Stihl 271 vs Stihl 261: Which one is the best in 2024?

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By Jake Hill


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If you want to buy a new chainsaw, the brand name is one of the top things to consider. Stihl is undoubtedly one of the best brands out there. So, it is no wonder that other users recommend relevant models such as the Stihl 271 and 261.

Deciding which machine to get can be tricky due to some similarities. However, each one of them has distinctive features that make them unique. Continue reading this blog post to learn more about the Stihl 271 vs. 261 comparisons.

We’ll break down all their differences and shed some light on their features and similarities.

Stihl 271 vs. 261: Quick overview

Stihl MS 271 is a commonly used power tool by professionals and domestic users. It is even known as the farm boss. It can cut thick firewood and tree logs fast and efficiently. According to the manufacturer, this model can last 20% longer between refueling.

It can cut with a standard 16″ bar but is also compatible with a more extended bar. You can use a 20-inch bar on this saw. Aside from having a powerful engine, this saw is more comfortable to hold. Thanks to the minimal vibration at the handle, you will easily control the machine.

As for the Stihl 261, it comes with innovative M-Tronic technology. This feature facilitates engine starting under any conditions. This machine appeared on the market 13 years ago. Since its release, this chainsaw has enjoyed great sales. It is a successful replacement for the Stihl MS 260.

This saw is made to fulfill the needs of mid-size cutting projects. It got the attention of domestic users who need accuracy, speed, and comfort during operation. Even yet, it is not uncommon to see it in the hands of experienced loggers.

Sthil 271 Overview

In March 2011, the manufacturer presented this saw as an upgrade to the Stihl 270. The MS 271 is a gas-powered saw with great features. For instance, it is equipped with a Side-Access Chain Tensioner. This feature makes it easier to adjust the tension without much work or nuts loosening.

This model provides better filtration and an increased lifespan of the air filter due to the pre-separation air filtration system. This way, larger debris will stay away from the filter and won’t clog it up very soon.

Another great feature of this model is it’s low to no smoke emissions. This is not only good for the environment, but also for your health. You do not have to smell carbon emissions for hours while working with your saw.

While it is not meant to help professional loggers, it can help domestic users resolve wood issues around their yards. It can also suit the needs of arborists handling mid-size tree maintenance projects. The engine has a displacement of 50.2 ccs and produces 3.5 bhp.

Stihl 261 Overview

This chainsaw is known for being a pro-level machine. It has a powerful engine producing 4 bhp and featuring 50.2 ccs. It is also lightweight, with a compact and sleek design. This chainsaw was released on the market back in 2010. Stihl has provided it with many innovative features to make it one of the top-notch chainsaws.

This saw comes with a decompression valve. When you push this decompression button, it releases some of the compression stored in the carb. By decompressing the carburetor, starting the chainsaw will be easier and faster. According to Stihl, this machine provides efficiency in fuel consumption.

It is compatible with a 20-inch bar. However, it goes along with shorter bars starting at 14″. As for the bar and chain maintenance, you will appreciate the presence of the Ematic chain lubricant feature. This option significantly reduces the consumption of chain lubricant. Also, it reduces the effort of manual lubrication after each use.

It is worth mentioning that this model is equipped with captive bars. Despite sounding so simple, this option saves the bar nuts from getting lost. Moreover, the 2-stroke engine of this machine is equipped with a carburetor heater. This feature helps start the machine when the temperature is below 10 degrees Celcius.

Stihl 261 vs. 271: The Comparison

There is an ongoing debate about which of these similar saws is the best. Users in all popular chainsaw forums give different opinions on this matter. If you want to form your own opinion, you should look at their differences in-depth.

1. Engine capacity

In terms of the engine displacement, there won’t be much difference. Both engines provide 50.2 ccs. However, the real difference in the engine capacity lies in the horsepower. The Stihl 261 provides less horsepower, as it only produces 3.5 hp. As for the Stihl 271’s engine, it produces 4 hp.

2. Weight

Despite being more modern than the Stihl MS 261, the MS 271 is heavier. The former is of lighter weight, weighing only 5.2 kilograms (11.6 pounds). The latter is not extremely heavy, as the difference lies in a few grams.

Stihl MS 271 weighs 5.5 kilograms (12.3 pounds). This slight gap, however, provides better maneuverability during cutting.

3. Casing material

This is one of the differences that many users would easily miss. They will only pay a little attention to the material of the chainsaw cases. However, this point will mean more durability for the machine. The Stihl MS 261 has a more durable casing because it is made of magnesium.

Such a strong material comes with great perks, but the only problem is that it might crack or corrode. Keeping this case shining requires more than minimal maintenance. The Stihl MS 271 has a polymer casing, but this does not mean it is fragile. It is durable but remains breakable with accidental falls or misuse.

4. Chain oil capacity

Refilling the chain oil reservoir very often seems disturbing for many users. So, a bigger reservoir is a highly appreciated choice among users. Stihl MS 271 comes with a smaller reservoir. It can hold up to 8.12 ounces.

Meanwhile, the Stihl 261 has a larger reservoir. It can hold up to 9.13 ounces of the recommended lubricant.

5. Fuel tank capacity

The same rule applies to the fuel capacity. A chainsaw with a larger fuel tank can go longer between refueling. Of course, the fuel efficiency factor plays another significant role in this matter. However, in this comparison, both machines have the same capacity. Both the Stihl 261 and MS 271 have a capacity of 16.9 ounces.

Still, the Stihl MS 271 offers increased fuel efficiency by 20%. So, in this case, it would be more efficient in terms of fuel consumption.

6. Nuts

In all chainsaws, the fasteners, or nuts, are either loose or captive. As the name suggests, loose nuts do not remain connected to the saw when unscrewed. Such a thing makes a user lose them easily. The opposite scenario happens with captive nuts. They would remain attached to the machine when unscrewed.

Typically, captive nuts are the better option. Stihl 271 has the regular or loose type, whereas Stihl 261 has the captive type.

7. Decompression valve

This is another point in this comparison where both chainsaws go their separate ways. Stihl MS 261 has a decompression button, while MS 271 does not have this feature. Generally, this option removes some of the pressure stored in the carburetor. This makes starting the engine faster.

8. Starter cord

Chainsaws come with either standard or better recoil pull cords. The better type makes the starting process faster and easier, which is true with the Stihl MS 261. Stihl 271, on the other hand, comes with a standard cord.

9. Price

There is a noticeable price difference between Stihl 261 and Stihl 271. The former is more expensive than the latter. However, both items are considered budget-friendly. There is around a $250 difference. This may not come as a surprise, but the Stihl 261 costs around $700. Stihl MS 271 costs around $450.

Stihl 271 vs. 261: Which one is the best?

Stihl MS 271 and 261 have many features in common. They have the same engine displacement and bar lengths. However, their unique features make each machine attract certain users. If you want to choose between them depending on the best features, the Stihl MS 261 is typically a winner.

This machine has better and improved performance, portability, and speed. However, all these differences come at a price. If you are willing to pay the extra cost, you should get the Stihl MS 261. It will get you one step closer to the world of professional-level saws.

That said, there is nothing wrong with owning a Stihl MS 271. It is a durable and efficient saw that has a lot to offer. Moreover, you might only need some of the advanced features of the 261 model.

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