Unless someone is a professional and has experience with handling a chainsaw, it is very easy to be confused about the different types of chainsaw chains, and therefore, choose the best chainsaw chain for their needs.
Have you realized that your chain is dull and not cutting properly? In case you already tried (and read our chainsaw sharpener guide and reviews) or simply do not want to be messing around with sharpening, just buy yourself a new chain.
We have reviewed chainsaw chains based on compatibility, type, performance, design, quality, and public reviews. After a thorough investigation, we produced a list of the top 5 chainsaw chains that are the best on the market today.
We have also compiled a list of replacement chains of the most popular brands: Oregon, Stihl, and Husqvarna. Please read through the guide below that explains how to find the best replacement chain, what to look out for, and all the factors to consider.
Then feel free to check the lists and look for more information following the links. You will surely be able to find the chainsaw chain that’s perfect for your and your chainsaw’s needs.
Chainsaw Chain Guide – How to Find the Best Chainsaw Chains?
What to look for when buying a new chain? Of course, it should have a size that fits the bar of your chainsaw, but there are other considerations as well before you can get your hand on the best chainsaw chain on the market.
Chainsaw Chain Basics
- The drive link, also called a driver, is shaped so that it fits around the chain saw sprocket and the sprocket at the end of the guide bar.
- Cutter or Cutting Tooth, which makes contact with the wood and cuts the wood fibers
- Tie Strap connects the driver and the cutter together
Chainsaw chain pitch and gauge
- Pitch: the average distance between two rivets. Typical pitches are 0.250″ (1/4″), 0.325″, 0.375″ (3/8″), and 0.404″. The pitch of the chain must match the pitch of the drive sprocket and guide bar tip.
- Gauge: the thickness of the drive links, dictated by the gauge of the bar. Usual gauges range between 0.043″ to 0.063 inches.
- Length: is described by the number of drive links. This number is determined by the length and type of bar, the sprocket size, and the overall configuration of the saw. For replacement purposes, simply count the drive links on the old chain
Typically, it does not matter whether you have a gas-powered chainsaw, a modern classic corded electric chainsaw, or a latest lithium-ion cordless chainsaw, their chains all have the usual properties and specifications.
The only odd category could be the small or mini chainsaws where specific extra-short chains are needed. For example, the LP1000 Alligator Lopper by Black & Decker needs a 6-Inch saw chain.
Chainsaw Chain Size on the Guide Bar
The chainsaw chain size information is usually written on the guide bar itself. It looks something like this:
In this case, Stihl was kind enough to use very clear markings for the bar length (18″), gauge (0.063″), and a number of drive links (74). If you look closely, the pitch is written on the top too (0.325″). With this information you can easily replace the chain, just shop for the same measurements for your replacement chain.
Chainsaw Chain Size on the Chain
No luck with chain measurements on the bar?
There may be indicators on the chain itself, like numbers stamped on the cutter or drive link, although these codes are brand-specific. We will run through these later when we list the best chainsaw chain per manufacturer.
Manual Chain Measurement Steps
Step 1 – Pitch Measurement
The pitch is the chain size describing how close the links are on the chain. It can be read by measuring the distance between the middle points of any 3 rivets on the chain, also known as the distance between two drive links, then dividing by 2.
Step 2 – Gauge Measurement
Simply put, the gauge is the thickness of drive links that fit into the chainsaw guide bar. If you get a chainsaw chain replacement with a bigger gauge than necessary, the chain won’t fit the bar, while choosing a smaller gauge measurement means the chain will be loose.
It is best to take the gauge size by a caliper. Without such a tool, you can use the following trick: get some coins, and try to fit them into the guide bar groove. Sizes are as this: dime (0.050″), penny (0.058″), a quarter (0.063″).
Same Brand vs Other Replacement Chainsaw Chain
It’s a safe choice to get the same brand chain as your chainsaw, although it may be more expensive and even unnecessary.
Chain manufacturers intend to produce chains for most of the chainsaw brands and as long as you get the size and type right, any chainsaw chain brand will do the job.
