Makita DCS4301 Review: The Basics.

Makita have long been involved in producing quality tools for the construction industry, and truth be known, they've been producing chainsaws via their Dolmar company for several years too. But they've been overlooked by many who have preferred the two stalwarts of the forestry / arboriculture industry, namely Stihl and Husqvarna - but is that about to change as Makita start to gain a foothold in the market.Find out more after the jump...
Although I've been fortunate enough to have been given two loan saws from Makita for another project, I thought I'd take the opportunity to provide you with a review of them - the first (this review) is for the petrol-powered DCS4301 and a later review will cover the professional DCS5001 chainsaw.
So, you may have guessed that the DCS4301 saw is not aimed at professional users, but instead for the home-user, or farm-user.
The DCS4301 is a petrol-driven chainsaw, fitted with a 42cc engine producing 2.8hp. The 2-stroke engine uses a standard fuel:oil mixture of 50:1 (using Makita High Performance oil) - but you can run it at 100:1 using a special Makita oil. Interestingly enough, whereas the likes of Stihl recommend increasing the fuel:oil mix to 25:1 when using a non-Stihl branded oil, Makita recommend a slight increase from the 50:1 to 40:1. This, at least to me, is a lot more realistic and will prevent poor running performance and smokey engines.
The saw can be fitted with 3 guide bar lengths: 30cm, 35cm, and 40cm - all running a 0.325" pitch, 1.3mm gauge chain. The slightly thinner bar on these saws helps to increase the apparent power of the saw as it has to cut a thinner kerf than the more normal 1.5 / 1.6mm guide bars; you also have the option of two chains: 090 and 042. At the time of using the Makita saw, I only had a Stihl MS260 to compare it against and it's a little less powerful than this - but then the MS260 is a professional saw, the engine is 8cc larger and produces 3.2hp. Having said that, the Makita certainly did extremely well against it.
In fact, the Makita was used during a recent training course I delivered; one of the female students used it and said "It's really easy to start!" - an obvious reference to the Feather-Light Start fitted to this saw. I have to say the chainsaw performed very well and was a hit with the students. I actually used this saw when taking down a Robinia tree in my garden, putting a tool strop on the rear handle so that I could use it in the tree. Again, it performed admirably - it's lightweight, and combined with that 2.8hp engine had no trouble in cutting timber. Clearly it's not designed for the sort of knocks that professional use would subject the saw to, but it just shows how capable this saw is.
Maintaining a chainsaw can make a big difference to the ease of ownership - especially if you are non-professional user. The saw user only gets limited access around the saw, but what you can get to is a simple matter of removing a cover. The top cover can be removed to gain access to the air filter, the summer / winter setting and the spark plug.
The chain adjustment is either by the good old-fashioned tension screw (and it's good to see it positioned through the side plate, rather than right next to the spiked bumpers), or the quick-adjust system (not fitted to my loan saw).
Over the next couple of posts we'll take a slightly more in-depth look at the DCS4301 saw, but I hope this has given you a quick taster of this chainsaw.


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