Sampling strategies commonly used for coarse woody debris (CWD) inventories, including line intersect sampling (LIS), typically require large sample sizes to estimate aggregate volume with reasonable precision. Line intersect distance sampling (LIDS) is a recently developed strategy based on a probability proportional-to-volume design and a linear sampling unit. In principle, the design augments the precision of volume estimators by increasing the intensity with which bulkier particles are sampled, while the transect-based protocol facilitates the search for qualifying particles. This study reports on the relative performances of LIDS and LIS in seven stands in Montana, USA. Particles selected by LIDS were consistently less numerous but larger in cross section than those selected at the same locations by LIS. In timed field trials, LIDS required more time than LIS, but CWD volume estimates from LIDS were generally more precise, more than offsetting the time differential. Conversely, aggregate length and abundance of CWD were generally estimated more efficiently with LIS. Results suggest that LIDS permits more efficient use of survey resources than LIS where CWD inventories focus on parameters relating to volume, biomass, or carbon. However, the constant volume factor design of LIDS is not advantageous where CWD frequency is of central interest.