If the DeWalt 20V Chainsaw Doesn’t Work for Every Task, Is It Worth It?
It might not be the perfect chainsaw for everyone, but some of the DeWalt 20V chainsaw’s features make it the right chainsaw for certain jobs. Find out if it’s the right pick for you.
If you’re in the market for a small battery-powered chainsaw, there are lots of good options and a few not-so-good ones out there. An easy choice would be to go with a tried-and-true brand—like DeWalt—that has been making cordless tools to a high standard for decades. After all, why not buy a tool that can share batteries with the others in your collection?
I recently tested the DeWalt 20V MAX XR 12-inch cordless chainsaw to find out if that line of thinking held true or if we might be better off sticking to DeWalt drills, drivers, and circular saws.
DeWalt DCCS620P1 20V MAX XR 12-Inch Chainsaw: At a Glance
- Type: Rear-handle saw with top safety handle
- Power source: 20-volt (V) 5 amp hour (Ah) rechargeable battery
- Runtime: Up to 90 cuts through pressure-treated 4×4 posts per charge
- Chain: 12-inch, ⅜ pitch, .043 gauge
- Chain speed: 25.2 feet per second (7.7 meters per second)
- Torque: .15 foot-pounds (0.2 nm)
- Weight: 9 pounds (with battery)
- Ideal size for construction, demolition, and pruning cuts up to 10 inches in diameter
- Lightweight, well-balanced design makes it easy to maneuver while working in close quarters
- Efficient brushless motor and 5Ah battery makes up to 90 cuts (4 inches each) per charge
- Complete kit includes chain, hard bar cover, battery, and charger
- Available as “tool only” without battery and charger for those who own other DeWalt 20V MAX tools
- Slower-than-average chain speed means large cutting projects take longer to complete
- May leak bar and chain oil if it’s improperly stored with a full reservoir
Get the DeWalt DCCS620P1 20V MAX XR 12-inch chainsaw at:
What is the DeWalt 20V MAX XR 12-inch chainsaw?
The DeWalt DCCS620P1 20V cordless chainsaw was designed for construction and demolition projects, as well as for cutting small or medium-diameter limbs and logs. It features a 12-inch low kickback bar and chain and an efficient brushless electric motor. It uses the same 20V XR battery that powers scores of other DeWalt tools.
Weighing in at just 9 pounds with the battery installed, this lightweight chainsaw is easy to operate all day long if needed. Tool-free chain tensioning and a flip-top oil cap means that you will only need to keep track of your bar and chain oil and chainsaw sharpener. The saw is 9 inches high, 9 inches wide, and 23.5 inches long, which is a convenient size to take along in a truck tool box or in the trunk of a car.
I tested the DeWalt 20V MAX XR chainsaw as part of a larger test of the best battery-powered chainsaws from several popular brands. It stood out among that test group as one of the best options for light-duty use because of its long battery life, lightweight build, and competitive price. The kit included the saw with a 12-inch bar and chain, hard plastic scabbard, 5Ah battery, and charger. Anyone with a collection of 20V DeWalt tools and batteries could save a few bucks and buy the chainsaw without the battery and charger.
Does the DeWalt 20V MAX XR chainsaw cut well?
I used a well-seasoned 15-foot-long oak log that’s 10 inches in diameter to gauge the saw’s cutting speed and runtime. With a new fully charged battery, it made 24 slices through the log before the battery was depleted. The manufacturer claims that the saw will make 90 cuts on a pressure-treated 4×4. I calculated the total surface area of my log cuts and found that the saw I tested outworked the manufacturer’s results by more than 50 percent.
As for cutting speed, the average time it took to make a 10-inch cut was 17 seconds. The manufacturer did not provide a similar statistic, so I used my 30.5 cubic centimeter (cc) 2-cycle chainsaw with 16-inch bar to perform the same test in order to provide a comparison. The gas chainsaw sliced through the same log in an average time of 4 seconds.
Chain speed appeared to be the big difference. The battery-powered chainsaw chain moved at 7.7 meters per second, while the gas-powered chainsaw chain moved more than three times as fast at 22.86 meters per second. It bears mentioning here that increasing chain speed diminishes battery efficiency due to increased friction between the bar and chain. The modest speed allowed the saw to make more cuts per charge than some of its faster competitors.
Is the DeWalt 20V MAX XR chainsaw easy to use?
After the tests, I recharged the battery and used the saw for a day of pruning and other yard cleanup chores. The short 12-inch bar was just right for pruning smaller, densely spaced branches. In this scenario, the slow chain speed was not much of a hindrance because I was taking my time to avoid collateral damage.
