CRAFTSMAN S165 Chainsaw Review


CRAFTSMAN S165 Chainsaw Review – Get a comprehensive look at the CRAFTSMAN S165, a 16-inch 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered Chainsaw, from the perspective of a seasoned user. This review delves into the chainsaw’s performance, ease of use, and how it measures up against similar tools in the market, all based on actual usage. Ideal for anyone from homeowners looking to keep their yards in top shape to those facing more complex cutting tasks, find out if the CRAFTSMAN S165 is the reliable and efficient chainsaw you need for your outdoor endeavors.


  • Brand: Craftsman
  • Power Source: Gas Powered
  • Horsepower: 3.2
  • Product Dimensions: 28.5 x 9.75 x 11.25 inches
  • Item Weight: 15.15 pounds
  • Chain Length: 16 Inches

CRAFTSMAN S165 Chainsaw Key Features

  1. 42cc 2-Cycle Engine: Provides powerful and efficient cutting performance for a variety of woodcutting tasks, from trimming branches to cutting down trees.
  2. 16-Inch Low-Kickback Bar and Chain: Enhances safety by minimizing the risk of kickback, a common hazard with chainsaws, making it suitable for both experienced users and novices.
  3. Easy Start System: Features technology that reduces the effort required to start the engine, including a Spring Assist pull cord and an efficient ignition system for quick starts.
  4. Anti-Vibration Handles: Designed to reduce vibration transmitted to the user, these handles help decrease operator fatigue and increase comfort during extended use.
  5. Tool-Free Access to Maintenance Components: Simplifies the process of performing routine maintenance, such as cleaning the air filter or changing the spark plug, without the need for additional tools.
  6. Automatic Oiler: Keeps the chain continuously lubricated during operation, ensuring smoother cuts and prolonging the chain’s life by reducing wear.
  7. Adjustable Chain Tensioning: Allows for quick and easy adjustments to the chain’s tension for optimal cutting performance and safety.
  8. Ergonomic Design: The chainsaw is designed with user comfort in mind, featuring a balanced weight distribution and controls that are easily accessible, reducing strain during operation.

CRAFTSMAN (S165) Performance Evaluation

Powered by a robust 42cc 2-cycle engine, the S165 promises ample power for cutting through medium to somewhat larger limbs and trees. The 16-inch bar offers a good balance between maneuverability and the ability to tackle sizable projects.

Person holding a CRAFTSMAN S165 chainsaw with a 16-inch bar in an outdoor setting, with an off-road vehicle

In my testing, the saw powered through oak and pine with relative ease, though it did require a bit more effort with denser hardwoods. Starting the chainsaw is straightforward, thanks to its Spring Assist pull cord and Easy Start technology, a boon for those of us who’ve struggled with temperamental starters in the past.

In terms of quantitative performance measures:

  • Power Output: The 42cc engine delivers strong torque, but it’s most efficient with wood under 14 inches in diameter.
  • Cutting Speed: It cuts at a commendable pace, though not the fastest I’ve seen. It handles routine jobs efficiently but may slow down with particularly tough tasks.
  • Fuel Efficiency: I found it to be reasonably fuel-efficient for its class, requiring fewer refills than some of its peers during extended use.

CRAFTSMAN (S165) Usability and Comfort

The CRAFTSMAN S165 is engineered with the user’s comfort as a priority, integrating features that significantly enhance the overall handling experience. Its design incorporates a low-kickback bar and chain, crucial for safer operation, especially for those unexpected moments when the saw might jerk back towards the user.

Individual using a CRAFTSMAN S165 chainsaw on a fallen tree, with off-road vehicle tires partially visible

This is coupled with anti-vibration handles, a notable feature that dampens the intense vibrations typically associated with gas-powered chainsaws. This reduction in vibration is key in minimizing user fatigue, allowing for longer periods of use without discomfort. However, it’s essential to mention the chainsaw’s weight.

Person cutting a log with a CRAFTSMAN chainsaw, with off-road vehicle in the background

At 15.15 pounds, the S165 is relatively heavier than some electric models, which might not make it the first choice for users who prioritize lightweight tools for quick and less demanding tasks. This characteristic is a trade-off for its gas-powered engine’s robust performance, suggesting a consideration of user needs and preferences when selecting the right tool for the job.

