Dum Spiro Spero
Apr 16, 2005
Sharon, SC
Ok smart folks, and I know we have a bunch.

I need a new chainsaw.
Not going to become a logger just clearing some brush around the house and hunting property and cutting up logs for the fire pit.

Ive owned probably a half dozen over the years and felt like all of them sucked for one reason or another. However all of those were hand me downs, pawn store or otherwise used except one POS that I literally left in the woods where I was working (intentionally) I hated it so much.

Some the carbs were finnicky as heck and never wanted to run right.
One the chain tensioner required you to literally disassemble the saw to tighten and it had to be totally cool to do so.
Another had some ghetto bar oiler that through more oil than a chain driven harley.

Always heard husqvarna or stihl were the way to go.

Looked recently and both seemed to be cheap plastic chinese crap these days but maybe I should expect that.

So give me some opinions those that have bought recently.
What do you have ( a make AND model would be great)
What do you like?
What do you hate?

Bar 20" the answer or what do you have. Again I am not looking to fell huge trees and weight is always a concern when using it for a while but dont want to go too small either.

So let me hear it...
You spelled "educate" wrong... :D

I have a Stihl. Got it new a few years ago. It's got plastic but doesn't mean it's crap. Makes it light and ergonomic and less taxing when using it. Cuts down on vibration as well.

Got the MS251 or something like that. It's a "homeowner" version so it's not as fancy or high $ as the pro series but felt like it was a better saw than anything else in its class. I have like 6 Stihl power tools and all have been great, so I continued with them.

I fire it up like 2 times a year and burn about 3 tanks of fuel through it a year. It fires up like new every time without issue. Chain tensioning is easy. Bar oil lasts the same as a tank of fuel so it makes sense to fill both up at the same time. Chains are easy to find and the saw is powerful enough for anything most homeowners would encounter the 2 times they use it a year.

20" on a saw is overkill IMO. Unless you cut big wood, stick to 16-18". The MS251 can handle 20" but only if needed. I think it comes with 16 or 18" bar. I think I have 18" and it's plenty for anything I need and I e cut some big trees with it (about 32" diameter).

The Farm Boss is a good saw and I almost bought one but I felt like it was just too big for the little I would use it. Those are easy to find used so I got a smaller one that suited 90% of what I would do and if I need a bigger saw I'd borrow or go buy one then. Haven't needed it yet in the last 5 years
Stihl is a good option. I have a husqvarna saw from lowes. Also have a husqvarna weedeater, and recently got a leaf blower. They have never let me down. Maybe I got lucky. They start every time, but the chainsaw seems to always be leaking bar oil on everything. Doesn't matter what direction I store it.

Also second the 16-18 bar length. Most come with a safety chain that kinda sucks. Take what ever you get to a good shop and get some good chain. If you get a stihl, you'll likely already be there when you pick your saw up.
Stihl or Husqvarna only.


New chain is not a bad idea, but you can get by quite fine if you know how to properly sharpen it.

Buy one size larger than you think you need.

Wear eye protection.
I personally like the older stihls. Ive had from 009 to 044s. 16 to 18 inch bars should take care of your needs. I do have 25 and 28 inch bars for some of my bigger saws. Right now I have 011, 032, 034, 044, ms 311 and a small husky think a 136. I sold my ms 250 cause it just didnt get the job done the way I like. I dont care for the 029-ms 290s. Havent had good luck with them. I really like 036s but my ms311 has impressed me. I dont go cheap on tools if I can help it. My 026 feel out of my truck a few weeks back and I will probably have to find one to replace it. Even though I like the bigger saws, the new versions of the 026 , I think, is probably your best all around saw. The pro gets pricey but if taken care of you may never need another since its not for daily use. always use non ethanol. Oh and I dont cut trees for a living. Just a saw junkie
I have a stihl, well two one was handed down from my dad and is probably 20 years old, never had a problem but was to big for what I really needed most of the time so I got a new one with a 16" bar. For what your doing I wouldn't go bigger than 16"
If you want to buy it for the next 5-7 years, get whatever. If you want to buy it and not have to worry about it for the next 30 years, get a Stihl MS261. If you don't want to be limited by power, get an MS362. If you want to impress your friends, get an MS461. If you want to impress your chainsaw friends, get an MS661.

