There’s an age old debate between home users and even professional loggers, regarding Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws.
While there’s definitely something that can be said for brand preference, the real test of any chainsaw is how it actually performs in the hands of the operator.
Because each person might operate a chainsaw slightly differently, it can also be very hard to quantify whether one brand is actually ‘better’ than the other.
Let’s take a look at the two brands, they reputation they have, and compare a two key models to see if there are any significant differences in the real world.
Both Brands Are Highly Regarded by Professionals and Home Users
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If you were to ask an experienced user or a professional, Stihl and Husqvarna would be the two chainsaw brands that are mentioned when talking about top quality and performance.
Stihl has been producing saws since the 1920s, and in 1926 had already designed a bucking chainsaw with an electric motor.
This was for use in mill yards and required two men to operate the 106 pound device. By the 1930s, Stihl had designed a saw chain with teeth similar to what we see today, and they even developed an automatic chain lubrication system in 1934.
This is something we see in all top quality chainsaws today. By the 1950s, the company designed the first gasoline chainsaw for use by a single worker.
It weighed 35 pounds, and could be used for both bucking and felling trees.
By 1954, the gasoline chainsaw had been lightened to 24 pounds, and by the 1970s, weight was approaching what we are familiar with today, and Stihl had sold over 1.5 million chainsaws.
As a company, Husqvarna has existed for much longer, initially producing weapons in the late 1600s, and only later became a top name in chainsaw manufacturing.
The company grew quickly not only through natural market expansion, but through acquisition of other companies.
They innovated a gas powered lawnmower in 1947, and produced their first chainsaw in 1959. Their experience in designing high quality small motors allowed them to quickly adapt to the chainsaw market, and the brand became known for innovative designs, reliability, serviceability, and good cutting power.
Today, both companies produce a range of chainsaws to meet homeowner and professional needs. They’re both market leaders, although Stihl generally sells more units in a given year.
Personal Preference is Key
If you were to speak to a group of professionals, or even a sampling of home users, you would usually find a near even split of support in either brand.
Some professional loggers or arborists will tell you that Husqvarna cuts faster, whereas some will say that a high end Stihl chainsaw has more torque than the competition.
The simple fact in the battle of Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws, is that when models are comparable on power, the only real difference comes down to personal preference and technique.
If you were to try two models from both companies with a similar engine rating, bar size, chain, and power rating, then you would be hard pressed to find quantifiable differences.
However, you may find that one simple ‘feels’ better to you, and that is a significant aspect of the rivalry. Most of what separates Stihl vs Husqvarna is how individual users feel when using a chainsaw, and some of this even comes down to brand preference or previous experience with a particular chainsaw.
As an example, somebody who has experienced a defective Stihl chainsaw in the past will be more likely to lean towards a Husqvarna as their choice for a high end chainsaw.
To illustrate how the similarities are extremely close between models from either brand, let’s put the Stihl vs Husqvarna argument into context with a direct comparison.
Stihl MS 311 Chainsaw vs Husqvarna 460 Rancher
The Husqvarna 460 Rancher is a high end model intended for owners of large properties like farms, ranches, and extensive forested properties.
Its main features include:
- 33cc engine, producing 3.7HP
- Fitted with a 24” Bar and Chain
- X-Torq engine that produces improved torque with better fuel efficiency.
- System has been specially designed to prevent engine flooding and to make starting easier.
- Weighs 12.79 pounds without bar and chain.
- Bar compatibility from 13 to 24 inches.
- Other Husqvarna models offer similar features with smaller engines. Examples include the 455 Rancher, and even the smaller Husqvarna 240.
Compare this to the Stihl MS 311 model, with features that include:
- 59cc engine producing 4.2HP
- Fitted with a 25” Bar and Chain
- Engine has been designed to maintain power through difficult cuts while improving fuel economy.
- A decompression valve allows for easier starting.
- Weighs 13.67 pounds without bar and chain.
- Bar compatibility from 16 to 25 inches.
- Other Stihl models offer similar features and quality, with smaller engine sizes.
As you can see from the features so far, the models are highly similar in capability, but as we go through some of the other features, you will see that the similarities continue.
- Both companies use a vibration dampening system to reduce fatigue while in operation.
- They both use clever air filtration systems, using a special centrifugal design to separate air from debris, allowing the air filter to stay cleaner for longer.
- When looking at the Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws, you will find that both have a similar easy access side adjustment for changing the blade tension (neither uses a tool-less design).
- Both chainsaws incorporate a chain brake, low kickback chains, and easy access fuel and oil systems.
Considering everything here, it’s clear to see that both brands are neck and neck when it comes to features.
While the Stihl has a slight edge when it comes to total HP produced from the engine, the real world difference would be minimal.
Both chainsaws can be configured with a range of bar sizes, allowing for them to be configured for specific jobs, and both have all of the safety and convenience features that could be expected of a high quality chainsaw.
When it comes to user feedback, both chainsaws also achieve similar ratings in reviews. The Husqvarna 460 Rancher routinely achieves high reviews of at least 4 / 5 stars.
The Stihl MS 311 also achieves similar on the company’s own customer review system.
How Easy Is it to Buy a Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaw?
With so many similarities, we’re left with one definite advantage in favor of the Husqvarna.
You can purchase almost any Husqvarna model from the comfort of your home using online buying.
When it comes to Stihl Chainsaws, only some models are available online in limited countries, and Stihl does not offer its gas chainsaw products online in the United States.
Stihl puts this down to the fact that they want every dealer to provide a hands on overview and basic training before selling a unit.
While this is definitely advantageous when it comes to customer education, it can be a letdown for experienced chainsaw operators who are comfortable with ordering a high quality chainsaw online.
So, when you’re next met with a debate regarding Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws, you can know with quiet confidence that the differences are mostly personal, and both are high performers with models that can be directly compared.
The ace up the sleeve of Husqvarna is the fact that it’s so easy to purchase the units online, allowing you to take advantage of better packages and deals, which ultimately might make the purchase more appealing to you.