Echo Vs. Stihl Chainsaw (A Complete Comparison)

If you are in the process of buying a chainsaw and are in two minds when having to choose between an Echo or a Stihl model, you are not alone. Many a man has faced the same dilemma. Luckily selecting any of the brands will result in you owning an excellent tree-cutting machine. A choice has to be made, so let us compare these two chainsaw powerhouses.

Echo’s chainsaws are powerful, lightweight, and geared towards easy-to-use functionality. Stihl’s chainsaws parts are manufactured in-house, and they have a wider range of models (gas-powered, electric, and battery) than Echo. Stihl has the upper hand when it comes to special features in their models.

When comparing these two chainsaw manufacturers, it’s important to note that both create outstanding products. One manufacturer may be deemed better than the other through innovative designs incorporated in their products or a simple feature that the other one lacks. A known fact is that both an Echo, and a Stihl chainsaw, are very capable of cutting through wood. Let’s find out which one does it a little better.

echo vs stihl chainsaw

Echo Vs. Stihl Chainsaw

Echo and Stihl’s chainsaws are both heavyweights in the cutting industry. The following comparisons will measure them against each other in a pound-for-pound fashion. Exposing each manufacturer’s weaknesses and also highlighting their strengths. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Fighting out of the blue corner is Echo, a company owned and run by the Yamabiko Corporation in Japan. Echo is a well-established brand, and the company has been operating for more than four decades. Echo was chosen as the name for its products in 1978, whereafter they started to manufacture chainsaws. Echo’s general features make for impressive reading.

Fighting out of the red corner is Stihl, founded in 1926 by a chainsaw innovator Andreas Stihl. Stihl’s headquarters is situated in Waiblingen, Germany, and the company is known for being the only chainsaw manufacturer that makes its chains and guide bars themselves. The list of Stihl’s chainsaw features is a list of beauty.

Just like any heavyweight fight, there will be a deep analysis of the fighter’s skillset and attributes, as well as perceived weaknesses. Usually, after the comparisons, a punter will place his bet, having a picture in his mind of how the fight will play out. Let us find out who you’re going to put your money on.

Availability 

Echo sells its chainsaws via large home-improvement companies such as Home Depot and also through a wide variety of independent dealers, making it very easy to find an Echo chainsaw on the market.

Stihl, on the other hand, doesn’t sell their products in the stores of big home-improvement companies. You can purchase Stihl chainsaws through a network of independent retailers numbering around eight thousand stores in the United States.

Product Range

ProductsEcho Stihl 
Gas-Powered10+ Models30+ Models
ElectricN/A3+
Battery3 Models6 Models

Echo might not have the product range of Stihl, but they do offer a product in all the necessary categories when it comes to specific job requirements. Most of Echo’s product range is gas-powered two-stroke engine chainsaws.

Stihl opts for a wide variety of products that differs in power and function. Their wider range of products offers their clients specific chainsaws for specific job requirements. Stihl has a broader range of electric and battery-powered models, and these machines that do not require fuel could be the best option for people with a smaller yard.

Both manufacturers have the required range in their products that can do little things like pruning trees, cutting firewood, in-tree cutting, logging, and cutting down giant trees. Stihl manufactures special chainsaws for use in the emergency field called the MS 460 Rescue, a heavy-duty chainsaw.

Warranty

Echo has a warranty on their products that range from 5-years for consumers to 1-year for commercially used products.

Stihl has a 1-year warranty for consumers on their chainsaws, while a 90-day commercial warranty is in place for commercial use.

Design And Build

Echo chainsaws are generally lighter in weight and design than similar Stihl models. Echo utilizes a Pro-Fire ignition system, which helps the machine achieve a complete power cycle in just two piston movements. The engine combusting internally reduces the chainsaw’s moving parts, making for a compact design while still producing a powerful cutting tool. 

Stihl chainsaws are a combination of German engineering partnered with superb American manufacturing. Stihl does not outsource materials required for making their chainsaws. Instead, they develop the manufacturing components in-house, leaving no room for error regarding perfect guide bars and saw chains. The extra weight on Stihl directly translates to the quality of the parts used.

For some job types, the extra weight may be a problem concerning maneuverability and stress on the body, but it could indicate that you are using the wrong chainsaw model. The general lightness of the Echo chainsaws makes them better tools for fallen trees and when you are working for long periods.

Automatic Chain Lubrication

Echo uses an automatic and adjustable oiling system that lubricates the chain automatically when the chain starts to move, helping to reduce friction, and can also be manually adjusted.

Stihl uses automatic oil pumps in its products. Whenever the engine reach a high enough speed that engages the chain, the pump will be activated, which takes the hassle out of engaging the oil pump manually. The oil flow to the chainsaws bar is automatically controlled.

Kickback Reduction

Echo incorporates additional technology that helps to minimize the risk of kickbacks from happening, like reduced kickback chains, reduced kickback bars, and the chain brake system. Echo’s chainsaw safety manual advised that you fit a kick guard, especially if you are new to the chainsaw world, that prevents all rotational kickback.

Stihl has kickback reduction parts, such as reduced kickback bars and low kickback chains in most of their models. Stihl’s chainsaw safety manual recommends that you use the chain brake (Quick Stop Plus feature) whenever a kickback scenario occurs.

The main difference in the features listed above is that Echo offers a kickback guard as an optional accessory which is safer. The problem with this safety measure is that not everyone will be pleased with the plastic guard that can accidentally hinder sawing operations.

Reducing Emissions

Echo has low emission models like the CS-621SX and generally maintains low levels of emissions. Compared to Stihl, constantly finding ways to reduce their machines’ emissions is not as high a priority as power output and functionality.

