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Thread: Stihl 261 C-M chainsaw?

  1. #1
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    Stihl 261 C-M chainsaw?

    I'm planning to purchases another chainsaw the first of the year and have been thinking of getting the Stihl 261 C-M. It's probably more than I need preparing wood for woodturning, cutting down some small trees on my property, etc. but it seems to be a quality tool. Any suggestions on an alternative?

  2. #2
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    Either the Dolmar 5105 or 510 would be comprable. Build quality of Dolmar is overall much nicer than the lower end Stihls so tend to be a bit better value for the money imo. Not a lot of cheap feeling plastic parts on a Dolmar.

    If your yard isn't terribly large and you intend to use this mainly for woodworking, I'd strongly recomend checking out an electric Stihl MSE 250 C-Q. Thye're amazingly powerful, quiet, lightweight and really a pleasure to use. Only limitations are extension cord length and bar. I think the longest is 18" for any of them.

  3. #3
    I would second the recommendation for an electric. Have a large piece of property with a small bandmill on it and of course use and own several saws. But in the shop its a different story. We had an odd job a while back in a log home that required extensive re-work of log openings for window trim. We bought a dirt cheap Worx electric chainsaw to do the interior work (was a finished home) and I will say that saw gets more use in the shop than I would have ever guessed. We use it for all kinds of stuff. No gas, no oil (if we need chain lube we run vegetable oil but we often run the saw with just a light dry spray lube on the chain, its not like we are cutting down trees). It has miles of power and you never have to stop to fill up.

    If I were within 150' of power I would never run a gas saw again.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  4. #4
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    The saw will be used well beyond reach of electric power so an electric chainsaw is out of the question. If I have to saw something inside the shop I've been using a bandsaw and it has worked out well enough so far. The Dolmar sounds promising. I understand they have been bought out by Makita, which may be good or bad.

  5. #5
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    Stihl and Husqvarna make good gas powered saws. My father used to buy logging truck loads of logs and cut them up with a Stihl corded saw. I think he did about 5 or 6 truckloads with it before it quit. I have a Husvarna electric that was even better made that I use once in a while. Stihl makes some cordless saws that work well and a few batteries would let you work for a couple hours or more. The batteries are comparable with their other yard tools like the string trimmers. All depends on how often you need them for and how big the trees are.

  6. #6
    I love my MSA 200 C-BQ. Very powerful and with the 1/4" chain, it seems like it cuts as fast as a 35-40cc pro grade 2 stroke chainsaw. I use it all of the time...while the 2 strokes pack a good power to weight ratio, and I own a few of them (especially in the larger sizes), if I don't have to go through the process of getting one going, its a big plus. With cordless, just push the button and cut.

    I think I would also consider a Makita cordless. Makita now owns Dolmar and I can't help but to think that there is a Dolmar chainsaw technology in a Makita cordless chainsaw (I could be wrong).

  7. #7
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    I got a good laugh by someone asking about a 1,000 dollar pro saw, and the recommended alternatives. I'm sure it's a great little saw, but I don't know anyone that owns one. It's probably the best choice there is in a 50cc saw. I have 60, and 90cc pro saws that have served me well for 20 years, but I run a cheap small saw. That's a pretty specialized pro saw that I don't see the price being paid back, unless you're going to be running it every day. I don't even remember anyone talking about owning one on the Forestryforum, and those guys are mostly all pros. My small saw is a MS180, and gets used more than the 036, and 066 combined.

    The power to weight is pretty amazing in the pro saws, and they're very easy to work on, even including the bottom end, but for occasional use, something like the 300 buck 250 is a nice little saw. It's what the power company crews carry on their trucks.

    Everyone does seem to like the electronics of the C-M's, especially if you work in really cold weather. For another 500, you could get an MS500i, if money doesn't matter.

