Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaws – The Ultimate Comparison

When it comes to chainsaws, there are really two brands that stand alone above the rest:

Stihl and Husqvarna.

But which brand is right for you?

Do you need a lot of torque? Less vibration? Long bar? Short bar? Sturdy? Lightweight? Cheaper upfront cost? Longer life? Better warranty? There are obviously pros and cons to both, but which is better suited for your own home/homestead situation?

Let’s dive into the specifics of Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. All opinions are our own we pride ourselves on keeping our articles fair and balanced. For more info see our disclosure statement.

Stihl

stihl chainsaw bar

 

While some version of the chainsaw has existed since 1830 (being either steam-powered or kinetic in nature), Andreas Stihl built the first gas-powered chainsaw in 1929, and then in 1950 built the first single-operator chainsaw.

He is rightly considered the father of the modern chainsaw, and his company/factory in Germany was the first to mass-produce chainsaws, being at one time as synonymous with the word “chainsaw” as Xerox is to photocopy or Google is to search engine.

Since the 1970s onward, Stihl have expanded to leaf blowers, line trimmers, mowers, edgers, etc. and built new factories in the USA, Brazil, and (as of 2008) China.

They also have something of a monopoly on the professional chainsaw market as they have been and still are the industry standard for all commercial-grade loggers and arborists.

Pros
  • More horsepower per engine size
  • Quality German manufacturing
  • Industry favorite
  • Customer favorite
Cons
  • More expensive per comparable model
  • Counter-intuitive cut-off switch

Husqvarna

husqvarna chainsaw chain

Husqvarna began in 1689 as a state-owned rifle factory in Huskvarna, Sweden. 

Towards the end of the 19th century, they began diversifying, producing sewing machines, cast iron cookware and bicycles, and were frontrunners in the production of motorcycles after Peugeot. 

They began producing chainsaws in 1959 and later expanded to a full home and garden range. 

They have are headquartered in Sweden and have factories in Sweden, the USA, Brazil and (also as of 2008) China.

Pros
Cons
  • Heavier per comparable model
  • Less options to choose from
Ironically, on a lot of side-by-side tests of Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws, most independent reviewers find the Husqvarna outperforms the Stihl on several key factors and yet they almost always prefer the Stihl personally.

Stihl vs Husqvarna: Face-To-Face

stihl vs husqvarna chainsaws

Here’s how the brands compare on a broad feature-by-feature basis. Many of these features will be a little different model-to-model. For instance, comparing a smaller $400 Stihl with a $800 ranch-grade Husky isn’t going to be fair, as they aren’t comparable models. 

We’ve taken all of that into account in our face-to-face comparison. Check out the summary table below and keep reading for more detail.

CategoryOur Pick
Country of ManufactureStihl
PowerStihl
HandlingHusqvarna
Durability/WarrantyHusqvarna
ReputationStihl
MaintenanceHusqvarna
Anti-Vibration SystemHusqvarna
SafetyHusqvarna
ValueHusqvarna
 

Country of Manufacture

Although both manufacturers have factories in the USA, Brazil, and China, Stihl is still headquartered in Germany, and Husqvarna in Sweden.

Our pick for this category: Stihl.

German manufacturing has a name for itself because it speaks to quality design and performance. Many users online in fact have attributed their preference for Stihl directly to the German engineering.

Power

To use two comparably-sized and -weighted models (both weighing 12.3lbs with 59cc engines) as a stock example, the Stihl MS 362 delivers up to 4.69 horsepower and supports a bar of up to 25 inches, whereas the Husqvarna 555 delivers only 4.3 horsepower and only supports a 20-inch bar.

Our pick for this category: Stihl

Although both brands are fairly comparable, Stihl has greater low-end torque and makes easier work of tougher old logs, knots, etc.

Handling

Obviously the only way to know how a chainsaw handles is to handle it yourself. However, broader online feedback patterns from users indicate that Stihl saws generally come with better dogs (bumper spikes) for felling and, as we mentioned above, have more low-end torque for tackling those trickier jobs.

On the other hand, Husqvarna reportedly has better anti-vibration, larger gas tanks for longer use between refueling, and better self-lubrication, making for a smoother, cleaner cut when slicing through logs, etc.

Our pick for this category: Husqvarna.

You can replace your own bumper spikes quite easily and cheaply, so the cumulative ease of daily use really puts handling in Husqvarna’s corner.

Durability/Warranty

As mentioned above, Stihl have that German manufacturing, and will reportedly last longer over the years if well-maintained. However, Stihl only have a 1-2-year warranty across all their models. Husqvarna, on the other hand, if you exclusively use their brand of oil, will extend their warranty up to 4 or 5 years (depending on the model and where you buy it).

