Milwaukee Introduces More Electric Chainsaw Options For Lawncare Pros
Any time you need to remove tree limbs while up in the air, a top handle chainsaw becomes your best friend. To pair reliability and battery power into a capable saw that doesn’t need gas or make a ton of noise appeals to a lot of Pros. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel top handle chainsaw provides a powerful tool for arborists or linemen looking for a lightweight limbing tool. We recently got our hands on it and thought we’d give you our first impressions.
Editor’s Note: Check out our best cordless chainsaws article for our top picks.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Top Handle Chainsaw Top Features
You can actually find the Milwaukee M18 Fuel top handle chainsaw in two sizes. Both a 12-inch and a 14-inch model cut through limbs and logs more quickly than a 35cc gas chainsaw—according to Milwaukee Tool. In either case, all that cutting comes without the requisite gas, fumes, and upkeep maintenance of a gas chainsaw. At around $479 for the kit, the price isn’t out of reach either—not for a Pro-level top-handle saw. You pay way more than that for the Stihl MS 201 T C-M, for example.
Which Milwaukee Top-Handle Chainsaw is Right for You?
The 14-inch top handle chainsaw serves as Milwaukee’s answer to arborists looking for a quiet and powerful saw for climbing limbing trees. It offers excellent power-to-weight and we like how the lanyard loop holds the chainsaw perfectly vertical.
The 12-inch top handle chainsaw lets Milwaukee also present an option for lineman looking to take care of smaller trees that might be growing in the path of power lines. That smaller saw lets them cut back branches while reducing as much weight as possible. Up in a bucket truck, that really makes a lot of sense.
Performance and Electronics
One truly noteworthy aspect of the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Top Handle Chainsaw’s performance includes just how quickly it starts. Pull the trigger, and it quickly reaches full throttle quickly in less than 1 second. We tested this again and again until people looked at us funny.
As you might imagine, a quick no-pull startup can really increase your productivity.
Milwaukee informed us that the M18 Fuel top handle chainsaw keeps cutting at speed without stalling out. As we tested the chainsaw, we noted that we could really push the saw hard. At that point, the chain speed dropped a little bit, but never stalled. It compared really well with several top handle gas sws I’ve used that would only clutch out when you really forced it.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL Top Handle Chainsaw Runtime
Several other people used the saw to make cuts in a 9-inch diameter log. Milwaukee loaded the top handle saw with an XC 8.0 battery pack. By the time I took my turn and made nearly a dozen cuts, the battery still had 3 out of 4 bars left. I pushed the chainsaw just as hard as if I were testing a gas tool.
Milwaukee claims you can get up to 150 cuts per charge in 4×4 cedar with an M18 Redlithium high output XC8.0 battery. As I worked, I found this a believable claim.
Speed vs Torque
The topic of speed came up as we tested the top handle chainsaw. Operating at 15 meters per second (49 feet per second) it runs more slowly than many gas models. Before you jump on the bandwagon, realize that most manufacturers of battery-powered chainsaws drop speed in exchange for a very important gain: sustained torque. Gas saws tend to slow down and clutch out when pushed too hard.
The Milwaukee M18 FUEL top handle chainsaw failed to stall (is that a phrase?) while making any of the cuts. As several people watched me as I tested the tool—I had a lot of motivation not to baby it!
With the Milwaukee M18 FUEL top handle, you do drop a little bit of speed when pushing the tool—but it keeps right on cutting. I found it nearly impossible to stall the tool during normal use. Keep the chain sharp and you should get excellent performance.
- Easy-access chain tensioner
- Automatic oiler
- Metal bucketing spikes
- Onboard scrench storage
- Climbing scabbard
I did encounter one issue with this chainsaw. The thin, one-finger trigger had me adjusting my grip in order to get the Milwaukee 2826 top-handle up to full speed. Over time, I got a bit better at it, but the ergonomics seemed a tad off. We plan to do more testing when we get this tool in for a full review.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Top Handle Chainsaw Price
The 12-inch model retails for $339 as a bare tool. The 14-inch model comes as a kit for $479. We will update this article as more information becomes available about these chainsaws ahead of their January 2023 release.
- Model: 2826
- Chain speed: 15 m/s (~49 fps)
- Bars: 12- or 14-inch
- Availability: January 2023