Stihl Farm Boss Chainsaw Guide: The MS271, MS311, MS291, And MS391

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The Stihl Farm Boss chainsaws are a popular choice for those wanting a high-powered homeowner chainsaw.

The Stihl MS271 Farm Boss is the most common model, but there are other chainsaws in the Farm Boss range. Some are no longer in production, like the 041 Farm Boss, but many can be bought today.

We’ll take a good look at the entire Stihl Farm Boss chainsaw range in this post and speculate on whether or not they’re any good, or if there are better options out there.

The Stihl Farm Boss Range

stihl ms271 review

So as already stated, when most people are talking about the Farm Boss chainsaw from Stihl, they’re talking about the MS271.

The other chainsaws that are currently for sale in this series:

However, these three are less well-known and less available than the 271.

These 4 chainsaws are sold with the ‘Farm Boss’ label. You’ll find the designation on the side cover of the powerhead and on the chainsaw bar. In the advertising and listing pages, it’s also very clear whether or not such and such saw a Farm Boss.

There are many saws from earlier Stihl production years that also carry the Farm Boss logo.

One example is the Stihl 041 Farm Boss – a 61cc chainsaw made throughout the 70s and 80s. The Stihl 029 Farm Boss is another. 

What Does Farm Boss Mean?

is the stihl 391 good

More than anything, the Farm Boss designation is just a marketing term.

It’s very similar to what Husqvarna Chainsaws call their ‘Rancher’ range, which includes the 450, 455, and 460.

It’s a way of saying ‘These saws are better than our entry-level homeowner chainsaws like the Stihl MS180c or MS230c, but they are NOT professional chainsaws like the MS261 or the MS500i.’

They are also said to be a step up from the Stihl MS310 chainsaw, a 59cc saw that is no longer in production.

Just as the Rancher series can be used for more heavy-duty tree felling, land clearing, and firewood processing, so can the Stihl Farm Boss chainsaws.

They are not designed for all-day everyday use but can be good for a single household’s firewood requirements in a year. You might use it here and there on the weekends, but not consistently over longer periods of time.

There are better chainsaws than the Farm Boss if you need something that will get a lot of use and do the work faster. The Stihl 261 is a recommended pro step up from the 271, for example.

Stihl Farm Boss Vs Pro Chainsaws

There are some big differences between the Stihl Farm Boss chainsaws and the Stihl Pro chainsaws.

The video above is the best thing to watch for a visual breakdown of the differences between Stihl Pro and homeowner saws. Corey from the Human YouTube channel is comparing the 261c with the 271 which both have 50.2cc engines.

Here are some of the main differences between Pro and Farm Boss saws are:

  • Pro will have higher horsepower over comparable cc Farm Boss
  • Pro will be lighter than Farm Boss with equal engine power
  • Farm Boss saws have a polycarbonate construction, Pro have magnesium casings
  • Different crankshaft construction (Pro being better)
  • Decompression Valve on Pro vs none on Farm Boss
  • Different air filters (Pro is better)
  • Captive vs non-captive bar nuts
  • Improved sprocket on Pro

And there are a number of other improvements which the pro saws have over the Farm Boss range which are the top of the Homeowner chainsaw selection from Stihl.

To summarize, the Pro saws have better components, are constructed from stronger materials, have improved features, will last longer and be more durable, perform better, have more power, and be easier to maintain.

Farm Boss chainsaws are still certainly better than the smaller homeowner chainsaws, but they aren’t all that dissimilar beyond size and power.

Stihl MS271 Farm Boss Overview

stihl farmboss

We’ll put together a complete MS271 Farm Boss review shortly, but here is a quick rundown of this most popular and prevalent chainsaw in the Farm Boss series.

Stihl 271 Farm Boss Specs:

  • 50.2 cc engine
  • 3.49hp
  • 16″ bar recommended
  • 12.3 lbs powerhead weight
  • .325″ RM3 chain

Stihl 271 Farm Boss Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Anti Vibration system
  • Side chain tensioner
  • Longer-lasting air filter
  • Bumper spikes
  • Chain brake
  • Front handguard
  • Automatic oiler

It has most, if not all, of the features that come standard with all of the Stihl homeowner chainsaws.

