MS 261

MS 261
This chainsaw offers an optimized power-to-weight ratio, great fuel efficiency and convenience features.

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 50cm (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 4.8 out of 5 by 55.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfection When I got my old MS 260 stolen I needed to replace it. So I replaced it with the then new MS 261. I almost didn't go for it because it took a totally different type of chain, .325 opposed to the 3/8 chain. I however was pleasantly surprised and glad that I went with saw. I have now been running this saw for several years and I burn about 10-15 cords of wood a season. Other that the standard maintenance I have never had anything major go wrong with this saw. In fact I have never had to stop cutting for the day because of anything mechanical that went wrong with the saw. I will however say that I am glad I got the older version of the saw without Stihl's "M-tronic" carb because Everything I have dealt with on any saw with the M-tronic technology is it is utter garbage. I'm sure it will get better over time but right now I will take my older MS 261 over the newer MS 261 C-M saws any day. Anyway bottom line is this saw is great I wouldn't trade it for anything Stihl is currently producing.
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome saw! Great saw, lots and lots of power. bought it with 18 and 20 inch bar, handles both bars very well!!
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must have saw! I bought a MS441-CM a year or so ago and was very happy with it at first, but it got heavy in a hurry. I went back to the dealership and picked up a MS261-CM for a middle size saw between the MS441-CM and my T435. I have been nothing but pleased with this MS261-CM. It is a very hot little saw for stock with a 16" bar on it and have been very impressed with the performance! The wide power band and the mighty power packed into this little saw is nothing short of impressive. I named this my "Money Maker" due to the incredible performance and reliability provided to me with less that minimal input. I would recommend this saw to anyone with previous experience with saws--not a very forgiving beginners saw. Thank you Van Wall Equipment of Omaha, NE!
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I cut between 15 and 18 face cords per year. Always starts right up, has lots of power to cut between 15 and 18 face cords of fire wood per year. I do all my own tune ups and maintenance on my Stihl saw. Several local dealers iny area so getting parts is not a problem. Have only needed to replace my bar once, have several.chains hanging, sharp, and ready to use. Always keep weep holes clean so chain/bar receive oil at all times. That's the only reason I needed a new bar, didn't keep the hole clean. I use a 16" bar but am going to get an 18" bar and several chains to handle larger trees. I would recommend this brand and size of saw. It was about bought new 3 years ago. Saves me a ton of money every year!
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This limb saw has great power I was at Central States explaining to kyle what I was going to be cutting. Kyle took his time and explained/compared the saw MS290 to the MS261 to me. It turns out when I bought my original saw the MS290 it was not made for what I was using. After going through a lot of chainsaws, I picked up the MS 261. I asked if they had any with out the Mtronic. Sure enough they did in there warehouse. So, I bought this one. This limb saw for me does way more than my MS290 with out backing down to the task I put it through. I am very happy with my purchase and since then purchase another new saw and a few good used saws in the 0 series. Thanks Stihl for your great products
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great saw! Saw delivers great power. Fires up with no problems every time. Easy to maintain and highly reliable.
Date published: 2016-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thumbs up to the MS261C Owning a small excavating company We frequently use saws. I purchased the 261c and put a 3/8th sprocket and 20" bar on it. The saw has just enough power to handle the set up on bigger cuts. Let the weight of the saw carry it through the cut and it cuts like butter. This saw has great power to weight ratio and runs strong all day. I recommend this saw to the homeowners that have an occasional need for a saw to the professionals who cut every day.
Date published: 2016-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent saw Great firewood saw for a homeowner great power to weight ratio pulls a 20" bar with .325 pitch chain with ease rs stihl chain .063 gauge thank you for a great product
Date published: 2016-07-10
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Standard Features

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

You Will Also Need

For Your Safety


Chainsaw Safety and Maintenance - Video
Product Instruction Manual (PDF)
Product Safety Manual (PDF)
STIHL Limited Warranty
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