Chainsaw Chains: How to Choose the Right Type

Published on: March 4, 2022
Written by Eric Devin / Fact-checked by David Rowan

Chainsaws are the best option to deal with trees & hedges. You can easily cut down a tree or trim off hedges with the best quality chainsaw.

You’ll find different types of chainsaws available in the market.

All of them come with a replaceable chain. Which means you need to change the chain after a certain period of time.

chainsaw chains how to choose the right type

But if you get the wrong chain, you won’t be able to complete the work properly on time. Moreover, the wrong type of chain increases the possibility of an accident like a kickback.

Classifications of Chainsaw Chains

Chainsaw chains are made from drive links and cutters that rotate at high speed around a chainsaw bar to chop wood. The cutters—identifiable by their sharp edges and edges that protrude above the extent of the drive links—have two blade angles, one along with the highest plate of every cutter and therefore the other along the surface top edge.

The cutters have different blade configurations, referred to as “chisel angles,” and these slants determine how well the chain cuts in different types of situations. The chisel angles also find out how safe the chain is to utilize.

Full Chisel

Full-chisel cutting chains feature a 90-degree corner slant and the highest cutter plates, a configuration designed to supply top cutting speeds. These chains are more aggressive than other sorts of chainsaw chains, and therefore the recommendations on their cutter blades also are sharper. Full-chisel chains are paired with large, powerful chainsaws, and they shine at cutting through hardwoods, like oak and maple.

Full-chisel chains accompany an increased risk of what’s called “kickback”—the chainsaw jerking backward violently, which may occur when the tip of the spinning blade touches wood or when the chain itself becomes pinched.

Thanks to kickback risk, full-chisel chains often accompany safety warnings and proposals that only experienced chainsaw users employ the chain. This chain is also more vulnerable to dulling if it comes in contact with dirt, which may happen when cutting through logs lying on the bottom.

Semi Chisel

The top plates of the cutters on semi-chisel chains are circulated along their outer blade edges. This makes the chain slows down cutting more than a full-chisel chain, though it also makes the chain unaggressive, so there’s less risk of kickback. Few, but not all, semi-chisel chains meet the American National Standard Institute’s (ANSI) standards for a reduced kickback, and lots of new chainsaws accompany a semi-chisel chain installed.

Semi-chisel chains don’t dull as quickly as full-chisel chains, and they’re well-suited for cutting through both hardwood and softwood logs. They’re also better than full-chisel chains used in lousy status (such as cutting through logs that are on the ground) because the circular plates don’t affect as quickly.

Micro Chisel

The micro chisel chain may be a sort of semi-chisel chain, but the rounded corners along the cutters’ blade edges are even smaller than those of a typical semi-chisel chain. Micro-chisel chains are designed to form smooth, precise cuts, which are beneficial for tree-trimming tasks since a smooth cut on a tree is a smaller amount likely to become diseased.

They’re well-suited to be used on softwoods, and while they’re also going to traverse hardwoods, they’re going to cut down slower than semi-chisel or full-chisel blades.

Like standard semi-chisel chains, micro-chisel chains are more dependable than full-chisel chains because they’re less likely to sit back on the user. Micro-chisel chains normally meet ANSI low-kickback standards.

Low Profile

Also called “chipper cutters,” low-profile chainsaw chains are the foremost common sorts of chains and are found installed on most new chainsaws, and they feature either semi-chisel cutters or micro-chisel cutters. The difference is that the peak of the cutters is less than on regular semi-chisel chains, precisely to scale back kickback.

Low-profile chains are suitable for cutting a spread of both soft and hardwoods, but they’re slower than other sorts of chains, and they tend to dull more quickly. Most low-profile chainsaw chains meet ANSI low-kickback standards.

View 10 Chainsaw Chains Reviews, Below-

It is crucial to get the right chain for your chainsaw to complete the job on time, properly, and safely. And to get the right one, you can follow this buying guide because here you’ll get all the necessary information about the best quality chain.

1. Oregon AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain (S45), 12-Inch

  • 3/8″ Pitch, .050″ gauge & 45 drive link;
  • 12-Inch length;
  • Fits up to 42cc chainsaws.

I don’t know where I should start my opinion over Oregon Advancecut chains. Should I mention how perfectly it fits almost all 12-inch chainsaws that take low-profile chains? Or praise how it is oiled with ‘Lubitsch’ to lengthen its life and performance. This chain is the best in all aspects. The vibration it creates is much less than any other brand. It is a low kickback chain and meets the Z62.3 standards from CSA.

However, long story short, this chain is best for beginners and homeowners. It is advanced enough not to give you a headache in times of need and good enough to stay put with amateurs. Just keep in mind that this chain will perform well as you keep it clean and oiled after every use. For example, cleaning up after storms or just trimming the twigs and branches and so on. The price is cheap for a versatile and suitable quality chain.


