STIHL MS 211 Chainsaw Reviews: How It Compares With The MS 181 And MS 251

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The STIHL MS 211 is a lightweight 35 cc homeowner chainsaw that runs best with a 16″ bar.

It’s one of STIHL’s lowest-powered saws, though the MS 170 and MS 162 have even less power, so it’s a small step up from them.

When used appropriately, most owners are happy with the 211’s performance. However, there is one complaint that comes up again and again which we’ll share in the reviews below.

Is it the right chainsaw for you? Let’s find out.

Images from Ace Hardware’s MS 211 C-BE listing.

STIHL MS 211 Versions

how to use the stihl ms 211 c

The saw has two versions: the base model and the C version, which has a couple of extra features.

  • The MS 211 – base model
  • The MS 211 C-BE – has a Quick Chain Adjuster and Easy2Start system

The latter will sometimes be listed as the “MS 221 C,” without the BE, but they are the same saw.

C designates additional features. Other than having these two extra features, the chainsaws are the same.

The C version is the better-selling version, even though it costs an extra $40 – $50, but is it worth it?

In our opinion, the extra features don’t make much difference. The Quick Chain Adjuster can actually be more annoying than using a tool, and this small saw is not hard to start without the Easy2Start system.

stihl ms 211 c version
The Stihl MS 211 C-BE

Quick Chain Adjust means it doesn’t have bar nuts that must be undone before tightening or loosening the chain.

You can see it on the side of the saw. And while the Easy2Start system makes starting the saw easier (due to an “additional spring between the crankshaft and the rope rotor”), these modern saws are not hard to start anyway and are reliable starters.

There are plenty of older folk who like the Easy2Start system because their arms and shoulders aren’t what they used to be. We’ve also heard from many that the 211 is a good chainsaw for women.

The 211 C could be seen as the better model because it has the extra features and costs more, there are a lot of Stihl guys who actually prefer the saws without C-BE!

Whether you want it or not will depend on where you are on your chainsaw journey. Some guys prefer a couple of bar nuts and regular starting mechanisms!

STIHL MS 211 Reviews

This is a good MS211 video review from Outdoors In Oregon after five years of use.

This guy is very happy with his saw. To put it in his words, “I have to say I’m quite fond of this saw.”

It’s a decent firewood saw for the small stuff. It’s good for limbing, pruning, light farm or orchard work, and camping. However, it’s not the saw you want for regular use or for bucking larger logs.

While it’s most commonly bought with an 18″ bar, this is too big for the saw’s power. We’ve run 18″ bars on similarly powered saws, and they tend to bog down easily in the wood. However, when you put something a bit smaller on them, like a 14, 15, or 16″ bar, they can rip.

Some asked for thoughts on the 211 in the 100,000-member Stihl FB group recently, and here are some of the responses:

  • John said, “My 211 has been great for small stuff, climbing, etc. I run a 16″ bar on it. Nice and light.”
  • Erik said, “It’s a good little saw, but for just a tad more, get a 250 and get more done.”
  • Paul said, “I’m not saying the 211 isn’t a decent saw, but the 210, 230, and 250 are hands down better in many ways.”
  • Angela said, “The MS250 is a better saw if you can find one.”
  • Tom said, “The 211 with a 14″ bar is by far my favorite I’ve ever ran!”
  • Dave said, “210 was a decent little saw. 211 sucks.”
  • Randy said, “We stopped selling them.”
  • David said, “It’s a great saw for what it is, mine does what I need it for. Great for small jobs”
using the stihl ms211
Image: @_wildnatureliving_

Tim said:

I have two of them. I like them a lot.

Bought both of them new and gave one to my dad. Neither has given us any trouble.

I like the 021 better though. Then you start looking at the 025 because it’s the same thing with more power.

Aaron said:

Light nice running trimming small wood saw. I really enjoyed the way it runs.

The only problem is they tend to leak some bar oil. I think it’s the hose grommet or something.

Cody said:

I have one for cleaning up trails at my hunting cabin.

Good lightweight little saw. Fits right on my ATV no problem.

My only complaint Is the bar oil reservoir… been replaced twice by the dealer and still leaks.

And Marcario replied:

My MS211 has the same leak and will spill almost all the oil after sitting.

Now I always drain it out when there is extra in the tank after I use it.

Good little saw for smaller brush for sure.

Morton said:

It’s not STIHL’s finest design. A bit of a boat anchor, really, with a very poor power/weight ratio.

Justin said:

I had one and really had no complaints with it.

It had the ez start which I could take or leave but I really liked the tool-less chain tensioning. It was convenient for quick cuts from storm cleanup or something “minor”.

