STIHL MS 171 Chainsaw Review


Discover the STIHL MS 171 chainsaw in our latest review: a budget-friendly, compact powerhouse perfect for routine tasks. Dive into our personal insights and experiences with this efficient tool.

STIHL MS 171 Chainsaw sitting in the logs

I recently got my hands on the STIHL MS 171 chainsaw, and I must say, at $180, it’s the most budget-friendly option in the STIHL range that fits my needs perfectly. Here’s my take on this compact powerhouse.

Specifications of STIHL MS 171 Chainsaw

GUIDE BAR LENGTH (Recommended)16 in.

Performance and Handling

Person holding STIHL MS 171 Chainsaw laying in the road with chain cover

The MS 171 is a gem for small to medium tasks. Its 31.8 cc engine, delivering 1.7 horsepower, paired with a 16-inch guide bar, makes it robust enough for various cutting jobs, from trimming overgrown branches to tackling smaller trees. The saw’s Anti-Vibration System really stands out, significantly reducing the shake and making my cutting sessions less tiring and more efficient.

Maintenance and Usability

Person open the oil tank of the STIHL MS 171 Chainsaw laying in the grass

I particularly appreciate the Side-Access Chain Tensioner—a small but impactful feature. Adjusting the chain tension is a breeze, which is a relief compared to the cumbersome process on some other models. The Translucent Fuel Tank is another thoughtful feature, letting me quickly check the fuel level before I start my work, avoiding any mid-task fuel runouts.

Reliability in Different Conditions

Person holding the STIHL MS 171 Chainsaw laying on the grass

What impressed me the most was its ability to start in sub-zero temperatures, showing the MS 171’s reliability. However, I’ve noticed it occasionally shuts down unexpectedly. It seems like it might be flooding or an adjustment issue, especially after prolonged use, which can be a bit frustrating. But given its overall performance, this is a minor hiccup I’m willing to work around.

Fuel and Oil Efficiency

Person cutting logs using STIHL MS 171 Chainsaw in the woods

Filling up is hassle-free, thanks to the quick-release caps on the fuel and bar chain oil tanks. It’s a small feature that makes a big difference, especially when wearing gloves or in cold conditions. The IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor is a smart addition, automatically adjusting the air/fuel mix, which seems to enhance the saw’s efficiency and probably contributes to its good performance in cold weather.


  • Handling the MS 171 is a breeze thanks to its 9.5-pound frame. I found it easy to maneuver, especially when tackling intricate cuts or using it for extended periods.
  • The 31.8 cc engine, with a power output of 1.7 horsepower, felt robust for its size. It efficiently handled everything I threw at it, from trimming branches to cutting through small trunks.
  • I loved the side-access chain tensioner for quick adjustments and the translucent fuel tank which allowed me to easily monitor the fuel level. The IntelliCarb™ compensating carburetor was a standout, automatically adjusting the air/fuel mix and keeping the saw running smoothly.
  • At around $180, I felt I got a solid deal for a chainsaw that reliably gets the job done without any frills that I don’t really need.


  • The chainsaw did randomly shut down a few times during use. It seemed like it might have been flooding or needed a carburetor adjustment. It wasn’t a frequent issue, but it was inconvenient when it happened.
  • While it’s great for its intended light to medium-duty tasks, I did find its limitations when faced with larger, more demanding cuts. It’s not the saw’s fault, but something to be aware of depending on your needs.

Comparative Analysis: STIHL MS 171 vs. Husqvarna 120 Mark II

Engine Displacement31.8 cc38.2 cc
Power Output1.7 horsepower1.88 horsepower
Weight9.5 lbs10.7 lbs
Guide Bar LengthRecommended 16 inchesRecommended 14-16 inches
Fuel Capacity9.1 oz12.51 oz
Chain Oil Capacity9.0 oz8.5 oz
Key FeaturesAnti-vibration system,LowVib® system,
side-access chainX-Torq® engine,
tensioner, IntelliCarb™combined choke/stop
compensating carburetor,control, air injection
translucent fuel tankcleaning system
Price Range$219.99$269

Summary: The STIHL MS 171 and Husqvarna 120 Mark II are both lightweight, entry-level chainsaws designed for home use or light-duty tasks. The STIHL MS 171, with its 31.8 cc engine and 1.7 horsepower, is slightly lighter and may be easier to handle, especially for extended periods. It offers a convenient side-access chain tensioner and a unique IntelliCarb™ compensating carburetor system.

The Husqvarna 120 Mark II, on the other hand, has a slightly more powerful engine at 38.2 cc and 1.88 horsepower, and it comes with a larger fuel capacity which could translate to longer run times. It features the LowVib® anti-vibration system and the X-Torq® engine for reduced emissions and fuel efficiency.