    Run non-ethanol in it with the synthetic Stihl oil, and even the homeowner saws will last for many years. I'd still be running a 20 year old 018, but I loaned it to a friend, who had it stolen, and he replaced it with the 180.

    edited to add: If you're strong, and fit, you might consider going up to a 60cc saw that will pull a 3/8" chain. Some people like the .325 chains, but I never got on with them. If I'm not throwing big chips, I'd just as soon run a smaller saw with the 3/8 PICCO chain.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 12-27-2018 at 6:30 PM.

  8. #8
    The 261 is considered a commercial saw, and is priced higher than a comparable 290 or 291. I have both a 290 and a 291, and both are heavier, but cut comparable and cost less than the 260 or 261. They also have fewer problems. I run synthetic oil in my saws, and switch off occasionally. When the chain starts to feel like you need to push hard, I switch saws, and avoid overheating a saw. Also have a ms250, it starts easy, but takes a shorter chain although both are 16". I use .325 on all my saws.

  9. #9
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    I like the MS250s too, use two of them around the farm. I have 18" bars on them so I can easily cut through a 30"+ diameter tree. Plenty of power. They always start and run well.

    What worries me about the MS 261 C-M is the computer, sensors, and electronics that Stihl describes as inside. This might sound attractive on the surface but I like to keep chain saws a long time. What happens if the computer or sensors break 20 years from now and it costs a fortune to get them replaced. I would consider sticking to the time-proven conventional Stihl saws.

    BTW, I use the 250s and one larger gas Stihl as needed away from power. Outside the shop and inside the shop I use a Stihl electric to cut log sections as needed for woodturning. If I need a chainsaw at the sawmill I run a couple of hundred feet of extension cord and use the electric there too.

    JKJ


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Andrew View Post
    The 261 is considered a commercial saw, and is priced higher than a comparable 290 or 291. I have both a 290 and a 291, and both are heavier, but cut comparable and cost less than the 260 or 261. They also have fewer problems. I run synthetic oil in my saws, and switch off occasionally. When the chain starts to feel like you need to push hard, I switch saws, and avoid overheating a saw. Also have a ms250, it starts easy, but takes a shorter chain although both are 16". I use .325 on all my saws.

  10. #10
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    I think we are long past the time to worry about the electronics. They have been in cars for many years and starting to show up in many lawn mowers. I remember the days of no electronic ignition and no fuel injection in cars and do not want to go back. My car with electronics starts every time and in brutal cold weather.

  11. #11
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    Jun 2017
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    Northeast Ohio
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    I have a 261cm as a limber/ light duty saw and I love it. Had the original 261 and when the c-m came out I traded up.
    Have a ms460 70cc saw that I wish I was in the same position to trade to the 461cm or even the 661cm, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    At any rate, for simplicity I switched to 3/8 bar and chain and run a 20" bar on it, and if I don't feel like switching on/off I'll frequently use it to cut 16-18" logs, which it does with ease.

  12. #12
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    Dec 2015
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    Boone, NC
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    I'm not familiar with the electronic specifics that the CM offers, but the 261 is a fantastic saw. One of the best choices of its size for power to weight, feel, etc.

    I used to do quite a bit of forestry work in the woods professionally and ran an older 026 Pro (16" bar) and a hopped up / ported 044 (20-24" bar). Those 2 saws with proper and sharp chains would handle any situation you could throw at them. I used the 026 about 75% of the time...as much as I could get away with just because of its lightweight.

    I still have both saws and really like the 90s era of Stihl before electronics / tighter emmission controls came into the carb / motor / exhaust.

    If you can afford it and value your time, life's too short to use tools less than what you need. A fine chainsaw that is light, powerful and reliable is a true joy to behold.

  13. #13
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    Adam, before you upgrade the 460, check to see what they're running in Europe. They're already on the 462 there, and I don't think the 500i is here yet either. the MS500i is a fuel injected (no choke) 60cc (I think) saw, with a lot more power, and lighter weight than the 360. You can find youtube videos in a Scandinavian language. Those saws will probably be here next year.

  14. #14
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    If you want an in-depth review of the 261CM, there is one on the forestryforum by a pro. Can't put a link here, but search there for Official MS261CM vs 550XP test

  15. #15
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    official MS261CM vs 550xp test

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