500i or 661

Seth McPherson

New Member
Location
Cincinnati
Having trouble deciding. I work for a company full time but I have my own small company on the side. This will be my first and probably only big saw. I also own a couple climb saws and a 261. It will get used on the ground for felling large diameter wood but mostly I want it for in tree use. I’m not a huge guy so weight is important, 5’8” and 150lbs. Also love to hear what bars and chain people have run on each. Thanks so much
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Depends on what you’re looking for exactly, but if it’s mostly going to be used in a tree, look at a 462 with a 25” lightweight bar. It won’t feel too much heavier than your 261, but it will positively rip with that 25” on it. It will also be big enough for most of your felling and bucking, if you need bigger just rent a 661 with a 36” bar somewhere.

We run all Stihl Lightweight bars, well worth the extra expense when you’re running them all day. We also run RSK series chains on all our saws, those chains are far more aggressive and faster cutting than the RS or RM chains that most use; you’ll likely have to order the RSK chains though, your dealer probably won’t even know what you’re talking about when you ask for one.
 

Chris Schultz

Active Member
Location
Minturn
Personally I’d go for the 462 over the 500i.... or if you can find a 461 I’d scoop that up. A 661 in the tree is a lot of saw, it does happen that you need that 661 power up high, but how often? I’d go for the 46 series saw, save some weight and money....
 

Jonny

Well-Known Member
Location
Buffalo
I read lots of nice things about the 500i, but I haven’t read that it’s a replacement for displacement, so 661 gets my vote.
One day when money ain’t a thang, get some 60, 70, and 80cc saws in the mix too, but a good top handle, a good 50cc, and a good 90cc class is a fine set if a climber can only can have 3 saws.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
I ran with just a 200 and 462 for a while. I added a husq 395 (similar to 661) to save my 462 for aerial only. Now I have a spread- Makita 61 cc for small ground and dirty work (semi chisel), the 462, 385 xp for big ground/stumps/dirty work, 395 xp for big felling.

The 462 is tough to beat. Not as torquey as the 500i, but plenty of saw. I would set aside a little from each job for a 661 to eventually reduce wear on your 462 and save it for climbing. The chain will stay sharp longer, too. On big removal weeks, I’ve gone all week with just the 462 and skipped the 200. Sometimes carrying the weight is less work than making a bunch of max cuts with the smaller saw. I wouldn’t have done that with the 500 or 661.
 

colb

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida
I am a regular ms661 in-tree user, usually with a 20" sugi bar. I am 5'10", 200 lbs, with pretty big arms/chest to muscle it around. I feel like you might like the 500i better since you mention it for in tree use. I would take my ms880 into a tree if it was the best tool for the cut, but I feel like the ms661 gets through critical cuts very very well at the 28" bar length. I've taken a 30" diameter pine top sideways to lean with a 36" bar and felt decent about it. The 500i reportedly underperforms the 661 by just a bit, bit the power to weight ratio is supposed to be incredible, which points to it being a great climbing saw.
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
I've not run a 500i yet, but I do take my 661 with 36" bar in the air as needed, typically only on crane day. I suspect both saws will perform well on the ground with no issues.


What is the larger saw that your used to using at your company? Any issues with it performing the daily task that another model may perform better at?
 

treegongfu

Well-Known Member
My 660 is down and I'm using the 500i with 32inch ultra lite bar. It rips better than the 660 36 " bar ever did.

Although I would be eating instant noodles for a while I would like 3 500i's to go with a ms150.
 

BTS

New Member
500i is the way to go. Cuts about the same as a 661 but it is way lighter. I would buy another one but I have 3 661s that are fairly new. We run the 500i with a 36 lite bar.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
There is no way I want to be doing treework without a 90cc saw anywhere in the world. Here our trees are not tall but the trunks are fat and heavy and wood dense. My 661 with just a basic modded muffler to help keep it cool and breathe pulls a 28 and 36 like a boss. The 880 I use is a pig but has been in a tree a few times......with a 54. Not much fun but necessary.
 

Treezybreez

Well-Known Member
Location
Lancaster, SC
I've had so much trouble with my 661. In fact, my two mtronic system saws have been nothing but trouble. They run hot and Stihl no longer puts a steel liner in the cylinder, so expect melting. My advice is to find a lightly used 362 that doesn't have the chip.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
I've had so much trouble with my 661. In fact, my two mtronic system saws have been nothing but trouble. They run hot and Stihl no longer puts a steel liner in the cylinder, so expect melting. My advice is to find a lightly used 362 that doesn't have the chip.
Well I debunk that theory. My 261 and 661 with muffler mods are both nearly 6 years old. Run flawlessly. Only changed the plug the other day in the 661 when the top snapped.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
A Brad Snelling mod. Even before tank of gas. Just got that 391 farm saw. Not bad for a plastic ride, it was just sitting in a shed. Will run it til it explodes. 20210501_223711.jpg 20210501_223657.jpg 20210501_223630.jpg
 

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