Choosing a replacement chain for your chainsaw isn’t just about getting the right fit. True, this is vitally important, but there are other things to consider as well. Different chains are suitable for different types of wood and cutting needs. You also need to consider how often you plan to use your chainsaw and how much experience you have with it. Some replacement chainsaw chains have safety features such as low kickback, making them safer for more inexperienced users.
However, these may not have the aggressive cutting power that professional tree fellers need. Once you’ve selected your new replacement, you’ll, of course, want to know how to fit it and also how to take care of it, so it lasts a long time. To help you select the best chainsaw chain for your needs, we’ve spent a ton of time finding the 10 best chainsaw chains on the market.
We’ll give you the pros and cons of each. So, whether you’re a landscaper, an arborist, or you just want a replacement chainsaw chain to continue cutting firewood for your wood heater, you’ll find the ideal replacement chainsaw chain from one on our list.
Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive buying guide so that you fully understand what to look for when selecting a new chain for your saw.
View the Best Chainsaw Chain, Below.
- Oregon S62 AdvanceCut 18-Inch Chainsaw Chain
- Husqvarna 581643603 X-Cut Chain
- Oregon S40 AdvanceCut Replacement Saw Chain
- Husqvarna 531300441 RANCHER X Chainsaw Chain
- SUNGATOR SG-S62 Chainsaw Chain
- Oregon S56 AdvanceCut Chain
- Husqvarna 531300437 HIGH-PERFORMANCE Chain
- Poulan Pro 577180501 chainsaw chain
- Echo 91PX62CQ Chainsaw Chain
- MILWAUKEE 49-16-2715 Chain
1. Oregon S62 AdvanceCut 18-Inch Chainsaw Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Hardwood
The Oregon 18 inch S62 chainsaw chain is suitable for all 18-inch bar length chainsaw brands, including Echo, Husqvarna, Craftsman, Kobalt, McCulloch, Homelite, Remington, and Poulan. This low-vibration chain helps to reduce fatigue when cutting for long periods. With the built-in Lubri-Tec, the chain is automatically oiled. This extends the life of the chain and allows for better and longer cutting.
Why We Liked It: This heavy-duty Oregon chainsaw chain is designed to fit a variety of chainsaws with a bar length of 18 inches. It's a high-quality chain that is self-lubricating, tested, and certified to meet low-kickback standards. This is the best chainsaw chain for hardwood.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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2. Husqvarna 581643603 X-Cut Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Occasional Users
The Husqvarna X-Cut chainsaw chain is designed to fit a Husqvarna chainsaw with an 18-inch bar length. It offers excellent durability due to its high-quality materials. The chain is pre-stretched at the factory to save you constantly adjusting it.
Why We Liked It: This is a very sharp, heavy-duty chainsaw chain that cuts through wood like butter. It's ideal for professionals who don't mind a little kickback to get the job done fast and efficiently. It's easy to fit and requires minimal adjustment. This chain is one of the more aggressive ones on our list.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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3. Oregon S40 AdvanceCut Replacement Saw Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Small Chainsaws
The Oregon S40 chainsaw chain is suitable for a variety of chainsaw brands with a 10-inch bar length. These include Greenworks, Echo, and Poulan. The chain features a tough, long-lasting chrome outer layer with hardened rivets to reduce wear and the need for constant chain adjustments.
Why We Liked It: This low-vibration heavy-duty chain from Oregon is suitable for people who have a lot of cutting to do. It also features the Oregon chain's built-in Lubri-Tec automatic oiling system to keep the chain lubricated when you need it the most.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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4. Husqvarna 531300441 RANCHER X Chainsaw Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Lightweight Chainsaws
The Husqvarna Rancher chainsaw chain is suitable for chainsaws with a 20-inch blade. It's specially designed for lightweight chainsaws, despite being high-performing and heavy-duty. It's also suitable for commercial cutters and arborists as well as homeowners who engage in light-duty cutting.
Why We Liked It: This Husqvarna chainsaw chain is one of the best for a Husqvarna chainsaw with a 20-inch blade. It comes with extra safety features, such as low vibration and kickback.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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5. SUNGATOR SG-S62 Chainsaw Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Cutting Firewood
The Sungator SG Chainsaw chain is suitable for a variety of chainsaws with a bar length of 18 inches. Compatible chainsaw models include Ryobi, Poulan, Craftsman, McCulloch, Echo, Greenworks, Remington, Kobalt, and Homelite. The chain has heat-treated and quenched rivets for strength and durability.
