Stihl MS 170 Review

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Minister of Fire
Hearth Supporter
Oct 7, 2008
Lackawaxen PA
I started a few threads here looking for advice on what saw I needed. The situation is I have logging in back of my cabin that has left huge piles of slash. They took only the straight bottom 1/3 of the 12-24" diameter oaks. Working from the house back, I want to limb and haul further into the woods everything smaller the 3". And buckup the rest for years of free wood burning. My primary saw is a 260 pro. I needed a backup / emergency rescue saw. I thought a battery saw might work, but realized I needed to work for hours with a lighter limbing saw.

Saw spec
30.1 CC
1.7 HP
8.6 LBS
16" bar about 14" usable
Chain 3/8 P PMM3
8.5 OZ fuel

The first tank of gas today. Limbing, 4-8" bucking and few 11" rounds. Just about non stop cutting for about an hour, before I heard it running out of gas.

I've started it a few time before using it today. The manual is the standard Stihl procedure. Until today I didn't get the burp after 3 or 4 pulls with full choke. So not to flood it I went to 1/2 choke, and it fired off in a few more pulls. Went immediately to no choke and idle. It idled perfectly. Today I got the burp and finished the starting procedure perfectly. I am a bit spoiled having a decompression valve on the 260. I have to remember to keep the left arm stiff starting this saw. Some have said they can dislodge the choke control. I didn't have this issue, but think you need to make sure you are at full throttle before pushing the choke leaver down. It feels like the lockout won't take a lot of forcing.
As I worked the restarts were easy with no choke, 1/2 pulls.

The idle was perfect, and smooth with no warm up needed. The chain was stopped. My 260, for has had 2 speed idling issue. sometimes stalling when it drops to a slower idle speed.

The saw was light and easy to handle. Throttle control was responsive, no hesitation. When I got into a few 11" cuts, I stopped the chain in the wood. Because of breaking it in I was at 1/2 -3/4 throttle. Just trying not to load the saw. The chain was razor sharp. It took only the weight of the saw to go through the 11" rounds. Just guessing, the 11" cut was around 10 seconds at 3/4 throttle. The chain size was no issue for me.

It's not my 260 (4 HP), and it wasn't supposed to be. It definitely feels like Stihl quality. And for $189. If your wood burner, processing a lot of full, large trees, this is not your only saw for that. But for occasional limbing, bucking some smaller rounds it's fine. If you have long term usage, please add your comments to my 1 tank review.

Thank you brothers for steering me to this saw.
I figured you'd like it. I'll always have my 180 nearby.
The MS 180 I bought 13 years ago has been perfect for my use in my 1-acre wooded lot. Had the place put on a 16-inch bar, so I received full credit for the 14-inch bar and chain. It was a no cost swap.
My 170 is a beast. It is broken but a zip tie fixed it (enough so it runs). Any limbs below 2” are cut with the 170 anything else 261 cuts up. Heck, 261 cuts most below 20”. I have a soft spot for the 170….the only reason I still use it.
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Reactions: Diabel
Must be the that Zip tie ...
I was replacing the fuel line on the 170. The throttle gizmo had to come out in order to change the line. As I was putting it back together i was in a rush but wanted to put the saw together. I was having hard time pushing the throttle thing back into the saw body/shell. I grabbed a screwdriver (bad bad) to push it in slightly, snap…..a piece of the shell broke, making the throttle loose and unusable. Tried to glue it but no cigar. Few months later i was zipping something and hey why not give it a try…….it is not perfect but it works. The only way to shut it off is by chocking it.
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Reactions: salecker
Great little saw. Use mine all the time and I will teach my son how to run a saw with it. I also have the same issue with the wire for the kill switch. Just have to choke it quick.
I've got an MS170, I wouldn't exactly call it a beast. I like it because it's LIGHT! I bought it used and I've put an adjustable carb on it and opened the muffler up a little. It's great for limbing and cutting up 4-6" stuff by any more than that I use other saws. It's a great little saw but I hate the gas and oil caps. Have to have a screwdriver handy to open sometimes, arthritic fingers don't like those caps.
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Reactions: PaulOinMA
Yes those old school caps do get tight. But they work, i replaced my flippey caps a few times because I like them working.