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Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaws Standoff – Which Is Better?

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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 for these power tools, the real test of any chainsaw brands 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, the reputation they have, and then compare these 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

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.

Other brands like Poulan Pro and Craftsman may have been in the conversation two decades ago, but they simply aren’t quite as popular with today’s market.

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 the 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.

The Husqvarna Rancher 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
  • The 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
  • The 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 features 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 to 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.

Fuel Tank

The fuel tank is definitely a concern you need to be mindful of when it comes to choosing a chainsaw. When the chainsaw is going to be used for a long time, then you want to avoid having to stop multiple times in order to refill the fuel tank. This will make the job much longer.

The Husqvarna chainsaws typically offer larger fuel tanks so you can stop less and get more done. However, the bigger fuel tank that holds more fuel also makes the chainsaw much heavier than one with a smaller tank. You need to keep this in mind as well.

Durability

Many people have reportedly had and used their Husqvarna chainsaws for years, which is a testament to their durability and stamina. However, that isn’t to assume that Stihl chainsaws can’t do the same. Stihl boasts of durability and a powerful engine.

Price

Husqvarna chainsaws are often more affordable than Stihl chainsaws. While Stihl chainsaws may cost more, you are paying for the quality you are receiving. So, they are definitely still a competitor in the durability category.

Power

The engine is a factor when determining the power of a chainsaw. The Stihl chainsaws are considered better for more professional use because it is powerful and has a sharp blade. The Husqvarna chainsaws are better suited for home use, but they also boast about their power and strong cuts.

Maintenance Demands

Stihl chainsaws don’t require as much maintenance, and they also don’t require a lot of knowledge about the chainsaw and engine themselves which makes them great chainsaws for beginners.

Quality of the Cut

The quality of the cut offered by each of these brands is comparable and very similar. They both have powerheads that offer ultimate efficiency.

Types of Chainsaws from These Brands

Both of these brands offer a variety of chainsaws for both the professional and novice. Electric chainsaws are more affordable and weigh less than petrol chainsaws, but they have a power cord you need to contend with.

Petrol chainsaws pack a more powerful punch and operate much more smoothly than electric saws. However, you will find that they weigh more, and the noise level is far beyond that of the electric saw variety.

Features of the Stihl and Husqvarna Chainsaws

These two brands only vary a little bit when it comes to the incredible features they offer. Their common features include the following:

Reduced Kickback Bar – this limits the cutting area that will generate the most kickback

Reduced Kickback Chain – this has an extra guard that links on the chain and keeps the cutting teeth in check

Bar Tip Guard – this is a steel attachment to cover the nose of the bar. It helps prevent kickback and makes sure that the tip of the chain does not get caught

Chain Break – this will stop the chain almost immediately when there is kickback, or the front hand guard is pushed up

Trigger Knockout – this is a safety feature that prevents accidental engagement

Automatic Chain Oiler – you don’t have to stop and pump oil into the cutting bar, it is all automatic and does it for you

Anti-Vibration – you will find that the majority of gas-powered chainsaws come complete with this feature

Final Thoughts

Both of these chainsaw brands offer much in the way of features and safety; however, if you are more of a novice and need to do some work around the home, then the Husqvarna variety of chainsaws may be better suited for your needs. However, professionals and home users alike are back and forth on which brand is actually proven to be the best for home and professional use.

When buying a chainsaw, you will find that they are both durable, reliable, and heavy-duty options to choose from. The Husqvarna chainsaws have more of a reputation than Stihl because they have been around for longer, and they are much easier to purchase online. However, the Stihl chainsaws have more low-end torque which makes them the better option for tough cutting.

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