STIHL MS 181 Vs MS 251 C-BE : which to buy?

STIHL, the manufacturer of these two chainsaws, is inarguably the industry leader when it comes to handheld power equipment. Whether you’re talking about chainsaws, trimmers, blowers or any other type of product, STIHL has continuously been a pioneer in the field for decades. They sell more gas-powered products than their competitors and constantly push boundaries with their innovations.

Detail Comparison

Technical specifications MS 181 MS 251 C-BE
Displacement ­cm³ 31,8 45,6
Power output ­kW/bhp 1,5/2 2,2/3
Weight ­kg 4,3 1) 5,1 1)
Power-to-weight ratio ­kg/kW 2,9 2,4
Sound pressure level ­dB(A) 100 2) 103 2)
STIHL Oilomatic saw chain type ­ Picco Micro Mini 3 (PMM3) Rapid Micro (RM)
Sound power level ­dB(A) 112 3) 114 3)
Vibration level left/right ­m/s² 3,5/3 4) 3,9/3,9 4)
Saw chain pitch ­ 3/8″P .325″


It will adjust fuel delivery, ignition timing and even idle speed to ensure that your saw is always running at its most efficient level. Basically, this means that you can look forward to improved fuel economy, increased power and consistent torque no matter where or when you’re working with these tools. Both the MS 181 and MS 251 C-BE are lightweight chainsaws designed for cutting firewood or felling trees up to around 10 inches in diameter. The only real difference between these two models is that one.

STIHL MS 181 Vs MS 251 C-BE

They also both have a 2-MIX engine, which is an advanced combustion technology that gives you more power but uses 20 percent less fuel than their predecessors. The differences in performance between this and other models of STIHL chainsaws are negligible—both machines will cut through a 16″ log with no problem. Ease of Use The 251 C-BE has.


The STIHL MS 251 C-BE with Easy2Start™ technology is a mid-sized chainsaw that’s designed with the professional in mind. The MS 251 C-BE is part of STIHL’s new generation of fuel-efficient, low emission chain saws. It features stratified charge engine technology that cuts fuel consumption by up to 20% and exhaust emissions by up to 50%.

The anti-vibration system reduces operator fatigue and improves comfort during those long days on the job. In addition, the MS 251 C-BE starts quickly with just a light pull of the starting cord thanks to the Easy2Start™ system – making this a great chainsaw for homeowners who are looking for professional performance. This saw has a number of convenient features, including an easy access air filter so you can maintain your machine without difficulty.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|Engine Displacement

The STIHL MS 181 has a smaller engine displacement than the STIHL MS 251 C-BE. This means that the STIHL MS 181 is a better choice for certain applications. The engine displacement refers to the volume of fuel that is displaced by the pistons in one full cycle of an internal combustion engine. A larger engine displacement means that more fuel can be burned, which translates to the increased power output from the engine. However, this may not be desirable for all applications, especially when precision and control are important factors for completing your task properly.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|Power output

oth of these chainsaws are run by a single cylinder, two-stroke engine. In terms of power output, the STIHL MS 181 is rated at 2.0 horsepower and 3,800 revolutions per minute (rpm). The STIHL MS 251 C-BE is rated at 2.5 horsepower and 9,000 rpm. Both of these ratings are much higher than you would expect to see in a residential chainsaw.

The STIHL MS 181 is considered a light-duty chainsaw while the STIHL MS 251 C-BE is considered a medium-duty chainsaw. If you need something for big jobs, such as cutting down trees or clearing brush after a storm, the STIHL MS 251 C-BE is your best choice. However, if you need something for smaller jobs around your property, such as trimming branches or cutting firewood, the STIHL MS 181 will do just fine.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|Weight

The MS 181 and the MS 251 C-BE are both lightweight chainsaws, but the MS 251 C-BE is a little lighter. With a weight of 10.6 pounds, the STIHL MS 181 is one of the lightest chainsaws on the market. But the STIHL MS 251 C-BE weighs just 10.3 pounds. This slight difference in weight could be enough to make a difference if you’ve got a tough job to do and you’re worried about fatigue.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|Power-to-weight ratio

The MS 181 has an engine displacement of 30.1 cc, weighs 9.3 lbs., and has a power-to-weight ratio of 3.2 lbs./kW (2.4 lbs./hp). The MS 251 C-BE has an engine displacement of 50.2 cc, weighs 11.6 lbs., and has a power-to-weight ratio of 3.25 lbs./kW (2.44 lbs./hp).

