Stihl 260 Vs 261: Unbelievable Chainsaw Battle Exposed!

Stihl has cemented its top spot when it comes to producing high-quality, durable, and powerful machines. But when it comes to foresty chainsaws, two names immediately come to mind: the MS 260 and the MS 261.

Many loggers went for the MS 260 because of its ability to carry out medium-duty forestry tasks such as logging and felling small trees. However, its successor the MS 261 arrived with more advanced features and a more ergonomic design.

Most notably, the MS 261 is slightly heavier and produces more power than the MS 260.  Although both saws come from the same line and have many similarities, the MS 261 has a few upgrades that make is slightly different from the MS 260.

Stihl 260 Vs 261

In this article, I will expound more on Stihl 260 vs Stihl 261. I am going to dive into details about the specifications and features of each chainsaw and see how they match up. I will also look at the pros and cons of each machine. So keep reading to find out more.

Quick Comparison Table of the Stihl 260 Vs Stihl 261

Key Factors Stihl MS 260 Stihl MS 261
Engine Power 3.5 hp 4.0 hp
Displacement 50.2 CC 50.2 CC
Weight 4.8 kg 4.9 kg
Fuel Tank Volume 0.5l 0.5l
Oil Tank Volume 0.29l 0.27l
Chain Pitch 0.325” 0.325”
Fuel Type Gas Gas
Warranty 2 Years 2 Years

The Stihl 260

The Stihl MS 260 is a robust chainsaw designed to tackle medium-duty forestry jobs such as logging and felling small trees. Below are some of the features and specifications that make it stand out from similar-sized chainsaws.

Technical Specifications of the Stihl 260

Specifications of the Stihl 260

  1. Engine

All Stihl chainsaws come with powerful engines, and the MS 260 is no exception. It comes with a 50.2cc engine that produces 3.5 horsepower. You can use it for forestry tasks such as pruning and felling.

  1. Fuel System

The Stihl 260 has a fuel tank capacity of 0.5 liters and a fuel consumption rate of 1.46 liters per hour. This is sufficient for most cutting jobs. On the other hand, its oil tank capacity is 0.29 liters.

  1. Bar Length

To help you choose the right bar for the job, the MS 260 can accommodate varying bar lengths ranging from 13 to 18 inches. However, the manufacturer recommends a 16-inch bar for optimal performance.

  1. Weight

The MS 260 is considered a lightweight saw, weighing approximately 4.8 kg. This lightweight design enables easy usage and increased productivity.

Read Also: Stihl 400 vs 462 Analysis of Two Powerful Chainsaws

Features of the Stihl 260

Features of the Stihl 260

  1. Carburetor Heating

The carburetor heating feature prevents the air from freezing when you operate the saw in cold weather conditions. Working in extremely cold temperatures can freeze the moisture in the air inside the carburetor. This can cause it to malfunction or get damaged altogether.

To prevent this, the inflowing air is heated by the engine fins before being routed to the carburetor.

  1. Compensator

One standout feature of the Stihl MS 260 is the compensator. Its main function is to ensure that the chainsaw operates at maximum efficiency. It does this by maintaining the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber.

When the airflow through the filter decreases due to clogging, the compensator reduces the amount of fuel that is delivered to the carburetor. It does the opposite whenever there is too much air in the filter.

  1. Controlled Delivery Oil Pump

To maintain a constant delivery of oil to the bar and chain, the Stihl MS 260 comes with a controlled-delivery oil pump. This is important when operating the saw in different weather conditions or when undertaking different cutting tasks.

The controlled-delivery oil pump ensures that the bar and chain are lubricated properly. This reduces wear and tear on the chainsaw.

  1. Stihl Anti-vibration

The MS 260 comes with an advanced anti-vibration system that reduces the amount of vibration that is transmitted to you. This allows you to work for longer without feeling uncomfortable.

  1. Tool-Free Fuel Caps

Refueling has been made simpler thanks to the tool-free fuel caps that you can open without any additional tools. This feature makes it easier to maintain the saw and also saves you time when refueling.

  1. Stihl Elastostart

Starting a chainsaw can be tricky, especially if you’re a newbie. However, the Stihl MS 260 installed the Elastostart system, which reduced the amount of effort you needed to pull the starting cord. This system is composed of a spring that absorbs the recoil energy when you start the saw. This reduces the strain on your arms.

  1. Single-Lever Master Control

The single-lever master control on the Stihl MS 260 places all the major controls in a single, easily accessible spot. This means that you can activate the choke, throttle, and stop buttons from one convenient location.

  1. Side-Mounted Chain Tensioning

For quick and easy adjustment of the chain, the Stihl MS 260 comes with a chain tensioning system that is conveniently placed on the side of the saw. In addition, this feature eliminates the need for extra tools when tensioning your chain.