Our pick for this category: Husqvarna.

The simple fact of the matter is that many regular home/land owners who buy a chainsaw aren’t going to care for it with a professional (daily-use) level of detail. If your chainsaw breaks after 3 years, the Husky will most likely still be under warranty, whereas the Stihl will cost you to repair or replace. Given that Huqvarna saws are cheaper to begin with, the math really starts to fall in their favor over the long term.

Reputation

If you’ve never bought a chainsaw before, you’re likely to think that Husqvarna has a better reputation because they’re more diverse in their product range. You know they make quality motorcycles and mowers. You may have never even heard of a Stihl. All actual customer polls from chainsaw users, however, show a 66-80% preference for Stihl.

Our pick for this category: Stihl.

Although the tide may turn in the future given actual comparative stats and the internet, Stihl still has the reputation among professionals as the brand to buy.

History

As we touched on earlier, Stihl literally invented the modern chainsaw, whereas Husqvarna, a little newer in the chainsaw business, have a centuries-old tradition of quality manufacturing.

Our pick for this category: Stihl.

Both brands have a long-established history of chainsaw production, but Stihl, as the initial creators have bigger sway in this duel.

Maintenance

A quality chainsaw requires routine maintenance to keep it at peak performance. Chainsaw users say the Husqvarna requires more maintenance time than the Stihl, however, the Husqvarna has a much better warranty.

Our pick for this category: Husqvarna.

Given the much longer warranty and initial price difference between comparable models, the maintenance time and costs actually work out in favor of the Husky over varied levels of upkeep.

Anti-Vibration System

Both brands have invested great time and money into developing anti-vibration technologies allowing for extended use. The Stihl has a shock-resistant handle feature, whereas the Husqvarna has patented Low-Vib technology incorporated into their saws.

Our pick for this category: Husqvarna

User reviews indicate while both brands are capable of extended use, the Low-Vib technology in the Husky makes for smoother use.

Safety

Both brands have gone a long way in developing safety features for the chainsaw. Both have chainbreak systems that will cut off the saw instantly in the event of a significant kickback situation. Both have all-in-one switches, however, the Husqvarna manual shut-off is an easy thumb down motion, whereas the Stihl requires pushing the thumb counter-intuitively upward for shut-off, making it less of an organic movement.

Our pick for this category: Husqvarna.

The down-vs-up killswitch here makes all the difference. The extra kinetic effort required wastes precious fractions of a second, which when we’re dealing with 9,000 RPM (or 150 revolutions per second!) can be a lot of potential damage in a dangerous situation.

Value 

This one’s a bit tricky because of the way private and professional grade saws are priced.

Our pick for this category: Husqvarna.

Unless you want the cheapest, smallest saw Stihl has to offer, you’ll find something comparable, cheaper and with more professional features from Husqvarna.

Standout Features

chainsaw chain links

These are the specially marketed features from each brand they want to convince you is unique and superior. But are they?

Stihl

Master Control Lever

This Stihl feature is basically identical on the Husqvarna, though oriented differently. In fact, users tend to find the Husqvarna control switch superior.

STIHL OILOMATIC® Saw Chain

Stihl have a whole range of branded saw chains that focus on various features, like reduced vibration and reduced kickback. However, they appear to be mutually exclusive features.

STIHL Quickstop® Chain Brake System

This one is a little bit of a bogus feature. All Stihl and Husqvarna models (and basically all other chainsaws now) have a chain brake kickback safety feature. It’s a stock-standard feature. The Quickstop® Plus (Q) feature on selected models, however, also stops the chain within a second of removing your back hand from the saw.

Ematic Bar Lubrication System

The specialized bar is meant to work in conjunction with the specialized saw chain to provide superior lubrication with less oil. While it no doubt does this to some extent, the reality is, however, that users find the Husqvarna self-lubrication superior.

There are also a number of other select specialized features on advanced arborist models, which also contribute to the price difference.

Husqvarna

X-TORQ®

X-TORQ® is a specially patented engine design found across all Husqvarna 2-stroke engines which reduces fuel consumption by 20% and emissions by up to 60%.

Air Injection

The air injection feature in Husqvarna chainsaws has actually converted a number of Stihl users over to Husqvarna, and it’s one area that significantly reduces personal maintenance time and costs as filters will last for 12 months at a time.

Smart Start

While select Stihl models have Smart Start capabilities (ie. the professional-grade models), all Husqvarna chainsaws come with Smart Start features. 

Side-by-side comparisons show them starting quicker the same or quicker every time.

AutoTune

AutoTune features allow a degree of automatic self-adjustment based on temperature and weather conditions. 

