How to Check RPM on a Chainsaw – 5 EASY Steps!

Whether you’re giving your chainsaw a check-up or getting it ready for a tune-up, you need to know the RPM your chainsaw’s engine is running at!

But how do you check the RPM on a chainsaw engine?

To check the RPM of your chainsaw engine, hold the tachometer near the spark plug wire while the engine is running. The tachometer will read & display the RPM of your chainsaw’s engine.

Btw, I’m Sam & I’ve been working with chainsaws for more than two decades now. I’m here to share some tips & tricks on how to check the RPM on a chainsaw engine.

So, let’s get started!

Chainsaw RPM in a Nutshell!

Are you mixing up “chainsaw RPM” with “chainsaw chain speed“?

You’re not alone! Many people tend to use these terms interchangeably, but in reality, they’re two different things.

All gas-powered chainsaws have a 2-stroke engine. And chainsaw RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) refers to the number of times the engine’s crankshaft rotates in a minute.

How Does a 2-Stroke Engine Work by

For example, if a chainsaw’s engine has a RPM of 10,000, it means that the crankshaft rotates 10,000 times in one minute.

On the other hand, chainsaw chain speed refers to how fast the chain moves around the guide bar. It’s usually measured in feet per second (FPS) or meters per second (MPS).

Easy peasy, right?

Average Chainsaw RPM

On average, a chainsaw runs at an RPM between 9,000 to 14,000. However, the ideal RPM for your chainsaw may vary depending on its make & model.

Higher RPM generally leads to increased power output & better acceleration, but it also leads to more wear and tear on the engine.

Plus, at higher RPM, your chainsaw is burning more fuel, so keep that in mind!

If you want to learn more, check out my ultimate guide on chainsaw RPM.

Highest RPM Chainsaws

Here are 3 gas-powered chainsaws with the highest RPMs: 👇

  1. Husqvarna 242-XP – 15,500 RPM
  2. Husqvarna 346-XP – 14,800 RPM
  3. Stihl MS 400 C-M – 14,200 RPM

Checking Chainsaw RPM Using a Wireless Tachometer

how to check RPM on a chainsaw

Wireless tachometers are super convenient & user-friendly!

You don’t have to deal with any wires or connectors – just point, shoot and there’s your RPM reading. (It’s like having a personal mechanic in your pocket!)

The BEST part?

They’re really accurate & can even be used on all sorts of engines (yes, even for your car!)

Steps to Check Chainsaw RPM Using a Wireless Tachometer

  1. Turn ON your chainsaw & get that engine warmed up!
  2. While your chainsaw is idling, hold the tachometer about 2-3 inches away from the spark plug wire. (Make sure the “arrow” on the tachometer is pointing towards the spark plug wire!)
  3. Note down the RPM reading on your tachometer. It’s your chainsaw’s idling RPM!
  4. Now, throttle up your chainsaw engine to its maximum & note down the RPM reading on your tachometer. It’s your chainsaw’s maximum RPM or WOT (Wide Open Throttle) RPM!
  5. Once you’re done, turn OFF your chainsaw.


  • Put on your safety gear (at least gloves & safety goggles) when working with your saw!
  • You shouldn’t throttle your saw for more than a few seconds without any load. (It can damage your engine!)

Checking Chainsaw RPM Using a Wired Tachometer

Don’t have a wireless tachometer?

Don’t worry, you can still check your chainsaw’s RPM using a wired one!

Steps to Check Chainsaw RPM Using a Wired Tachometer

  1. Remove the back cover of your chainsaw.
  2. Take your tachometer & loop the wire around the spark plug wire 5-6 times (Recommended). If you’re using the clip wire, clip it onto the spark plug wire.
  3. Start your chainsaw & let the engine idle for about 30 seconds.
  4. Check the reading on your tachometer. It’s your chainsaw’s idling RPM!
  5. Now, hold the throttle trigger down to its maximum and check the reading on your tachometer again. It’s your chainsaw’s maximum RPM!
  6. When you’re done, turn your chainsaw off and remove the tachometer from the spark plug wire.


  • Again, remember to put on your safety gear before working with your chainsaw.
  • If your tachometer has a long wire, make sure to keep it away from the chain while the engine is running.

Choosing the Right Tachometer for Your Chainsaw

I won’t say that I’ve tried every tachometer on the market, but I’ve definitely tried a bunch of them!

Based on my experience, here are 3 tachometers that I’d recommend: 👇

Fast Tach Digital Tachometer (Best Overall)

Fast-Tack Digital Tachometer


  • ✅ Fast refresh rate (less than half a second)
  • ✅ Longer recall range
  • ✅ You can switch between multiple modes
  • ✅ Max RPM recall feature


  • ❌ Expensive
  • ❌ A bit bigger in size than the other two on the list.
  • ❌ It doesn’t come with any attachment accessories.

This one’s my favorite! I’ve been using it for more than 4 years now!

The thing I like most about this tachometer is its superfast response rate. You get real-time readings without any delay.

But the price may be a turn-off for some people! (Check the latest price here)

Echo Tachometer (Runner Up)

Echo Wireless Tachometer


  • ✅ Compact & lightweight
  • ✅ Decently fast refresh rate
  • ✅ Way cheaper than the Fast Tach one
  • ✅ Auto power-off


  • ❌ No ON/OFF button
  • ❌ No max RPM recall feature

When it comes to compactness and weight, this tachometer is unbeatable!

There’s no button. It turns ON as soon as it senses pulses from the spark plug. And after 30 seconds of inactivity, it turns OFF automatically. (Saves battery life!)

The SAD part?

It doesn’t have a max RPM recall feature. So, you have to note down the reading on your own.

(Check the latest price here)

Stihl EDT 9 (Reliable but Overpriced)

Stihl EDT 9


  • ✅ Compact & lightweight
  • ✅ Max RPM recall feature
  • ✅ Offers multiple modes
  • ✅ Comes with attachment accessories & a detailed user guide


  • ❌ A bit more expensive than the Echo one.
  • ❌ Slow refresh rate
  • ❌There’s no ON/OFF button (it always stays on)

Here’s another good tachometer! It does its job just fine!

Except for the price & refresh rate, I have NO complaints about this one.

So, if you’re looking for a reliable tachometer without any “fancy” features, this one’s a good option. (Check the latest price here)

Samuel Anali

Hey there! My name is Sam, and I'm the NERD behind this site. I'm an avid chainsaw enthusiast, and I've been tinkering with them since I was 17 (it's almost 20 years now!).

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