2020 Buyer's Guide

Makita XCU03PT1 Chainsaw Review

by Ollie Robinson

2020 Buyer's Guide

Makita XCU03PT1 Chainsaw Review

by Ollie Robinson

by Ollie Robinson

Makita is a brand that most people would never have heard of before now, but this doesn’t mean that it’s any compromise on overall quality; while they aren’t known all that well as a brand in the United States, they’re a well-known tool provider of high-quality power tools for professional contractors in many other parts of the world.

The Makita XCU03PT1 is their version of a cordless 14” chainsaw, and it makes for one of the best professional-grade chainsaws you’ll ever buy.

The Makita XCU03PT1 is a battery-powered portable chainsaw that offers you the equivalent of 32cc of power. It’s best suited for smaller cutting and trimming jobs, although it can handle a larger tree limb just fine, and it can handle even heavier commercial use to make many cuts in one day – as long as you have a second battery around.

Here’s what you should know about the Makita XCU03PT1, and why it’s a great option that’s able to compete with some of the more well-known brands available on the market.

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Product Features

Here are the most essential product features of the Makita XCU03PT1 that make it worth considering as your next chainsaw buy.

  • Engine size

The XCU03PT1 offers you a battery-powered engine that’s equivalent to a 32cc gas-powered engine – and it gives you more than enough power you’ll need to complete most trimming and cutting jobs around the house or workshop.

  • Bar length

The bar length for the XCU03PT1 measures in at 14”, and while it’s one of the smaller bar lengths available on the market, the power and comfort more than makes up for it.

  • Kickback and Chain

The XCU03PT1 has been designed to be small and light, and this means that it already has less kickback than you would expect if a traditional gas-powered chainsaw is what you’re used to.

  • Safety features

The instant chain brake and safety button ensures that you’ll never engage the chainsaw even by accident, and it’s great if you keep your tools in a workshop where they can be accessed by someone else. The other safety feature that makes it really cool is the amount of work put in to make the chainsaw a more comfortable fit, reducing the chances of strain – and injury.

  • Warranty

All Makita-brand products are covered under a 3-year limited warranty, which means that the product is covered against any of the most common flaws and problems that can happen in three years. You can’t purchase an extended warranty, but you won’t need to, and most users have been hanging on-to their Makita power tools for years longer than the warranty.

Product Performance

Power, design and safety are how you’ll measure the performance of a chainsaw in the field where it really matters. Here’s how the XCU03PT1 stacks up.

  • Power

The battery-powered Makita XCU03PT1 gives you the equivalent of an incredible 32cc of power in a small, light package; this doesn’t sound like enough, but you’ll be surprised by the amount of power that this little chainsaw can really put out – and it’s perfect for when you need to do some quick cutting.

  • Design

Some of the users have criticised the safety features that come with the Makita, and some have even said that it “kills the product” – although other users (especially ones who are still scared of firing up a chainsaw) have hailed the button-hold safety feature. It depends which side of the argument you’re really standing.

  • Safety

Safety is vital when we’re talking about chainsaws, and what people have reported as the worst design flaw for the XCU03PT1 has also been called its greatest safety feature. The on-button has to be held in for the chainsaw to work, and this makes the potential for injury with this chainsaw nearly impossible. But for some, it’s cumbersome.

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Pros and Cons

Here are the most essential pro and con features for the XCU03PT1 that make it worth buying for some users and not worth it for others.

  • Pro: It’s a powerful professional-grade chainsaw perfect for what most people will ever need in a saw.

The Makita XCU03PT1 is a professional-grade chainsaw that’s great for use if you’re a professional contractor – but even if you aren’t a professional contractor, you’ll be pretty surprised by the features offered by this little battery-powered chainsaw and it should be the only chainsaw you ever need if you only need it for small maintenance jobs around the yard.

  • Pro: It’s comfortable to hold.

Having a comfortable grip on your chainsaw is one of the most important features whether you’re a professional contractor or an amateur using a saw for the first time: Grip matters for having the right amount of control over the blade, and the XCU03PT1 has been designed to be smaller, lighter and a better fit for your hands overall.

  • Pro: It has some of the most advanced safety features you’ll find in a chainsaw.

The Makita XCU03PT1 has one of the best safety features that you’ll see in a chainsaw: To operate the saw, you have to keep the saw’s button engaged at all times – and the moment you let go of the button, the chainsaw stops right there. This is a great feature for most people, especially those who might be afraid of using a chainsaw for the first time, but it has been a huge drawback for others who have reported that they find the feature cumbersome.

