Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ and MSA 200 C-BQ cordless chainsaws

Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ - image: HW
Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ - image: HW
All the advantages of cordless saws, as mentioned above, apply to these two recently improved models. Upgrading sees both the power and torque increased - cutting capacity is up by 17 per cent on the 160 and by 30 per cent on the 200. Chain speed is increased by 18 and 30 per cent respectively. Runtimes are 35 minutes with the AP200 battery on the 160 and 45 minutes on the 200. Charging takes 55 minutes and 75 minutes using the active-cooling AL300 quick charger.

Stihl says these machines can be used in wet conditions, though we wonder about water ingress into the battery's bucket-style receiver. We found small amounts of sawdust in the buckets after using the saws for testing purposes. But Prangley appears to enjoy using the Stihls and finds the 200 lightweight, well-balanced and nice to use.

The battery saws generate much discussion. The Stihl has no equivalent to the light that indicates the Husky saw is "live". Simply drop the battery in the top and the Stihls are ready to roll. That worries Taylor and Doble. You can check the battery charge by pushing a button to illuminate the LEDs, but they go off automatically after five seconds.

"There's nothing to say it's on and even though there is a trigger lock-out separate to the trigger you can squeeze them together," says Cullen. "Most children couldn't pull a recoil starter. What I would like to see on battery saws is a child lock, like on washing machines."

So what are the plus points of the 160 and 200? We love the positive chain brakes and the tool-free oil caps. These saws are excellent for situations where you frequently need to stop and start the saw.

There are no cold start issues. They are quiet. They should appeal to landscapers, gardeners, those working in noise-sensitive sites and anyone undertaking carving work.

Models: MSA 160 C-BQ (12in)/MSA 200 C-BQ (14in)
Battery: Li-ion integrated (backpack also offered)
Motor: EC (brushless)
Recommended bar: 30cm/35cm
Chain pitch: 1.5in Picco chain
Oil tank capacity: 0.21 litres
Oil pump type: Automatic
Sound pressure: 84dB(A)
Sound power level: 99dB(A)/98dB(A)
Vibration: 2.7m/s2 front, 2.9m/s2 rear/4.6m/s2 front, 3.9m/s2 rear
Weight excluding battery and cutting equipment: 2.7kg/2.9kg
Price: MSA 160: £285; AP200 battery: £118.50; AL300 quick
charger: £67/MSA 200: £295; AP300 battery: £180; AL300
quick charger: £67 (all including VAT)
Tel: Stihl - 01276 20202

Tested This Issue
- Husqvarna 536Li XP
- Husqvarna 545
- Stihl MS 261 C-M
- Husqvarna 560 XP
- Husqvarna 450
- Husqvarna T540 XP II
- Stihl MSA 160 C-BQ & MSA 200 C-BQ

Review Panel

Darren Chambers, arboriculture teacher and apprenticeship assessor, Bridgwater College; Claire Prangley, gardener, Cannington Campus and Walled Gardens; Jim Doble, Sedgemoor Tree Services; Joe Taylor, Mendip Trees & Landscapes; Mike Cullen, head of arboriculture, Bridgwater College.

Perhaps more than any other power tool, the chainsaw is a matter of personal preference. Depending on the task, different users may want a compact, powerful, top-handled or even battery saw. But with so much choice available, there should be something for everybody.

We put a wide range to test at Bridgwater College's arboriculture department. We look at the Stihl 261 C-M, a popular machine recently improved. Four petrol models from Husqvarna include updated units and the Mark II top handle. Then we consider rear-handled battery chainsaws from Husqvarna and Stihl.

Conditions on the day were warm and sunny. Note: the Mark II T540 XP is for use by professional arborists only and should not be used on the ground. Lacking time to rig up, we gave it a thorough inspection but hope to run it on another occasion.

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