MS 261

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

Product Description

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 4.6 out of 5 by 147.
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
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best saw ive ever owned, I have had many different brand of saws that always were hard to start and just lacking of power. I bought this saw and WOW what a difference. It is so powerful and cuts like butter. I am a Stihl man for sure now. They may be a little more expensive fur they are worth the money.
Date published: 2019-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Chainsaw You Can Buy My MS261 is about 8 years old now. It's never let me down, starts easy, and tackles the biggest trees I throw at it, including a 30" diameter oak tree. I have cut well over 100 facecords of wood now with it, so it's well used. I have the 20" bar on it and it's great. It's also the lightest of the professional saws. I almost went with the MS362, but very glad I chose the 261. It's lighter and gets the job done.
Date published: 2019-07-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The saw that almost was After reading all the hype about this saw I not only bought one for an extended family member’s wedding gift I bought one for myself. The intended use was a general purpose and firewood saw. The down side is a lack of power. It spins up to 13,000 rpm just fine but no torque or power in the cut. Any pressure by the operator the saw goes limp and bogs out. This is in lodge pole pine a fairly soft wood and well seasoned and about 12 inches in diameter. No modifications other than the following have been made.20 inch bar3/8 chain7 tooth sprocket.My conclusion is this saw can’t handle the 3/8ths chain on a 20 inch bar.Yes, you can go back to the stock smaller chain size but when every other saw you own uses 3/8ths chain that is not all that great to have an odd ball.My advice is get a bigger saw, there is no substitute for displacement.Go for the 362 or 462 instead if you are cutting firewood or any semi-serious work.An increase in cost is a decrease in frustration.Stihl makes great saws just get a saw big enough to get your job done with the least amount of effort.
Date published: 2019-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Light little screamer My wife and I are volunteer sawyers on the blue ridge parkway. Had a bad ice and wind storm last November that broke the tops out of over 300 trees in the Roanoke Virginia area closing the road for 6 months. This saw is awesome for bucking up trees and limbs. Really light and powerful, a joy when you know you'll be running it all day. Doesn't wear you out. Plus doesn't drink gas either. Go get you one of these, you won't regret it!
Date published: 2019-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A light weight saw with lots of power. I purchased this saw to replace another brand. This saw is much more powerful, lighter, quieter and has very little vibration. I can use this saw all day long and not be as tired as I was when using the other brand. I highly, highly recommend this saw.
Date published: 2019-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This saw is awesome I have a smaller Stihl in a different state and needed a saw in northern Idaho to clear my lot for building so I chose this particular one because of it's weight and other new features. It has the ability to cut logs to length as well as trim. It is very easy starting which is a real plus for me as I have a broken back so this saw certainly is well worth the money. I would highly recommend this saw to anyone. I am 70 and this saw doesn't hurt me.
Date published: 2019-06-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disapointed This saw has been a problem child since I bought it. It is extremely difficult to start. I have even taken it back to the dealer who said nothing wrong. After a little more instruction still will not start. I really like the primer pump that this saw does not have to gauge if the line is full. Even with starting fluid takes more than an hr to get started, When the dealer says nothing wrong what good is it if it wont start. The other bad thing is it uses a less standard chain that is hard t find except from sthil
Date published: 2019-06-17
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Standard Features

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

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