Why We Liked It: This chainsaw chain is made from high-strength, anti-fracture steel imported from Germany. The semi-chisel teeth are more resistant to dirt and dust, which means they stay sharper for longer. That makes this one of the best chains for cutting firewood.Check Price on Amazon ➞
6. Oregon S56 AdvanceCut Chain
Best Self-Lubricating Chainsaw Chain
The Oregon S56 chainsaw chain is suitable for many different brands of chainsaws that have a 16-inch bar. These include Poulan, Ryobi, Makita, Homelite, Craftsman, Husqvarna, McCulloch and Echo. This heat-treated, semi-chisel chain cuts smoothly and has a higher tolerance for dirt, dust, and debris.
Why We Liked It: Oregon has been making replacement chains for many years to fit many different brands of chainsaws. This Oregon S56 chain is high quality and offers high performance with low vibration and low kickback. Plus, the automatic oiling system from Oregon helps to reduce wear and tear on your chainsaw.Check Price on Amazon ➞
TRACTOR SUPPLY CO ➞
7. Husqvarna 531300437 HIGH-PERFORMANCE Chain
Best Overall Chainsaw Chain
This Husqvarna high-performance chainsaw chain is suitable for Husqvarna chainsaws with a 16-inch bar length. The chain offers high cutting performance and durability, making it ideal for lightweight chainsaws used by professionals and homeowners.
Why We Liked It: This high-performance chainsaw chain from Husqvarna is a great replacement chain for when your current chain gets too dull. It offers low vibration for safety and reduces fatigue when cutting for a long time.Check Price on Amazon ➞
TRACTOR SUPPLY CO ➞
8. Poulan Pro 577180501 chainsaw chain
Best Poulan Chainsaw Chain
This Poulan Pro chainsaw chain is designed for Poulan chainsaws with a 20-inch bar length. It has safety features such as low vibration and kickback.
Why We Liked It: If you have a Poulan Pro 20 inch chainsaw, then this replacement chain will work well. It offers good cutting performance.Check Price on Amazon ➞
TRACTOR SUPPLY CO ➞
9. Echo 91PX62CQ Chainsaw Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain For Echo Saws
This replacement chainsaw chain from Echo is designed to fit the following 18 inch Echo chainsaws. Echo CS-400, Echo CS-400F, Echo CS-370, and Echo CS-370F . It's a low-profile chain and a genuine OEM Echo part.
Why We Liked It: The Echo 18 inch chainsaw chain is designed to fit certain models of Echo chainsaws. It'll work well if you have the right model Echo chainsaw. Safety features include low kickback and vibration.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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10. MILWAUKEE 49-16-2715 Chain
Best Chainsaw Chain From Milwaukee
This replacement chainsaw chain from Milwaukee is designed to be used with narrow kerf bars. It's primarily for Milwaukee M18 chainsaws with a 16-inch blade. Safety features include low vibration and minimal kickback.
Why We Liked It: If you own a Milwaukee M18 chainsaw with a 16-inch blade, then this is the perfect replacement chain. It's easy to install and works well.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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Best Chainsaw Chains Buying Guide
When your current chain has become dull and ineffective, you can easily sharpen it to cut efficiently again. However, you can only sharpen most chains a limited number of times before there’s not enough metal left on the teeth to cut. This is when you need to buy a replacement chain so that you can get on with the job. However, before buying a chainsaw chain, there are a number of variables you need to consider.
These include the chain size that correlates to the length of the guide bar, the number of drive links, the pitch, the gauge, and whether you want chains for cutting hardwood, softwood, or just for light pruning. Let’s look at these different variables in more detail.
3 Different Types of Chainsaw Chains
Were you aware that there are actually three different types of chainsaw chains? Each type of chain has a different cutter design for a particular type of job. These chains come in different sizes to suit different-sized chainsaws. Each chain is made up of a number of teeth or cutters and drive links. As the chainsaw is operating, these rotate around the bar at a very high speed to cut the wood. (Read the Study)
The cutting teeth protrude above the drive links and have two blade angles. Each cutter design has a different blade angle, and these are known as chisel angles. These chisel angles determine the chain’s cutting ability through different types of wood. They also ensure the safety of the chain.
