When CJ & I purchased our property in the fall of 2020, we knew one of the first purchases we would have to make would be a heavy duty chainsaw. I had run saws before on multiple occasions, from basic Poulans to professional grade Stihl saws, but had never actually purchased one. This is my review of the Husqvarna 450 Rancher 20″ Chainsaw which we ultimately purchased nine months ago.
Why did we need a chainsaw?
Because our house is equipped with an wood boiler alternative heating source, large piles of logs had been brought onto the property by the previous owners, with the intention of processing into firewood.
This area (in photo below) encompassed approximately 1/3 an acre of land situated to the south and east of the barn and outbuildings. It was so overgrown when we moved in that it was impossible to even traverse the area!
Why we chose the Husqvarna 450 Rancher
After a fair bit of research, I decided on a mid-range saw that falls solidly into the “prosumer” category of power equipment: the Husqvarna 450 Rancher equipped with a 20” bar and chain.
Husqvarna saws carry a reputation matched by few in the industry. They offer a great extended warranty program with the purchase of their mixed fuel products at the time of purchase.
The saw, like many from Husqvarna in this price range, utilizes a plastic clamshell body that keeps the weight of the saw body to just over 11lbs. As denoted by the “50” in the model #, the saw has 50cc of displacement and a maximum of 9000 rpms. By using a narrow pitch and gauge of .325” x .050” which the 450R makes thinner cuts, and allows the saw to have enough power to cut through even the hardest of wood when buried up to the felling teeth.
Husqvarna offers bars and chains from 13”-20” for the 450 line of saws; this allows users to have some versatility without buying multiple saws. The 450R also uses flip-up caps for both the mixed fuel and the bar oil, which is nice when you are wearing gloves out in the field.
This saw utilizes an integrated choke on the start/stop switch to keep the controls on the saw simplified and homeowner friendly.
It’s been nine months since we bought this saw.
Since October 2020, I estimate that I have put approximately 60-70 hours of hard use on the 450. I have cut a mixture of green, seasoned, as well as plenty of rotted wood. In addition, as can be seen in some of my photos, I also have had multiple large pieces of timber that required cutting from sometimes multiple angles as they exceeded 40” in width.
Being as I had had limited hours of experience with chainsaws, the size of the task as well as the logs themselves forced me to learn pretty quickly how to efficiently cut and process firewood. The 450 Rancher has, with little upkeep and maintenance, been up to the task every time.
Make sure you have the proper accessories and stay on top of maintenance.
With a quality chainsaw, basic upkeep and a sharp chain will keep your saw running smoothly and cutting efficiently 99% of the time. I keep a half a dozen spare chains in the garage and make sure to frequently swap them out because of the mixed quality of the wood that I process.
Sharp chains should produce chips when cutting perpendicular to the grain of the wood, and ribbons when cutting with the length of the log. If the saw is blowing out saw dust or producing any sort of smoke from the cut, your chain is far past needing to be swapped.
While it is substantially more expensive, I also only use ethanol-free pre-mixed fuel in my saw. It provides a consistent high quality fuel that I do not have to worry about buildup in the engine when running, or degradation of the fuel when sitting.
As far as upkeep goes using an air compressor and your “scrench” (the multi-tool that is provided with most chainsaws), after each use to clean the bar, clutch, filter and motor will help keep the saw running smoothly on each start.
Like all chainsaws, if regular maintenance and cleaning are not done, the bar and clutch can jam up, the filter can clog, or the gunk in and around the motor can cause excess heat buildup.
I have had each of these issues occur at one point or another over the past 10 months, and each time it has been the result of my not cleaning and maintaining the saw after the previous use.
The saw’s top enclosure, as well as the clutch, can both be removed using the scrench tool. The air filter is also easily popped on and off the top of the saw with the top clamshell removed, making regular cleaning and maintenance worry and stress free.
Always make sure to “pop” the chain brake back towards the saw body before attempting to remove the clutch and/or chain & bar, otherwise the clutch will become difficult to remove and can be damaged to the point of needing replacement when doing so.
All Husqvarna saws are designed to have the clutch removed with the brake pulled back. I can tell you from first hand experience as well as some internet sleuthing, this is a mistake that more than a few people have made over the years!
Through my use of the Husqvarna 450 Rancher, I had only really had three complaints in many hours of use.
- I have found that the saw will sometimes have trouble starting after it has been used and then refueled. I have always been able to work through this but it definitely can be harder to start when it is warm versus a cold start.
2. I have had the Stop switch on the integrated control switch not respond to being pushed down. In these situations I have simply pushed the switch to choke, flooding the engine with air and causing it to stall out. This problem occurs when the blue wire on the switch has rattled loose through excess vibration, but is fixed usually by pulling the clamshell and reinserting the wire onto the spade terminal on the switch.
3. I have found that the bar oil will leak out of of the saw after some extended use. This issue is said to be remedied to a degree by pulling the cap on the oil after each use to release the built up pressure. I don’t think it completely solves the issue, but I have seen a reduction in the amount of pooled oil when the saw sits since I started doing so.
While there can be the temptation to purchase a cheaper saw just because it can pull an 18” or 20” chain, I do think it is important to buy something that is going to be up to the tasks that you are most regularly going to be throwing at it.
If you are considering purchasing a chainsaw, think of what you will most often being using your saw for. Also think who you purchase from, companies like Husqvarna and Stihl have a extensive network of dealers to help you when do need parts or have a breakdown, as well as a long history of making quality tools they stand behind.
Overall, I have been very pleased with the performance and reliability of the 450 Rancher as a firewood saw. While cutting wood is technically a “chore” I have found that with a good saw processing wood can be an extremely fulfilling and enjoyable task. Thanks for reading my review of the Husqvarna 450 Rancher 20″ Chainsaw, I hope it helps if you are making a similar decision for your property!