What do the Numbers on a Chainsaw Chain Mean?

If you are looking for what do the numbers on a chainsaw chain mean, you have landed in the right place. Like chainsaws, chains do vary depending on their size, applications, and strength. So, it is no wonder that each chain has some unique features that distinguish it from other chains.

Different types of chains bear different part numbers attached to their bodies. You will find a couple of important part numbers on each chainsaw chain. So, what do the numbers on a chainsaw chain mean? Well, this article covers and illustrates all the numbers on the chainsaw chain and their purposes elaborately.

Typically the numbers on a chainsaw chain include pitch, gauge, and drive links. If you want to identify a chain, you need to understand the chassis type and cutter type of the chain along with the aforementioned numbers.

numbers on a chainsaw chain

Let’s discuss all of them so that you can have sound knowledge of a chainsaw chain.

Chainsaw Pitch

chainsaw pitch

The pitch of the chain refers to the size of the chain. We calculate the pitch by using the chain’s rivets. When you take the total distance between three consecutive rivets and divide the distance by two, you have the pitch length of the chain. Pitch length has no connection with the chain length or the drive links.

Since there are different types of chainsaw chains, there are different pitch lengths as well to suit them. The smallest pitch length is a ¼ inch and the largest one is 3/4 inch. But, 3/8 inch pitch length is the most popular amongst all. In most cases, the drive links bear the pitch number of a chainsaw chain. Furthermore, the user manuals specify the pitch number as well.

The larger the chain pitch, the faster it’s cutting speed. The 3/8 inch pitch is generally used by homeowners who need the chainsaw for light and medium cutting tasks. On the contrary, ¾ inch pitch is commonly used by professionals who need a chainsaw for heavy and lengthy cutting jobs. So, before you buy a chainsaw you should match the pitch length of its chain with your cutting jobs. Furthermore, the pitch must match with the sprocket, nose, and drive links.

Chainsaw Gauge Number

chainsaw gauge number

Another important number on a chainsaw chain is the gauge number. Gauge number determines the thickness of the drive links of a chainsaw chain. Typically, drive links secure the chain on the chainsaw. The drive links fit into the guide bar groove.

The gauge number is important when it comes to replacing the old chain with a new one. You need to look for the exact gauge match in this case since over thick or less thick gauge won’t cover your chainsaw chain. Over thick gauge will not fit with the chainsaw while less thick gauge will slip off of the chainsaw. Just make sure that you use the exact thickness in case you change the chain.

The gauge number is found on the bottom of the chainsaw chain, just opposite the cutting teeth of the chainsaw. Whenever gauge is concerned, the guide bar groove is important. Your chainsaw chain gauge must match with the bar groove.

There are different sizes gauges available, but the most common and popular size is .050’’. Other gauge sizes are .043”, .058”, and .063” those are also working fine. The gauge number is stamped on the guide bar. The chain packaging also displays the gauge number of the chain.


Chainsaw Drive Links

chainsaw drive links

Drive links are the soul of a chainsaw due to their direct influence during cutting. These links ensure the smooth and effective rotation and movement of the chainsaw teeth. Every chainsaw chain bears this drive links number on its body. Drive links number is found on the guide bar of a chainsaw chain. It is also mentioned in almost every user manual.

Don’t worry if you do not find it on the guide bar and are unwilling to go for the reading manual. It is not a difficult task to count the drive links of your saw chain. You can count the drive links on your own by taking off the chain from the guide bar of the chainsaw.

Drive links number plays an important role in case you replace the chain. It has a solid combination with the pitch and the guide bar. Make sure that your new chain matches the pitch number and drive links number. Furthermore, drive links must match the guide bar length of the saw chain.

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Chassis Type

The chassis type is not a number like a gauge or pitch but it is important to understand before buying a new saw chain. Different chainsaw chains have different type chassis but the most common chassis for the faster cutting job is low profile or narrow-kerf.

Low profile and narrow-kerf chassis types are usually slimmer and meant for faster and efficient cutting. Make sure whether your chain chassis belongs to these categories or not. If you are looking for buying a new chain, then look for the chassis type that matches the current one you have.

Cutter Type

Another important factor that needs to be focused if you want to gather substantial knowledge on a chainsaw chain is the type of cutter of the saw chain. Cutter type refers to the shape of the cutter used in the chain to cut through. Typically, a chainsaw chain can have three types of the cutter in it, e.g. “chisel”, “semi-chisel”, and “chipper”.

Semi-chisel type cutter is great for dirty-wood and extra strong material (rocks) cutting jobs. Whereas chisel type cutter is not suitable to do the jobs that are done by semi-chisel type cutter. Additionally, chisel type cutter is too much sensitive against dirt and it has lacked proper safety elements. But, chisel type cutter is best for clean softwood and faster-cutting jobs. Nowadays, the chisel type cutter is the most popular one among the chainsaw users.

The chipper type chain is similar to the semi-chisel type chain with little difference. The difference between these two types of the cutter is the cutting radius. Another difference is the shape of these cutter types. Chipper type looks like a “question mark” whereas semi-chisel type looks like a numerical “7” during cutting.

Cutting ability varies depending on this cutter type. So, make sure you know what type of cutter you are using on your chainsaw chain. In case you replace your old chain, you should match the new cutter type with the old cutter type.

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We have tried our best to cover “what do the numbers on a chainsaw chain mean” and to give you some solid insights. Hopefully, this article helps you understand the numbers on the saw chain and identify the right chain for your chainsaw. If you still need to know more about the chainsaw chain, please feel free to ask via our comment box so that we can add that information.

6 thoughts on “What do the Numbers on a Chainsaw Chain Mean?”

  1. This by far is the most helpful information i found. Thank you… I feel much better going out and getting exactly what i need and it will work …. safely… gjo

  2. This had a lot of information I had seen elsewhere, but I did not see the information the title promised. The numbers on the bar are OK, but the meaning of the one number found on the chain (the number 10 in most of the pictures above) is what I was looking for, specifically the interchangeability from brand to brand. The top picture has 3 chains with the numbers 21, 91 and 73. It was those numbers I wanted to know about.

    1. I also want the same info.I have an chain with the number 33 on it.What does it mean? any help would be great. Don Boland.

  3. I have numerous chains for my Husqvarna 55 rancher. The gauge numbers are like 88 or 80. That’s a long way from 10 or 58. What’s the deal. What chain do I need for dry oak firewood?

  4. My Greenworks, 60-volt, 18″ cordless chainsaw shows a replacement chain part number on a decal on the handle. When I Google search for that part number, an 18″ Oregon chain with 63 drive links comes up. But the original chain has only 62 drive links (I’ve counted and re-counted multiple times).
    What am I to believe? And what difference does the presence or absence of one drive link make since the overall chain length and the pitch are the allegedly the same?

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