The STIHL 044 Chainsaw Is Widely Considered To Be the Best Stihl Chainsaw

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The 044 is a highly-rated professional 70 cc Stihl Chainsaw that was made between 1988 – 2001.

Despite ending production well over 20 years ago, it still regularly features in round-ups of the ‘best Stihl chainsaw’ due to its reliability and performance.

Even today, it is a sought-after saw that fetches top prices. It is known for being a reliable workhorse in a pro capacity, or as a good heavy-duty firewood chainsaw.

Used Stihl 044 Chainsaws can be found on eBay.

Stihl 044 Chainsaw

stihl 044 magnum chainsaw

The base model 044 was released in 1988.

Here are some comments from 044 owners:

  • “Fantastic saws – the 044 / 046 are Stihl’s most sought-after saws.”
  • “The best saw Stihl ever made.”
  • “Beast of a saw. Stihl’s best ever.”
  • “My favorite saw! 440 magnum are rippers. I’ve got 2 and absolutely love them.”
  • “One of the best saws I’ve used, never once let me down.”
  • “Mine is 30 years old, and gets used every year to cut firewood. One of Stihl’s best saws.”
  • “Bought a used 044. Worth every penny I spent. Will never give it up. The thing just runs.”

These types of comments are very typical.

The 044 C, which was released the following year in 1989, was the first Stihl Chainsaw with a catalytic converter.

This is a device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas by 70 – 80%. Stihl was the first company in the world to develop such a device for 2-stroke engines.

There are also 044 Arctic versions. 

The Arctic models feature a generator beneath the flywheel, powered by magnets on its backside, to supply electricity to heating elements in the top and rear handles. Additionally, some Arctic versions include heated carburetors for improved performance in cold conditions.

Another version of the 044 is the 044 Magnum…

Stihl 044 Magnum

044 magnum specs features

If you compare the specs of the 044 and the 044 Magnum they are identical.

However, the description states:

One of the world’s largest-selling professional saws.

Powerful, all-around model for felling and bucking, the 044’s smooth contours also make it a great limbing saw. Delivers 5% more power than the previous model.

Available in Arctic version. IntelliCarb lets you cut longer between filter cleanings.

It’s hard to find solid info on the actual differences, but a few ideas are floating about out there.

Likely differences are:

  • The Magnum is dual ported; much stronger but has the same 5.4 bhp
  • Magnum has a decompression valve and crankshaft that were changed to incorporate a larger wrist pin
  • Different timing and coils

Take that with a pinch of salt because everyone disagrees with the differences, even Stihl technicians and dealers.

Some say it’s just a marketing label. They put a sticker on it and called it a Magnum, but it’s identical. 

That is the case with the MS 440/MS 440 Magnum, but with the 044, they say it has 5% more power, so it’s making those gains somewhere.

10mm Vs 12mm Piston Pins

stihl 044 10 mm vs 12 mm pin

The big 044 question people want answered is whether or not they have the 10mm or 12mm piston pin model.

That’s because the higher port timing on the 10mm is more desirable, but the smaller combustion chamber is good as well.

According to Stihl, the 10mm crank was used up to serial number X 29 583 701. Whereas the 12mm crank was used from X 29 382 283. The change from 10 to 12mm was made around 1994.

The early 10mm saws tended to have a red control lever rather than black, plus they had a larger exhaust opening. Also, the casing behind the muffler was slightly different between the two versions, as illustrated in the picture above.

As a general rule, a cylinder with slanted fins will be 10mm, while a straight fin cylinder will be 12mm. However, there are exceptions. Some very early 12mm saws had slanted fins. Also, people will put a 10mm cylinder into a 12mm saw which can confuse things further.

Stihl 044 Reviews

using the stihl 044 chainsaw

Reviews from those who own the 044 and have thoroughly tried and tested it!

Jason said:

It is one of my favorites, still light enough you can run it all day long, but has enough power you can turn up to a 32 inch bar.

Corey said:

I would spend $1500 on that [mint condition 044 early 12 mm] before I bought a 500i for the same money. That’s a beauty.

Brad said:

I was given a pair of 044s by a man I thought of as a second dad 2 weeks before he passed away.

He made a living cutting timber with these saws for over 25 years. Ive sent them to a restoration expert to get a complete restoration done.

Plan on giving one of them to his son who’s now become one of the largest loggers anywhere around here.

Dan said:

I’ve finally gotten my Holy Grail.

I’m just a guy in the Northeast who heats his house with firewood and who’s been looking for an 044 for several years within my price range. This [044 Magnum] showed up on Craigslist with a 20” bar and chain and a 25” bar and 3 chains (one is brand new).

From what the previous owner said, and based on how it starts and runs, I don’t think it has 5 hours on it. I found one a couple years ago but gave it to my buddy who cuts more wood than me and helps me out all the time.

