Small Gas Chain Saw

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xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,432
Lackawaxen PA
I maybe changing my opinion on what I need. I am looking for a backup for my 260 pro. Thinking a battery saw might be the way to go. But...........

I stopped by a good outdoor machine vendor, and explained the need to backup the primary. And I also explained I have been cleaning up the logging slash out back. Lots of it. Although the 260 with a 18" bar is not a huge saw, I could use a small saw to cut up all the tree tops. 4-6" branches. The branches, I want cut up so there small enough to haul them out of site, back in the woods. So a lot of working and walking on rocky ground.

He quickly said the battery will be the issue. So what your perfect starting quality small saw, for doing what I need.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,445
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Have a look at the arborist or T handle saws. But they are not cheap.

Stihl MS 151
Husqvarna T525

Are probably the more affordable options.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,253
MA
I only have a Stihl MS 180 C-BE with a 16-inch bar. Great for my 1-acre lot homeowner needs. 32 cc. 2 h.p. Think I bought it in 2008.
 
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highanddryinco

Burning Hunk
Aug 2, 2014
146
Denver, CO
Double plus for the Stihl 180. With a 14" it's like a woodsman's Ginsu knife.
 
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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,779
Northern Canada
You can get the MS150 in a rear handle as well,cute little saws i have a second one coming to my shed
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
957
Central Ohio
I have a MS170 that I use a lot for cutting small stuff and grape vines. Its been rock solid saw for as long as I've had it. I also have a MS211 ( it has anti-vibe ) that has been a great saw too. I inherited the MS170 after I bought the MS210.
 
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bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
661
Utah, NJ
My dad has the ms 170. I put it thru some good size oak and was very impressed. Very light and the smaller chain cut thru the oak, with a buried bar, pretty well. The trigger / throttle / choke linkage tends to pop out frequently, but other than that i like that saw very much.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,746
Downeast Maine
Have a look at the arborist or T handle saws. But they are not cheap.

Stihl MS 151
Husqvarna T525

Are probably the more affordable options.
The Stihl MS 151 and the tiny Echo top handle saw (CS2211?) are the best, but the Husky is pretty good too if you don't have a Stihl or Echo dealer nearby.
 

MongoMongoson

Feeling the Heat
Feb 6, 2021
288
Wisconsin
+ MS180

My wife wanted her own chainsaw as a birthday gift last year. She didn't want a battery saw. We went and looked at Echo, Husky, and Stihl saws. Those were the three brands I felt comfortable with. She liked the MS 180 the best out of all of them, and that's what we got. My dad is 82 and has had an MS180C for a number of years and he can still start it and run it even though I really wish he would never do that again. He doesn't do any maintenance on anything so I figure if it keeps working for him, it must be a good one.

If I were going to do it again, we would have chosen the "C" for my wife, too. She runs the saw just fine, but hasn't completely gotten the hang of starting it yet. The comfort start actually does make it easier.

Anyway, I have to say that I am very impressed with that little saw. It is perfect for limbs and smaller trunks. We have the 14" bar on it.

She cut a lot of small (6-8") hickory, oak, ash, and sugar maple with it last spring/summer and it was great for that.

Lately we have been using it to cut down logs that are too long. The old stove could take a 24" log, the new one only takes 18". So every week we cut down a week's worth of wood to 18" or less. I built a log rack to hold two columns of logs, just wide enough to be a bar length for each column. Zip down one side and then zip down the other. It bogs down if you don't keep it revved up, but it sure is handy for small stuff like that.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,746
Downeast Maine
I would only get a MS180 if my budget wouldn't allow for a MS151t or Echo CS2511t. The MS180 makes little power and weighs nearly nine pounds without a bar, chain, oil, or fuel. There's a small power loss, but you lose almost four pounds by going with the MS151 T or Echo CS2511t, which is huge in terms of chainsaws. If I were going for a saw in the MS180 weight class I would step up to a Husqvarna 550XP or the equivalent Stihl, over twice the power and same weight.

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but a more powerful small saw is less of a handful than equivalent weight saw with less power. Much like a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife.
 
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xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,432
Lackawaxen PA
I stopped by my Stihl dealer today. Asked for a 181 CBE. They only had 180. They checked there supplier. There was no stock. So forget about ordering one. We got talking about the 170, which is $100 less. So for $189 I have a backup saw. And It's a Stihl.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,253
MA
I like my little Stihl a lot. Great homeowner saw for my 1-acre wooded lot.
 