The 271 is a chainsaw that continues to sell well and has proved popular with owners. That being said, there are those who are not as impressed with it. 

Stihl Farm Boss Alternatives

ms261c chainsaw

The MS261 is the most popular alternative that people go for instead of the 271 – it’s the one featured in the video above.

The 261 is a pro chainsaw rather than a homeowner chainsaw, so it’s better all around. However, not everyone needs a pro saw!

Other good alternatives include:

  • Stihl MS291 – 55cc – slightly more expensive
  • Stihl MS250 – 45cc – slightly cheaper
  • Husqvarna Rancher – 50, 55, or 60cc – similarly priced

Any of these quality chainsaws are good, you just need to decide whether or not you need a pro chainsaw or whether a farm or rancher would be suitable.

Stihl Farm Boss Chainsaw

So the Farm Boss chainsaw series is good, but it’s not the best.

However, not everyone needs the best, and they are better than the entry-level saws.

Determine what type of work you intend to do with your chainsaw, and how often you want to be using it, and that should help you to determine whether or not you should get one.

Generally speaking, if working with chainsaws is something you plan to grow into and want to do more of, it’s usually better to get something with a bit more power than you might need right now. That way you won’t find that you’ve got a small chainsaw in the future.

If it’s chainsaw status that you’re after, you should also consider going pro. The Farm Boss range isn’t quite as impressive to show off to someone who knows anything about Stihl chainsaws (get the 090 for maximum props)!

At the end of the day, work within your budget, your experience, and your chainsaw goals. You can always trade up or down in the future.


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7 thoughts on “Stihl Farm Boss Chainsaw Guide: The MS271, MS311, MS291, And MS391”

  1. You left out other options of saws, notably the echo cs 4910. 50cc saw right in the producer category. Magnesium case, essentially a pro saw. 10.4 lbs making it the lightest 50cc saw. It’s a good 50-60 dollars less than the Stihl. There’s makitas too, but it appears they are getting out of the gas saw business after 2022.

  2. Neglected to mention that the ms271 is known for piston and cyllinder scoring after relatively low hours of use, even with the premixed fuel. Still will not do anything for you if you’ve had it more than a year. Authorized dealers will tell you the cost to repair isn’t worth it and you can’t do it yourself because all OEM and aftermarket cylinder kits are out of stock.

  3. Bought a 391 to replace a stolen husky. Worst decision ever, within 3 months the exhaust fell off, it was sent back to sthil and they put a whole new exhaust on, lasted about 6 or 7 months and fell off again. Everything else is fine but this issue can’t seem to be resolved. Would not recommend these saws after that

  4. Bought a Farmboss and got extended two year warranty. 3 months after purchase the pull cord snapped. Authorized dealer replaced cord but it never quite felt right though it would start. This year, second season, it would not even pull. Authorized dealer & Stihl said it ran with brake on and bound up engine. I though the purpose of the brake, as a safety feature was to prevent it from operating while on ?!?!?

    Anyway, Stihl would not honor the warranty and only agreed to provide replacement parts. Labor costs (about 1/2 what I paid for the saw) were my responsibility.

    The warranty claim process was long a painful. Technical support provided outsourced to some firm in India.

    Buyer beware.

  5. I have a MS311. I love this saw, it has tons of power and runs like a champ. I can have a 20″ bar on it and can keep pace with my buddies MS362 with an 18″ bar. Only issue is that you have to be strong, it is HEAVY. I wouldn’t want to lug it through the bush all/ever day, but if you can lift it I think its a hard saw to beat for the price. Much better then my old MS290 that it replaced. I have never had an issue with it mechanically.

  6. The same with the 291 an 391 those are turning out to be lemons in my opinion. They make these saws where when they do score they are real expensive to get fixed almost better off buying a new saw.

  7. This MS271 saw is horrible. It won’t start if I use the procedure in the owner’s manual – not with the chain brake on. Have to start it the old fashioned way. I’ll not be replacing it with a similar Sthil when it finally craps out.


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