  • Pre-lubricated;
  • Low Profile;
  • Creates less vibration;
  • Low-kickback.


  • Fits low-profile chainsaws only.

2. Husqvarna H30-72 Pixel Saw Chain, 18-Inch

husqvarna h30-72 pixel saw chain
  • 325-Inch pitch, .050-inch gauge & 72 pixels;
  • 18-Inch length;
  • Fits  41, 45, 49, 51, 55, 336, 339XP, 340, 345, 346 XP, 350, 351, 353, 435, 440, 445 and 450e models chainsaws.

If your profession involves cutting hardwood trees often, then one thing is pretty sure that you are not a big fan of the jammed chain of chainsaws. Here is a great chain that is especially meant for professional-level hardwood cutting to make your tasks easier. Its anti-kickback feature makes each cut smooth and effortless.

This Husqvarna chain is meant for Husqvarna saws. It fits almost every Husqvarna and another saw with an 18-inch chain requirement. Be sure to contact the seller whether it fits yours or not rather than ordering the wrong one.

It is not pre-lubricated. So, before installing it, remember to hydrate it with any gear oil. Remove the paper from the pack and pour oil on the chain; leave it like that for the rest of the night.

As I have mentioned, it cuts nasty hardwood like butter, but too much of that action may make the tooth dumb. So, the chain may require sharpening more often. If your saw has a built-in chain sharpener, then great. If not, sharpening the tooth of this chain is not a big deal. One or two swipes on the tooth are just fine.


  • Fits most Husqvarna models;
  • Suitable for professional use;
  • Anti-kickback design.


  • Requires sharpening more often.

3. Husqvarna Replacement Chain, (H4684) 24-Inch

husqvarna replacement chain
  • ⅜ inch pitch, .050 inch gauge, 84 drive links;
  • 24-Inch length;
  • Fits 288XP, 298, 357XP, 359, 362XP, 365, 371, 372XP, 380, 385XP, 394XP, 390XP, 395XP, 2100, 2101, 3120XP, 455 Rancher, 460, 460 Rancher, 560XP, 565XP,570, 575XP and 576XP. Husqvarna saw models.

24-inch chainsaws are high-capacity saws and work with high-performance chains. This low-profile Husqvarna replacement chain creates low vibration and a lower amount of kickback. It cuts smooth even for prolonged use like felling thick oak trees and so on.

As high capacity and big performance chainsaws need more maintenance like more lubrication, more cleaning, and a lot of sharpening. To minimize your maintenance hassle, an Oregon chain sharpener will be handy. Whatever chain you are using or how often you are using them, such a sharpener ensures you get the best out of your chains.

This chain is expensive, so it is only recommended for professional use. Make sure to match the model of your chainsaw with the compatibility list of this chain. Or, you can also contact customer care for better assurance.


  • Fits most 24-Inch Husqvarna saw models;
  • Low profile tooth;
  • Easy to sharpen.


  • Expensive.

4. Husqvarna H80-72 (72V) Saw Chain, 20-Inch

husqvarna h80-72 (72v) saw chain
  • ⅜ inch pitch, .050 inch gauge;
  • 20-inch length;
  • Fits 55 Rancher, 257, 261, 262 XP, 359, 455 Rancher, 460 and 460 Rancher Husqvarna saw models.

If your chainsaw is one of the models that are compatible with this 20-inch chain, then read further this review. The main problem with this chain is that it doesn’t even match most of the Husqvarna saws of 20-inch chain size. However, it is a surprisingly cheap yet lasting chain with professional-level performance.

Like all other low kickback chains, the pitch and gauge of this chain are kept low. Some have complained about the poor tensioning of this chain. But I strongly recommend watching some tutorials on youtube about fixing the tension of a newly installed chain.

Because my experience says otherwise. Whether installing, tensioning, or sharpening, everything is okay with this chain. In fact, I will say that there is hardly any chain available in the market that gives you superior performance at such an economical price.


  • High-performance;
  • Long Lasting;
  • Inexpensive.


  • Doesn’t fit most of the 20-inch chainsaw models.

5. Oregon AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain (D70), 20-Inch

oregon advancecut chainsaw chain
  • ⅜ inch pitch, .050 inch gauge;
  • 20-inch length;
  • Fits Homelite, McCulloch, Poulan, Echo, and Craftsman chainsaw brands.

Yes, Oregon chains are more versatile than the Husqvarna ones. But still, I recommend that readers check for the pitch, gauge, and link of their chainsaws to find the best match for their machines. Overall, it fits most 50 to 100cc chainsaws.

