Review of the Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ

After spending the summer having fun in the sun, doing many  different projects and just enjoying the East Coast’s short summer while totally neglecting this humble chainsaw blog, we are finally ready to bring you our review of Stihl’s entry into the world of lithium ion outdoor power equipment: the MSA 200 C-BQ.

The Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ is a great saw.  It will make a believer out of most naysayers who doubt that a battery powered saw has any place in the stable of “serious” operators.  This saw will not replace large felling saws or a dedicated firewood cutter, but then it was never intended too.  The 200 C could replace your small limbing saw or your arborist’s saw.  It’s performance is comparable to most sub 40 cc gas saws, although it’s power lies more in it’s torque than in high chain speeds.  What really makes this saw stand out is it’s remarkable ease of use, and its clean, quiet, practically maintenance free operation.  The MSA 200 C-BQ is so quick and easy to use that you will find you reach for it whenever you have a job that doesn’t absolutely require a large displacement saw.

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ is a strong contender whose incredible performance coupled with it’s remarkable ease of use will make it a go-to saw in anyone’s stable.

PROS:

  • Lots of power, particularly torque, for impressive cutting performance
  • Great run-time with the AP 300 Battery
  • Always ready to cut- starting is as easy as squeezing the throttle switch.
  • STIHL 1/4″ PM3 saw chain and .043 gauge bar provides ease of use with great cutting performance- the stock bar and chain functions like a loonie carving bar. Carves extremely well due to the narrow kerf and smooth cutting action.
  • No toxic emissions
  • Low noise with little vibration
  • No more worrying about fuel/air mixture carb settings.
  • “Pro” quality construction
  • The battery lasts as long as 2 + tanks of fuel so you have to keep an eye on the oil levels in the reservoir.
  • Tool-less quick chain adjuster that works well
  • Steel bumper spikes

CONS:

  • One of the most expensive lithium ion chainsaws on the market
  • Relatively heavy due to the large battery pack weighing in at 10 1/4 pounds or 4.6 kilos (Stihl offers a a battery belt that places the battery pack on your hip which makes the saw one of the lightest available at under 6 1/2 pounds or 2.9 kilos)
  • STIHL 1/4″ PM3 saw chain is a pain to sharpen
  • The 0.043 gauge bar is less robust than Stihl’s other heavier bars
  • The battery lasts as long as 2 + tanks of fuel so you have to keep an eye on the oil levels in the reservoir.
Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

The Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ brings a new level of convenience and performance to the Stihl line-up.

FEATURES:

  • 36 Volt AP 300 Lithium Ion Battery provides up to 45 minutes of continuous run time
  • AL 500 Elite charger charges the 6 Ah AP 300 battery in 30 minutes
  • Quiet operation at 84dB(A) compared to 100 dB(A) for the MS 211
  • Quick Stop Super Chain Brake stops the chain when the user releases the rear handle or if there is sufficient kickback force
  • Electric Motor is maintenance  free and provides very little vibration to the operator
  • Automatic Ematic oil lubrication system keeps the chain and bar well oiled
  • STIHL 1/4″ PM3 saw chain and .043 gauge bar is a cutting revelation providing incredible cutting performance and smooth operation (although it is a pain to sharpen such a tiny chain).

The MSA 200 C has become the go-to saw for us here at adventuresinchainsawing. Powered by the AP 300 lithium ion battery (6.0 AH), the MSA 200 has plenty of power that seems to last and last.  Stihl’s most powerful lithium ion saw had no trouble cutting through Spruce trees with its bar fully buried in the wood.  Coupled with Stihl’s revelutionary 1/4″ PM3 saw chain and .043 gauge bar, the MSA 200 C-BQ is the smoothest boring saw we’ve used.  It has more than enough juice for the average tasks of a typical homeowner.  When coupled with the AL 500 Elite charger, the battery can be fully charged in 30 minutes.  Considering the battery gives you up to 45 minutes of continuous cutting (which translates to even longer run times as most jobs do not have the saw running non-stop for thirty minutes at a time), purchasing a second battery should  keep you up and running indefinitely (assuming you have access to an electricity source).  Stihl also offers the AR 900 backpack battery with 160 minutes of run-time, but that convenience comes at a price.

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

Stihl AP 300 battery coupled with the AL 500 charger that can fully charge the 6 ah battery in 30 minutes.

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

The AP 300 battery pack displaying a full charge on the led gauge.

Where the 200 C really shines is in carving applications.  The small chain and bar behaves just like a loonie tip in a dedicated carving set-up.  This saw is capable of impressive carving performance right out of the box.  With its quiet operation, hardly any vibration, and no emissions, this saw is a carver’s dream.  It is well balanced and easy to maneuver, and with no toxic fumes can be used in the shop with the doors and windows closed without issue.

The only real issue with the saw from a carving point of view is its weight.  Weighing in at 10 1/2 pounds, the MSA 200 C-BQ weighs more than its comparable sub 40 cc gas powered cousins (our MS 193 C with an identical bar and chain comes in a pound lighter fully fueled at 9.6 pounds).  This weight problem is negated by purchasing the optional battery belt accessory which brings the weight down to an incredibly nimble  6 1/2 pound field weight.

Photo and carving by A.J. Kilpatrick

A ceder penguin carved almost exclusively with a stock MSA 200 C-BQ (with a little help from a detail sander and a rotary tool).

For those who like to see the tool in action, we have recorded the saw taking down a 13 inch, or 33 cm diameter spruce.  The video was meant to show how much work can be done on a single charge.  The video shows felling and limbing two spruce trees, and we actually felled a third tree in the 12-13 inch range, but we did not record it as we got bored with the filming process.  Plus the video is already 4:40 minutes long with most footage sped up- not the most interesting video on the internet, but it gives you an idea of what the MSA 200 C-BQ is capable of.  After felling and limbing three spruce trees, the saw still had around 30% charge left on the battery.  Needless to say (yet we’re saying it), this is a demonstration video and not an instructional how-to video.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *