general purpose chain saw


Well-Known Member
Looking for a general purpose chain saw recommendation for property management. Initially it will get a lot of use clearing tree tops from recently logged land. Some of the tops are from 100'+ hardwoods and are pretty big. After that, I'll hinge cut from time to time and remove unwanted trees and brush. ~70 out of 100 acres was recently logged so it's a mess. I have no intention of removing all the tree tops, just the ones laying on future food plots!

I live a long way from the property and will store the saw in a mini storage I'm renting. There is a local Stihl dealer that I'd like to use to for ease of warranty and maintenance issues but I'm not opposed to Amazon or Lowes if that makes more since.

Thanks for the help!
I use a Stihl MS250. It's about as middle of the road size wise I could find and my family has had great luck with Stihl saws as a whole. I use mine for's a bit big for that, but doable! It's big enough to be able to chew thru most tree tops, but not huge, but again will get the job done. Just keep in mind...your asking a saw to do to different "extremes".....You want the weight for cutting big stuff but you want as little weight as possible for hinge cutting....not really fair....but I understand where you are coming from. Good safe....saws are one of those things there tends to not be "minor" accidents!
I've used a Stihl 025 for probably the last 10-15 years. It's been very dependable and durable. The Stihl Farm Boss is probably the toughest one i've ever had but it is very heavy compared to the 025. It pretty much depends on what size timber you need to cut.
We have a Stihl MS160 and a Stihl MS360. I mainly do what you are describing and always grab the 160. I’m fairly certain it has a 14” bar. It’s much lighter and I’ve never had any issues cutting anything I’ve wanted to with it.
Wow, lots of options!

The terrain on my place is steep. I'd rather have a lightweight saw that can get the job done than a saw that's perfect for cutting a 30" tree.

If we can't make a few cuts and drag the tops away they'll likely stay put.

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Weekender, I think you are on target to focus on a lightweight but strong saw for hinging as I find them safer for hinging. For downed tree tops I find a heavier, much stronger saw is advantageous. If I could only have one though I'd go with the lighter but strong saw and then pass on cutting tops that are complicated meaning they are under pressure from trees they are against or from other fallen tops. For tops not under pressure the lightweight saw will be just fine. The lightweight saw can work for trees under pressure also but to my thinking it just isn't worth the risk as it probably isn't that important and there is risk whether you have a heavy saw or a lightweight saw.

Further the tops are not such a bad thing to have on your property anyhow. They create cover and act as protective shields for new young growth.
I plan to leave 95% of the tops where they lay. I'm clearing some of the logged areas between now and April for plots and orchards and I'm sure I'll need to cut a few to get them along the way.

There are also several areas I've already planted trees that have aggressive stump sprouts and other saplings near by. I'll need to keep those in check to prevent them from shading out my trees.

Everyone's advice is much appreciated, thank you!

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I have never owned a Stihl, but have owned a Craftsman(don't know who makes it), a Poulan(not the greatest), and a Husqvarna. The Craftsman is my favorite for small stuff because it has a 14" bar and can do most of the stuff needed around the yard and in the woods when it comes to trimming and make paths. The Husqvarna is my favorite for bigger stuff because it has an 18" bar and I use it cutting down trees and cutting up firewood. I tote it more than the Craftsman because I think it is more versatile. Sometimes it is to much saw for what I am doing but, I would rather have a little to much saw than too little. It's also easier/lighter to carry a saw that is a little too big, than two saws.
The Stihl MS 170 has a 16" bar, really good reviews and retails for less than $200. Sounds like a pretty good option.
From what you're describing I wouldn't get anything smaller than a 360. Not too heavy, runs a 20" bar easily. You can take care of most jobs with it. I have an old 028 that I use for as much as possible because it is light. But a 16" bar has it's limitations. I also have a 461 with a 25" bar and there are number of stumps/trees I would not have been able to handle without it. But the saw weight is enough that I only use it when I have to.
I have had good success with Stihl

I use the farm boss and small arborist saw (290 and 201,i believe)

Invest in helmet and chaps and use them everytime you crank the saw

Read "To Fell a Tree" by Jeff Jepson

I’m in steep terrain too and feel your pain. I would take a hard look at that 170. I assume it’s a newer version of the 160.

We just had 150 acres logged and I made some cuts to get rid of tops I wanted to move out of trails or possible food plots. Mainly pushed them out with the tractor after making the cuts I needed.

Again, I always grab the 160 over the 360. I’m not dropping 30” trees though.

I’ve had buddies come help me with clearing/cleanup and I take both saws. They generally last about 30 minutes with the 360 before they want to trade me for the 160 :).
I have cut down ACRES of timber with the MS 170 saw and I have 2 of them because when my father passed away I got his. I also have an MS 250 and I really like the additional power of it for larger trees but it hasn't done anything yet I couldn't have done with the 170... Stihl makes a great product...
Stilh MS 260 here. Pro model. Light but powerful. I've hinge cut and cut up to 20+ dbh which is pushing it for that size saw. I've abused it for 9 years, using ethanol gas, never drain it, sits all hunting season wo use, starts first pull every time. Don't keep the air filter spotless as they run a tad better with a little dirt on them. Get the pro model of stilh regardless of what you are told. There is a diff. I've used both. Carry a extra chain up the mountain, cause things happen, as well as your file and wedges. And don't put chain on backwards in a hurry cause it doesn't cut as fast I'v found. :rolleyes:
Lowes does not make any sense.

When I take the ms362c for a spin I'm never heard to say I wish I had a lighter saw with smaller testicles.

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An ATV or UTV might make my choice a little easier. I'll have to walk most of the 100 acres on foot for now. I'll likely have to make due with a castrated model.