Now, let’s get back to this D70 chain from Oregon. It is chrome plated and heat-treated to make it more durable and wear-resistant. I liked most about this chain most because there is a guide mark on every tooth that sharpens the chain. It is an excellent addition if you are running an old saw with no built-in sharpener like mine.

Out of the package, the chain is incredibly sharp. It works best for chiseling and precious cutting like ripping a tree for firewood and so on. The chain is lubricated, so you won’t be needing to oil it for a long time. It is affordable and made for intermediate-level use.


  • Wear resistance;
  • Affordable;
  • Ideal for precise cuts.


  • No cons.

6. STIHL Rapid Super Chainsaw Chain (26RS 81), 20 inch

  • 325-inch pitch, .063-inch gauge, 81 links;
  • 20-inch length;
  • Fits Boss Series, 024, 026, 028, 034, 036, MS241, MS260, MS261, MS270, MS271, MS290, and MS291 Stihl Chainsaw Models.

The Stihl chainsaws may not fit chains from other makers. There are some excellent chainsaws from Stihl that became a legend due to their performance. The FarmBoss series from Stihl is one of those. This beast needs chains to let it do its jobs, which are just meant for it. These chains form Stihl which fits most models of Stihl but usually works best with FarmBoss.

The chain has a specific type of pitch and gauge, so it may not fit other chainsaws. To be sure that this one is your deal, just check the bar. The details of the chains that fit your saw should be written on it.

This chain is outstanding. It makes perfect cuts with a buttery finish. You won’t have to deal with the aftermath of nasty and dull cuts, making a lot of sawdust. Instead, it creates large chips as it goes down into the wood.

There are several negative reviews about this chain. Whoever bought this from unauthenticated sources or tried to install it in other models rather than FarmBoss has faced problems. So, I will only recommend this to FarmBoss users.


  • Fits most Stihl chainsaws;
  • Creates less dust;
  • Reasonable price.


  • Not recommended for chainsaws from other manufacturers.

7. Oregon Semi-chisel Chainsaw Chain (S56),16-Inch

oregon semi-chisel chainsaw chain
  • 325-inch pitch, .063-inch gauge, and 56  links;
  • 16-inch length;
  • It fits up to 42 ccs saw from Craftsman, Echo, Homelite, Poulan, and Remington brands.

AdvanceCut chainsaw chains’ advantage is that they fit most chainsaw brands as long as the pith, gauge, and tooth link matches. This chain is incredibly easy to install. Its four-way symmetrical straps make installing fast and hassle-free, even if you are doing it for the first time.

Though all the chains from Oregon’s AdvanceCut series are pre-lubricated, it is still necessary to lube up your bar before running the chain on it. These chains are chrome plated and heat-treated for extra hardness. They cut wood like a hot knife on butter. These are semi-chisel chains, so the cuts you are getting from should never require further chiseling not to produce filthy dust. It is an excellent option for milling chainsaws.


  • Cheap price;
  • Easy to install;
  • Smooth cutting performance.
  • Fits most brands with the same configuration.


  • No cons.

8. Oregon ControlCut Chain (L68) for Stihl Chainsaw, 18-Inch

  • 325-inch pitch, .063-inch gauge, and 68 links;
  • 18-inch length;
  • Fits Stihl Chainsaw.

This chain is just for a Stihl chainsaw and cuts even better than Stihl chains. It is cheaper, lasts longer, and requires little maintenance. The list is endless if I keep comparing this chain with the Stihl chain. This ControlCut series chain is semi-chisel and MicroChisel type, which means it cuts perfectly without making much sawdust or wood chips.

Oregon has been careful while making this chain. Each of these chain’s teeth has a filing indicator mark to guide you on how much sharpening it needs. Though it needs less sharpening, it goes longer than the original Stihl chain that comes with the chainsaw.

Unlike the advanced cut chains, this chain is not pre-lubricated. You need to oil it sufficiently to get the best results. This chain will fit most of the Stihl chainsaw of 38-62 cc.


  • For semi-chisel and micro-chisel cuts;
  • Cheaper than Stihl chains;
  • Comes with a filing mark guide.


  • Only for Stihl chainsaws.

9. Oregon Micro-Lite Chainsaw Chain (R34), 8-Inch

  • 3/8 inch pitch, .043  inch gauge, and 34 links;
  • 8-inch length;
  • Fits pole saws from Craftsman, Poulan, Ryobi, and Remington.

The microlite series of Oregon is a different kind of technology than its other series like ControlCut, semi-chisel, micro chisel, etc. That’s because these chains are meant for low-energy small chainsaws such as pole saws. These are made even narrower than other models to do the job without draining much of the machine’s energy.

This chain has all the advantages of AdvanceCut chains, just in a different pitch and gauge measurement. Meaning, it will be equally efficient in minimizing vibration and creating less kickback.

