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Stihl ms 291 vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher Chainsaw Review

Comparing Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws is like comparing Ford with Chev. Wherever you look, there are passionate proponents of either one. The battle between the Stihl MS 291 Farm Boss vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher chainsaw is tough. They’re both excellent chainsaws, built tough and built to last.

However, one might be better depending on what you need in a saw.

The Husqvarna 455 Rancher is more affordable, easier to handle, and has slightly better safety features than the Stihl MS 291 Farm Boss chainsaw. However, the Farm Boss is somewhat more robust and powerful than the Husqvarna.

In this article, we’ll put the Stihl MS291 Farm Boss vs the Husqvarna 455 Rancher head to head. First, we’ll start by reviewing each of these powerful chainsaws, then compare their specs and features. Then, we’ll offer tips for deciding between these two similar, fantastic chainsaws.

Stihl MS 291 Farm Boss vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher: An Overview

 SpecsStihl MS291 Farm BossHusqvarna 455 Rancher
Features20% more fuel-efficient and 50% less polluting than previous chainsawsCuts fuel consumption by 20% and emissions by 75%. CARB compliant. 40% less starter-cord resistance.
Engine2-Mix. 55.5 cm3 / 3.76 HP gasX-Torq. 55.5 cm3 / 3.49 HP 2-stroke gas motor
Power output2.8 kW / 3.8 HP2.6kW / 3.5 HP
Max speed13,000 RPM 9000 RPM
Weight empty12.35 lbs / 5.6kg13.2 lbs/6 kg
Bars16 to 20 inches18 to 20 inches
Fuel capacity16.9 oz (0.5 l)10.8 oz (0.32 l)
OperationFour overflow channels mix fuel with air to improve combustion and efficiency. CompensatorSmart Start. Combined choke/stop control, prevents flooding
Air filterAir routing with pre-separation. Optional HD2-Filter.Centrifugal air filter system. Quick-release system
Chain tensionerSide-mounted tensioning screwMounted on the side
VibrationAnti-vibration systemLowVib dampeners
Chain brakeQuick stop chain brakeYes, activated by inertia.
Cutting features Felling marks
BuyStihl dealers onlyAmazon and plenty of retailers

Today, I’ve picked the two top chainsaws that inevitably appear on top of all the “best chainsaw” lists – the Stihl MS 291 and the Husqvarna 455.

Both unquestionably dominate the market as being perfect for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts working in their backyards or at a ranch. That said, if you run a professional lumber business, you might want to look at something more powerful like this guy:

Husqvarna 460 Rancher 24-Inch Gas Chainsaw
$599.99
  • 60.3-cc 3.6-HP, 2-Cycle X-Torq Engine
  • 24 Inch Chainsaw
  • Automatic Adjustable Oil Pump
Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/07/2023 07:41 am GMT

So, let’s get to the core of what makes these chainsaws so appealing. We’ll also explore how to choose between the Stihl ms291 Farm Boss vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher depending on your needs.

Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Running toe to toe with its competitor STIHL for the leadership of the market, Sweden-born Husqvarna is a powerful and reliable chainsaw for landowners and occasional DIYers dealing with challenging cutting tasks.

It’s powered by a 55.5 cm3  / 3.49 hp 2-stroke gas motor, capable of reaching a maximum speed of 9000 RMP.

The power output of the tool is 2.6kW/3.5 hp.

It weighs 13.2 lbs (6kg) unarmed and on an empty stomach, so add one of the bars available – from 18 to 20 inches – and the fuel tank of 0.32l to work out its actual weight.

Husqvarna takes a lot of pride in the engine of this chainsaw that cuts fuel consumption and emissions (20% and 75%, respectively) and smashes the standards for CARB-compliant regulations.

Ideal for trimming, cross-cutting, and felling small trees, the Rancher is a heavy-duty chainsaw not for the faint-hearted. It can easily cut through any type of wood, so keep a steady grip and a safe distance!

So, let’s look at the specific features and usage of the Husqvarna 455.

