What Do the Numbers On a Chainsaw Chain Mean?


There are various types of chainsaws, and the best chainsaw chains are majorly distinguished by their size, size of their chains as well as in their applications. The size of their chains differs mainly as a result of the chainsaw size and its designated use. Chainsaw chains also have distinct features that make them easy to identify. To make it easy to know the right chain for a specific chainsaw, you look at the number written on its packaging.

However, how will you know which number is ideal for your chainsaw? Before you can comfortably answer this question, it is best if you understand what the numbers mean. This will come handy when you are out to get an extra chain or a replacement for your chainsaw.

The importance of getting these numbers right cannot be overemphasized, because getting it wrong will leave you with a chain that is too large or too small for your chainsaw. In some cases, it may fit but not properly making your work relatively ineffective, and this can also be very dangerous because it can fly off and injure the user of someone close.

However, apart from getting the right measurements, there are other things that you have to take into consideration, and they include the other features as well as the styles that accompany chainsaw chains. This features and styles are important as they help to determine the specific jobs they can be used to perform. Without further ado, let us unravel the numbers that signify the measurements of chainsaw chains.

Three measurements are of the utmost importance when shopping for a chain; you are very likely to find those three measurements on chains. These three distinct numbers represent the pitch, gauge and the number of drive links. If you want your chainsaw running efficiently, then you must ensure that the numbers on the chain align with your chainsaw.

How to Identify the Pitch Number

The distance between the links in a chainsaw chain is known as the pitch, and this shouldn’t be confused with the length of the chain. This number represents the measurement of the space between chain links. You can find this number on your chainsaw or the user manual of the tool. If you can’t seem to find the number, you can still get it by calculating it yourself, and there is a detailed explanation of how to go about it below.

There are several pitch sizes for chainsaw chains. You can find them with numbers ranging from ¼”, .325”,3/8” low profile, 3/8”, and .404”. Chances are high that we have come across a chain with 3/8” low profile pitch, as it is the most common one around, closely followed by the normal 3/8” pitch. Both chains are known to work efficiently even with lesser power, making them favourite for light commercial and DIY home projects, using chainsaws that measure less than 18”.

Chains with a pitch measuring .404” are wider thanks to the large space between their links. Their design makes them the ideal chains for large and demanding jobs. They are fast and aggressive, and they are usually used on professional chainsaws, and other chainsaws with high power demand such as those used by fire departments.

How To Measure the Pitch of a Chain

There are instances where you cannot find the number of the pitch on the packaging of the chain. Normally, it is expected that manufacturers will provide this number, but like said earlier, there is a way to calculate the pitch of the chain, and it is quite easy.

You can go about this by measuring the midpoint of 3 successive rivets, whatever value you get is to be divided by 2. The final answer to that calculation is the pitch of your chain.

For better clarity, imagine you have a chain and you took the measurement of the midpoint of any three successive rivets, and you have the final reading of 3/4”, divide the final reading, and you will have a pitch size of 3/8”.

How to Identify the Gauge Number

The gauge refers to the measurement of the thickness of the drive links of the chain. The drive link is the part of the chain that secures the chain to the chainsaw by fitting into the guide bar of the chainsaw. Finding the chain with the right gauge is one of the most important actions to carry out when looking out for a replacement chain. If the gauge is too thick, the chain won’t fit, and the same thing happens if the gauge is too small.

The gauge is usually measured in inches, and there are four main sizes available on the market, they are size .043, .050, .058, and .063 inches. It is very easy to find size .050 on the market. The numbers are normally displayed on the chain’s packaging. It can also be found on the guide bar of your chainsaw. This will help you know the best gauge that suits your tool.

If you find yourself in the rare situation where you cannot find or locate this number, then you should check the user instruction manual. It is also measurable; however, it is quite tricky because the difference between the different gauge sizes is relatively small. So a small measurement error can cause you to get the wrong gauge size unless you are using tools with high precision to take the measurement. Therefore, it is recommended that you look out for the number that comes with the chain or the one stamped on your chainsaw.

How to Identify the Drive Links Number

Apart from being the main centre of attraction when it comes to the gauge of the chain of a chainsaw, drive links still play a major role in understanding what the numbers on a chainsaw chain mean. The number of drive links is another important number to note.

You can find the number of drive links on the user manual as well as some chainsaws. However, it is relatively easy to get the number if you can’t find the number on any of the places mentioned above. You have to count the drive links on the chain; the total number is the number of drive links. It is essential to get this number right because it, alongside the pitch, helps to determine the length of the chain.

The Full Chisel Chainsaw Chain

We have discussed the three essential measurements, and what they stand for, another important thing that should pay good attention to is the type of chain. Their styles distinguish them, and you will find various types on the market. The full chisel chain is arguably one of the most popular chains on the market, and this is as a result of its remarkable features, one of them is its impressive performance.

Apart from its good qualities, the full chisel chain also has a few shortcomings. There is no style without its shortcomings, understanding these shortcomings, as well as the highlight of various chain types, will help inform which one is ideal for your chainsaw. So, back to the full chisel chains, you can bank on then to cut things faster and more aggressively than the other styles on the market.

The teeth of the chain are relatively the sharpest around, and this makes them ideal for large scale work. However, despite its teeth being one of its strong suits, it is also the area where the chain comes short.

The teeth tend to lose their sharpness pretty faster or require sharpening faster than those found in semi-chisel chains. They are also not the best when it comes to edge retention, making them less suited for cutting objects such as rock, dirty wood, etc. the chain is quite sensitive to dirt.

Also, due to the aggressiveness and speed of the chainsaw, the chances of an accident occurring is relatively high, especially when the chainsaw bounce back as a result of hitting a difficult obstacle. With all these shortcomings, the chain helps to get some clean cuts on hardwoods thanks to its speed and aggressiveness.

Things to Note When Installing the Chain

It is quite easy to install a chain on your chainsaw. However, you may run into one or two challenges along the way but understanding some things beforehand helps to prevent us from making some little mistakes. One of the main challenges you may encounter is installing the chain backwards on the chainsaw. This problem usually comes to light when you try to put the chainsaw to work.

To prevent this from happening, you must inspect the tool thoroughly after installing the chain. You will know you did a good job of installing if the teeth’s sharp edges on the top part of the chainsaw’s guide bar are pointing away from you, while the edges at the bottom part of the guide’s bar are pointing to your direction.

If you notice that the sharp edges are pointing in the direction they are meant to be, then you have no cause to be alarmed.


with the above information, you should be able to deduce what the numbers on a chainsaw chain represent. Another thing that shouldn’t be compromised is the quality of the chain. Always ensure that you go for chains of high quality. Also, it is essential to ensure that you practice all safety rules before and when using tools like the chainsaw.