Stihl MS 400 C-M Chainsaw Review
Stihl MS 400 C-M Professional Chainsaw Review
MS 400 C-M Chainsaw
Model number: MS 400 C-M
Power source: Gas Engine
Motor size: 66.8 CC
Weight: 13.44 Lbs. Powerhead
The ToolBoxBuzz Crew has recently focused on primarily battery-powered OPE due to the market push towards those products. However, gas-powered tools still have their place. The chainsaw world is a perfect example of there is no replacement for displacement. I am glad to see Stihl continuing to innovate in the gas-powered world.
Featured and Specifications
- Powerhead Weight: 12.8 Lbs.
- Chain Pitch: 3/8″
- Chain Gauge: 0.050″
- Recommended Bar Lengths: 16″-25″
- Engine Size: 66.8 CC
- Fuel Capacity: 20.3 Oz.
- Bar Oil Capacity: 11 Oz.
- Oiler: Adjustable
Stihl MS 400 C-M Chainsaw Weigth and Balance
Stihl recommends a 20″ bar with this saw, but it can accept anywhere from 16″ up to 25″. I received the saw from Stihl with a 25″ factory ES Light bar. This combination felt balanced and excellent for working from an upright standing position. A longer bar can save your back when cutting wood that is at roughly ground level. During testing, I used a variety of bars and chains, including a 20″ GB Pro titanium bar.
I recorded the weights of the saw as a bare powerhead and with the 25″ and 20″ bars. Due to the variety of configurations available as well as the large degree of user preferences, it is impossible to pick a true do-all configuration. Hopefully, this information helps qualify the manufacturer’s specifications.
Overall the bare powerhead weight of the MS 400 is astounding. It is a very agile and balanced tool in the hand. The magnesium piston creates a mid-sized professional-grade saw that balances better than any other I have used. Additionally, the extra almost 8 CCs of engine displacement makes it more capable with a variety of longer bars than other saws in this class.
Stihl Professional Grade
What separates professional-grade chainsaws from homeowner models? A professional saw is designed with demanding daily use in mind. Furthermore, its internal components can be rebuilt instead of replacing entire units. A Stihl pro-grade saw is rugged enough to be used daily and typically requires very little maintenance. The M-Tronic electronic self-adjusting carburetor compensates for every variable from altitude to chain speed. When an issue does arise, the saw can be plugged into a diagnostic program by a dealer to figure out the problem.
Don’t let all this “pro-grade” talk discourage you if you aren’t a full-time tree care pro. Buying a professional-grade chainsaw as a homeowner or hobbyist is a smart investment. They outlast most consumer saws and offer better performance.
MS 400 C-M Run-time
A chainsaw typically requires several tanks worth of fuel to get broken in. Users will often see a slight increase in cutting power and performance once the saw has a chance to run when brand new from the factory. With electronic carburetor saws like the MS 400 C-M the break-in period allows the saw to compile data for better adjustments and performance.
After running through about ten tanks of fuel in my sample, I outfitted the MS 400 with a factory sharp chain and fresh fuel. I was able to perform a total of approximately thirty-seven cross cuts, plus some additional trim cuts, through a green sugar maple tree that I had dropped recently. The diameters ranged from 8″ up to 25″. This was performed at one time with minimal breaks or downtime between cuts. Overall I was extremely happy with the amount of production capable on a single tank of fuel.
The capability of the MS 400 is extremely beneficial to professional users. It offers less downtime and better production with a saw that is lighter to carry and consumes less fuel.
Stihl Cutting Performance
As mentioned previously, the MS 400 C-M is lightweight and powerful. The lighter magnesium piston allows the engine to spin up to full chain speed extremely fast. Additionally, the controls on the saw are fast and responsive. I left the adjustable oiler in the full open position during testing and this provided more than adequate lubrication regardless of what length bar I was using. The saw consumes roughly 80% of the bar oil reservoir per tank of fuel.
My test cutting was performed on hardwood species native to the Northeastern United States. This included ash, oak, maple, and some other hardwood trees. One of the performance tests I ran was making “noodle” cuts. This is when a saw is used to make a parallel to the grain cut on a large round of wood that is often close in length to the bar on the saw. It is a very demanding cut due to the cutting teeth on the chain having to pull through a full 16″+ of parallel-grained material.
While the MS 400 C-M was capable of doing this with the 25″ bar, it struggled at times. The 20″ bar was the optimal length and there was less resistance when cutting, it also threw beautiful, long, “noodle” chips with ease. While many West Coast users prefer the longer 25″ or even 28″ bars on a saw this size, the 20″ was ideal for my application relative to our native tree species.
Room For Improvement
I am a huge fan of the power and performance that the Stihl MS 400 C-M chainsaw provides. However, during testing, I encountered an issue with the factory OEM felling spikes, or “Dogs” as they are referred to. While processing a large-diameter tree, I made multiple cross-cuts with the 25″ bar and chain where the saw was buried to the nose. A cut like this is where pronounced and aggressive dogs are an important feature. Because the factory OEM dogs are short, the front of the muffler repeatedly came into contact with the wood. I didn’t realize it at first, which caused the muffler to burn the wood and also get debris baked onto the muffler.
Stihl offers longer factory spikes as well as a dual set, but they must be purchased and installed by the user or at a service center. These longer spikes would be a welcomed feature on this saw as a factory option.
Finally, the front handlebar of the MS 400 C-M is made out of plastic. It is nice reinforced plastic, but it is still plastic. I firmly believe that Stihl has tested the compound and found it to be as strong or possibly stronger than metal. However, it just doesn’t feel right and can be flexed when leaned into during cutting. A professional-grade Stihl chainsaw doesn’t feel proper without a metal handlebar.
The Stihl MS 400 C-M is an impressive professional-grade chainsaw. Overall it packs outstanding power and technology into a lighter-weight and easy-to-use package. I was thoroughly impressed with it during the review process as were all of the tree-care pros that used it with me. It’s not too big, not too small, just right. The Goldilocks of chainsaws if you will. I can’t imagine many lumberjacks wanting to refer to their chainsaw as Goldilocks, but it’s an accurate analogy!
The MS 400 C-M is an excellent option for pro users who want a tool to perform most tasks while reducing operator fatigue and potential injuries. This saw would be right at home in a bucket or attached to a climbing rig. Additionally, it would make a great one-saw solution for serious firewood cutters or landowners. The MS 400 has been overshadowed by its brother the MS 500i and because of that it is often overlooked by pro users.
If you are in the market for a lightweight and dependable chainsaw that will pull a 20-25″ bar all day and ask for seconds, then consider the Stihl MS 400 C-M. As with all Stihl saws, they are only available from your local Stihl dealer. As of February 2024, the MS 400 is available for $1,079.99 with 25″ bar and chain. The price will differ depending on your desired bar and chain length. While more expensive than any saw at a big box store, this is a true professional-grade option that is designed with longevity and an enhanced user experience in mind.
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