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Chainsaw Advice please...UPDATE WITH PICS

Post in 'The Gear' started by Manitoulin Maples, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Manitoulin Maples

    Manitoulin Maples Member

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    I'm currently using a 1981 Pioneer Farm Saw that was given to me but it's time for an upgrade! Couple of things to note:

    - I'm new to chainsaws and the Farm Saw was my first saw about 9 months ago...it's huge, uncomfortable and freaks me out!
    - cutting 3-4 cords per year
    - use it for property maintenance if needed but primarily for firewood
    - felling medium sized trees and bucking up dead wood too - ash, maple, poplar, some oak
    - I'm 6'0 and 200lbs

    With that said I WAS looking at the Husqvarna 455 Rancher but after looking at Stihl yesterday I'm sold. The Stihl's felt great in my hands and they seem more robust with less plastic. I looked at the 271, 291 and the 261. It seems all the "1" versions will be replacing the "0" versions as the new models have better emissions, new air filters, easier starting, etc. The models vary slight in the USA but generally they are pretty much the same as they are here in Canada.

    So...here's what I thought and hopefully you guys can help me out. Many models are on sale right now and come with the extra chain, hat and carry case.

    261
    - awesome, lightweight saw
    - not sure I need a "pro" saw
    - it's the most expensive of the three
    - it's only 50cc's and I had the impression this is a little low for felling and processing firewood?
    - price $599 CDN

    291
    - a bit heavier than I wanted but good for a woodlot type saw and the extra weight would help in bucking...I think.
    - in Canada the 291 comes with the tool less type chain tensioner - I liked it and it worked, but it did seem a bit gimmicky....and I was skeptical that the plastic would be OK for winter use. I was envisioning it snapping in the cold and I will be cutting in the winter for sure. the bolts and screw method seems pretty time tested and proven.
    - easy to start option was good although adds extra weight
    - price $499 CDN
    - 55cc's

    271
    - a pound lighter than the 291 and 50cc's
    - everything else is the same as the 291 except the anti vib system is more like a pro saw
    - price for some reason is $529 CDN and I can't figure why but that's what it is

    I think the 291 is the best price for features but I'm not sold 100% on that plastic chain tensioner....and I like the idea of the 261 pro for features and weight but not sure if 50cc's is enough power. So what do you guys think about this? Thanks for any and all opinions.

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  2. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

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    This is a no brainer in my opinion........Get the 261 pro saw for only $100 difference. It will pull an 18" bar well and likely be the only saw you will ever need.
  3. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    261 in my opinion is the best choice. 50cc's is probably plenty for firewood, unless you're regularly harvesting 25-30" trees, the 261 will do everything you need to get done for years and years. I cut about 7 cords a year and did just fine with a Craftsman 42cc saw and an 18" bar. Get a 16 and 20" bar for the 261 and a couple chains for each and educate yourself on how to keep them sharp and there isn't much you won't be able to do.
  4. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    With prices being that close on those 3 saws...........+2 on the 261!
  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    261 is a no-brainer. If you ever decide you don't like it and want to sell or trade, the pro saw is going to give you that $100 bucks back and then some...but I think you'll have a hard time parting with it once you get it.

    Don't let the smaller engine fool you, it has the same power as the 291...which is considered a good all-around firewood saw for your average 3-4 cord/year guy....
  6. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

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    Good point I forgot to mention....... the 261 should outcut the 291
  7. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    If your looking to pinch pennies here look for a MS290. They still are in the distribution channels and can be had for $360-$380 depending on what bar is on 'em. Lighter than the 291. (Funny, the 290 isn't a light saw to begin with! :grrr: )

    That said, gimmie the 261! :coolsmirk:

    BTW: 271 would have a better anti-vibe, smoother higher RPM engine if the comparison is the same as the MS270 vs MS290.
  8. DMX_512

    DMX_512 Member

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    I bought a used Makita (Dolmar) 64cc from Home Despot rental department a couple of years ago for $212 out the door. I recently bought a Dolmar 5105 and man that thing screams!!!
  9. mecreature

    mecreature Minister of Fire

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    LOL...throw the 311 and 391 in the mix.

    figuring out these saws is like a chess match.
  10. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Nah, couple rounds of one potato, two potato and you'll narrow it down pretty quickly.

    In all reality, any of these saws will do what you need for years and years. No bad choices here, just some that are gooder than others.

