Reliable chain saws are a must in an arborist’s bag of tricks. Choosing the best model for the job can mean the difference between reliable service and a frustrating day on the job. As needs and expectations change, chain saw manufacturers are tweaking their offerings to meet today’s demands.

What are the current industry trends?

Kent Hall, a senior project manager at Virginia Beach, Va.-based STIHL, Inc. (, says those in the tree care industry are becoming more environmentally sensitive about their product selections. Newer California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations concerning exhaust emissions drive decisions, as well.

STIHL’s MS 362 offers greater fuel efficiency with reduced emissions. Photo: STIHL

“Training continues to be a significant focus in improving their professionalism,” he says of tree service professionals, citing greater emphasis on safety and efficiency education, along with more interest in obtaining skill certifications.

The economic conditions have upped efforts at fiscal responsibility, making reliable and efficient equipment more in demand than ever.

Addressing environmental concerns

More environmentally friendly chain saws are widely available. STIHL introduced two models suitable for the tree care industry this year: the STIHL MS 261 C-Q and MS 362. Both offer reduced emissions engine technology, improved fuel efficiency, reduced vibration and extended filter maintenance periods. These models require up to 20 percent less fuel and reduce emissions by 70 percent. Some upcoming models will feature M-Tronic, a system that manages the operating performance of the engine and makes adjustments accordingly. Hall says the result is optimal performance under a variety of operating conditions, such as changes in high altitude, fuel quality and ease of starting. STIHL also offers biodegradable oils and chemicals for its equipment.

Dolmar ( has developed a gas exchange management (GEM) system that has succeeded in halving the scavenging losses in the two-stroke engine. Thus, its equipment can operate with smaller catalytic converters with a minimal impact on the power-to-weight ratio, and the fuel consumption is reduced by about 10 percent. Last year, the company introduced a three-stage, heavy-duty filter for long-life operation under dusty conditions for its chain saw models PS-6400/7300/7900. The new system provides resistance from dust particles as small as 3 microns by combining a fleece filter, paper filter cartridge and nylon pre-filter. Dolmar manufactures both electric and gas chain saws.

German manufacturer Emak (, which makes Oleo-Mac and Efco chain saws, received a 2006 award for its environmentally friendly equipment. Powered by motors using compression wave injection (CWI ) technology, Emak’s newer saws deliver a 75 percent reduction in unburnt hydrocarbon emissions and a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to regular two-stroke engines.

The Oleo-Mac 932C and Efco 132 S feature a low-emission engine that is protected by a two-stage sponge/nylon air filter. The Efco MT 2600 offers an easy-on starting system.

Husqvarna’s ( XP line and Powerful Robust lines feature an X=TORQ engine that reduces fuel use up to 20 percent and cuts emissions by 60 percent. Its centrifugal air cleaning system removes larger dust and debris before they reach the air filter, translating to less cleaning of the filter and longer engine life. Its LowVib system reduces operator fatigue, while Husqvarna’s Smart Start design simplifies starting.

The company’s T435 is the first tree care chain saw to meet European environmental standards, offering 69 percent fewer emissions than its parent model, the 334T.

Tilton Equipment Company’s ( Jonsered CS 2245S and 2250S Turbo are designed with a new Clean Power engine technology, which delivers 60 percent fewer emissions and 20 percent less fuel consumption. An added benefit is greater torque than previous engine designs. These models feature low-resistance starting. The CS 2116EL’s electric engine operates quietly and Jonsered says it is as powerful as a small gas-powered saw.

Tanaka Power Equipment (, owned by Hitachi, offers an arborist-grade saw, the TCS-3401S, with S-Start technology for 50 percent easier starting and a four-point anti-vibration system.

Upping efficiency beyond fuel economy

Manufacturers are increasing efficiency in other ways, as well. For example, many designs make it easier to access parts for cleaning and maintenance.

Husqvarna’s Snap-lock Cylinder cover saves time when changing spark plugs and cleaning, while Echo’s Slope Advance Ignition System automatically adjusts ignition timing for optimal performance. Its T435 is the first tree care chain saw to incorporate two hooks, which gives the user the choice to fit the saw in the most suitable way in the harness, while using both hands in other work. Unlike many models, its chain oil and fuel filler caps are located on opposite sides to help avoid errors.

Oleo-Mac and Efco case their products in aluminum to increase stress resistance and ensure steady efficiency even with long chain bars. Emak’s pistons and cylinders with two rings are designed to withstand prolonged use. A magnesium oiler ensures correct and continuous lubrication of the bar. The Oleo-Mac 999 F model and Efco 199 are equipped with an electronic speed controller to give optimum efficiency and long-term durability of the engine. On the GS 260, the filter can be removed without tools, and a knob on the cover is unscrewed for access. A redesigned chain cover reduces clogging.

The new Jonsereds feature tool-free chain tension adjustment, a fuel tank sight window and snap-closure top cover.

Ergonomic improvements

Given the inherent risks faced by tree care professionals, ergonomic enhancements are of importance. Recent chain saw designs address these physical needs.

Husqvarna’s XP Line and Powerful Robust lines feature improved rear handles, which are asymmetrically designed with comfort inserts for less tiring and more stable grip. The T435 has its center of mass close to the handle, making it easier to control with improved balance.

Oleo-Mac GS 260 and Efco MT 2600 designers incorporated a compact, balanced geometry and minimal weight into their saws to make the operator’s job easier, reducing the physical effort required and extending times between rest breaks. The Oleo-Mac 932 C and Efco 132 S models have a hook with which the chain saw can hang from the user’s body, allowing them to cut branches in hard-to-reach places.

With these offerings, spanning a wide range of capacities, sizes and engine types, it is easier than ever to select an efficient, economical and safe chain saw to meet any tree service need.