Of course, there may be quality differences, but the brands we picked for our best chainsaw guide are all long-established, well-reviewed, and discussed in the retail and internet community.
Best Husqvarna Chainsaw Chain
Husqvarna is a well known brand founded in 1689, headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a global leading producer of outdoor power products and innovative solutions for forest, park, and garden care. They’ve produced chainsaws since 1959 and built a great reputation in this period.
Husqvarna Pixel Chains – A low kickback, low-vibration chain developed to meet the specific needs of today’s lightweight chainsaws. It cuts a narrow kerf and requires less power from the saw than standard cutting systems. Not recommended for heavy duty work, e.g. storm damaged forests. Recommended for use on 35cc to 55cc saws.
Best Oregon Chainsaw Chains
In 1947, the Oregon Saw Chain Manufacturing Corporation was founded with four employees and one product. Today, the Oregon brand is part of Blount Inc, a corporation with more than 3,000 employees and thousands of products.
Oregon, still headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is well known for its huge selection of chainsaw accessorize, chainsaw parts, and chains.
Oregon produces chainsaws itself, but they are more renowned for manufacturing chainsaw chain replacements for other brands, like Craftsman, Echo, Homelite, Husqvarna, John Deere, Makita, McCulloch, Poulan, Remington, and others, even Stihl.
Chamfer chisel – A variation of the semi-chisel chain is the “Chamfer chisel” chain made by Oregon. They are similar to semi-chisel design but have a small 45-degree chamfer between the plates rather than a radius.
Micro-Lite is the name for the lean, mean narrow-kerf chain in Oregon. The advantage of using a leaner narrow-kerf cutting system is that it requires less power from the saw to make the same length of cut.
Micro Chisel cutters, according to Oregon, have small-radius working corners for fast cutting and easy sharpening.
Best Stihl Chainsaw Chains
When it comes to chainsaws, Stihl, founded in 1926, is the ultimate go-to brand. Stihl claims to be the world’s best-selling brand of chain saws, and the only chain saw manufacturer makes its own saw chains and guide bars with excellent quality.
Picco Micro Mini – Low-vibration saw chain by STIHL. Reduced kickback, low-profile saw chain for use on lightweight chain saws is for universal use. Ideal for occasional users or for wood carving.
STIHL uses a Marketing Number System in addition to the part number. This allows easy identification of any chain. For example, a chain with a 33 RS3 has the following properties.
Stihl Chainsaw Chain Size Chart
Pitch (Marked on the cutter)
1 = 1/4″
2 = .325″
3 = 3/8″
4 = .404″
6 = STIHL PICCO™ (3/8″ Extended)
7 = STIHL PICCO™ (1/4″ Extended)
R = STIHL RAPID™
P = STIHL PICCO™
S = Super (Full Chisel Chainsaw Chain)
M = Micro™ (Semi Chisel Chainsaw Chain)
D = Duro (Carbide Tip)
R = Rescue (RDR chain, specially designed for MS 460 R STIHL Magnum® Rescue carbide segment)
Gauge (on drive link)
1 = .043″ (1.1 mm)
3 = .050″ (1.3 mm)
5 = .058″ (1.5 mm)
6 = .063″ (1.6 mm)
0 = .080″ (2.0 mm) Harvester Chain Only
1 = Triple-humped Tie Strap on PM chain
2 = Triple-humped Tie Strap on RM chain
3 = Single-Humped Drive Link
F = Full Skip
H = Semi Skip Chain(Half-Skip) or Harvester (i.e. on .404″ RMH)
K = Classic Cutter Design
L = Square Ground Chisel
M = Mini
MM = Mini Micro™
N = Narrow (PMN)
S = Special
5 Best Chainsaw Chains on the Market Right Now
Best Professional Chainsaw Chain – Oregon S56 AdvanceCut 16-Inch Semi Chisel Chain
Bar Length (inches)
- High compatibility with brands
- Low vibration and low kickback
- Accurate and effective semi-chisel and hard-chrome design
- Easy to sharpen and maintain
- Pay attention to getting the right size
These Oregon chains are one of the best overall chains available today, compatible with Craftsman, Echo, Homelite, Poulan, Remington, and other brands.
