Testing the Husqvarna 540XP MK III

The Husqvarna 540XP MK III was launched over a year ago but it took a while before the colleagues at Skogsforum.se got the opportunity to try it out. Now it has happened, and here are the first impressions from a day in the forest including a comparison with the Stihl MS201 C-M. 

The Stihl MS 201 is no longer alone in the category of “light professional chainsaws”. The Husqvarna 540XP MK III is a challenger. Photo: Skogsforum.se

Husqvarna 540XP MK III

The compared saw, the Stihl MS201, was slightly used and had some sawdust in it to make it a few grams heavier. The Husqvarna 540XP MK III was, however, brand new. The Stihl MS201 has been alone on the market in the category “light chainsaws for professional thinning” until now as the challenger Husqvarna 540XP MK III has arrived. 

Log Max Harvester Heads

A quick comparison of the two saws shows that they are very much alike. Both have horizontal cylinders and the muffler to the right, just in front of the rear handle. This gives a low and smooth design and a good balance in the saw. Also, the handles and their suspension are of the same type. 

The new Husqvarna 540XP MK III has, like the Stihl MS201 C-M, a horizontal cylinder and the exhaust outlet just in front of the rear handle. Photo: Skogsforum.se

Cutting equipment

Both saws are delivered with 1,3-millimeter chains in 3/8” pitch and a 14” bar. The 14” bar feels unusual for Husqvarna who historically mainly has used 13 and 15” bars on their smaller chainsaws. The Husqvarna 540XP MK III is delivered with the X-Cut S93G chain, and the Stihl MS201 with a PiccoSuper chain (PS). 

One thing that Husqvarna has changed on the 540XP compared to the larger 550XP, is that the new 540XP utilizes more of the bar length. The bar bracket on the 540XP is placed further out which means that the efficient bar length on the 540XP and the Stihl MS201 are exactly the same.

300 grams weight difference

Looking at the technical specifications, the Husqvarna is slightly stronger and heavier than the Stihl. The cylinder volume on the Husqvarna is 39,1 cm3 compared to 35,2 cm3 for the Stihl. The Husqvarna 540XP MK III weighs 4,1 kg (9,01 lbs.) “naked” (without cutting equipment and empty tanks) and the Stihl MS 201 is 4,0 kg (8,8 lbs.) according to the respective technical specifications. 

We are of course more interested in the real weight, Reay For the Forest, RFF, so with full tanks and cutting equipment on both saws it looked slightly different: The 540XP weighed 5,35 kg (11,8 lbs.), and the MS201 5,05 kg (11,1 lbs.). A difference of 0,3 kg (0,66 lbs.) is an advantage for the Stihl. The difference is partly explained by the Husqvarna’s slightly larger gas- and oil tanks. 

Automatic carburetor settings

The start/stop button on both saws is the same with the difference that on the Husqvarna is pulled up by start and on the Stihl it’s pushed down. Both saws start easily, two pulls with cold engines and one pull with warm. 

The Husqvarna 540XP MK III is equipped with the automatic carburetor setting AutoTune 3.0. The Stihl MS201 C-M has the corresponding Stihl system M-Tronic. Experiences from the Stihl 201 and the larger Husqvarna saws are that both systems function well and you just have to keep the air filter decently clean. 

The first test

The two test loggers, Torbjörn and Fredrik from Skogsforum.se, took turns with the test saws. They were in a nice mixed stand with mainly birch where they thinned. The average breast height diameter was 10 – 18 centimeters (4 – 7 inches). Two logs per tree, easy delimbing, and a few cuts. An easy job for a chainsaw but heavy for part-time loggers to pile up the logs. 

Husqvarna 540XP MK III matches the Stihl thinning classic

After a few tanks, the impressions of the new Husqvarna were summarized. Both test pilots agreed that the 540 matches the 201 very well, they are comparable. For those who prefer a Husqvarna in this size, the 540XP MK III is a good alternative to the Stihl MS 201. The two saws perform on the same level. The Husqvarna is slightly stronger (0,1 kW), but that is not noticeable in practice. Also, the 0,3 kg (0,66 lbs.) extra weight on the Husqvarna wasn’t noticeable. 

A difference between the two saws is the aiming lines. On the Husqvarna, it’s clear and goes all the way over the top of the saw body. On the Stihl, the line is only on the left side and not over the top of the saw. 

Service and maintenance

As mentioned above, the saws look alike. That also goes for when you lift the cover of the saws. The covers on both saws can easily be removed by hand, without any tools. The air filter on the Husqvarna was a bit tricky to put back in place as there are lots of cables and hoses around it. Furthermore, there are some kinds of connections that most likely are for the Husqvarna Connect function for remote diagnostics that is offered as an option. 

On the Stihl, there is a plastic plate under the air filter that covers hoses, cables, etc. which makes it easier to put the filter back. This gives a “cleaner” impression. 

The air filter cover can easily be removed without tools. Photo: Skogsforum.se
Under the air filter cover, the Stihl is “cleaner” – the 540XP has lots of cables and hoses. Photo: Skogsforum.se

The chain cover on both saws is secured with one retained nut. On the Stihl, the spark plug is reached by removing the chain cover. On the Husqvarna, the air filter cover, the air filter, and yet another cover must be removed to reach the spark plug. 

User pattern

Again, the differences between the two saws are very few. So, the user pattern for the two is the same. However, it was discussed during the testing, that the saw often stands on the ground with an idling engine, e.g., when you pile up the logs. This is no big deal, but as the test pilots in this test also have tested battery saws, the sound of the idling gas engine is a noticeable difference between gas- and battery-powered chains saws. 

As both saws in this test are easy to start, the engine could be turned off during the log piling and other actions when not using the saw. The question is if this would affect the fuel consumption. If nothing else, the noisy environment will be nicer when the saw is quiet. 

To be continued

This was the first test of the new Husqvarna 540XP MK III chainsaw. The testing team has promised to keep using the 540 and find out how it works during normal working hours and maybe more challenging thinning. Is it fuel efficient? Is the difference in power between the 540 and the 201 noticeable in thicker forests? Is it easy to keep clean and maintain? 

Keep an eye here at NordicWoodJournal to find out! 

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