New Stihl Saw

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Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
Need some guidance in a (near) future purchase. I was in at my local dealer this morning and thought I was going to buy a saw. Ultimately, I left stuck between a 391 or an MS-261-CM. Both are equal pricing with a 20” bar.

391 is the “top of the line” Farm/Ranch saw and the 261 is the entry level “Professional” saw.

I’m not looking for descriptions of each saw. What I want to know is what may be a better choice. The 391 is heavier with more power and a carbureted engine. The 261 is lighter with less power and for all intent and purposes “fuel injected” engine.

I will be going from a 16 inch 210c so both are tremendous upgrades for me.

just want to be sure before spending $600 on a saw.
 

duramaxman05

Minister of Fire
Aug 17, 2014
544
Perryville, Mo
How big of wood do you plan on cutting? Ultimately the lighter the saw the better. The 261 will have a better power to weight ratio then the 391. A 50cc saw is a great firewood saw but will be slower in the big stuff.
 

Zoso2385

Member
Nov 4, 2018
82
Southeastern, Ct
20" bar is going to run better on the 391 for sure. Having said that the MS261C would be a great firewood saw with a 16/18" bar, lightweight and fast. The MS362 would be comparable to the 391 and will easily pull a 20" bar. I bought a MS362C with a 20" bar, and for firewood purposes I wish I had opted for the MS261C for the weight savings. I find myself reaching for my homeowner Husqvarna 440 more often and reserve the MS362C for taking down trees on my property.
 
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Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
How big of wood do you plan on cutting? Ultimately the lighter the saw the better. The 261 will have a better power to weight ratio then the 391. A 50cc saw is a great firewood saw but will be slower in the big stuff.

hard to say. A good friend owns a tree removal company. For every load of “normal” sized logs (up to 18” or so) there is a load of huge oak (24”ers). So....generally I’m not cutting a ton of huge stuff But the 210 makes for a real slow/frustrating bucking process when I do.
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
20" bar is going to run better on the 391 for sure. Having said that the MS261C would be a great firewood saw with a 16/18" bar, lightweight and fast. The MS362 would be comparable to the 391 and will easily pull a 20" bar. I bought a MS362C with a 20" bar, and for firewood purposes I wish I had opted for the MS261C for the weight savings. I find myself reaching for my homeowner Husqvarna 440 more often and reserve the MS362C for taking down trees on my property.

That was one concern I had. Is the 20” bar on the 261 going to result in some lag??

also, is the magnesium casings (etc) a selling point on the pro level saws? Whereas the ranch/farm saws are polymer. Also a lot more metal parts on the pro saws.

So I guess I’m asking if the better quality of the pro saw is worth losing some horsepower/CCs as compared to the 391?
 

Zoso2385

Member
Nov 4, 2018
82
Southeastern, Ct
That was one concern I had. Is the 20” bar on the 261 going to result in some lag??

also, is the magnesium casings (etc) a selling point on the pro level saws? Whereas the ranch/farm saws are polymer. Also a lot more metal parts on the pro saws.

So I guess I’m asking if the better quality of the pro saw is worth losing some horsepower/CCs as compared to the 391?

I don't think the polymer is anything to worry about, as long as you aren't throwing your saw around and abusing the hell out of it. The reason I went with the pro saw was all about the weight compared to the equivalent home owner version, the air filter design on the pro saw is great and so far i'm very happy with the auto tune feature.

Im not 100% sure about this but I believe that the pro saws also rev higher than the homeowner saws, so you may be loosing a few CC's but your getting a higher revving saw.
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
I don't think the polymer is anything to worry about, as long as you aren't throwing your saw around and abusing the hell out of it. The reason I went with the pro saw was all about the weight compared to the equivalent home owner version, the air filter design on the pro saw is great and so far i'm very happy with the auto tune feature.

Im not 100% sure about this but I believe that the pro saws also rev higher than the homeowner saws, so you may be loosing a few CC's but your getting a higher revving saw.

