In an article from the 10th of January this year, where I wrote about my chainsaw biography, I promised to get back with some comments about my latest, 14th, saw. My first small saw, my first Stihl saw, and even my first ever non-Husqvarna saw. Now I have used the Stihl 201C for a while. Here are my impressions:

Husqvarna 550 XP G Mark II vs. Stihl 201C

My new Stihl 201C after a few days in action.

Husqvarna 550 XP G Mark II vs. Stihl 201C

The headline hints that a test, comparing the two saws, has taken place. Well, as these two are the saws that I use, that’s exactly what has happened. I have used both saws this winter. The Stihl in young thinning, and the Husky in older thinning and windthrow. Of course, it’s unfair to compare those two as it´s two completely different saws. But the point was to have one all-around saw and one saw for thinner trees. So …

First impressions of the Stihl 201C

The two first impressions of the 201C were positive. It was very light compared to the Husky 550. The weight, according to the manufacturer is 3 kg (6,6 lb.), excl. saw bar and chain. To be compared to 5,5 kg (12,12 lb.) for the 550. That´s quite a difference. It suits an old man like me and the weight was the main reason I wanted a smaller saw.

The second positive thing about the 201 that occurred immediately, was that it is easy to start. You just push one button to activate some kind of automatic choke, and then you pull until it starts. You don´t have to deactivate the choke, like on the Husky. You just pull until it starts no matter if the saw motor is cold or warm. It starts on three pulls tops.

Husqvarna 550 XP G Mark II vs. Stihl 201C

The Stihl 201C. Already “spruce dirty” after a few days.

The third impression was less positive. The oil- and gas caps are of a bayonet mount type and should be very easy to handle. Nevertheless, one of the first things that happened, already during the first tank, was that the oil cap opened, and the oil ran out during delimbing. Somehow, I hadn’t managed to get the cap properly stuck after filling the tank up. This has happened once or twice again after that, and once with the gas cap. I’m doing something wrong of course, but it’s very annoying.

More differences than similarities

As mentioned above, the two saws are very different. One example of that is that the upper handle has a different angle on the Stihl compared to the Husky. This made it more difficult to aim when felling. I am so used to the Husky handle that I don´t have to aim. I kind of feel how to saw to get it right. So, the first days with the Stihl I spent some time pulling stuck trees down after failing to aim. Luckily for me, it was only small trees that were easy to pull down.

Another small detail that differs between the two is the throttle. On the Husky 550, I am used to just squeezing the rear handle to give full gas. On the Stihl 201 that didn’t work. At first, I wondered why the saw didn’t reach the max rpm. I thought it was the M-Tronic (automatic carburetor setting) that wasn’t functioning. Eventually, I realized I had to give gas properly with the fingertip instead of just squeezing the rear handle. This took some time to get used to, but eventually … old dogs can learn … I figured it out.

I also had to change the way I sharpen the chain. When I used the same angles and lowered the depth gauges as on the Husky, the Stihl didn’t have the power to drive the chain through the wood. I had to make the chain a bit less aggressive. No wonder, as the Stihl is much smaller than the Husky. With the chain sharpened in the right way, the small Stihl also cut like a knife through warm butter.

Husqvarna 550 XP G Mark II vs. Stihl 201C

My two-year-old Husky 550 XP G Mark II.
(The photo was taken when it was just a couple of weeks “old”)

A suitable combination

In general, I’m very pleased with my new Stihl 201C. It doesn’t replace the Husky 550 but when working with small trees it´s excellent. The 201C also is very fuel-efficient. At first, I thought it was the other way around as I had to fill it up so often. But that was simply due to the small tank. By the end of the day, I noticed that it had consumed much less fuel than the Husky does.

When switching from the Stihl 201C to the Husky 550 XP G Mark II, two things are immediately noticeable: It’s much heavier and much more powerful. It’s a choice you have to make. So far you can’t get the power of a 5,5 kg saw into a 3 kg saw. Not yet …

On the last day of the season (?), I was felling some bark-beetle-damaged spruces with thick branches. This day the Stihl 201 got the day off. It became very clear this day, that the 550 XP G Mark II is a real power-pack.