D8Chumley

Minister of Fire
Jun 25, 2013
1,881
Collegeville PA
+1 for Stihl 170. Had mine for maybe 10 years nd I’ve cut a lot of wood with it. If it died today I’d get another tomorrow. But that Echo is tempting only 5ish lbs
 

Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,527
Ottawa, ON
I love my 170. But when I got my 261 the only duty the 170 gets is for limbing branches less then 3” and reducing splits to firebox size. The 261 gets 90% of the workload. That saw is “mad”.!
 

vbu

Member
Mar 3, 2019
70
MS
I love my 170. But when I got my 261 the only duty the 170 gets is for limbing branches less then 3” and reducing splits to firebox size. The 261 gets 90% of the workload. That saw is “mad”.!
I also have a 261 and I love it. Nice and light with plenty of power. I'd like to have it ported though, or do a muffler mod, but I'm not familiar enough with 2 stroke engines to do this myself
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,779
Northern Canada
I also have a 261 and I love it. Nice and light with plenty of power. I'd like to have it ported though, or do a muffler mod, but I'm not familiar enough with 2 stroke engines to do this myself
Muffler mod is fairly simple if you can remove the muffler and use tools you should be able to manage it .
On most of mine i try to open up the opening behind the screen as much as possible to retain the screen in case the saw is used where that matters.
Otherwise if it doesn't matter you can add shark gills which again is fairly simple.
If you had a muffler with a cat in it then it takes a bit more work,same if you want to gut any baffles out of the muffler.
remember to re-tune after a muff mod.
 

Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,527
Ottawa, ON
I find the 261 has plenty of power stock. With a sharp chain it runs circles around my much older 360.
 
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vbu

Member
Mar 3, 2019
70
MS
Muffler mod is fairly simple if you can remove the muffler and use tools you should be able to manage it .
On most of mine i try to open up the opening behind the screen as much as possible to retain the screen in case the saw is used where that matters.
Otherwise if it doesn't matter you can add shark gills which again is fairly simple.
If you had a muffler with a cat in it then it takes a bit more work,same if you want to gut any baffles out of the muffler.
remember to re-tune after a muff mod.
Yes I think the muffler mod itself should be pretty easy, its the re-tune I'm not familiar with, to get it running the best it can. I may do the muffler mod myself and take it to a shop and have them re tune it
 

vbu

Member
Mar 3, 2019
70
MS
I find the 261 has plenty of power stock. With a sharp chain it runs circles around my much older 360.
Yes you're right, it does. But more is always better for me>>:)
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,779
Northern Canada
Yes I think the muffler mod itself should be pretty easy, its the re-tune I'm not familiar with, to get it running the best it can. I may do the muffler mod myself and take it to a shop and have them re tune it
You need to learn how to re tune
Lots of good videos on it
Re tuning your saw should be a easy task for you.You should have a screwdriver with you when you go cutting.Your saw may need to be re tuned each time you cut wood,just depends on time of year,temp,rainy day ,hot day ect.
Having a saw out of tune and cutting with it will and can mess it up.If it's boggy ,to rich that isn't a big deal other than cutting with a boggy saw sucks.If it screams then you may score the piston due to running lean.
step 1 set your idle
2 set your low speed,lean it out till it speeds up then back it out a bit
3 set your high speed,richen it up then lean it back out till it sounds like a 4 stroke when you are wide open throttle.It should clear up and sound like a 2 stroke when you begin to cut.
Then go back to your low setting and finish up resetting your idle.
Once you get the hang of it,you will be amazed that you didn't do it before.
Makes for a better wood cutting experiance.
 

ericm979

Member
Nov 2, 2018
97
California
Stihl manuals have the tuning procedure and the rpms too, if you have a tach. It's always in the shop manual but is sometimes in the owner's manual as well.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,779
Northern Canada
Tachs are over rated as they don't all give the same readings
your ear is always with you,it's the only tool you need besides the right tool for the adjusters.
 

ericm979

Member
Nov 2, 2018
97
California
Most people's ears are a lot less accurate than a tach. I can tune by ear pretty well but I have done it a lot. Even so I sometimes use a tach just to check.