Both chainsaws have easy starts with STIHL Easy2Start™ technology, which makes starting nearly effortless; an anti-vibration system that reduces operator fatigue; an ergonomic handle; digital ignition with an automatic impulse function; and STIHL’s Ematic™ bar lubrication system, which provides maximum lubrication, longer chain life, and less oil consumption than conventional methods of lubricating the bar and chain.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|Sound pressure level

The STIHL MS 181 is an outstanding light-duty chainsaw with a sound pressure level of 104 dB(A), while the STIHL MS 251 C-BE has a sound pressure level of 110 dB(A). To help explain how much difference 6 dB can make, here’s a list of decibel levels you may be familiar with:

  • A whisper: 15 dB
  • Normal conversation: 60 dB 
  • A lawn mower: 90 dB 
  • A motorcycle: 95 dB 
  • A rock concert or a jet engine: 120 dB 
  • A gunshot or firecracker: 140 dB

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|Vibration level left/right

The MS 181 C-BE is a lightweight, fuel-efficient chainsaw with low vibrations. The STIHL Easy2Start™ system makes starting the saw almost effortless. This chainsaw also has an advanced anti-vibration system and side chain tensioner for comfortable operation. The STIHL MS 251 C-BE is a professional, high-performance chain saw that features our pre-separation air filtration system—extending the cleaning life of the air filter so you have less maintenance. The “C” designation in both model names means that these saws are equipped with STIHL’s Easy2Start™ technology, which makes starting these saws almost effortless.

Both saws feature a low vibration cutting system, allowing for a more comfortable user experience. The MS 181 features an anti-vibration system that isolates the handles from the engine while the 251 C-BE features the STIHL M-Tronic engine management system, eliminating vibration through electronic engine mapping.

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|Saw chain pitch

The size of the drive links and cutters in millimeters determines what is often referred to as the pitch of a saw chain. MS 181 and MS 251 C-BE chainsaws have different saw chain pitches. The STIHL MS 181 chainsaw uses a 3/8″ Picco Micro 3 (PM3) chain with 1.1 mm drive links and 0.325 inch gauge.

Gauge refers to the distance between each drive link, so 0.325 inch gauge indicates that there are 0.325 inches between each of the drive link’s grooves on the guide bar. This type of saw chain was designed to work with narrow-kerf bars, which minimize wood loss when making cuts due to their narrow groove widths (the kerf).

STIHL MS 181 vs MS 251 C-BE|which is better

The most obvious difference is the price—the MS 251 C-BE is about $90 more expensive than the MS 181. One reason for this is that the MS 181 does not have an automatic oiler, whereas the MS 251 C-BE does.

Another difference is that the MS 251 C-BE has a combi tool that can be used to remove or install spark plugs without any additional tools, whereas with an MS 181 you must use a screwdriver to adjust your spark plug gap. The final major difference between these two chainsaws is the type of starter they have: while both of them have “stopping” devices to prevent backfires when starting up cold (which requires holding down on certain parts), only one has decompression valves built into its starter system—the MS 251 C-BE.

The MS 181 C-BE is a lightweight, easy-to-use chain saw that is the perfect choice for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint. The MS 251 C-BE is an ideal mid-range saw for use around the home or on the farm or ranch. Both chainsaws have features that make them both powerful and comfortable to use.

The most notable difference is that the MS 181 C-BE has a smaller engine displacement than the MS 251 C-BE. This means it will be lighter and easier to maneuver, but also that it won’t pack quite as much punch as its larger sibling. Another difference is that the MS 181 C-BE does not include our STIHL Quickstop® Chain Brake feature, which stops the chain when activated by kickback.

The End

Both are relatively small, lightweight chainsaws with a 16″ bar and chain, both have the same 2.5 horsepower engine, and both are designed for medium-duty work around the home. However, there are several differences between the two that set them apart from each other in terms of performance, ease of use, and cost.