So you have had no issues the new M-tronic/auto tune feature? That’s a reservation I had but have read some good things
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
None, I've had it for a year now and its been great. Just remember to read the manual and set the saw up for either summer or winter conditions.

Between the 391 and the 261, given the weight differential but also the increased power of the 391, what would you say? I know weight of the saw was your interest, but would the increased power and for a heavier saw completely deter you?

Heard anything good or bad of the 391?
 

Zoso2385

Member
Nov 4, 2018
82
Southeastern, Ct
Between the 391 and the 261, given the weight differential but also the increased power of the 391, what would you say? I know weight of the saw was your interest, but would the increased power and for a heavier saw completely deter you?

Heard anything good or bad of the 391?

I'm no pro, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I would say, if you are routinely cutting into 24+" hardwoods then yea you might want the ability to really run a 20" bar with authority, but if 80% of you cutting is going be in wood >20", I would go 261C.

You can always pick up a used 60-70CC home owner saw for when you need it. Spend the money on the saw that you will use the most
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
I'm no pro, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I would say, if you are routinely cutting into 24+" hardwoods then yea you might want the ability to really run a 20" bar with authority, but if 80% of you cutting is going be in wood >20", I would go 261C.

You can always pick up a used 60-70CC home owner saw for when you need it. Spend the money on the saw that you will use the most

I think that settles is. 261 it is. Seems to be the general consensus of the thread and I like the pro model with the better quality parts.
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
That's the way I went light, fast and an excellent power to weight ratio
easy to run all day long

Have you tried running it with a 20” yet? Wondering if need me how it pulls. It’s funny, Stihl offers up to a 20” bar on the 261 but “recommends” a 16” per the website.
 

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duramaxman05

Minister of Fire
Aug 17, 2014
544
Perryville, Mo
You could hold out for a ms462. Light, lots of power. My father had one, I liked it. It well balanced and cut good. It was is first stihl in at least years. Too bad it got backed over by the skidder.
 
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JimBear

Minister of Fire
Dec 15, 2017
666
Iowa
Have you tried running it with a 20” yet? Wondering if need me how it pulls. It’s funny, Stihl offers up to a 20” bar on the 261 but “recommends” a 16” per the website.
A 20” bar using 3/8” chain will be a load for a stock 261 but will pull it & most likely work it like a rented mule. A 20” bar using .325” chain on a stock 261 should be ok.

Keep in mind a lot of how the saw handles it is how you cut: are you heavy handed or do let the saw do it’s thing & not try to light saber it thru the wood.

Another thing is how your chains are sharpened & where your rakers are set.

A full chisel chain “ yellow label” Stihl chain is going to pull harder than a semi chisel safety/low kickback chain based on chip size & clearance.

There are a lot of variables other than just bar length that will affect how your saw handles things.
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
A 20” bar using 3/8” chain will be a load for a stock 261 but will pull it & most likely work it like a rented mule. A 20” bar using .325” chain on a stock 261 should be ok.

Keep in mind a lot of how the saw handles it is how you cut: are you heavy handed or do let the saw do it’s thing & not try to light saber it thru the wood.

Another thing is how your chains are sharpened & where your rakers are set.

A full chisel chain “ yellow label” Stihl chain is going to pull harder than a semi chisel safety/low kickback chain based on chip size & clearance.

There are a lot of variables other than just bar length that will affect how your saw handles things.

So having said all that and knowing that I might want to run a 20” bar and chain, do you see any reason to even consider the 391? Maybe not a fair question. I’m by no means a “saw expert”. I just know I need more power and a bigger bar (18 would be fine normally” but sometimes a 20 would serve me well.

I know it’s a balancing game between size, power, saw weight etc.

But I have it narrowed down to the 261 and 391 and am trying to make a good decision.
 
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JimBear

Minister of Fire
Dec 15, 2017
666
Iowa
So having said all that and knowing that I might want to run a 20” bar and chain, do you see any reason to even consider the 391? Maybe not a fair question. I’m by no means a “saw expert”. I just know I need more power and a bigger bar (18 would be fine normally” but sometimes a 20 would serve me well.

