Stihl MS 180 vs Stihl 170: Which one is the best in 2024?

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By Jake Hill


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When looking for the best chainsaw is a challenging task. The numerous powerful models can be confusing even if you find the right brand. Typically, in your quest to find a top-notch chainsaw, you will come across Sthil MS 180 and MS 170.

Choosing either of them won’t be a disappointment, but they are not the same machine. Although they come from the same manufacturer, they have different features and specifications. You will need a thorough Stihl MS 180 vs. 170 comparisons to decide which to use in cutting projects.

In this blog post, we are covering all the aspects related to their similarities and differences. So stay tuned!

Stihl MS 180 vs. 170: Quick Overview

Let’s understand that both machines come from a well-regarded brand: Sthil. This leading manufacturer has been in this field for over 90 years. If you buy either the MS 180 or the MS 170, you can expect innovative technology and a sleek design. However, their main differences would lie in their cutting abilities and dimensions.

For instance, the Sthil MS 180 addresses the needs of pro chainsaw operators. So, professionals in wood cutting will find that the MS 180 cuts thicker wood more efficiently. Moreover, it helps you shape the chopped wood easily. Still, there are better choices for heavy-duty and regular cutting projects.

The Stihl MS 170, on the other hand, is more suitable for chainsaw newbies. It is best used for removing tree limbs and shorter branches. Additionally, it shows reliability in cutting firewood.

Stihl MS 180 Overview

Stihl MS 180 is a highly-preferred choice for homeowners. It is known for being lightweight and small. Still, this does not mean it lacks sufficient power. This machine measures 11 by 13 inches. It also weighs 8.6 lbs ( 3.9 kilograms). This saw works best with a 16-inch guide bar.

This machine has been around for over two decades. So, it has been tested for a very long time. You will love everything this machine offers if you are a domestic user with mid-size trees. It can cut down medium and small trees. Also, it can be used for removing obstacles from your yard.

With less than 4 kilograms, this saw gives you excellent maneuverability. Moreover, the machine is equipped with a comfortable handle. You can keep working for hours without experiencing pain or discomfort.

As for the engine, the Stihl MS 180 has a powerful two-stroke engine. The engine has 31 cc and 1.9 horsepower. As with most Stihl models, the MS 180 has the Easy2start feature. This allows you to start the machine quickly without much power or effort.

With all these advantages, some users have complained about operation noise. Still, this is not a huge issue, as it is a part of these machines’ nature. Also, you can minimize the noise level by wearing protective earmuffs while using this saw.

Stihl MS 170 Overview

This machine came onto the scene back in 2002. So, it has been around for over 20 years and has been purchased by thousands of users. Just like the MS 180, the MS 170 is lightweight. Both machines are the same weight. Such a feature allows you to move the device across your yard easily.

It is a gas-powered chainsaw that comes with a 2-stroke engine. The capacity of this machine’s engine is 30 cc. It also offers 1.7 horsepower. Such features make this chainsaw ideal for cutting bushes and clearing limbs

In addition to being a lightweight chainsaw, the guide bar of the Stihl MS 170 makes it ideal for beginners. It is mainly compatible with a 16-inch bar, but you can easily replace it with a smaller bar. For instance, you can use a 14″ or even a 12″ bar.

Moreover, you can count on its ematic guide barThis Ematic Lubrication System makes lubricating the chain easier and more efficient with oil. Furthermorethis feature saves a lot in terms of bar oil consumption. This technology can save up to 50% of the oil.

Another highlight that makes many users love this machine is the anti-vibration system. This makes the devices easier to control due to the reduced vibrations. Also, you would experience less fatigue than with many other similar models.

Other features that make this machine more popular than similar chainsaw models include the self-adjusting carb and the simple chain tensioner. But on top of all, the affordability of this machine makes the Sthil MS 170 extra popular. For around $200, you can get a decent Stihl chainsaw. 

Stihl MS 170 vs. 180: The Comparison 

Comparing the Stihl 180 and MS 170 can be similar, as they share a few similarities. Still, their uses differ. The Stihl MS 170 has features that make it a better choice for beginners, including decreased noise, vibrations, and a better mod.

On the other hand, the Stihl MS 180 is more efficient and accommodates slightly larger cutting projects. Here is an in-depth look at the MS 170 and 180 comparisons.

 1. Engine Capacity 

This is the main factor to consider when judging a chainsaw. Generally, a chainsaw with massive power is not always the best choice for all users. It would help if you got a machine with engine power equivalent to the size of your projects.

