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Stihl MS 381

Stihl MS 381

4.4 from 15 reviews

See the Best Petrol Chainsaws in 2019 as rated by Australians on ProductReview.com.au.

Saws dead after 3 months

Piece of junk. Barrel and piston are scored and apparently ruined after 3 months. STIHL says its had the wrong fuel mix even though all my other 6 saws that run on the exact same fuel start first pull.
Only STIHL saws worth potentially buying are the arborist saws and the 66 but be careful my mate bought a stihl saw and pulled it apart before he turned it on and the piston was rusty. If something goes wrong its never their fault.

Date PurchasedJul 2018

Pretty good saw for it's size!

I've been helping a tree lopper as a groundie & I've been using a 381 as a ground saw, while the climber is in the tree; it's a very nice saw for it's weight. I'm used to using a Stihl 660, a Makita 7901, or a Husky 395 - the 381 is lighter than the 660 & the 395 without giving up too much productivity. It's not as gutsy as the 7901, but it's all you need it to be. For 24" or larger gum tree logs, the bigger saws are quicker, but the 381 will still cut them, no dramas. I like it!

Date PurchasedJan 2018

Chinese garbage

After 10 to 12 hours use, 3 broken cylinder hold down screws and a scored bore, 038 on it. The carby is some Chinese brand never heard of. No gasket and diaphragm kit available. Thank god my 19 year old 365 husky is still going strong. Never another stihl in my life!

Date PurchasedMar 2015

Stihl MS381 MAGNUM. The ultimate medium to large saw.

I've had 2 STIHL MS381 Magnums 1 after the other. My younger brother's got 1 as well. My dad's got an original 038 Magnum. We brought them to do commercial firewood & logging. They are a high torque saw. Very well suited for Australian Hardwood. I'm running 20" & 25" bars & chains. Have had a 36" skipper tooth ripping bar & chain on an Alaskan Mark 3 mill. Can't fault the saw. Thoroughly recommend them.

Date PurchasedDec 2012

Only firewood saw you will ever need

A reliable grunt machine, 3.9kw and 20inch bar.This saw eats anything you throw at it. Very managable and responsive unit. Cuts 30inch logs no problem, pine, macro, NZ native etc. Uses 900mls of fuel per hour flat out. I buried the saw into 30inch log and didnt slow it down. 72.2cc and 6.6kgs in weight (its not a plastic saw). In a nut shell, Brilliant. Edit 6-8-18.......saw is still going strong with no faults, honestly bomb proof

Date PurchasedJun 2016

Love the 381 and also the 038

Performance,reliable,strong,excellent saw love it gets the job done in no time.The saw has a very long life span.My granddad first saw was a stihl 038 he has bein doin loogin all his life and also my dad. For my dad he also love the stihl 038 and the ms 381.

Awesome chainsaw.

Friend recommended the ms 381 to me. As he is a treelopper, or arborist to some, i took his advise. So glad i did as this is a beast. So much grunt to rip through the toughest mature hardwood gum. Older but bulletproof technology that is super reliable. Will flood if starting sequence isn't followed.

one tough saw....

I've had a ms381 for 6 years now and it has NEVER let me down. I fall trees and cut firewood for a living and would not hesitate to buy another when the time comes. A well balanced saw with a 20inch bar(standard) that can handle plunge cuts, ripping logs, felling trees and will cut all the firewood you could ever need! The internal clutch mechanism makes swapping bars and chains a breeze...and the side chain tensioner eliminates the burnt and scraped knuckles associated with other brand chainsaws. In the time i have owned this machine, i have only ever replaced filters, chains and bars etc...the engine has NEVER been in for a service and still runs strong. The decompression valve and elasto-start handle make starting the saw a breeze despite its size. I have run a 24 inch bar and chain on this unit and it has plenty of power to burn. A brilliant all round saw for the professional user.

Working well, starts with about 10 pulls all up when cold, one when hot.

I sold my 15 year old Husky to buy the Stihl, main reason was that I couldnt buy another husky locally.
This 381 is a size bigger than my 365 Husqvarna.
So far quite happy with it, mostly been doing softwood and some hardwood. (redgum and other) its been ripping through the wood. Still using the straight edge chain.
Going to buy a bigger bar, 25 inch as I have some bigger stumps to cut through.

But so far really happy with the chainsaw, its a bit harder to pull start than the old saw, but that can be a good thing.

1 comment
Still going well.

One of the best items I have purchased

I bought the 381 after some basic research 18 months ago. I had a small Poulan so this was a big step up from a 33cm to a 50 cm bar. Sourcing firewood for home is getting harder living in a capital city - Melbourne, as big timber is often all you can find. I have had no issues with the saw other then hanging onto it carefully when it gets going as it felt like a handful when I first got it. I also get it sharpened after every 4 tanks of fuel rather than do it myself as it is only $10 at the dealer and cleaning the filter and rotating the bar is simple. Fuel and oil use are fine as i do not use more than 10 litres of fuel a year. This has been fine for me at the upper end of the home use scale. Anything bigger is getting up to $2k which is hard to justify for occasional use.

