Stihl ms311 or ms260pro

cvc3982October 24, 2010

I am looking into getting a new saw. The saw will mainly be used around my house. I had originally thought about the ms290 but after looking at the ms311 and ms260pro thought one of them would be a better saw. I haven't been able to find much on the 311 so I wanted to see what you all thought about those or any other suggestions on Stihl saws. Thanks

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No comparison the 260 is Pro Grade and a Proven Reliable Unit . The 290 and 311 are Homeowner Grade that have a Proven Track Record of dismal performance and reliability .

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 5:38AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I wouldn't call the 290 and 311 dismal in performance and reliability. IIRC they are quite reliable saws. Performance wise you can do better per dollar. If you need help maintaining the saw, then I'd go with the dealer rather than the brand.

The 260 is a great saw. The only difference between the 260 and 260Pro is a decomp valve (unneeded) and fixed vs. adjustable oiler (nice to have adjustable but not absolutely necessary).

If you take care of your engines and use the saw enough I'd go for the 260. I wouldn't spend the extra money for the Pro version if that is even an option anymore. I have an older Pro. I have never used the decomp valve. I set the oiler to max and have never touched it since. The only thing is that the adjustable oiler has a higher max flow rate than the fixed oiler. It is not much and it should not affect you very much at all.

If you will only use the saw a few times a year and worry about the money, I'd spend in the $300-$400 range for a 45-70cc saw. If you need to run a 20" bar then I'd go for the larger engine, if 16" will do ok, then I'd go for the lower size engine, say up to 60cc.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 11:27AM
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Believe me the Farm Boss or Wood Boss were and still are boat anchors have seen and repaired enough to know . The New 311 is another orphan saw , under powered and terrible hard starting unit . If you are serious about a saw go with the 260 Pro 16" to 18" Bar (Max) or the slightly larger MS-362 you will love it with either the 18"or 20" bar versions. These are high revving units but they have broad power bands and considerable torgue for Mid Sized Saws . If you were in to say Canadian Maple Cutting Weekly then perhaps a 391 or 441 wood be required , but normally most of my acquaintances use the Mid Sized saws and never look back .

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 2:57PM
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The saw will not be used a whole lot, but I believe in buying good equipment with in reason. Right now i own a polan pro that i got about 13 or so years ago. It still runs but I'm wanting to upgrade. I think a saw with an 18inch bar would be plenty for me. Just wanted to see what you all thought would be a good one. I'm stuck on stihl be cause I get a discount on them through where I work.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 11:40PM
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If the Poulan was adequate for your needs then the 260 Pro will last you for your cutting Life Time with either a 16 or 18 " Bar . Happy Cutting !

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 5:46AM
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CvC: Just an adder Bro , should you wish to save a little $$$ and still have a very reliable saw . Check out the MS-280 a middle class saw without the cons of the 270 / 290 or the 311 Homeowner Stihl Units . My Brother inlaw has one and only brought it over last yr for seasonal check over after two yrs of heavy fire wood cutting (20 cords of Maple / Oak). No issues and starts 2nd pull every time . Just a thought since you said you were more of less captive to Stihl , otherwise I would steer towards a Efsco 156 or 165 unit . Anyways get back to us when you finally decide and let us know how it goes...E :)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 9:27AM
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I finally ended up buying a saw. After talking to one of the local dealers & having them pretty much talk me into a 290 Farm Boss I went home to think about it for awhile. In doing so I ran across a MS260 pro on Craigs list so I figured I'd go look at it. The saw looks to be in near new condition with very little wear on it, came with a (new) spare chain, 1gal gas can, bottle of bar oil, bar scabbard and the multi tool. Got it all for about $100 less than the 290 would have cost.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 2:43PM
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cvc: Well there you go ! Great to hear you found a Pro Grade Saw for such a fine price. Be sure to use Premium Grade Oil's . I use Amsoil Synthetic in both my Old Pioneers and all my Newer Saws. I have also found that using the lighter Bar Oils , that system fouling is significantly reduced. Have fun and keep in touch Bro ! :)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 6:39PM
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Seems to me dealers are alway trying to talk people into the over rated MS290, must be thier best profit saw. Steve

