While we have previously discussed our thoughts on the top professional chainsaw and the finest battery-operated chainsaw, we recognize that everyone has their own preferences. STIHL remains one of the most popular brands, and our team of professional reviewers has extensive experience with their products. However, it is essential to consider your specific needs and applications when choosing a STIHL chainsaw, as they vary depending on the intended use.
Best STIHL Chainsaw Overall
Stihl MS 261 CM Chainsaw (best value Stihl chainsaw)
The Stihl MS 261 CM Chainsaw, proudly made in the USA, is equipped with Steele’s M-Tronic engine management system, alongside the fuel efficiency and low emissions features of the MS 261. This system utilizes a small computer to monitor and automatically adjust the fuel mixture based on various factors, such as altitude, temperature, fuel quality, and dirty air filters. Our tests have shown that this saw maintains chain speed exceptionally well, even with a nearly clogged air filter. With guide bar options ranging from 16″ to 20″, it is suitable for a wide range of wood cutting tasks. Priced at under $600, it offers great value for the performance it delivers.
STIHL MS 271 Farmkeeper Chainsaw
The STIHL MS 271 Farm Boss Chainsaw is an exception to the notion that “Farm Boss” implies a non-professional tool. This model builds upon the success of the original MS 271, introducing features like reduced emissions and a pre-separation air filtration system that extends the lifespan of the air filter by five times. With a price tag of around $420, this saw offers excellent fuel efficiency and performance, making it a top choice for homeowners.
The Best STIHL Chainsaws for Homeowners
Steele MS 250
For homeowners seeking a reliable and powerful chainsaw, the Stihl MS 250 is the perfect choice. With a price of $350, this saw offers ample power and comes equipped with an 18-inch chain. While the MS 251 CB-E features a tool-less chain tensioner, we prefer the side-entry wrench adjustment for ease of use. Furthermore, the MS 251 prioritizes fuel efficiency, while we prioritize a more powerful cut with better features.
The Best STIHL Battery-Powered Chainsaw
STIHL MSA 220 CB
STIHL offers an impressive range of battery-operated chainsaws, and our top pick is the STIHL MSA 220 CB. This saw stands out for its excellent power and runtime, capable of lasting over 40 minutes with the AP 300 S battery. It is compatible with 14″ or 16″ bars, and prices start at approximately $409. With a 2-year commercial or 3-year residential warranty, this battery-powered chainsaw provides a reliable and convenient option for users.
Best STIHL Top Handle Chainsaws
Steele MS 201 TC-M
The Stihl MS 201 TC-M, released in 2015, is a lightweight chainsaw equipped with a powerful 35.2cc engine. Weighing just over 8 pounds (without the crossbar and chain), this saw offers excellent balance and low vibration, making it ideal for climbing. With features such as an easily accessible and tool-free fuel cap, translucent tank for fuel level visibility, and a range of bar sizes, the MS 201 TC-M is a top-performing chainsaw. Prices for this saw typically range around $729.
The Best STIHL Chainsaws for Tree Cutting or Farm Use
Stihl MS 500i Chainsaw with EFI
The Stihl MS 500i Chainsaw stands out for its power in felling trees. This saw features a 79cc (4.83 cubic inches) engine with electronic fuel injectors. The MS 500i delivers quick acceleration and impressive cutting power, with the ability to reach 0-62mph in a quarter of a second. This saw weighs 13.9 pounds and offers excellent power-to-weight ratio. With a price tag of around $1,350, it is a reliable and durable option for professionals and experienced users.
The Best STIHL Chainsaw for Cutting Firewood
Women’s 261 cm
For cutting firewood, we recommend the Stihl MS 261 CM. In addition to being our top overall recommendation, this saw features the M-Tronic engine management system, ensuring optimal performance even when the air filter is clogged. With a price tag of under $600, this chainsaw provides excellent value for its cutting power and efficiency.
The Best STIHL Milling Chainsaw
MS 881 Magnum Chainsaw (up to 41″ pole)
The Stihl MS 881 Magnum Chainsaw offers unmatched power for milling purposes. With a 121.6cc motor and a 41″ bar, this saw is designed to tackle heavy-duty cutting tasks. Although there are chainsaws available with larger shafts and more power, the MS 881 Magnum is currently the largest offering from Stihl. Priced at around $2,020, this saw provides exceptional control and performance for forestry, logging, and milling applications.