MS 381 Stihl what a great saw

Purchased this saw a couple of months ago for firewood cutting; home use. Had been through 3 cheap saws in 8 years and wanted one that would last. Liked the basic power of this saw. Have cut around 6 ton (green and dry/ dirty gum) so far, rebuilding my home stocks for next year. The saw starts and runs really reliably so far. Extremely happy with the ease of use (particularly toolless oil and fuel caps, and the side chain tensioner that work great). The stihl chains are top quality. After 8 years and some good advice with this saw, I can finally sharpen them properly. Would recommend the stihl shop in Enfield Adelaide and Leon's advice. Would recommend a stihl dealer even for the money- there seem to be a lot of counterfeits out there. I am using a 20" bar- power through dry or green gum is excellent with no bogging down. Very pleased with both stihl chain types I've used (skip full chisel for green wood, semi chisel full comp for more dirty dry wood), very low stretch chains and have yet to have one come off the bar.
I'm not affiliated with stihl and pay for all my own gear.
Reliable, powerful, ease of starting and use, serviceable.
If you buy the wrong air filter it's impossible to start!

I'm thinking of a new chainsaw either the MS381 or the MS391.I know the 391 is "newer" but was told the 381 is the better buy? Almost two years down the track and this saw is still like new. Have been through one bar and several chains, and am extremely happy with its performance. Regarding the question above, I was informed that the MS391 is newer technology, but that the MS381 was a far gutsier and a more commercial grade saw. So far I've seen nothing to discredit this. Cutting small volumes (up to 6 ton per year max), I'm not fussed if my MS381 uses slightly more oil or fuel than the newer technology. All I care about is that it is reliable, powerful, and long lived. And another year later, I still have plenty of cut wood, so I've not used my saw in well over 12 months. Last week due to local bushfires, needed to cut a heap of wood that had fallen across fences etc. - I tipped out the old fuel, filled it up and it started first time. Love this saw!!!!

Great saw, long lasting design.

The MS381 Magnum saw is essentially an updated Stihl 038 Magnum. The 038 Magnum is well known as one of Stihl's best models, and the MS381 takes its best features and improves them. A decompression valve has been added for easier starting, and the air filter and carb system updated.

The MS381 is an older design that does not comply with recent Euro and US emissions standards like Stihl's new models do. It's a torquey 72cc engine which uses a lot of fuel and revs quite low relative to the newer models. It's a proven performer that will outlast any Bunnings bit of gear. I used a Stihl 038 prior to this which is 10 years old and still going strong.

I use it for firewood on stringy bark and yellow box and it handles them like butter.

Like most Stihl gear, it's expensive, but should be the last saw you need to buy. Like they say, quality is remembered long after price is forgotten. Don't forget your safety gear.

UPDATE: I bought this saw in 2012, and 5 very tough seasons of collecting firewood later (now Feb 2017), it's still going strong. Have had the bar dressed a few times, and gone through plenty of chain, but the saw itself is excellent. I'd upgrade to six stars if it was possible. I give it a regular annual service/tune up at the local mower shop, and it's still a strong, reliable saw. Starts 2nd/3rd pull every time, just make sure you follow the start sequence!
Reliability, great performance.

Date PurchasedMay 2012

Great saw

Great saw. Bought this after having a stihl 023 for cutting the odd bit of firewood. I then got the 318 after purchasing wood fire place and needed more power in a saw. It was like of getting out of a lancer into a Ferrari. Great power and can use this saw all day it's not really that heavy. Makes job whole lot easier buying a decent saw. A week before I bought the 318 tried my luck with a buamer ag 72 cc Chinese $200 piece of [censored word removed]. Honestly does no where near compare in power and quality , even though being the same cc's. save the dramas just buy a stihl

I liked the idea of the 023 stihl with quick chain tensioner, where as this you have to loosen two bar nuts off. Very minor con though

Well balanced all rounder

After much consideration I purchased a 381 and I am delighted. perfect for most applications.Sure not as much Grunt as a 660,but unless you are full time forestry worker the 381 is perfect.The standard 20" bar is well balanced and easy on the arms.I do also run a 30" for the big stuff,although does make it nose heavy and would not use everyday,but good to know she can handle it.Very reliable ,has never missed a beat.
Does suck a bit of petrol,

Perfect firewood saw

I bought a 381 about a year ago to use to cut firewood (grey box, yellow box, red gum etc) and have found it to be perfect for the job. Great power for the weight, runs a 20 inch bar nicely and is just very comfortable to use. Yes it does chew some fuel but the fuel cost to run a chainsaw is always minor compared to the fuel for the ute. I chose this model over the newer, more hi-tech models because my Dad has punished one of the previous 038s for about 20 years without it missing a beat, there is a lot to be said for proven technology. Great saw - would recommend it to anyone serious about cutting firewood or for other agricultural apps. Note: there are quite a few fairly convincing fakes of the ms381 being advertised for sale, I would suggest only buying from an auth Stihl dealer...

Questions & Answers

How much the MS-381 cost? How can I get a chain(blade) for this saw? Pliz help me
1 answer
Around $1895 nz dollars will get you a new one however you can pick up 381 second hand for $1200 and under. They come with chain and bar generally unless you only buy the powerhead. Chains can be picked up from your stihl dealer $64 nz dollars to fit a 20inch bar. Oregon make a good cheaper option in bars and chains and are just as good, hope this helps ☺

What size file would I use to sharpen the chain of a stihl 381?
1 answer
Mine has a 063 gauge 3/8 pitch chain so takes a 5.5 mm file

Is this run in petrol?
2 answers
i dont know. i run mine on used chip oilWarning to others who trust productreview.com.au - disregard this comment from Callum P. Use only what's recommended by the manufacturer in your Stihl chain saw.


Stihl MS 381
CategoryPetrol Chainsaws
Price (RRP) $1,529.00
Bar Length50 cm
Weight6.6 kg
Engine Displacement72.2 cc
Fuel Tank Capacity680 mL
Release dateJan 2009

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