Smart Start

This Husqvarna technology minimizes the time it takes for the engine to get ready for work with little effort. The starter cord resistance in this model has been reduced by 40%.

Easier starting is also guaranteed by the combined choke/stop control, preventing the engine from becoming flooded.

In general, this model is focused on saving you valuable time when you’re hitting the yard with a task in mind, so even the fuel pump is advertised by Husqvarna as “designed for easy starting.”

Read More – How to Start a Flooded Chainsaw [Unflood and Clear Your Saw Engine!]

Filter

The air cleaning system inside the tool is centrifugal and has been designed to make the filter last longer without getting clogged.

What you need to remember with chainsaws is that the air intake valve sits right beside the guide rail and chain.

Imagine trying to breathe while somebody sprays a hose at you; when a chainsaw is spinning and spitting wood chippings, it’s essentially the same thing. This filter includes a quick-release system to facilitate air filter cleaning and replacement.

Chain Tensioner

As we’ve touched on above, the chain is often too tight right off the production line, so you’ll want to look at that before you go hacking away at your trees.

Husqvarna has got the idea that tensioning the chain is easier if the mechanism is mounted on the side, and that’s precisely where you’ll find it on the Rancher, making the process quick and easy.

Engine

The Rancher’s engine has a name and a trademark too, and is very valued by the manufacturer.

The reason for that is something called X-Torq engine technology, which has lowered fuel consumption so much that it meets the world’s strictest carb emissions regulations, giving you some of the best fuel efficiency available.

This is a pretty impressive claim that I believe puts the Rancher ahead of the Stihl if environmental responsibility is something you’re passionate about. I’ve added a video about how X-Torq works below. 

Low Vibration Levels

This model is equipped with unique LowVib dampeners to spare you the aches and pains that come with wielding a high-speed chainsaw for long periods.

The front handle with an ergonomic grip is angled to make your working position as comfortable as possible. Remember, most tasks will have you contorting your wrists and arms into various positions, so you want something that offers you a firm, comfortable, and safe grip.

Oil Pump

In this case, you will be able to adjust the pump and set lubrication yourself for what you need, which is a good way of avoiding oil waste.

Again, there’s no easy way to dispose of oil, so if you care about the environment, it’s good to avoid wastage in this regard.

Chain Brake

The Husqvarna 455 has an inertia-activated chain brake. How does that work?

So, the saw analyses the movement of the chain. If it becomes rapid or sudden, like a kickback, the brake will automatically stop the machine using the force of inertia.

Kickback is a serious thing when you’re using a chainsaw – it’s the biggest risk that can see a chainsaw suddenly leap back at the operator. If you value your head and neck, you’ll value this feature.

Felling Marks

Falling marks help you with lining up the cuts you need to make, ensuring the tree, or whatever you plan on cutting, falls where you need it to. Felling marks on this model are easily noticeable and precise, which is a very practical feature.

Where to buy

Husqvarna 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw
$529.99
  • It has a fuel-efficient, powerful 56cc X-TORQ engine
  • The chain has excellent edge retention
  • It uses LowVib Technology to reduce vibrations
  • Quick and easy to start
  • It has a centrifugal air cleaning system that removes larger dust and debris particles before they reach the quick-release air filter
  • Has a three-piece crankshaft
  • Inertia-activated chain brake for safety
Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/07/2023 07:35 am GMT

Unlike Stihl, getting hold of a Husqvarna chainsaw is much easier; they stock their products at most retailers. The Husqvarna 455 Rancher can thus be picked up on sites like Amazon and quite a few other online and in-person retailers.

The cost of adding this chainsaw to your line-up of yard tools is typically around the $450 to $500 mark.

Stihl MS 291 Farm Boss

Stihl-ms-291-chainsaw
Image credit Stihl USA

Historically famous for being the world’s bestselling brand of chainsaws, Stihl chainsaws are unique for their guide bars and saw chains.

