STIHL MS 261 Review


When it comes to professional-grade chainsaws, the STIHL MS 261 stands out with its blend of power, efficiency, and user-centric innovations. Here’s a detailed look at what makes the MS 261 a preferred choice for professionals and serious woodcutters.

Specifications STIHL MS 261

  • Engine Displacement: 50.2 cc
  • Power Output: 4.0 bhp
  • Weight (without fuel, bar, and chain): 10.8 lbs
  • Recommended Guide Bar Lengths: 16 to 20 inches
  • Chain Type: OILOMATIC chain
  • Fuel Capacity: 16.9 oz.
  • Oil Capacity: 9.13 oz.
  • Chain Brake: STIHL Quickstop

Design and Build

Design and Build STIHL MS 261

The STIHL MS 261 is a testament to meticulous craftsmanship, designed to offer enduring performance without compromising on user comfort. Its construction features magnesium, a choice material that promises durability while keeping the chainsaw surprisingly lightweight at 10.8 lbs. This thoughtful balance significantly eases the burden of extended work sessions, making it a steadfast companion for professionals who spend long hours on the job.


Performance STIHL MS 261

The MS 261 is a powerhouse, boasting a robust 4.0 bhp output from its 50.2 cc engine. This chainsaw doesn’t just meet expectations; it surpasses them, especially when it comes to handling large volume cutting tasks. Whether equipped with a 16-inch bar for precision work or a 20-inch bar for more demanding cuts, the MS 261 showcases remarkable cutting prowess. The optimized power-to-weight ratio further ensures that each cut is not just a cut but a testament to STIHL’s commitment to efficiency and performance, making the MS 261 an indispensable asset on any job site.

User-Friendly Features

STIHL’s dedication to enhancing the user experience is evident in the MS 261’s array of features. The Decompression Valve, also known as the ‘deco’ valve, transforms starting the chainsaw from a chore into a simple, effortless action. The Quickstop Chain Brake is a vital safety feature, providing users with the peace of mind that in the event of a kickback, the chain will halt almost instantly.

User-Friendly Features STIHL MS 261

Comfort is not overlooked either, with the ElastoStart Starter Handle absorbing the shock from the compression stroke during starting, thus minimizing the strain on the user. The Master Control Lever is the epitome of convenience, streamlining the operation of the chainsaw by integrating the choke, starting throttle lock, and on-off switch into one easily accessible control point.

Efficiency and Maintenance

The MS 261 doesn’t just perform; it performs with an eye on efficiency and ease of maintenance. The Ematic Guide Bar System, when paired with STIHL’s OILOMATIC chain, is a game-changer, reducing bar oil consumption significantly, which is both cost-effective and environmentally conscious.

Efficiency and Maintenance STIHL MS 261

The IntelliCarb Compensating Carburetor is like having an intelligent co-pilot, automatically adjusting the air/fuel ratio to maintain peak performance, even as the air filter begins to gather dust and debris. Lastly, the convenience of the captive bar nuts cannot be overstated. These ensure that the routine maintenance tasks, such as changing the chain or adjusting the bar, are hassle-free and efficient, letting the user focus on the task at hand without sweating the small stuff.

Comparison Table: STIHL MS 261 vs. Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Feature/AspectSTIHL MS 261
Husqvarna 455 Rancher
Engine Displacement50.2 cc55.5 cc
Power Output4.0 bhp3.5 bhp
Weight10.8 lbs (without fuel, bar, and chain)13.2 lbs (without fuel, bar, and chain)
Bar Length (Recommended)16-20 inches18-20 inches
Chain BrakeSTIHL QuickstopInertia-activated
Starting SystemDecompression valve, ElastoStartSmart Start system
Fuel EfficiencyHigh (IntelliCarb system)X-Torq engine reduces fuel consumption
Vibration DampeningStandard anti-vibration systemLowVib system
Maintenance FeaturesEmatic Guide Bar System, captive bar nuts, tool-less filter accessAir Injection, tool-less chain tensioning
DurabilityMagnesium construction for critical componentsRobust build with emphasis on longevity
Price RangeTypically higherTypically slightly lower
Primary UseProfessional / Frequent useLandowner / Occasional use
  • Power and Performance: The STIHL MS 261 (4.0 bhp, 50.2 cc) is designed for professional use, offering a superior power-to-weight ratio for demanding tasks. The Husqvarna 455 Rancher, with a 55.5 cc engine and 3.5 bhp, caters more to landowners needing reliable power for occasional heavy-duty work.
  • User Experience: The MS 261 emphasizes ease of use with features like the Master Control Lever™ and ElastoStart, reducing strain during operation. The 455 Rancher focuses on user comfort with its Smart Start® system and LowVib technology.
  • Maintenance and Durability: Both chainsaws offer convenient maintenance features, but the MS 261’s magnesium construction suggests enhanced durability for frequent use. The 455 Rancher provides practical solutions like Air Injection™ and tool-less chain tensioning.
  • Price and Usage: The MS 261, priced for the professional market, is ideal for regular, intensive tasks. The more affordable 455 Rancher suits landowners who require a dependable chainsaw for less frequent, challenging jobs.