I know it’s a balancing game between size, power, saw weight etc.

But I have it narrowed down to the 261 and 391 and am trying to make a good decision.
The 391 is a “boat anchor” in my opinion. The 261 with an 18” b/c will cut a 34” log (deducting an 1” for felling dawgs each side) so if you don’t get very many over 18” logs you will be good to go. If you go with a 20” bar also use the .325” & I think you will be happy. I have talked to lots of folks that think the 261 shines with the .325” chain others swear by 3/8”. The 261 will really start to impress after about 5-6 tanks of fuel as the rings set & it “breaks” in.
 
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JimBear

Minister of Fire
Dec 15, 2017
666
Iowa
So having said all that and knowing that I might want to run a 20” bar and chain, do you see any reason to even consider the 391? Maybe not a fair question. I’m by no means a “saw expert”. I just know I need more power and a bigger bar (18 would be fine normally” but sometimes a 20 would serve me well.

I know it’s a balancing game between size, power, saw weight etc.

But I have it narrowed down to the 261 and 391 and am trying to make a good decision.
I am not a saw expert either I just know I got an education when I was looking at & buying saws. I didn’t realize all the peripheral stuff that had an effect on cutting. I got burned on a flea bay purchase & subsequently talked to an independent saw builder. I learned more from him about saws & chains than I had ever learned in all my visits to the local saw dealers.
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
418
OH
The 391 is a “boat anchor” in my opinion. The 261 with an 18” b/c will cut a 34” log (deducting an 1” for felling dawgs each side) so if you don’t get very many over 18” logs you will be good to go. If you go with a 20” bar also use the .325” & I think you will be happy. I have talked to lots of folks that think the 261 shines with the .325” chain others swear by 3/8”. The 261 will really start to impress after about 5-6 tanks of fuel as the rings set & it “breaks” in.


do you have any persuasions on the new(ish) M-Tronic system? Ever had any issues? My amateur opinion or gut feeling rather is electronics in a chain saw that regulate air flow, fuel, etc (so basically fuel injected) could be troublesome eventually. Maybe not...?
 
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JimBear

Minister of Fire
Dec 15, 2017
666
Iowa
do you have any persuasions on the new(ish) M-Tronic system? Ever had any issues? My amateur opinion or gut feeling rather is electronics in a chain saw that regulate air flow, fuel, etc (so basically fuel injected) could be troublesome eventually. Maybe not...?
Let me first say that my calling the 391 a “boat anchor” was harsh, they are a good saw just not what I would want to be running all day.

It is my understanding that the early m-tronic saws had some issues, as far as solenoids & fuel filters but I haven’t heard of many issues since the V2 (second generation came out ) I am unsure if they up to V3 or not. That would be a good question for your dealer. I know that certain colored fuel filters were recommended with certain colored solenoids. Again a dealer question.

I have a V2 261 Mtronic & have had no problems with it. I was reluctant about the mtronic but it’s working as it should so no complaints. It is interesting to hear it adjust its self after using it in varying conditions from one use to the next if the conditions were quite a bit different. It is the only mtronic I have. My 462 & 661 are both adjustable carbs. There are still new adjustable carbureted 261’s around for sale you just have to look.

Again the same as the chain discussion: some folks love the mtronic others hate them either because of a bad experience or the technology.

If you are on the fence about the Mtronic, hopefully you have a knowledgeable & reputable dealer to help you learn about the nuances of the mtronic & repair it if needed. I would not be afraid of them.

I know there are others that know a lot more about the questions you are asking than I do. Hopefully they will chime in.

Just a note the 362 is more comparable with the 391. The 391 is heavy & has more cc in the engine but the 362 is 2 pounds lighter & would cut circles around it
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,216
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
I'd go with the 261, I think you'll really notice that 3.3 lb difference.

I run a 550XP mkII which is Husqvarna's equivalent of the 261, I've got a 20" bar and 0.325 pitch chain. Works good for what I need it for. But it does have to work if the bar is buried.

Not sure if US dealers are the same, but the 261 is on sale in Canada right now for $50 less than the 391.