When it comes to homeowner saws the Husqvarna 455 Rancher is about as powerful as it gets!
Capable of tackling most projects around the home or farm this versatile saw will get the job done in no time. Costing over $400 it isn’t cheap but provided you take proper care of it, this saw should last you for years.
This popular ‘Husky’ is packed with great features and incorporates the latest in chainsaw technology.
Carry on reading this review to see if it meets your requirements.
Performance and Handling
The 455 Rancher has been specifically designed for home and farm owners seeking a powerful chainsaw capable of performing a wide range of cutting duties around their properties. Able to operate in all conditions, this saw is ideal for pruning, limbing, felling and firewood cutting. It incorporates Husqvarna’s latest technology and ergonomic design for improved handling.
Let’s have a look at the Husqvarna in more detail. First off, it’s a gas chainsaw and gas saws can be a pain to start right? Starting a gas saw is never as easy as starting one of their electric cousins and several gas saws have poor reputations when it comes to this basic function. But what about the Rancher? Well first off there is a combined choke/stop control which is designed to prevent the engine from flooding and therefore improve starting. Secondly, Husqvarna has incorporated a decompression valve as well as improved the design of the starter handle to provide improved grip and reduce the amount of pulling force required. And this seems to work well. There are few reported problems, which is a big plus mark for the 455.
During operation, the anti-vibration system, ‘LowVib’, helps to reduce fatigue by minimizing vibration. The numbers here speak for themselves. Front handle vibration is measured at 3.4 m/s² and rear handle at 4.5 m/s². At 4.5 m/s², you can safely use the saw for 2 hours within an 8 hour period.
Even though these levels are considered low when compared to other power tools, I would always recommend the wearing of anti-vibration gloves. Even so, this is another positive for the Rancher.
Next, what about noise levels? At the operator’s ear, the sound pressure is measured at 104 dB(A). Exposure to this level of noise can definitely lead to hearing problems so ear protection should be worn.
In terms of handling and maneuverability, this is not a light saw, hardly surprising given that it could almost be classed as a semi-pro model. You should bear this in mind if you plan on tackling any large projects as you may fatigue more quickly than if using a smaller saw. You may also find trimming more of a challenge than if using a lighter saw given that it isn’t quite as maneuverable.
The Rancher, however, comes into its own when bucking logs and felling trees. You will find it powerful enough to get through most medium sized logs. It can cut through wood with a diameter of 16” to 18” inches without getting bogged down or the chain catching as you might find with a less powerful saw. This makes it ideal for clearing areas of small wooded lots, cutting cords of firewood and clearing storm damage.
As with all gas chainsaws you need to take care of it with regular maintenance. The better shape it is kept in, the better it will perform. If you do this and don’t push it beyond its capabilities (such as using it every day) then this machine should last you a long time.
The 455 Rancher is equipped with a 20 inch guide bar and a low-kickback chain.
The guide bar has a nose sprocket which helps reduce friction and improve cutting performance. You will need to make sure that you keep the tip of the bar properly greased with a grease syringe, which you can pick up for around $10.
The chain has a 3/8” pitch, a 0.058” gauge and 72 drive links. The chain which comes with the saw is reasonably heavy and designed with safety in mind. It performs reasonably well, however some buyers have changed it for professional chains which provide better cutting but not the kickback protection. Obviously you should only consider doing this if you are a competent and experienced chainsaw user.
Should you wish, you can change the size of the bar on the 455, it will take anything between 13” and 20”. With the 20 inch bar, the chain speed is 20 meters per second. As you probably know if you have read any of the other reviews on here, chain speed plays an important part in a saw’s cutting ability. For a home user saw, 20 m/s is excellent. To put this into context a top end homeowner electric saw usually has a chain speed of around 12 m/s.
Keeping the chain tension correct is important with any saw and the Rancher is no different. You should check this on a regular basis, especially when the chain is new as it will stretch more in the early days of use. If necessary, check after every few cuts when you first start using the saw as the more often you check it, the less likely it is to become loose and slip from the bar.