In addition, there are also specialty chains that feature either low-profile cutters or narrow kerf teeth. For even more variability, ripping chains cut along the grain of the wood rather than against it.
Let’s look at how these different chains are configured and how the cutter design affects what you use each chain for.
Full Chisel Cutters
A full chisel chainsaw chain is the most aggressive and heavy-duty chain on the market. These full chisel chains are ideal for large chainsaws and experienced users. Full chisel chains easily cut through a variety of hardwoods such as maple and oak.
Full chisel cutters or teeth attach to the top of cutter plates at a 90-degree angle. This allows the full chisel chain to spin at high speed and the teeth to dig into the wood for optimum cutting strength.
The one disadvantage to these aggressive full chisel chains is that they produce more kickback than other types of chains. Kickback happens when the chainsaw jerks back violently as the tip of the blade touches the wood.
That’s why a full chisel chain is best suited for professional woodcutters or those who know what they’re doing. It’s also important to keep a full chisel chain out of the dirt because this will make it dull much faster.
Semi Chisel Cutters
Semi-chisel chainsaw chains are less aggressive because the teeth are rounded along their outer edges. This means they don’t produce as much kickback, making semi-chisel chains much safer to use. Generally, a semi-chisel chain cuts slower than a full chisel, but this means that the chain will not lose its sharpness as quickly.
A semi-chisel chain is suitable for cutting both hardwood and softwood. Semi chisel chains are also more tolerant when cutting through logs on the ground. The dirt doesn’t dull the blades as quickly because the semi-chisel tips are rounded. Most new chainsaws now come standard with semi-chisel chains.
Micro Chisel Cutters
Micro chisel chains are similar to semi-chisel chainsaw chains, except that the rounded edges on the teeth are smaller. This makes these chains extremely suitable for precision cuts when pruning trees. These chains are ideal for both homeowners and arborists who have a lot of tree pruning to do. Although you can use this type of chain to cut through hardwood, it will take much longer as the chain works its way through the wood.
Low Profile Chains
These chains have shorter teeth than regular chains. They come with either semi-chisel or micro chisel cutters. This lower profile means that the chain is far less likely to kick back, making these the safest chains for inexperienced users.
These chains cut through both hardwood and softwood, but they are slower at cutting than other chains. They also tend to lose their sharpness much quicker.
Narrow Kerf Chains
Narrow kerf chains have narrower cutters compared to standard ones. These allow for a thinner and narrower cut. These chains are ideal for electric chainsaws. Bear in mind that to fit a narrow kerf chain, your chainsaw bar must be designed to fit one of these chains.
Ripping chains are designed for milling logs into planks, much like what happens when a log goes through a sawmill. The teeth on these chains cut at a 10-degree angle instead of the 30-degree angle that standard cutters use.
Full Skip and Semi Skip Chains
Both full skip and semi skip chains have fewer teeth than a standard chain. However, a full skip chain has fewer teeth than a semi skip chain. The teeth on a full skip chain are separated by two drive links rather than one drive link, as is the case with standard chains.
On a semi skip chain, the configuration is a little different. First, a right-sided cutter is followed by a drive link, then a left-sided cutter, and finally two drive links. Fewer teeth allow the chainsaw to cut quicker as there’s less drag from the chain. These are ideal for chainsaws with very long bars and those that are less powerful.
Variability of Tip Materials
In addition to the cutter’s shape and configuration, they also vary in the tips’ materials. This has a bearing on how these chainsaw chains work best. Common tip materials include carbide, diamond, and chrome. Most full chisel and semi-chisel chains will have teeth dipped in chrome. This keeps them sharper for longer and makes them more resistant to damage from debris.
On the other hand, chains dipped in carbide will last much longer when working with hardwoods. These are usually more expensive to buy, but they are extremely durable. Diamond-dipped chains are even more expensive, but these are primarily designed to cut through concrete and rocks. You need a special chainsaw for these chains.
Measurements to Consider When Choosing the Right Chain for your Saw
Now that you understand the primary differences in chainsaw chains, the next step is to check that the chain size you’re thinking of buying will actually fit your chainsaw. There are four different measurements to consider: the guide bar length, the number of drive links, the gauge and pitch of the teeth, and the links on the chain.