  • Con: It’s better as a backup battery model than your first-use type of chainsaw.

While the Makita XCU03PT1 is a chainsaw with a lot of power and some great features, there’s a lot of reason why it might not be powerful enough to use as your primary chainsaw if you happen to be a professional contractor who will be putting it through heavy use.

For contractors, it makes a better secondary model than first, but it can still be one of the best chainsaw models you ever buy.

  • Con: The battery use can be heavy.

Battery use is extremely intensive with the Makita XCU03PT1, and it comes with four extra batteries more because you’ll actually need it than just for simple convenience. For some, this wastes far too much time on the job – and warrants the purchase of a different chainsaw in the first place.

  • Con: Sometimes the chainsaw lacks power.

This chainsaw is perfect for the majority of jobs you’ll ever take on, but if you’re a professional contractor there are always these few oddball jobs that will require an extra bit of power or skill – for these jobs, you’ll often find the Makita battery-powered range lacking that extra power necessary for these types of jobs.

Additional Chains

If you want to work smarter instead of harder, buy an additional chain for your chainsaw right from the beginning; it’s not a case of if but when. Here are the top 3 additional chains you can get for your chainsaw.

  • Standard Oregon Chain

The Standard Oregon chain is the model this chainsaw ships out with, and it’s one of the most common models for a chain replacement – and also one of the best. It’s great if you don’t have any special cutting needs, and it can last you for a long time if it’s properly taken care of during its lifespan.

  • AdvanceCut Oregon Chain

The AdvanceCut Oregon chain is the more advanced version of the Standard Oregon Chain – and it should be your choice if you’re looking for some more cutting power.

  • 16” Replacement Oregon Chain

If you don’t have anything else around the workshop, you should opt for the 16” replacement Oregon chain instead – with some adjustments, the manufacturer reports that this can still be a perfect fit for the Makita chainsaw.

Final Thoughts

The Makita XCU03PT1 chainsaw is advertised as the best possible battery-powered chainsaw you’ll find – but when it’s really put to the test, some users found that this model really fell short when it came to power and usability.

It’s a great first chainsaw if you’ve never owned one before, and it works great as a backup model to your primary chainsaw – but it’s not great if you’re a contractor trying to use this as your only saw: Just the repeated need to change batteries can be enough to drive you insane while you’re trying to get through the job.

The safety feature of an on-button that needs to be pressed in while the chainsaw is in use was heavily criticized as being one of the worst features of the XCU03PT1 – and for professional contractors who don’t have a lot of time to waste, this just isn’t the right saw.

The only factor where this chainsaw really performs better than any other saws is when it comes to how precise you can cut: For those hard-to-reach corners that all contractors and artists will have trouble with at some point, this chainsaw is absolutely perfect.

If you’re looking for a battery-powered chainsaw, this could still be your ideal model – but it really depends what you’re looking for in a saw. It can be considered a great model for many needs, but inadequate for others – and where you fall on this scale depends on what you’ll end up thinking of this saw while you’re putting it to use.

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Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about ordering this product.

  • Does it use the kind of charger that you can plug into a vehicle?

Because the chainsaw is battery powered, users have often asked if it can be charged with the same kid of charger that you’d plug into a vehicle’s lighter-outlet: While this sounds like a great idea in theory, it isn’t – and the manufacturer’s official stance is that you shouldn’t try it: Even if it does work, you’ll either screw up the chainsaw or the car battery in the process, and you won’t be able to say that they didn’t tell you so.

  • Do you get a case with this chainsaw?

You don’t get a case with this chainsaw, and if you plan to put it into storage for a long time or you travel regularly with your tools, it’s better to just go and buy a case for this one – it’s not included with the order.

  • How long does this chainsaw run for and how long does it take to charge?

How long the battery will take to run is a huge concern, especially for people who aren’t used to what a battery-powered chainsaw can do: The battery lasts for approximately half an hour, sometimes longer, and takes about two hours to charge to full capacity; it helps that they’ve included 4 batteries with the chainsaw: Something many other manufacturers haven’t thought of.

  • Where is this chainsaw made?

Makita is a Chinese-made brand, available in most parts of the world.

  • Does it really come with four batteries?

A lot of users have asked if the “four batteries” mentioned in the description are a typo, but it’s not – yes, the model really does come with four additional batteries, and this is because the manufacturers appear to have spotted that heavy battery usage is a common problem.

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