Tensioning the chain is done by way of a screw on the side of the saw. It’s a fairly straightforward procedure and involves loosening the bar nuts with the combination spanner provided and then using this tool to turn the tensioning screw. Full instructions are provided in the operator’s manual. Overall, this is a simple system and the side tensioner is more convenient than some saws where the screw is on the front of the saw and slightly trickier to adjust.
You will need to check for signs that the chain is becoming dull. For example you may notice that it no longer cuts as efficiently as it once did and find yourself having to put pressure on the saw to get through the wood. Once this happens you need to sharpen the chain. You can get this professionally done for a few dollars or do it yourself. For this you will require a 7/32” round head file and file holder. A new chain for this saw will cost you slightly over $20.
Design and Construction
As you would expect from a top of the range homeowner saw, the Rancher 455 has a solid construction. It is constructed from metal and hard plastic and has a durable forged three piece crankshaft able to deal with the toughest tasks.
In terms of design, the diagram below shows the front and right hand side of the saw. The half wrap front handle has been designed to have a better grip and a 7° offset to help reduce fatigue. In case you were wondering what the offset relates to, it simply means that the handle tilts forward by 7°. The fuel and oil tank caps are reasonably accessible and like other Husqvarna saws have tethers which stops them ‘going missing’ while you’re filling up. The tethers can also be removed if ever you want to drain the tanks.
On the front of the saw there is a front hand guard which also acts as a chain brake, as well as a set of metal bumper spikes which provide stability when cutting.
The diagram below shows the air purge switch which removes air from the carburetor and fuel system to provide improved starting. The combined choke and stop control is also designed to improve starting by helping to reduce the risk of engine flooding.
As you can see from the picture below, the clutch cover on the right hand side of the saw is secured by two bolts and also houses the chain tensioning screw. Beneath the saw, just out of view, are located the chain catcher and the screw to adjust the rate of chain oil flow to the bar.
To remove the top cylinder cover, a screw driver is required. Once removed you will find the air filter which has a quick release mechanism for easy removal and cleaning as well as the spark plug. One handy feature is the cutting mark which will help you to fell with more precision.
In summary, this is a well-designed and robust chainsaw which, if properly maintained, should last a while.
The Husqvarna 455 Rancher has a powerful 55.5cc engine and is part of the company’s X-Torq range. This technology is designed to increase torque over a wider revs per minute range and more torque generally means more power and better cutting ability. This particular engine is capable of delivering 3.49 hp. and torque of 3.2Nm and is a step up from the 50cc Husqvarna 450 which delivers 3.2hp.
At maximum power this engine runs at 9,000 rpm and ideals at 2,700 rpm which is pretty standard for other saws in this class. Revs per minute isn’t something you should be unduly worried about, except that a saw which for some reason isn’t reaching the top speed may be in need of some servicing and maintenance to maintain performance.
To run the saw you will need to use a fuel/oil mix in the ratio of 50 parts fuel to one part oil. For the fuel, you should use a good quality unleaded gas with a minimum octane level of 90. If you are doing some intensive cutting, such as bucking thick logs a higher octane fuel than this is recommended. With regard to the oil, you should use oil suitable for 2-stroke engines. You should avoid oil intended for water cooled outboard engines and 4-stroke engine oil. If you don’t want to mix your own fuel, you can buy pre-mixed fuel, but at around $14 per quart you will pay a premium for it.
A WORD OF CAUTION
One excellent feature of modern Husqvarna chainsaws is the centrifugal air-cleaning system which makes sure that large particles of dust don’t actually make it to the filter. This extends the filter’s life and reduces the frequency of cleaning.
The fuel tank has a capacity of 0.93 pints and the fuel consumption rate is 470 g/kWh. This means that if used on full power, you would use around half a gallon of fuel per hour of cutting time.