    Get the 261.
  11. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Until the price gets close.... :lol:
  12. Manitoulin Maples

    Manitoulin Maples Member

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    well it seems the 261 has some real fans here! thanks for all the replies and advice guys.

    i was at the dealer again today and excluded the 271 from the options - the other 2 saws make more sense to me so i'm deciding on those two. the dealer is freakin' great and answered all my questions. in the end he more or less recommended the 291 to me for my needs. he also said i'd love the 261 but stated that the pro features were indeed awesome but not entirely visible or perhaps relevant to me for the jobs i'll be doing with it. meaning that if i were to use the saw 5 days a week in all environments and situations then i'd love the 261, but for cutting firewood i'd probably not notice a huge difference from the 291 and appreciate the features of that saw more, like the Easy 2 Start system. so gonna go see him again and choose one in the next week or so. i still really like the 261 weight and the comments made about resale value make sense. on the other hand the 291 is really a slick saw, much better than the 290 it's replacing. i'll let you know what i choose...never thought buying a chainsaw could be so exciting!
  13. punchy

    punchy Burning Hunk

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    had a 025 for over 10yrs, just bought a 362. unreal differece. i judged it as a 10yr investment.
  14. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    You didn't mention you were looking at the C-BEQ version of the 291. I loved Stihl's quick chain adjust on the small saws and I'm curious how it would hold up to 16-20" bars on the bigger 291. Remember there is only 1 bar stud to hold the cover/bar in place with the Quick Chain Adjust. Gotta love tool-free chain swaps tho.

    Easy 2 Start is a proven system as well but it's also new to the mid-size saws. Made chainsaws accessible to a lot of folks who had given up because they couldn't start the saw anymore. Yeah maybe at some point your better off hanging up the saw but even for us younger guys, your friends pay attention when your saw starts from a half-hearted 6" tug. :lol:

    I have mixed feelings about the Quick-stop Chain Brake on previous saws. While I can certainly appreciate the 2nd brake and the safety it offers, it comes with a weight penalty and I admit that in every situation I don't always have my right hand clamped to the handle 100%. Probably just a technique adjustment would fix that.

    MS261 has a 2lb weight advantage (lighter) than the MS291 C-BEQ. You will feel that difference at the end of the day. Maybe not in the 15 min you're handling them at the dealer but most pro saws prove themselves in the field rather than on the shelf. Extra weight is not really an advantage in bucking logs with a saw this size. Bar/Chain/Sprocket combo makes the rules in that department.

    One nice little fringe benefit to magnesium casings and covers over the white plastic ones is that it's much easier to keep the saw clean. Plastic scratches and stains easily and Magnesium can wind up with chipped paint but that's only if you're pretty rough with the saw.

    As the price point reflects, the MS291 (especially the C-BEQ) is way more feature-packed than the MS290 it replaces. I'm still leaning towards the MS261 in your case if you were looking for a "lifetime" saw but I doubt you'll be disapointed with either machine.
  15. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

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    Sounds good....but....... buy the 261!

    Resale, weight advantage, cutting speed, durability, if those factors aren't "relevant" to you as the salesman says, then by all means, grab the 291. Unless you have shoulder problems or are a little older, at 6' 200 lbs., the easy to start is an unneeded gimmick imo.
  16. Manitoulin Maples

    Manitoulin Maples Member

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    Thanks for the advice Master Mech. I should clarify though in Canada the 291 saw is officially listed as an MS 291 C-BE, it does not have the Q designation and therefore no secondary chain brake when releasing the trigger(s). I think everything else about the saw is the same - it does has the new stye air filter, newer lower emission engine, a decompression valve, Easy 2 Start, tool less chain tension system and semi pro style anti vibe.

    You guys are relentless on the 261! :)

    I get what everyone is saying about the 261 and I hear you on it. It's partially the price that I'm hesitating on...$500 is an awful pile to spend on a saw and the 261 is an extra $100 on top of that. I'm also realizing I don't know enough about chainsaws and how they work. Master Mech talked about the bar/chain/sprocket makes the difference in cutting (with respect to the two saws I'm looking at)....I though it was the size of the power plant ... can someone explain this to me? You need enough power to make the chain spin to cut through the wood...right? I still have a hard time too understanding how a 50cc saw will be adequate for firewood but again I've never used a newer saw so I have no idea what they are like. The 291 has the same power plus more cc's .... so in my head this makes more sense to me in terms of engine strength.

