Used and abused for 20 years.
Bought this saw brand new in 2000 as we had moved onto acreage and the Husky 45 special was just too small for the red gum I had available. At the time it was a pricey saw just under a thousand dollars. There is no decompression with this model, so starting is not fun for the weak of arm. It needs a powerful few pulls to prime up and it will snatch back hard if you are half hearted about it. Once started it is rock solid and will start easily with a drop or ground start when warm. I have always stuck with the 20 inch bar and cut timber up ...to 36" as needed - I have rarely had the luxury of cutting green or soft timber so this saw is basically hammered through hard abrasive Oz timber all the time. In the whole time I have had the saw I've serviced it myself apart from an annual dealer service, always run quality synthetic lube at 40:1 and name brand chain and bar oil. Fuel always mixed at the time and dosed with Sta-bil. Mostly I've run 95 octane in recent years to avoid ethanol. I have no idea if using fuel that may have had ethanol in it caused the early demise of the fuel pickup tubing in the early years, about year three and five from memory but since I have strictly stuck to 95 fuel and dosed it the current pickup is fifteen years old. Only other fault I had was in the first few months when changing the chain one of the studs wound out - took it back to the dealer and they fixed it cheerfully, never had an issue since. Gone through three or four drive sprockets, about ten bars and I have no idea how many chains... Never bothered hotting up or fiddling as it does just fine dead stock for me, I tune a little on the rich side to cover hot days and really can't feel that the saw is weaker than new, certainly gets through the same volume of wood in a day as it ever has - not sure if I can say the same about myself... I sharpen my chains on a machine now days and generally have three or four spares ready to go. When out cutting wood I just swap out chains as they lose sharpness and no longer sharpen in the field - way faster and keeps the momentum going. I had this saw rattling around in the tray of the ute for years ready to clear a fence or road, didn't worry about it getting wet or sunburned, I probably strip and clean the saw up once a year so it tends to look very uncared for, and I should clean the air filter much more often. But every time I grab it it fires up and does whatever is asked of it. Keeping the chain tension right is a bit of an art form. Always pays to have the chain tension loosened of when finished to avoid it tightening up and straining or bending the crank. When I first use it even though the tension is bang on to start with it will slacken off significantly after the first few cuts so regular adjustment is needed. Only time I fitted a 24" bar it was too big, unless you run a skip tooth chain which would let you probably run a much longer bar - realistically this is a serious domestic saw, but it is not a professional saw. As this one ages I admit to considering picking up another one second hand rather than going for the latest model - this one has been so reliable it is hard to see how a new one can improve matters. A decompression device would be nice as I head into my late fifties, so far so good though - really that's the only grizzle I've ever had with this saw, starting requires total commitment. Everything else has been fantastic.
Purchased in June 2000 for A$899.00.
Dont buy one. 10 hours use from new and now has a scored piston and barrel. Stihl australia says there was saw dust in air filter so no warranty. Been chopping wood for 30 plus years and never a problem. 1500 bucks worth of crap. Just purchased a 455 husqvana. Shame on you stihl
Purchased in March 2017 for A$1,500.00.
I have had Stihl saws for over 30 years , this model over heated after 1 hour use , I only cut personal firewood during the Autum months. probably had only 100 hrs total use. I did some checking after the repair shop gave me the bad news, this Model has a design flaw , with loose gates on the bearings ,This model was recalled in the USA. I have read a lot of reports of these expensive saws failing.
something should be done , class action!
what a lemon !!!!!
had a old 029 for many years,[18 at least!] ,rugged reliable,great saw.,but it was getting a bit long in the tooth. my good wife decided i deserved a new one for my birthday. purchased a m s 391 along with stihl engine oil which gave me a extra 2 year warranty .[lol].it seemed ok ,but the bar wear was surprising.after 4 months it blew a hole in piston . neither the agent or stihl aust., wanted to know ,as i had obviously ,used the wrong fuel mix ,used old fuel,or flogged it.all of which is complete nonsense. have reverted to my older , smaller Victa pro ,using the same fuel mix ,cutting the same fence posts ,no problem,.Comment anyone? Class action ??
MS-390 v 391 AKA mine v Parkers (stars Reflect 391)
This is real life experience & I hope good advice backed with facts & observations to help others if faced with choosing between the 2 or in fact most of the new units (sadly)
I have several saws that I use on a regular basis, mainly older Stihl, though I have many others ( collector) & am mechanically inclined.
Ok, my 390. Purchased 2nd hand over 8 years ago, treated mercilessly ( I mean that ) but well maintained.
A great mid sized saw, well weighted, plenty of punch. Run 20 or 16 inch bars, job dependant, its happy with either & petrol usage is just fine.
Fuel & oil flip & twist caps are a blessing.
Why they Dont have captive bar nuts on the chain cover is beyond me, I guess they love to sell nuts.
