How To Buy The Proper Chain For A Chainsaw

4 min

I have had lots of comments from guys on my site, saying exactly that – What did those numbers mean on the side of my guide bars on my chainsaw?

How do I make sure I’m getting the right proper replacement chain for my chainsaw?

So I’m going to cover both of those topics in this post.

First of all, if you just want a new chain for your chainsaw and you’re buying it from your local small engine shop, or your local dealer, take your saw and put it on the counter.

Then they can see what model your chainsaw is, they can see what chain you have on it, they can see what bar you have on and they can see the markings on that bar themselves.

But let’s face it guys, I mean, what year is this. In today’s day and age, we’re all buying stuff online.

If you’re buying it online how can you make sure that you’re buying the proper chain?

When you’re buying it online  there are three different numbers that you need to know. 

  • You need to know the pitch of your chain.
  • You need to know the gauge of your chain.
  • You need to know the driver count of your chain.

Now I’m going to take you through this really quick. We’re not going to spend a whole lot of time on this.

Just in a nutshell I’ll show you what I mean by this little shark-teeth looking things on the bottom of your chain those are your drivers.


The pitch of your chain, is how far apart those are from each.

The gauge of your chain is how thick those are, where it fits into the groove of you bar.

gauge of your chain

The next one is the driver count.

You literally count how many of those little shark-tooth looking things up and there are those little drivers on there.

I fold my chain in half and count by twos count it two or three times.

if you’re lucky, most of that information should be theoretically be stamped written on the side of your guide bar.

let’s look at these Stihl guide bar.


Really quick I’ll show you what I mean by that .

  • .050/1.3 – that’s your gauge.
  • 325 – that’s your pitch.
  • And clearly it says 68 drive’s long.

That has all three numbers that you need to know to order that chain online.

Husqvarna bar.

Husqvarna bar

  • 325 that’s your pitch.
  • 78DL. DL stands for drive links.
  • 058/15 that’s your gauge.

ECHO bar.

ECHO bar

Same thing:

  • .50 gauge.
  • 78 Drive links long.
  • 325 pitch.

Those are the 3 numbers that you need to come up with. Write those numbers down.

Now I got to say that those are the newer bars. They’re all the information on there, that you want.

Some of the  old bars don’t really have much information on them .

Sometimes they’ll have like 2 of those 3 numbers on there.

Have a look at these Oregon bar.

Oregon bars

This one right here says that means is 20-inch bar.

050 gauge, but it doesn’t really say the driver count or the pitch of the chain.

Here’s another Oregon bar that says 20-inch chain and 058 gauge and at least up here it says 3/8 chain, but neither one of those bars really tells you the driver count.

another Oregon bar

So hopefully you’re gonna have a bar that has all the information, all three numbers that you need on that.

The other thing I need to bring up is there might be a kind of a fourth thing that you got to worry about.

If you come up with that your chain has a 3/8 chain.

3/8 chain can come in two different sizes.

Here I’m going to show you the difference between the 3/8 chain, that’s full size chain and one that’s a Pico or a low-profile chain.

full size chain

You see how the drivers themselves are the spaced exactly the same.

Those both are 3/8 chain, but you can see clearly that these are different size changes, that could the cutters are different sizes.

This one on the bottom is a full size 3/8 chain. This one on the top is what’s called the 3/8 chain, but it’s a low profile or a picot chain.

There’s a little gray area right here when you get into about a 16 or an 18-inch bar.

If you go below an 18-inch bar and it’s a small chain saw. it could have 3/8 low profile picot chain on it.

When you get above the 16 or 18-inch mark, it’s most likely going to be the 3/8 full size chain.

If you have an electric chainsaw, it’s all almost guaranteed that’s a 3/8 small chain.

So now, if you want to buy a chain online, you have all three of those numbers, you know

whether it’s a 3/8 picot low-profile chain, where it’s the 3/8 full-sized chain.

You can go online and buy one now with that information.

Buy a new chain here.

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Passionate about DIY for over 10 years and all the new tools, I give you through this blog all my advice, tips, tests in all areas: carpentry, electricity, masonry, gardening, home automation ...


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