You will find little difference when comparing Stihl MS 170 and 180. In terms of horsepower, the Stihl MS 180 engine generates 1.9 hp. Stihl MS 170, on the other hand, generates 1.7 hp. As for overall power, the Stihl MS 170 is slightly less powerful than the MS 180. The former has only 30 ccs, while the latter has 31 ccs.

2. Compatible Bars 

This is another notable difference between these two Stihl models. Stihl MS180 has a standard 16” guide bar. Smaller bars can fit this machine, but the only recommended size is 16 inches. This standard size makes this chainsaw able to perform more complicated cutting tasks.

Stihl MS 170 is also compatible with a 16-inch bar. However, many users install smaller bars. The specs of this machine help users make the most of smaller bars.

3. Muffler Mod 

This is an overlooked point, but it matters to some users. The Stihl MS170 offers a less complex mod system. You can easily access the muffler of this chainsaw. This step allows the machine to exhaust better.

Meanwhile, a Stihl MS 180 is more difficult to mod. Still, this issue is not a big deal for many users. Furthermore, with good maintenance, you will not require such a function.

4. Cost

This is a huge issue for many users, as budget can dictate which machine to buy. You will find a price gap between these two similar machines in this situation. Nonetheless, it is not a significant difference.

Both are considered affordable, but the MS 170 is cheaper. There is about an $80 difference between these decent pieces of outdoor power equipment.

The lucrative price of the Stihl MS 170 makes it a preferred choice, especially for beginner chainsaw operators.

5. Fuel Capacity

Another point that many users overlook is not only in this comparison but throughout the chainsaw purchasing process as a whole. This factor can help users with minor needs, and limited budgets save some extra cash.

For instance, a chainsaw with a large gas capacity will cost you more. Typically, it will need more gas, and the other way around.

In this comparison, you will find a small difference in fuel capacity. Stihl MS 170 has a capacity of 8.5 oz of recommended fuel, while Stihl MS 180 has a slightly larger capacity. Its fuel tanker capacity can reach 8.7.

6. Chain oil Capacity

These two machines have a notable difference regarding the needed ounces of chain oil. The Stihl MS 170 needs less lubrication oil than the Stihl MS 180. You have guessed it right. Stihl MS 170 can take about 4.9 oz of oil, whereas MS 180 holds up to 5.2 oz. 

7. Common Problems 

While both machines fall into the reliable, durable, and reliable chainsaw category, they are not problem-free. Chainsaw problems are found in all models and brands. These are not manufacturing defects but a part of the user’s improper maintenance. Despite sharing a few features, they share different problems.

Starting difficulty is one of the most common problems reported by Stihl MS 180 users, whereas kickback chains are a common issue for Stihl MS 170 users. In general, both issues are easily manageable, but the issue of kicking back is only sometimes safe. It would be best if you were careful when choosing the operating area of a Stihl MS 170.

8. Weight 

The weight of both machines is not going to be an issue. Both of them weigh under 4 kilograms. This lightweight design allows average users to carry the machine effortlessly throughout their yards. 

Such a lightweight is a major plus if you are considering any of these machines. It is not recommended to buy a chainsaw that can weigh you down. Keep in mind that you would carry this machine for hours.

9. Special Features 

Coming from a reliable brand like Stihl makes both machines rich in unique and attractive features. For instance, the Stihl MS 170 is equipped with a power-to-weight ratio. This feature makes you want to operate the machine for hours.

Meanwhile, a Stihl MS 180 has an extra chain tensioner that increases the user’s safety. Despite being noisy, this machine has an advanced STIHL anti-vibration system.

10. Uses 

Contrary to popular belief, the Stihl MS 170 and 180 are different. They are designed to fulfill different cutting needs. For instance, you can’t use the Stihl MS 170 to cut down a whole tree. It is more suitable for clearing dry limbs and brushing a yard.

Stihl MS 180, on the other hand, can fall a medium-sized tree and typically smaller trees and bushes. 

Stihl MS 180 vs. 170: Which one is the best?

Before settling the debate over which machine is the best, you should know that both are great choices. Both of them come from the same well-known brand, Stihl, and provide decent quality in operation. You can think of the Stihl MS 180 as an upgrade of the MS 170. 

Undeniably, the Stihl MS 180 is more expensive, but it meets the needs of more experienced domestic users and even professionals.

Stihl MS 170, on the other hand, works best for beginners who need to become more familiar with felling and chopping. Remember that both machines are the same weight and offer ultimate maneuverability.

If you want an upgrade and a semi-pro chainsaw, the Stihl MS 180 is the right fit. However, if you want to start with a more affordable and low-profile machine, a Stihl MS 170 is worth investing in. So, before deciding which machine to go for, you should carefully consider your needs.

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