Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM Review: A Powerhouse Chainsaw


It’s, not every day that I come across one that strikes such an impressive balance between power and usability as the Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM. From the moment I started up this beast, I knew I was in for a treat. Let me take you through my experience and why this chainsaw might just be your next essential tool.

Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM

Product Specifications

Engine Displacement121.6 cc
Power Output8.6 hp/ 6.4 kW
Weight (Powerhead only)14.6 lbs / 6.6 kg
Power-to-Weight Ratio1.36 kg/kW
Sound Pressure Level108 dB(A)
Vibration Level (Left/Right)6.4/7.6 m/s²
STIHL Oilomatic Chain3/8″ RS3
Fuel Capacity1.36 L
Chain Oil Capacity0.7 L
Recommended Guide Bar Length17″-59″ / 43-150 cm
FeaturesM-Tronic, Anti-vibration system, Decompression valve

Please note, the specifications might vary based on local regulations or the configuration of the chainsaw. Always check with your local Stihl dealer for the most accurate specifications.

Performance and Power

From my personal experience, the Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM is a true powerhouse. As the world’s most powerful mass-produced chainsaw, its performance is nothing short of exceptional. The 121.6cc engine churns out an impressive 8.6 horsepower, slicing through even the most formidable hardwoods like a hot knife through butter. Regardless of the task at hand – be it felling, bucking, or dealing with large-diameter wood, the MS 881 R MAGNUM has always stood up to the challenge, making my work not just efficient, but effortless.

Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM

Ease of Use

As I picked up the MS 881 R MAGNUM for the first time, I immediately noticed its heft. It was a substantial piece of equipment, surely designed to handle the toughest jobs. However, despite its weight, the chainsaw was well-balanced, with a center of gravity that felt natural and manageable.

Starting the chainsaw, I felt a sense of relief as the decompression valve worked its magic. The usual strain on my arm was significantly reduced as I pulled the starter rope. This feature made it much easier to start the chainsaw, saving not only my energy but also time.

Once the chainsaw roared to life, I felt the familiar vibrations coursing through the handle. But this time, they were different – they were noticeably less intense. The anti-vibration system of the MS 881 R MAGNUM was clearly doing its job. The reduction in vibrations made holding the chainsaw less fatiguing. I could tell that this feature would allow me to work for longer periods without discomfort or the risk of vibration-induced injuries.

And as I started cutting, the chainsaw’s power was evident. It cut through the wood easily and efficiently. I felt confident and in control. The balance of power and usability in the MS 881 R MAGNUM was remarkable, and I could easily see myself using this chainsaw for any heavy-duty tasks that came my way.

All in all, my first experience with the MS 881 R MAGNUM was overwhelmingly positive. Its focus on user comfort did not go unnoticed, and I could tell that it was designed with the operator’s well-being in mind. The reduced vibrations and easy start-up were a godsend, making the MS 881 R MAGNUM not only a powerful tool but also a pleasure to use.

Key Design Choices

Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM

One aspect that sets the MS 881 R MAGNUM apart is its focus on user comfort. With its anti-vibration system, I found the chainsaw significantly reduces vibrations from the engine and cutting attachment, making it more comfortable to operate for extended periods. The chainsaw is also equipped with a decompression valve that reduces the force needed to pull the starter rope, a feature my aching muscles appreciated.

Comparisons and Considerations

In my hands-on experience, the Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM truly sets itself apart from other models on the market. I’ve used the Husqvarna 3120 XP in the past, and while it’s a capable machine, the raw power and user-friendly design of the MS 881 R MAGNUM give it an edge.

However, I must point out that this Stihl chainsaw is heavier than some of its competitors. While I didn’t find this to be an issue during shorter tasks, it’s something to consider if you’re planning to use it for extended periods. Being able to comfortably handle your chainsaw is just as important as its specs on paper.

Remember, the best chainsaw for you depends on your individual needs, fitness level, and the tasks you’ll be using it for. A powerhouse like the Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM can make quick work of large, demanding jobs, but it might be overkill for lighter tasks or less frequent use. In the end, it’s about finding the right tool for your specific situation.

