On your hunt for the best chainsaws out there, you will come across many amazing brands. But even to this day, there’s no brand that can match the level of versatility and quality control that Stihl offers. If you are looking for a new chainsaw for your collection, then it’s one of the finest brands you could go for.
Stihl has a huge catalog, and many of their old chainsaws, though discontinued, still hold a warm spot in the heart of true enthusiasts. One model that often comes up in my conversations is the Stihl MS 361. It was later on replaced with the MS 362 model with a few noticeable improvements to go along with it.
But what exactly were the improvements? And is the MS 362 really all that better than the previous version? If you find a good deal for an old MS 361, would you be making any major compromises? Well, to understand that you need to dig deeper.
And that’s where I come in. In this article, I will give you a thorough comparison between the Stihl MS 361 and MS 362 to showcase the main differences between the two brands. That way, you will have a much easier time deciding which chainsaw will serve you better. So, let’s hop in.
Comparison Table with Specs for the Stihl MS 361 and Stihl MS 362
|Key Factor||Stihl MS 361||Stihl MS 362|
|Powerhead Weight||12.3 pounds||13 pounds|
|Displacement||59.0 cc||59.0 cc|
|Chain oil capacity||10.9 oz.||11 oz.|
|Fuel Capacity||23.16 oz.||20.3 oz.|
|Engine Power||4.4 bhp||4.6 bhp|
|Price||CHECK LATEST PRICE||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
Main Features of the Stihl MS 361
- Stihl ElastoStart
A typical chainsaw with a combustion engine usually has a lot of kickback when starting up. But due to a damping element used in the MS 361, the amount of kickback you feel during the startup process is practically eliminated. This is dubbed the Stihl ElastoStart technology.
- Carburetor Heating
The MS 361 also comes with a dedicated toggle switch to switch between summer and winter operations. While the summer option is the default setting, with the winter setting, the engine fins in the chainsaw are preheated through the intake air to prevent cold starts.
- Advanced Combustion Technology
The MS 361 is well-known for its high torque output at a high RPM. Its ability to reach that level is attributed to the advanced combustion technology powering its two-stroke engine. The chainsaw features four overflow channels to prepare the air and fuel mixture before ignition to give you the best combustion performance.
The compensator in the MS 361 is another great addition to its feature set that prevents untimely air filter degradation. In addition, it ensures a consistent ratio of air and fuel is always present in the carburetor to provide optimal performance.
Read Also: Stihl MS 361 Problems
Main Features of the Stihl MS 362
- Decompression Valve
The decompression valve in the MS 362 reduces the compression in the combustion chamber when you are cranking the chainsaw. What that means is you will be able to pull the rope a lot easier when you want to start up the chainsaw.
- Side-Access Chain Tensioner
With the side-mounted chain tensioner system in the Stihl MS 362, you will be able to make easy adjustments to the chain on the fly. You won’t have to stop the chainsaw to tighten or loosen up the chain.
- Anti-Vibration System
The anti-vibration system in the Stihl MS 362 is top-notch, ensuring the utmost user comfort when you operate it. Even at higher RPMs, the chainsaw should rumble gently in your hands, making it easier to handle, even for an inexperienced beginner.
- Pre-Separation Air Filtration System
Thanks to the pre-separation air filtration system in the Stihl MS 362, you are absolved of a lot of maintenance duties for your chainsaw. This system expels larger dirt particles from the chainsaw to ensure your air filter remains free of clogs and requires less cleaning.
Read: Stihl MS 362 Problems
Differences Between Stihl MS 361 and Stihl MS 362
As you can see from the spec chart, there are very minimal differences between the two chainsaws. Apart from the slight difference in fuel capacity, the two chainsaws are nearly identical. While they may seem the same on paper, in my testing, I found some clear differences between them.
And if you are wondering which chainsaw to pick, perhaps my experience with the two models will make your time choosing between them a bit easier. Here are some of the key differences I found between the two chainsaws.
- Power and Performance
The engine power of the chainsaw determines what you can do with it. For example, if you plan on cutting down large trees with your chainsaw, it needs to have enough horsepower to deliver the cut. On the other hand, less demanding applications such as property maintenance can be handled easily with less powerful engines.
Both the MS 361 and MS 362 feature a single-cylinder two-stroke engine that can produce around 4.5 HP thanks to their 59 cc displacement capacity. The power difference between them isn’t really that much to matter in real-world applications. However, the engine technology is slightly different between the two models.
And that changes up the game entirely. The MS 361 is a roaring beast that excels at higher RPMs. But when you tone it down at a lower RPM, a lot of its engine power remains untapped.
The MS 362, on the other hand, similar to other Stratto saws out there, has a more evened-out power curve. Even at lower RPMs, the chainsaw can deliver amazing torque, at least more so than the MS 361.
