Stihl MS290 Chainsaw: Specs, Features, Review in 2024

Stihl MS290 Chainsaw

When it comes to chainsaws, Stihl is one of the biggest names out there. This brand is credited with making the first electric chainsaw back in 1926. And the MS 290 chainsaw by them is considered a classic among all the chainsaws of the present and the past.

Although the chainsaw was later discontinued, it’s still considered to be one of the best chainsaws to have existed. There are more powerful chainsaws now. But the price-to-performance value you got from MS 290 was incredible!

Stihl MS290 Chainsaw

If you’ve heard of the Stihl MS 290 chainsaw and want to know what all the fuss is about, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will give you an extensive rundown of all the features of this amazing chainsaw.

A Complete Review of the Stihl MS 290 (Farm Boss) Chainsaw

The MS 290 from Stihl is a formidable beast well worthy of the name FARM BOSS. When it first came out back in 2004, it was widely considered the best chainsaw for landowners. And it holds up pretty well even to today’s standards.

Stihl MS290 Chainsaw Review

Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the MS 290 chainsaw.

Stihl MS 290 Chainsaw Specs:

Types MS 290
Engine Type Single-cylinder, two-stroke
Engine Power 3.8 bhp
Displacement 56.5 cc
Weight 13 Pounds
Fuel Capacity 18.9 oz.
Oil Capacity 11.2 oz.
OILOMATIC Chain .325 inches RM3
Guide Bar Lengths (Recommended) 16” – 20”

Engine and Power

A glance at its features should already give you an idea of all that it’s capable of. The Stihl MS 290 is a single-cylinder chainsaw utilizing a two-stroke, 56 cc engine to deliver 2.8 kW of power output.

This makes the chainsaw a perfect candidate for lightweight maintenance work along with different jobs in gardens or farms.

Weight and Handling

With no bar and chain, the chainsaw weighs only around 13 pounds, so handling it is pretty easy. The manufacturer recommends using guide bars ranging from 16 to 20 inches with this chainsaw.

So, if you plan on doing heavy-duty jobs, this might not be the best choice out there.

Engine and Power. Weight and Handling, Lubrication System

Lubrication System

In the hands of a capable user, the chainsaw can be a formidable tool. The MS 290 comes with a variable-displacement oil pump to ensure the highest level of precision when lubricating the chain.

That, combined with the Stihl Ematic Chain Lubrication System, significantly reduces oil consumption, allowing you to get more use out of your chainsaw per refuel.

Air Filter Quality

Another big innovation in the Stihl MS 290 is its Intellicarb system. What it does is simple – as you use the chainsaw if the air filter gets clogged up, the chainsaw automatically adjusts the ratio of air and fuel to compensate. This lets the chainsaw run at the right RPM without any breaks.

However, I would still advise checking the air filter every few weeks and replacing it or cleaning it if it gets too clogged up. It would help make sure that the chainsaw is performing in its peak condition at all times.

Air Filter Quality, Anti-Vibration Mechanism, Intelligent Design, Durability

Anti-Vibration Mechanism

The chainsaw also comes with an anti-vibration system in the form of a shock absorber eliminating the mechanical vibration that the operator feels when using it.

Sure, some vibration will still be present, but compared to most of the other chainsaws out there, the vibration in the MS 290 is pretty minimal.

Intelligent Design

With the MS 290 chainsaw, the tension adjustment screw is located on the side of the machine. This was a unique design choice for the time and made adjustments much easier as the screw was easy to access.


While the MS 290 is designed to last, and I have never had any issues with the one that I have, there are reports that the chainsaw is unreliable.

With some models, there are some issues with the throttle linkage. And others complain that the chainsaw breaks down after only two years of heavy use.

Short Verdict

But then again, the MS 290 isn’t really designed for heavy-duty applications. It’s a mid-ranged chainsaw that is capable of handling gardening or farming tasks pretty well.

However, pushing things beyond their capacity is really not a good idea with this chainsaw and can cause it to break down well before its time.

