Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaws — when it comes to chainsaws, this is a classic debate with plenty of passion on both sides of the fence. In this article we give you both sides of the story so you can decide which chainsaw brand is right for you.
For me, one of the biggest differences between Husqvarna and STIHL is that STIHL does not sell their products online. It’s a decision they’ve made as a corporation to have total control over the brand, but in my personal opinion, it’s a mistake in our connected world because it limits their audience (and sales), as statistics show. People are increasingly buying more and more online. It’s simple economics. I’m sure that Bjoern Fischer, STIHL president, would tell me otherwise but common sense indicates that selling their products online would improve their bottom line. Anyway, more on that later.
Table of Contents...
Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaws
It’s no secret that I have the utmost respect for Husqvarna power equipment. Generally, every comparative review that I write involving Husqvarna (not just chainsaws), this is usually my first choice. This comes from years of using Husqvarna equipment. If you go to the Stihl website, you’ll see that they proudly claim to be the number one brand in the USA. In the fine print, you’ll see that it is as voted by consumers and commercial landscapers. So I have to admit, that Stihl is also a highly respected brand.
Before, I look at the specifics of this review, Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws, I think it would be appropriate to share my personal experience. This is quite a relevant one for consumers, especially homeowners. I’ve already stated that Husqvarna is my personal brand of choice. But that’s not to say that Stihl products are in any way inferior. It’s more of a practical issue for me.
HUSQVARNA 3120 XP vs STIHL MS 880 MAGNUM — Husqvarna vs STIHL
I know, we’re talking about chainsaws in this review, but the example I’m giving could actually apply to any power product. A few years ago, I was looking at replacing my weed eater and was instinctively going to buy a Husqvarna. After all, I’d been using one for years and saw no point in changing brands. After a long discussion with a friend of mine in the construction industry, I was persuaded to consider Stihl. I trust this guy’s opinion, and who better to consult about power equipment than a building contractor? Their equipment works much harder than anything we use at home.
It was only when I started looking at where to buy a Stihl that my enthusiasm started to wane. You can only buy a Stihl product from a certified Stihl dealership. That’s fair enough, they have over 9000 dealerships around the US. But, in my case it meant traveling over 20 miles to the closest Stihl dealership. Stihl claim that, by only using certified dealerships, they are able to guarantee the best service and you know you won’t be getting counterfeit products. All this makes sense. But you can go to Amazon and order your Husqvarna, then have it delivered to your door at no extra cost.
Okay, driving 20 miles to the nearest Stihl dealership and another 20 back again isn’t too bad. You only buy the machine once and then it’s going to last for many years. Considering that Stihl makes fantastic equipment, I can accept this. At least, I’ve been led to believe this by someone who’s been depending on their equipment for many years in a business where it’s vital. But what about service and replacement parts? No matter how brilliant your chainsaw (or any power machine) is, you’ll need to service it and replace parts over the lifetime of the product.
Call me lazy, but the thought of a 40-mile round trip every time I needed service or spares, seemed like more hassle than it was worth. Perhaps, Stihl is the better brand, I’ll never know. I decided to stick with Husqvarna, because I have service close by and I’ve always been more than impressed with both the products and the service I’ve received.
This was my personal experience and you may have a completely different situation. If didn’t have to travel so far for Stihl service, I would easily have chosen them. Since both brands are considered to be the best, I’m going look past the issue of availability and compare the two brands on an equal footing. I think it’s clear from the example I’ve given, that both Husqvarna and Stihl should be seen as trusted brands. So let’s start with a quick overview of these two giants in the power equipment industry.
Few modern companies have a history like Husqvarna. Their origins go back to the 1300’s as a Swedish weapons manufacturer. It took a few centuries before the Husqvarna Company came into being. The weapons foundry was established as a private company in 1689.
VIDEO | History of Husqvarna
Since then, the brand went on to produce a wide range of products, from sewing machines to motor cycles. By 1978, when the Husqvarna brand was acquired by the Swedish manufacturing giant, Electrolux, the world had changed dramatically form early days as a weapons manufacturer. From 1978 onwards, the Husqvarna brand was concentrated on horticultural and forestry equipment. This is what led Husqvarna to become one of the most recognized chainsaw manufacturer.
Along with global expansion, this led Husqvarna to become one of the premier names for chainsaws. Internationally, Husqvarna products have earned a reputation as being the best. Like so many international brands, Husqvarna recognized the US market as being important. I suppose it goes without saying that the world’s largest economy cannot be ignored. Today, Husqvarna USA develops and manufactures chainsaws and other power products specifically for the US market. This means they meet US standards for emission controls and, where applicable, OSHA regulations.
Diagram | All the Husqvarna Chainsaw Models Listed
That’s not to say that all Husqvarna products sold in the US are wholly manufactured in the US. Like any modern company, components are sourced from around the world. Husqvarna products sold in the US are, for the most part, built and assembled in the US and meet the same standards as any other US made product. I suppose their Swedish heritage plays some role in their reputation. This is a nation that has always taken pride in building the best and toughest machines.
The Stihl name doesn’t have the same history spanning centuries, like Husqvarna. But Stihl’s history is impressive none the less. Originally a German company, Stihl started out as a machine manufacturer in 1927. In 1930, Stihl became one of the first chainsaw manufacturers. In those days, these were heavy, two-person machines and not available to average consumer. Stihl chainsaws soon became recognized as the professional’s choice.
Time marches on and the Stihl brand grew in reputation around the world. Not only recognized as one of foremost manufacturers of chainsaws, Stihl has become renowned as a technological giant in the power equipment industry. In 1974, Stihl established a US owned (Incorporated in the United States) company. Since this time Stihl USA has established itself as a proudly US brand.
