MS 261 C-M

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The same great MS 261, but with advanced STIHL M-Tronic™ technology for optimized performance in various conditions.

Product Description

The MS 261 C-M has all the same great features as the MS 261 – low exhaust emissions, high fuel efficiency and robust performance – but also features the advanced STIHL M-Tronic™ engine management system. With STIHL M-Tronic™, an onboard microprocessor digitally monitors and automatically compensates for changes in your work conditions including elevation, temperature, fuel quality, varying octane levels and dirty air filters. The end result is maximum performance across a wide range of cutting conditions without making any manual adjustments. The MS 261 C-M also features redesigned cylinders and a slimmer, ergonomic housing for an impressive power-to-weight ratio.

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 M-Tronic™ 
    This product features M-Tronic™ (M) - a new generation of Intelligent Engine Management that eliminates the low and high speed carburetor adjustment screws, compensates for dirty air filter and changes in elevation and fuel quality for optimum engine power at all times.

    See it in action!

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  • Pre-Separation Air Filtration System
    This time-saving technology boosts the efficiency of the engine’s filter system, doubling the time between air filter cleanings. Air drawn into the engine is first separated via centrifugal force, ejecting the heavier dirt particles before being routed to the air filter. This pre-separation means less dirt to be captured by the air filter, resulting in less frequent cleaning and maintenance.

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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


50.2 cc (3.06 cu. in.)
3.0 kW (4.0 bhp)
4.9 kg (10.8 Ibs.)
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 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.