Stihl MS 290 Main Features

Stihl MS 290 Main Features
  • IntelliCarb Compensating Carburetor
  • Tool-free oil and fuel caps
  • Integrated chain tensioner (side-access)
  • Adjustable chain oiler and automatic bar

How to Start the Stihl MS 290 Chainsaw?

One of the things that people love about the MS 290 chainsaw is how easy it is to fire it up. Partly thanks to the Elastostart technology and partly due to the overall design of the chassis, powering up the chainsaw is of little hassle.

Before you start, though, make sure you read through the included Stihl MS290 manuals first and know what each of the parts is in the chainsaw.

You also want to make sure you are wearing proper safety gear, such as your safety gloves and a pair of goggles, before operating your chainsaw.

A chainsaw is extremely dangerous, and if there are bystanders, make sure they are standing at a safe distance when you are powering it up.

How to Start the Stihl MS 290 Chainsaw

With that said, here are the steps to starting the Stihl MS 290 Chainsaw:

  • For the first step, you need to activate the chain break by pushing it forward.
  • If the chain is covered with a bar cover, remove it.
  • Next, press the throttle trigger lockout and the throttle trigger. Then set the master control lever to the lowest position.
  • At this point, you need to lay the chainsaw down on a flat surface. Make sure the blade is not touching the ground.
  • Now, put your left hand on the handlebar and grab the pull-start rope with your right hand. Place your right toe on the rear handle to keep the chainsaw steady.
  • Pull on the rope slowly until you feel resistance. Repeat the pull several times, and the engine should start up for a moment. At this point, pull the rope upward without allowing it to rub against the fan housing.
  • The engine should fire up again only to power down immediately. Then move the master control lever position to the half-throttle position.
  • Keep pulling the pull-start rope until the engine powers on.
  • When the engine turns on, touch the throttle trigger with your index finger, and the master control lever should move to the normal idle setting position.
  • Then you can lift up the chainsaw. Make sure you do not touch the ground with the blade.
  • Now you can release the chain brake by pulling the handle towards you. You will know the chain has been released when you hear a small click.
  • We’re not done yet – check the lubrication in the chain. To check this, simply hold up the saw against a light-colored background. You should be able to see the lubrication.
  •  If the lubrication seems enough, you can start using your chainsaw.

How Much Does a Stihl MS 290 Cost?

How Much Does a Stihl MS 290 Cost

As of writing this article, unfortunately, the Stihl MS 290 has been discontinued by the manufacturers. Still, it is regarded as one of the best chainsaws of its time, and if you manage to pick one up second-hand for some lightweight jobs, this can be a fantastic investment.

When it was still available in stores, it cost around 200 to 400 USD, depending on where you bought it from or whether it was on sale. In countries other than the USA, though, the price was significantly higher, costing as much as 600 dollars in some parts of Australia.

Why Was the Stihl MS 290 Discontinued?

Stihl MS 290 Discontinued

Although there was nothing majorly wrong with the MS 290, its chassis and engine design was getting a bit too old compared to modern standards.

In addition, with new emission regulations in place, Stihl had to take a trip back to the drawing board to come up with an eco-friendlier design.

The MS 290 was later replaced with the MS 291 model featuring a completely redesigned chassis and a new chain system.

It also featured a Strato-charged engine making it more fuel-efficient and drastically reducing emissions. If you had your heart set on the MS 290, give the Stihl MS 291 a try. It costs around 70 to 100 USD more than the original but offers much better performance.

The Bottom Line

The Stihl MS 290, when it first came out, took the world by storm. It featured a lot of innovative designs that made it more accessible to those who had little experience with operating a chainsaw. It’s really a shame you can’t find one at the stores anymore.

The silver lining here is that the MS 291, which is the upgraded version of the MS 290, is even better than its predecessor. Sure, it costs slightly more than the original, but that’s a fair price to pay as it offers more fuel efficiency and a better power-to-weight ratio.

I hope my thorough breakdown of the Stihl MS 290 chainsaw could help you learn the ins and outs of this fantastic machinery. If you are interested to learn step by step upgrades to Stihl MS 391 then click here.

Good luck!

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