Stihl MS 261 vs Husqvarna 550XP: Which is the best in 2023?

You will come across many great options in your quest to find the best chainsaw. The vast majority of suggestions would lead you to the way to compare Husqvarna and Stihl products. If you want a pro-level saw, you will need to look at Stihl MS 261 and Husky 550 xp. 

Both come with a powerful 50 cc engine, but they have some differences. These differences make each saw unique and appealing to certain user groups. You will learn more about their distinctions in this detailed Stihl MS 261 vs. Husqvarna 550xp comparison. So, read on!

Stihl MS 261 vs. Husqvarna 550 XP: Quick overview

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Husqvarna 550 xp has been around since 2011. It has achieved significant sales worldwide, and there are many generations of it. The first generation is not as great as you may expect. However, the later generations are better in functionality and have little to no issues.

Husqvarna 550 XP will be a fantastic chainsaw if you opt for its second generation. This version is known as Husqvarna 550 XP Mark II. This saw works best for arborists, forestry professionals, and tree loggers. It also works well with a variety of guide bars.

Stihl MS 261 is older than the Husky 550 XP, released in 2010. Since its first appearance, it has generated great sales. It is one of the best-selling gas-powered saws from this manufacturer. The features of this model make it an ideal choice for mid-size cutting projects. 

The MS 261 comes with many advanced features that positively affect its performance. This is why you can you this saw in chopping hardwood trees, including oaks. The advanced features also include increased fuel efficiency and reduced noise and vibration levels. 

Stihl MS 261 Overview

One of the best things about Stihl MS 261 is its extreme portability. The machine is lightweight and with a smooth design. Still, the engine comes with a high displacement of 50.2 ccs. The saw weighs nearly 5 kilograms ( 10.8 pounds). So, anyone can hold and carry this machine.  

You can rely on this saw in felling medium-sized trees or just some delimbing. This saw is compatible with short and long bars. It is most commonly paired with an 18-inch bar. However, it goes along well with a 16″ guide bar to remove dead branches. With a 20-inch bar, this saw can easily take on larger and thicker trees.  

If you are knowledgeable about Stihl chainsaws, you must have heard about the M-tronic system. This is a feature in MS 261. It refers to a system that electronically adjusts the levels of fuel reaching the machine’s carb

The device is also equipped with a pre-separation air filter. This feature makes maintaining the air filter less demanding. 

Husqvarna 550 XP Overview 

This model is powerful due to the high displacement of 50.1 cc. It is not the highest chainsaw out there, but it is not the heaviest. It is lighter than many other Husky 50cc chainsaws. It weighs around 5.3 kilograms (11.7 pounds). 

As we stated earlier, this model’s second generation will make a notable difference in features and performance. You will find this machine equipped with side access to the chain tensioner. This way adjusting the chain becomes easier. 

As for maintaining the air filter, you will love the quick-release air filter. This feature makes removing the air filter more straightforward and faster than usual. Moreoverthis chainsaw is easier to start due to the automatic choke control. This option will also significantly reduce the chances of engine flooding. 

Another great perk of this machine is its durable crankcase. It is made of magnesium, which is tough and reliable. It is also capable of withstanding shocks of falling. Additionally, this machine has retained bar nuts. Such features ensure that you will never lose them when you unscrew them.

Stihl MS 261 vs. Husqvarna 550 XP: The Comparison 

Stihl MS 261 and Husqvarna 550 XP have many similarities. This explains why many people think of them as equivalents. They have similar engines, and both can fire up in just two or three starter rope pulls.

Moreover, they accelerate and idle quickly and smoothly—however, the fundamental differences in weight, performance, and other relevant aspects.

1. Powerhead Weight 

Both machines differ in their dry weight. The Stihl MS 261 is lighter than the XP 50. The Husky 550 XP weighs 5.4 kilograms ( 11.7 pounds). The MS 261, on the other hand, is 4.8 kilograms ( 10.8 pounds). So, in this matter, the Stihl MS 261 C-M is an absolute winner. 