Useless chainsaw and hopeless warranty
Brought this saw new with extended warranty in 2016 for personal use
Paid $1400 and stihl oil as well
10 hours use and it failed completely
Prison and barrel scored
Blamed me for the damage. I have an old 024 I've used since 2001 with hundreds of hours use and no trouble.
Took stihl to consumer affairs to fight the warranty claim on this MS391 and no luck
Once a good brand. Now a disgrace
Won't buy stihl equipment anymore...
Purchased at Midland stihl for A$1,400.00.
391 is a Dud
Purchased new, used about 10 hours over a three year period. Always used Stihl oil and mix rate of 50-1, and never over worked. It died cutting stringybark. Pulled apart, bearings totally failed, major scores on the piston and bore. I’d say the crank is shot as well. Cost $1,100 new and now a piece of junk. Don’t want to throw good money away fixing it as more than likely it will fail again. Stihl have blotted there copy book with me that’s for sure!
Note have a little MS 170, done twice the work and runs like a dream ...
Purchased in June 2017 for A$1,100.00.
My Neighbor purchased a Brand New Stihl MS 391, he was meticulous with the correct fuel mix, after 4 hours work, it stopped. He took it back to the dealer, they replaced the cylinder head and piston, it had blown a hole in the Piston. This time he purchased all the fuel mix from Stihl to be absolutely sure everything was right. He only got a few hours of work from it the second time and EXACTLY the same thing happened. When he took it back to Stihl they pulled it apart, placed the pieces in a box and refused to fix it. Again a hole in the pisto...n. They blamed him for the incorrect fuel mix. They offered to sell him another one. This seems to be a common problem with the MS 391 across the board. For the Price, he paid $1400, it is a very poor representation by Stihl. The Cylinder head by comparison to all the other Stihl models is almost 4 times the price to replace. I don't think anyone would replace a cylinder head on the MS 391 with confidence and expect it to last. His chainsaw is STIHL BROKEN, and a piece of junk in the bottom of a cardboard box.
Purchased in February 2019 for A$1,399.00.
Don’t believe the ads!
Farmboss died after <100 hrs.
I’ve always considered stihl a high quality brand but I’m done now. Bought this saw because advertised as having the grunt and longevity for farm work. Had it for 5 years, used it sparingly, wrapped it in cotton wool and the dealer said engine is done and you’ll need a new one. Would have been cheaper to buy wood for 5 years. It stihl looks new.... sorry couldn’t help myself.
So much for the “pulling the 20 year old stihl out of the shed and it starts first time” crap they dribble.
Purchased in January 2014 for A$1,300.00.
Junk - Very Disappointed
After less than a week old and less than an hour of use the ignition coil failed.
I needed the saw, dealer took the saw from me for a week only to replace the ignition coil under warranty. I requested a replacement saw but they wouldn't oblige.
Now since I've used it for a while the thing has died and dealer says it's not worth fixing. It was running fine right up until it died. The chain was sharp, it had fresh fuel and was being used to cut some small logs which was light work for it. Anyway, it suddenly lost power and stalled and could not...be restarted. Piston melted is what the dealer said. Before I took it in, I checked the plug, air filter, exhaust and put fresh fuel in it. It still would not start. If you have problems with these saws, you'll find the first thing the dealer blames is the fuel. I was prepared for that and to my horror, this dealer said there was no oil in my freshly mixed fuel that I just put in. I knew this was not true and I asked for the data and caught them out. Anyway, the chainsaw has died from apparently working it too hard. It was certainly not being worked hard when it failed, and the reason I bought this saw was to work it hard when I needed to! The saw did not meet my expectations. I have cheaper smaller saws running for years which I have worked no harder than this saw. This machine is overpriced junk in my view. Certainly the saw that was sold to me is junk. Extremely disappointed.
MS390 GET ONE IF YOU CAN, EVEN SECOND HAND ! BEST EVER
Got my MS390 5 years ago, been cutting Australian Hardwood to fuel our furnace which heats a large Queenslander home. We get down to minus 11c in winter outside. This saw has not missed a beat and we go through a lot of wood! My wife likes the house very, very warm. Would not swop this saw for a new model, just replace anything that needs it. Keep up the oil. Mods done, Polish the ports & open up the muffler and "super tuned" (google it). Run a full chisel teeth and keep them sharp. If you can persuade someone to sell you one second hand, grab it with both hands.
Purchased in January 2014 at private seller for A$600.00.
I have owned Stihl for over 30 years, I purchased my Farm Boss about 3 years ago, I keep it in a unheated Barn in sub zero Pocono Mountain weather. It always starts easily and is one of the best cutting saws I have ever used. The only thing I do special with this saw is I use the pre-mixed fuel Stihl fuel.
Purchased in May 2016.
