Chainsaws can be complex and even dangerous tools. However, with the proper gear, knowledge, and safety precautions, you should be able to get the job done without any problems. One of the most important parts of any chainsaw is the chainsaw bar.
Using chainsaw bars can have a major impact on your saw’s performance. But choosing the right type of chainsaw bar will heavily depend on the length of your saw’s guide bar and some other factors. If you’re new to using a chainsaw and the bar needs to be replaced, or you simply want to upgrade, then this buyer’s guide can help you make the right decision and choose a model that will boost your saw’s cutting performance. I’ll discuss what factors you need to consider before you buy, so you can make an informed decision and purchase a perfect replacement for your saw.
We’ve also tested out several top selling models and came up with the five bars that can be total gamechangers, the next time you’re cutting through lumber, or thinning or felling trees.
Below, you’ll find a comparison chart which lists all of the models that made it onto my list, their best features, and how each model rated.
Types of Bars
There are 3 main types of chainsaw bars: solid bars, solid bars with replacement tips, and laminated bars with nose wheels. Read further to learn the differences between them.
- Solid Bars: Solid chainsaw bars are suited for use on hard timber species, thick barks, and in sooty, dusty, and sandy conditions.
- Solid Bars with Replacement Tips: Some chainsaw bars, especially long ones, have replaceable tips. This design is intended to minimize the load on the bar tips by transferring it to the high-performance roller bearing.
- Laminated Bars with Nose Wheel: These chainsaw bars are designed to minimize kickback risk while ensuring optimal cutting control. To achieve these goals, they have a gentle curve and a small nose radius.
How to Select the Best Chainsaw Bar?
It may seem like a straightforward task when you’re buying replacement parts for your chainsaw, but any old chainsaw bar won’t do. Some chainsaw bars are more suitable for particular jobs than others, and some will only suit some kinds of chainsaws.
Once you’ve established what make and model your chainsaw is, you can then work to find the best bar for the job at hand. The main advice in this buying guide is to always choose quality over price.
There are so many different types of chainsaw bars on the market, but it’s not just for looks. The type of work you do dictates the type of chainsaw bar you will need.
For example, if you’re cutting hard timber, thick bark or the conditions are muddy, icy or dirty, you are best to opt for a solid bar. They are designed for these conditions and will not scratch or corrode.
However, if you’re undertaking everyday work you should opt for a sprocket nose bar. These bars require less power to move the chain, are better for plunging and for general everyday use.
Your safety out on the job is very important, and as such, you should always opt for a bar you can handle. If you don’t think you have the strength or knowledge to work with a large bar, it’s best you opt for the smaller one or call in the professionals.
If you know the wood you are going to cut could be testy, a bar with a nosewheel can help prevent kickback. The key is to choose the best bar on the market that will get the job done safely and accurately. Your safety is paramount.
The weight of your chainsaw bar contributes to the overall weight of the saw. Thus, it’s best to choose a chainsaw bar that is lightweight.
Most of the bars we reviewed have weights in the range of 1-4 pounds. Even though a 1-pound bar will do good to minimize your saw’s weight, it may compromise the length.
Decide if you need to replace the bar
All chainsaw bars suffer wear and tear. No matter how well you take care of it, following the manufacturer’s suggestions and oiling it regularly, there will come a point when it’s taken too much. Here’s how to tell if your chainsaw needs a new bar.
- Check the bar’s rails. These are the edge surfaces that the chain circles around, like the rails of a train track. They’re often the first place you’ll see wear, especially near the nose (stubby end of the bar). The constant, rapid motion of the chain erodes the rails, creating worn flat areas. When you start to see the rails ground down, start to think about getting a replacement bar.
- Check the heel area, where the bar connects to the engine casing, to see if the metal has worn away. The heel of a bar reaching the end of its lifespan will be narrower than the heel of a new bar, as the chain strips away small amounts of metal over time.
- Check the depth of the grooves in the rails. A bar’s grooves get shallower as it ages, much like the treads on car tires. If you see any scratches or marks on the bottom of any of the grooves, the chainsaw is no longer safe to use — the rails can’t hold the chain in place any longer, creating a serious safety hazard.
- Test the inside of the grooves. Grasp the chain between your thumb and forefinger and try to wiggle it back and forth. If you can’t move it, your bar is still good. If there’s a lot of play, however, it means the inside of the bar is worn down. This kind of wear doesn’t always occur at the same time as visible exterior erosion, so you should check it even if every other point on the bar looks good.
Our Top Picks
The following bars check all of the boxes for their appropriate category. The best chainsaw bars for you depends on the type of chainsaw you own, your cutting experience, and the type of wood.
1. Husqvarna 20-inch Chainsaw Bar
The Husqvarna 53100440 20-inch FT280-72 Chainsaw Bar gives you the right length if a short bar is not enough for you. It will fit most Husqvarna chainsaw models that meet its requirements, such as the 455 or 460 Rancher, 257, and more.