The German manufacturer advertises this specific new model as 20% more fuel-efficient and 50% less polluting by comparison to their previous chainsaws. The Stihl MS 291 is equally powerful as its predecessors and easy to maintain, and above all that, it will help you save money and protect the environment. That’s a great benefit!

This chainsaw is excellent for cross-cutting, trimming, pruning, and small tree felling. In my experience of using the Stihl ms291, it’s probably more beginner-oriented than the Husqvarna 455 Rancher.

The core of this tool is the 55.5 cu 3.76 hp gas motor with a 2.8 kW/3.8bhp power output. The tank can fit 16.9 oz (half a liter) of gas, bringing the weight of the whole tool to 12.35 lbs (5.6kg) without the fuel, bar, and chain.

The distance between the drive links of the Stihl Oilomatic saw chain (chain pitch) is .325” with a 4.5 vibration level left/right m/s2.

It is available with a bar ranging from 16 to 20 inches long. Then, rounding up the technical data with the 2:1 power-to-weight ratio kg/kW, I suggest we look at some of this product’s more specific and innovative features.

2-MIX engine

Here’s how the STIHL 2-MIX Engine Works.

Unlike the previous models from Stihl, which weren’t packing this kind of engine, the 2-Mix guarantees 20% less fuel consumption and a reduction in emissions of 50%. To find out how the process works, you can check out this awesome explanation by Stihl.

Air Filtration System

To simplify it, this saw’s air filter system works like two separate filters. It’s equipped with air routing that pre-separates the bigger bits of dirt, which means the filter itself has less work to do and lasts longer without cleaning.

Additionally, there’s an option to get the HD2-Filter as an accessory, which keeps even the tiniest particles of dust from the engine.

You can also clean this one with water, so there are no fancy tools or cleaning fluids to bump up the price.

Combustion Technology

Instead of starting the engine with fuel alone, the MS 291 has four overflow channels that mix fuel with air to improve the combustion and efficiency of the chainsaw.

That’s how they reduced fuel consumption and reached a high torque across a broad speed (RPM) range.

Anti-Vibration System

We all know that handling intensely vibrating power tools can be seriously bad for the blood flow in your hands and arms over long periods.

To keep their customers – you and I – safe and satisfied, STIHL has installed a very effective anti-vibration system in this new chainsaw model, which significantly minimizes the engine’s oscillations by the time they reach the handles.

In layperson’s terms, that means the saw bucks in your hands a lot less than those that came before it.

Compensator

The combustion technology in MS 291 means a lot less fuel, but it also means the risk of an imbalanced fuel/air ratio as the air filter gets blocked.

Here’s where the compensator kicks in, correcting the amount of fuel actually getting into the carburetor judging by the quantity of air going through the filter. This helps to keep the proportion of air and fuel constant as well as the engine power.

Safety Measures

The more dangerous the tool you’re handling, the more you want to be sure the mechanism itself knows how to recognize a hazard.

The quick-stop chain brake built into the Stihl ms291 can stop the chain quickly and is controlled through the front handguard.

If the surface recoils strongly enough, the brake automatically releases, allowing you to return to work without too much interruption. And let’s face it; it’s better to lose a few seconds of work than to lose a hand.

Control Lever

The single-lever master control is a convenient feature, meaning that all commands from start to finish are in the same place and within reach of your hand. Literally.

Chain Tensioning

If you feel the chain is becoming a little loose, look for the side-mounted tensioning screw allowing easy and safe access without the need to touch the sharp parts to re-tension the chain.

A quick note: it’s pretty common to see chainsaws come out of the box with an overly tight chain. Always check your new chainsaw before you get to work.

Automatic Lubrication

Your chainsaw needs lubrication to work at its optimum. This mechanism ensures that lubrication gets precisely where it has to be – the guide bar rails and the chainsaw links, locally and precisely.

The manufacturer suggests using the Oilomatic saw chain, which helps reduces oil consumption and the need for other types of lubrication by 50%.

