The #1 most relied on personal chainsaw is getting discontinued for no good reason, or is there a good reason?
I have been lucky enough to get up close and personal with Stihl’s new medium duty chainsaw, the MS291. This saw will be replacing the MS290 aka the Farm Boss. Many people are wondering why the company has opted to fix what’s not broken so we went to work learning the differences and testing the MS291 for ourselves.
At first glance the two saws look the same except the new one has a white handle. But when you get down the details the 291 is a very different animal than the 290. Stihl is replacing most of the old engines with a new stratocharged 2-stroke design that is supposed to be much more fuel efficient with cleaner emissions.
The MS291 also has a completely different chassis and AV setup than the MS290. It looks to be a world of improvement over the 290 as it comes in at 1lb less than the Farm Boss. The Farm Boss’s power to weight ratio was it’s biggest drawback. They also offer a dressed up version of the MS291 with their quick chain tensing system, a 2nd chain brake, and the Easy2Start starter. The tradeoff is the price, as the MS291 retails at $489 which is $80 more than the 290.
We do a lot of camping and I heat my home with a wood fired stove. Finding the right saw for all the wood cutting we do is very important. We took this saw on 2 outings and cut 4 truck and trailer loads with it and the Farm Boss. The lighter weight of the 291 is a big improvement. Once you have cut your lengths you still have some strength left to get the rounds to the truck whereas with the other saw I was taking more breaks. Also the new quick chain tensioning system is very helpful, allowing you to make fast adjustments without having to go find the tool box. The new version of the saw comes with the .325 RM3 chain that Stihl is making the new standard. By my experience it stays sharper longer and needs less maintenance which is a big win in my book
Both of these saws are great performers and a good value. With the 30% weight reduction and new chain I now see why they pushed for the changes, it could be better. All in all we would say the MS291 is an improvement and worth the extra cash.
by, Tyler Lief Condie, Reporter/Photographer