As a pole saw chain, it works wonderfully. Though it fits almost all the pole saws that exist on earth, the makers recommend contacting them about whether it fits yours or not before ordering one finally.


  • Ideal for low-energy pole saws;
  • Fits almost all pole saw models;
  • Inexpensive;
  • Low kickback.


  • No cons.

10. Oregon AdvanceCut Chainsaw Chain (S52), 14-Inch

  • 3/8 inch pitch, .050  inch gauge, and 52 links;
  • 14-inch  length;
  • Fits chainsaws from Craftsman, Echo, Homelite, Poulan, etc.

I recommend new users of a chainsaw replace the chain that arrived with the saw with this one. That’s because it is a cheap chain as a replacement part. Another reason is, it cuts way too better than the ‘free’ chains with just a few bucks. But the result is a night and day difference.

This chain’s links are uniquely made to be installed easily, and the chain fits the loop problem-free. The tooth has a different design than other chain makers’ chains. I can’t get to the details, but it cuts better like a knife on butter, chips well, and delivers better cuts for the unique shape of the tooth.

But the hard truth is, being a cheap chain, it gets dull more quickly than other high-quality Oregon chains. I can’t blame it cause you get what you pay for. For occasional use, this chain is worth a try.


  • Cheap;
  • Easy to install;
  • Durable.


  • Gets dull faster.

Read more: 5 Best Chainsaw Bars for Smoothest Work

When to Change the Chain

To properly maintain your chainsaw, you need to change the chain after a certain period of time. Because the chain moves so fast to cut the material, it creates friction, interrupting the performance. So you should know what the right time to replace it is.

To identify the right time, you can check for these signs-

  • When several teeth of your chain break off, you need to replace them.
  • If you need to sharpen the chain after each use and the teeth are getting small, it’s high time to change the chain.
  • If the cutter becomes very small due to regular use, you need to get a new chain.
  • After a long time of usage, the chainsaw needs to push into the wood to cut it down. However, the saw does this by itself in its best condition. But if you notice that it bounces off while cutting, the solution is to replace the chain.

Chainsaw Chain: Features for the Best Fitting & Performance

As you have some idea about different types of chains and when to replace them, you only need to know the chain’s basic features. Then you’ll be able to choose the best chain for your chainsaw.

Chain Size

Pich the chain that matches the size of the bar of your chainsaw. For example, if the bar measures 20 inches, buy a 20-inch chain. If you get a wrong-sized chain, it won’t fit in your chainsaw, or it’ll be too loose to make cuts.

Chain Pitch & Gauge

These are the essential features that make differences in different chains. They determine the vibration level and tension of the chain. You’ll find the specification for the chain pitch and gauge on the package.

You’ll also find the recommended chainsaw for the specific chain on its package. With the help of the package information, you’ll be able to get the right chain for your saw.

Anti Vibration

The chain’s vibration affects the chainsaw’s performance because the vibration is a kind of energy wastage. You’ll find several chains that ensure to have minimum vibration during the cutting process.

Anti Kickback

Chainsaws are a great tool to deal with wood, but they are considered dangerous for many reasons, and kickback is one of them. So you should buy a chain that comes with anti-kickback features. Modern chains ensure your safety by including these features.

FAQs by People

What is the Sharpest Chainsaw Chain?

Specialists say the best chainsaw toolchain for cutting kindling is the Husqvarna High Performance 18 inches, 0.05 measure, 0.325 pitch chain. It is a low-payoff, low-vibration chain.

What is the Longest-Lasting Chainsaw Toolchain?

Considerably more tough than a standard chain is the carbide-tip chainsaw toolchain. Carbide tips last longer than chrome and are not impacted by heat. In light of these characteristics, the carbide chain is brilliant for cutting items that would dull standard chains rapidly, for example, railroad ties.

How Big of a Tree Can a 20-inch Chainsaw Cut?

A gas-powered chainsaw with a bar length of 20 inches or more is best for felling large hardwood trees like oak, spruce, birch, beech, and hemlock, many of which may be 30 – 36 inches in diameter.

Why Does Dirt Dull a Chainsaw?

Nobody plans to run their chainsaw into the dirt. But once you cut on the brink of the bottom, you’re just begging for a speck of fast-read dirt, rocks, and crud—all it takes is maybe a second within the dirt to dull the cutters. Additionally, to dull the cutters, dirt also wears out the chain links faster, causing the chain to stretch.


Finally, we can say that if you go through this buying guide, it’ll be too easy for you to choose a chain for your chainsaw.

Because here we’ve discussed different types of chains and the basic features of a chain. Also, from this post now, you know when you should replace the old chain.

You can also choose one from the list we’ve provided, as they are the most popular product in recent days. Just check the features, match them with your chainsaw and pick the perfect one.

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About This Writer

author eric devin

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

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