Stihl !!! I have Stihl chain saw, blower, and weed eater...extremely happy with all. Only non-Stihl power equipment I have in a Toro Mower and Simplicity Snow blower. DO NOT TRY TO SKIMP ON MONEY WITH POWER EQUIP.
I have used an Echo 16" bar commercial grade since about 1986 which has been a great. However, the Echo dealer I bought it from is long gone. There is another full service Echo dealer in town so everything is still OK. I also have two Echo commercial grade string trimmers and two blowers. All have given good service and the repair costs, when needed, have been reasonable.
That said, when I need to replace any of these, I will probably go with a commercial grade Stihl or Husqvarna as their dealer networks seem to be more robust.
As Halfmile says, stay away from the lower priced models especially those sold at Lowes, Sam's or Home Depot. These lower cost units are fine for the occasional user but will not, IMO, hold up over the years of significant use.
Stihl makes a nice saw - a bit heavy, overall. Typically all metal.
Huskys are lighter and much quieter (perhaps less obnoxious sounding is a better term - Stihls just hurt my ears). They do use plastic in many of there saws, This is a design theory that uses plastic in non-critical areas to lighten the saw.
Both Stihl and Husky have there cylinders, pistons, etc. cast by the same foundry (at least in Europe - Stihl has a US plant in VA, I believe) and Husky rejects a higher percent than does Stihl - this suggests that the internal quality of the Husky is better.
Lowes now carries Husky, which drives the price down - the return policy is also so liberal you can take an item back years after buying it and they basically will give you a new one or refund your money. - Makes the Husky all the more attractive -
Johnsred (not sure if I spelled that correctly) is the third saw to look at.
All three are northern European in origin.
I think Stihl is perceived of as the most rugged, but if you look at loggers working trees all day the split is about 50~50 between Stihl and Husky.
Husquevarna--Rancher--good for the home owner or for the pro depending on needs.For MOST work it is great.Parts are easy to get--sold at Lowes/Home depot.Plenty of power-don't forget hearing protection and chaps.Can't go wrong with the Husq.A logging pro in MAINE said that the Stihl is very good but the parts are difficult to get when needed.Just my two cents.
I'll jump in here, Halfmile already nailed it. It really depends on what you're going to use them for. I've owned several Stihls, and still do have a couple (044, etc.). Those are great, very rugged. But here's the kicker. A few years back I went and bought another new Stihl (pro model, but small). As you get into the smaller, less expensive Stihls like that one, they are absolutely junk as compared to smaller Husquevarna. I ended up swapping the small Stihl for a comparable Husquevarna. I couldn't be happier with it.
I'm not saying I will never buy Stihl, because I may still buy the larger versions for bigger jobs, logging, etc. I WILL NOT buy a smaller one for reasons stated. Husquevarna makes a rugged saw, either large or small. Great chain speed, designed and built right with the end user in mind. Stihl just plain cut quality on their small saws five years ago. Your mileage may vary.
My secondary job is cutting trees. We use all Stihl chainsaws and we have yet to have one let us down. Of course we do used the more commercial type saws, but they can take quite a bit of a beating. One of the saws was dropped from about 15 feet out of a bucket truck. Picked it up, pulled it once, and it started just like nothing ever happened. The only saw that we have remotely any problems with is our small hand held one; it has a little bit of a problem starting sometimes, but that could be attributed to the fact that that saw has cut all the branches smaller than 6 inches off of every tree we have done the past 2 years, and it hasn't had much for a tune up. Otherwise, our big saws will normally start in one pull after being warmed up. Hope this helps, Josh.
I own two Stihls: The less expensive trimming model, a 192, and a firewood saw, the 310. The 310 is a slightly more powerful version of the Rancher model. Given more money, I'd have purchased the 390, which weights the same as the 310 and the 290, but has more power. Given tons and tons of money, I'd have purchased a lighter pro model Stihl with the same power, but higher revving to get the power. The rancher/290/310/390 are all kinda heavy for bucking wood. My saws have been excellent.
However, the local dealer told me that some of the entry level Stihl product is a bit "iffy" these days.
Depending upon where you live, I'd suggest that you call Bailey's forest service supplies..they don't sell junk and have good advice. I believe they have a website that is easily found via google.
Another Husquavarna fan! It's been a good number of years since I've needed a saw but I bought the Husky used (very used) and found it completely reliable, powerful, and simple to deal with any maintenance. Husky would be the first place I'd look but have Stihl garden equipment at home and believe they, too, would be excellent.....breakemall....Bob Dodd