Chain Oil System
To keep the bar and chain properly oiled, the 455 has an automatic, adjustable oiling system. This provides both convenience and flexibility. Firstly, you don’t have to remember to press a switch to release the oil, it will automatically be done when you start using the saw. Secondly, unlike fixed flow oilers, you can adjust the rate of oil flow. This is handy as the viscosity of oil changes depending on the temperature and this can impact on the rate of oil flow. In addition, if you are carrying out more demanding tasks you may want more oil releasing to the bar. Adjustments can be easily made with the simple turn of a screw located on the underside of the saw.
The system used is designed so that the fuel will run out before the oil, which in theory should prevent the user being able to operate the saw with a dry chain. However, this assumes that you use the correct oil mixture and that the carburettor has been properly set. Given this, I would always recommend that you regularly check oil levels and don’t rely entirely on this system.
The oil tank volume is 0.68 pint (322 ml) and the rate of oil release is 17ml per minute when on the maximum setting and 6 ml per minute when on the lowest. If oil is being released at its highest rate, you will need to refill every 19 minutes or so based on these numbers.
In terms of the oil, you should use a good quality bar and chain oil, which will cost around $9 per liter. You should note that oil is not supplied with this purchase.
One final point, a number of users mentioned that this saw leaks oil and a few users mentioned that all the oil drained out of the reservoir during storage. This is a problem common to many chainsaws and it is difficult to see if this is worse on the Rancher than other saws as most people didn’t experience any problems. If you find your saw leaking during storage try adjusting the oiler screw. Always be mindful where you keep the saw and take precautions not to store in a place where it may leak onto unprotected surfaces.
To take care of the machine and keep the operator out of danger as far as possible, the 455 has a full range of safety features. These include:
- An inertia activated chain brake to reduce the likelihood of injury due to kickback.
- Front hand guard which protects the hand from coming into contact with the chain if the operator loses grip.
- Rear hand guard also provides protection against chain failure and debris.
- Further kickback protect thank to low risk, ANSI standard chain. Note that as the chain is sharpened, it may lose some of these qualities over time.
- A chain catcher on the bottom of the saw to prevent a slipped or snapped chain injuring the user.
- Low vibration system reduces vibration and helps prevent injury to the hands.
- Accessible stop switch to kill the engine.
- Throttle lockout to prevent accidental operation of the throttle control.
As you can see the Rancher has a pretty impressive array of safety features. They can, however, only protect you so far. Correct operation of the saw and the wearing of appropriate clothing and protection gear should ensure your safety further.
Without the cutting gear this saw weighs around 12.8lbs. With the cutting equipment attached the saw will weigh close to 16lbs and will be even heavier with fuel and chain oil. As you can see this is quite a heavy saw.
The 455 comes with an operator’s manual, a protective bar scabbard as well as a multi-purpose tool for removing the clutch cover and tensioning the chain.
- Powerful 55.5cc engine.
- Robust construction.
- Excellent cutting performance and good quality cuts.
- Starts easily for a gas saw.
- Low vibration.
- Excellent features, such as automatic oiling.
- Requires a great deal of maintenance.
- Oil can leak when stored
Consumer Ratings for Husqvarna 455 Rancher
Consumers are generally positive about the Rancher 455. There are hundreds of reviews on-line and around 78% of consumers rate the saw as either good or excellent, which is pretty positive for a gas saw.
Consumers like the ease of use, as well as the saw’s power and cutting performance. They also like the excellent range of features.
In terms of negatives, some users felt this saw was heavy, which is perhaps hardly surprising given it is a top end homeowner saw. As mentioned above, some users experienced engine failure but this could be attributed to using high ethanol content fuel.
You should buy this saw if:
- You are looking for a high end saw for use around the home or farm.
- You have to carry out some medium to high level cutting around your property.
- You are happy to maintain your saw on a regular basis.
- You want a saw which will last you a number of years.
You should not buy this saw if:
- You have difficulty handling heavy power tools.
- You only need a light duty saw for occasional use.
- You are looking for a budget saw.
Husqvarna 455 Rancher Price
This saw is currently in the $400 - $500 price bracket. If you are paying this kind of money you want a saw for the long-term. Providing you take good care of your saw and carry out regular maintenance, this should fit the bill and the price is considered fair.