Stihl MS 171 vs Stihl MS 170: Which one is the best in 2024?

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By Jake Hill


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Stihl MS models are countless and reliable. They are always top suggestions for anyone looking for a new chainsaw. But with these many models comes greater confusion. If you are looking for a 16-inch bar chainsaw, other users would often suggest either the MS 171 or the MS 170. These two saws are very similar and often confused with one another.

Generally, the MS 171 is the updated version of the MS 170. Still, these are different machines. Each of them has some unique features that make it stand out. If you want to know more about the Stihl MS 171 vs. MS 170 comparison, keep reading this blog post. We are discussing all their differences and shedding light on their best uses.

Stihl MS 171 vs. MS 170: A Quick Overview

Stilh MS 171 and MS 170 have a lot in common. Aside from sharing the same manufacturer, they are powered by gas and share the same bar length.

Also, they appear identical in terms of design. However, their power capacities are different. For instance, the engine of the MS 171 is slightly more powerful than the MS 170.

Stihl prides itself on producing efficient and powerful yet lightweight chainsaws. The MS 171 is lighter and more efficient in fuel consumption. It is made to meet the needs of firewood chopping, clearing brush, and cutting down small trees.

As for the Stihl MS 170, it is meant for cutting shrubs and removing limbs. It is also efficient at maintaining a yard after storms. It is a reliable chainsaw that has been around for many years. In addition to its decent performance, users particularly love this saw because of its affordability.

Now, it’s time for an in-depth look at these two versatile machines.

Stihl MS 171 Overview

Various lucrative features make users love it. Since its release in March 2008, it has generated great sales worldwide. This model is equipped with reduced engine emissions and reduced fuel consumption features. Moreover, this machine can make you forget about routine air filter cleanliness.

This is due to the presence of an air-separation air filter. Stihl presents this technology in many of its saws. But this is one of the first saws to enjoy this feature.

When you operate this saw, you will not experience the same fatigue levels as other traditional chainsaws. But this machine has anti-vibration technology. This option aims at reducing operator fatigue.

One of the things that users admire about this saw is the improved power-to-weight ratio. In this model, it is 3.3 kg/kW. The saw makes little noise to improve the user’s experience. This will protect you from hearing loss and allow you to use the saw in residential areas.

As for the cutting speed, this saw offers 9,000 RPM, which is faster than similar models. Moreover, you can count on the automatic oiler for your chain and bar. Instead of worrying about manual lubrication, the machine will handle this for you.

Stihl MS 170 Overview

If you do minimal to moderate woodworking around your yard, you will love what the Stihl MS 170 offers. This machine is not too powerful but is strong. It has sufficient power to carry out these moderate tasks. This includes cutting off bushes and small trees.

Additionally, it will smoothly and efficiently remove fallen limbs and branches. 

Like the updated version, the Stihl MS 170 has an anti-vibration feature. This makes the sensation of fatigue for operators less than that of their peers in the same category. The engine of this saw has 30 ccs and produces 1.7 horsepower.

Another notable feature of this saw that makes users appreciate it, even more is the ease of starting it during the winter. This happens due to the presence of the pre-heating feature in the carburetor. This way, the engine fires even when it is cold.

Additionally, this petrol chainsaw integrates the Ematic lubrication of the chain and bar. This feature will make the lubrication process waste-free and long-lasting. This feature will make you save around 50% of your chain and bar oil.

Stihl MS170 vs. 171: The Comparison

As you’ve already guessed, these two chainsaws have much in common. Thus, it is more complicated to determine which one is the best. Still, their differences are the only way to recognize the right match for your needs. Here is an overview of their key differences.

1. Power Capacity

This is one of the most critical factors in deciding on a chainsaw. It can simply express the cutting abilities of the machine. Looking at these chainsaws, you will find that the Stihl MS 171 is slightly more powerful. Its engine has 31.6 ccs, whereas the Stihl MS 170 has only 30 ccs.