It became a little bit frustrating with fallen branches, especially larger ones, when I just wanted to quickly cut the wood into manageable lengths so I could drag the pieces out of the way. For a few cuts, it’s a handy tool that is extremely convenient and comfortable to use. However, I would want a faster saw to clear away a large tree or to bring in a load of firewood.
I really liked the overall feel of this saw. The compact motor and battery placement positioned the center of gravity close to the operator, giving it a well-balanced feel that helped with maneuverability among dense branches. The rubber overmolded rear handle felt comfortable, as it provided good grip in gloved hands. Also, the tiny plastic bucking spikes molded into the front of the saw body proved to be more effective than I anticipated. They only stuck out about ⅛ inch from the surface, but they gripped the log fairly well to improve cutting leverage.
My least favorite parts of the DeWalt 20V MAX XR cordless chainsaw were the slow cutting speed and the fixed-speed trigger. For a 20V saw, it does a lot of work per charge and offers a nice amount of torque. I’m not sure exactly what percentage of runtime I would be willing to give up in order to gain speed, but since I have three other DeWalt XR batteries, they could easily offset the difference.
The available torque, which proved strong in the tough old oak log, felt like it would match up well with a higher chain speed. I’d love to try this chainsaw with a variable trigger, the current chain speed at the bottom end, and a top chain speed somewhere around 1.5 times or twice as fast.
Does the DeWalt 20V MAX XR chainsaw leak oil?
Bar and chain oil keeps the saw chain moving smoothly in the grooves of the bar, preserving the life of both and preventing the saw motor from overheating. However, oil leaks are a common complaint among chainsaw users, and that goes for this one, too.
In my research, I noticed a significant number of users asking in online forums, “Why is my DeWalt 20V chainsaw leaking oil?” So I made it a point to check it out while testing and compare the issue with what seemed to be the norm for other battery and gas chainsaws.
I filled the bar oil reservoirs on the DeWalt cordless chainsaw, then did the same with another battery-powered chainsaw, a corded electric chainsaw, and a small gas chainsaw. Next, I set them on a scrap of cardboard in my tool shed for 24 hours. All of them had oil stains below the bar, approximately in line with the oiler port. Two of them also leaked around the oil reservoir cap, but not the DeWalt saw I was testing. According to DeWalt, the best way to prevent oil leaks is to drain the bar oil after use. That would be good advice for any chainsaw.
How powerful is the DeWalt 20V MAX XR chainsaw?
One of the more complicated aspects of comparing chainsaws is the interplay between power, torque, and chain speed. Think of power as the energy available for work, while torque and chain speed are two forms of work competing for a limited power supply.
The key to optimal performance is balancing fast-enough bar speed with adequate cutting force, which allows the chain to cut quickly without getting stuck easily. With battery-powered saws, runtime per charge is another important piece of the energy equation. The feel (weight and vibration) and sound of the saw can also influence the user’s perception of power.
The DeWalt 20V MAX XR chainsaw delivered adequate power to cut through 10-inch rounds of some of the toughest wood in my area: seasoned scarlet oak. It did so slowly but persistently with little to no hesitation, and the battery lasted through two dozen such cuts. A moderate amount of vibration transferred through the handle, but it wasn’t enough to be uncomfortable.
The noise level was low enough that I could work without hearing protection and communicate with my helper without us having to raise our voices. In short, this little saw offers plenty of power for any chainsaw task that it’s physically large enough to tackle.
Should you buy the DeWalt 20V MAX XR 12-inch chainsaw?
At around $250, the DeWalt 20V MAX XR 12-inch chainsaw kit is priced fairly for the value. Similarly equipped 18V and 20V chainsaws from top brands range in price from $199 for the bare tool (no battery and charger) to more than $300 fully equipped.
DeWalt has been at the forefront of cordless tool technology for decades, and brand quality has proven to be trustworthy over the long haul. The tool itself tested well in my own backyard trial, cutting consistently through hardwood without hesitation while outperforming the brand’s own runtime tests. It was comfortable to operate and small enough to store in a truck tool box or transport in a car trunk.
This may not be the perfect chainsaw, but it can serve any role for at least a little while. For those who already own a shop full of DeWalt 20V tools, it can be an easy pick because you can save money by buying the bare tool. It’s a good choice for pruning, working in tight spaces, or doing rough construction and demolition work. However, it runs a little bit slower than I prefer for brush clearing and gathering firewood.
As a battery-powered electric chainsaw that can safely sit in storage for months on end with no maintenance, it’s a handy does-anything saw for occasional landscape chores, storm cleanup, and putting a fresh cut on the bottom of a Christmas tree. If you’ve read this far and think it might be the right saw for you, you ought to buy it.
Where to Buy the DeWalt 20V MAX XR 12-Inch Chainsaw
Get the DeWalt DCCS620P1 20V MAX XR 12-inch chainsaw at:
Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn care products, and other outdoor-living goods.