Stihl 023 Chainsaw Reviews: “Not going to win any cutting challenges, but it’s good”

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The STIHL 023 is a 40cc light-use homeowner chainsaw from the 1123 Series.

It was made from 1990 to 2002, making it one of the last ‘0’ chainsaws in production before the switch to the MS naming system.

The 023 pictured in this review belongs to a friend. An elderly couple who no longer used it gave it to them. He uses it as a backup saw to his MS 440 Magnum and as a starter saw for his teenage boys.

We’ve had it on hand and used it several times as we buck logs for the coming winter. It’s nothing special, but still not a bad little saw.

Stihl 023 Chainsaw

stihl 023 chainsaw

The 023 was described by Stihl as ‘compact’ and ‘for demanding occasional users.’

It was in the same class as the 025 (45cc), 021 (35cc), 018 (32cc), and 017 (30cc).

The saw doesn’t have a lot of guts and isn’t suitable beyond pruning work, but it’s been reliable and handy for the odd job here and there. As a backup saw, it’s been useful.

It’s recommended for use with a 12 – 16 inch bar (30 – 40 cm).

14-inches seems to be the sweet spot for:

  • Pruning
  • Clearing brush
  • Limbing
  • Cutting small logs for firewood
  • Use as a backup saw in a pinch

It’s a decent little saw if you use it for what it was designed.

Specs, Features, Versions

is the stihl 023 good

Base model specs:

  • Displacement: 40.2 cc / 2.45 cu. in.
  • Power: 2.6 hp / 1.9 kW
  • Bore: 40 mm / 1.57 in.
  • Stroke: 32 mm / 1.26 in.
  • Weight: 10.1 lbs / 4.6 kg (023 C: 10.3 lbs / 4.7 kg)
  • Bar: 12 – 16″ / 30 – 40 cm

Here’s how the 023 compares with other Stihl saws in its class.

stihl 023 specs and features

You can see some features that come standard or can be retrofitted – not a word you hear often referring to chainsaws.

Many people also ask what the C means on Stihl chainsaws, and this table helps answer that as well.

The base model 023 has:

  • Electronic ignition
  • Quickstop chain brake
  • Auto lubrication

The 023 C has all that, plus:

  • High-speed chain tensioner – easier to tighten the chain
  • Elasto-start – easier to start chainsaw

stihl 023 chainsaw specifications

The C stands for ‘Comfort’.

The 023 C comes standard with 2 additional features, which are the comfort features on that saw (which change from model to model).

The comfort features add extra weight to the saw, but only a few ounces; 10.1 lbs vs 10.3 lbs.

stihl 023 C vs 023 L

There is also a Stihl 023 L chainsaw.

The L stands for Low Noise.

When this saw was on the market, it was the world’s quietest gas-powered chain saw (only 92 dB(A) at 50 feet).

However, the L version has much less power—only 1.5 hp compared to the 023 Cs 2.6.

Stihl 023 Reviews

testing trying stihl 023

The 023 is sluggish while cutting through anything of width, but it’s OK for pruning branches.

It’s good at slowly and patiently cutting up thinner-width logs. Obviously, it doesn’t rip through wood like a pro chainsaw, but it gets the job done eventually.

Overall, the Stihl 023 is a good chainsaw for around the home, for limbing, pruning, and other light tasks. Or, as my friend uses it, as a chainsaw for training children (with proper supervision and PPE, of course).

Other comments from 023 users:

  • Nick said, “Great old saw. The build is identical to a 021 or 025 as well as MS 250.”
  • Ben said, “Good, older firewood saw. A step up from 021, but not quite an 025.”
  • Jack said, “I have the later 230 still made in Germany. Had it for 17 faultless years. love it.”
  • Jeremy said, “It’s a decent small wood saw.”
  • Gary said, “Good powerful little saw.”

Chris said:

The 023 is never going to win any cutting challenges but they are good for what they are, a home firewood saw.

I had one and sold it to a friend, it cut and ran well.

Steve said:

First Stihl saw I bought. Ran it till it wore out. Put a new p/c and still use it. Cut tons of wood with it.

Chris said:

I have two… best value for money. Can’t go wrong repairing them and a red lever very hard to find these days.

“Red lever” refers to an early model. Usually made in the first year of production.

And Tim said:

It’s better than a hand saw when it starts.


Price and Parts

using the stihl 023

There’s a lot of price variation on old Stihl saws, and that’s no different with the 023.

You can pick them up for next to nothing from people wanting to clear out space in their garage, or you can spend a lot on a well-maintained, barely used model on eBay.

It’s going to come down to a few factors:

  • Year it was made – whether it was made in 1990 or 2002
  • Designations – is it a base model or a 023 C or 023 L
  • Condition – a model that no longer goes will go cheap for parts or repair
  • Modifications – whether or not OEM parts were used

As far as where to find parts for the Stihl 028, there are several good spots, but OEM is expensive.

Compare parts prices:

  • On eBay here – at the time of writing, there’s one going for $70
  • HL Supply – for OEM and aftermarket parts, including carbs, fuel lines, casings
  • On Amazon here – aftermarket parts

EBay often has entire old chainsaws that can be picked up cheap for parts – many of these saws can even be repaired by the right person.

Stihl 023

stihl 023 muffler

That’s the Stihl 023 chainsaw.

Let us know if you have anything to add in the comments below!

At the right price, it’s a good chainsaw to have on hand and is worth picking up.

The 028 is another chainsaw from the same era with more guts if that’s what you’re looking for. It all comes down to what you want to do with it and how much you want to spend!


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3 thoughts on “Stihl 023 Chainsaw Reviews: “Not going to win any cutting challenges, but it’s good””

  1. Hi i brought my stihl 023 in 1991 and here it’s 2022 and still going it’s done a lot of work it has had a few parts replaced over the years nothing major just the usual parts. sprocket, chain and bar, air filter,
    oil line and filter, and fuel filter. All ways looked after great chain saw.

    • If someone finds that saw sluggish..something is wrong….take off the muffler likely plugged….I have used my 2002 saw for days of felling and jumping….lots of power.

  2. Your site has been so informative when it comes to picking up saws for me.
    Would there be a way to list homeowner, land owner and pro models as a quick reference thing?
    I can’t find any proper resource for this.


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