STIHL MS 170 Chainsaw Review


I had the chance to evaluate the STIHL MS 170, a budget-friendly gas chainsaw retailing at $199.99. Designed with home use in mind, this chainsaw is celebrated for its blend of affordability and reliability, making it an excellent entry-level option. Here’s my direct and concise insight into its performance and capabilities.

  • Type: Gas-powered chainsaw
  • Powerhead Weight: 8.6 lbs
  • Recommended Guide Bar Length: 16 inches
  • Chain Type: 3/8″ PMM3 OILOMATIC® chain
  • Engine Power: 1.7 bhp
  • Fuel Capacity: 8.5 oz.
  • Displacement: 30.1 cc
  • Chain Oil Capacity: 4.9 oz.
  • Vibration Reduction: STIHL anti-vibration system

Build and Performance

STIHL MS 170 Chainsaw Build and Performance

From the moment I picked up the STIHL MS 170, I was struck by its solid construction paired with a surprisingly manageable weight of just 8.6 lbs. For a novice chainsaw user, this balance of sturdiness and lightness was a welcome feature. Equipped with a 16-inch guide bar, it proved to be more than sufficient for the tasks at hand, be it slicing through small trees or clearing out limbs and debris post-storm. The performance of its 3/8″ PMM3 OILOMATIC chain particularly stood out; it glided through wood effortlessly, even when I was dealing with thicker branches. The ease with which it cut through tough wood was nothing short of impressive, making my foray into chainsaw work feel surprisingly smooth and efficient.

Starting and Operation

STIHL MS 170 Chainsaw Starting and Operation

My initial attempts at starting the STIHL MS 170 were a bit of a learning curve, primarily due to the specific starting procedure that involves the chain brake. It took a bit of practice, but I soon got the hang of it, and the starting process became much more natural. Along the way, I did encounter some minor hiccups with the chainsaw stalling and bogging down. I realized these issues often cropped up when I was still figuring out the most efficient way to operate the saw, especially in terms of throttle control and handling.

Power and Efficiency

STIHL MS 170 Chainsaw Power and Efficiency

The MS 170 is equipped with a 1.7 bhp engine and a displacement of 30.1 cc, which I found to be quite adequate for a range of tasks from light to medium intensity. One of the aspects of this chainsaw that impressed me was its fuel efficiency. I didn’t find myself needing to refuel too often, even during extended periods of use. This efficiency was a significant plus, as it allowed me to focus more on the task at hand rather than worrying about constant refills.

Comfort and Handling

STIHL MS 170 Chainsaw Comfort and Handling

The inclusion of STIHL’s anti-vibration system in the MS 170 was a game-changer for me. This feature significantly reduced the vibration, minimizing fatigue and making it much more comfortable for extended use. For someone relatively new to chainsaws, the balance and ease of maneuverability of this saw were standout qualities. It never felt unwieldy or cumbersome, which boosted my confidence and efficiency in handling various cutting tasks.

Maintenance Insights

STIHL MS 170 Chainsaw Maintenance Insights

My time with the MS 170 underscored the importance of regular maintenance. Key tasks like checking the air filter and ensuring the chain remained well-oiled were critical for optimal performance. Although the Ematic guide bar system is designed to conserve oil, I found it crucial to regularly monitor the oil level to maintain consistent lubrication and prevent any potential issues.

Overall Experience

STIHL MS 170 Chainsaw Overall Experience

Overall, my experience with the STIHL MS 170 has been immensely satisfying. Its lightweight nature, paired with adequate power, renders it perfect for a range of home woodcutting needs. Admittedly, there was a learning curve initially, especially with starting the saw. However, as I grew more accustomed to its operation and quirks, these challenges became part of the learning process, adding to the overall rewarding experience of using the chainsaw.

Pros and Cons


  • Priced at $199.99, the MS 170 offers great value for homeowners, making it an accessible choice for budget-conscious users.
  • Weighing only 8.6 lbs, it’s easy to handle, reducing fatigue during prolonged use.
  • With an engine power of 1.7 bhp and a displacement of 30.1 cc, it’s adequately powered for typical home woodcutting tasks.
  • The 16-inch guide bar and 3/8″ PMM3 OILOMATIC® chain make quick work of small trees and fallen limbs.
  • Designed for simplicity, it’s a great starter chainsaw, especially for those new to using such equipment.
  • The anti-vibration feature enhances comfort and reduces operator fatigue during use.
  • Adjusts the air/fuel ratio automatically, maintaining engine performance even when the air filter gets clogged.
  • The Ematic™ guide bar system reduces oil consumption, which is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.


