FOR Ben Jones, owner of Wood Matters Ltd in Shropshire, having easy-to-use, reliable equipment that can tackle even the toughest jobs is essential.

As a team of three, Ben and his colleagues mostly carry out arb work, in addition to other ground and hedge maintenance. For arb jobs that involve climbing and dismantling, having a top-handle saw is an essential requirement for much of their day-to-day work. Having used Stihl products for over 15 years, Ben was keen to explore battery-powered alternatives to complement his current fleet when they are available, models including the Stihl MS 260, MS 261, MS 441, MS 500i and MS 201 TC-E top-handle saws.

When looking at whether a move to battery would be feasible for his business, Ben explained: “As a small business, we are always looking at our costs; every penny counts, so I want to make sure I’m investing in kit that’s going to last and be suitable for the job. There were two main concerns I had around battery-powered tools, the first being that the power output would not compare and secondly that they would not maintain enough battery power to last our long working days.”

With this in mind, Ben tested out Stihl’s MSA 161 T, the lightweight saw designed specifically for arborists. As well as boasting a 40 per cent higher chain speed (16 m/s) than its predecessor, it also delivers a 15 per cent increase in engine performance, making it ideal for removing deadwood, crown maintenance and light reductions.

On his findings, Ben commented: “I tested out the Stihl MSA 161 T with the AP 300 S battery back in 2019 and while I was a little apprehensive, I was also excited to put it to work. I started off on a good-sized tree around 25 feet, which the MSA 161 T tackled with ease, dealing with the bushy crown as well as the main stem with a larger saw bar needed for the last 3 metres. After that, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was still battery power left, so carried out some further tests on a slightly smaller tree next, which I got through easily with the remaining power.

“As a business, having a high-performance battery alternative when it comes to our top-handle saws has been a huge benefit. Not only is the MSA 161 T lighter, making it more comfortable to use over our long working days and reducing fatigue, but it is also a more eco-friendly option, which is better for the environment.

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“Another huge benefit was the lower noise levels when running the tools. Thanks to how quiet they are, we’re able to start working much earlier in residential areas without causing any disruption.

“I also found that getting the MSA 161 T up and running was incredibly easy, especially when compared to the petrol tools we’re used to using; you just pull the trigger and you’re off. The design of the MSA 161 T feels like there is less that could possibly go wrong.”

The MSA 161 T also features three different trigger combinations that can be used with the new ‘trigger switch lock-out’ feature, including a combination ideally suited when performing multiple cuts consecutively, created to be convenient to operate while also ensuring user safety.

Ben concluded: “Having been so impressed with the demo of the MSA 161 T, not long after I went out and bought one to add to our fleet of tools. While the top-handle saw is ideal for climbing, we also purchased the back-handled model too for ground work. If you keep on top of the servicing, such as sharpening and oiling, and utilise the right battery, I personally believe that a battery chainsaw such as the MSA 161 T can compete with its petrol counterpart. Although it took us a while to be convinced, now that we’ve seen what can be achieved by using the MSA 161 T we’ll certainly be looking at battery alternatives for our wider fleet of machinery, such as brushcutters and blowers, in the future with the summer season coming up.”

For more information on Stihl’s MSA 161 T, as well as its range of top-handle chainsaws, please visit

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