Such a difference in the displacement number might seem small to you. However, the bigger number will give you more power when pulling the starting rope.

2. Air filter Technology

An air filter is essential for keeping saw dirt and debris away from the engine in all chainsaws. However, only some of the air filters in all chainsaws are the same. Stihl MS 171 has a pre-separation air filter feature. This modern technology spares you from replacing your filter more often.

The separation concept prevents larger dirt and dust particles from reaching the filter. Subsequently, the filter will stay clean. So you won’t need to clean it or replace it more often. Unfortunately, this feature is not found in the Stihl MS 170.

3. Cutting Speed

This is another primary difference between these two similar chainsaws. This is a direct result of the difference in their power.

So, the Stihl MS 170 provides less power and slower cutting speed. You can’t expect it to provide more than 8,000 RPMs. A Stihl MS 171 has a better cutting speed. It provides 9,000 RPMs as a maximum chopping speed.

4. Fuel tank Capacity

This point is not always taken into consideration, despite its importance. Having a big fuel tanker capacity is always great to spare you the worry about refueling.

The Stihl MS 170 has a smaller capacity. Its tank can only be filled with 8.4 ounces of the recommended fuel. Stihl MS 171, on the other hand, can be filled with 9.2 ounces.

5. Dry Weight

This is a critical factor to consider when shopping for a new saw. Heavy chainsaws provide more powerful performance but are too much for an entry-level homeowner chainsaw. Powerhead or dry weight refers to the saw’s weight before adding gasoline or oil.

When comparing Stihl 170 and 171, you will find a slight difference. The former is heavier than the latter, but both are considered lightweight.

6. Chain oil capacity

The chain, bar, and engine won’t work without proper lubrication. This is why you must give lubrication special attention to avoid overheating complications.

Both machines are equipped with automatic oilers, but this is not all there is to it. The capacity of the chain oil tank can make things easier too. At this point, Stihl MS 170 is crowned king.

It offers a large tank with up to 8.5 ounces of the recommended oil, whereas the MS 171 has a small tank holding only 6 ounces.

7. Power-to-weight Ratio

This factor is vital in determining the efficiency and reliability of your saw. The higher this rate gets, the better performance you can expect. Both machines have a low ratio in this matter. However, their rates are good enough for their functions.

Generally, the Stihl MS 171 has a better power-to-weight ratio.

8. Handle Vibration

While both saws are comfortable to grab at the handle, they are not the same regarding vibration. Both have anti-vibration features, but the Stihl 170 produces less vibration. So, it is more comfortable to use, and you will experience little to no fatigue caused by vibration.

9. Noise level

This is a significant factor that matters to a wide variety of users. A chainsaw with a decreased noise level is suitable for their hearing safety. It won’t make them need to wear ear protection. Moreover, it is safer and more legit to use it in residential neighborhoods.

Stihl MS 171 produces less noise. It does not exceed 93 dB.

10. Cost

Both machines are not in different price categories. But in general, the Stihl MS 170 is relatively cheaper. It is one of the most affordable saws from Stihl. Yet again, there is around a $20 difference between them.

You can get a Stihl MS 170 for nearly $200, whereas the Stihl MS 171 can cost around $220. The budget factor is not going to be very decisive in this matter.

Stihl MS 171 vs. MS 170: Which one is the best?

As you know by now, both machines offer great features that can suit a wide range of users. You might find them with an experienced chainsaw guy and a cutting beginner. Stihl backs both machines with a great warranty.

Moreover, they are both affordable. So, the difference between them lies in their tanks’ capacity. The Stihl MS 171 has a bigger fuel tank, whereas the MS 170 has a bigger chain oil.

Also, Stihl MS 171 is less noisy, while MS 170 vibrates less. The advanced air filtration technology is a huge plus for the Stihl MS 171. However, if you pay attention to routine cleanliness, you will be fine without it.

Lastly, the Stihl MS 171 cuts faster and is slightly more powerful. So either of them you buy will be a great addition to your woodcutting record.

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