  • Some users, including myself, have experienced challenges with starting the chainsaw, particularly with it bogging down.
  • While great for home use, it may not be sufficient for more demanding, professional-grade tasks.
  • Proper starting procedures and chain brake usage may require time to learn, especially for beginners.
  • Regular maintenance, such as checking the air filter, is necessary to keep it running smoothly.
  • Given its small fuel capacity (8.5 oz), frequent refueling may be needed during extended use.

Maintenance of STIHL MS 170

Maintaining the STIHL MS 170 chainsaw is crucial for ensuring its optimal performance and longevity. Here’s a guide to effectively maintain this model:

  1. Regular Engine Check and Maintenance:
    • Engine Oil: Regularly check and change the engine oil according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Use the recommended oil type for optimal performance.
    • Air Filter Maintenance: Clean or replace the air filter as needed. The IntelliCarb™ system compensates for a dirty filter, but keeping it clean ensures better efficiency.
  2. Chain and Guide Bar Care:
    • Chain Sharpness: Regularly sharpen the chain to maintain cutting efficiency.
    • Chain Tension: Check and adjust the chain tension frequently to ensure it is neither too tight nor too loose.
    • Lubrication: Keep the chain well-lubricated. The Ematic™ guide bar system is designed to reduce oil consumption, but regular checks are necessary.
  3. Fuel Management:
    • Fuel Quality: Use clean, fresh gasoline for the fuel mix. Avoid leaving fuel in the chainsaw for extended periods to prevent carburetor clogging and starting issues.
    • Fuel Mix: Ensure the correct fuel-to-oil ratio as specified for the MS 170.
  4. Cleaning the Chainsaw:
    • Post-Use Cleaning: After each use, clean the chainsaw to remove debris, sawdust, and dirt.
    • Cooling System Maintenance: Regularly check and clean the cooling fins and air intakes to ensure efficient engine cooling.
  5. Inspecting for Wear and Damage:
    • Regularly inspect the chainsaw for loose, damaged, or worn parts, especially the guide bar, chain, and sprockets. Replace parts as necessary.
  6. Storing the Chainsaw:
    • Long-Term Storage: If storing the chainsaw for an extended period, drain the fuel, clean the chainsaw thoroughly, and store it in a dry, safe place.
  7. Professional Servicing:
    • For complex issues or annual servicing, take your chainsaw to a professional or an authorized STIHL service center.

Adhering to these maintenance guidelines will help keep your STIHL MS 170 chainsaw in top condition, ensuring efficient and safe operation for all your woodcutting tasks. Regular care not only prolongs the life of the chainsaw but also maintains its performance and safety.


The STIHL MS 170 is an excellent starting point for anyone new to chainsaws. It strikes a balance between affordability, ease of use, and adequate power for home tasks. While it may have its quirks, such as the initial challenge in starting, its overall performance and handling make it a worthy investment for basic yard maintenance and woodcutting tasks.


  1. Is the MS 170 suitable for beginners or those new to chainsaws?
    Yes, the STIHL MS 170 is designed to be user-friendly and is an excellent choice for beginners due to its lightweight design and ease of use.
  2. Can the MS 170 handle tree felling, or is it just for trimming and pruning?
    While the MS 170 is ideal for trimming and pruning, it can also handle cutting down small trees, making it versatile for various home yard tasks.
  3. How does the IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor benefit the MS 170’s performance?
    The IntelliCarb™ system automatically adjusts the air/fuel ratio, maintaining optimal engine performance and RPM even when the air filter gets dirty, ensuring consistent operation.
  4. Is the MS 170 environmentally friendly?
    While it is a gas-powered chainsaw, its efficient engine design and lower fuel consumption make it more environmentally friendly compared to less efficient models.
  5. How often should the MS 170 be serviced?
    Regular maintenance, such as chain sharpening and air filter cleaning, should be done according to the usage frequency. It’s recommended to have a professional service annually for typical home use.
  6. Can I extend the bar length beyond 16 inches on the MS 170?
    It’s recommended to use the bar length that the chainsaw is rated for, which in this case is 16 inches, to ensure optimal performance and safety.

Join the discussion below by sharing your experiences, tips, or reviews. Your contributions help others make informed decisions and navigate their chainsaw choices with confidence. Let’s build a community of shared knowledge for all wood-cutting enthusiasts!

David Murray
David Murray
Forestry Author

I'm David Murry, a forestry equipment specialist with a focus on chainsaw operation. With over 13 years of experience, I've honed my skills in operating and maintaining a wide range of machinery, from chainsaws to log splitters. My passion for the outdoors and commitment to sustainable forestry drive my work, which emphasizes safety, efficiency, and staying updated with industry advancements. Additionally, I'm dedicated to sharing my expertise and promoting environmental awareness within the forestry community.


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