Like Husqvarna, the Stihl factory in Virginia Beach manufactures their products in the US with components sourced internationally. US-made Stihl machinery is exported to more 90 countries. Whilst having a longstanding tradition of building outstanding gas-powered chainsaws and similar tools, Stihl has followed the modern tendency toward electric products and their lineup include battery-powered tools.
STIHL offers a full line of chainsaws for all of your needs. They classify them as follows:
- Battery Chainsaws
- Homeowner Chainsaws
- Farm and Ranch Chainsaws
- Professional Chainsaws
- Electric Chainsaws
- In-Tree Chainsaws
- Rescue Chainsaws
— View the STIHL chainsaw comparison chart to get a quick overview of all of the chainsaws and their specs.
Learn all about STIHL’s technology incorporated across their product lineup.
*NOTE : Not all STIHL chainsaws incorporate every features listed below.
- Anti-vibration system for increased comfort, allowing you to work longer without harming your body.
- STIHL Lithium-Ion Battery Technology : Environmentally friendly battery system. Internal battery electronics monitor the battery at all time for optimal operation. Can be charged hundreds of times without any noticeable loss in capacity.
- Easy2Start System : Easy for anyone to start.
- STIHL Chain Braking System : Equipped with a STIHL Quickstop chain brake.
- STIHL OILOMATIC Lubrication System : Engineered grooves channel oil to the critical wear areas.
- STIHL X2 Air Filtration : Air filters last up to a year, depending on cutting conditions.
- STIHL Fuel Injection : The TS 500i STIHL Cutquik is the world’s first cut-off machine with an electronically controlled fuel-injection system.
- STIHL MotoMix Premixed Fuel : Provides you with a premixed 50:1 fuel mixture. No need to premix your chainsaw fuel.
- M-Tronic Engine Management System : Fully electronic engine management system.
Husqvarna vs STIHL Chainsaws
Looking at the two brands and their respective histories may be purely an academic exercise – more a matter of interest than a practical review. In the end, it’s about the products that we use and no matter how illustrious the brand and its history may be, how do Husqvarna chainsaws compare to their Stihl equivalents? I’ve decided to take two of the most popular chainsaws and review them sided by side. In comparing the Husqvarna Rancher to the Stihl Farm Boss, you can get an idea of which might be the best chainsaw. Their names seem to suggest that their target market is the same.
When it comes to general quality, I find it almost impossible to distinguish which is the better chainsaw. Both the Husqvarna Rancher and Stihl Farm Boss chainsaws seem to be in class that can’t be accurately described. They are not quite heavy-duty, commercial machines, like those used by professional lumberjacks, nor are they typical light-duty machines. So I think the reference to Farm Boss and Rancher is quite appropriate. They are aimed somewhere higher than the homeowner and not quite commercial grade, this would be farmers or Ranch owners.
That’s not to say that they aren’t valued in other sectors. I’ve checked up on many chat groups for professionals in the tree-felling industry as well as DIY sites. Both the Husqvarna Rancher and the Stihl Farm Boss have earned the respect of professionals that are used to using more heavy-duty machines. The Husqvarna seems to have received greater praise among home users and think this might have to do with some of the more user-friendly features, like tool-free chain tensioning and Husqvarna Smart Start which makes it one of the easiest engines to get up and running with least amount of effort. This is partly a result of using automatic engine decompression that makes the recoil starter much easier to pull.
Apart from the two issues mentioned above, there is very little else to separate these two chainsaws. Both have engines almost identical in size. The Farm Boss uses a 50.2 cc engine vs 55.5 cc for the Husqvarna Rancher. Their power to weight ratio is also about the same. Without the chain and bar, the Husky weighs 13 LBS and the Stihl, 12.3 LBS. Both the Husqvarna and Stihl engines use similar systems to remove heavy debris from the air entering the air filter, thereby reducing the need for frequent air filter cleaning. Both manufacturers have also made it much easier to access air filter and there’s no need for tools to do this.
Both Husqvarna and Stihl are serious about emission control standards, mostly exceeding EPA and CARB regulations. Both chainsaws have low-vibration design for greater comfort and all the safety features. Their chain guards, which function as an emergency chain brake, are very similar and one couldn’t really say which is better. Their low kickback design, along with a very low weight, is one of the reasons why some professionals, who would ordinarily use a heavier duty machine actually prefer the Rancher or Farm Boss. They easier and safer to use.
Husqvarna Rancher Models | Something for Everyone
The Stihl Farm Boss has a recommended bar length of 16”, whereas the Rancher is recommended for 15”. Though is not a big deal. These are merely manufacturer recommendations. Both chainsaws have a wide range of bars and chains that can be used. You can, if you wish, use a 20” bar and chain with either chainsaw. Their power is almost the same, so you’ll get the same job done in the same amount of time, using either chainsaw.
By all accounts, it isn’t easy to say which is the better chainsaw. There are those who prefer the easy chain adjustment of the Husqvarna, but I wouldn’t rate this too highly. The Husky engine is probably easier to start and I speak from experience in saying that Husqvarna engines are fantastic. They really do take just about no effort to start and are ultimately reliable. So my personal choice would still be the Husqvarna. Though there are respected opinions that swear by Stihl. Maybe you should compare prices to decide. Though it might come down simply to availability. You don’t need to go in search for a dealership to buy the Husqvarna Rancher, you can go directly to Amazon, or a bunch of other online retailers, click, buy and have it delivered. If you have a Stihl dealership close to you, this shouldn’t be of too much concern.
For many home users both Stihl and Husqvarna may appear to be expensive. These are high-end brands. For the occasional user, brands like Ryobi may be the more economical choice. Personally, I always value long-term reliability as being hugely important. I’m not alone in this. Buying quality equipment with dependable service agents is, well, priceless. Though this is something that only you can decide on. We all have our own sense of budget vs quality.