It is the best chainsaw for users looking for a chainsaw blade to withstand the most challenging and demanding conditions and tasks. We also love how this bar’s low vibration feature, making them easier and more comfortable to use. You also get a low kickback, which will keep you safe when using your saw.
If you have a Husqvarna chainsaw model and need a bar replacement, this one is the first bar you should consider. It is built to last you a long time and has all the features you can from your chainsaw bar.
2. Oregon 39272 18-Inch Bar & 91VG Chainsaw Blade Combination
The Oregon 39272 is a chainsaw replacement option for those who own chainsaw models from Poulan, Homelite, and Craftsman. Just like the previous version, it is availed in a combination of the bar and the chain for a complete overhaul of your chainsaw’s cutting system.
All of the components in the package conform to UL, ANSI and ISO standards. This feature gives you an assurance of the safety and durability of the chain and bar.
The bar has a length of 18 inches making it suitable for tackling considerably thick trees on your yard.
With a reversible design, you can change the direction of installation. In the process, you prolong the service life of your chainsaw bar. Cradle-nose sprocket makes for a more superior chain support. Such a configuration is great for increasing the nose life of the bar.
3. Echo CS-400 Chainsaw Bar
This package comes with one bar and five chains. The bar and chain combo are designed for Echo chainsaws and offer improved control and reduced kickback for increased safety. The bar is made out of lightweight, durable materials that promote minimum vibration and optimal performance.
The bar’s design decreases vibration and kickback for a smoother performance and consistent cuts. This package will have a huge impact on your saw’s cutting speed and accuracy and is a great upgrade for your high-performance Echo brand chainsaw.
4. Stihl 3003 008 6821
It is suited for a wide range of applications including occasion, mid-range, and regular professional projects in tree-cutting.
To excel in so many diverse applications, the bar is made of high-grade durable steel. It retains its strength and rigidity even when constantly subjected to the toughest cutting tasks.
This top-rated chainsaw bar is unlike any other we’ve reviewed in that it features 3-spot laminated welding, which adds to the bar’s overall sturdiness and durability.
At 20 inches in length, and with a superior gauge of 0.063 inches, this bar is capable of executing heavy-duty cutting that other smaller bars struggle or fail to accomplish.
The only issue we noted with the Stihl 3003 008 6821 all-round chainsaw bar is its high prices, which makes this model the most expensive on our list.
5. Forester 16″ Bar & Chain 3/8 Pitch 50 Gauge
In case you need a more compact option that can perform heavy-duty cuttings, this Forester Bar might be a match. Combining a reduced size and extreme sturdiness, the product can be utilized for various major woodworks. You get two models in one for a reasonable price and a warranty.
If you take the product’s dimensions and compare them to a similar-sized model, you will see how beneficial it is. It’s only 16 inches long, but it has a 0.375-inch pitch gauge to perform deep cuts and deal with hardwood on the spot. The chain is well calibrated and completely adherent when slid onto the bar.
Also, the weight is relatively moderate for a bar of this size. It comes to around 1 pound and feels well-balanced when equipped. The bar itself doesn’t get rusty even if it gets directly into the water or is kept in damp storage. However, it’s advisable to apply grease now and again to sustain the smoothness of this 16-inch chainsaw bar.
Why Should You Change the Bar
You may wonder why you need to change the bar!
Well, the main reason for that is chain bars are pretty much prone to wear and get damaged. And a damaged chain bar can lead your whole machine to a real mess.
Another reason you may need to change your chain bar is it tends to bend, but a bent chain bar will not be able to provide perfect alignment to the chain. It can both ruin your machine and put you in danger.
And the most common reason for changing the chain bar is that it may get chips or dents by constant use, resulting in the bent bar.
Why Does My Chainsaw Chain Dull So Quickly?
If your chain dulls quickly, then it might be a few things. Check your user’s manual to ensure that you are only using the adequately sized file for your chain. Alternatively, you’ll be applying an excessive amount of pressure once you file. This may create cutting edges that are too thin and dull quickly.
What is the Most Uncomplicated Chainsaw Bar Length?
Professional-grade saws have bar lengths greater than 20 inches. Electric saws and little gas saws work for pruning and trimming and may cut small trees. Larger saws with 20-inch or longer bars are suitable for medium and enormous trees and storm cleanup, and cutting firewood.
What’s The Fastest Cutting Chainsaw Chain?
According to our list, the Oregon brand has the fastest chainsaw chain in the market, and this is as a result of the unique cutter design and the bar length.
How Long Should a Chainsaw Bar Last?
The lifespan of a chainsaw bar depends on its quality and the type of job you’re using it for. It also depends on the quality of the chain and how well you have maintained the two of them (tensioning, oiling, etc.). A chainsaw bar can last anything from a few months to over two years.