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Archive for Wednesday, September 20, 2006

These chain saws a cut above the pack

September 20, 2006

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A chain saw need not be integral to your emergency-preparedness plan, but one can sure come in handy to clear away branches buckled and trees toppled by Mother Nature's fury.

We recently rated the best gas and electric saws from our tests of 26 models.

Gas models cut more quickly than electrics and eliminate the power cord. Their faster chain speeds also can ease use by demanding less pressure from the operator. We liked four gas models from our tests:

¢ The top-rated Stihl MS180 C-BE ($230) has a 32-cc engine and a 14-inch chain bar, and excelled in tests measuring cutting speed through a 10-inch-square oak beam.

¢ The Husqvarna 142 ($220) also was an excellent cutter, and rated almost as high overall as the Stihl, with a 40-cc engine and a 16-inch bar.

¢ Bigger yet is the Craftsman 35082 ($200, from Sears), with its 42-cc engine and 18-inch bar; a very good cutter in our tests, it is - at 14 pounds - heaviest of our recommended saws.

¢ At just 9 pounds, the Echo CS-305-14 ($200) is the lightest; with its 14-inch bar and 30-cc engine, it, too, did very well in our cutting test.

We recommend two electric models, although neither could match the rated gas models for cutting speed. Both include a chain brake.

The Husqvarna 316 ($220) features a 16-inch bar and a 2-hp engine; it scored "very good" overall. The Poulan Pro 400E scored lower, but its longer bar (18 inches) and beefier motor (4 hp) works for bigger jobs. Priced at just $110, it qualifies as a CR Best Buy.

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