Stihl 261 Chainsaw Review: Price, Specifications, and More

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I’ve been around chainsaws for quite a while, and the Stihl MS261 is not just another name in the vast sea of chainsaws; it’s a standout favorite. Many of my fellow experts have put it head-to-head with other popular models, like the Stihl 271, to truly understand its charm.

So, you might wonder, what’s the buzz all about with the Stihl 261? Is it genuinely exceptional or just another chainsaw riding the hype wave? Well, I’ve delved deep with a team of pro woodworkers to unravel the true essence of this tool. Stick around, and I’ll share our findings!

Stihl 261: The Review

Similar to Stihl MS440, the Stihl 261 chainsaw (also known as the MS 261) is undoubtedly a professional chainsaw, unlike models like the Stihl 025 used for domestic purposes. 

It is a couple of dollars worth more than a standard domestic chainsaw as it is a professional chainsaw.

When it comes to performance and in terms of its power-to-weight ratio, this Stihl chainsaw is more versatile as a pro-chainsaw in such a way that it only weighs 10.8 pounds without fuel and oil. 

It has a 1.6 power-to-weight ratio, generating 4HP in energy or power output. In simpler terms, it generates a lot of energy, despite being light in weight, which makes it more efficient. 

Stihl 261 on a log

Compared to the MS 271 series, which is categorized under the farm and ranch series, it is far more efficient, as the MS 271 offers an engine capacity of 3.5hp. At the same time, it weighs a considerable sum of 12.3 pounds. 

After a thorough comparison with the Husqvarna 550, here’s the important points to consider: 

Stihl MS261

  • The MS 261 is a pound lighter than the Husqvarna 550, which aids more efficiency in its power-to-weight ratio.
  • Both chainsaws are pro versions in their make. They both use a 50cc engine. The Stihl looks smaller in terms of its size.
  • The Stihl MS 261 is more scarce to get than the Husqvarna, including maintenance needs and availability of parts. Since its parts are scarce, you may have difficulty starting the Stihl chainsaw.
  • The Stihl saw cuts a little second slower than the Husqvarna due to the size of the blade.
  • The Stihl has an M-Tronic system that optimizes the chains to their highest level.

Husqvarna 550

  • The Husqvarna is heavier than the  Stihl 261, but it compensates for its overall body balance.
  • In particular, the Stihl 261 tends to lean more forward to the chain area, while the Husqvarna maintains an overall body balance.
  • Husqvarna 550 is a giant machine in terms of its size.
  • The Husqvarna’s body parts are not so scarce to find when compared to the Stihl unit.
  • It has a rapid rate of cutting through woods more than the Stihl.
  • The Husqvarna does the same thing in optimization through the Autotune, which raises the machine’s performance.

Emphasizing the importance of the power-to-weight ratio, it is essential to know the frequency at which you would be using a chainsaw. 

cutting down a tree with Stihl 261

Are you a landowner or a firewood seller? Or do you want to use it for domestic purposes? If you fall in the first category, it would be wise to go for a less heavy yet, efficient chainsaw than a heavier one, which could take a toll on you after long hours of usage.

Advantages and Disadvantages of The Stihl MS 261

The Stihl MS 261 is almost a flawless machine just like the MS 200 T. Because of this fact, it is so rare to chance upon any negative comments about it. Thousand of users recommend this machine a lot, and most would go for this product again. 

What are the benefits experienced by users whenever they use this machine? The following table illustrates the benefits and the demerits of buying the MS 261.

person operating Stihl 261

What i Like

What I Don't Like

Features and Specifications of Stihl 261

Unlike the Stihl 026 with 48.7cc engine, the Stihl 261 is powered by a 4HP [1], 50.2cc engine. This specification means you cannot go wrong with purchasing a Stihl 261. But there are more to its specification and features. 

The MS 261 has:

adding fuel to Stihl 261

Apart from all the features listed above, the bar size is a factor that cannot be left out when reviewing and discussing chainsaws. It is a factor you must consider before making a purchase. 

The Stihl 261 comes with a 20-inch bar, but ideally, you can fit a bar size within 14-inches to 20-inch. Some prefer an 18-inch bar size.

The 261 also has a decompressor that aids the starting of the chainsaw. All these features make it easier to use the machine efficiently.

With the features and specifications listed above, it is no doubt easier and more efficient to use the MS 261 for cutting, but how does it fare compared to the MS 271?

Comparing the Stihl 261 to Stihl 271

The MS261 excels in power-to-weight ratio, engine capacity, and overall power compared to the MS 271 model. However, other features set these two chainsaws apart, which can be seen in the following table.

Stihl 261

Stihl 271

It has an elastic start that makes it easier for users to start the chainsaw.It does not have an elastic start.
It has an adjustable oiler mechanism.It does not have this feature.
It has an anti-vibration (all modern chainsaw has these) system that reduces vibration.It also has an anti-vibration system.
It has a magnesium frame and a magnesium side cover.It has a plastic frame and a plastic side cover.
It also possesses a decompression switch.It does not have a decompression switch. 
It has captive nuts.It has loose nuts.
It is lighter and more compact.It is heavier and thicker.

In essence, it can be said that the MS 271 is less efficient when compared to the MS 261. The MS 261 is also divided into two series, the MS 261 C (standard) and the M-Tronics’ MS 261 C-M. 

Stihl 271 and Stihl 261

The MS 261 C, the standard MS 261, comes as simply modified as possible. It does not come with that extra m-Tronic software embedded in the MS 261 C-M version. This could be a great advantage to people who prefer their chainsaws to be simple and tunable for maintenance.

The Price Range of Stihl 261

When talking about the Stihl saw price range. You would be looking at an extra $150 to $200 in addition to what you would use to get an MS 271. 

It is far easier to get an MS 261 with dealership support when you purchase it from its accredited store, but that does not suggest that you cannot get a Stihl from online stores like Amazon, eBay, and HL supply.

MS 261: The Overview

In terms of getting a reliable Stihl chainsaw that can serve at least 90% of your purposes, MS 261 got you covered. Its power-to-weight ratio is good enough for any user for any purpose. If you want something durable and efficient, you should consider MS 261 as an option.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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