Get offers, how-to guides and more when you join the STIHL Email Community.

Sign Up

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.

    More information

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

    More information

  • 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 4.8 out of 5 by 85.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Solid and reliable! After owning my MS261 for 7years, I can say it is one great saw! It has taken a 65-70’ drop and was still running. It has never failed to start and gets used quite often. I am amazed how it can set for a month and fires right up after 3-4 pulls. No regrets what so ever on purchasing this saw. Would do it all over again if I had to, but being a stihl I have a feeling I won’t need to for years to come!!
Date published: 2018-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great power to weight ratio, and reliable For the past twenty years I've bought saws at the small end of the "Pro" line, and have owned 024, 026, 260 and now a 261. The 261 is a different motor than the 026/260, with significantly higher horsepower. I run a 20" bar, yellow chain on my 261 and regularly cut large timber with it. The power to weight ratio is simply awesome, and it's a perfect saw for bore cutting large trees. I cut up to about 32" on the stump, and that's a big tree. The Stihl dealership network is great; I can always find a dealership open when I need another chain, mix oil, files, etc. I'm a Stihl fan, and the 261 is my best saw yet. Maintenance is a snap with the spin-off air filter, and other than changing plugs, new chains, etc., I haven't had to repair my 261 in any way, and that's after 3 years of fairly tough use. It's expensive compared to other comparable saw brands, but you get what you pay for.
Date published: 2017-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cuts like a beast, light as a feather! The MS261 has the power we demand in our business, but its light weight design provides maneuverability needed to perform safely in a very dangerous environment of cutting and falling Danger Trees.
Date published: 2017-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great value This is my fifth stihl saw. I have a 024 super, 029,038magnum. Still have my 024 a 180 for trimming and I just bought a new 261 with the 18 inch bar about a month ago to replace my old 029. I have been cutting wood since I was 11 years old with my dad. And now I average between 17-20 face cord a year. I am now 58 years old and 160lbs so I didn't want a big heavy saw. Can't say enough how much I love this saw. It's light, powerful, and runs great! Also it will cut much more wood than my old 029 on a single tank of gas. I've cut about 11 face cord so far with the same chain(RS325). Great chain! I run full chisel chain on all my saws except for the 180. Could not be happier!
Date published: 2017-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Chain Saw I have used it only on 3 or 4 trees but absolutely love it. It seems to start on the 4th pull so far. It handles really good and its light, only 10 pounds, which helps out on a larger tree. I had a MS 290 which was stolen from my shed. So I purchased the MS 261 and so far have had no issues at all. I really like that you wont loose anymore bar nuts, pretty good idea. The chainsaw has been plenty powerful enough with a 20 inch bar and the gas seems to last forever. Great chainsaw and I am happy I bought it. The price was well worth it.
Date published: 2017-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to operate, very capable Like the no-tools bar tension adjustment feature and big gas/oil plugs that cannot be dropped. Not so impressed with starting system. Like the tried and true pull cord system better
Date published: 2017-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This saw is the Boss This saw made mincemeat out out oak, pine, cherry, camphor.there was no stopping this boy once I put the chain to the bark.
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This saw rips! The quality of the materials used and the build quality of this saw are top notch. Once you're standing behind this saw, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you made the right decision. This saw absolutely ripped through everything I've threw at it during hurricane Irma clean up. About the thing I wish I had differently was to buy one sooner.
Date published: 2017-10-01
  • y_2018, m_1, d_16, h_9
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_2.0.6
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_0, tr_85
  • loc_en_US, sid_ms261, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=FEATURED, direction=DESCENDING), SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_stihl

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
Contact Us


My Servicing Dealer