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 7:54AM
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Steve: Have a Buddy in Michigan who is both Husky and Stihl Dealer , he advised me back when the Wood and Farm Boss Saws came out not to invest in them . They were as he indicated a cheaply made unit to compete with the Offshore Competition . If they found there niche he had heard they would be optioned to Box Stores much like Husky has done with their 100 and 200 Series Homeowner Units. Apparently they have received such dismal reception that that potential was lost lol . They keep introducing another Orphan unit to try to get some of the Market thus the 311 . The MS-280 however is a bonafide Prosumer saw with much of the Pro Series Quality Performance of the MS-260 Pro . No question the 270 and 290 and 311 have good pricing , but the downside overcomes the Economic upside in my Opinion .

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 2:41PM
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Interesting comments.

The MS270 and MS280 are essentially the same saw, just
a different piston/cyl size.

The 029/MS290 has been Stihl's biggest selling saw, the 290/310/390 all the same saw, just different piston/cyl.
sizes. A fairly reliable chainsaw.

The 311 has not been out long enough to make any bold statements about at all.

Wood Boss and Farm Boss are just trade names thrown on
a few model's bars and have been used on saws back to
the VERY reliable 028.

The 026/MS260 is a great saw.

Just wanted to clarify a bit..........


    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 6:45AM
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Fish: Your not comparing Apples to Apples with the 026 and 028 comparing them to the 270 or 290 , same with the former 310 . The former 026 and 028 were Bonafide Prosumer Saws the 390 is todays Prosumer Version . The 311 is a cheaper version of the 310 not even close in overall performance . Never in the Professional Class of the MS-260 or MS361 Series . As I said have been running both Husky and Stihl for yrs . Unfortunately both Manufacturers are discounting there saw lineups at the customers expense , trying to compete with the Offshore Junk . Sure you get a Stihl at a Poulan Price , but you not even getting a fine Homeowner Saw in my Opinion and that of many Stihl and Husky Dealers Bro :) My Buddy in Michigan can't keep the 346 XP or MS260 Pro on the Shelves , and has trouble with Supply with the Distributor's trying to flood the Dealers with 270 and 290 units . Same Story with the 311 as far as he was concerned lol :)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 5:38AM
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The MS270 and MS280 are the same saw, just different
piston/cyl. size

The MS290/MS310/MS390 are the same saw, just different
piston/cyl. size

The MS311 has not been out long enough to make any bold,
long term "pronouncements" about.

I am not comparing anything, just clarifying the muddy water

Woodboss is just a "tradename" that has been put on many
saws "INCLUDING" the 028, so is not really a real indicator
of quality.

The MS290/029 is the biggest selling Stihl model out there
which is why you don't see the MS291 yet.

Are you saying that the ms390 is Today's "prosumer"
replacing the 028 and 026????

Are you also saying that the MS280 is somehow superior to
the MS270??????


    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 1:31PM
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Fish: The MS280 was the 1st Stihl Prosumer (Mid Class) Saw with IEM (Electronic Engine Management) System , still is . The 270 and 290 have a Hybrid form of the Newer AET System that is also on the Pro Class MS-361-362 Series / Unfortunately this EPA related design has not shown much improvement on fuel conservation only leaner starting complaint and necessary re-jetting in some cases within certain Mountainous locations. The 310 and 390 were and the recent 311 and 391 are todays Prosumer Mid Class Saws. The pricing on the 50 cc 270 and the 56 cc 290 are outrageous in comparison to the 280 which is a 54.4 cc class saw with much more torgue than either of the other two High Reving units . I have ran all of the Stihl units up to and including the 441 . Have repaired numerous Wood Boss and Farm Boss Saws , Yes just Homeowner Designer Series Bar Configurations on less than Stellar performers for the Dollar . Marketing does not make a good saw .

