Are Chainsaws 2 Stroke? Chainsaw Engine Basics [2023]

2 stroke chainsaw basics explainedOne of the most commonly asked questions from people is: Are chainsaws 2 strokes? So the simple answer to this question is “YES! Most gas-operated chainsaws have a 2 stroke engine. However, some STIHL chainsaws also come with a dual engine that you can switch between accordingly.”

Generally speaking, gas chainsaws are majorly based on 2 stroke engines. 

A 2 stroke chainsaw engine is more powerful than a 4-stroke engine. 

A 4-stroke engine is rarely seen and it comes in some professional saws that are operated on the oil−gas mix.

Are Chainsaws 2 Stroke? 2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke Chainsaw Engine 

The major difference between 2 strokes and a 4 stroke chainsaw is the type of engine they are having. The stroke is basically for chainsaw engines which are also referred to as 2-cycle engines or 4-cycle engines.

A 2-cycle engine produces power after every two strokes of the piston and in a 4 cycle engine, the power is produced after 4 strokes of the piston. Because of this, a 2-stroke engine is operated on oil gasoline mixture as there is no separate chamber as we do have in a 4-stroke engine.

The chainsaws with 2-stroke engines are mostly light in weight and are easy to carry. However, chainsaws with 4-stroke engines are not that handy. You cannot even turn it upside down as it will affect the function of the chainsaw because the supply of oil depends upon gravitational force to get circulated.

Pros and Cons of 2-Stroke Chainsaw Explained

Chainsaws with 2-stroke engines are of great benefit as compared to a 4-stroke-based engine which is why 2-stroke chainsaws are popular and mostly used. Let us discuss the pros and cons of the 2 stroke engine of a chainsaw.

Pros of a 2 Stroke Engine Based Chainsaw:

Their benefits include being handy. As for a chainsaw it is of great priority that the saw is easy to carry and that is how it also facilitates the operation. The light weight of the saw makes you able to keep working for longer durations without getting much tired.

Secondly, the chainsaw is more powerful than that of having a 4-stroke chainsaw engine of the same size. Also, a 2-stroke engine-based chainsaw reaches the top speed from idle in a very short period as compared to a 4-cycle engine-based chainsaw.

Cons of a 2 Stroke Engine Based Chainsaw:

Despite all the advantages and positive sides of a 2 stroke engine, there are some downsides as well that cannot be neglected. Let me mention it before you so that you can have a piece of good information about it.

A 2-stroke engine is likely to create a lot of noise which may disturb you a lot while working. Also, it can affect your ears so you should always be having some ear protection while working with a loud engine.

Also, a 2 stroke engine does not use fuel efficiently. Which means it has higher fuel consumption than a 4-stroke engine. Moreover, for some people, making an oil-gasoline mix of perfect ratio could also be considered as a downside of a 2-stroke engine.

4-Stroke Chainsaw Power

Let us consider it from the power perspective as most people ask whether a 2-stroke chainsaw is more powerful or a 4-stroke one. So, the answer is simple, a 2 stroke chainsaw engine is way more efficient than a 4-cycle engine.

The reason for that is again the more strokes required in a 4 cycle engine. However, for a 2-stroke engine, the power is generated quickly and is more powerful. A 45cc 4-stroke chainsaw can generate up to 50 horsepower which is almost the same as that of a lawnmower engine.

2-Stroke Engine Oil for a Chainsaw

Every time you buy a machine or any other equipment, it comes with a user guide manual where all the details are mentioned. Similarly, the type of model and the company that is used for your chainsaw will require a different ratio of the oil−gas mix for operation.

In a 2-stroke chainsaw, you need to use a mix of oil and gasoline as it does not have a separate chamber for lubricating oil. You need to make the perfect ratio of mixture to avoid any sort of inconvenience in the process. Otherwise, you might bring damage to your saw.

Generally speaking, most chainsaws operate on a 50:1 Gas−oil mixture. However, others require 32:1 or 40:1, depending on the size and capacity of the cylinder. Also, the mixing ratios vary on the basis of the lubricating properties of the liquid being used.

4-Stroke Engine Oil for a Chainsaw

For a 4-stroke chainsaw engine, you do not need to use a mix of oil and gasoline as there is a separate filling system in the saw that is used for lubrication. However, the quality of gasoline should be up to standards to keep the engine healthy and long-lasting.

Be careful about the gasoline that you use. Make sure that the octane rating is at least 89 and the ethanol is no more than 10%. Much appreciated if you can use ethanol-free gasoline or one with a lower ratio of ethanol.

The reason for this is that the higher ratio of ethanol can damage the engine. Also, the performance would not be as expected. Moreover, an inadequate amount of oil and using the wrong oil is also harmful and should be avoided.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a chainsaw 2 or 4-stroke?

Though the 2 stroke chainsaws are used commonly. Also, the available chainsaws mostly have a 2-stroke engine yet there are 4-stroke chainsaws available as well. The 2 stroke ones are preferred because of their low maintenance and easy-to-use features. Still, 4-stroke chainsaws also have their unique properties such as efficiency in fuel consumption.

2. Are there 4 stroke chainsaws?

Yes, 4-stroke chainsaws are also available in the market. Even though these chainsaws are not as popular and used as 2-stroke chainsaws, still they are being manufactured and are available. Big brands such as STHIL have also started making 4-stroke chainsaws.

3. Are all STIHL chainsaws 2-stroke?

Though STIHL is a famous brand and mostly manufactures 2-stroke chainsaws now they are making 4-stroke chainsaws too. They are not only manufacturing 4-stroke saws but they are bringing some unique features in them to minimize their cons.

In recent models, a 4-stroke engine can also use a mix of oil and gasoline as that of a 2-stroke saw. In addition, they can also be used in any orientation, which means STIHL is trying to make 4-stroke saws, user-friendly.

4. How do I know if my chainsaw is a 4-stroke?

You can identify the type of your saw from the labels pasted on it. Mostly there are labels such as “No Fuel Mixing” or “4 cycles”, etc. These labels can help you to know whether your chainsaw is a 4-stroke or not.

Also, a 4-stroke chainsaw has a separate oil reservoir that 2 stroke chainsaw lacks. This is another option that you can use for identifying the type of chainsaw engine. Usually, that oil reservoir is on the back of the chainsaw or the side of it.

Last Words:

These were some of the details that can help you to know are chainsaws 2 stroke or 4 stroke? Thus, the answer is that both types of chainsaws do exist. However, 2-cycle chainsaws are more common than 4-cycle chainsaws.

Furthermore, I have also provided you with a sufficient demonstration and overview regarding the type of oil used. For 2-stroke engine chainsaws, a mixed oil is used and a general mixing ratio is also mentioned above.

This was a piece of general information regarding the type of engines. However, for more details, you can read your user guide manual and get help from there. 


Richard McMann

Richard lives out in the wild with his other half, Diana Richard. He tests chainsaws based on his personal experience and loves to share their nitty gritty details with his audience. Although Richard does focus on other home improvement tools, his focus remains on cutting fallen trees or maintaining his backyard via chainsaw tools. He pledges to come up with new knowledge about chainsaws every once in a while.