ArboristSite.com Sponsors


Chainsaw as a gift, looking for thoughts on two models

PA452

PA452

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
44
Location
PA
Looking at going in on a new chainsaw for my dad. He currently has a Stihl MS290 with 20" bar. We're looking at either a Stihl MS261C-M or MS362C-M. It will be one of those two. We have lots of Stihl support around here.

Just a few months ago I was debating the same thing. After a painstaking decision-making process, I eventually went with the 261. I was a little concerned it would lack power, but so far I've been very happy with it; love the weight and handiness of it. I went with the 18" bar.

Anyway my dad is in his mid-70s. He doesn't know we're doing this, so I can't ask him his preferences up front. But I feel pretty confident he'll want to stick with the 20" bar. I know the 362 is a fair amount more money, but for the moment putting that aside...

I think the major advantage of the 261 is weight and size. When cutting the bigger logs into rounds, the weight doesn't matter that much. But limbing and working on the smaller, quick stuff, I think the 261 really shines.

Major advantages of the 362 is more power, and it uses 3/8 pitch chains that he's used to and has on hand (not that he has a lot of them laying around).

The saw is mostly used for firewood, post-storm cleanups, etc.. It would be used most commonly on cherry, oak, maple, walnut, hickory, etc.. Not a whole lot of pine around here.

So what do you guys think? Transition from an MS290 to a 261 or 362?
 
Overkill338

Overkill338

Bars Of Stihl
Joined
Dec 18, 2017
Messages
1,047
Age
38
Location
Virginia
I have both the 241 and 261. The 241 weighs a tad over 1 lb less. But the 241 curse way out of its weight class. I run a 18" 325 B&C on it no problem what so ever. If you come to my area you can get a 241 for $440 new.
 
PA452

PA452

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
44
Location
PA
Thanks for the replies guys.

I don't think the 241 will make the cut in this case. Might be nice to have, but this is intended to be more of a do-all saw around the farm. 99.9% of the time, the MS290 with a 20" bar was able to fill that role; usually its power and size were fine, and on some rare occasions I got out an old Echo EVL 70cc saw I have with a 24" bar. But I'm guessing a 20" bar buried in oak might be a bit taxing for the 241.

I've had the 18" bar on my 261 buried in oak and it still ran great. By the numbers on Stihl's site, the 261 should have more power than the MS290, plus a lot less weight. So I guess for me, the question comes down to does the 261 really have more power than the MS290 (is it going to run at least as nice or better than the MS290 in the same situations, both with a 20" bar), and/or is there much of an advantage to having the 3/8 chain setup rather than the .325 besides logistics (we can always get some new chains)?
 
gr8mac

gr8mac

Spring Fling
Joined
Nov 22, 2003
Messages
405
Location
Ohio
The 261 with 18 inch bar will do every thing a 290 can do at less weight. No worries there. The 362 will be heavier especially with a longer bar. I'm almost certain your dad will appreciate the lighter saw, plus it will put a grin on his face when he uses it!
 
morbius18

morbius18

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Nov 18, 2017
Messages
380
Age
39
Location
Tennessee
I've got both. The 261 will cut very well for limbing and most cutting. If he runs a 3/8 20" on a ms290, then even with a 3/8 20" on the ms261 he'll notice an improvement. Not that it is recommended at all.

I ran a .325 18" on mine and it cut like a lightsaber. I do run a 20 inch on my 362c. I find for short cutting, not more than a few hours, the ms362 isn't much more weight. Of course, I'm former military, 38 yearsold, 6' tall and weigh 190lbs.

If he is using a ms290 and liking it, the 261 will be a vast improvement. Even if he has to have a 20" on it, it can run a 20" .325.
 

rd35

Just an average Joe's brother!!
Joined
Apr 23, 2014
Messages
960
Age
56
Location
Bloomington IN
My Vote: 261 for sure. You can outfit it with a 3/8 bar and a 3/8 rim sprocket so he can use the same chains as the 290.
And just for kicks I'll throw this in: If he's keeping the 290 and it still runs good for him......you may want to consider a MS211 or, even, an MS181. I just finished building a little MS170 for my Dad (80 years old) as he is having trouble pulling the rope on both his 029 and his 026. Dad absolutely loves that tiny little 170. It's light, easy to start, and works great to clear trails or cut up the occasional downed small trees around the perimeters of the fields. He saves the bigger stuff for us "young'uns" to take care of for him with our big saws. Just a thought!
 
Backyard Lumberjack

Backyard Lumberjack

" ~ No wood, No fire! ~ "
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
14,319
Location
Echoville, TEXAS
the 261 is a workhorse, for sure! I really like my 026. :yes: i note its weight... but then yesterday i was eyeballing up close and personal... a Husky 562XP. nice saw! dint seem too much heavier than my 026. being over 70, i would opt for the 362... all things considered. power! and if buying a new saw, well does not sound as if budget is handicapped! lol. no doubt a 261 with chain kept sharp and air cleaner kept clean... and fresh fuel... will cut a lot of wood. 12-14" no prob. and that in a respectable time, too.

but if mostly 'homeowner firewood' sort of thing, as others have said here... ur dad may like lighter. have u guys considered going down to the saw shop and ckg out both... weight, etc. also... adding in the opinions of good countermen can help u with ur final decision. after all many were or are arborists and deal with many saws all day long in many use situations. and you are despite any background experience... only considering one saw...