Also, go try them out. The angle between the wraparound bar and the throttle grip is different between Stihl and Husqvarna. Both make great saws. The Stihl feels right in my hand and the Husky doesn't because the angle is too tight. Dolmar is another good quality saw, something in their 5100 series. Makita is rebadged Dolmar, Jonsered is rebadged Husqvarna. If you want a "cheap" saw, get a Husky Rancher/Stihl Farm Boss/Echo Timberwolf. But you do get what you pay for, and the saws that use a name instead of a number are not built the same ;)

I've had a Stihl 028, 036, MS361, 046, and a Husky 338XPT, 359, and 3120, and a few others I'm forgetting. If I could only have 1 saw, it would be the 046, which is why I still have it :D. I would never buy a new one because they are too expensive, but that's how I operate. My 046 is about a 1994 model and the only thing I've replaced on it in the 10 years I've owned it is the bar and chains. Its a little heavier than the others, but it cranks every time, and makes awesome power. I'd like to buy the new MS261, I've heard great things about it. But since I have the MS361 and the 046 and Husky 338, it doesn't make sense to have a 4th chainsaw.

You can cut down a 3ft tree with an 18" bar. But you will wish you had a 3ft bar. I run a 20" on mine all the time, unless I need to put the 25" on for a wider tree. I prefer the longer bar for working on the ground because you don't have to bend over as far. The only exception is when I'm cutting a large amount of firewood in the 10-16" diameter range, I may put on the 18" bar just to squeak out a little more power.

I could talk about this topic for hours, but bottom line is:
1. Figure out which brand feels right in your hand
2. Figure out how much you want to spend (a good "pro" saw is $600 plus, but you will only spend it once)
3. Decide if its more important to have a warranty or get a used saw on CL.
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Stihl all the way, I have two in my garage right now and both are over 20 years old, never had an issue
Buy a sthil and the premixed gas.... Long shelf life and no worries about carbs.
^^^that premix gas is pricey, but supposed to be some real good sh*t. I'll probably get some this spring when weedeater season comes back around.
Stihl and Husqvarna are both good saws as I currently own both. Also have an Echo. I currently own the following saws:
Stihl 066
Stihl 044
Stihl 210
Stihl 046
Stihl 026
Husqvarna 137
Echo 352
Echo 302
McCulloch 510
There are more I just can't remember all of them right now.
All of the above are great saws when used for the intended purposes. If you buy a Husqvarna I recommend staying away from the box store(Lowes and Home Depot) versions. They are the cheaper lighter duty versions.
The larger the engine, the heavier the saw. The longer the bar/chain, the larger the wood you can cut. With the larger saws comes greater weight, which can be quite cumbersome when cutting for long periods of time.
For what you are needing a saw for I would look into maybe a Stihl or Husqvarna with an 18" bar, maybe 20". Nothing smaller as it won't cut as well on any larger stuff. To me an 18" bar is almost perfect for 90% of what a homeowner will need a saw for. Have any questions let me know.
I've always run huskys alot of the logging crews around the house run huskys because they can take 3 or 4 broke down saws and make 1 that will run for a while. I have used stihls at work they get the job done, either 1 will last if taken care of I'm sure.
I used a McCulloch 660 one time, for about 30 mins. Cut great but was friggin heavy.

I've used several Stihls from friends in the past. Loved everyone of them. I would def buy a Stihl
I've got the Stihl MS362 (its a pro saw so as mentioned it costs)and it runs like a scalded ape all the time. I use Stihl full synthetic mix w regular ethanol gas. Always starts the same even after months of summer sitting. Going on probably 7 or 8 years.

Since you've never had a new saw, get one that will last forever and go with the MS261.
I have a Husky. It came from Lowe's. It has a short little baby bar on it. It's like a 14 or 16. I put garbage in the tank. It fires up every time and cuts anything I put in front of it. The bar isn't long enough to fell big trees, but another $30 at Lowe's would fix that.

My dad has the bigger version of mine. It's the same, just heavier, louder, and with more power. Gotta watch how you handle it.

You can buy a Stihl, too. The good thing about them is that you can buy one new, leave it out in the rain for two years, then sell it on CL for $20 less than you paid. Seeing as how you're a Toyoter guy now, that's probably right up your alley.