In short, the MS 261 is tailored for professionals seeking durability and performance, while the 455 Rancher is an excellent choice for occasional users prioritizing comfort and value.

POV Pros and Cons – STIHL MS 261 Chainsaw


  • The 4.0 bhp engine provides robust power for demanding tasks, making it a reliable choice for professionals.
  • At 10.8 lbs, the chainsaw is designed for ease of handling without compromising on power, suitable for extended use without excessive fatigue.
  • The Quickstop Chain Brake adds a layer of safety by stopping the chain almost instantly in kickback situations.
  • Features like the decompression valve, ElastoStart, and Master Control Lever show STIHL’s commitment to user comfort and ease of operation.


  • As a professional-grade chainsaw, the MS 261 may come with a higher price tag compared to entry-level or mid-range models, which might be a consideration for casual users or those with infrequent needs.
  • While designed for ease of use, the myriad of features and the professional nature of the chainsaw might be overwhelming for first-time or casual users.
  • Although the chainsaw has an excellent power-to-weight ratio, some users, particularly those with lighter tasks or physical limitations, might find it heavier than other models tailored for light-duty work.

Is STIHL MS 261 Worth to Buy ?

The STIHL MS 261 chainsaw is an excellent choice if you’re a professional seeking a durable, high-performance tool for frequent and demanding tasks. Its professional-grade features, robust power, and user-friendly design justify its price for those who will maximize its capabilities. However, for casual or occasional users, the investment might outweigh the benefits, and a less intensive, more cost-effective model may be preferable. Ultimately, the worth of the MS 261 hinges on matching its advanced features and performance with your specific needs and usage frequency.


The STIHL MS 261 is not just a tool; it’s a statement of quality, performance, and attention to detail. It resonates with the needs of professionals who demand reliability, power, and comfort in one package. Whether it’s the ergonomic design, the power efficiency, or the user-friendly features, the MS 261 proves that STIHL understands and delivers on the expectations of its users. This chainsaw is not just about getting the job done; it’s about getting it done with precision, efficiency, and a level of comfort that makes challenging tasks feel a little easier.


  1. How does the Decompression Valve on the MS 261 reduce the starting effort?
    The Decompression Valve releases a small amount of compression in the cylinder, making the pull-start significantly easier. This feature is especially beneficial during cold starts or for users who find traditional chainsaw starts physically demanding.
  2. Can the Master Control Lever on the MS 261 improve my cutting efficiency?
    Absolutely! The Master Control Lever streamlines the chainsaw’s operation by combining the controls for the choke, starting throttle lock, and on-off switch. This integration allows for quicker, smoother operation transitions, reducing downtime and enhancing overall cutting efficiency.
  3. Is the investment in the MS 261 justified for occasional tree-cutting tasks?
    While the MS 261 is a top-tier, professional-grade chainsaw, its cost might be harder to justify for users with only occasional cutting needs. It’s designed for durability and prolonged, intense usage, so if your tasks are infrequent, you might explore more budget-friendly options suited for lighter use.
  4. What makes the ElastoStart feature unique in the MS 261 chainsaw?
    The ElastoStart starter handle incorporates a shock-absorbing element that significantly reduces the physical impact experienced during the starting process. This feature ensures a smoother start, reducing the strain on your arms and hands, and is particularly beneficial for users who operate the chainsaw frequently or for extended periods.
  5. How does the Ematic Guide Bar System contribute to the MS 261’s operational efficiency?
    The Ematic Guide Bar System, when used with STIHL’s OILOMATIC chain, optimizes the distribution of bar oil. This not only ensures proper lubrication and reduces wear but also significantly cuts down bar oil consumption by up to 50%, making the chainsaw more economical and environmentally friendly over time.
  6. Is the MS 261 suitable for professional tree service companies?
    Yes, the STIHL MS 261 is highly suitable for professional use, including tree service companies. Its robust build, power output, and professional-grade features, such as the Quickstop® Chain Brake and IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor, cater to the demanding requirements of professional arborists and tree service personnel.
  7. In terms of maintenance, how user-friendly is the MS 261?
    The MS 261 shines in maintenance ease. Features like the captive bar nuts prevent the loss of nuts during maintenance in the field. Additionally, the IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor automatically maintains the engine’s efficiency, reducing manual carburetor adjustments and ensuring the chainsaw is always at peak performance.

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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