Makita 40V Max XGT 18″ Chainsaw Review
40V Max XGT 18" Chainsaw
In September 2020, ToolBoxBuzz published our first Best Cordless Chainsaw Head-2-Head. Makita’s 36V (18V X2) saw was a crew favorite and a top performer during our testing. The XGT saw builds upon that legacy as a high-performance tool for demanding homeowners and professionals alike.
Makita GCU04Z Specs
- Chain Pitch: 3/8″ Low-Profile (LP)
- Bar Gauge: 0.050″
- Chain Speed: 5,020 FPM
- Bare Tool Weight: 11.7 Lbs.
- Weight W/ 5.0 Ah Battery: 14.6 Lbs.
- Oiler Type: Adjustable
- OEM Bar Type: Fixed Sprocket Nose
Professional Grade Features
Makita’s battery chainsaws have always catered to professional users and the GCU04Z continues this tradition with well-thought-out and replaceable safety features. One of the main differences between a professional and consumer-grade chainsaw is the use of replaceable and user-serviceable components. Sometimes things get broken when working in the field. The ability to easily replace key parts is an absolute plus for demanding users.
The Makita XGT saw features a replaceable aluminum chain catch as well as an easy-to-remove forward handlebar. The sprocket assembly is also easy to access. The felling spikes are single-sided, but made of steel and easy to remove and replace. Although no dual spikes are available from Makita, the aftermarket may take care of this for us.
One of my favorite features of the XGT chainsaw is the two stout bar mount studs and mechanical chain tensioner. The two studs provide a rock-solid mounting platform for the bar. The steel conical chain tensioner is also an improvement from previous Makita saws like the XCU08Z.
Power and Performance
The XGT chainsaw offers powerful performance for a variety of cutting tasks. I criticized its 36v predecessor for bouncing and skipping while cutting due to a high chain speed and less low-end torque. The 40V XGT chainsaw resolves those issues with a superior torque band that bites into wood. The XGT feels like it has far more “grunt”.
The new Makita 40v XGT battery platform is likely the cause for this substantial increase in cutting performance. The XGT batteries offer more available power that is produced more efficiently. The uninterrupted power means that the XGT saw is fully capable of felling smaller trees. That is a task that I ordinarily would prefer not to do with a battery saw because of the safety risks of not having enough power during the cut. I dropped some approximately 10-12 inch diameter trees without issue using the XGT.
The 5.0 Ah XGT battery that is included with the saw provides enough runtime to limb and buck a smaller-diameter tree. The 5.0 Ah will provide excellent run-time for making horizontal cross-cuts for firewood rounds. However, the large battery port is sized to accommodate an 8.0 Ah battery and in my opinion, should be included with this saw. The larger battery pack would increase the run-time and performance capabilities of an already impressive saw.
Makita has always impressed me with their saws. Whether it’s a circular, reciprocating, or in this case chainsaw, you can expect a smooth and powerful tool when using a Makita product. The new 40v Max XGT chainsaw upholds this lineage. The GCU04 is powerful and robustly constructed. The XGT batteries offer outstanding power and performance, although an 8.0 Ah would be the best pairing for this saw. A larger heavier battery would be a concern for a top-handle style saw, but not with a traditional rear handle.
Additionally, I would like to see the auto-shutoff feature timed differently. Currently, if the user releases the tang safety on the handle with the chain -brake off, the saw will shut off within five seconds. It will stay on as long as the tang safety is depressed. While this is obviously designed to protect the user, a longer window before the shut-off would make the saw more user-friendly.
The Makita 40V XGT chainsaw is currently available as a bare tool for $459.00. This is a good value for anyone currently on the XGT platform because it is priced lower than other professional arborist brands while still providing comparable power and performance. The kitted option currently retails for $639.00 and is an excellent option for anyone interested in getting on the XGT platform. Follow the Buy Now link below to purchase either the bare tool or the kit from our friends at ACME Tool.