Stihl’s battery product line is lightweight, powerful, and much quieter than gas-powered chainsaws. These machines are available in three tiers of performance and produce zero exhaust emissions which are great for the environment. 

Stihl also produces corded electric equipment with the same quality, safety features, and performance as gas-powered models. The fuel-powered range of chainsaws emits emissions lower than EPA/CARB exhaust emission standards.

Price 

Similar Echo and Stihl products are similarly priced on the market. The unique features incorporated in the machine will usually lead to one being a little more expensive than the other. The variances in price are generally below the $100 mark.

Echo CS-490 Vs. Stihl MS-271

Time for the real fight to begin. Two engines that have the same power output are the Echo CS-490 and the Stihl MS-271. Both machines have a 2-stroke engine capable of a 50.2 CC power output. These machines make light work of tree pruning, cutting of firewood, and cutting down full-grown trees. Let us compare some of their features:

DescriptionEcho CS-490Stihl MS-271
Engine50.2 CC 2-Stroke Engine50.2 CC 2-Stroke Engine
Weight10.6 Pounds12.3 Pounds
Bar Size20’’18’’
Warranty5-Years Consumer Warranty
1-Year Commercial Warranty
1-Year Warranty
UsesTree Pruning
Cutting Firewood
Cutting Down
Full-Grown Trees
Tree Pruning
Cutting Firewood
Cutting Down Full-Grown Trees
FeaturesMinimal Vibrations
Great Cutting Power
Light On Fuel
ES-Start System
Reduces Emissions
Fantastic Fuel Efficiency
Pre-Separation Filtration
Anti-Vibration
Easy2Start Starting
Non-Petroleum Oil And Lubricants
Kickback ProtectionYesYes
Chain Tension AdjustmentRequire Tensioning ToolsTool-Free Adjustment
Automatic Chain OilingYesYes

Echo CS-490 

The machine is an excellent representation of what an Echo chainsaw will offer its buyer- a well-built device with a lot of power!  Thanks to the ES-Start System, the chainsaw has no problem starting quickly, almost as if it’s raring to go to work. The huge bar and chain make light work of thick wood and big trees.

The Echo CS-490 weighs only 10.6 pounds, making it the lightest chainsaw fitted with a 20” bar. It’s equipped with ergonomic handles that keep vibrations to a minimum, comfortable working with, and puts minor strain on the user when used for full-day use.

Despite being a potent machine, it is light on fuel (0.3 gallons per hour at maximum engine power). Its portability allows you to work in the most awkward conditions without losing control of the saw. One drawback is that replacement parts for the Echo CS-490 are on the expensive side

Stihl MS 271 Farm Boss 

As usual, when it comes to quality, Stihl had produced a fine specimen of a chainsaw when they made the MS-271 Farm Boss. The machine’s weight is 12.3 pounds, a little heavier than the Echo CS-490, but this can be attributed to the fact that it is equipped with real quality parts. As its name suggests, the machine is a boss and has a list of features that the Echo CS-490 struggles to compete with.

This chainsaw’s added features make the time spent in the field or woods so much easier. Some of the features that stand out are the following:

  • Pre-Separation Filtration System: The system captures and expels dirt before it can even reach the air filter. Dirt and dust that blocks an air filter, or gets inside the engine, can diminish the power of the machine. This pre-separation filtration system allows you to do less cleaning and maintenance while working in the field (air filter can last up to five times longer because of the filtration system.)
  • Anti-Vibration System: Stihl keeps on renovating this patented technology from the ’50s with new positions and materials in their chainsaws.
  • Reduced Exhaust Emissions: Compared to the MS 270 model, Stihl has managed to cut exhaust emissions in half with the Farm Boss. Using various engine technologies that deliver low emissions and increased fuel efficiency, Stihl chainsaws emit emissions clearer than EPA/CARB exhaust emission standards.
  • Non-Petroleum Based Oils And Lubricants: Stihl’s lubricants and oils (ester or vegetable-based) are highly biodegradable and less harmful to animals, plants, and humans.

When it comes down to overall chainsaw features, you will be hard-pressed to find a chainsaw manufacturer that puts the amount of research and technology into their products as Stihl constantly does.

The Verdict

Even if it’s hard to choose between the above models, as they are perfectly capable of doing what they were designed to do, there has to be a winner. Stihl edges Echo in this comparison due to its extra features, the main one being its superior pre-separation filtration system and advanced fuel efficiency (combined with the low-emission output).

The one area where Echo had an edge is their extended warranty compared to Stihl’s. Echo’s machine is powerful, but in the end, the Stihl chainsaw is more durable with regards to the quality of the parts used (bar and chain). Regarding price, Stihl is a little more expensive than Echo, but it’s down to the quality of the overall machine. Replacement parts for an Echo model can be more costly than its Stihl counterpart, something to consider.

When comparing the two chainsaw manufacturers, it should be mentioned that both make some pretty durable and robust machines. While Echo is all for the user’s comfort and providing powerful engines, Stihl is more geared towards constant innovation and building machines that will last for years if maintained well.

When comparing the different features of standard chainsaws in their various product ranges, it is notable that Stihl’s list is much more advanced than Echo’s (dare we expect anything less from the innovative and precise Germans). That being said, Echo is not far behind when keeping up with the big boys. Either choice won’t let you down if you go for an Echo chainsaw or a Stihl model.

Conclusion

Echo and Stihl are both options. If you want a powerful and lightweight chainsaw, then an Echo model might be the right choice for you. Stihl makes more sense if you are after a well-built, durable, full of extra features, fuel-efficient chainsaw. 

Hopefully, after working your way through this article, it will help you decide which chainsaw manufacturer gets to pocket your money.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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