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 2:12PM
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Sonny You Have Not Even Begun to Understand The Dynamics of Saw Science Keep Reading , You Might Just Learn Something Important ....Sheesh ! After 60 + Yrs of Cutting I think I might Know Just a Little More than You lol :) Keep Playing with Your Pretender Saws .

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 7:43PM
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Have a Great XMAS Junior lol .

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 5:24AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

So ewalk, are you going to answer Fish's last two questions?

"True or False: The MS290,310, 390 are the same chainsaw,
except for the piston/cylinder size.

True or False: The 028 Woodboss is pure homeowner junk!!!"

I'm not trying to pile on ewalk but you didn't explain what the newer Hybrid AET system is. I'm assuming from your post that the 280 does not have this. How different does it make the saws?

I'd like to see the strong arguments posted by all whittled down to their nugggets.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 7:31AM
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I am not really trying to fight either, but I cannot let false statements pass by either.

I would like to think that this forum was in decent hands
since I left for a while.

Interesting that the 026 is a "prosumer" and the MS260 Pro
is a "professional" saw..

Throw on a decomp button, and it "morphs" into a professional unit.

Same with the MS270,MS280. Originally identical saws,
except for piston size.

Put a few new gizmo ignition/carb thingees, and it morphs into a "pro" saw, and no longer a "boat anchor".I just want the average reader to obtain good reliable info.

This forum used to be one of the hottest sites on the web,
and a lot of good knowledge was found here. It could be
again, with some work......

Or not........


    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 6:05PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Plus the adjustable oiler on the 260 Pro vs not on the 260.

I had looked up that AET system and it made a few hits including this thread. I think this is what it refers too is the ignition system from manufacturer "Hwa Kong Trading Co (PTE) Ltd." that is summarized at the "chinese quality lighting" website. Which states: "Aet brand of european origin ignition system include flywheel, stator assembly, point set, condenser and ignition coil for stihl 070 chain saw.We supply a new stator assembly which consist of ignition and cdi module for stihl 070 chain saw."

I agree about the info. You can get some good insight on a saw from a technical breakdown of the components. The actual running will give some other good info but can be highly subjective. A good review from Brad and some others carries alot more weight than the sales literature.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 5:19PM
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I am not familiar with "Brad" but I haven't really been around here much lately.
My insight is from working on the stuff, as well as some using the equipment, and also from tearing them apart and
selling the parts on e-bay.

My problem may be that I don't read the sales lit. or
listen to salesmen.

But for the readers here, the MS290 is a decent saw for
the money, it is Stihl's most popular model. The 290,310,
390 are essentially the same saw, just different size pistons.
Compared to other models, brands, etc., it may not
measure up on this or that, but that is always subjective,
and right now I have more burned up 024 and 026s in my shop than I do any of the "boat anchors".


    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 10:32PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

You know Brad S. from AS. Brad has never posted here that I know of. I assume you are the same Fish from AS. There can be only one of you :).

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 1:41PM
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Oh, that Brad.

Now he never ever "got" my sense of humor, but he seems like a good guy. He is definitely into chainsaws.

10 years ago this was likely one of the hottest forums
on the internet in this "mileau"......

The owner/moderator "Spike" ruled with an iron fist, but that is what kept this place somewhat pure.

Then Lambert, and Walt Galer and many, many others left or were banned, migrated to Arboristsite, and then that became the new place to be.

I remained here until Spike was bought out, and this place turned into a Spamfest, and as I was on dialup, couldn't wait 20 minutes for the next page to come up, or wouldn't.

Then they came up with, "If you pay a membership fee, you will not be buried in spam" thing.

I refused, refusing to pay to help folks fix their chainsaws and lawn mowers, as I had done for several years.
So I left for a bit, and this forum died. It was a shame,
as this place was really hopping.

Anyway, I thought I would stop back in, see if my name was still on the bathroom wall.................(girl's of course)......

