Stihl 261 Chainsaw Review: Price, Specifications, and More

Stihl 261 on a log

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The Stihl MS261 is frequently recognized as the best multi-functional chainsaw and is a standout choice among users.

It is one of the most popular Stihl chainsaws used for various purposes. Due to its prominence and its versatility, many have compared it to various chainsaws of its kind, including the Stihl 271, a more recent model.

What makes the Stihl 261 so special? Is it just an ‘average’ chainsaw with too much hype? The results of our pro woodworkers’ tests and research will expound on what type of chainsaw the Stihl 261 is. 

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. 

Our testers compared the MS 261 to a Husqvarna 550 and summarized their findings in these points:

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.
  • We also noticed that 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

Pros

Cons

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

In terms of power-to-weight ratio, engine capacity, and power, the MS261 trumps the MS 271 model. But other features make the two chainsaws different. This is identified 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 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.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson