MS 261

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This chainsaw offers an optimized power-to-weight ratio, great fuel efficiency and convenience features.

Product Description

Not available in all markets

The MS 261 chainsaw delivers low emissions, high fuel efficiency and, of course, professional-grade performance. Its redesigned cylinder and ergonomic housing deliver a great power-to-weight ratio, weighing just 10.8 lbs. Designed for large volume cutting, the MS 261 also features our anti-vibration system for enhanced comfort. Other convenience features include pre-separation air filtration system and a redesigned spiked bumper. Add the MS 261 to your jobsite today.

Model Features

  • Reduced-Emission Engine Technology - Caring for Nature
    The STIHL Inc. “Caring for Nature” seal identifies its powered products that are more environmentally conscious, producing zero or low exhaust emissions. STIHL Inc. defines “low exhaust emissions” as being cleaner than EPA and/or CARB exhaust emission standards.

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  • Built in the USA
    Indicates products that are built in the United States from domestic and foreign parts and components.

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  • STIHL Quickstop®
    STIHL chainsaws are equipped with a chain stopping system designed to reduce the risk of injury in certain kickback situations. It is called a STIHL Quickstop® chain brake. The STIHL Quickstop® chain brake is designed to stop the rotation of the chain if activated by the operator’s hand or by inertia if the saw kicks back with sufficient force. In some working positions, the STIHL Quickstop® chain brake can be activated by inertia, stopping the chain within fractions of a second.

    See it in action!
  • Anti-Vibration System
    STIHL has developed a system for minimizing the vibration levels of handheld outdoor power equipment. The STIHL anti-vibration system helps reduce operator fatigue and provides a more comfortable working experience.
  • STIHL ElastoStart™
    The ElastoStart™ starter handle is an exclusive feature of STIHL. It is a starting grip with a built-in shock absorber that helps reduce the effort when pulling on the starter cord. The ElastoStart™ starter grip noticeably reduces the sudden peak forces (compression) normally felt during cranking. The forces which occur at the grip after the first compression stroke are smoothed out.
  • Decompression Valve
    The decompression valve, also referred to as 'deco' or 'deco valve', vents compression in the cylinder for easier starting. The decompression valve temporarily reduces the compression in the combustion chamber during cranking and helps reduce the effort needed to pull the starter rope. It is opened manually and closes automatically as soon as the engine fires.
  • IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
    The IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor is designed to automatically adjust the air/fuel ratio when the air filter becomes restricted or partially clogged and maintains the engine’s correct RPM. IntelliCarb™ uses air from the clean side of the air filter to control the diaphragm and flow of fuel. As the air filter becomes dirty and less air is available for the carburetor, the IntelliCarb™ system adjusts the fuel flow to compensate for the decrease in air flow. This is in contrast to typical carburetors that utilize this air from the “dirty” side of the air box.
  • Ematic™ Lubrication System
    The Ematic™ guide bar, when used with STIHL OILOMATIC® saw chain, will provide proper lubrication and less oil consumption than conventional methods. The system works because two ramps, strategically placed in the guide bar rail, help contain the flow of oil and direct all lubrication to the sliding faces of the bar and chain links as well as the rivets and driver holes, which in turn can reduce bar oil consumption up to 50%.
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
    The side-access chain tensioner makes it much more convenient for the user to adjust the saw chain with a bar wrench as opposed to the typical location of the guide bar adjustment screw.
  • Master Control Lever™
    The Master Control Lever™ is an easy to use single lever, operating the choke, starting throttle lock and on-off switch. The operator must pull the throttle trigger before moving the Master Control Lever™ to the choke position.
  • Adjustable Automatic Oiler
    The Adjustable Automatic Oiler allows the user to adjust the lubricant of the guide bar and saw chain for different bar lengths and cutting conditions.


50.2 cc (3.06 cu. in.)
3.0kW (4.0 bhp)
4.9 kg (10.8 lbs.)
500 cc (16.9 oz.)
270 cc (9.13 oz.)
26 RM3
GUIDE BAR LENGTHS (Recommended ranges)
40 to 50 cm (16" to 20") STIHL ROLLOMATIC® E
STIHL recommends #3634 (26 RM3 67) OILOMATIC® saw chain and 16" 3003 008 6813 Ematic™ guide bar combination. The actual listed guide bar length can vary from the effective cutting length based on which powerhead it is installed on.

