What Does N Mean On Stihl Chainsaws?

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N on Stihl Chainsaws – what does it mean?

While most people have never heard of the N designation on Stihl saws, it apparently exists. However, I’ve not seen any saws that actually have it on them.

I came across it when I was putting together this Stihl MS382 review.

While looking into the MS380 and MS381, I saw that they had a power range listed in the manual. This was because there was an N version of the saw that had less power than the base model.

And that’s what the N on Stihl chainsaws means: a version with lower compression than the base model.

Here are some examples.

Stihl N Designation

Stihl N meaning
Click to expand and zoom

These specs come from the Stihl MS381 manual (download here).

You can see there are 2 versions of the saw listed:

MS 381
Engine power 3.9 kW (5.3 HP)

MS 381 N
Engine power 3.6 kW (4.9 HP)

And then the 2) reference on the 381 N version tells us that this saw has a low compression engine, reducing the power output.

Another example is the Stihl MS380.

stihl ms380 N specs
Click to expand and zoom

The MS380 also has an N listed in the manual (download here).

There is a range of power outputs listed for the base model, from 3.6 – 3.9 kW and the reference for this is given as ‘Depending on the muffler version.’

And then there is the MS380 N which has a lower power output than the base model of only 3.3 kW or 4.5 hp.

N On Stihl Chainsaws

So that’s what N on Stihl chainsaws means, along with a couple of examples.

However, I’ve yet to see any real examples of these chainsaws outside the manual (the saw pictured above is just a friend’s 023). There are no mentions in forums, Facebook groups, or other websites, so whether they’re actually out there it’s hard to say.

These saws – the 380 and 381, like the MS651 – were mostly only sold outside North America, so there’s generally less chatter about these models anyway.

If you have a Stihl N version or know of other models with the designation, let us know in the comments!


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2 thoughts on “What Does N Mean On Stihl Chainsaws?”

  1. The N version allows safer use of low-octane number (RON<90) gasoline, which is still found in many countries around the world, although it is becoming increasingly rare.


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