CRAFTSMAN (S165) Maintenance and Reliability

When it comes to maintaining the CRAFTSMAN S165, the process is streamlined to ensure durability and reliability without the cumbersome upkeep often associated with chainsaws. One of the standout features is the tool-free access to essential maintenance points like the air filter and spark plug.

Person preparing a CRAFTSMAN 20" chainsaw next to an open toolbox on a wooden surface

This thoughtful design choice means that users can perform routine maintenance tasks quickly and efficiently, without the need for special tools or prolonged downtime. The build quality of the chain and bar deserves praise as well, engineered for longevity even with regular use. However, like all chainsaws, maintaining optimal performance levels requires consistent attention to chain sharpness and proper tension.

Hands adjusting a CRAFTSMAN 20" gas chainsaw near a toolbox on a wooden deck

Regularly sharpening the chain and adjusting its tension ensures the saw cuts effectively and safely. These maintenance aspects are crucial for any chainsaw owner, and the S165’s design makes these tasks as straightforward as possible, emphasizing the chainsaw’s reliability for a variety of cutting tasks.

Quantifiable Measurement

  1. Engine Power and Displacement: The chainsaw is equipped with a 42cc 2-cycle engine, providing a potent combination of power and efficiency suitable for a variety of cutting tasks. This engine size is a significant indicator of the chainsaw’s capability to handle both medium and some more demanding cutting jobs with relative ease.
  2. Bar Length: With a 16-inch bar, the S165 offers a good balance between maneuverability and the capacity to cut through substantial materials. This bar length is ideal for homeowners and semi-professional users who need a versatile tool for tasks ranging from trimming branches to cutting down medium-sized trees.
  3. Weight: Weighing in at 15.15 pounds, the chainsaw’s weight is a critical measure of its heft and stability during use. While it’s not the lightest chainsaw on the market, this weight contributes to its durability and provides a solid foundation for safe operation, especially when tackling robust cutting tasks.

Review of Visual Concepts

The CRAFTSMAN (S165) chainsaw sports a robust and functional design that aligns well with the practical needs of its users. The visual concept embodies the durability and reliability expected from the CRAFTSMAN brand, featuring a predominantly red and black color scheme that is both striking and indicative of power tools.

The ergonomic design of the handle and the placement of controls are thoughtfully executed, aiming for ease of use and minimizing operator fatigue. Additionally, the compact and streamlined body of the chainsaw enhances its maneuverability, allowing for precise cutting in various conditions.

Overall, the visual and ergonomic design of the S165 not only reflects its capability for heavy-duty tasks but also emphasizes safety and comfort, making it an appealing choice for both seasoned users and novices in the realm of power equipment.

Pros and Cons


  • Powerful 42cc engine suitable for a variety of cutting tasks
  • Easy Start technology and Spring Assist pull cord for reliable starts
  • Anti-vibration handles and low-kickback features enhance safety and comfort


  • Weight may be a consideration for those seeking a lightweight tool
  • While capable, it may struggle with extremely dense or large wood

Additional Tips For Safety Operations

  1. Wear Protective Gear: Always use appropriate safety equipment when operating the chainsaw, including safety goggles, hearing protection, gloves, sturdy boots, and chainsaw chaps. This gear can significantly reduce the risk of injury from flying debris, noise, and potential contact with the chain.
  2. Check the Chainsaw Before Use: Inspect your chainsaw before each use to ensure it’s in proper working condition. This includes checking the chain tension, ensuring the chain is sharp and lubricated, and verifying that all safety features are functional. A well-maintained chainsaw is a safer chainsaw.
  3. Maintain a Stable Stance: Keep your feet firmly planted and spaced apart for stability. Always cut at waist level or below to maintain control over the chainsaw and minimize the risk of injury. Avoid overreaching or cutting above shoulder height.
  4. Be Mindful of Kickback: The CRAFTSMAN (S165) features a low-kickback bar and chain, but kickback can still occur. This sudden upward motion of the bar can happen if the nose of the bar contacts an object or if the chain gets pinched. Always hold the chainsaw with both hands and be prepared for kickback by positioning yourself to the side of the cutting path.
  5. Clear the Area: Before you start cutting, clear away debris, rocks, and small branches that might interfere with your ability to move or could become projectiles when hit by the chainsaw. Ensure that bystanders, especially children and pets, are a safe distance away from the work area.


