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    Stihl saw recommendations

    So looking at adding a new saw for farm use. Clearing up some things around our 100 acres and occasionally cutting firewood.

    I’m limiting my search to Stihl - just brand preference. Yes, I’m aware there are arguably “better” brands at lower price points - but come time to repair or resell - I’ve never been dissatisfied with Stihl.

    First deal that caught my eye was a MS 391 for $300 locally, 20” bar - seemed to be in nice shape, but reading some bad about the weight and vibration on these.

    Also looked at a new 261 with 18” bar. Of course more money - but getting the better build over a farm and ranch model and of course, it’s new so no surprises. I’ve got a 20” barred Husq I “inherited” - so I’m thinking going with a slightly shorter bar - knowing that if Stihl says the saw will handle 20” - next size down is probably what it handles “comfortably”

    Thoughts good or bad? Probably overkill for my needs - but I’d rather pay $550 once than blowing $250 on some homeowner saw and then fight with it next winter.

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    RodW's Avatar
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    I agree on the bar length. I always look for a bar one size shorter than the maximum spec because I would rather have more power. (I've cut a 42" tree with a 16" bar -- it just takes a little longer than a single pass.) If you don't use your saw all the time, you're also less likely to get into trouble with a slightly shorter bar.
    Hold the saws out in front of you before buying to be sure you're happy with the weight, too. An extra couple of inches isn't worth an extra pound unless you're a pro, in my experience. As the work day wears on, you'll feel it!
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    Really a MS291-18 would probably be plenty and at $440 its not too much money. It can handle up to a 20" but I like to sell them with an 18". Its 1.3 pounds lighter than the 391. Theres nothing wrong with going bigger... I have an 025, 028 Super, and 036 PRO and only have 3 trees lol.
    A MS261 is a great saw and about a 1.5 pound lighter than the 291. But I usually sell them to commercial guys that are going to use them all day everyday. Its kind of a waste for an occasional use saw.
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    Only time I run a chainsaw is when a tree falls. Which is more offer then I’d like. I have a farm boss I believe that’s a 290 20” bar and a ms 170 16” bar. The farm boss is a great saw if your in a hurry. But its heavy! I’ll run the ms 170 all day no problems. And its my go to saw.
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    I've had a MS250 going on 10 years or longer. As I recall the MS261 is similar size but more of a professional grade. More power, not much if any heavier, better all around. I kind of wish I had stepped up and got a one like that but then there are months that I don't use it. I cut some fire word and trees that fall over but I also might go 12 months and not use it. If you are in it for the long haul and can afford it, get the nicer one.
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    I’ve got two saws that I used regularly.
    An 038 Mag II.
    And an 026.

    The 26 is the predecessor to the 261. I have an 18” bar in mine. It handles it fine and is my go to saw for all but big oak.

    Like you I’d rather pay a little more for a professional saw that will be there for when I need it.




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    I have a few different stihl saws. The main trunk cutting workhorse is a 391 with a 25" bar. Small work I use a 170 (16") and a 193T (14"). Truthfully I am a fan of having more than 1 and using the most appropriate saw for the task at hand. Having said that, if you are only going to have 1 saw, then a mid 200 series would be a best of both worlds scenario in terms of weight and power. Millions of opinions on brands and sizes. Best answer is to go pick one up and try it out. Your opinion is the one that matters. You have to use it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Highgear2005 View Post
    Only time I run a chainsaw is when a tree falls. Which is more offer then I’d like. I have a farm boss I believe that’s a 290 20” bar and a ms 170 16” bar. The farm boss is a great saw if your in a hurry. But its heavy! I’ll run the ms 170 all day no problems. And its my go to saw.
    Ditto here. Same saws I have. Use the 170 for limbing and the 290 for the bigger stuff. The 170 was too cheap not to have and won’t wear you out. One day it hit me....why am I using such a big saw when I don’t need it for limbs, smaller trees etc.?
    Last edited by jdmich; 03-13-2019 at 11:39 AM. Reason: Spelling
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    Thanks for the advice - 291 was what initially caught my eye and what I tried out the other day when stopping into dealership for a few others things with no plans on buying a new saw - of course, start doing my research on the net after getting the urge to buy something new and thinking it would be nice to have something lighter - and well, you know how it goes.

    I might actually go back to the 291 - the dangers of reading things on the interwebs - everyone seems to think you should get BIGGER and BETTER. Not that I feel either is completely wrong all the time, but I am also very realistic - a homeowner needing to clean up their back yard likely doesn't NEED a pro level saw. Likewise, buying bigger than you need is ok - but using it for an extended period will leave you wanting the RIGHT size saw and not something with way more power than you need.

    Since the topic of ethanol free was brought up - also curious, should I just go with the ethanol free fuel offered by the dealership, or buy it at the only station in town offering E free gas? I know alot of people swear using this stuff in EVERY gas engine they own - I personally run high test regular gas with treatment in my X370 and gator - but in things like the leaf blower/saws/push mower and pressure washer its ethanol free only. Too many horror stories from small engine owners for me out there. Saw Stihl is making their own ethanol free fuel premix - figured its more costly, but at the amount I use - what is that extra cost, possibly $20 a year if that...figure it in to the cost of even a $400 machine and its less than 5% a year cost - seems to be cost effective to me.
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    I was all ready to buy the Stihl MS170,, then all the discussion of the Milwaukee,,,
    I bought the Milwaukee,,

    Everyone needs one electric saw,, it is every bit as good as the MS170, power, cutting speed,,, etc,,
    LITERALLY,, IDENTICAL POWER!!

    My other saw is a Stihl MS290 I believe,, with an 18" bar. It will do anything I am willing to tackle,,

    I had about the most professional logging crew possible on my property last year for 3 months,,
    ALL they used was Husqvarna,, but,, that was because they have the Husqvarna VERY near their home (it is a family business)
    (they live close to 60 miles away)
    I asked, they said they ran Stihl until the Husqvarna dealer opened,,
    In the loggers opinion,, the Husqvarna works circles around Stihl,,
    They said the Husqvarna gives them over double the saw life as compared to Stihl,,

    Even with that recommendation,, I will stick with Stihl for a gas saw,, because of better service near me,,
    I will never wear out ANY saw,, I just can not do that much logging,,,,
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