Home » What Do the Numbers on a Chainsaw Chain Mean?

What Do the Numbers on a Chainsaw Chain Mean?

It’s a valid question, certainly. On every chainsaw chain, you will see numbers and inscriptions along the length, but you may not be aware of the meaning behind them. In this article, we hope to explain this for you, giving you the confidence to approach a chainsaw knowing what’s what.

What Numbers Will I Find a Chainsaw Chain?

Closeup view of a chainsaw bar and cutting chain.

You’ll probably see up to three different inscriptions on a chainsaw chain, but usually just one or two. You’ll often find a number (which may include a letter) somewhere on a drive link – this is where the most popular chain brands generally put these stamps, such as Husqvarna and Carlton. You may also see an inscription somewhere along the center of the chain of the manufacturer’s brand name.

On some chain brands, such as Stihl, you’ll find more than 1 number. Stihl chains generally have a number on a drive link and one somewhere on a tooth link. We will explain what this means in a moment.

For now, look over your chain carefully, noting what numbers you see and where they are.

What Do the Numbers Mean?

Close up of chainsaw blade isolated on black.

When you see a number on a chain, it represents not much more than a code that the manufacturers use to identify the chain’s pitch and gauge. This code may have a letter in there too, such as “K3” (a Carlton code), “H26” (a Husqvarna code), or simply “22” (an Oregon code). According to the manufacturer databases, these three codes all represent the same chainsaw chain – one with a gauge of 0.063 inches and a pitch of 0.325 inches.

To find a chain of the same pitch and gauge like Stihl, you’d look for a “6” on a drive link and “2” on a tooth link.

For a full list of different manufacturer codes, you can search on the internet. However, the only information you are likely to need is the pitch and gauge that your chainsaw requires. You can find this information on your chainsaw (on the bar groove) or in the owner’s manual.

As we mentioned, these identification numbers represent the pitch and gauge of the chain. This is important because different chainsaws are only compatible with certain chains.

The gauge and the pitch are, in short, the dimensions of the chain. We’ll quickly and briefly go through defining what these mean in terms of chainsaws.

What Are Pitch and Gauge?

Professional technician working by repair service.Repairing chainsaw in repair shop.Sharpening a chainsaw

Now that you know what the numbers represent, let’s define “pitch” and “gauge.”

Pitch – The pitch is essentially the distance between two chain links.

Gauge – The gauge, however, is a measurement of the width of the drive links of the chain. The drive links slot into the bar groove of the chainsaw, so having the correct fit is absolutely vital.

The most dangerous risk involved with not getting the correct gauge size is when you get a chain with a smaller gauge than what the saw requires. If this happens, there is a risk of the saw throwing the chain, which can be extremely dangerous. As well as this, you are likely to struggle to make any cuts. If you get a chain where the gauge is too big, you won’t be able to fit it into the bar groove.

How the Length of a Chainsaw Chain is Measured

Sharpening a chainsawClose up on a man sharpening a chainsaw cha

Rather than being measured using a traditional distance measurement, such as inches or millimeters, chainsaw chains are measured in terms of how many drive links they have.

If you already have a chain, this is very easy to measure – just count them up. This will give you the correct length that the chain should be. After you know this, as well as the pitch, and the gauge, you’ll have everything you need to know to change your chain.

Getting Ready to Cut

worker using chainsaw for cutting timber wood, portrait with tools

As you’ll know, a chainsaw is one of the most dangerous tools money can buy on today’s market, if not used correctly. Accidents can be life-changing or even fatal, so it’s never worth cutting any corners when it comes to these pieces of equipment.

When you change the chain on your chainsaw, make sure you do it safely. Double-check and triple-check your numbers and make sure everything is perfect before you begin making any cuts.

It’s also important to wear the correct PPE. As well as dangers that might arise from cuts and tears from the chain, you may cause injuries to your eyes, ears, lungs, and back. Or you might end up with vibration-related injuries, such as HAVS.


We hope this article has shown you what the numbers on a chainsaw chain mean and how important they are. We hope you found this article useful!

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