For someone who needs a reliable, versatile chainsaw for home maintenance, light to medium felling tasks, and general outdoor work, the CRAFTSMAN (S165) 16-inch 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered Chainsaw offers a compelling blend of performance, ease of use, and value. It’s not the lightest or the most powerful model available, but it strikes an excellent balance for its intended audience. My firsthand experience with it has been overwhelmingly positive, and I consider it a top recommendation for those in the market for a mid-range chainsaw that won’t disappoint.

Final Conclusion

In conclusion, the CRAFTSMAN S165 16-inch 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered Chainsaw stands out as a highly reliable and efficient tool, tailor-made for homeowners and semi-professional users alike. Its robust 42cc engine delivers ample power for a broad spectrum of cutting tasks, from simple yard maintenance to more involved tree felling. The saw’s design prioritizes user comfort with features like anti-vibration handles and a low-kickback bar, although its weight might be a consideration for those seeking a more lightweight option. Maintenance is simplified through tool-free access to essential components, promoting longevity and consistent performance.

Despite the need for regular maintenance like chain sharpening and tension adjustments—common to all chainsaws—the S165’s blend of power, usability, and durability positions it as an excellent choice for anyone in need of a reliable chainsaw that balances performance with ease of use. Its value is further accentuated when compared to competitors, offering a compelling option for those who need a capable chainsaw without venturing into professional-grade pricing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the engine size of the CRAFTSMAN S165 Chainsaw?
    The CRAFTSMAN S165 Chainsaw is equipped with a 42cc 2-cycle gas engine, offering a powerful performance for various cutting tasks.
  2. What type of power source does the S165 require?
    It operates on gas, making it suitable for areas without access to electrical power and for tasks requiring high mobility.
  3. How long is the chainsaw’s bar?
    The chainsaw comes with a 16-inch bar, balancing maneuverability and the capability to handle medium-sized cutting jobs efficiently.
  4. What is the weight of the chainsaw?
    The S165 weighs approximately 15.15 pounds, providing a sturdy feel while optimizing for power and durability.
  5. Does the chainsaw feature any safety mechanisms?
    Yes, it includes a low-kickback bar and chain to enhance safety during use, along with anti-vibration handles to reduce user fatigue and increase control.
  6. How does the Easy Start technology work?
    The Easy Start system, combined with a Spring Assist pull cord, simplifies the starting process, reducing the effort needed to start the engine.
  7. Can I adjust the chain tension without tools?
    While the chainsaw boasts tool-free access to the air filter and spark plug for maintenance, adjustments to the chain tension require the use of tools as per standard safety and maintenance procedures.
  8. What maintenance is required for the S165 Chainsaw?
    Regular maintenance includes checking and cleaning the air filter, spark plug maintenance, ensuring the chain is adequately sharpened and correctly tensioned, and keeping the fuel mix at the correct ratio.
  9. Is the S165 suitable for professional use?
    While powerful and capable, the S165 is designed more with homeowners and semi-professional users in mind, offering a balance between performance and ease of use for routine and medium-duty tasks.
  10. Where can I purchase replacement parts or accessories for the S165?
    Replacement parts and accessories can be found through CRAFTSMAN’s official dealers and service centers, as well as through various online retailers that carry CRAFTSMAN products. Always ensure to use parts recommended by the manufacturer to maintain the performance and warranty of your chainsaw.

We’re eager to know your thoughts! If you’ve had the chance to use the CRAFTSMAN (S165) 16-inch 42cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered Chainsaw, please share your experiences and insights in the comments section below. Your feedback is invaluable and can assist fellow users in making well-informed decisions about this chainsaw. Whether it’s about its performance, usability, or maintenance, your personal perspective could be a great help to the community!

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Edward Smith
Edward Smith
Forestry Author

Woodworking is about more than crafting; it's a harmonious connection with nature, mastering tools, and preserving our environment. I'm here to share my knowledge and experiences with you, forging a future where we can embrace wood's beauty and utility while safeguarding our forests' health and diversity.


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