Having a well-tensioned chain improves the cutting ability of the chain and reduces the chances of injury.

Pros and Cons of the Stihl 260

Pros and Cons of the Stihl 260

The Stihl MS 260 is a well-designed machine, but it comes with its fair share of problems. Below are some of the upsides and downsides:


  • Lightweight and compact design make it easier to handle
  • Has enough power to carry out medium-sized tasks such as processing firewood
  • The anti-vibration system makes it comfortable to use
  • Easy maintenance and repair thanks to the tool-free fuel caps and side-access chain tensioning
  • Ideal for colder climates due to the carburetor heating feature


  • May struggle when handling more demanding tasks
  • Limited number of features compared to the Stihl MS 261

 Read Also: Stihl 361 vs 362- Which One is the Better Saw

The Stihl 261

When it comes to professional-grade chainsaws, the Stihl MS 261 is the first one that comes to mind. This chainsaw has been designed for heavy-duty tasks such as felling larger trees volumes and cutting through thick pieces of wood. Here are some of its features and specifications:

Specifications of the Stihl 261

Specifications of the Stihl 260

  1. Engine

The MS 261 comes with a high-performance engine with a displacement of 50.2cc and a power output of 4.0 hp. This is quite impressive for a chainsaw of this size. You can cut through thick wood and branches quickly and with less effort using the Stihl 261.

  1. Fuel System

This chainsaw has a fuel tank capacity of 0.5 liters and an oil tank capacity of 0.27 liters. You don’t have to worry about downtimes when cutting because the fuel tank capacity is sufficient to reduce the rate of refueling. Additionally, your chain will always be well-lubricated if your oil tank is full.

  1. Bar Length

The Stihl MS 261 is compatible with guide bar lengths ranging from 16 to 20 inches. This makes it a more versatile tool for performing a wide range of cutting applications. However, the 16-inch bar is recommended.

  1. Weight

Handling the Stihl 261 is fairly simple since it only weighs 4.9kg. This weight is distributed evenly throughout the chainsaw in order to reduce fatigue. It also has a very decent power-to-weight ratio of 1.8 kg/kW.

Features of the Stihl 261

Features of the Stihl 261

  1. Ematic Lubrication System

The Ematic lubrication system ensures that an accurate amount of oil is delivered to the chain, bar, links, and rivets. This, in turn, helps to keep these components well-lubricated while reducing oil consumption by as much as 50%.

One key component of the Ematic lubrication system is the removable intake screen. It prevents debris from clogging the oil system. This ensures optimal lubrication.

  1. Master Control Lever

An impressive feature that makes the Stihl MS 261 easier to operate is the master control lever that has been ergonomically designed to improve control and reduce fatigue. It conveniently places the choke, throttle, and on/off switch controls on a single lever that you can operate with ease.

  1. Adjustable Automatic Oiler

Another notable feature is Stihl’s Adjustable Automatic Oiler. It allows you to automatically vary the amount of oil delivered to the bar and chain depending on the operating conditions, thus keeping them lubricated.

  1. Decompression Valve

To reduce the effort needed to start the engine, the MS 261 comes with a decompression valve. It works by dissipating the compression forces in the compression chamber, making it easier to pull the starter cord. This valve is located on top of the chainsaw.

  1. Anti-vibration System

The Stihl MS 261 has an advanced anti-vibration system that dampens vibrations. This system has a set of springs that are located between the engine and handlebar to absorb vibrations.

  1. Stihl Quickstop

All Stihl chainsaws have a Quickstop feature that immediately halts the rotation of the chain whenever it kicks back accidentally or when you release the rear handle. This feature helps to improve safety during operation while reducing the risk of injury.

  1. Side-access Chain Tensioner

You can easily adjust the chain tension of the MS 261 using the side-access tensioner. With a simple bar wrench, you can easily tighten or loosen the chain to reduce user downtime.

  1. Intellicarb Compensating Carburetor

The Intellicarb Carburetor helps to regulate the air/fuel ratio of an air filter. This helps to maintain optimal engine performance by eliminating the need for manually adjusting the carburetor when there is a change in operating conditions or fuel quality.

  1. Captive Nuts

One of the main upgrades the Stihl MS 261 has over the MS 260 is the captive nuts. These nuts are designed to remain attached to the sprocket cover of your chainsaw thus preventing them from getting lost.

You can easily use a tool such as a socket wrench to remove them. In addition, they are made from durable materials to ensure that they don’t wear easily. Captive nuts make maintenance easier.

  1. Stihl Elastostart

This feature works hand-in-hand with the decompression valve to reduce the amount of effort that you will need to pull the starter cord. It significantly decreases the compression forces that you feel when starting the engine.

  1. Reduced Emission Technology

If you’re more environmentally conscious, then the Stihl MS 261 would be the best machine for you. This is because it uses reduced emission technology to produce gases that are less destructive to the environment.

