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

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What does the C mean on Stihl chainsaws?

If you’re searching for this you already know what I’m talking about… You can get the Stihl MS180 0r the MS180C. You can get the Stihl MS230 or the MS230C (and even the MS230C-BE).

Well, the C on Stihl chainsaws stands for ‘Comfort,’ and we’ll get into what that means next.

C On Stihl Chainsaws Means…

stihl 230c review

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

Yes, the C stands for comfort, but what exactly this entails will vary from chainsaw to chainsaw.

Stihl states the following:

Comfort can have one or more of the following features: Easy2Start, Quick Chain Adjuster, or ElastoStart.

So that’s what C means. It means the saw has one of those additional features that the base model does not.

I 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 (possibly mentioned because I included an image of my 230 above, which indeed needed a clean).

Someone else responded by saying it’s ‘one of Stihl’s cryptic and inconsistent designations.’

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

At first, that didn’t really seem to answer why you can buy a 230, a 230C, and a 230C-BE, but apparently, on the straight C models, the extra comfort designations are listed on the serial number label.

For example, this sticker for a Stihl MSE141C then has an additional Q designation which means Quickstop.

what is the c designation on stihl chainsaws

This is the Stihl MSE141 (an electric Stihl) with the comfort feature Quickstop – though Quickstop is technically a safety feature.

So basically the C means there is at least one (or sometimes two) of a number of different comfort features that are added on top of the base unit.

This is what the C means on a Stihl chainsaw, but if you have anything to add, please do so down below in the comments and I’m happy to update this post.

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

And a final example is the Stihl 261 and 261c – a modern Stihl saw. The C version has STIHL Easy-to-Start and toolless chain tensioning. And then there’s a 261 C-MQ which also is M-Tronic and has Quickstop Plus.

Comfort Feature

 For those who like to get a little controversial, 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?

However, Stihl has certainly 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 says:

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 MS181 C version has the additional Ergo Start feature and Quick Chain Tensioner.

So while I’m pretty sure that, yes, C originally 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 find out what the comfort features are on your Stihl chainsaw, check out 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
  • 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.

Here are the modern Stihl chainsaw prefix meanings:

  • MS Chain Saw
  • MSA Chain Saw, Battery-Powered
  • MSE Chain Saw, Electric Powered

Stihl Chainsaw Model Numbers

stihl ms251c

Hopefully, that helps explain what the C means on Stihl Chainsaws, along with answering a lot of other Stihl model number questions – at least relating to the feature designations.

Always remember that things like this 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 that you are getting an upgraded chainsaw from the standard base model. Usually, it means it’s going to be easier to start, work on, and work with.

If it’s in your budget, it’s worth getting the add-on comfort features.

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

Let us know if you have anything to add in the comment section below, and find out more about the Stihl MS251C (pictured above) here. Or, for those who prefer the more old-school models, the Stihl 026 is here.


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2 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.


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