What does that mean for you? Well, if you want a well-balanced chainsaw that can deliver decent power at all levels, the MS 362 is the better choice. The MS 361 is great at higher RPMs but falls off in comparison to the MS 362 when you want to use the chainsaw at a lower RPM.
Winner: Stihl MS 362
- Fuel Capacity
Fuel capacity isn’t necessarily the be-all, end-all when it comes to a chainsaw’s quality. If you ask me, the efficiency of the chainsaw matters more. But since there is a visible difference between the two models in their fuel capacity, I figured it’s worth mentioning here, at the very least.
As weird as it may sound, Stihl took a step backward with their newer Stihl MS 362 model when it comes to fuel capacity. The older Stihl MS 361 had a large fuel tank that could hold up to 23.16 ounces of fuel. With the newer model, the capacity came down to around 20 ounces.
Now, frankly, this isn’t a huge deal, especially since the efficiency is better with the MS 362 because of the engine framework. But still, a small difference is still a difference, and in this case, I would hand the crown to the Stihl MS 361.
Winner: Stihl MS 361
- Fuel Efficiency and Emissions
For those that don’t know – fuel efficiency refers to how much fuel the chainsaw consumes per hour, and even if your chainsaw has a massive fuel tank, if the efficiency is poor, you won’t get much uptime from it between each refuel. That’s why I put a lot of focus on the efficiency of a chainsaw when I want to buy one for myself.
Now I just said that the fuel capacity of the MS 361 is better, but when it comes to efficiency, the MS 362 is miles ahead of the older model. While both of these chainsaws run on two-stroke engines, the MS 362 features the Stratto engine technology.
In layman’s terms, this means the MS 362 has a split barrel carburetor with two separate intake channels (one for clean air and one for fuel and air mixture). There are two main advantages to this design.
Firstly, this allows the engine to use up less fuel than the conventional two-stroke engine design meaning you will be able to get more runtime with your chainsaw. Another huge advantage is that it drastically reduces the emissions from your chainsaw when you operate it.
One of the main reasons why the older model was discontinued is that it had poor emissions. With the Stratto engine technology, the MS 362 replaced the older MS 361 models offering better efficiency and emissions.
Winner: Stihl MS 362
- Ease of Use
The specs look good for both chainsaws, but which one is easier to use? That’s a good question to ask, regardless of whether you are a seasoned chainsaw user or a beginner.
Well, the MS 362, being the newer model of the two, brings some nice quality-of-life improvements in its design. For instance, the anti-vibration system in the chainsaw is better designed than the MS 361. At higher RPM, the vibration in the MS 361 is a lot more noticeable than in the MS 362.
In addition, the pre-separation air filtration system in the MS 362 is a huge leap forward in chainsaw maintenance. This technology enhances the lifespan of the air filter in your MS 362 and alleviates some of the maintenance responsibilities from your hands.
While the MS 361 is certainly a bit lighter than the MS 362, the weight difference between the two models is not that much. So because of the improved features, I believe the MS 362 chainsaw is the clear winner.
Winner: Stihl MS 362
I won’t beat around the bush here – if a saw is too expensive for you, you won’t find it attractive, no matter how good it is. Price can often be the tiebreaker when you can’t decide between two chainsaws. And when the two chainsaws are as evenly matched as the MS 361 and MS 362, your eyes would naturally drift toward the price tag.
The MS 362 has a retail price of around 850 dollars which isn’t exactly cheap. On the other hand, the MS 361, when it was still in production, would run you around 600 dollars. So, the price difference is pretty significant.
Now, the MS 361 is discontinued by Stihl, but you can find one in some retail stores if you are lucky. And buying it second-hand is always an option. In that case, you can save quite a bit of money.
So, if you are on a tight budget, the Stihl MS 361 is a no-brainer. Of course, the MS 362 is a newer model, which has an appeal of its own, but from a value perspective, the MS 361 is amazing.
Winner: Stihl MS 361
Stihl MS 361 vs. Stihl MS 362: What’s the Verdict?
While it might seem like the MS 361 is the same as the MS 362, in reality, they are as different as they can be. They feature entirely different engine structures, which makes them perform completely another way. So which chainsaw do you pick between the two?
Frankly, if you can, I would suggest picking up both. The MS 361 is a legendary chainsaw that only got discontinued because of the EPA law. Yes, the emission wasn’t that great, but performance-wise, it is still a pretty solid chainsaw. And since it’s not in production, you can often find amazing deals on old stocks.
The MS 362 performs just as well as any other Stratto saws in the market. It has amazing torque, and its fuel efficiency is pretty impressive. But it also costs significantly more than the older MS 361 model. So, if you are on a tight budget, it might not be an option for you.
If you can afford it, though, it will make a nice addition to your arsenal. Whether you use it for forestry applications or property maintenance, you can expect a decent experience with it for at least a good couple of years.
I hope my in-depth comparison between the Stihl MS 361 and MS 362 could help you figure out which chainsaw is worth investing in. Good luck!