This means less time spent manually tinkering with the saw for optimum performance. Users seem to love the feature and indicate that Husqvarna’s AutoTune feature is far superior to the similar M-Tronic feature on select Stihl machines.

Stihl Vs Husqvarna Chainsaw Comparison Table

BrandModelEngine Size (cc)Bar LengthMax bar lengthWeight (excl. cutting equipment)Other Features
Husqvarna120 Mark II38.2 cc14″18″10.7lbs
  • Air Injection®
  • X-Torq®
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • LowVib®
Husqvarna13038 cc16″16″10.36 lbs
  • LowVib®
  • Air Injection®
  • Inertia activated chain brake
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • X-Torq®
  • Fuel pump
Husqvarna24038.2 cc16″16″10.36 lbs
  • Air Injection®
  • X-Torq®
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • LowVib®
  • Air Purge
  • Inertia activated chain brake
Husqvarna13540.9 cc14″16″9.7 lbs
  • X-Torq®
  • Air Injection®
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Ergonomic rear handle
  • Felling marks
  • Snap-lock cylinder cover
  • Air Purge
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • LowVib®
  • Side-mounted chain tensioner
  • Inertia activated chain brake
Husqvarna135 Mark II38 cc16″16″10.36 lbs
  • Inertia activated chain brake
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • Chain tensioning from the side
  • LowVib®
  • Fuel pump
  • X-Torq®
  • Air Injection®
Husqvarna435 II e-series40.9 cc16″18″9.7 lbs
  • Flip-up tank cap
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Felling marks
  • Smart Start®
  • Air Injection
  • X-Torq®
  • Snap-lock cylinder cover
  • Easy starting
  • Visible fuel level
  • Inertia chain brake
  • Two mass principle
  • Three-piece crankshaft
Husqvarna43935.2 cc14″16″8.64 lbs
  • Air Injection
  • X-Torq
  • Adjustable oil pump
  • Quick-release air filter and cover
  • Felling marks
  • Smart Start®
  • Inertia activated chain brake
  • Optimized saw body
  • LowVib®
  • Front handle ergonomics
  • Auto return stop switch
  • Chain tensioning from the side
  • Chain break window
  • Air Purge
Husqvarna440 II e-series40.9 cc18″18″9.7 lbs
  • Flip-up tank cap
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Smart Start®
  • Air Injection®
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • Felling marks
  • Visible fuel level
  • Inertia activated chain brake
  • X-Torq®
  • Three-piece crankshaft
  • LowVib®
  • Easy to start
  • Ergonomic rear handle
  • Snap-lock cylinder cover
  • Air Purge
Husqvarna445 II e-series50.2 cc16″20″11.2 lbs
  • Air Injection®
  • X-Torq®
  • Flip-up tank cap
  • Easy to start
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • LowVib®
  • Visible fuel level
  • Smart Start®
  • Snap-lock cylinder cove
  • Air Purge
  • Felling marks
  • Three-piece crankshaft
  • Inertia activated chain brake
Husqvarna450 II Rancher50.2 cc20″11.2 lbs
  • Air Injection®
  • X-Torq®
  • Flip-up tank cap
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Ergonomic rear handle
  • Three-piece crankshaft
  • Visible fuel level
  • Auto return stop switch
  • Felling marks
  • LowVib®
  • Fuel pump
  • Snap-lock cylinder cover
  • Smart Start®
  • Inertia activated chain brake
Husqvarna450 II e-series50.2 cc18″20″11.2 lbs
  • Air Injection®
  • X-Torq®
  • Flip-up tank cap
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Auto return stop switch
  • Smart Start®
  • LowVib®
  • Inertia activated chain brake
  • Ergonomic rear handle
  • Snap-lock cylinder cover
  • Visible fuel level
  • Felling marks
  • Three-piece crankshaft
  • Air Purge
Husqvarna455 Rancher55.5 cc18″20″13.2 lbs
  • Air Injection®
  • Side-mounted chain tensioner
  • X-Torq®
  • LowVib®
  • Adjustable oil pump
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • Front handle ergonomics
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Three-piece crankshaft
  • Inertia activated chain brake
  • Felling marks
  • Smart Start®
  • Air Purge
Husqvarna460 Rancher60.3 cc18″24″13.2 lbs
  • Air Injection®
  • X-Torq®
  • LowVib®
  • Adjustable oil pump
  • Quick-release air filter
  • Side-mounted chain tensioner
  • Front handle ergonomics
  • Felling marks
  • Three-piece crankshaft
  • Inertia activated chain brake
  • Combined choke/stop control
  • Smart Start®
  • Air Purge