It was also my loaner saw….until my buddy straight gassed it. I ended up replacing it with a MS 241 if that tells you anything.

All in all it was a fine saw for what it is.

Chris said:

My brother in law has one.

I grabbed it while we were cutting thinking it was my old 210 and thought it was much better.

They are our smaller saws, but it felt really nice.

Brandon said:

The worst saw I think Stihl ever produced.

I’ve sold a handful of them new and not one of them took less than 15 minutes to start NEW. They were so bad I stopped carrying them all together.

I’ve seen people have good luck with them but I’ve personally never once had a “good” one, new or being repaired.

Besides the leaky oiler issue, most people who use the 211 have only good things to say about it. Overall, it’s a good little saw that’s worth having around.

MS 211 Vs MS 180 Vs MS 250

STIHLMS 181 CMS 211 CMS 251 C
Displacement31.8 cc / 1.94 cu in35.2 cc / 2.15 cu in45.6 cc / 2.7 cu in
Power1.5 kW / 2 hp1.7 kW / 2.3 hp2.2 kW / 3 hp
Weight10.1 lbs / 4.6 kgs10.1 lbs / 4.6 kgs 11.2 lbs / 5.1 kgs
Bar12 – 16″12 – 18″14 – 18″
Power to weight2.7 kgs to kW2.5 kgs to kW2.4 kgs to kW
Price$339 (check price)$379 (check price)$419 (check price)

211 specs are similar compared to the MS180 or MS250 as well.

Also, specs are the same when comparing base models to the C-versions; the only difference can be a slight increase in weight.

All three saws are homeowner-level saws. The MS 211 falls between the 181 and 251 regarding power output. It weighs the same as the 181, giving it a much better power-to-weight ratio. The 251 has the best power-to-weight ratio of 2.4 kgs to kW.

The 211 is a great camp saw—it can clear trails, do a bit of light storm clean-up, and prune around the garden. The same goes for the 181, to a lesser degree.

The 251 is better if you also want to use the saw to cut firewood. It will get the job done much faster and more easily than the 211.

Specs And Features

ms211 specs and features

MS211 C Specifications:

  • Displacement: 35.2 cc (2.15 cu in)
  • Power @ 10,000 rpm: 1.7 kW (2.3 hp)
  • Weight: 10.1 lbs (4.6 kgs) Powerhead only
  • Fuel capacity: 9.5 fl oz (280 ml)
  • Oil tank capacity: 6.1 fl oz (180 ml)
  • Piston stroke: 1.1 in (28 mm)
  • Cylinder bore: 1.7 in (40 mm)
  • Idle speed: 2,800 rpm
  • Max speed: 13,500 rpm
  • Ignition: Electronic magneto ignition
  • Spark plug: Bosch USR4AC or NGK CMR6H
  • Electrode gap: 0.02 in (0.5 mm)
  • Bar lengths: 12, 14, 16, 18 in (30, 40, 45 cm)

The MS211 base model is a little bit lighter weighing 9.5 lbs/4.3 kgs, with all other specs being the same.

More info is in the MS211 manual (instant download here).

Stihl describes the base model like this:

STIHL MS 211 Mini Boss® Chainsaw

Low-vibration compact chainsaw. Extensive features such as long-life air filter system and STIHL anti-vibration system. High cutting performance and user comfort. Ideal for cutting firewood and for felling small trees.

And describes the C-version:

Low-vibration compact chainsaw. With long-life air filter system and STIHL anti-vibration. Ideal for cutting firewood and felling small trees. Up to 20 % less fuel consumption and up to 70 % lower emissions compared with STIHL 2-stroke engines of the same power output without 2-MIX technology. Featuring Easy2Start for effortless starting with tool free chain-tensioning system.

While the base model does not have Quick Chain Adjuster or the Easy2Start feature, it’s not lacking because of it. Unless you especially want or need these features, going with the cheaper version is no problem.

The 211 has all the standard features of Stihl homeowner/landowner saws, including a long-life air filter system, single lever master control, tool-free fuel caps, chain brake, and more.

STIHL MS211 Chainsaw

stihl ms211 C-BE chainsaw reviews

The Stihl MS 211 or MS 211 C are decent chainsaws that are very good when used as designed. However, you’ll be disappointed if you try to do more with them than they’re designed for.

If you’re unsure if it’s powerful enough for your tasks, it’s definitely worth upgrading to something bigger. The 250/251 are good options, or consider the Stihl MS 271, which is a 50cc saw and much better for firewood duties.

If you have any questions, comments, or anything else you’d like to share about the 211, please do so in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.


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