Top Handle Vs Rear Handle Chainsaw: Which is Better?

Are you in the market for a chainsaw but not sure which type of handle placement to buy? This blog post is for you. A chainsaw can either have a rear handle or top handle placement, and each type has advantages and disadvantages.

Here we look at the difference between a top handle and rear handle chainsaw, the pros and cons of each, which is best for what project, and answer all the questions you might have regarding both types. Let’s get into it.

Top Handle Vs Rear Handle Chainsaw

What is A Top Handle Chainsaw?

As the name suggests, top handle chainsaws have their handle placed on top of the machine. This placement makes it possible to operate the saw using one hand when needed. Professionals mostly use top handle chainsaws at a height.

Arborists prefer this type of chainsaw when their tasks involve climbing because they are lightweight and well-balanced. You can use a top handle chainsaw to reach difficult spots, especially off the ground.

Top handle chainsaws are perfectly suited for professional use because they are more complex. However, they are durable, compact, and lightweight, with a better ability to reach tight spots.

What Is A Top Handle Chainsaw Used For?

A top handle chainsaw is mainly used by arborists and professionals for various tasks such as limbing, pruning the top most branches of a tree, cutting and trimming on spots that are difficult to reach.

Before anyone can buy or use a top-handle chainsaw, you need to have a certification to prove your competence in most states.

What Is The Benefit/Advantage Of A Top Handle Chainsaw?

  • They are relatively lightweight, making them great for climbing trees
  • Durable and reliable
  • The chainsaws weight is distributed evenly between the top and bottom of the saw
  • They are excellently maneuverable, making them ideal for cutting in tight spaces
  • Suitable for professional use

Cons of Top Handle Chainsaw

  • There are more complex to start and use
  • They have less power than rear handle chainsaws making them less suitable for large cutting tasks
  • They are pricier to buy and maintain
  • Top handle chainsaws aren’t ideal for small cutting applications


Discover the best top handle chainsaws for professional arborists and tree climbers.

What is A Rear Handle Chainsaw?

For rear handle chainsaws, the handle is mounted on the back of the device. It would be best if you used both hands to grip the chainsaw and work efficiently. Chainsaws with this handle placement are perfect for day-to-day cutting and pruning applications.

You don’t need a certification to buy or use a rear handle chainsaw because they are beginner friendly and easier to use. When looking at the safety aspect, a rear handle chainsaw is safer compared to a top handle chainsaw.

What Is A Rear Handle Chainsaw Used For?

Rear handle chainsaws are easy to use, making them ideal for DIY enthusiasts. You can use this type of saw for a wide range of applications on the ground. The most common uses for rear handle chainsaws are: trimming hedges, cutting bushes or branches, and felling trees.

What Is The Benefit/Advantage Of A Rear Handle Chainsaw?

  • Comfortable to grip, thus giving you better control
  • They are simple to control and can be used by beginners
  • The controls are easily accessible, thus giving you a faster, seamless operation
  • Rear handle chainsaws are safer to operate compared to top handle
  • They are more affordable
  • Rear handle chainsaws are less prone to kickbacks

Cons of Rear Handle Chainsaw

  • It’s relatively heavier and more tiring to use
  • Somewhat limiting because it can only handle on-the-ground applications
  • Not ideal for large cutting projects
  • You have to use both hands when operating a rear handle chainsaw

Top Handle vs Rear Handle Chainsaw Comparison

FeaturesTop Handle ChainsawRear Handle Chainsaw
Ease of useNeeds professional-level skillEasy to use and beginner friendly
DurabilityVery durableSlightly durable
PortabilityLightweight and portableHeavier and tiring to carry and use
ApplicationBest for off-the-ground tasksBest for on-the-ground tasks
PriceExpensive to buy and maintainRelatively affordable
PerformancePowerful and ideal for extensive cutting and trimming projectsBest suited for small home and garden projects
SafetyNot so safe thus requires special skills to handle appropriately without causing injuriesVery safe and can be used by beginners

Tips For Choosing The Best Handle Placement On A Chainsaw

Knowing the right handle placement for your project is essential in ensuring you are safe and accomplish your task effortlessly. Below are some factors and tips that will be handy when deciding whether to buy a top handle or rear handle chainsaw.

  1. Consider your experience level – if you are a beginner, a rear handle chainsaw will work best for you. Professionals that have required certification and high skill level can go for a top handle chainsaw.
  2. Look at your scope of work – most times, the type of chainsaw you need will be determined by the type of tasks you handle. A top handle chainsaw is ideal if most of your work involves cutting at a height, climbing, and cutting in tight spaces. If you mostly handle on-the-ground tasks, choose a rear handle chainsaw.
  3. Consider the safety aspect – top handle chainsaws are more prone to kickbacks and accidents. If you are not a professional arborist, you might want to avoid them, for they are a safety hazard. Rear handle chainsaws are much safer to use.

Final Verdict

Choosing the right chainsaw based on the handle placement makes your work safer and more effective. You might only need a rear handle chainsaw for all your projects if you are not a professional arborist. Top handle chainsaws are more complicated to operate and even require a license in most states. They are perfect for off-the-ground applications because of their lightweight nature.

The best way to decide which chainsaw to buy is to look at your skill level and the scope of your work. Whichever you choose in the end, make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions and wear proper safety gear when operating the chainsaw.

That’s all we have for the two types of chainsaws available; ultimately, your preference will determine what you will buy. We hope this information makes choosing the right chainsaw for your projects easier.

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