Stihl chainsaw is a disgrace
I bought a Stihl chainsaw 3 years ago. Didn't use it much because I didn't have time. Now I'm retired and have trees that need cut. Got it out of my climate controlled garage, and the housing cracked when I started to use it. Bar oil just runs out of it. Took it to dealer to find out the housing costs as much as the saw did. I haven't cut 2 chords of wood with it. It is junk. I will never buy a Stihl product. This saw is very disappointing.
Probably got 10-15 hrs of use out of it. Didn’t use it much but it’s still barely out of warranty. Really like my ms290 but obviously quality has dipped dramatically.
Purchased in March 2018 for A$600.00.
Don't buy Stihl , I bought a stihl MS250 for $695 and motor died after 4 months ( or 10 medium tress cuts) . Stihl dealer said we didnt mixed enough oil and refused to pay the repair motor cost of $475, But we always mixed 100 per 5L. We bought the MS391 while we waiting for the dispute. Buy after few days use, the MS391 wont stop now we have to bring it back to repair. SO DO NOT buy STIHL produsts, waste time
Annie from New Zealand
Purchased in February 2019 for A$1,295.00.
don't buy 391, no back up and Stihl blame operator
I have owned many chainsaws over last 25 years through our hardwood timber biz, recently bought 3 units 391 and 1st unit lasted 4 weeks when compression died and can see a hole in piston after spark plug removed. all 3 units are not working with same problem, usage is moderate and maintained. enough power but no reliability and Stihl will not support unless we pay money to repair. very poor form. Careful what you buy and as newer Stihl saws too many electrics and lighter wight, not as robust. using my 20 year old 268 Husky rather than 391 with latest features but no performance. by the way my 18 month old 381 is running well!!
Owned my 390 since 2008 it’s always started and cut over 100 ton of hardwood , jarra, stringy bark yellow box iron wood black wood white gum
It’s always started you have to follow the procedure
Choke on pull till it has the first fire then flick the choke to fast idle put chain break on then it starts flick the accelerator and it idles
I always clean the air filter and measure my oil with a measuring cup to 5 litres of petrol
After use I always take the bar off and clean with compressed air I run a file across the teeth at 30-35 degrees to sharpen only 2 passes needed
I've never taken it in to a dealer iv changed the plug once in 10 years
I just cut 10 ton of wood this week thought how good this saw is !!!
Good saw if only it would run all the time (2)
Follow up to my last review where I could not get the saw to run. There is a specific starting procedure that makes it run. First, pull the trigger all the way, then flip the choke lever to full choke. Pull the starter cord 3 times, not 4 times, and not 2 times, 3 times only, then flip the choke to half choke and pull away, it should start with in the first 2 or 3 pulls. If this doesn't work, it is flooded, and you need to pull the spark plug, spin it over to get rid of the gas and start the procedure over.
Still cuts amazingly well onc...
Good when going but hard to start and died early
Bought the farm boss to cut blanks for turning and slab cutting for furniture. Had a fair bit of work clearing fallen trees after recent cyclone and some cuts of a full tank at a time doing slabs. After 11 months and about 20 hrs work it upped and died. Always used 40 to 1 mix but it had lost power and stopped 10 min into a slab cut,never to go again. Dealer says I cooked it but I would expect it to cope with long cuts at high revs. No fouling of air vents or other contributing factors. Starting always a bit of an issue. Never less than 6-8 pulls and often flooded and needed a rest
Husband very happy, wish we had bought one 20 years ago. Slices through sugar gum like butter, makes the job so much easier. Light to hold and to maneuvers. Received a free chain with it , so wuite a bargain. Wishes he hasn't wasted his time with inferior brands & got one of these years ago
Questions & Answers
What size bar to suit ms 390
16" - 24" standard range. The standard 20" seems to work best for general use, coping with full depth cuts in Australian hardwoods but you know you are using all of the blade... They might bog down a bit if you try to fit 24" and that is the largest recommended bar length - good for soft woods at that length, but probably not for ironbark... Anything bigger you probably want to consider a skip tooth chain.
Is the 390 a better saw than 391 to buy second hand.can I run a 24 in chain on it?
The comparison in experiences between the 390 compared to the 391(model to replace the 390) is like compairing cheese and chalk.
The 390 is a workhorse but the 391 is a dud !
Seek out a trusty 390 and do a rebuild (after market parts, not genuine) yourself. It is a great way to learn about your saw and make it your 'best mate'. Shop around for the parts and check the reviews on the parts and finish quality. Be prepared to do some cleaning up with a 'dremmel' to port and polish and give a good clean up.
If the bore is overly smooth (mirror finish) run some honing stones with plenty of oil to refinish the bore.
Recommend considering the pop top (raised top) piston.
Increase the fuel 1/4 turn as your new mate will be working harder and this will help to minimise overheating. Google 'super tuning' for chainsaws
Take the time and enjoy the journey.
what price for Stihl Chainsaw Model MS391 FARMBOSS with 16" bar
ProductReview.com.au has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence our content moderation policies in any way, though ProductReview.com.au may earn commissions for products/services purchased via affiliate links.