unless u opt for both~
 
Backyard Lumberjack

Backyard Lumberjack

" ~ No wood, No fire! ~ "
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
14,319
Location
Echoville, TEXAS
My Vote: 261 for sure. You can outfit it with a 3/8 bar and a 3/8 rim sprocket so he can use the same chains as the 290.
And just for kicks I'll throw this in: If he's keeping the 290 and it still runs good for him......you may want to consider a MS211 or, even, an MS181. I just finished building a little MS170 for my Dad (80 years old) as he is having trouble pulling the rope on both his 029 and his 026. Dad absolutely loves that tiny little 170. It's light, easy to start, and works great to clear trails or cut up the occasional downed small trees around the perimeters of the fields. He saves the bigger stuff for us "young'uns" to take care of for him with our big saws. Just a thought!
true. its not too much fun if saw not running and having to pull it over n over, time and time again. PITA! fast...
 
holeycow

holeycow

Addicted to ArboristSite
Joined
Sep 9, 2011
Messages
2,406
Location
Alberta, Canada
I gotta say it one more time;

The man is in his mid 70’s. He may not even know how much he will appreciate light and quick.

He already has a 55cc saw. If that saw is sticking around and can do 99.9% of the work, then why on earth would you get another 50cc saw?

Sure the 261 will be a little lighter (a little) and a little snappier (a little), but not enough of a difference to be really significant.

A 70cc saw or a 40cc saw would be a significant difference to complement the 290.

It’s nice to have more than one saw. Really nice.

Since your Dad isn’t getting any younger, I’ll throw the 241 idea out there again.

Yous obviously don’t know what you are missing in the 40cc class, especially in light of your fathers age.

With that being said, good luck with whatever you choose, but choose carefully for your aging father.
 
rat4go

rat4go

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Apr 11, 2018
Messages
13
Age
53
Location
US
My Vote: 261 for sure. You can outfit it with a 3/8 bar and a 3/8 rim sprocket so he can use the same chains as the 290.
I am not smart enough to comment on the saw choices, but I know more than a few folks including myself (admittedly long ago) who bought new saws from a local Stihl dealer who was happy to swap bar, sprocket and chain to make a .325 saw into a 3/8" saw for very little $ in the grand scheme of things.
 
NeSurfcaster

NeSurfcaster

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Messages
243
Location
South Jersey
I vote 362, if using 20" bar and 3/8ths chain. Has he ever owned a larger cc saw? If not get him the 362 to spoil him with some power. I cut a fair amount of firewood and never pick up the smaller saws for bucking up logs. If he likes a 20" bar let him spin that chain with some grunt. I guess it all depends on what shape/health he is in.
I just figured somebody has to vote for the biggest option.
 
PA452

PA452

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
44
Location
PA
I gotta say it one more time;

The man is in his mid 70’s. He may not even know how much he will appreciate light and quick.

He already has a 55cc saw. If that saw is sticking around and can do 99.9% of the work, then why on earth would you get another 50cc saw?

Sure the 261 will be a little lighter (a little) and a little snappier (a little), but not enough of a difference to be really significant.

A 70cc saw or a 40cc saw would be a significant difference to complement the 290.
Sorry, should have been more clear. While I can't say for certain, he'll probably get rid of the MS290 after he gets this saw.
 
PA452

PA452

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
44
Location
PA
buy the 362 for yourself. Clean up your 261 and give that to your dad. Best of both worlds. If you need the bigger saws borrow your dads!
I love my 261 way too much to give it up. :D

Not too far down the road I'd like to get a bigger saw to complement it. When I was buying I debated between the 362 as a one-saw plan or a 261 and then later a 70cc saw down the road as a two-saw plan. After much deliberation I chose the latter. I was really worried I'd feel the 261 was underpowered or inadequate compared to what I was used to, but I don't at all, and in fact often feel relieved I went with the choice that I did.

So really the only things that had me questioning my decision this time around is that I've only been running an 18" bar, and I don't know if he'll mind going to a small pitch chain.

That said, you guys have given me some things to think about, and I've been debating it all day and last night. Pretty certain at this point I'm going with the 261. :)

ETA: Something else worth noting, I do have an old Echo EVL (I forget the model now) 70cc saw with a 24" bar. I've brought that out a few times over the years when a longer bar was really going to pay off, but it's been years since we've needed it. I'm thinking someday maybe I'll sell that Echo and pick up a 462 if I think I can justify it when the time comes.
 
PA452

PA452

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
44
Location
PA
I am not smart enough to comment on the saw choices, but I know more than a few folks including myself (admittedly long ago) who bought new saws from a local Stihl dealer who was happy to swap bar, sprocket and chain to make a .325 saw into a 3/8" saw for very little $ in the grand scheme of things.
I would do this, just afraid of it taking away too much power being we'd already be putting the longest recommended bar on it.
 
morbius18

morbius18

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Nov 18, 2017
Messages
380
Age
39
Location
Tennessee
The MS290 is 13lbs dry and has 3.8hp.
The MS261c is 10.8lbs dry and has 4.0hp.
The MS362c is 12.3lbs dry and is 4.7hp

Both are lighter and have more hp. He would love the 261c. Lighter and feels like a lightsaber with .325 chain on it.
Its at the borderline for 3/8". It can run it, but will put a strain on it. Although if he's running a ms290 with 20" 3/8, it will feel a little faster than the 290. With .325 it feels way faster. People get a 'tuning kit' for them to convert to the picco chain and bar. This turns the saw into a surgical scalpel.

The MS241 is a good saw, 1lb less than the 261, but .9 hp less.
 
Top