Guide Bar Length
As you would imagine, the guide bar length is the total length of the guide bar on your chainsaw. It can be anywhere from 8 to 30 inches, depending on which chainsaw model you have. When fitted, the right chain should cover the entire guide bar and leave a small amount of space for tightening.
You can easily check the user manual that came with your chainsaw to determine what chain size you should be buying. However, if you don’t have the manual handy, then it’s easy to measure the length of the guide bar yourself.
The gauge refers to the thickness of the drive link holes. These holes hold the cutting chain in place while you’re working so that the chain doesn’t slip off the bar. Getting the gauge correct means less vibration and kickback as the teeth lock into each other.
The most common gauge sizes are: 0.043″, 0.050″, 0.058″, and 0.063″. Most chainsaws should have the gauge printed on them, or you can check the user manual.
The Drive Links
As you might imagine, the number of drive links determines the length of the chain. If you’re not sure what length chain you need, you should count the drive links on your existing chain and then look for a replacement chain with the same number.
The pitch measures the distance between a drive link and a cutting link. To get an accurate pitch measurement, you have to measure from the middle of one rivet to the middle of the third rivet along and then divide this in half. You’ll find that the most common pitch for the majority of chainsaw brands is 3/8 inch.
Other pitches available include 1/4 inch, 0.325 inches, and 0.404 inches. Chains with a longer pitch are usually more aggressive and will cut faster.
Other Features to Consider
Apart from the chain type and various measurements, there are other features to look for when buying the right chain for your saw.
Built-In Oil Lubrication
No doubt you are aware that your chainsaw chain needs constant oiling or lubrication. This reduces the friction and heat that occurs when your chain spins around the chainsaw’s guide bar while cutting.
Some replacement chains have built-in lubrication. This works by dripping small amounts of oil onto the chain while it’s spinning. Some chains even have channels in each drive link. These channels automatically disperse oil across the chain while it’s cutting.
A Caution About Self-Sharpening Chainsaws
Some chainsaws have a self-sharpening feature. This may reduce the life of your chain over time if you use it incorrectly. This self-sharpening mechanism turns on with the pull of a lever on these chainsaws.
When turned on, there is a small rasp in the saw’s body that applies pressure to the tips of teeth to sharpen them. However, this could also mean that the teeth are sharpened more than necessary. This, in turn, could shorten the life of the chain.
Therefore, if your chainsaw does have this feature, use it sparingly and ensure that the chain you buy is suitable for this type of chainsaw.
Depending on the chainsaw chain brand, many replacement chains come with low vibration and low kickback features. These are usually semi-chisel or micro chisel chains.
This feature makes it much safer for less experienced users. However, the major drawback here is that these ‘safety’ chains are likely to be less aggressive and will take a little longer to cut through the wood.
How To Care For Chainsaw Chains?
Looking after your chainsaw chains will extend their life, so you won’t have to replace them too often. Here are some care tips to consider.
- Make sure that your chain is well-lubricated at all times. This reduces friction and can make your chainsaw chain last longer.
- Ensure you’re working with a sharp chain at all times. This means it will take you less time to do all the cutting you need to do. And, the less time your chain is working, the longer it will last.
- Remove and store your chain if you don’t intend to use your chainsaw for an extended period of time. This will keep the chain clean and dry. After you remove the chain, spray it with protective oil to keep it from rusting.
- Whenever possible, don’t let your chainsaw chain hit the dirt. Dirt, dust, and other debris will dull your chain much faster than wood. Try to avoid cutting logs that are sitting on the ground. It’s far better to raise one end of the log before cutting if this is at all possible.
When Should you Replace your Chainsaw Chain?
One of the most obvious answers to this is when the chain has become dull and is no longer cutting effectively. However, many people like to sharpen their saw chain rather than replace it. This can be an effective solution for a while, but eventually, there won’t be enough metal left on the teeth to give your chain a nice sharp edge. Then, it’s definitely time to get a new one.
Here are a few other things to look out for that may indicate it’s time to get a new chain:
- If there are teeth missing on your chain, you’ll find cutting much more difficult, and you’ll also notice a lot more vibration.
- Once you’ve sharpened a chain a number of times, there won’t be enough left on the teeth to sharpen any further.
- If your chain becomes too loose and you can’t tighten it anymore, you’ll need a new one. Obviously, using a chainsaw with a loose chain is both ineffective and also highly dangerous. The chain could fly off while you’re using it and cause serious harm.
How to Replace Chainsaw Chains?