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 C-M is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 266.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent power easy starting. Great saw so far easy to start great power and light weight. Very happy with it hopefully it lasts as long as my 25 year old 029 did.
Date published: 2019-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great light weight high power saw Have owned this saw about 9 months I use it weakly about 10 hours a weak for a 50cc saw I’m very satisfied with it it’s a nice in between saw for me smaller and lighter than my 441 bigger then my 180 it pulls hard through any wood is light and has been very reliable it did take about 4 tanks for it to come in to its own and I had to recalibrate the m tronic but that’s no big deal now that it’s broken in I couldn’t be happier with it
Date published: 2019-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First time chainsaw owner I bought my MS 261 C-M two years ago. I grew up around Stihl saw. Before i bought this saw i did look into the other competitors saws that does the carb "tuning" automaticaly. after approximately 4 hours or more of research i settled on this saw due to some specific detail. one: i like that you could only buy from a local dealer, this may be a down side to some people but i do prefer to support my local person. two: I also prefer the choke/run switch better. three: i like the fuel/oil caps. There may be a few other reasons but they evade me as i write this. I chose the pro model due to to long term longevity and ability to rebuild it. From my research, the homeowner saws can be harder or more expensive to repair in comparison to the pro model. I live in Montana and chose the 20" bar. i have only come across a couple of standing dead that maxed my bar out. i came across these tree at about the time my saw was finished with its break in period. It handled it pretty well. a bigger saw would have made the felling a d bucking a little quicker and easier but was not needed. i also do like the M-tronics. i prefer to not have to worry about adjusting my carb manually. i remember my dad spending time fine tuning his saw and it just seemed like a wast of time. One think to note is after reading some review, is that some people have had trouble with the M-tronics. This device automatically adjust based on fuel, airflow and elevation. From my experience if you go from full throttle then straight to the kill switch the M-tronics remembers that setting and it made starting my saw very difficult even thought it was still hot approx one minute after shutting it off. i was able to get it started with some effort. After this experience and researching the M-tronics more, i let my saw idle after a final cut for one -three second. since i have done this i have not had this issue. i recommend looking up videos on how to reset the M-tronics if you ever have issues with it. On most summer days i can cold start this saw without choking it. i did run the Stihl fuel during my breaking in and warranty period. This is just a preference. i now mix my own fuel with 91 oct non ethanol and the Still premium oil mix. i also hand sharpen my chain and clean my saw after every use.i also flip my bar when i switch chains or after im done for the day. i also wear the chaps, helmet, and earplugs when using my saw.
Date published: 2019-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love this saw! I bought the 261 C-M about two years ago, and it has operated flawlessly. I also have an older saw, and I was forever needing to fool with the carburetor adjustments to get it to run right. The M-Tronic system is just awesome. It starts easily and always idles perfectly. That's worth the price of admission right there. If I was a serious logger, I'd probably want to invest in something further up the line that is bigger and had more power, but this one is more than sufficient for my business. I do tree jobs from time to time, but do not run a dedicated tree service. I highly recommend this saw, and will never have another saw that doesn't come with the M-Tronic system!One note: The instructions say to engage the choke every time you start, even if it is hot. This is not true, and will cause more problems than it solves. It starts hot flawlessly on the first pull about 98% of the time. For the 2% of the times it doesn't, flip the choke and it'll fire right up. Happy sawing!
Date published: 2019-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great saw! This is my second Stihl saw and first professional series! Coming from big box saws that you replace every other year, I never realized how much they beat you up after running them for a while. The MS 261c runs like butter. It absorbs the bumps and vibration, decreasing user fatigue. It eats everything under the bar. Its been a pleasure to use. While a bit expensive for someone who cuts firewood, it has cut my time by a fraction and has been fun to use. I would buy again without a second thought.
Date published: 2019-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Saw I purchased this saw just after Hurricane Michael ravaged our area. In the weeks and months after the storm I put well over 500 hours on this saw. It's a beast when paired with the correct bar and chain. When everyone else had to constantly work on their saws, the STIHL continued to scream.
Date published: 2019-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from just needed some exhuast work when i first got the saw it just seemed a little under powered and sluggish, so i ran it for the break-in period and it got a little better with time. nut i was still not very happy with it, would stall with a 16" full comp chisel chain(stihl). so i opened up the exhaust and now its a amazing saw with plenty of power to pull a 20" bar and aggressively ground full comp chisel chain thru some willow( a soft wood to be sure but it HAULS through it). never had any issue with oiling so long as you keep it clean and seems to not wear spark plugs like a carb unit does. all in all its a powerful workhorse in a light weight package, that will start in 5 pulls no matter what, . would be 5 star but the lack of power out of the box was a little disappointing for a saw of this price. to sum it up it is a great saw for someone who was looking for something better that the 271 series and something lighter weight than the 300 series saws, basically something i can cut as much fire wood as i have gas for and something i don't have to deal with carb tuning issues.
Date published: 2019-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Medium Sized Monster I have two of these saws and they are unstoppable w/20" bars. The decompression feature is a life saver, especially as I get older. It makes it so easy to start. Nothing stops this saw except ME. I wish that you added this feature to your whole line. I have used this model saw for 4-5 years, I even gave one to a good friend.
Date published: 2019-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stihl 261 with M-tronic Very pleased with 261 CM. Very powerful for its light weight. Set it up with 3/8 .050 with 18” bar. Cuts like butter through 16” white oak. No vibration at all, amazing...Starts on 2nd pull when cold and 1st pull when hot. Very good on fuel and oils very well. No regrets would highly recommend this saw.
Date published: 2019-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Plenty of power and light weight. I have had the opportunity to fell a few trees since my purchase, all I can say is money / investment well spent. Ms 261cm plenty powerful, light enough and starts very easy.
Date published: 2019-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love the M-Tronics with altitude changes Generally not a 'reviewer' but had to comment on this product. Had to replace my older 4 Stihl saws of different sizes after they (and off grid remote property) got burned up in forest fire:( ... and my remaining truck saw (Stihl 230c) started suffering unreliability issues due to overuse/multiple parts failure. Eventually shop was able to get 230c running ok again, but in meantime I picked up this Unit due to promises of easy starts and ability to compensate for altitude better without screwing around with carb adjustments. Seemed like a good compromise for an all purpose truck saw.Although other saws were always used regularly for firewood, trail clearing, felling, building, etc....this one with 18 inch bar gets used very intermittently and for short times at altitudes ranging from 5000 ft to 12000 ft to remove downed obstacle trees (2"-24" diameter) while cruising 4WD back roads. Especially a problem in last few years with all the bark beetle dead trees in Colorado/New Mexico. A little PM wind will give you a few obstacles in your path in AM. One down tree in non yankable/winchable location needing an ax (forget that bs) or saw (hand saw-lazy-no way) can screw up your trip or make you take a very long reroute or force you to break out backup hatchet:( Impressed with M-Tronic ability to adjust for altitude/temperature to keep Unit running well. Seems like it always fires up easily even though I always just leave the Stihl premix fuel sitting in it for months at time between uses and it gets rattled around constantly bouncing around in truck. Truly pleasantly surprised at ease of use. Great Capable Power Saw.