Since it is a semi chisel chain, it is quite smooth with reduced kickback, especially with a notched bumper drive link.
Best Chainsaw Chain for Hardwood – Stihl 3610 005
Bar Length (inches)
- Professional-grade performance
- Sharpness and precision
- Innovative Oilomatic technology
- Compatibility limitations
The Stihl 3610 005 Chainsaw Chain is a professional-grade chain designed for wood-cutting professionals and large property owners. It offers exceptional cutting performance and durability. With micro chisels sharpened by machines, it excels at cutting hardwood.
The chain features Stihl’s innovative Oilomatic technology, reducing maintenance needs. Its durable blades can be easily sharpened with a file. This versatile chain is recommended for firewood cutting, tree falling, and cutting building timber.
Overall, it’s a reliable and high-quality option for wood-cutting tasks.
Best Value – KAKEI 24 Inch Chainsaw Chain
Bar Length (inches)
- High-quality craftsmanship
- Protective oil coating
- Durable and long-lasting
- Compatibility limitations
In terms of specifications, the KAKEI 24 Inch Chainsaw Chain comes in a convenient pack of three. It has a .050″ gauge, a 3/8″ pitch, and 84 drive links, making it suitable for a wide range of chainsaw models. The chain is a full-chisel type, which ensures efficient cutting performance.
The KAKEI chainsaw chain is made using German steel with precise heating temperature control and a punching system, resulting in improved toughness and flatness. The Japanese chrome-plated technology employed in the manufacturing process enhances the durability of the cutters, making them sharper than ever before. Each cutter is meticulously ground and cold-headed with rotary machines, further contributing to the chain’s exceptional cutting ability.
To top it off, the KAKEI chainsaw chain comes with a protective oil coating, which effectively resists corrosion and ensures the chain’s longevity.
Best Chainsaw Chain for Firewood – Oregon S39 Semi Chisel Chainsaw Chain
Bar Length (inches)
- Clean and accurate cuts
- Safety compliance:
- Extended chain life
- Limited bar length
The Oregon S39 Chainsaw Chain is a reliable option that provides clean and accurate cuts. It meets ANSI low-kickback standards and has twin-cutting teeth for precise performance. The LubriTec channels distribute the oil evenly, reducing heat and friction for a longer-lasting chain.
It has a low-vibration design, minimizing user fatigue. The reinforced rivets and durable chrome finish reduce the need for frequent sharpening. This chain fits various saw models and features a built-in Lubri-Tec automatic oiling system.
Overall, it offers durability, safety, and efficient cutting performance.
Best Heavy Duty Chainsaw Chain – Husqvarna 531300437 H30-66 Pixel Saw Chain
Bar Length (inches)
- Best for lightweight chainsaws
- Low kickback and vibration
- High quality
The Husqvarna 531300437 H30-66 Pixel Saw Chain is a brilliant choice for Husqvarna owners. Works great with hardwood and promises low kickback designed for modern lightweight chainsaws.
It is ideal for arborists, commercial cutters, and occasional home users alike.
Buyers Guide – Good to Know Features
Low Kickback Chain
Kickback may occur when the moving chain at the nose or tip of the guide bar touches an object, or when the wood closes in and pinches the saw chain in the cut. Tip or bar nose contact can, in some cases, cause a lightning-fast reverse reaction, kicking the guide bar up and back toward the operator. This can happen even to the best chainsaw chain, regardless of brand.
This is highly dangerous, therefore it is most recommended to wear safety gear.
Most chainsaw chains for homeowners are designed to lower the chances of a kickback. These tend to be semi-chisel chains, meaning that the outside edge and working corner are rounded versus the squared corner of a chisel chain.
Our advice is always to look for the “low kickback” mark or labeling unless you know what you are doing.
