Stihl MSA220C-B Cordless Chainsaw [2-Year Review]

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Stihl MSA 220C-B 16″Cordless Chainsaw [2-Year Look-back]

Stihl MSA220C-B Cordless Battery Chainsaw Review

Stihl MSA220C-B

4.5/5
Manufacturer: Stihl
Model number: MSA220C-B
Power source: 36V Li-Ion Battery
Weight: 6.4 Lbs. Bare Tool
In September 2020, ToolBoxBuzz published our Best Cordless Chainsaw Head-2-Head test. The Stihl Model MSA220C-B cordless chainsaw shined as our overall winner during this test. It produced impressive results in our cutting testing as well as impressed the entire crew with its ergonomics and compact design. The professional build quality and fit and finish also separated it from many of the other competitors. Being from the Stihl pedigree, we expected nothing less.

The MSA220C-B has been a constant go-to option for me since then. It has seen constant use as a firewood saw as well as doing clearing work and clean up around my home and farm. Two years of experience with it has shown me where the MSA220C-B shines as well as identify its shortcomings. This tool review will be a look back at that experience.

Specifications

Stihl MSA220C-B Battery Cordless Chainsaw

 

  • Weight: 6.4 Lbs. (Bare Tool)
  • Guide Bar Lenght: 14″ or 16″
  • Chain Gauge: 3/8″ Stihl PICCO Super 3 Low Profile
  • Bar Oil Capacity: 7.1 Oz.
  • Battery Sytem: Stihl AP Series
  • Tool Free Chain Tensioner
  • Automatic Oiler
  • Stihl Quickstop Chain Brake
  • Stihl Coast Down Electronic Chain Brake
  • Flip Cap Oil Reservoir
  • Warranty: 3 Year Residential / 2 Year Commercial

Power to Size Ratio

One of the most impressive attributes of the Stihl MSA220C-B cordless chainsaw is the runtime and power available from such a compact package. The Stihl is shorter, slimmer, and lighter than many other saws in this category but still cuts like crazy. With the large 7.2 Ah AP300S battery inserted, the saw weighs in at about 10.4 pounds. Because the power-head portion of the saw is so compact, the weight feels very balanced and proportionate in the hand. If I could only use one word to describe the Stihl, it would be svelte.

In the picture above, the Stihl is lined up against the new DCS-5000 56V chainsaw from Echo. The Echo will be featured in its own stand-alone review soon.

Cutting Performance

The MSA220C-B is not a replacement for a large bore saw for heavy cutting tasks. It is likely in the ballpark of 35-45cc gas in terms of performance. The low profile Stihl 3/8″ PICCO chain is typically reserved for top-handle arborist saws for climbing and trimming.

However, the Stihl battery saw produces an incredible torque band. It will chew through wood that would normally be way out of bounds for a comparable battery saw. Additionally, it shines when cutting wood that is sub 12″ in diameter. I cut a variety of hardwood species here in the Northeast and the MSA220C excels in all of them.

Making some red oak noodles.

Conversely, as we discussed in the H2H article, the Stihl MSA220C-B cordless chainsaw will stall out when pushed too hard. Whether we are discussing chainsaws or circular saws, battery saws will stall out when pushed too hard into the material. This is often a design feature to prevent burning out motors and batteries. The Stihl is no different. When making cuts to the full length of the bar, it is easy to stall out. For this reason, I do not like it as a felling saw. When making the back cut on a tree, the last thing I want to worry about is the chain stalling out or if I have enough power to make it through the cut safely.

Tool Free Adjustments

The MSA22C-B features a tool-free adjustment mechanism for chain tension as well as securing the bar. Instead of bar nuts, there is a folding adjustment lever on the clutch cover. This lever turns to tighten or loosen the tension on the bar. Above it, is a rotary cog wheel for setting chain tension. Initially, I thought this was gimmicky. However, to my surprise, it has held up exceptionally well. I have never had a chain slack out or a bar come loose. I also have not broken the lever regardless of how hard I crank down on it. Even with my gorilla mitts.

STIHL Chain Oiler

The Stihl features an automatic chain oiler. This system ensures that enough bar oil is provided during use to prevent excess friction, wear, and burnout on the bar.

Our experience has shown that the Stihl system works well with the longer 16″ bar. It distributes it even and consistently as needed. Furthermore, the saw uses about a tank of bar oil per battery charge with an AP300S battery. Many battery saws will burn through all their oil in about half a battery charge. This can lead to damage if not caught by the operator.

The steel gear pictured above must be spun off its shaft in order to change or flip bars.

The only criticism I have is that after heavy use the chain tensioner wheel may become gummed up from fine sawdust and oil. This makes it difficult to adjust. Removing the cover plate and cleaning it out with a brush alleviates this. The cover plate must also be loosened considerably to let the tensioner spin easily.

Overall Impression of the Stihl MSA220C-B Cordless Chainsaw

Since first using it in 2020, the Stihl MSA220C-B has become one of the benchmarks for how I evaluate cordless chainsaws. It is compact, ergonomic, and very powerful. It is one of my constant woods companions for processing firewood or doing storm cleanups. Furthermore, a lightweight and portable saw like the MSA220C-B excels as a bucket or climbing saw for smaller-diameter takedowns and limbing work. An arborist friend of mine uses an MSA220C-B in conjunction with his chipper. The ability to grab it and go with the flick of a switch is invaluable when trying to work efficiently.

The MsA220C-B is Stihl’s largest and most powerful battery-powered saw currently available. While it performs well at tasks suited for its weight class, it still is not a replacement for my larger gas-powered saws. However, seeing what Stihl has been able to accomplish so far with their 36V platform and AP series batteries I am confident that big(ger) things will be coming from them in the future. In fact, check out our recent Instagram posts covering the 2022 Equip Expo to see what Stihl is working on now.

Stihl MSA220C-B Cordless Chainsaw Review

About the author

Wes Bartosik

Wes Bartosik is a Connecticut native with strong family ties to the construction world. Wes’ father and grandfather both were builders and developers and taught Wes the values of doing things right from an early age and getting hands on experience with every facet of the construction industry. Wes apprenticed with a carpenter throughout high school and would later attend Central Connecticut State University earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management all while working for a large excavation contractor throughout. Wes would go on to work for a local heavy-highway construction company and gain further experience with all the skilled trades associated with large civil engineering and utility projects. Though working as a manager now, Wes’ true passion is working in the field alongside the tradesman and laborers on site. Wes has been involved in community based service projects throughout his life as well as emergency services. In his spare time he takes on serious DIY projects for himself, friends and family. He is a firm believer that with a quality tool in your hands and some grit, you can accomplish anything.

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2 Comments

  1. Paul Vossbrinck

    Thanks for the review but nobody is doing the comparison that I am looking for. I currently have a full line oif both Milwaukee and Ego power tools hopwever I lack a battery powered chainsaw. Please run a comparison between the Ego, Milwaukee ans Stihl battery powered chainsaws. Many thanks, Paul Vossbrinck

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Paul – Not sure when we’ll do another chainsaw comparison as we have a lot of other comparisons on the list right now. Having said that, I think you’d be wise to stick to one of the battery platforms you already have. Both the Milwaukee and EGO saws are solid choices.

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