I’m truly blessed.

Paul said:

I have an 033 Mag that I will never part with. It’s my go-to saw.

I run any bar from a 20 to a 32-inch and that saw keeps pulling like a beast.

And another Paul said:

Best saw ever made.

I run an 044 with an eight tooth sprocket and a 20 inch bar and an046 with a 25 inch bar, the 046 cannot run what 044 does which cuts like f**k!

Shorter reviews:

  • Elliot said, “One of the greatest saws built in my humble opinion.”
  • Sean said, “Lovely saw and great in between saw.”
  • Matthew said, “Love mine. West German 044.”
  • Stephanie said, “My favorite saw, we need to start a 044, 440 club.”
  • Andrew said, “Wicked saws.”
  • Steven said, “Great saw, take care of it and it will take care of you!”

It’s a universally loved chainsaw.

Specs And Features

stihl 044 parts and price

The 044 is a powerful 70cc, 5.3 hp saw with a dry weight of 13.5 lbs.

Stihl marketed it as:

One of the world’s largest-selling professional saws.

Powerful, all-around model for felling and bucking, the 044’s smooth contours also make it a great limbing saw. Delivers more power than you’d expect from such a lightweight package.

Available in Arctic version with heated carburetor and handle heating elements. IntelliCarb lets you cut longer without at maximum engine speed.

Both the base model 044 and the Magnum can be purchased as an Arctic model.

This means it has heated handles and a heated carb for working in low temperatures. It can be switched on and off. This feature increases the weight of the saw by about 0.4 lb.

Other specs of the series 1128 044:

  • 50mm bore, 36mm stroke
  • Piston ported intake
  • Nylon mesh air filter
  • Magnesium casing
  • Automatic oiler
  • Anti-vibration handle system
  • 2,500 RPM idle speed
  • 13,500 PRM max speed
  • Bosch WSR 6 F or NGK BPMR 7 A spark plug

And what is the best size bar for the 044?

It depends on who you ask, but as a general rule, anything from a 20″ to 32″ bar will be good.

Some people try to take it up to a 36″ bar, but that’s pushing it a bit. 

The majority of people run the 044 with a 25 – 28 inch bar, but say it comfortably goes up to a 32″.

It’s hard to state what an 044 is worth without seeing the particular model and knowing its history, but saws in good condition can fetch up to $800. Most seem to sell for around the $500 mark.

Please check current prices on eBay here.

STIHL 044 Vs MS 440

stihl ms440 in action

The Stihl MS 440 chainsaw replaced the 044 in 2001.

Here are some of the differences between the 2 saws:

  • 440 has a compensating carb, decompression valve, and are all 12mm pin (some 044 have 10mm)
  • The 440 also has slightly different porting to some early 10mm 044
  • Minor cosmetics difference, though many parts do transfer
  • 044 has threaded fuel caps, 440 has flip-caps
  • The 440 meets the emissions requirements of that era

The 440 itself was followed by the unpopular Stihl 441 (2007 – 2019).  See all Stihl Chainsaw production years here.

Stihl 044

The 044 is almost universally loved by those who own them and run them.

They are a good pro saw for commercial use but they’re just as popular among homeowners who appreciate saws and buck a lot of firewood.

In saying that, it’s one of Stihl’s largest chainsaws so it’s not the ideal saw for beginners or those who do not have a lot of experience.

The MS260 might be more appropriate, or even the MS230 for complete newbies.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences as well.

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4 thoughts on “The STIHL 044 Chainsaw Is Widely Considered To Be the Best Stihl Chainsaw”

  1. I have a 044. Had always been a good saw but the motor went bad I want to see if I can get a rebuild kit Crank rod and piston kit

    Reply
  2. I have a 044 I bought in 1995, Great saw , has been cutting firewood for 28 years . The only thing I’ve replaced on it in all those years is chain wear guides and a new spark plug this year . Light , powerful and extremely reliable!

    Reply
  3. I have the Stihl 044 since 2000. The only thing that I do to the chainsaw is keep it tuned up and clean. I run a 20 in bar. I cut my own firewood for my woodburning stove. I cut a cord every summer. Outstanding chainsaw.

    Reply
  4. I’ve an 044 since possibly the early 90’s. Its still a beast, and a joy to start. Sad story: Some fuel was miss labelled[1] some years ago, and I killed the cylinder with straight petrol. Put a new cylinder and head on it, and its still pounding along.
    Now, the fine print. Its a big saw, and hammers through petrol. If I’m doing light work I find my 170, which is a consumer grade chainsaw, is what I would reach for.
    [1] By me. I now work on the principle when mixing gas: Oil in first, than petrol.[2]
    [2] I also put bar oil in before I refill the tank. That was another lesson which required an expensive repair.

    Reply

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