Important Information

WARNING! The occurrence called “kickback” can cause serious or fatal injury. Always read the instruction manual carefully before using your saw. STIHL uses a green and yellow color-coding system to help you select a powerhead, bar and chain combination that complies with the kickback requirements of ANSI Standard B175.1 (gasoline-powered saws) and §30 of UL 1662/ ANSI Standard B175.1 (electric chainsaws). Ask your STIHL dealer about safe operating procedures and the advantages of the STIHL Quickstop® chain brake, STIHL Quickstop® Plus (Q) additional chain braking feature, STIHL reduced kickback bars and STIHL low-kickback saw chains.

STIHL recommends the use of green reduced kickback bars and green low kickback chains on all STIHL chainsaws.

* The actual listed guide bar length can vary from the effective cutting length based on which powerhead it is installed on.

Note: STIHL recommends use of fuel with no more than 10% Ethanol content. Using fuel with greater than 10% Ethanol content may cause damage to your equipment and may void your STIHL warranty. Learn More…

WARNING! Improper use of any power tool may cause serious or fatal injury. Read, understand and follow carefully the operating and safety instructions in your instruction manual before using such products.

STIHL products sold through U.S. STIHL Dealers are for distribution in the United States only.


MS 261 is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 154.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Works great Had for over a year n cut thru countless amount of trees. Came from a ms440 n was well impressed by this model. Not only lighter but able to use professionally and didn't skip a beat. Did have to adjust carburetor at higher altitude but that's to be expected. Got model that enables dual dawg teeth so gives mean look of 440 lol
Date published: 2019-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Replacing MS250 This would be our third Sthil saw. As per usual they start reliably and run like champs. Unfortunately, I didn't clean the saw and wore a hole through the plastic body and caused an oil leak. Replaced with a MS 251 C-BE for two months. Found the new 251 C-BE to feel cheap compared to the older saws, power was better, but the chain tensioning and mount felt flimsy. Sold the MS 251 C-BE to a friend who has a much smaller yard and need and bought the MS261. It is simply amazing how much better the MS261 is compared to the Farm and Ranch saws. The power to weight ratio makes this saw so much better to work with.
Date published: 2019-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This saw is worth every penny! I don’t usually post reviews but I’ve owned a lot of saws and this saw deserved it. I was hesitant at first because the price but I loved the power and the weight of this saw. I recently owned the Stihl ms 290 but it got stolen so It had to be replaced. The Stihl ms 261 is Hands down the best saw I’ve owned. I would buy it again. It is the pro saw so it has the power and weighs almost 3lbs less than my ms 290. I would recommend this saw to anybody for small jobs or heavy jobs. Absolutely love it!
Date published: 2019-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nothing beats a Stihl I work for a line clearance tree trimming outfit they recently started switching back to Stihl and I’m glad you choke it pull 2-3 times hits half choke a pull or 2 your ready to go runs well of course it bogs down in large hard wood but it cuts great I’m hoping they start getting us the ms 362’s again soon
Date published: 2019-09-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 18" Bar and Chain. Bought this saw as a mid weight saw. I have used it for limbing and bucking some pine and it rips with the 18" bar and chain combo.
Date published: 2019-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dependable starting with plenty of power I love not having to pump gas into the chamber and the choking issues. Starts great and idles low and constant.
Date published: 2019-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good power-to-weight ratio Replaced my MS281. Two pounds lighter with more power. Same comparison to the newer 271.Which it had the power of the 362 in the weight of the 261.Comes with 18-inch bar, which is just a bit undersized. 20-inch bar makes it more versatile, but a little nose-heavy, but manageable. I don't use the compression start. The dogs are almost too long.I dislike the switch to the hex- or torq screws for the plate that covers the bar/chain oil outlet port because the standard scrench doesn't have the head.
Date published: 2019-08-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Nothing but trouble We first got it, we used it for about 3 hours at our mountain getaway. Seemed to run/work fine. Next day, could not get it to start to save our lives. But, had to leave to go back home. Came back the next summer, and still couldn't get it to start. Took it in and the dealership said it was getting NO spark. Would have to go the the repair center. However, they goofed up and it sat for 3 weeks at the dealership before actually being sent in. The repair center said they could fine no problem, started right up for them. (What ????). Cost me $50 and finally got it back. Used it for 1.5 hrs and the same thing has happened again, won't start for anything. So much for paying extra $$ to get a top quality saw. Massively disappointed in Stihl.
Date published: 2019-08-10
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Standard Features

  • Common Features for Chainsaws
    View the features common to many STIHL chainsaws.

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