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Stihl MS290 – The Legendary Farm Boss

Today we are going to be talking about the ever popular Stihl MS290 chainsaw, also known as the Farm Boss. This model has been one of the best selling chainsaws in recent years, and is designed for moderate to heavy usage.
Is it worth all the fuss, and more importantly will it suit all the various cutting jobs you have for it? Keep reading to find out more.

Can you trust a Stihl product?

To answer this question, you need to have a look at Stihl as a company to get an idea of their history. Andreas Stihl is often credited as the inventor of the chainsaw, and for good reason. Stihl has a long and fruitful history in the chainsaw department. They developed the first commercial 2 man electric chainsaw in 1926, and only 3 years later in 1929 developed the worlds first gasoline powered 2 man chainsaw. In 1931 they patented their 3 link chain design, which revolutionized the chainsaw by offering a much enhanced cutting experience. In 1934 they added automatic lubrication to the chain, which vastly improved the product life of the unit.

In 1943 they introduced the KS 43 model, which featured lightweight magnesium and reduced the weight of the unit, which in turn gave the user less overall fatigue. In 1950 the modern chainsaw as we know it was released – a one man portable gasoline chainsaw. In 1958 all their chainsaw models came equipped with the all position diaphragm carburetor, this meant the chainsaw could be used in any position without needed to move the carburetor by hand. In 1964 they introduced anti vibration technology to further ensure user comfort and smoother operations. In 1968 they introduced electronic ignition on top end units. Through 1970-1972 various further safety measures were implemented such as the throttle trigger lockout and quickstop technology.

Heated handles were introduced in 1973 for comfortable usage in colder conditions. In 1988 Stihl developed the worlds first catalytic converter for two stroke engines, which ensured that all their gasoline powered products such as chainsaws emitted far less harmful gases into the environment. In 1990 they introduced a wear line on their chains, to make it easier to determine when to sharpen or replace the chain. In 1995 they introduced the quietest chainsaw ever made. In 1996 they introduced pole pruners, which are lightweight chainsaws attached to adjustable poles for trimming hard to reach branches.

From this very condensed version of their history, you can see that Stihl is a company that is at the forefront of chainsaw development and technology. The German engineered machines are designed to last, and with 85 years of history behind the company you know that you are getting a reliable product.
Now lets move on to the model itself to see what exactly you get with this particular unit.

A Closer Look At The Stihl MS290

Stihl MS290The Stihl Farm Boss MS290 is currently Stihls number one selling chainsaw at the time of writing, and for very good reason. The first model was first released over 15 years ago, and since then has gone through many product refinements to get where it is today. It is primarily designed to be a workhorse, and to be able to run all day without breaking a sweat. It has all the features and enhancements needed to make short work of any cutting task.

The engine power output of this model is 2.8 kW (3.8 bhp) , and the weight is only 5.9 kg (13.0 lbs) which means it is light enough to toss around all day without getting too fatigued. The MS290 chainsaw contains all of the basic features in a Stihl model, including the Oilomatic chain which doesn’t need lubrication, the master control level which allows you to operate the main functions of the machine from one point, and the Quickstop system which allows the chain to stop in a fraction of a second for optimal safety. Besides the standard features, there are quite a few other innovative enhancements on the this model. The Elastostart is one such feature which makes the unit easier to start. Unlike conventional starters, the starting action of the machine is smoothed out thanks to the built in shock absorber.

Stihl MS290 Engine ViewAnother big innovation on the Stihl MS290 chainsaw piece of machinery is the Intellicarb system. The way this works is if the air filter gets partially or fully clogged by chips or debris, the Intellicarb automatically adjusts the fuel ratio to compensate so the engine can continue to run at the correct rpm without user intervention. This is a great feature, especially if you are working with a finer grade of wood.

On the Stihl MS290 chain saw, the tension adjustment screw has been put on the side of the machine which makes it much easier to adjust compared to a conventional chainsaw. The recommended guide bar lengths is 16″-20″.
As you can see this chainsaw packs a hell of a punch, and has all the features you can possibly need. It has a 2 year warranty, which is double that of most other chainsaws currently on the market. The RRP on this unit is around $399 for one with a 20″ bar. You can also get matching accessories for this unit such as protective gloves, helmets and jackets. You can also get a hard plastic carry case if you intend to spend a lot of time transporting the unit.

Where is the best place to buy one?

This is a very popular chainsaw model, so there is a good chance you will be able to find one in some of the bigger retailer shops, and you can find them in diy stores too. We wouldn’t advise a diy store due to the rather inflated price tag they often come with, and retail stores aren’t too badly priced.

You can also have a look online first to see what kind of deals you can come across. There are hundreds of ecommerce shops competing for your hard earned money, so more than often you will find a really good price on one of the bigger internet sites. The downside being that it can be a bit tricky to return an online purchase, if there are any issues with it down the line.


Remember that there is a two year warranty with this unit, so this is a model that can be trusted. Follow the maintenance guidelines, and your Stihl chainsaw should last you for many years to come.

2020 update

Given that is a few years since this artice was written, it is time for a brief update on this model.

Why did Stihl discontinue the MS290?

Unfortunately the MS290 has been discontinued. Despite it still being a very popular model, the design of the chassis and the engine was getting a bit dated. New emissions regulations are regularly being forced down manufacturers throats, and Stihl has gone back to the drawing board for some of the popular models in order to come up with a more eco concious alternatives.

What replaced the Stihl MS290?

The MS290 has been replaced with the MS291 model. The newer model comes in at around 1lbs lighter thanks to a redesigned chassis. There is also a new chain system in place. The other main change is the engine, which has a stratocharged 2-stroke design. This means it is more fuel efficient, and puts out less ommissions. There is also an enhanced version of the MS291 for sale otherwise known as the MS291 C-BE. This comes with some enhanced features such as the Easy2start system, quick chain tensioner system, and 2nd chain brake. The MS291 base model retails for around $70 than the older model, but the improved power to weight ration and increased fuel efficency help justify the increased price.

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