Anyway, this still is a good forum setup, and it loads
pretty quick with my dsl, so I will hang out a bit again...


    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 5:53PM
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Fish / Sax: Not trying to start a fight either Gents . But having personally ran and repaired numerous Stihl Models including the 270 , 280 , 290 , 310 , 390 , 441 and former 026 , 028 , 036 i have a good working knowledge of these units . Sax you know 1st hand I have assisted within helping numerous forum members within Saw Maintenance and troubleshooting . Fish I see that you were a former member over 6-7 yrs ago . I have not seen any Saw related infor forthcoming from you ? Although I do not search the forum archives . Ok so much for History . 1st of all if you read carefully my two Dec 14th notes , you will see that the 310 and 311 disclaimers came from a Dealer friend of mine who has numerous yrs of Stihl Saw Experience . He advised me yrs ago against the 270 & 290 along with the other Orphan Homeowner Junk Saw the 310/311 . They are both Cheap Plastic Crank Case units with High Revving (Short Stroke) Units . The MS-280 is a Bonafide Prosumer Saw Magnesium Crank Case Full Torrington Ball Bearings and Walbro Altitude Metering Valve Compensating Carb . The Engine is a Over Square (Long Stroke) Torque Monster compared even to the larger displacement 290 . The Newer 311 which my Chum has already sold over a half dozen units has dismal performance in comparison for the Elevated Price. It also has the Hybrid AET which incorporates a Micro Processor along with a Electronic Solenoid to activate a Carburator Double Acting Fuel Metering Valve receiving its signal from the Flywheel Sensor. This is similar to the System currently on the MS-362 , which as I have previously indicated has caused starting and idle issues in numerous High Elevation Scenarios , which the 361 never did . I realize that most of this is EPA driven , but I try to point new buyer's in the best direction for the dollar . You are correct that the 310 and 390 are similar within Bore Differences , but again the 390 / 391 are Prosumer Class much more Torque (Stroke) and Performance than the Homeowner units 270 , 90 , 310 /311 . Again I agree that the Wood Boss and Farm Boss Designations are just "Bar Graphic" But in my mind are set to Market less than Stellar Performers and Sellers , just Sales Gimmicks . Anyhow my Statement Stands the MS-280 is almost a Proclass Saw at a Land-Owner (Prosumer) if not Homeowner Price. I have run many and they are almost as good as the Smaller MS-260 or 260 Pro pound for pound at a substantial financial savings over the Professional Series. I would never recommend any Boat Anchor 270 / 290 / 310 / 311 Home Owner Class Pretender Saw .

Note: The Older 026 , 028 , 036 also came with Zama Carbs during limited Production rather that the Walbro Series Carb , Yes in my Mind the 028 was a piece of Crap ! Further Note Both Husky and Stihl will be doing a Collective Housekeeping to reduce the redundancy within their saw lie ups . There is much to much duplication of features within the Class's and their effort to compete with the Offshore Junk Saws has wreaked havoc within the Bottom Line . I believe everyone will welcome the upcoming Steam-lining within 2012 apparently .

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 10:23AM
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It appears that anything prior to 2005 is no longer in the archives, as best I can tell.

At any rate, the MS270 and MS280 have exactly the same construction, crankcase, bearings, crank, etc.
The 280 came out later with those other gizmos [ignition,carb], but otherwise, the same saw.
The same part numbers, the same IPL(Illustrated Parts List)

The MS290, MS310, MS390, the same deal. Same saw, only different piston/cyl size, no quality differences at all.
You can bolt on a ms390 piston/cylinder onto an ms290,
and you have an ms390, that is all I am saying, and
asking if you disagree.

Now the 028 being a piece of crap, well, what can I say?


    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 12:19PM
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Well I guess that a 30 Year Stihl / Husky Dealer and I are mistaken Fish . Thus Ends the Lesson .

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 8:41AM
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Thus ends the lesson?

Now there is a convincing response.