Husqvarna46564.1 cc28″13.45 lbs
  • Powerful X-Torq Engine
  • Smart Start Recoil Starter
  • LowVib
  • AutoTune
  • Adjustable Oil Pump
  • Air Injection
StihlMS 17030.1 cc12″ to 16″8.6 lbs.
  • Anti-Vibration System
  • The IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
  • The Ematic™ Lubrication System
StihlMS 17131.8 cc12″ to 16″9.5 lbs
  • Anti-Vibration System
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
  • Translucent Fuel Tank
StihlMS 18031.9 cc12″ to 16″9.0 lbs.IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
StihlMS 180 C-BE31.8 cc12″ to 16″9.3 lbs.
  • STIHL Easy2Start™ (E)
  • IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
  • Quick Chain Adjuster (QCA) (B)
StihlMS 181 C-BE31.8 cc12″ to 16″10.1 lbs.
  • STIHL Easy2Start™ (E)
  • Quick Chain Adjuster (QCA) (B)
  • IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
StihlMS 21135.2 cc12″ to 18″9.5 lbs.
  • Anti-Vibration System
  • STIHL ElastoStart™
  • IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
  • The side-access chain tensioner
  • STIHL Quickstop®
StihlMS 211 C-BE35.2 cc12″ to 18″10.1 lbs.
  • STIHL Easy2Start™ (E)
  • IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
  • Quick Chain Adjuster (QCA) (B)
StihlMS 25045.4 cc18″10.1 lbs.
  • Easy-Access Air Filter Cover
  • Rear Hand Guard
  • Master Control Lever™
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
  • Winter/Summer Shutter
StihlMS 251 C-BE45.6 cc16″ to 18″11.9 lbs
  • Reduced-Emission Engine Technology STIHL Easy2Start™ (E)
  • The STIHL Easy2Start™
  • Quick Chain Adjuster (QCA) (B)
  • Master Control Lever™
StihlMS 251 Wood Boss45.6 cc16″ to 18″10.8 lbs.
  • Reduced-Emission Engine Technology
  • Master Control Lever™
StihlMS 150 C-E23.6cc10″ to 12″2.8 kg (without fuel, bar and chains)
  • STIHL ErgoStart (E)
  • STIHL 2-MIX engine
  • Service-friendly air filter system
  • Side-mounted chain tensioning
  • Compensator
  • Manual fuel pump (Purger)
  • STIHL anti-vibration system
  • STIHL Ematic System
  • Tool free fuel caps
StihlMS 193 C-E30.1cc30cm3.6 kg (without fuel, bar and chains)
  • STIHL ErgoStart (E)
  • STIHL 2-MIX engine
  • Side-mounted chain tensioning
  • Advanced combustion technology
  • Compensator
  • STIHL anti-vibration system
  • STIHL Ematic System
  • Tool free fuel caps
StihlMS 201 C-EM35.2 cc12″ to 16″8.6 lbs
  • Adjustable Automatic Oiler
  • STIHL Easy2Start™ (E)
  • STIHL M-Tronic™
  • IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
  • Translucent Fuel Tank
  • STIHL Quickstop®
  • Ematic™ Lubrication System
  • Master Control Lever™
StihlMS 271 Farm Boss50.2 cc16″ to 20″12.3 lbs
  • Reduced-Emission Engine Technology
  • Built in the USA
  • Pre-Separation Air Filtration System
  • Anti-Vibration System
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
StihlMS 29155.5 cc16″ to 20″12.3 Ibs.
  • Reduced-Emission Engine Technology
  • Built in the USA
  • Anti-Vibration System
  • Pre-Separation Air Filtration System
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
StihlMS 31159.0 cc16″ to 20″13.67 Ibs
  • Reduced-Emission Engine Technology – Caring for Nature
  • Pre-Separation Air Filtration System
  • Anti-Vibration System
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner
  • Decompression Valve
StihlMS 39164.1 cc16″ to 20″13.67 Ibs.
  • Reduced-Emission Engine Technology – Caring for Nature
  • Pre-Separation Air Filtration System
  • Anti-Vibration System
  • IntelliCarb™ Compensating Carburetor
  • Side-Access Chain Tensioner

Conclusion

There are obviously some huge pros and a few cons to both brands.

Stihl fathered the chainsaw. They have more options to choose from at more price points, superior low-end torque for greater horsepower at a smaller size, and are generally constructed of superior materials.

Husqvarna are the up-and-coming contender for the heavyweight title. They have superior professional-grade features on all their saws, more affordable pricing, and are easier to obtain online without dealing with a salesman face-to-face. You can even buy their saws on Amazon.

Ultimately, it’s up to the needs of the individual, job and property. But you don’t need to buy some off-label brand. You can get a top-quality piece of machinery for an affordable price.

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