Stihl MS 181 Vs MS 230 : Which is right for you?

Stihl MS 181 Vs MS 230: Both Stihl chain saws also have STIHL Quickstop inertia chain brake system which stops the chain if kickback occurs and prevents injury to user by reducing kickback risk. However STIHL has added extra safety features to the MS 230 compared to the 181, resulting in an additional 4 pounds of weight (13 lbs compared to 9 lbs).

Detail Comparison

Technical specifications MS 181 MS 230
Displacement ­cm³ 31,8 45,4
Power output ­kW/bhp 1,5/2 2/2,7
Weight ­kg 4,3 1) 4,6 1)
Power-to-weight ratio ­kg/kW 2,9 2,3
Sound pressure level ­dB(A) 100 2) 101 2)
Sound power level ­dB(A) 112 3) 111 3)
Vibration level left/right ­m/s² 3,5/3 4) 6,4/7 4)
Saw chain pitch ­ 3/8″P 3/8″P
STIHL Oilomatic saw chain type ­ Picco Micro Mini 3 (PMM3) Picco Micro 3 (PM3)


The Stihl MS 181 is a lightweight saw with a 14 inch bar and the MS 230 is a medium weight saw with a 16 inch bar. The difference in power between the two is staggering. The MS 181 produces 2.2 horsepower, while the MS 230 produces 3.3 horsepower.

Stihl MS 181 Vs MS 230

This means that the MS 230 can cut through thicker wood more easily than the MS 181. In terms of their ergonomics, they are pretty much identical aside from their weight and bar length, with both saws having a similar feel to them when held. They both have anti-vibration technology to reduce hand fatigue. Both saws have Stihl’s patented captive nuts which prevent nuts from jamming in discharge chutes on large deadfall trees or stumps when cutting large rounds.


The STIHL MS 230 is a slightly larger gas powered chain saw than the STIHL MS 181, but it still retains many of the same features that make this brand stand out from other manufacturers in the industry. Its 39 cc engine makes this model capable of handling more difficult jobs than its smaller counterpart, such as cutting down small trees or trimming thick brush around your property line. The STIHL MS 230 is also equipped with an anti-vibration system, which will reduce the amount of wear and tear on your hands from prolonged use over time as well as prevent muscle soreness.

It is understandable that people are confused, since they are both so similar. They are both 2-cycle, gas powered, and have a similar design. However, there are very distinct differences between them. The biggest difference between the two saws is the bar length. The STIHL MS 230 can take a bar as long as 20 inches and the STIHL MS 181 can only take a bar as long as 16 inches. This is a pretty significant difference if you are planning on cutting down trees that have thick diameters.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|Power output

The MS 181 has a 29.8 cc engine, making it ideal for lighter tasks around your yard, such as felling smaller trees and pruning branches. The MS 230 has a 45 cc engine, which provides more power for bigger jobs like felling larger trees. If you need to cut down large trees or tackle dense brush removal projects, the MS 230 will help you.

The MS 181 uses a 2-MIX engine, which is a combination of the 2-cycle and 4-cycle engine. This means that it has a high power to weight ratio and low fuel consumption. Although the MS 181 does not have as much power as other gas chainsaws in its category, it makes up for it with its fuel efficiency and lightweight design. The MS 230 on the other hand is equipped with a stratified scavenging engine that reduces fuel consumption by 20% and emissions by 50%. 

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|Weight

The STIHL MS 181 weighs in at 11.3 pounds, while the STIHL MS 230 comes in at 12.3 pounds. For the average user, this difference may seem negligible, but it can actually make a big impact on how your machine performs over time. If you are someone who uses your chainsaw for extended periods of time, or who does so very frequently, this extra pound of weight may affect how easy it is to control your machine and reduce fatigue. Another difference between these two saws is the amount of fuel they hold in their tanks.

The STIHL MS 181 has a 10.1 ounce tank capacity, while the STIHL MS 230 has a 13 ounce capacity—a 3 ounce difference that could save refills when working on larger projects. A third notable difference between these two machines is their power output: the STIHL MS 181 has 2 horsepower.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|Power-to-weight ratio

Both chainsaws feature the same 2-MIX engine that offers up to 20% lower fuel consumption and 50% fewer emissions compared to models without 2-MIX technology. This low-emission technology is paired with an advanced anti-vibration system that makes long workdays more comfortable and less fatiguing. The main difference between these two chainsaws is in their power output.