The Best STIHL Carving Chainsaw
Stihl Carving E bar on MS 194 CE
For carving enthusiasts, the Stihl MS 194 CE with the Carving E bar is highly recommended. This lightweight saw, paired with a 10 or 12-inch Carving E bar, offers the perfect combination of power and control. Priced at around $460, this saw provides solid reliability and excellent carving performance.
Best STIHL Chainsaw Chains
Stihl is unique among chainsaw manufacturers as they produce their guide bars and chains. Their guide bars feature angled oil transfer holes for improved oil flow, and their chains are pre-stretched at the factory. With over a dozen different chain types available, Stihl offers a wide variety of options to suit different cutting needs. Our top recommendation is the Stihl Rapid Micro Comfort 3 chain, which combines low chatter, reduced kickback, smooth cutting, and low vibration. For sharper chains with carbide tip technology, the Pico Duro chains are an excellent choice. Furthermore, Stihl offers Rapid Micro blades for faster cutting with fewer teeth, making them ideal for basic tree felling.
STIHL Chainsaw Evaluation Methods
After years of rigorous testing, we have accumulated extensive experience with chainsaws. Our evaluation methods involve thousands of cuts on various types of wood, including pine, cedar, and oak. We focus on real-world applications, such as pruning small branches and felling trees up to 3 feet in diameter. Our professional reviewers rely on personal experience and feedback from other professionals to assess the performance and reliability of each chainsaw.
Chainsaw Cutting Power
In addition to considering the motor size, we conduct hands-on testing to evaluate the cutting power of each chainsaw. Our recommendations are based on the real-world experiences of our professional reviewers and the feedback they provide about the performance and usability of the saws. We also consider the effectiveness of smart systems, such as those that monitor fuel/oxygen levels and adjust the saw’s performance accordingly. These features can significantly impact cutting performance, allowing smaller saws to outperform larger ones in certain situations.
Matching Chains to Reduce Bias
To ensure fair comparisons, we match the chains of all the saws we test. This eliminates any bias resulting from comparing saws that use different types of chains. The choice of chain type can affect cutting speed, chip removal, vibration, and kickback. By using matching chains, we can accurately assess the performance of each chainsaw in our tests.
The Best STIHL Chainsaw Features We Look For
Ease of Starting
STIHL chainsaws, apart from the battery-operated models, use a dual-cycle fuel system that requires activation. Quick and reliable starting is crucial, and we evaluate the starting performance of each chainsaw in our tests. STIHL offers an EFI option that ensures easier starting, although it comes at an additional cost.
Regular chain adjustment is necessary as chains stretch over time. We evaluate how easy it is to adjust the chain tension on each chainsaw. Proper chain tension is essential for safe and efficient cutting. We recommend loosening the chain at the end of the day, as cold weather can cause the chain to tighten and potentially damage the saw’s components.
Bars and Chains
STIHL stands apart from other chainsaw manufacturers by producing their own guide bars and chains. These chains are pre-stretched at the factory and offer excellent cutting performance. We appreciate the range of options available, allowing users to select the most suitable chain for their needs.
Proper lubrication is crucial for the longevity of a chainsaw. We evaluate the oiling systems of each chainsaw, ensuring they are easy to refill and do not leak. Clear oil windows are preferred, although we acknowledge that they may become dirty and less practical over time. We also consider the oil cap design, aiming for easy handling and a secure seal.
Chain Brakes and Other Safety Features
We prioritize chainsaws with effective chain brakes that are easy to use in case of kickback events. Additionally, we assess the design and placement of handguards and the overall safety of each chainsaw.
Bucking spikes play a vital role in propelling the saw through wood efficiently. We evaluate the design and functionality of these spikes, ensuring they provide added control and stability during cutting tasks.
We consider the overall balance and weight distribution of each chainsaw, as well as the comfort and grip provided by the handles. The trigger should be easy to operate and feel comfortable during extended use. We also evaluate the ease of cross-cutting and sideways cutting, as these are common cutting orientations in various applications.
In conclusion, our recommendations are based on extensive testing, professional expertise, and real-world usage. We strive to provide reliable and honest evaluations of each product, ensuring that the information we share is trustworthy and helpful in guiding your purchasing decisions.