Tool-Free Caps

Refilling the fuel and oil tanks is incredibly easy with the Stihl ms291. You won’t need any specific tools to open or close the caps. They’re hands-only, with no hidden tricks, pricey tools, or fiddly mechanisms.

Where to Buy

Probably one of the worst drawbacks of the Stihl MS 291 is that you can only buy it from an official dealer, which makes this saw hard to find if you live far from one of their network stores.

The same applies to any replacement parts you might need in the future, although some parts are available on Amazon, like the Oilomatic chain.

Really, this was one of the major points that put me off the Stihl ms291. The prices on the Stihl website start from just over $1000 for the version with the 18-inch bar. That’s a lot more expensive than the Husqvarna 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw.

Stihl MS 291 Farm Boss vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher Comparison

So, now that you know the basic features of the Husqvarna 455 Rancher and the Stihl ms291 Farm Boss, you might be wondering: What’s the best one?

Overall, these chainsaws are very similar. I mean, look at the Stihl ms 291 vs Husqvarna 455 specs! They have the same displacement, similar HP, and they’re comparable in weight. In addition, both of them have plenty of power to get hard jobs done.

Still,these saws have a few differencess, which might make or break the deal for you.

Stihl ms 291 vs Husqvarna 455 are in the “farm and ranch chainsaws” category. Not pro saws, but not gutless little saws either. You’d take them out on the farm for regular property maintenance and cutting your firewood.

You probably won’t use them for commercial purposes or to cut hardwood all day, although both saws come with a warranty for pro and commercial use. Stihl offers three months and Husqvarna 90 days. Comparable, again.  

Now that we have sifted through the options, it’s time to get back to our main question: Stihl ms 291 vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher:

CategoryStihl ms 291 Farm BossHusqvarna 455 Rancher
SpeedTieTie
Overall FeaturesTieTie
Power OutputTieTie
Operation & WeightLoserWinner
SafetyLoserWinner
Price & AvailabilityLoserWinner
LongevityTieTie
Overall ScoreLoser: 4/7Winner: 7/7

Read More: Stihl vs Husqvarna Chainsaw – Both Awesome Chainsaws but This One’s Best

Comparison: Speed

One massive difference between the Stihl ms 291 Farm Boss vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher is the max speed.

Stihl rates their “maximum permissible speed with cutting attachment” as 13,000 rpm. I take that as “do not exceed this rpm limit or risk potential damage.”

Husqvarna rates their “maximum power speed” as 9,000 rpm. I take that as “this is the peak power and torque point for maximum load cutting.”

Even though Stihl says their maximum rpm is 13,000, the maximum power point might be lower and comparable to Husqvarna’s.

And Husqvarna’s maximum might be a lot more before it blows up. You can probably run both of them at 10,000 rpm, which is a decent sweet spot.

Then again, without a tacho, it’s near impossible to tell what rpm you’re running at. 

Winner: TIE

Comparison: Overall Features

There’s no denying that these saws are good; both are durable, long-lasting, high-quality, and at the top end of the market.

Both of them also have pretty stellar reviews. They are undoubtedly suitable for most homeowners and mid-level professionals working on a farm, running a small firewood business, and so on.

The models are also similar in design and are both examples of the latest cutting-edge sawing technology in their niche.

Winner: TIE

Comparison: Power Output

After looking at the characteristics, you might have noticed that these two models offer quite the same power output of 55.5cm3. The bar length is similar, too (the Husqvarna Rancher is 18-20 inches, and the Stihl ms291 is 16-20 inches).

So, we’ll look at the other points further.

Winner: TIE

Comparison: Operation and Weight

Although the weight of the Stihl ms291 is less than the Husqvarna 455 without the bar, some users claim the latter feels lighter in operation. I agree.

What’s more, according to a whole bunch of reviews – and personally, my own experience is similar – the Rancher will make cutting wood a quicker process, while the Farm Boss is best for dealing with rough wood thanks to the low-end torque.

Winner: Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Comparison: Safety

Both companies paid a lot of attention to safety (emergency brake), health (anti-vibration system), and preserving the environment (less fuel and emissions) while designing their new models.

