Stihl MS 261 Review: Is It Worth Buying in 2024?

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By Jake Hill


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When Stihl ms261 is brought up in a discussion, there will be a consensus about it. Most chainsaw operators consider it one of the best saws from this outdoor power equipment manufacturer. This well-received gas chainsaw has a lot to offer.

It is not a pro-level saw but does quite a great job in many different tasks. Mainly, it suits the needs of domestic users and professionals. Moreover, Stihl MS 261 is ideal for cleaning yards after a storm. Most users love this saw the most because of its powerful performance and lightweight combo.

This Stihl MS261 review will widely discuss its features and performance. Also, we’ll shed more light on users’ feedback and satisfaction with this MS 261 saw.

Stihl MS 261 Review

An in-depth look into the features and specifications of the Stihl ms261 will help you understand why it is popular. As a member of the Stihl 200 series, it falls into the category of mid-range saws. Despite this categorization, professionals and homeowners often pick up the machine.

Construction Quality & Material

Being a mid-level petrol chainsaw might indicate it has primarily plastic components. However, this is far from true. The Stihl MS 261 is one of the few mid-range saws with a magnesium crankcase. This metal casing is not a burden to carry and move around. Still, the handles and caps have some margin for high-quality plastic.

One of the things that will make you trust this saw’s quality is that it is made in America. This means there will be a flawless finish and durable materials.


There are many desirable features in this saw that make it highly sought-after. This includes its lightweight, ergonomic housing and enormous power. Here is an in-depth overview of Stihl MS 261:

1. Power Source

Stihl MS 261 has a gasoline engine. It uses a fuel mix of 50:1. In this way, all Stihl gas saws are similar.

2. Engine Displacement 

The Stihl MS 261 has a small 2-stroke engine. It comes with a capacity of 50.2 cc. 

3. Engine Power

Despite the relatively small capacity, this engine provides excellent power. The motor generates 4.1 bhp, which translates into 3.0 kW.

4. Dry Weight

The Stihl MS 261 is known for its lightweight. This equipment is considered one of the lightest among all gas-powered machines. On an empty stomach and without its bar and chain, this machine weighs 4.89 kilograms (10.8 pounds).

5. Compatible Bars

The recommended bar length for this chainsaw is 16″ long. However, it can accommodate other bar sizes. You can use longer bars to increase its cutting abilities. Stihl ms261 goes well with 18- and 20-inch bars.

6. Fuel tank Capacity 

You might think that this small chainsaw comes with a small tank. However, it comes with a great capacity that bigger saws have. This means you will have some peace of mind in terms of refueling. Its capacity is nearly 17 ounces of the right type of oil.

7. Chain Oil Tank 

The oiler of this chainsaw is relatively small but remains larger than many other Stihl models, including the MS 291 and 170. It comes with a capacity of 9.13 ounces of matching lubricant.

To increase the efficiency of bar oil consumption, the Stihl ms261 comes with an automatic oiler. This feature keeps a steady flow of lubricant all over the bar and chain during the chain’s operation.

8. Ematic Lubrication 

This great feature increases the efficiency of oiling the bar and chain. This system allows for smart and efficient use of the lubricant without waste. According to the manufacturer, this system reduces consumption by around 50%.

9. Intellicarb Compensating Carburetor

This feature refers to the automatic adjustment of the carburetor as a replacement for older, typical carburetors. Manual carburetor adjustments have many steps and different screws to adjust. In this model, though, the smart carb will adjust depending on the weather. So, there should be no worries about carburetor icing.

Moreover, this technology allows for the ongoing running of the machine regardless of the air filter’s conditions. This carb will keep drawing clean air from the unclogged side of the dirty air filter. This way, the correct fuel-air mix will keep flowing to the engine. All this happens without the need for any special carb adjustments.

10. Decompression Valve

It is rare to find this deco valve in mid-level chainsaws. This innovative option is a great way to decompress the engine’s cylinder. A chainsaw’s engine, particularly the combustion chamber, stores some pressure during the starting operation. Without proper venting, starting the machine will become more complex.

11. Elastostart

Another noteworthy feature of this top-notch saw is the elastostart. This innovative option makes the starting procedure easier and quicker. The elastostart grip eliminates the chance of jerky movements while trying to start the saw.

The built-in damper or shock absorber allows for an even and smooth start by absorbing the pressure of multiple starter rope pulls. 

12. STIHL Quickstop®

This chainsaw is impressive not only in terms of power and performance but also in terms of safety features. This technology is integrated with the chain brake to make it more responsive to sudden stop attempts. This automatic system makes the chain stop revolving once you activate it.


Regarding performance and abilities, this saw can handle different types of wood. It cuts softwood trees such as pine and cedar. It can also chop hardwoods, including mahogany, maple, oak, and walnut trees. 

Smaller trees and shrubs can be quickly felled with this saw. It can also take down taller trees. Even for simple pruning and cleaning tasks, the machine shows reliability.

The excellent power-to-weight ratio causes such great performance. It is 1.9 kg/kW. This might seem like a small number. However, given the specs of this saw, this ratio is impressive.

Stihl MS 261 Reviews: what do people say?

While there is no such thing as a perfect chainsaw, it is difficult to find real issues with this one. Stihl ms 261 is one of the most successful mid-level gas chainsaws. This saw made its first debut in the market in 2010. So, it has been around for 13 years.

User Feedback

The saw has received general praise on various online platforms, including Stihl’s official website. Such consensus comes from its unique features and ultimate portability. With nearly 350 reviews, the saw has an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5.

Almost 300 of these reviews have rated this saw with five stars. The excellent power-to-weight ratio is one of the many things users love the most about the machine. Also, the ability to cut through hard and softwood makes users finish different jobs without having to use another saw.

Product Satisfaction

Regarding overall satisfaction, hundreds of frequent users have given Stihl ms261 the full mark. They liked its quality, value, dependability, and power. Additionally, users have repeatedly expressed their appreciation for its smart carburetor. This feature makes starting the machine any time of the real a breeze. 

Customer Service

Reliable and authorized Stihl dealers usually provide decent after-sales service. So, you should seek one with great reviews. This way, you will spare yourself a lot of trouble. It would be best if you did not look for this saw online, as it is hardly available.

A brand new Stihl MS 261 is found at licensed dealers, along with all its accessories and replacement parts.

Meanwhile, you can pick a used saw from multiple online platforms. However, a used chainsaw would no longer be covered by a warranty. In terms of warranty, any item in Stihl’s current catalog, including the MS 261, is covered by a 2-year warranty.

You only enjoy it if you purchase this saw for homeowner purposes. As for professional uses of the Stihl MS261, these are only covered by a one-year warranty.

If you wish to return your Stihl MS291, you can do so within 7 days. To enjoy the full return satisfaction guarantee, you should give back the machine in its original shape. This includes emptying its tanks and removing additional accessories.

Should You buy the Stihl ms261?

Stihl MS 261 is one of the few almost flawless chainsaws. It takes the concept of domestic-use chainsaws to a whole new level. Average chainsaw users enjoy a glimpse of what a pro-level saw feels like. With a professional saw like this, no tree of any size or thickness would stand in your way.

That being said, it can cost you around $700. So it is expensive. So, stick to something cheaper if you do not want the pro touch in its performance. This won’t be the right saw if you want a quiet tool. It makes some noise, which is not appropriate in residential areas. 

Stihl MS 261 is a top-shelf professional-grade chainsaw that costs much less than many other professional saws. It is built of high-quality metal materials without becoming heavy. Also, it will last for years if you take good care of it. This saw is also eco-friendly with its reduced exhaust emissions.

5/5 - (7 votes)