Date published: 2019-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great new addition I wanted to wait till I had put some hours on my new 261 before I posted my findings. This saw is a great saw. More power then my ms 290 and more fuel efficient to.At 2 lbs lighter then the 290 it's much better when working for long periods over the 290. The air filter design is also much better and doesn't need cleaning near as much as the 290 does. I may just sell my 290 and get another 261. It's that good. I cut over 100 cords of firewood a year so I do a lot of cutting.Oh, the throttle response is much better as well.
Date published: 2019-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent power to weight ratio Bought this saw to replace my 30 year old 024 a.v. .Was kind of skeptical of the new mtronic carbs but this thing has been flawless so far . When I purchased it it was labeled as having a 16" bar but after a couple days of cutting with it I realized it had an 18" one on it. I had several new 16" chains for my 024 so I took it back to my dealer and showed them the bar mistake. They gladly gave me a new 16" bar and chain since it was marked that way. It cut really good with the 18" bar as well as the new 16" one.
Date published: 2019-05-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Does not like hot starts When it's in the cut, it is fantastic. But if you stop to take a break or refuel, you will have issues getting it started again. do a web search for m-tronic hot starts and you will find thread after thread about hot start issues on these saws.
Date published: 2019-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the finest saws I've run I've had and run several saws. I went in to the shop to buy a 241 but that has been discontinued. The owner asked why I was wanting a 241 and suggested that I look at the 261. I'm glad he did. That 261 runs circles around my MS291 which on paper has better/bigger power numbers. I sold it, no need for another saw as the 261 covers all of my needs.
Date published: 2019-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Saw Light and easy to use with enough power to do the job.
Date published: 2019-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love this saw I sold my Stihl 044 to a friend. It was 27 years old and in great shape and ran great, but my friend needed a good used saw and I needed a lighter saw as I am getting older. The 261 C-M suited my needs. It will outlive me and my woodpileAndy
Date published: 2019-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW! I love this saw, so much power and fairly lightweight for what it is.
Date published: 2019-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great mid size saw Saw runs great with the correct rim sprocket installed. (Long story). Saw is very light and seems very well built like all of stihls products
Date published: 2019-04-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from 3 shop visits and crossing my fingers Bought the saw from a Stihl dealer to ensure that I get good support. Cut firewood for one season. The saw ran great. Noticed a small burn mark on the plastic cover by the muffler. Thought it was an exhaust leak, fearing it would worsen I brought it in. They replaced the coil stating that it was the issue. The saw ran rough and I struggled to keep it running. I brought it in again stating that it was running poorly and would bog out randomly and die. They then replaced the solenoid. Seemed to run ok but started running rough at around a half tank of fuel. Boggs out and dies. Took it in again have been waiting a week and am in need of the saw. I have many acres of land to clear and no saw. Not feeling very confident in my purchase. May just be a dealer issue. Stihl Please fix this!
Date published: 2019-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Firewood saw I’m the type that doesn’t right reviews on any thing.This 261c-m in amazing saw for all around saw. Doesn’t power out just goes too town in wood. Starts easy. Runs even better
Date published: 2019-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Light weight easy to handle I have only cut up one tree with this but it worked great.
Date published: 2019-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard worker When my buddies’ saws are overheating and stumbling my MS261 never misses a beat. Have used it extensively in felling, bucking, and ripping hardwood. A good all around size.
Date published: 2019-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very light yet Powerfull!! I have had many chainsaws. We cut at least every single weekend and use saws all day long at least once a week. I have recently purchased the MS261 pro chainsaw and ran about 8 tanks of fuel in it. I broke it in as per owners manual. It is my goto saw now. Power to weight ratio is fantastic and much it cannot do. The 362 used to be my goto saw and still enjoy it but the weight factor makes the 261 best combination for me. I do not think you will find a better saw that is versatile and light and can take on most trees. I thoroughly enjoy it and think you will too!!
Date published: 2019-03-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just not happy with this saw I had an older Stihl saw I believe it was a MS 250. It was stolen from my barn. I replaced it with the MS 261 c-m and have not been happy. Very difficult to crank, even with the decompression switch. Blade came off and had to replace the chain guard and chain, glad it worked but not sure why the chain came off a basic cuts.For some reason the chain simply does not cut. I have had it sharpened twice. I just ordered a new Forestry chain and bar, if this does not improve the performance I'm going to sell this thing and try something else. Always been a Stihl guy, but this is a bad product, maybe just a lemon.
Date published: 2019-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great saw I clear lots and run saws up to 40 hours a week. I have a 660 stihl and had two, 271 models, which I sold those. I got about a years use out of the 271s before I was having issues with them. They get hot under hard use. I brought the 261 cm and let me tell you, with a 20 inch bar this saw will eat through big oaks with no problem. I barely use the 660 anymore. The 261 has lots of power! Its also light weight. I think im going to buy 1 more for a backup.
Date published: 2019-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Light and Rips This is an excellent upgrade to my Dolmar. Its lighter and more powerful. This saw is a pleasure to use.
Date published: 2019-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great fireusaw I bought this saw to replace an aging 028wb, had the dealer switch the 18" bar for a 16" bar and couldn't be happier. I own several saws and the ms261 is my new favorite. This saw is light enough to use all day without wearing you out.
Date published: 2019-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The only one you’ll need (probably) A good friend of mine picked up one of these and we got to put it to work. This is most likely the only saw you will need for you, your children and as long as the oil reserves last... probably his children too. The saw is perfect! It’s light, powerful, and easy to use with the computer controlled carb. If I had used this saw before buying my others... I’d only have bought this one saw! Plenty of power to run the .325 RS chain on a 20” bar and not slow down even new before it really picks up the power a few tank fills into the break in!! Forget the rest of the saws, this is it!! The one you are looking for!! Unless you need more power, this one is perfect for 95% of the people buying saws!!Great for home owners, plenty of power for ranch and farm duty, and I can’t think of a better saw for bucking and felling small to kid size trees! If you are looking for a new saw in the 16”-20” THIS IS IT!!(Now if I can get STIHL to return my questions on the sprocket and bearing grease for it... Life would be good again. We have been going in circles for 3 weeks)
Date published: 2019-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from MS161 CM 20" Great saw! Gets the job done while weighing about 2 lbs. lighter than the Farm Boss. I'm running a 20in bar and it seems it can cut through anything!
Date published: 2019-02-05
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    View the features common to many STIHL chainsaws.

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