Evolution from Previous Models

The MS 881 R MAGNUM is the successor to Stihl’s MS 880 model. It benefits from an increase in power and a reduction in weight, making it more efficient and easier to handle. Stihl has also enhanced the chainsaw’s design with a more robust air filter system for longer service life.

Pros and Cons

Unmatched Power: The 121.6cc engine delivers a staggering 8.6 horsepower, making it the most powerful series-produced chainsaw available as of now.Weight: Weighing in at 23 pounds without the cutting gear, it’s not the lightest chainsaw on the market. This might be a consideration for users who are not used to handling such powerful tools.
Decompression Valve: This feature aids in starting the chainsaw, reducing the effort needed to pull the starter rope.Price: The MS 881 R MAGNUM is a premium chainsaw and its price reflects that. It may not fit into everyone’s budget.
Advanced Features: The chainsaw comes with a host of advanced features like the ElastoStart system, an adjustable oil pump, and a side-mounted chain tensioner, which improves the overall usability and efficiency of the chainsaw.Fuel Consumption: Given its power, the chainsaw has a higher fuel consumption rate. This might increase the operational costs over time.
Versatility: Despite its power, the chainsaw is versatile enough to handle a variety of jobs, from felling large trees to cutting firewood.Overkill for Casual Users: Its power and features may be overkill for casual users or homeowners who only need a chainsaw for occasional use.
Durability: The chainsaw is built to last with high-quality components and a magnesium crankcase able to withstand high rpms and tough use.


Drawing to a close, I can confidently state that the Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a robust chainsaw that beautifully balances raw power with practical usability. Its standout features and immense power make it an ideal choice for professionals dealing with heavy-duty tasks. Yes, it does require a significant investment, but in my eyes, for the value and performance it delivers, every penny is well justified.

Buyer’s Guide

  1. Determine Your Needs: Assess the type of work you’ll be doing with the chainsaw. Are you planning to use it for light yard maintenance, medium-sized tree cutting, or professional forestry work? Understanding your needs will help you select the right chainsaw for the job.
  2. Power Source: Chainsaws are available in three main power options:
    • Gas-Powered: Suitable for heavy-duty tasks, they offer high power and mobility but require more maintenance and emit exhaust fumes.
    • Electric-Powered (Corded): Ideal for light to medium-duty work, they are quieter, and require less maintenance, but are limited by the cord length.
    • Battery-Powered (Cordless): Offers convenience, portability, and quieter operation, but battery life and power may be limited for heavy-duty tasks.
  3. Bar Length: The bar length determines the size of wood the chainsaw can handle. Smaller bars (10-14 inches) are suitable for light work, while larger bars (16 inches or more) are better for heavy-duty cutting.
  4. Safety Features: Look for chainsaws with safety features such as chain brakes, anti-vibration systems, and ergonomic handles for enhanced safety and user comfort.
  5. Ease of Use: Consider the weight, balance, and maneuverability of the chainsaw. Ensure it feels comfortable and well-balanced in your hands to reduce fatigue during extended use.
  6. Durability and Quality: Choose a chainsaw from reputable brands known for their quality and durability. Read customer reviews and ratings to gauge reliability and performance.
  7. Maintenance and Service: Check if replacement parts, accessories, and service centers are readily available for the chainsaw you’re considering. Ease of maintenance can prolong the lifespan of your chainsaw.
  8. Budget: Set a budget range based on your requirements and consider the long-term value and performance of the chainsaw. Avoid compromising quality for cost savings.
  9. Safety Gear: Remember to budget for essential safety gear, including a helmet, safety goggles, hearing protection, gloves, and chainsaw chaps or leg protection.
  10. Warranty: Check the warranty offered by the manufacturer. A longer warranty period can provide peace of mind and protection against potential defects.

Always remember, no matter how powerful the chainsaw is, safety should always be your top priority. Happy cutting, folks!

Looking to buy the Stihl MS 881 R MAGNUM? You can find it here!


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