Ms170 stihl review

Ms170 stihl review DEFAULT
2020 STIHL MS 170
A VS Symbol
2020 STIHL MS 250

If it's time to upgrade to a new chainsaw, you can’t go wrong with a STIHL. Safe, efficient, and lightweight, STIHL builds some of the most reliable and durable products available. To help you find the right model, consult the following STIHL MS 170 vs. MS 250 comparison guide, prepared by Century Power Equipment. Scroll through our online inventory to see what’s available at our dealership in Stillwater, MN. If you have additional questions, call us at (651) 439-2035 or send us a message online.


Different STIHL chainsaws are built for different jobs. To ensure that you are equipped with the perfect tool for your situation, we’ve taken a closer look at what the MS 170 and MS 250 are best used for.

MS 170

As one of the most lightweight chainsaws that STIHL offers, the MS 170 is perfect for homeowners that only need to use their chainsaw occasionally. If you have several larger trees around your home that drop limbs during storms, the MS 170 is perfect for post-storm cleanup. The MS 170 is also ideal for trimming and cutting small trees, as well as general woodcutting tasks.

MS 250

If you plan on using your new chainsaw more regularly, the MS 250 may be for you. Homeowners with fireplaces can utilize the MS 250 for firewood cutting. The MS 250 also thrives in clearing and cleanup tasks, as well as cutting through small limbs and trees.


There are several features found on the MS 170 and MS 250 that will make cutting and clearing jobs easier than ever. Continue reading to learn what to expect from both of these chainsaws.

MS 170

Features found on the STIHL MS 170 include:

  • Anti-vibration system reduces operator fatigue
  • IntelliCarb™ compensating carburetor automatically adjusts air/fuel ratio to maintain the correct RPM
  • Ematic™ lubrication system provides proper lubrication and less oil consumption

MS 250

Features found on the STIHL MS 250 include:

  • Easy-access air filter cover
  • Rear hand guard
  • Master Control Lever™ operates the choke, starting throttle lock, and on-off switch in one lever
  • Side-access chain tensioner
  • Winter/Summer shutter to maintain optimum temperature

STIHL chainsaw


Discover more about the engines of the MS 170 and MS 250 by comparing their specifications and performance outputs:

MS 170

STIHL MS 170 performance specs include:


1.8 cu.-in.

Engine Power

1.7 HP

Powerhead Weight

8.6 lbs.

Fuel Capacity

8.5 oz.

Chain Oil Capacity

4.9 oz.

Oilomatic® Chain

0.375 in. PMM3

Guide Bar Lengths

12 in. to 16 in.

MS 250

STIHL MS 250 performance specs include:


2.77 cu.-in.

Engine Power

3 HP

Powerhead Weight

10.1 lbs.

Fuel Capacity

15.9 oz.

Chain Oil Capacity

6.8 oz.

Oilomatic® Chain

0.325 in. RM3

Guide Bar Lengths

45 cm. to 18 in.

STIHL Models in Stillwater, MN

No matter which STIHL chainsaw you prefer, you can find it at Century Power Equipment in Stillwater, MN. Scroll through our online inventory, and call (651) 439-2035 or send us a message online to speak with a Century Power Equipment representative.



Stihl MS 170 Review

A.J. Kilpatrck

One aspect of the chainsaw world that I have always wanted to try my hand at is chainsaw carving. Of course the first step down this road to chainsaw carving glory is the purchase of a chainsaw suitable for use as a detail saw. I had narrowed the quest down to three main contenders: the Stihl MS 170, the Stihl MS 193 C-E, and the Echo CS 370. All three saws are viable contenders for a first time carver. The MS 170 is the most economical and quite light; the MS 193 C-E is the lightest and most nimble; and the CS 370 is the heaviest, but also the most durable with its split magnesium case. The more astute reader will have noticed the title of this post and assumed that Stihl’s MS 170 won out, and this is partly true.

Another great photo of a Stihl MS 170 by the world's best chainsaw blog

Looking and performing like a bigger saw than it is: the Stihl MS 170.

