Stihl MS 271 Farm Boss Chainsaw Review


Staff member
This will be a rolling review, meaning, I'll be adding to it as time goes on. I've actually yet to have this saw running in my hands, so I can't comment on how it performs or feels while using it. I can, however, offer some background and photos. It's forecast to warm up over the next few days here in Maine, so I can definitely see myself out in the woods testing this bad boy out. I'll try to get some video of me doing that. I'll also offer much more commentary then.

So here's how it went; I needed a backup chainsaw. I've already got a Stihl MS 250 that I've owned since 2007. That's an excellent saw and I'm sure if I took care of it and didn't do anything stupid, it would last many more years to come. There was a time when I let it sit too long though and the carburetor got gummed up (I thought). I changed the carb and it worked fine after that. I swear it may have just been old gas and that I really didn't need to change the carb, but it was good experience and it only cost a few bucks. Anyway, because I'm very much into cutting and splitting my own firewood, I decided that owning a backup saw would be prudent. I also wanted a larger one to cut down trees I haven't been able to. The MS 250 sports a 16" bar and I decided at the very least, I'd need an 18". A 20" would be ideal.

I've been looking around at a few different brands, but really, nothing beats the power, reliability, quality, and support system of a Stihl. What I enjoy most is the dealer network. If something goes wrong with the saw, I like the fact that I can bring it back to where I bought it and my problems will be solved. It's for this reason I didn't order one online and have it shipped to me. Doing something like that is just not worth the risk.

I ventured out to Aubuchon Hardware in Farmington, Maine this morning. I called before I left to see if they carried the Stihl brand and they told me they did. They had a few saws in stock; one being the MS 250, which I was considering buying, and the other being the MS 271, which I was on the fence about. The 250 came with an 18" bar and since I already own this saw, I know how great it is. No one has ever had a complaint about the 250. The 271, however, I was unfamiliar with. I knew it had a larger engine, but nothing else. But really, if it was larger than the 250 and if it was in my price range, I figured I'd check it out.

The MS 250 has a 45cc engine and the 271 has a 50cc. The 271 is on par with the Husqvarna 450 and 455 series. The 271s the store had in stock came with two different sized bars; 18" and 20" The MS 250 was selling for $379 and the MS 271 was selling for $439. There was a bit of a discrepancy between the pricing of the two different sized bars, but I'll keep the conversations between the sales guy and myself private. Let's just say that after discussing things for a while, I decided to buy the 271 with the 20" bar. I saw the value in it, so I went for it.

What a great feeling saw. It feels so much like the old Stihls I used to use for ground work when I, in an earlier life, was employed by a few tree service companies. I think the 271 is the homeowner version of the more professional 261 version. That one has a magnesium case, while the 271 has a hard plastic one. We'll see how that holds up.

I just went through the saw a snapped a few photos. It's rare that I have the opportunity of taking pictures of a brand new and unused chainsaw. What a beauty. Take a look.

Here's a shot of the side. It's got the chain cover in there.


This is a great shot of the 20" bar. The size of the writing is different on the 18" bar. It's smaller.


Here's a shot of the exhaust and the chain brake. You can see the plastic case below the exhaust.


Here's a photo of the top and rear handles, the pull cord, and the gas cap.


A top view of the saw. This cover hides the air filter and engine.


This is the actual air filter and the top part of the engine. Loosening three screws takes the top cover off. You can use either a star (torx) wrench or the regular flat head screwdriver that comes with the saw. Using a torx driver is much better, in my opinion.


Another angle of the air filter. I got the spark plug cap in there too.


The saw came with the chain installed far too tight. I loosened it and then decided to pull the entire cover off for a photo.


And one final snazzy picture of a few teeth on the chain itself.


The chain that comes with this saw is a .325" RM3. Obviously, the length needs to fit the bar. Because it's always a pain to figure out what size sharpening files are necessary, I sized them while in the store. This chain calls for a 3/16" file, which I've got plenty of. It's nice to know the size though. I've got the same type of chain on my MS 250, so the files are interchangeable.

Like I said, as I use this saw, I'll add to this post. This is a good start though. At least I got some good photos of the saw while it's clean.


Staff member
Well, I didn't get any video, but I did run the MS 271 for the very first time this afternoon. I actually hadn't even started it since I bought it. This afternoon was the first time. It ran well, but I do have a few comments.

I like the smell of a brand new chainsaw. I held it idling in my hands and the exhaust was wonderful. I know. Weird, but nice. One thing I didn't like about this MS 271 was the on/off/choke switch. It looks thinner than the one on the MS 250 and a bit cheaper. So that's not good. I'm also concerned about this plastic case. My other saw has a metal one, so there's some cost savings going on at Stihl.

I didn't have any trouble starting the saw. That was fine. Maybe a pull or two. As it was idling in my hands, I revved it up a few times. Since it was cold, there was some bogging down at the very beginning. That worked its way out after the saw warmed up. As I let it idle, it stalled out. I'm not sure if that's because the saw was cold or if that's a thing. I'll need to keep an eye on that.

I cut down a small white birch tree in the woods today. I needed to test things out. The tree was totally bent over and the top was touching the ground, so most of the wood was up in the air above me, horizontally. As I cut, I very quickly noticed something. This saw is a lot heavier than my MS 250. It's totally not a good saw to be walking around the woods with, cutting trees here and there. That's what the lighter MS 250 is for. My arms got tired quickly. I'll keep that in mind too. Basically, this is a ground chainsaw. Cut a large tree down and then cut it up into firewood.

It's got good power though. I pressed into the wood while opening up the throttle and there was no bogging at all. It wanted to chomp through the wood, so that's good.

Overall, it's a great saw. I'll have to see how it holds up through the years, but it's off to a good start, under the right conditions. I've got plenty of big wood, so I'll use this for that. For everything else, I'll use my smaller saw. I'll also be sure to get some video of me cutting soon.


Staff member
I've been running this saw a lot lately. I've probably already cut over a cord of firewood with it. Just yesterday, I took down a large white pine, maple, and another maple (yet to be cut into rounds). There's most likely a cord of good wood just in those three trees, with the aforementioned cord in my woods. I have to say that it is such a pleasure working with a 20" bar versus a 16" bar. I'm now getting all the larger dead trees I was unable to tackle with the smaller MS250.

I haven't had to sharpen the chain yet, but that's right around the corner. I can feel it. A few days ago, I ordered a 12-pack of Oregon 3/16" files, so I've got plenty of what I need when the time comes. The store I purchased the saw from sells Stihl files for $5.99 per 3-pack. I bought the Oregons for $21.50, so there's a bit of savings there. Check out the pics. I still have to take some video of this saw cutting through some big wood. Now that I've got a two and a half foot thick white pine that's lying on its side in the snow, I'll be able to do that.