    I'm also wondering how these two saws compare to the power of my current Pioneer Farm Saw. The one thing I do like about that saw is the power and the torque it has. It's rated at 64 cc's, and it's from 1982, so I'm wondering what the equivalent of today's saws are....meaning is 50cc's of today's technology equal to 64 cc's from 1982? Does that make sense or am I on the wrong track here? Someone school me on saws!
  17. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Pro saw have the best of everything in and on them. 50cc pro saw will out preform most 60cc saws. Pro saws are also easier to work on. Simple Adjustments and higher rpms. Not trying to kill you with info but 100.00 buck is not alot. Now the 311 or 391 match up with the 261 better! With that said the 261 for what you are doing is PERFECT! On the other hand a 290 not a bad choice. (but you can not take back a used saw) ;-)
  18. spacecowboyIV

    spacecowboyIV New Member

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    For reference I cut all of my wood with a 35 cc stihl mini boss with a 14" bar and I would defintely put it against your 65 cc pioneer saw from the 80's. A good way to compare the saws power is by the kW (energy) which is displayed on Stihl's website.

    The pro saws are all more powerful than the mid-level saws as most here have mentioned, but I am on the side of your dealer, you probably don't need it for cutting firewood for personal use. The mid-level saws will last forever on just your occasional use (mine is a 5 year old homeowner saw and shows no signs of slowing down and never has had a problem), your probably not planning on re-selling it so it shouldn't concern you, and you will have plenty of power to cut firewood, just not as fast as the pro saws.

    my $.02
  19. mecreature

    mecreature Minister of Fire

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    I have scoured this site and arboristaite pretty well.
    If you want in the club get a pro saw. If you are a rebel get the 291.

    that 291 is a sweet saw.

    if you got the 261 they would be on you for not going 362... now there is a saw...


    second verse same as the first... just sub in different models... then you got that damn series number to deal with.
  20. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    lol, I sold a 029,036 180,260 and 361.....Just not what I wanted. I will make them saws look silly! with a 192t Say What! :lol: 30cc's
  21. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    Hmmmmm. I never looked at it that way.
    Generally, I want the lightest weight I can get. But I'm not as strong/healthy as the average sawyer.
  22. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    You can kill yourself going over all the cost/benefits, but let me make it easy on you. Between those saws you can't make the wrong choice. Either save the $100 and still get a great firewood saw that will do all you need, or spend the extra $100 and get an even sweeter pro-level saw that will do it all in a lighter, zippier package. It comes down to disposable income and personality at this point, you've got your needs nicely covered.
    And re 50cc being enough for firewood, the 50-55cc range is the most popular firewood saw by far so ya, unless you're dealing with logs in the 32-40+" range a lot, 50cc is enough.
  23. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    IMHO you can't go wrong here because your mind is already made up to buy a Stihl......you are already in the club as far as I am concerned!!!....:)
  24. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    What I meant by the whole Bar/Chain/Sprocket comment was that the extra weight of the 291 will not help it buck a log any faster. If you want to cut faster without modifing the saw's engine, there is often performance to be found in the cutting hardware itself, much like upgrading your car's tires would improve it's handling.

    Another nod to pro-saws, they usually come with a rim-sprocket instead of a spur sprocket to drive the chain. Cheap to replace a rim sprocket when it wears out and it tends to go longer as well. To replace a spur sprocket you must replace the clutch drum since it's all one piece.

    Engine size and output still are the de facto standard of comparing saws. The 291(3.76bhp) has an extra 5cc's but makes near the same power as the 261 (3.75bhp). .01hp isn't something your going to be able to feel or appreciate.

    Considering that these two machines are so close in output, what you do with that extra $100 is up to you.

    Please let us know which way you go!
  25. donatello

    donatello Member

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    And if you find that you want more power, toss in a new piston and cylinder (for approx.$100) and you go from a powerful 64cc saw up to a really powerful 85cc saw, which will allow you to pull a much longer bar if necessary. My brother bought a Rancher 455. It's an OK saw. I wouldn't buy one nor would I recommend one, although Husky does make some kick-arse saws. I think ALL the saw manufacturers make some NOT-SO-GREAT models. Before pulling the trigger on a new saw, it would be worthwhile to visit your local chainsaw dealers to get your hands on the saws in your price range. Don't start looking at the 100cc saws way out of your price range. I would recommend Stihl chains - I've tried many brands and NOTHING lasts like a Stihl chain.

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