Both chainsaws are priced similarly, providing good value with their respective features and capabilities. The choice between them would depend on the user’s preference for specific features like weight, power, and additional functionalities like carburetor technology and fuel efficiency.

Maintenance of STIHL MS 171

Maintaining your STIHL MS 171 chainsaw is crucial for ensuring its longevity and optimal performance. Here are some maintenance tips based on personal experience and manufacturer recommendations:

Regular Cleaning

  • After Use: Clean any debris, sawdust, and oil from the chainsaw, focusing on the bar, chain, and engine area.
  • Air Filter: Check and clean the air filter regularly. A clean air filter ensures the engine runs efficiently and prevents overheating.

Chain Maintenance

  • Sharpening: Regularly check the chain sharpness and sharpen the teeth as needed. A sharp chain reduces the risk of kickback and makes cutting more efficient.
  • Tension: Ensure the chain tension is correct. It should be snug against the bar but still able to move freely.
  • Lubrication: Check the chain oil level before each use and refill as needed to ensure proper lubrication during cutting.

Engine Care

  • Spark Plug: Inspect and clean the spark plug regularly. Replace it if it’s worn or damaged to ensure reliable starting and optimal engine performance.
  • Fuel System: Use fresh fuel with the correct oil mix (50:1 ratio for the MS 171). Drain the fuel system if you plan not to use the chainsaw for an extended period to prevent gumming and corrosion.

Seasonal Checks

  • Winter Storage: If storing the chainsaw for winter, clean it thoroughly, drain the fuel, and store it in a dry, safe place.
  • Spring Preparation: Check all functions of the chainsaw before the first use of the season, including the starting mechanism, brake operation, and overall condition of the saw.

Professional Servicing

  • Annual Service: Consider taking your chainsaw to a professional for an annual check-up to ensure everything is in working order, especially if you use it frequently or for heavy tasks.

Following these maintenance steps for your STIHL MS 171 will help you keep it in top condition, ready for reliable and efficient use whenever you need it.


All in all, the STIHL MS 171 has proven to be a reliable, user-friendly chainsaw that offers great value for its price. It’s designed thoughtfully with the user’s convenience in mind, from its maintenance features to its ergonomic build. Despite the occasional shutdown issue, its performance, especially in challenging conditions, has been impressive. I would recommend the MS 171 to anyone looking for a cost-effective yet capable chainsaw for regular use.


  1. What is the engine displacement of the STIHL MS 171 chainsaw?
    The STIHL MS 171 has an engine displacement of 31.8 cc.
  2. What size bar is on the STIHL MS 171?
    The STIHL MS 171 typically comes with a 12-inch bar, suitable for cutting small to medium-diameter trees.
  3. What is the recommended fuel mix for the STIHL MS 171?
    The recommended fuel mix for the STIHL MS 171 is 50:1, using gasoline and 2-cycle engine oil, such as STIHL’s own brand or STIHL Motomix.
  4. What does ‘MS’ stand for in STIHL chainsaw model names?
    ‘MS’ stands for Motorsäge, the German word for chainsaw. ‘MSA’ indicates a battery chainsaw, and ‘MSE’ signifies an electric model.
  5. Is the STIHL MS 171 considered a powerful chainsaw?
    With a 31.8 cc engine, the MS 171 is designed for light to medium-duty tasks, making it powerful enough for residential and light commercial use.
  6. Is the STIHL ES 171 a left-handed chainsaw?
    There seems to be a confusion; the STIHL MS 171 is a model commonly available and not specifically designed for left-handed use. There is no specific model as ‘ES 171’ in the STIHL range.
  7. How much does the STIHL MS 171 weigh?
    The STIHL MS 171 has a powerhead weight of 9.5 pounds.
  8. What is the best oil mix for STIHL chainsaws?
    For STIHL chainsaws, including the MS 171, a 50:1 mix ratio of gasoline to 2-cycle engine oil is recommended.
  9. What are the capacities for chain oil and fuel in the STIHL MS 171?
    The STIHL MS 171 has a chain oil capacity of 9.0 ounces and a fuel capacity of 9.1 ounces.
  10. How does the IntelliCarb Compensating Carburetor benefit the STIHL MS 171?
    The IntelliCarb Compensating Carburetor automatically adjusts the air/fuel ratio to maintain the engine’s RPM and performance, especially as the air filter becomes clogged, enhancing efficiency and longevity.

We hope you found our STIHL MS 171 chainsaw review informative and useful. If you’ve used this model, or have any thoughts or questions about it, we’d love to hear from you! Your feedback and experiences can greatly benefit others considering this chainsaw. Please feel free to share your insights in the comments below. Let’s help each other make the best out of our chainsaw experiences!

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.


Why push a saw that's being discontinued?

Daniel Adams
April 15, 2024 12:15 pm

Love the ms 171 dam good saw keep it up stihl your the best

Daniel Adams
April 9, 2024 2:52 am

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