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Stihl MS 180 C-BE Review

A smaller high-performance 2-cycle model that requires minimal knowledge of gas-powered machines
Stihl MS 180 C-BE
Credit: Stihl
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Price:   $260 List
Pros:  Solid saw performance, easy to start, great tensioning system, light for this type of saw
Cons:  Noisy, short bar for this type of saw
Manufacturer:   Stihl
By Ross Patton ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 21, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Saw Performance - 35% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 30% 8.0
  • Power Performance - 25% 8.0
  • Noise - 10% 4.0

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a lighter and smaller gas-powered chainsaw, the Stihl MS 180 C-BE is a great choice. With a 16-inch bar and a 32cc engine, it wasn't designed to be the most powerful model, but during our hands-on testing, we found that it cuts surprisingly well. The Stihl has an innovative pull-start system called Easy2Start that was designed to require minimal energy to fire the engine up. Although it isn't the lightest chainsaw in our review, it's incredibly lightweight for a gas-powered version. To top it off, it has a tool-free chain-tensioning system that is super easy to use.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Solid saw performance, easy to start, great tensioning system, light for this type of sawGreat cutting performance, cord stopper, intuitive tensioning system, oil flow is adjustableSpectacular battery life, two chain speed settings, barely consumes bar and chain oilDecent saw performance, light for this type, good oil tank cap location, extremely affordableCompact, light, quiet, affordable
Cons Noisy, short bar for this type of sawOil tank location is not ideal, cord placement could be better, limitations of corded toolsNot the strongest cutting power, plastic chain tensioning system, electronic controls slow down sawingMediocre chain tensioning system, slow wind-up timeMediocre battery life, slow at making cuts
Bottom Line A smaller high-performance 2-cycle model that requires minimal knowledge of gas-powered machinesA corded model that quickly slices through wood and has an easy-to-use tensioning systemA good degree of performance and an exceptional battery life at a reasonable priceIf budget is your overall purchasing decision-making factor, this average saw will get the job done for cheapThis cordless electric chainsaw is our favorite 20V model for small, quick projects around the yard
Rating Categories Stihl MS 180 C-BE Makita UC4051A Husqvarna 120i Worx WG303.1 Worx WG322
Saw Performance (35%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Ease of Use (30%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Power Performance (25%)
8.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Noise (10%)
4.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Stihl MS 180 C-BE Makita UC4051A Husqvarna 120i Worx WG303.1 Worx WG322
Model Number 180 C-BE UC4051A 120i WG303.1 WG322
Bar Length 16 inches 16 inches 14 inches 16 inches 10 inches
Power Source Gasoline Corded Electric Battery Corded Electric Battery
Measured Weight 11 lbs, 10 oz 12 lbs, 6 oz 10 lbs, 11 oz 10 lbs 13 oz 6 lbs, 10 oz
Measured Battery Weight n/a n/a 2 lbs, 12 oz n/a 1 lbs, 10 oz
Amps n/a 15 A 4.2 A 15 A 2 A
Motor Size 32cc 2-Cycle 15 Amp 36V 15 Amp 20V
Measured Runtime 36 minutes n/a 40 minutes n/a 22 minutes
Measured Run Time Eco Mode n/a n/a 54 mins n/a n/a
Recharge/Refuel Time 1 min n/a 120 min n/a 180 min
Measured Average Cutting Time 7.7 seconds 5.7 seconds 13.5 seconds 7.4 seconds 38.4 seconds
Measured Wind Up Time 0.5 seconds 0.5 seconds 0.5 seconds 1 second 2 seconds
Measured Decibel Reading at 48in 103.4 dBa 94.1 dBa 85.9 dBa 99.1 dBa 80.0 dBa
Control Type Thumb safety w/ chain brake Side safety w/ chain brake Electronic button, side safety and brake Side safety w/ chain brake Thumb safety
Chain Replacement and Tensioning Type Tool free Tool free Tool free Tool free Tool free
Metal Bucking Spikes Yes Yes No Yes No
Oil Conservation 8 9 8 8 8
Bar & Chain Tank Location and Type Side Top Side, flip-up Top Top
Measured Body Dimesions 14 x 8 x 7.5 inches 19 x 6 x 6 inches 19 x 7 x 7 inches 17 x 12 x 6.5 inches 13 x 8 x 7.5 inches

Our Analysis and Test Results

In the world of chainsaws, Stihl is a world-renowned brand. Used by both professionals and consumers alike, they truly do make a chainsaw for just about everyone. With their compact gas-powered model, the MS 180 C-BE, they take their technology and knowledge acquired from decades of experience and package it up into a light and compact 2-cycle model that is a great choice for many people.