I'll warn you, though. Some of the same guys that say there's nothing that can hang with a Stihl are the same guys that say the new EPA ones aren't worth a damn. Gotta find a ten year old 044 or 046 or whatever.
It kinda comes down to budget. If your on one what is it? Still/husky are like ford/Chevy. A pro saw will last and like previously said you'll only spend it once. I just purchased a 2014 395xp husky and gave 2/3 of new price for it with 4 bars and chains of different lengths. One thing I don't like about any saw manufacturers advertising is " will handle xx length bar". Ask your self what you be sawing the most. Hard wood or softwood? Just because it says it'll handle a 20" bar doesn't mean it'll pull it. The longer the bar the less bending you do while limbing. A 20" saw is a great size saw IMO with about a 60-70 cc motor. A 372xp husky is an awesome size smaller pro series saw. But if you buy a pro series saw you probably will never leave it in woods.
I got a Stihl MS291 a few years ago w a 20" bar and just love this saw. It's about 12 lbs. and feels light and balanced in my hands w the 20" bar but also has plenty of power to pull the 20" bar full of hardwood log. The non pro Stihl saws all come w a semi chisel chain for less kickback and they are better for cutting dirty wood where they stay sharper. I liked my saw from the first time I used it but knew a full chisel chain would cut faster and got one soon after. W the FC chain the saw cut's faster and throws larger chips. It sips fuel and will run well over an hour one one tank and starts w 3 pulls after sitting for months. I use non ethanol gas and stihl synthetic oil. I would recommend the MS 261 (pro saw) or the MS 291 ( farm and ranch saw) both are suitable sized/powered for most tree felling/firewood cutting.
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^^^that premix gas is pricey, but supposed to be some real good sh*t. I'll probably get some this spring when weedeater season comes back around.

It's good shit for what it is. It's not cheap, but it's consistent and very stable, and it always starts no matter what. I use it in the weedeater and the cost isn't much because I don't use very much. I've been getting the VP brand from Northern. Yeah, it's close to $15/gallon, but there's no ethanol, it's already mixed and stabilized, is 94 octane (doesn't really matter unless you're running the shit out of something in the hot summer), and seems to make everything I've tried it in run better. They must have some special blend or tweaked additive package for small engines, I dunno. It works though.
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I was just helping a friend of mine in the same search. If your patient, you can find a nice used pro saw on cl for about 500. Emissions really kill the new saws regardless of brand. I would look for more saw than you need. The husky xp's are nice, but I'm partial to my ms440. Buy (2) 3/8 chain, the chainsaw jig for your dremel (only run it at low speed) and non ethanol ONLY. Never let your friends borrow it once it runs right.
For me, the added weight and minimal difference in cost of a used saw is worth the difference in performance when your are in the cut. Running a real saw makes cutting trees A LOT more fun.
I have a small collection of saws and prefer Stihl, mostly the older models. They have good oilers, easy chain adjustment, and good chain brake. I also work on saws and other small engine stuff, the Stihls are easier to work on in my opinion. Most problems are with the carburetors because of the ethanol gas and from sitting for extended periods. The Huskys, Poulans, etc. you have to disassemble a whole bunch of crap to get the carb out. I bought all of mine used, a couple of them were given to me because there was something wrong with them and i fixed them up.
Collection includes:
ms 210 -16"
ms 250 - 16"
028 - 18"
028 - 18"
ms 280 - 18"
ms 361 - 20"
038 - 20"
038 Magnum - 20"
038 MagnumII - 24"
056 - 24"
056 Super - 28"
064 - 28"
064 - 32"
(a couple of these belong to my brother - BigJUGGY, he stores them at my house because I keep all the equipment running good and sharpen the chains)

The 0xx models are all 20+ years old and still going strong. In my opinion, the 028 is a good all around homeowner saw, very durable, you can run up to an 18" bar, and you can usually find them on Craigslist or ebay for $200 or less. Be careful of the early 028WB model because they did not come with a chain brake. One of my favorite newer version saws is the MS 361 it's pretty light and it rips. I have worked on several MS 260 - 261's and they are very good smaller saws too. The older 0xx saws have more torque (more durable) and the newer MS models have more speed (they run leaner and are easier to burn up a piston). I don't have anything against the Husky's or others, they just seem cheaper made to me and, as mentioned before, a little more time consuming to work on.

just my 2 cents
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I have a friend that is big into saws. As in owns over 100 of them. He has a smaller sthil than my 290, can't remember the model, that he had some work done to and it is awesome! A good bit lighter than mine and it seems to rip better than my larger model. Sounds like what you're looking looking for Ron.