Being economically minded, and considering that converting any of these saws over to a dedicated carver would cost an additional $200.00 for a carving bar, chain and rim/sprocket, I decided to give the MS 170 a try as it was light weight, had a good reputation as an entry level carver, and ,most importantly, cost exactly half of what the other contenders were going for because of Stihl’s Spring promotion which ended on June 30th. Enter the MS 170. The MS 170 feels fairly solid and is well balanced. It weighs in at around 11 and a half pounds fully fueled and comes equipped with a 16” mini bar and picco chain. The MS 170 also still sports the older non strato engine, and I do love the older engine style’s more “rumbly” sound.

The MS 170 is an older design in the Stihl line-up, and, as such, it sports the older style gas and oil caps that are slotted for opening and tightening with a scrench. There are many who prefer this older style of cap as the newer “flip top” caps are more susceptible to breakage at the hinge. If I ever break one of the flip tops, my opinion will definitely change, but as of right now, I marginally prefer the newer style for its slight edge in convenience, but, from a durability/reliability perspective, the older style is superior. The air filter in the MS 170 is a little on the slight side, but that opinion is based solely on the look and feel of it, and not on actual performance.

Yet another great photo by the world's best chainsaw blog!

A close up of the Stihl MS 170 air filter.

Before starting the saw, I decided to check the saw’s oil tank, fuel level, and chain tension, and it was a good thing that I did. The dealer had filled the fuel tank, but not the bar oil reservoir. Not a good sign. I am learning that it is not wise to assume the dealer is doing what they are supposed to be doing. The Stihl MS 170 fired up with out any issue and for a small saw with a tiny bar and chain, it was an impressive cutter. The small chips just flew as this saw cut through the small birch trees that I felled. The saw did not bog in the cut (although I didn’t force the saw-I let the saw do its work). The MS 170 was also an able limber. Its light weight and good balance came through limbing some spruce and cedar trees. The cutting performance of this small saw was impressive.

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick for the best chainsaw blog.

Stihl’s MS 170 is a handsome and able performer.

One feature of this “tried and true” model’s older design was its front chain tensioning screw. Locating the chain tensioning screw on the front of the saw is inconvenient as it forces you to come into close proximity with the chain, and it is a little harder to keep the scrench in the slot due to the ergonomics involved. Another drawback to the MS 170 is its non-adjustable carb (only an idle adjustment screw is accessible to the operator), and it is this “feature” that would quickly sour my relationship with this more than respectable entry level saw.

After the saw was thoroughly warmed up, the throttle response would become extremely sluggish. The saw would start to bog down as soon as it was given full throttle- a sound that usually prompts a quick check to verify that the chain brake is off. In this case, the brake was not engaged. The lag in throttle response was sometimes a second or more between engaging the throttle and engaging the chain. This created a dangerous condition as you could never be sure when the chain would begin spinning. Something was obviously wrong with the fuel delivery system.

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

A strong, light-weight cutting machine: the Stihl MS 170.

I decided to check the saw with a tachometer. As This was the saw’s first tank of fuel and the engine had yet to be fully broken in, I was hesitant to go full throttle too long, but the saw was taching at over 16000 RPMs. How much over 16000? I don’t know as I didn’t want to go WOT for too long. It was obvious that this saw was running much too lean. Since the saw was brand new, a trip back to the dealer was in order.

Sadly, the dealer’s tech was less than helpful as all he did was fire the saw up, blip the trigger a few times and tell me there was nothing wrong with the saw. I informed him that there indeed was a problem with the saw, that it manifested itself after it was warmed up, and that it was taching well over its max RPM. Instead of checking the saw, he proceeded to lecture me on how you shouldn’t run the saw at WOT until it is broken in. This was pretty insulting considering he had “warmed” the saw up by bringing it up to full throttle several times in front of me. I do not understand why techs get so defensive when a customer tells them the saw is not performing well; it’s not like he built it. Why would I make that up? It was at this point that I stopped dealing with him and returned to the salesman and invoked Stihl’s Satisfaction Guarantee. I ordered Stihl’s MS 193 C-E. If the guarantee was a money back guarantee, I probably would have gone to the Echo dealer and purchased the CS 370. Unfortunately, in an effort to save a couple of hundred bucks, I was locked in to buying a Stihl. In the dealer’s defense, the salesman was great to deal with and didn’t bat an eye when I told them to keep the MS 170 and get me the MS 193 C-E. I guess I will give them another chance. I do feel for the person who ends up with that saw as it is probably destined for a short life.