2. Engine Capacity 

There is a very slight difference in the power displacement of both engines. They are both powerful and provide a high displacement. Still, Stihl 261 C-M is slightly more powerful. Its engine displacement is 50.2cc, whereas the Husky 550 XP has a displacement of 5.1cc.  

3. Engine Power 

Despite the similar displacement numbers, the engines do not have the same horsepower. Husqvarna XP provides higher horsepower reaching 4 hp. Stihl MS 261 has an engine power of 3.75 hp.  

4. Tank Caps 

Each manufacturer made sure to add more functionality to their tank caps. This resulted in two reliable and easy-to-use caps but in a different way. Stihl MS 261 has tool less caps. This means you can open and close all the machine’s tanks without needing tools or force. 

Meanwhile, Husky 550XP is equipped with flip caps. These caps can be easily turned with your hands. All you need to do is press and turn the cap.

The flip caps of the Husky 550xp are designed and function slightly differently from the tool less caps of the Stihl MS 261.  

5. Chain oil Capacity 

 Stihl MS 261 makes maintaining the chain easier. In addition to an automatic chain oiler, the saw comes with a larger chain oil tank. It has a capacity of 19.3 oz. This large capacity will make you less concerned about frequent refilling. Husqvarna 550xp, on the other hand, has a smaller tank that holds only 10.8 ounces

6. Fuel tank Capacity 

Unlike the situation with the chain oil, the fuel tank capacity in these saws is different. The capacity of Husqvarna 550xp is larger than Stihl MS 261. It is more than twice the capacity of the latter. The former’s tank holds up to 37 ounces of recommended gas, whereas the latter takes only 16.9 ounces

7. Warranty 

One point that makes the Husky 550Xp a winner is the better warranty coverage. It comes with a 2-year warranty, while the Stihl MS 261 only has one year of standard chainsaw warranty. 

8. Noise level 

To operate in a residential area, you must consider the noise level. There are local regulations to check before getting a suitable machine. But in general, a less noisy machine would be a better option. Stihl MS 261 is louder than the Husky 550Xp. 

The former emits a noise of 116 dbA, whereas the latter emits 107 dbA. Either way, you should not neglect wearing ear protection while running chainsaws. 

9. Handle Comfort 

Both saws have great vibration reduction systems to decrease the vibration sensation in your hands. Stihl MS 261 comes with anti-vibration technology, while the Husky 550xp is equipped with Low-Vib dampening system

However, the discomfort might come from other causes, such as your hand size. If you have large hands, you will not be pleased with the small handle of Stihl MS 261. Husky 550xp comes with a larger handle that can fit users with bigger hands.

10. Pairable bars

Both machines can be paired with a 16-inch bar and an 18-inch bar. However, the Husky 550xp is also compatible with a 20-inch bar for more demanding cutting tasks. The increased power and longer bar make the Husqvarna 550xp a better-performing saw for many users.

11. Convenience 

While both saws are easy to use and control, the Husky 550xp is slightly better. It comes with a more comfortable kill switch motion. You will move your thumb downward whenever you need to hit this switch. This might not be a critical factor in this comparison, but it might matter for some users.  

Stihl MS 261 vs. Husqvarna 550Xp: Which one is the best? 

As you can see in the comparison and overviews, both machines are highly reliable and functional. Their distinctions relate to slight power differences, weight, and warranty coverage.

Stihl MS 261 will be your best chainsaw if you want something lightweight and portable. With a 16″ or an 18″ bar, you will get efficient cutting for small trees and dead limbs. 

On the other hand, if you want something more compatible with your height, hand size, and physical strength, Husky 550Xp would be the better fit. It is also less noisy and has a better warranty. 

5/5 - (6 votes)
( Licensed Chainsaw Professional )

Jake is a chainsaws expert with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. He is a licensed professional by the National Chainsaw Program, which attests to his skills and expertise in the safe and efficient use of chainsaws.