Pros and Cons of the Stihl 261

Pros and Cons of the Stihl 261


  • Powerful and efficient when it comes to tackling demanding tasks, e.g., felling large trees
  • Side-mounted chain tensioning makes it easier to maintain in the field
  • Adjustable oil pump makes the machine more fuel efficient
  • Anti-vibration system makes it easier to use the machine for longer
  • Captive nuts make maintenance easier


  • Slightly heavier and bulkier than the MS 260
  • Not very cost-friendly compared to similar-sized saws

Comparison of the Stihl 260 Vs Stihl 261

The Stihl 260 and 261 chainsaws have many features in common that make them suitable for a wide range of cutting tasks. However, they also have a few differences that set them apart. Below is a table that summarizes their similarities and differences.

Feature Stihl MS 260 Stihl MS 261
Elastostart System Present Present
Anti-vibration System Present Present
Intellicarb Compensating Carburetor Absent Present
Side-Access Chain Tensioning Present Present
Ematic Lubrication System Present Present
Master Control Lever Present Present
Adjustable Automatic Oiler Present Present
Captive Nuts Absent Present
Reduced Emission Technology Absent Present
Decompression Valve Present Present
Stihl Quickstop Absent Present
Approximate price $500-$600 $700


  • Both saws have a similar displacement size, fuel tank capacity, and weight: 50.2cc, 0.5 liters, and approximately the same weight of 4.8 kg and 4.9 kg, respectively.
  • Both the Stihl 260 and 261 have an Elastostart system for easier starting of the saw. Additionally, they both have a decompression valve, which reduces the compressive forces that you feel when starting the engine.
  • Both saws are equipped with a Stihl anti-vibration system that makes them more comfortable to use.
  • These two saws come with a side-mounted chain tensioning system for easier adjustment of the chain’s tension.
  • The Stihl 260 and 261 are both equipped with the Stihl Ematic System, which helps to keep the chain well-lubricated by delivering oil to the right spot.
  • They both come with a single-lever master control that makes the machine easier and more efficient to use.
similarities & Differences of the Stihl 260 vs Stihl 261


  • Although both machines have a 50.2cc engine, they deliver different power outputs. The Stihl 261 produces slightly more power (4.0 hp) than the 260 (3.5 hp).
  • The Stihl MS 261 has an Intellicarb Compensating Carburetor that regulates the fuel-air mixture depending on the quality and quantity of air. This feature is not present in the MS 260, thus making the 261’s engine more efficient.
  • For additional safety, the Stihl MS 261 has the Stihl Quickstop feature, which halts the chain whenever there is an accident. This upgrade is absent from the Stihl 260; therefore, I would prefer using the Stihl 261, which is much safer.
  • The Stihl MS 261 features reduced-emission technology, while the Stihl MS 260 doesn’t. This makes the MS 261 more environmentally friendly since the reduced-emission technology decreases emissions by as much as 50%.
  • The Stihl MS 261 features captive nuts on the sprocket cover while the Stihl MS 260 doesn’t. This means that maintaining the MS 261 guide bar and chain is much easier than maintaining the MS 260.
  • The Stihl 260 has a controlled-delivery oil pump, while the Stihl 261 has an adjustable automatic oiler, both of which carry out the same function. They help to ensure that bars and chains have the right amount of lubrication.

Best Applications of the Stihl 260 vs Stihl 261

Best Applications of the Stihl 260 vs Stihl 261

The Stihl MS 260 is a versatile machine that is well-suited for light forestry work. It can easily handle tasks such as felling young trees, sawing branches, and sawing logs that aren’t too thick. If you’re looking for a reliable chainsaw to carry out medium-duty tasks, then the MS 260 will come in handy.

On the other hand, the Stihl 261 is an upgrade to the Stihl 260. It has been specifically crafted to handle heavy-duty tasks. That is why professionals prefer it over the MS 260 when carrying out forestry jobs such as felling larger trees, cutting through thick logs, and bucking large amounts of firewood.

Final Verdict

Both the Stihl MS 260 and MS 261 chainsaws are excellent tools and have many features in common. For example, the Ematic lubrication system, the Anti-vibration System, the Adjustable Automatic Oiler, and the Single-Lever Master Control, just to mention a few

However, their slight differences make them best suited for different applications. The MS 260 is a lightweight saw that is ideal for handling medium-duty tasks at home and in the forest. Its successor is much more powerful and therefore suited to professional and heavy-duty tasks.

If you just want something to help you carryout medium-duty limbing and logging tasks in the forest, the MS 260 will suffice. However, if you’re going for raw power for more demanding tasks such as felling larger trees or cutting through thick logs, then I would recommend you go for the Stihl MS 261.

You might also be interested in: Stihl 261 vs 362.

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