In conclusion, the MS 170 had many great qualities, and if the dealer had addressed the problem with this particular saw, I would still have it, and would be quite happy with it. The problem of saws being set too lean at the factory to meet E.P.A. requirements is fairly common. There were many things that could cause the problems I was experiencing, none of which are fixed by starting the saw, the engine a few times and declaring it “fine”. Maybe I am old fashioned, but if a customer tells you something is happening, then something is happening, and it is the tech’s job to find out what is causing that “something”.

This entry was posted in Choosing a chainsaw, Reviews and tagged Chainsaw, Review, Stihl by A.J. Kilpatrick. Bookmark the permalink. Sours:
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If you want a powerful chainsaw, the small model Stihl MS170 is a good choice. It starts quickly, cuts quickly and smoothly and makes easy work of removing tree branches, cutting firewood, or any other task that calls for a chainsaw. Additionally, the high power-to-weight ratio make it a good choice.

Because of its size, it works best for occasional cleanup jobs, felling or trimming small trees and clearing fallen branches after a storm. This gas chainsaw’s lightweight plastic and aluminum housing keep it under 11 pounds, which adds to its maneuverability and lowers the chance of kickback. Depending on the job you need to complete, you can swap out the 16-inch bar with others as small as 12 inches with the right tools.

Our test crew were impressed by this model. After comparing it with the Echo CS-310 one tester commented “I still like the Stihl better.” Another, after using multiple saws said of the Stihl “I think this one is the best.”

But it wasn’t all praise, one tester commented on how much smoke this model produced when compared to the other gas models. Another noted the lack of shock absorbers that made the Echo CS-130 more attractive. Nevertheless, everyone was impressed that it produces a clean, even cut every time you use it.

This small gas chainsaw secured the best times for individual cuts in our hands-on tests. We cut a 6x6-inch piece of lumber with each saw and timed how long it took to complete. The first test cut with this model clocked in at less than five seconds with the next hitting the three second mark. Between the test cuts, this Stihl model averaged speeds of three to four seconds. That means the Stihl MS170 cut through the test lumber at speeds of over an inch per second.

The two-stroke engine boosts the power-to-weight ratio for a saw as light as this one. This style of engine completes two revolutions in one piston stroke, meaning it requires less fuel for the power it produces. The lightweight plastic housing adds to its efficiency, but this shell can crack or break if not handled with care. You can avoid damage to the saw by starting it on the ground with your foot in the rear handle.

Inside the saw there is an IntelliCarb Compensating Carburetor; this carburetor keeps the air-to-fuel ratio balanced. It adjusts when the air filter chokes, but maintains constant rpm to keep the saw running its best. This system pulls air in from the clean side of the filter to keep the engine free of dust and debris.

One downside to any Stihl chainsaw is that you can only buy them in retail stores. And any licensed dealers can sell this model, parts and other accessories. These local dealers are often easy to find, but it’s inconvenient if you know what you’re doing and would rather have parts delivered from services like Amazon.

The Stihl MS170 is ideal for someone who wants the power and utility of a professional grade chainsaw, as it delivers on both. It's quiet, light, easy to handle and fuel-efficient. It scored high marks easily on every test we put to it. It’s a great tool not only for a variety of cutting jobs. However, if you’re not a frequent user and you craving for power isn’t overwhelming, you could probably get away corded or battery powered tool.

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J.D. Chadwick joined the Top Ten Reviews team in 2008 and has been one of our most prolific content creators. Originally the head writer of the video content department, he was essential in the creation of hundreds of review videos. Additionally, he created, wrote and produced the daily tech news show Top Ten Reports throughout its 2009-2011 run. Since 2011 he has created content and articles on a wide variety of our product categories. With over a decade of service at Top Ten Reviews, he has produced thousands of articles, reviews and videos on hundreds of topics. He is currently our Multimedia and Home Improvement Editor.

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Review ms170 stihl

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Stihl MS170 vs Echo CS-310ES vs Husqvarna120 MKII

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