However, I saw an edge in the Rancher here, with chain brake and LowVib dampeners that seemed to give me a more reassuring and comfortable ride.

Winner: Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Comparison: Price and Availability

The simple truth is – they are almost identical in design, with very few negligible differences. I preferred the Rancher, but choosing a power tool is a personal decision.

So, unless you have been specifically looking for a particular feature, you will probably make a decision that also factors in price and availability.

The verdict here is pretty similar too. The Rancher and Farm Boss aren’t far apart in price; however, a critical factor here is availability.

I’ve already made clear that I don’t want to worry about visiting an official Stihl retailer any time I need support or spare parts. So I checked – the nearest official store is miles away!

The Rancher, on the other hand, is available online, which not only makes the purchase easier but also means the price at a local store will be lower compared to the Stihl ms291.

The same applies to all the accessories you might need or want for the tool. With Husqvarna, you won’t need to worry about availability and prices.

With the Stihl ms291, however, you’ll need to search for a reputable retailer that carries Stihl products or order from the website. Unfortunately, that means there are fewer opportunities for bargain hunting.

Winner: Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Comparison: Longevity

The Husqvarna 455 Rancher and Stihl ms291 will last you a very long time. Both saws are very durable, and I know from experience that either one will last you at least ten years if you maintain it properly.

So, ultimately, this one’s a tie.

Winner: TIE

What To Look For in a New Chainsaw

stihl-ms-291-vs-husqvarna-455-rancher
Choosing between these two excellent saws can be tricky. However, ultimately, the Husqvarna is a better budget pick that’s easier to find and get replacement parts for. On the other hand, the Stihl ms291 is a slightly more powerful, but somewhat more difficult to handle, chainsaw that comes at a premium price.

When I’m picking out a new chainsaw, there are three things that I keep at the forefront of my mind:

1. Guide bar

The longer the bar, the bigger trees it cuts. Of course, guide bars are typically made from hardened steel, so the extra length will add weight and make the chainsaw more challenging to handle.

Home-use-sized bars are normally no bigger than 12 inches, while professional chainsaws generally have an 18-inch bar or larger.

2. Safety

It’s clear as day that a chainsaw is an extremely dangerous instrument. After all, you’re spinning a toothed chain around a bar at an average of 88 to 96 kph. And even professionals aren’t safe from accidents.

The most important feature you are looking for is a chain brake, which immediately halts the chain when it senses a hazard.

Also, you’ll want to remember that holding this kind of weight over long periods is tiring, and tiredness can lead to an increased risk of accidents. So, choose a chainsaw with a low-vibration mechanism that isn’t too heavy.

3. Comfort 

Let’s face it, cutting wood will not take you five minutes. It’s a proper workout with heavy and dangerous equipment, where you need to think of precision as well, so the least you can do is buy a chainsaw that is easy to maneuver.

Consider the weight and look for an ergonomic handle. Try to get your hands on a demo model, if possible, like at an outdoor show or in-store. See what works for you before you take the plunge.

Just don’t be tempted to shell out cash if you do test one of these chainsaws at a retailer; online prices are almost always more competitive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to learn more about these powerful chainsaws? Here are some of the questions we’ve heard the most about these guys:

Where are Husqvarna Chainsaws Made?

Husqvarna chainsaws are made in the USA, Sweden, France, Germany, Brazil, and several other countries. For example, the Husqvarna 455 Rancher Chainsaw is made in Sweden, then assembled at Husqvarna’s assembly center in Oregon, USA.

Where are Stihl Chainsaws Made?

Stihl Chainsaws are made in various countries. Entry-level chainsaws from Stihl are made in China, and saws that do not meet EU emissions criteria are made in Brazil. Mid to professional-tier Stihl Chainsaws like the ms291 are made in the USA or European countries like Germany.

Is the Husqvarna 455 Rancher a Pro Saw?