Low Vibration Chain
There are two kinds of vibration sources when using a chainsaw, engine and cutting vibration. The latter is caused by the action of the cutter teeth as it cuts and severs wood. Chain manufacturers try to produce chain that vibrates less than average. For your comfort, a low-vibration chain may be a good idea when shopping for a new chainsaw chain.
Read our Ultimate Chainsaw Buying Guide for 2022!
Which Chainsaw Chain is Best for Hardwood?
It is important to choose the best chainsaw chain for hardwood cutting. Choosing the wrong chain will only end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. There are several different chains available on the market, but you have to find the one that is best for you.
Hardwoods are the best wood of choice to heat a house and fuel a stove or a fireplace. Hardwood trees, such as oak, teak, walnut, beech, or maple, are tough but with the right chainsaw chain, it should not be too hard to see through the logs with ease.
There are cutter chains that are designed specifically for hardwood. With minimal effort, these heavy-duty chains can rip through hardwood easily.
In general, semi-chisel chains are reasonably easy to handle, safe, and can work on hardwood well, but can be slow.
Professionals swear on a full chisel chain that is much more aggressive and can deal with hardwood with increased speed. On the other hand, they are not as durable and cannot handle dirty wood and surfaces. It is also worth mentioning that full chisel chains might kick back more, especially when used on hardwood.
Which Chainsaw Chain is Best for Cutting Firewood?
Firewood has two categories, hardwood, and softwood. Hardwoods, discussed in the previous section, are generally denser than softwood, meaning they may burn for longer and produce more heat.
Softwood trees are like cedar, pine, redwood, and spruce, season very quickly, and are lighter and lower in density. They ignite faster but produce more smoke, hence better to use them outdoors. They are also great fire starters in a fireplace or stove.
Avoid green wood, such as freshly cut wood as they tend to have high sap and moisture content. In terms of chains to use, a safe bet would be to use a semi-chisel chain that handles well and last longer.
How Long Does a Chain Last?
After a chainsaw is sold you are often asked, How long does a chainsaw chain last? How to tell if the item you purchased is still in perfect working order is not easy.
In the past, the amount of wear and tear to a chainsaw was not well understood by the public.
There is no definite answer to how long a chain lasts as it depends on many factors. These factors include the quality of the original chain, how often and what kind of wood is being cut, as well as the technique the chainsaw is used with.
You can improve the longevity of the chain if the cutting surface is cleaned beforehand, as well as the material should not contain any debris or bark. These especially bark, can dull even a brand new chain.
Try to avoid cutting into hard materials or anything that is not intended to be cut by the chainsaw. For example, hitting the ground or rocks will certainly damage your chain.
As mentioned in the introduction, sharpening the chain should be a regular chore and it is not at all difficult to do. With some practice, and with the right sharpening tools, it should be fairly easy.
How often should you sharpen the chain again, down to how the chain is being used? Some like to resharpen the chains after every tank of gas, but this may take away too much of the materials and for normal consumers, it should be based on the following signs.
When the chain stops making large chips and instead starts throwing sawdust, as well as the effort cutting through, is increased, it may be the time.
Sharpening should be simple as most chainsaw sharpening kits will have instruction guides that should be easily followed.
If you don’t have a sharpening tool and need to get the job done quickly, it may be best to turn to your local maintenance shop where the sharpening or replacement will be carried out professionally.
What is the best chainsaw chain? As we have seen, there is no such thing as best chainsaw chain at all. The most important advice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and get the right size and therefore the best chain for the chainsaw.
Modern chainsaw chain types include chains made of steel alloys, designed for extremely cold conditions, while chains with tungsten carbide teeth, being twice as strong as steel, are mostly used for rescue work and other demanding situations.
Interesting fact: tungsten carbide is used for armor piercing ammunition, mining drill bits, and surgical instruments among others.
However, a low kickback or low profile standard chain is best for homeowners with no experience, and if you are looking for something specific, such as chipper chains, or ripping chains, do your own research and make it thoroughly.
It’s never a bad idea to ask an expert.
When it comes to brands, Stihl is a good chainsaw chain, however considering budget, a reliable and trusted third party chain brand such as Oregon might be just as good.