Performance Comparison


Stihl MS 180 C-BE chainsaw - not only is the stihl ms 180 c-be lighter than most gas-powered...
Not only is the Stihl MS 180 C-BE lighter than most gas-powered models, but it's also lighter than some top-tier battery-powered and cordless saws.
Credit: Ross Patton

Likes


When it comes to cutting performance, the Stihl MS 180 C-BE showed some surprisingly strong results considering its engine size and bar length. With an average cut time of 7.7 seconds, this model beat out most of the field during our head-to-head lumber slicing competition.


After running our time-trial cutting test, we walked around our test site to see how the MS 180 C-BE handled in the field. We found this 16-inch model to be the perfect tool for many cuts, especially branches that required lifting the saw above the waist.

Stihl MS 180 C-BE chainsaw - the stihl ms 180 c-be is light enough to easily lift above your...
The Stihl MS 180 C-BE is light enough to easily lift above your waist but is powerful enough to handle larger cuts with ease.
Credit: Ross Patton

The Stihl MS 180 C-BE has several elements that add to the overall user-friendliness of the machine. This model uses Stihl's trademark Easy2Start system that, according to the manufacturer, allows you to pull the start cord two-thirds slower than other models to fire up the engine.

Stihl MS 180 C-BE chainsaw - the starter housing on this model is a bit bulkier than other...
The starter housing on this model is a bit bulkier than other models, but the system contained inside makes starting the machine much easier.
Credit: Ross Patton

We love the tool-free chain tensioning system integrated into the MS 180 C-BE. All you have to do to loosen or tighten the chain is fold out the lever and twist the large wheel to loosen the bar clamp, then use the wheel to tighten or loosen the chain, and then tighten the bar back down.

Stihl MS 180 C-BE chainsaw - the chain tensioning system on this model is basically...
The chain tensioning system on this model is basically self-explanatory.
Credit: Ross Patton

This model also has an easily accessible air filter and metal bucking spikes — both must-haves to be considered a high-performance chainsaw.

Metal bucking spikes are always a plus.
Metal bucking spikes are always a plus.
A flathead screwdriver unlocks the air filter and cylinder cover.
A flathead screwdriver unlocks the air filter and cylinder cover.
Having easy access to the air filter allows you to quickly clean it...
Having easy access to the air filter allows you to quickly clean it and get back to work.

During our power performance assessment, we found that the Stihl MS 180 C-BE doesn't have the longest runtime, although we must mention that it did run longer than any other 2-cycle model in our review. One of the main advantages that gas-powered models have over battery-powered models is how quickly they can be refueled. Mixing a gallon of 2-cycle gasoline takes mere seconds, and refueling the saw does not take much longer. While people with cordless electric models are waiting for their batteries to charge, with a gas-powered model, you'll already be back to cutting — and in locations that corded electric models simply cannot go.


Dislikes


The primary limiting element of the Stihl MS 180 C-BE is its bar length. If you're looking to buck logs all day or fell larger trees, you're going to need to go with a bigger model.

Stihl MS 180 C-BE chainsaw - the stihl ms 180 c-be is perfectly fine for smaller rounds but can't...
The Stihl MS 180 C-BE is perfectly fine for smaller rounds but can't handle larger logs.
Credit: Ross Patton

Our only other complaint about the MS 180 C-BE is the amount of noise it emits. All chainsaws are loud, but 2-cycle gas-powered models are really loud. Also, unlike electric chainsaws, gas-powered models need to idle between cuts, so your ears only get a break when you completely shut the engine off.


Value


Considering that some lower-scoring chainsaws cost more than the Stihl MS 180 C-BE, we think that this model is a solid investment for those in the market for a compact gas-powered chainsaw.

Conclusion


The Stihl MS 180 C-BE did not earn the highest overall score in our review, but we compared it side-by-side with models that have longer bars and larger engines. Considering its size and weight, this machine does a terrific job of cutting. It's astoundingly easy to start, and there are no tools or knowledge required for tensioning the chain. If you want a 2-cycle chainsaw that won't break your back or break the bank, this version is a great choice.

Ross Patton
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