important to go for something with a reasonable warranty length as this is a good indication of the tool's quality.

Some brands will offer a warranty of 5 or more years but this is quite rare. On average a top handle chainsaw with a 2-year limited warranty is as good as you will get and this is often more than enough for both professional arborists and homeowners.

Conclusion

If you need to climb a tree and do some pruning, a top handle chainsaw is your best choice. This small and lightweight chainsaw offers you more control and better handling. However, this is only true if you get the best.

Like with any other chainsaw type, finding the best top handle chainsaw requires you to consider factors like power, bar length, size, weight, and safety when shopping.

And with our reviews of some of the high-performing top handle chainsaw out there for recommendations, it should now be easy to find something that works for you whether you are a DIYer or arborist.