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  1. #1
    Silver Member Johnkn's Avatar
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    Default Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    Greetings, getting ready to get a MS261 C-M, really torn between the 18" and 20" bar. My current (early 1970's) saw has a 21" bar and cuts like a beast but is heavy as **** on this old body. I was really thinking about the 20" bar on the new saw, not really for any potential cutting advantage, but so I don't have to bend over quite so far when limbing fallen trees. Not sure what the weight difference is between the 2 saws, an extra 2" of bar and 4" of chain can't be more than a few ozs. I'm sure either length would be fine. Suggestions? thanks
    December, 2014 Kubota BX25D with factory thumb, Land Pride grapple, Bro-Tek wheel spacers, BXpanded under armor, BXpanded Piranha tooth bar, BXpanded 5/16 chain hooks and slip hook, Bro-Tek ripper tooth. 2014 14' 14k/lb Sure Trac dump trailer. 2015 Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" chainsaw...

  2. #2
    Elite Member s219's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    I would recommend against the 20" bar -- it makes the saw too nose heavy, and unbalanced (it won't even sit flat on a table with a 20" bar). The saw can pull a 20" bar in softwood, but not in hardwood, so it's of limited use anyhow. It'd stick with 16" or 18" bar. I have all three sizes for my 261, and 18" is the most versatile.

    If you really need a 20" bar, I'd step up to a 60cc saw. In that size range, the Husky 562XP is the best option right now.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    Tough choice. My personal preference might be for a 16" and a 20". The weight of the longer bar isn't much, but it's all the way out at the end of the lever. The shorter bar will feel quite a bit lighter. I also don't think two extra inches will make much of a difference as far as bending over is concerned. Of course, it also depends on the size of wood you're working with "right there". If I had to choose one, I'd buy the 18". I have a Shindaiwa 488, which is the same size saw. It came with a 20" bar. I'm looking for a shorter one to swap it with.
    Kubota mx4700, Ford 8nx2, Timberking B-20 sawmill, Farmi 351 skidding winch, tiller, mower, bale chopper, etc. F250 5 speed I6. Stihl and shindaiwa saws.

    Every spring I drill 450 holes in maple trees, so I get to make about twelve cords of wood a year. Just me and the Gransfors Bruks splitting maul.

  4. #4
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    JD 2032R

    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    I recently purchased an MS 261 C-M and went back and forth between 16" and 18" for the bar. I ended up going with 16" and I'm really glad that I did. My logic at the time was that I'd get the 16" saw, which will cut nearly everything I have to deal with at my place, and then get a 20" bar for the times when I need a bit more capacity. I still haven't needed the longer bar (the couple times I've cut something bigger, I've had a buddy there helping and he had a bigger saw with him), but I won't mind buying it when I do.

    I love the way my saw cuts with a 16" bar. Since it's perfect for 99% of my cutting, I'm glad that I didn't compromise.

    A shorter bar will really increase your satisfaction with a chainsaw. My father-in-law uses a 16" bar on his MS 440!

  5. #5
    Veteran Member Will_C's Avatar
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    Default

    I run a 16" bar on my 260, and could not imagine running a longer bar-of course I cut hardwoods.

    Will

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  6. #6
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    Quote Originally Posted by Will_C View Post
    I run a 16" bar on my 260, and could not imagine running a longer bar-of course I cut hardwoods.

    Will

    Sent from my iPhone using TractorByNet
    I don't know how much of a difference it is in the field, but the MS 260 is 3.5 HP and the MS 261 has 3.9 HP. I've been running mine with a 16" bar and it's been in the single digits here, but my saw is ripping through the frozen solid walnut I've been cutting lately. It will make a pile of chips fast when I bury the bar in a big section of the trunk. I wouldn't hesitate to run it with an 18" bar if I had a lot of logs that big around, and I'm sure it will run a 20" bar with no problem if I need one for occasional use. However, if I found that I needed a 20" bar all the time, I'd be looking at a bigger saw to go with it.

  7. #7
    Elite Member dragoneggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    Don't know your real requirements but I am with those that opt for a shorter bar. I am getting older and like the shorter bar because it seems much easier to swing it around. I got rid of my old saw with a 20in bar because I really didn't need the length ever.

  8. #8
    Silver Member Johnkn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    Thank you everyone, appreciate your comments. I was debating on either a 18" or 20" bar with the thought that the 20" bar would be easier on my (old) back when limbing down trees, but I think good sense will prevail and I'll go with the 18" on this one. I only use the saw a handful of times a year, I'm sure it will be fine. I'll post here when I get it. take care
    December, 2014 Kubota BX25D with factory thumb, Land Pride grapple, Bro-Tek wheel spacers, BXpanded under armor, BXpanded Piranha tooth bar, BXpanded 5/16 chain hooks and slip hook, Bro-Tek ripper tooth. 2014 14' 14k/lb Sure Trac dump trailer. 2015 Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" chainsaw...

  9. #9
    Elite Member dragoneggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnkn View Post
    Thank you everyone, appreciate your comments. I was debating on either a 18" or 20" bar with the thought that the 20" bar would be easier on my (old) back when limbing down trees, but I think good sense will prevail and I'll go with the 18" on this one. I only use the saw a handful of times a year, I'm sure it will be fine. I'll post here when I get it. take care
    I think that's a good call. Especially if most of your work is small stuff, limbing, etc. At least that is what I found. I hear you on the leaning over and back thing but I don't think the longer bar will really do that much for you and you will have less control. I use my little guy for limbs even though it isn't as nice a saw just because of the weight and control.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Stihl MS 261 C-M 18" vs 20" Bar

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnkn View Post
    Thank you everyone, appreciate your comments. I was debating on either a 18" or 20" bar with the thought that the 20" bar would be easier on my (old) back when limbing down trees, but I think good sense will prevail and I'll go with the 18" on this one. I only use the saw a handful of times a year, I'm sure it will be fine. I'll post here when I get it. take care
    Don't let me nay-say buying a pro saw. I almost always recommend that people step up to the pro level of saws even for homeowner use. That said, though, if you will really only use it a few times a year, a ms251, or whatever they call it now might work for you. Just something to think about. If you've got the cash, and want to have a really fun saw, then forget I said anything.
    Kubota mx4700, Ford 8nx2, Timberking B-20 sawmill, Farmi 351 skidding winch, tiller, mower, bale chopper, etc. F250 5 speed I6. Stihl and shindaiwa saws.

    Every spring I drill 450 holes in maple trees, so I get to make about twelve cords of wood a year. Just me and the Gransfors Bruks splitting maul.

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