The MS 230 produces 1.8 hp while the MS 181 produces 1.5 hp. The higher horsepower of the 230 may make it a better choice for individuals who plan on using it for more extensive professional jobs, such as cutting down trees or clearing a large amount of brush. The weight of each saw also differs slightly; the MS 230 weighs 0.7 lbs more than the MS 181, which may make this a factor when choosing between these two models.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|Sound pressure level

The MS 181 chainsaw is the lightest of the three in the series, weighing in at just 9.8 pounds. This makes it a good entry-level choice for homeowners with general property upkeep needs such as cutting firewood, pruning and cutting small trees. It’s also ideal for homeowners who need a lightweight chainsaw for occasional use that’s easy to start and maneuver.

The MS 181 is equipped with STIHL’s advanced anti-vibration system which reduces operator fatigue, meaning you can take on your sawing tasks without all the hand and shoulder strain that can come along with using other brands of chainsaws. The system reduces vibration levels to the front and rear handle, so your hands and arms are shielded from much of the buzz that comes from other brands’ saws. This system also increases comfort while cutting by reducing muscle fatigue. STIHL’s QuickStop® inertia chain brake stops chain rotation if kickback occurs, reducing the chance of injury to the operator or damage to the saw.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|Sound power level

The MS 181 and MS 230 have similar noise levels, but there are some differences between them that you should take into consideration before making your final decision about which one to buy. The noise level of the MS 181 is approximately 97 dB(A), whereas that of the MS 230 is around 100 dB(A).

It comes standard with a 12″ guide bar, but can accommodate bars up to 16″. The STIHL MS 230 is another great option for homeowners who need high power without the weight or cost of professional grade equipment. 

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|Vibration level left/right

These best STIHL chainsaws are great for those that have to cut a lot of wood. The STIHL MS 181 is a lightweight, compact chainsaw that is perfect for cutting firewood or felling trees up to 12 inches in diameter. It has an Easy2Start™ system which makes it easy to start, and it has a smooth operating STIHL QuickStop® inertia chain brake. This model also features an advanced anti-vibration system that significantly reduces vibration levels, making it comfortable to use all day long.

While this new model does not have any major design changes from its predecessor, this chainsaw still offers some notable improvements. The newly designed handlebar mount on the MS 230 features a three-position adjustable stop that allows you to customize your grip position for maximum comfort during extended use periods. You will also find this model has a larger fuel tank than the previous version for longer run times between refueling intervals; however, with all these improvements you can expect a slight increase in weight over the older model (from 11.3 lbs up to 11.9 lbs).

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|Saw chain pitch

The STIHL MS 181 and the STIHL MS 230 are two very similar chainsaws that, at first glance, seem to be the same saw. However, there are some key differences. The most significant difference is their bar length. The STIHL MS 181 comes equipped with a 14” bar, while the STIHL MS 230 comes equipped with a 16” bar. Another significant difference between these two models is in their power output and engine displacement.

The STIHL MS 181 has a 25.4 cc (1.5 cu in) engine that has an output of 2.15 horsepower, while the STIHL MS 230 features a 30.1 cc (1.8 cu in) engine with an output of 2.5 horsepower. This allows the STIHL MS 230 to have somewhat more power than its sibling model, the STIHL MS 181. Both of these models have anti-vibration systems that help to reduce vibration for operator comfort by isolating handle components from the engine and drive system, which helps to keep your hands and arms free from harmful vibrations that can be caused by long-term exposure to shocks from operating chainsaws.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 230|which is better

The MS 230 is more powerful, has a longer reach and so can be used in places where the MS 180 can’t go as far (such as in tight corners). It’s also better on wet grass because it has a trimmer line that can cut through thick grass effortlessly. The way this trimmer works is that instead of cutting off individual blades of grass, it chops them up into smaller pieces before going through them with its blades.

This way, it doesn’t have to put as much effort into cutting through the grass and it can go through any kind of grass without damaging it. The other thing to consider is the fact that when you use an electric trimmer, you don’t need to wait for it to charge up before using it since there’s no gas involved.

Both of these model compressors are excellent in their own way, and the differences may seem minute at first glance. But once you know what to look for, you’ll easily be able to tell that there’s more to it than meets the eye. For starters, MS 230V offers a small gas tank, which means the engine needs to run longer per tank before needing a refill. It also has a bigger engine, which means it’s more compact than MS 181V. The MS 230V also has an electric start feature; MS 181 doesn’t have this feature at all.

The End

After taking an in-depth look at these two models, we feel good recommending either on a variety of levels. MS 230 is our top recommendation because it offers the best value for its price point as a mid-range M-Series mixer. The overall quality, sound, and durability of this model make it stand out among other entry-level mixers, and its companion software expands its capabilities even further.