Stihl MS 170 Vs Stihl MS 180: Specs And Feature Differences

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What is the difference between Stihl MS 170 and MS 180 chainsaws?

The MS170 and MS180 are very similar chainsaws. They are both built on the same platform and share many of the same parts but the 180 has a larger slightly larger bore leading to higher displacement and power output.

Put simply, the MS 180 is slightly more powerful than the MS 170. The price difference between the two models is usually around $20 – $30 in the US and we recommend paying it and getting the bigger version. It’s worth it for most people.

Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between the Stihl MS 170 and MS 180.

Specs And Features

Specs/Features the stihl ms 170 chainsawMS 170 / 170 C the stihl ms 180MS 180 / 180 C
Displacement 30.1 cc / 1.8 cu in 31.8 cc / 1.9 cu in
Power output 1.3 kW / 1.8 hp 1.5 kW / 2 hp
Piston stroke  1.1″ / 28 mm  1.1″ / 28 mm
Cylinder bore 1.46″ / 37 mm 1.50″ / 38 mm
RPMs 2,500 – 8,500 rpm 2,800 – 9000 rpm
Powerhead weight 170: 8.6 lbs / 3.9 kgs
170 C: 9.2 lbs / 4.2 kgs
180: 8.6 lbs / 3.9 kgs
180 C: 9.2 lbs / 4.2 kgs
Fuel capacity 8.5 oz / 0.25 L 8.5 oz / 0.25 L
Bar oil capacity  4.9 oz / 0.145 L 4.9 oz / 0.145 L
Bar length 12 – 16 inch 12 – 16 inch
Ergo Start 170: No
170 C: Yes
180: No
180 C: Yes
Quick chain adjuster 170: No
170 C: No
180: No
180 C: Yes
Master control lever Yes Yes
Anti-vibration system Yes Yes
Toolless fuel/oil caps No No
Made in America* Yes Yes

Models sold in the USA are usually made in the USA. Those sold elsewhere may be manufactured in other plants.

Both saws entered production in 2002 and are still being produced and sold, though there have been changes over the years.

Exact specs and features will depend on the specific production year and location. You can download their shared manual here.

The main differences between the MS 170 and MS 180 are:

1. Displacement

The MS 180 has a slightly larger engine displacement (31.8 cm³) compared to the MS 170 (30.1 cm³).

This means the MS 180 has a slightly larger engine cylinder volume, which translates to more power.

2. Engine Power

The MS 180 has a higher engine power, 1.5 kW (2.0 HP) at 9000 rpm, compared to the MS 170’s 1.3 kW (1.8 HP) at 8500 rpm.

This indicates that the MS 180 will provide more cutting power.

3. Cylinder Bore

The cylinder bore is slightly larger in the MS 180 (38mm) compared to the MS 170 (37mm).

This also corresponds to the difference in displacement and power between the two models.

4. Weight and Features

The specific configurations for the MS 170 C and MS 180 C might include additional features like ErgoStart or quick tensioners.

This can lead to a slight difference in weight. Otherwise, the versions weigh the same, giving the MS 180 a better power-to-weight ratio than the MS 170.

Other specific differences might exist depending on the exact configuration and features of the two models, but these are the primary mechanical differences.

The C on a Stihl chainsaw represents an additional feature not on the base model.

On the MS 170, the C version has The Ergo Start feature which makes starting easier (not that it’s difficult anyway). On the MS 180, the C version has a Quick Chain Tensioner and Ergo Start.

MS 180 Vs MS 170 Reviews

stihl ms 180 C-B
The STIHL MS 180 C with Quick Chain Adjust

These reviews and comments come from users of the Stihl MS 180 and MS 170.

They are a range of tree service professionals, enthusiasts, landscapers, and occasional users.

“I’ve used both the MS 170 and MS 180 in my landscaping business. Honestly, both are great tools, but the MS 180’s added power helps me get through the workday a bit quicker. If you’re on a tight budget, the MS 170 will still serve you well, but I prefer the 180.”

“I prefer the MS180 to the MS170. You do get a little more hp out of it but the placement of the side chain tensioner on the C version to me is worth the little bit more you pay.”

“I went for the 180 as it was like $30 dollars for an additional 10% hp gain. I got the one with bar nuts because I hate toolless tensioners.”

“I like them both. I think for the money just stick with the little dude but check them both out and see for yourself. The power difference is negligible in my opinion.”

“I bought the MS 170 for use around my farm and was happy with its performance. But when my neighbor lent me his MS 180, I could immediately feel the difference in power. The price difference is minimal, so I’d suggest the 180 if you plan to do more than occasional cutting.”

“I’ve owned both the MS 170 and MS 180, and I can say they are both reliable and efficient. The MS 170 is more than enough for my home projects. The MS 180 might be slightly more powerful, but for my needs, the MS 170 is perfect, especially considering the price.”

“Both the MS 170 and MS 180 are part of our equipment. We find that the MS 180 stands up better to daily use with its increased power output. However, for lighter tasks, the MS 170 is still a handy tool. For professional use, the 180 might be worth the extra cost.”

Stihl MS 170 and MS 180 Alternatives

The STIHL MS 170 and MS 180 chainsaws are reliable and efficient for home-cutting needs. They are very similar sharing many components and features. 

The MS 170 is known for its affordability and is well-suited for light to medium tasks with its 1.8 HP engine. On the other hand, the MS 180, with a slightly larger bore, offers a higher displacement and an increase in horsepower (2.0 HP), providing a small bump in cutting power.

While the MS 170 caters to budget-conscious users and occasional tasks, the MS 180’s extra power might be worth the small additional investment for those needing more regular or robust cutting performance.

Both models maintain STIHL’s reputation for quality, with the best often coming down to specific needs and preferences.

Other alternatives to the 170 and 180 include the MS 171 and MS 181. These two saws are from another series and are built differently, though they are similarly powered. The MS 250 is another lower-powered Stihl before you get into their higher-powered Farm Boss Chainsaws.


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