Have you ever worked on a saw?


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 10:55AM
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Here is an e-bay link to someone selling the MS290,MS310,
MS390 Illustrated Parts List, just one book now....;hash=item53e46e05a0



    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 11:01AM
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    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 11:07AM
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When did the 026 or 028 come out with a Zama?

What is the Stihl part numbers?

How is there a "stroke" difference between the MS270 and MS280?


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 11:44AM
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Fish: Further the Older 026 028 were still back in the day Landowner Series saws the Super Designation 026 028 being the Pro Class Unit . I personally owned both a 026 and 036 much better overall saws than the boat anchor 028 . Sorry gotta check on what Jerry & Rennie are up to on the Arborist Site ..Chow :)

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Jerry and Rennie?????

Please tell me what username you use there, since you won't respond to any questions here!!!


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 10:53PM
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Come on now, this forum has been pretty well murdered anyway........

Do you honestly think that the 028 was a piece of crap????

That statement there shouts out your ignorance!!!

The ms290 and the ms390 have the same crankshaft and rod,
please elaborate on the differences that "morph" the
MS390 into a "Prosumer".

Reopen this lesson of the Dynamics of Saw Science for us
ignorant waifs of homeowner undergrads.......

Since no one else is reading this anyway, please, tell
me what makes the 028 a "piece of crap"......


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 6:32PM
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Nah Just fishin , apparently got another bite was Xmas lol !

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 3:34PM
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So you are posting incorrect information, just to get a

No wonder most of the posters here have left the site.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 4:29PM
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I thought it was common knowledge that the 290, 310 and 390 were built the same and wieghed the same, why does Stihl make the 290 and 310, it cant cost more than a few bucks more to make the 390.. Also isn't the 270,280 somewhere between the homeowner and pro lineup, not a bad saw but overpriced compared to Dolmar, Echo, Efco saws to name some other well built saws with reasonable pricing. You can get a new 40cc Redmax right now for $160, twice the quality of a Stihl MS180 and less money. Steve

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 7:59PM
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Your Correct Steve . The 270 , 280 & 290 Series are Prosumer or what Stihl currently calls their Landowner Series . The 280 has always been the better saw for the buck , since originally Stihl had plans to introduce a Pro MS-280 Version , but opted for the 361. Actually all the current Dealers including a friend of mine have not carried the 270 , 290 or even the former 310 saw due to poor performance and customer complaints . The newer 311 unit according to Local Dealers North of the Border is another failure . Husky , Dolmar , Echo and Efco have much more to offer feature for feature in the 50 cc class than what Stihl is trying to offer in this Series .
Sorry Fish for Yanking your Chain , My Bad !

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 5:49PM
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i think people that spend more money on the saw have to say they are awesome to justify it. i don't know about any of these other saws but my dad has a 311 with a 25" bar and i have a 270 with a 16" bar. have used both a lot. i cut enough wood to heat both mine and my dads house with the two. they are great saws use them all the time and always start always run great love the light weight and power of my 270 and now having owned it would never have spent the extra 120 or so that the 280 cost. and anyway why is everyone comparing the prices of the 270 and such to other saws? were are you getting your saws? i should have gone there because i payed almost msrp for my new 270. i know im poor and all but that is a pricey unit. 450 with tax.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 9:08PM
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have any of you guys tryed the new ms 291 and if so what did you think. At my work we sell Stihl and i get them at cost and i think i might buy it. Let me know. Thanks

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 11:04PM
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My observations:
Ms 311 and ms 391, essentially the same saw. 391 is 4.4 hp and 311 4.2 both weigh 14.1 and share the same platform. Much easier to work on then the older 290, 390 and are supposed to get better fuel economy. But they weigh 1 pound more. Certainly does not compare with pro but price is better. Good saw for serious wood cutters who do not want the price for pro. Not sure about the 291, not familiar with them.

Ms 290 is a good homeonwers saw but do not go lean on the oil or air mixture.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 10:35PM
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