What Is Stihl Quick Chain Adjuster? What Does C-B Mean On Stihl Chainsaws?

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What is the Stihl Quick Chain Adjuster all about?

The answer is really straightforward: it’s a feature that allows you to tighten your chainsaw chain without the use of tools.

Most chainsaws require at least a scrench tool in order to tighten the chain, but the Quick Chain Adjuster makes it really easy to do it without this or any other tools.

This feature isn’t available on all Stihl chainsaws but is often available on models with a C designation – the ‘B’ in particular refers to this feature in particular. For example, the MS 181 C-BE or the MSA 120 C-B.

Not everyone likes or wants the feature, hence why it’s not standard on all saws, but I’ll share why that is below.

STIHL Quick Chain Adjuster

stihl quick chain adjuster review
The Stihl MS181 C-BE with Quick Chain Adjuster

The C on Stihl chainsaws stands for ‘Comfort’ and means that the model has one or two additional features beyond what is offered on the base model.

Often, one of the comfort features being designated is a Quick Chain Adjuster.

For example, the Stihl MS181 C-BE pictured above has a Quick Chain Adjuster – you can see it featured in the image.

How do you use the Quick Chain Adjuster?

You simply flip out the level, loosen the nuts with a twist, turn the black wheel to tighten the chain, and then retwist the lever to retighten the nuts.

The C on the MS181 means it has comfort features, and the BE tells you what the features are:

  • B – Quick Chain Adjustment
  • E – Easy2Start system

For a better example, check out the following video.

Modern Stihl Saws like the 181 can be purchased with this feature, but it has been available on a range of Stihl homeowner saws for many years now.

The Stihl 018 and 018C is one older example of a saw that could be bought with or without Quick Chain Tensioner, along with the Stihl 025 and 025C.

Many of the Stihl electric chainsaws (MSE) and the battery-powered chainsaws (MSA) can be bought with Quick Chain Adjusters.

Quick Chain Tensioner Pros And Cons

is stihl quick chain tensioner worth it
The Stihl MS181 with regular chain tensioner

Is it worth paying extra for the Stihl Quick Chain Tensioner system?

The price difference between the MS 181 and the MS 181 C-BE, for example, is usually around $50, but you’re getting a couple of additional features: Easy2Start and Quick Chain Tensioner.

Personally, I’ve never really noticed the difference between saws with or without Easy2Start, and I don’t mind using tools to tension my chain, so for me it’s not really worth it.

I bought the Stihl FS45 Weed Eater without the comfort feature ‘Easy2Start’ and it’s already so easy to start I don’t know how it could be any easier.

However, some people will like it, and for them, it will be worth it.

Here are some of the pros and cons to help you make up your mind on whether or not to get a Stihl saw with Quick Chain Tensioner.


  • Tension without tools
  • It is fast and easy to tighten your chain
  • People with less confidence with chainsaws may feel better using this method


  • May cause chain to loosen faster
  • Can be difficult to adjust accurately
  • The system can easily become gunked up

What Stihl Chainsaw Can Have Quick Chain Adjust?

stihl ms170 quick chain adjuster

There are quite a number of Stihl saws that can be purchased with Quick Chain Adjust.

Most often it’s designated with ‘C-B’ but sometimes it’ll only have a ‘C’.

Here are the CURRENT saws that can have the feature:

  • MS 180 C-BE
  • MS 181 C-BE
  • MS 211 C-BE
  • MS 251 C-BE
  • MS 291 C-BE
  • MSA 200 C-B
  • MSA 220 C-B
  • MSA 160 C-B
  • MSA 251 C-BE
  • MSA 120 C-B
  • MSA 140 C-B
  • MSE 170 C-B
  • MSE 210 C-B

But this does not include old models that were also sold with the feature, such as the MS 261 C or the MS 361 C.

What Does Stihl C-B Mean?

Stihl C-B means the chainsaw has the Quick Chain Adjuster feature.

It’s not a feature that most people are all that interested in paying extra for but ask your dealer to show you how it works in person and test it out to see if you like it.

When tightening your chainsaw the usual way you do have a bit more control, and generally speaking, it means there’s less that can go wrong with the saw.

Some people have found it’s difficult to find parts for the Quick Chain Tensioner system when it dies on the saw, so that’s something else to keep in mind.

Sometimes these features are just added to make homeowners and first-time users feel safer and more in control, but they aren’t necessarily needed. 

Stihl is an innovative company – they invented the chainsaw for tree work – so it’s great they can test these things out. Let me know if you have any more questions down below!


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1 thought on “What Is Stihl Quick Chain Adjuster? What Does C-B Mean On Stihl Chainsaws?”

  1. I am going to buy a chainsaw probably this week. While I have extensive time using chainsaws– owned by other companies, especially as ranger over a large camp, I am no lumberjack and have not used the Quick Adjust system (B). I am, however, very interested in this feature… the idea of tightening the chain without having to climb over and through brush to get back to the service vehicle for a tool or work desk is very appealing… and plan on the saw I buy having the B feature! Actually, I want the B feature without paying for the Easy2Start (E) feature! I am pretty sure that with 50 years of yanking the hell out of pull cords, I will break the Easy2Start buy pulling too hard… or a buddy will yank it too hard! What model Stihl should I be looking for to get the Quick adjust (B) without the Easy2Start (E)? Can you still buy a NEW MS 261 C? (As of now, I am leaning heavily toward the MS 251 C.) Or, should I be looking at Husqvarn or Echo? I not yet willing to go with a MSA or battery saw for general use.


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