Although many different chainsaw models are available, replacing chainsaw chains is similar no matter what brand of chainsaw you have. We advise you to consult the user manual to get the exact details of how to change the chain.
Nevertheless, here’s a basic guide on how to replace a chainsaw chain:
- First, you want to remove the side panel on your saw covering the chainsaw bar. You may have to unscrew a couple of nuts to do this.
- Release the tension on the chain. Usually, you can do this by moving the bar to the outside. But check the saw’s manual for the correct directions.
- When the chain is hanging loosely, carefully work your way along the chain to release it from the bar.
- Now, place the new chain around the bar. Ensure each drive link fits into the hole or groove in the bar. Your chain will still be a little loose at this stage.
- Tighten the tension on the chain by pulling the bar back into the forward position. Alternatively, your brand of chainsaw may have a lever to help tighten the chain.
- Refasten the cover onto the bar.
How Often Should you Sharpen your Chain Saw Chain?
How often you sharpen your cutting chain depends entirely on how much use it’s getting and the type of wood you’re cutting. For example, cutting lots of hardwood and large logs will mean your chain will get dull much faster than if you’re only cutting up softwood logs or firewood.
A good indication that your chain might need sharpening is when it starts to spew out dust rather than wood chips. (check out our review on best chipper shredders) If this is the case, then it’s time to sharpen your chain. While some people choose to sharpen their own chains, others are happier to take their chains to a professional to sharpen.
On the other hand, if you’ve had good use of the chain, it might be more cost-effective just to replace it with a nice new one. This might be an easier option, especially if you find sharpening chainsaw chains a chore.
How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Chain
If you have the right tools and a little patience, you can easily sharpen the teeth on your chain whenever they become a little dull. Here are the tools you’ll need:
- A round file that matches the diameter of the cutting teeth on your chain
- A file guide to help control the depth that the file can cut to
- Flat file to lower the depth gauges on the chain
- A depth gauge guide for resetting the depth gauges
You’ll want to use the round file to sharpen the cutters. Remember that each cutter has two sharp edges that you need to file to resharpen them.
When using the round file, don’t pull it across the teeth but push it instead. This is because round files only sharpen in one direction. Make sure you use the same number of strokes and pressure for each cutter. This will make sure that you’re sharpening evenly.
In between each set of cutters is the depth gauge. This looks a little like a shark fin. It controls how far the teeth cut into the wood. You want the depth gauges to be about 0.025 inches below the cutters.
How Long Does a Chainsaw Chain Last?
Once again, this depends entirely on how often you use the chainsaw. For most homeowners who only use their chain for tree pruning, a saw chain may last many years before it needs replacing. On the other hand, professional woodcutters may go through a chain every six months. Especially if they’re constantly cutting wood to supply people with firewood during the colder months.
What Safety Gear Should you Consider?
Operating a chainsaw can be quite dangerous if you’re inexperienced and don’t have the right safety equipment. Here’s a quick list of the safety gear you should be wearing while operating your chainsaw with its new, sharp cutting chain:
- A safety helmet to protect your head from flying debris
- Eye protection in the form of goggles, safety glasses, or a perspex visor
- Long trousers or chaps to protect your legs from flying debris
- Heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands and fingers and to give you a better grip
- Hearing protection in the form of earmuffs to protect your hearing from the deafening noise a chainsaw makes
- Sturdy boots to protect your feet from flying woodchips and sharp sticks
Choosing a replacement cutting chain for your saw requires you to look at all the different chains available on the market. There are basically three different types of standard chains and a variety of specialty chains that you can select from. Each of these chains carries out different tasks, from cutting down large trees to stumps, cutting firewood to tackling regular pruning of your backyard fruit trees.
Once you’ve worked your way through these variables, make sure you buy the chain that will fit your chainsaw accurately. Variable measurements include the chain length, how many drive links you’ll need, and the gauge and pitch of the teeth and links.
If you’re not a professional and haven’t used your chainsaw much in the past, you’ll also want to select a chain with additional safety features. Look for ones that reduce the vibration and kickback that more aggressive chains may produce.
Once you’ve found your ideal chain, you need to know how to fit your chain correctly and how to care for it. You’ll want it to last the longest possible time. We hope that our reviews and our very extensive buying guide have made your job much easier. Hopefully, your choice isn’t as difficult as you might have first thought!