The Husqvarna 455 Rancher is not a professional chainsaw, but it’s suitable for mid-level jobs that require you to cut large tree limbs or hardwood. It’s not the highest-tier chainsaw, but it’s perfect for farmers, homesteaders, and professionals who need a heavy-duty chainsaw for moderately difficult jobs.

How Much Horsepower (HP) Does a Husqvarna 455 Rancher Have?

A Husqvarna 455 Rancher has a 2.6kW / 3.5 Horsepower output. It has a 3.49 hp 2-stroke gas motor that is surprisingly fuel-efficient, which is part of why this saw is so spectacular. This chainsaw meets the world’s strictest carb emissions regulations, which is a major advantage in terms of sustainability and your budget.

The Verdict: Stihl MS291 Farm Boss vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher

To sum it up, the main questions you should ask yourself when buying one of these chainsaws are:

  • What exactly will you be using it for?
  • Are you willing to travel some distance whenever you need help or accessories?
  • How price-sensitive are you?

Our winner today is the Husqvarna 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw. The Rancher has more advanced safety features, is easier to handle, and is much easier to find. Plus, it’s also usually cheaper than the Stihl ms291.

Still, both chainsaws had very similar speeds, overall features, and maximum power outputs, and they’re equally suited to heavy-duty cutting applications. So, they are very, very similar and perform similarly out in the field. You really cannot go wrong with either saw.

More Reading:

Stihl ms291 vs Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Author

  • Chris Barry

    Chris has been into outdoorsy pursuits since he got his first home and backyard - or jungle. In taming the beast that is his back yard, he's wielded a great many power tools. When he's not outdoors, you can usually find him glued to a Mac and writing about his experiences, or short stories and novels. Among his life goals are to craft an outdoor writing space that's devoid of all distractions and filled with natural beauty. Or failing that, a nice spot under a tree with a large glass of gin will do.

Marc

Saturday 14th of January 2023

455 rancher chainsaw is a very powerful and very well chainsaw. But I don't think bad about Stihl MS 291 Thanks for this cool post.

Stephen

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

If you do a search for husqvarna 455 workshop manual, the max rpm shows 13500 rpm. It's a good source for specs, maintenance and repair. Thanks for the good comparison.

Elle

Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

Thank you Stephen!

Heath Stevens

Sunday 30th of October 2022

I don't know where you were looking at prices, but the MS 291 with a 20 in bat is $519 in the USA.

Marcel

Thursday 20th of October 2022

Bonne rédaction bravo mais quelque point n ont pas été abordé à mon avis Comme la duré de vie a long terme et la maniabilité et le démarrage à froid En partant je suis 1 fan de husqvarna et jonsered et j'ai eu des stihl pour ma part je trouve husqvarna se manie mieux c'est pour cette raison que j'ai 1 faible pour husqvarna mais par contre la duré de vie et le démarrage à froid je trouve que stihl est le numéro 1 ce qui en fait quand même 2 excellente marque

Elle

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

Hi there Marcel, thanks for stopping by! I had to use Google's translation service (which is a little clunky!) as I don't speak French - and I've copied the translation below for our readers. If there is anything incorrect, please let me know :) Starting out I am a fan of husqvarna and jonsered and I had stihl for my part I find husqvarna handles better it is for this reason that I have a weakness for husqvarna but on the other hand the lifespan and the starting cold I find that stihl is the number 1 which still makes it 2 excellent brand

Ryan

Thursday 25th of February 2021

Pretty good write up but I would have to disagree with you that the HP is comparable. There's almost an 8% difference and that's pretty massive. I have the MS291 and my brother has the 455 and I can tell you from experience that there is a noticable difference in power between them. We have both had the saws for several years and neither of us have had any issues with them but if your primary desire is performance, get the Stihl. You really can't go wrong with either saw though.

Elle

Monday 1st of March 2021

Hey there Ryan! I agree, you can't really go wrong with either saw. They both put out 3.5 HP as per the specs on their websites though... The Stihl is a bit lighter by almost 1lb but other than that, they're very comparable :D

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