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16"-18" Chainsaw recommendations

Dec. 30, 2012, 2:39 p.m.
Posts: 1828
Joined: Feb. 12, 2007

Hey folks,

I plan on buying a chainsaw this spring. I've been researching here and there for awhile now, and decided a 16-18" bar would be ideal. It will be used to mainly clear blow down, help build structures, and everything up to cutting firewood. I don't plan on milling my own rungs, nor do I plan on felling large trees. Lightweight is a plus, but not a necessity. I'm looking for something that is well built and versatile.

I've heard lots of good things about the Stihl MS 170, but think I would like a little bit bigger. Any opinions on the MS 250? I have read some complaints about the MS 170 not having enough power for some jobs, would a MS 250 w/16" bar be a better option than a MS 170 w/16" bar?

I haven't heard much at all about Husqvarna, most people I happened to talk to seemed to be Stihl fans. I'm open to other brands however.

Any advice is appreciated. :beer:

Dec. 30, 2012, 3:09 p.m.
Posts: 8242
Joined: Dec. 23, 2003

Stihl 270

Dec. 30, 2012, 4:01 p.m.
Posts: 762
Joined: Nov. 19, 2003

Woodpile envy /\

Dec. 30, 2012, 4:03 p.m.
Posts: 18879
Joined: Oct. 28, 2003

MS170 is great for hiking into places. MS270 is great for your firewood and building a trail next to your truck. ;)

seriously though, the 170 has done me very well for a lightweight saw. Yes, there are times when you might want moar power to cut faster (like in a giant woodpile), but for blowdown and cutting slats it's fine.

Do you need to cut any bigger than this? That's hard yellow cedar 4"x6" stringers cut out of the tree with a 170.

all you need is a sharp chain and safety gear (helmet, chaps, gloves, first aid, training)

Dec. 30, 2012, 4:18 p.m.
Posts: 3253
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

power or cc size is really only related to bar size. with a bigger bar and a longer chain going through a larger cross section of wood you need more power to keep the chain moving.

all that is for naught tho if you don't keep your chain sharp. a sharp chain is the most important factor when it comes to using a saw effectively. if you only want/need a 16" bar then get the 170 and learn how to sharpen your own chain in the field and do it regularly.

a sharp chain also means less wear on the powerhead (engine) and is ultimately safer as well as it's less likey to kick on you. make sure you leave enough money for gear as well - slash pants or chaps, hard hat with ear muffs, eye protection and steel toed boots. and fins someone who knows what they're doing to show you the basics of how to operate the machine after you read about chainsaw safety.

We don't know what our limits are, so to start something with the idea of being limited actually ends up limiting us.
Ellen Langer

Dec. 30, 2012, 4:27 p.m.
Posts: 18879
Joined: Oct. 28, 2003

the 170 also comes with a safety chain that really doesn't kick back, a plus for me when 2 km off the road.

Dec. 30, 2012, 4:48 p.m.
Posts: 14606
Joined: Dec. 16, 2003

I used a Stihl MS230 with an 18" bar back when I used to do that sort of thing. It was light enough to pack up the mountain but still big enough to do some bigger work

Dec. 30, 2012, 4:50 p.m.
Posts: 8242
Joined: Dec. 23, 2003

^^ nice!

ah heckler yer trailbuilder envy will always get the best of you..

i used the 270 to rebuild 7 and build the d-line.

to access most of the work i did on 7 i did the year the snow was down low and i had to hike in 35 min from the bottom…

when i did the d-line i got dropped at the top w my bike and rode out with the saw broke down in my back pack..

wanna get real, get a real saw.

Dec. 30, 2012, 4:58 p.m.
Posts: 8848
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

Lots of good info in this thread, I was asking the same questions earlier this year:

Dec. 30, 2012, 5:31 p.m.
Posts: 1111
Joined: Jan. 9, 2007

get something bigger than the 170. The chain sucks ass


Dec. 30, 2012, 6:05 p.m.
Posts: 82
Joined: Sept. 8, 2010


MS170 is great around here. I have 2 bigger saws that see 1/8th the action of the 170. Get a Dakine builders pack and tuck that badboy in there! Keep your chain sharp (don't let Beers get ahold of it! Haha jk) and keep her maintained and you'll love it. I hiked my big saw into a new line we're building this summer and hated life the entire hike out. I did most of my early season blowdown removal with the 170 on my back. The 170 even scared that damned cougar away from between 98 and chrispys. Guys will say bigger, bigger! but for me its my go to.


Dec. 30, 2012, 6:25 p.m.
Posts: 479
Joined: May 28, 2009

This year ive been running a Husqvarna 353 E-Tech with a 18-20" bar. I could not be happier with the Saw. Reliable,powerful and is'nt very heavy its a lower class of professional saws but definately holds its own. I have run Stihl and Husqvarna and both have been good to me, keep your saw happy and it will make you happy. Heres some info.

Dec. 30, 2012, 7:10 p.m.
Posts: 8242
Joined: Dec. 23, 2003

i originally used a poulan which was probably in the 170 weight range (8.6lbs) and i was able to get lots done with it.

i do prefer my 270 stihl (approx 12.3) , but both have done lots of trailwork. the weight difference is approx 3.75 lbs..

if you have assignments outside of trailbuilding you might prefer a larger saw..

Dec. 30, 2012, 10:27 p.m.
Posts: 15019
Joined: April 5, 2007

TGR crosspost

When all you have is a chain saw, everything looks like a log.

Why slag free swag?:rolleyes:

ummm, as your doctor i recommend against riding with a scaphoid fracture.

Dec. 31, 2012, 2:22 a.m.
Posts: 1828
Joined: Feb. 12, 2007

Thanks for all the awesome info guys, it helps a lot.

The 170 seems pretty popular. I'm sure most of the work I'll be doing will be accomplished by it. I just hate the feeling when I come across a log I can't cut (ie. almost every day with my bow saw and axe, haha). Heckler's picture gives me faith it'll get my jobs done.

Ozibatla noted the chain sucks.. Are saws limited to one type of chain only? Any aftermarket options?

I've been looking at the chains from the 170 and 271 (replaced the 270) and can't find much about the "safety chain." They both are low kickback designs apparently. It does say that the 170 comes with a slightly easier to maintain chain.

Also how is the 170 on gas? I'd imagine fairly well since it is a smaller saw.. Is the 171 worth looking into? Seems like it carries and extra ounce of gas and oil, weighs another pound, and is apparently more fuel efficient. I can't imagine it would be worth it on the scale of work I'll be doing, but I haven't seen any prices on these yet.

The 230 that DaveM mentioned seems like a happy medium between the 170 [HTML_REMOVED] 270. If anyone has more info or experience with the 230 please share.. The website says it's chain is more durable and is good for dirty work like roots etc.. Seems like a handy thing to have for trail clearing. But then again if it turns out an aftermarket chain can be thrown on, maybe a similar chain could get thrown on a 170..

And yes, budgeting for the safety things. I was going to try and jump in on a chainsaw training deal at the forest center but I think I missed the boat for that one. I'll find a sensei to show me the ropes.

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