What Does The C Mean On Stihl Chainsaws? Stihl Chainsaw Model Designations

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What does C mean on Stihl chainsaws?

If you’re searching this, you know what we’re talking about… You can get the Stihl MS 180 or the MS 180 C. You can get the Stihl MS 230 or the MS 230 C.

What does it stand for?

The C on Stihl chainsaws stands for ‘Comfort,’ BUT we’ll have to dive a bit deeper to properly understand what that means!

C On Stihl Chainsaws Means…

stihl 230c review

The meaning of C on Stihl chainsaws depends on the chainsaw model and date of manufacture.

Yes, the C stands for comfort, but what this entails varies from chainsaw model to chainsaw model.

Stihl states the following:

Comfort can have one or more of the following features:

  1. Easy2Start
  2. Quick Chain Adjuster
  3. ElastoStart

So that’s what C means. It means the saw has at least one of those additional features.

We asked some Stihl enthusiasts what they thought the C meant.

Here are some of their answers:

  • “I believe comfort means quick opening oil and fuel caps.”
  • “That the chainsaw will have either an easy pull start or an easy chain adjuster.”
  • “In some chainsaws, it means it has an M-Tronic carb.”
  • “Clean your chainsaw.”

Someone else said, “It’s one of Stihl’s cryptic and inconsistent designations.”

But one of the better answers, and the most correct, was this one:

C = comfort feature, then the letters after that tell you what that feature is…

For example, with a Stihl C-BE chainsaw, the comfort features are B = Quick Chain Tensioner and E= Ergo Start.

Here’s an illustration of that explanation:

what do stihl chainsaw model numbers mean

The extra comfort designations are usually listed on the chainsaw serial number label.

For example, this sticker for a Stihl MSE 141 C has an additional ‘Q’ designation, which means Quickstop.

what is the c designation on stihl chainsaws

So, it’s a Stihl MSE 141 with the comfort feature Quickstop (though Quickstop is technically a safety feature).

‘C’ means the saw has one or more additional features.

stihl 025 vs 025c

Another example is the Stihl 025 and 025 C.

The 025 C has the comfort features of Elasto Start and the Quick Chain Adjuster, whereas the base model did not.

A final example is the Stihl 261 and 261 C – a modern Stihl saw.

The C version has STIHL Easy-to-Start and toolless chain tensioning. Then there’s the 261 C-MQ, which is also M-Tronic and has Quickstop Plus.

Comfort Feature

There are those out there who say C does NOT stand for comfort…

For example, the guy who made this comment in a Stihl FB group:

“C” in a Stihl model number does not actually stands for Comfort.

It stands for a German word. “Comfort” is not a German word. Just like MS stands for the German words Motor Sagen, which translates to Motorized Saw.

I talked to a German guy at a dealer a few years ago. He had worked in Stihl marketing in Germany many years before he came to America for a long vacation here with his brother. He told us what the German word was that the C stands for but I didnt think to write it down and I could not pronounce it.

He said it just meant something like our word Extra or Plus. It meant the saw had at least one other part that the basic saw does not have. Like when they put a + on the end of some Samsung phone models. He said the word does not mean Comfort or that the saw is more Comfortable.

He said he knows that Americans think it means Comfort and laughed about it. We talked about it more and he said people in the company know that Americans think it stands for Comfort and they laugh about it. They don’t care. He said it’s like a joke to them. He said even some equipment manuals have been written to say that the C stands for Comfort so they can sell more to Americans. As long as we buy their saws they dont care what we think.

So without the C, it is a basic saw model and they don’t have a c in the model. But if the saw model has C then it means the saw has at least one other feature installed. C does not indicate which other features or parts it has. Just that it has stuff that the basic model does not have.

That’s probably true to an extent. Comfort is a weird way to describe an additional chain brake, isn’t it?

The German word for ‘Comfort’ is Komfort – which starts with a K (if you hadn’t noticed) – so it wasn’t a direct translation of that word.

And if true, Stihl has embraced the meaning the English-speaking world has given it. Their own materials state explicitly that C means/stands for Comfort.

In the short video above, Stihl GB’s presenter states:

For many of our products, you’ll see the letter C in the model number.

This stands for comfort. It means there are one or more features on the tool that are designed to make your life easier.

He then shares that the MS 181 C version has the additional Ergo Start feature and Quick Chain Tensioner.

So while C potentially stood for a German word that means extra or plus, it’s OK to say it stands for comfort in English.

Why not?

Other Stihl Designations

stihl MS 261 chainsaw price

If you want to know what comfort features your Stihl chainsaw has, check the serial number sticker.

If this has long gone, it might be listed on a receipt, model plate, instruction manual, or other saw identifiers.

If all else fails, call up your local dealer and they’ll probably be able to tell you the likely comfort features that were included with your particular chainsaw.

When you find your additional letter designations, here’s what they mean:

  • AV – Anti Vibration
  • B – Quick Chain Adjustment
  • D – Catalytic Converter
  • E – Electronic Ignition (a designation for older models like the 031 AVE)
  • E – Easy2Start (now used on new models)
  • i – Electronic Fuel Injection (as on the 500i)
  • M – STIHL M-Tronic
  • FB – FARM BOSS (Stihl Farm Boss chainsaws)
  • L – Low Noise
  • MB – STIHL MiniBoss
  • Q or QS – Quickstop (additional chain brake system)
  • R – Wrap Handle (like on these rescue saws)
  • T – Top Handle (such as the MSA 161 T)
  • W – Heated Handle/ Carburetor
  • Z – Spark Arresting Muffler

Not all of these additional features go hand-in-hand with the comfort designation, but this is something of a Stihl chainsaw serial number decoder.

Stihl Chainsaw Model Numbers

stihl ms251c

Hopefully, that will help explain what the C means on Stihl Chainsaws and answer many other Stihl model number questions—at least relating to the feature designations.

Always remember that things can change quite a lot over time, which is part of the reason there is no one answer to ‘what the C means,’ but that it can mean a variety of things.

However, it’s safe to say that the C designation means you get an upgraded chainsaw from the standard base model. Usually, it means it will be easier to start, work on, and work with.

It’s worth getting the add-on comfort features if it’s in your budget.

See this post for info on Stihl chainsaw production years made – we look at all models from 1950 to the present. It’s always interesting to see the developments!


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5 thoughts on “What Does The C Mean On Stihl Chainsaws? Stihl Chainsaw Model Designations”

  1. Great informative article. I’m a dealer and once got in a discussion with a guy that was telling people the C meant it was a model made in China. I basically summarized what you did above and he got it.

  2. If C meant something else in German, it must have been a very long time ago. Today, C officially stands for C(K)omfort Version. Of course, internally at Stihl, C may have had a slightly different meaning.

    B = STIHL Kettenschnellspannung
    C = Komfortversion
    E = STIHL ErgoStart
    M = STIHL M-Tronic
    O = Ă–lsensor
    V = Elektrische Vergaserheizung
    W = Elektrische Grifheizung

      • As ‘cordless electric/battery’ saws are equipped with an all-time available power source, the lithium-ion battery, a sensor can be installed to alert you when the bar and chain oil is running out.
        For now, the MSA 220 and 300 have such a version (MSA 220/300 C-O).
        “Low Oil Sensor – The low oil sensor allows the operator to see when the oil is low so they can keep the bar and chain properly lubricated.”

        It is between the temperature and chain brake LEDs. :
        “CHAIN OIL” LED
        Indicates that the oil tank is empty or the bar and chain
        are not receiving oil when illuminated.


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