What is Chainsaw Chain Pitch? (Everything You Need to Know!)

what is chainsaw chain pitch

Ever wondered about that mysterious “pitch” number on your chainsaw chain?

If you’re like me, you might have just shrugged it OFF as some technical mumbo jumbo. (Who cares what it means, right?)

But understanding the pitch on your chain is really IMPORTANT!

Keep reading, and you’ll soon see why it matters!”

What is the Pitch on a Chainsaw Chain?

what is chainsaw chain pitch

Chain pitch refers to the distance between any three consecutive rivets divided by two. The rivets are the small, round metal pieces that keep the chain together. 

Chain pitch is measured in inches and there’re mainly 6 pitch sizes available: 1/4″, 3/8″, 3/8LP, .325″, .404”, and 3/4″.

Chain pitch determines how close together the drive links are on your chain. 

(Also Read: What is Chainsaw Chain Gauge?)

Different Chain Pitch Sizes Explained

Let’s have a look at the different chain pitch sizes and what they’re BEST suited for.

1/4" Pitch Chains

  • ☑️ Extremely lightweight and smaller gauge chains.
  • ☑️ These chains have a smaller cutting surface area, which results in slower cutting speeds.
  • ☑️ Specially designed for light-duty tasks such as pruning, trimming, carving, and cutting small trees.
  • ☑️ Ideal for small homeowner chainsaws with engines up to 38cc.

.325" Pitch Chains

  • ☑️ Offer GREAT control with low vibrations and kickback.
  • ☑️ Narrow-cutting teeth produce precise and clean cuts.
  • ☑️ The drive links are bigger and thicker than those in the 1/4″ pitch chains.
  • ☑️ Ideal for demanding tasks such as bucking, felling, and climbing.
  • ☑️ Recommended for chainsaws with engines 38-60cc.

3/8" Pitch Chains

  • ☑️ Probably the most common chain pitch used in consumer chainsaws. 
  • ☑️ These chains have larger, taller, and wider teeth that offer faster cutting speeds.
  • ☑️ The thicker and deeper drive links provide strength and durability for tough tasks like felling and bucking.
  • ☑️ Ideal for chainsaws with engines 50-100cc.

3/8" LP Pitch Chains

  • ☑️ These chains are the same size as the standard 3/8″ pitch chains but with low-profile teeth.
  • ☑️ This makes them easier to control and less prone to kickback.
  • ☑️ These chains are lighter than the standard 3/8″ pitch chains and offer faster cutting speeds.
  • ☑️ The drive links are shorter than those found in the standard 3/8″ pitch chains.
  • ☑️ Smaller saws perform really WELL with these chains.
✍️ Note: The 3/8″ LP pitch chains and the standard 3/8″ pitch chains aren’t interchangeable. This means you can’t put a 3/8″ LP chain on a guide bar that’s designed to run with standard 3/8″ pitch chains. (and vice versa!)

.404" Pitch Chains

  • ☑️ These are the heaviest-duty chains available and are specially designed for big, powerful saws with engines of 90cc or more.
  • ☑️ With larger and wider teeth, these chains cut faster than 3/8″ pitch chains.
  • ☑️ BEST suited for tasks like timber harvesting and milling.
  • ☑️ On top of it, these chains can withstand intense abuse without breaking or stretching too much.
  • ☑️ Though .404″ pitch chains offer excellent cutting speed, they’re less forgiving and more difficult to control than the smaller ones.

3/4" Pitch Chains

  • ☑️ First of all, YES, 3/4″ pitch chains are REAL!
  • ☑️ These chains are mainly used for harvester applications.
  • ☑️ Regular handheld chainsaws aren’t designed to run with these chains as they require a lot of power and torque.
  • ☑️ Compared to other pitch chains, these have the widest cutting surface.
  • ☑️ And, they’re extremely BULKY!

How to Determine the Pitch of a Chainsaw Chain?

If you’re wondering what pitch size your chainsaw chain is, don’t worry!

Here are 3 methods to help you determine the pitch of your chain: 👇

1) Check the Writings on Your Guide Bar

If you’re using the STOCK chain (meaning the chain that came with your saw), most likely you’ll find the pitch stamped on the bar.

For example –

Here’s a guide bar that runs a .404″ pitch chain: 👇

chainsaw chain pitch written on bar

2) Check the Chain Packaging

The pitch size is usually printed on the packaging of the chain.

Here’s an example of a .325″ pitch chain package: 👇

chainsaw chain pitch written on chain packaging

So, if you recently purchased a new chain and you have the packaging, then you can easily determine the pitch size this way.

3) Reading the Number Stamped on the Drive Links

Ever wondered what the number stamped on your chain drive links actually means?

What does the number stamped on chain drive links mean

Well, it identifies all the specs of your chain including the pitch size!

Depending on your chain brand, model, and type, you may find different variations of numbers stamped on the drive links.

Check out this handy chart below, which showcases some common stamped numbers from popular chain brands and their corresponding pitch sizes: 👇

Chain PitchChain GaugeWoodlandCarltonHusqvarnaOregonStihlWindsorMcCullochDolmar
13SC, 10SCE1MCH00251350K13RM-

30SC(S), 30RC(S),
A1EP, A1LMH51, H47,
H46, H80,
H475, H82
723350APM370, SPR370,
100, 92
38RC, 38RPA2EP, A2LMH54, H48,
H42, H81,
33RC, 36RCS,
A3EP, A3LMH50, H45,
753663PM373, SPR373110


20NK, 20SC,
20RC, 20RCS
H30, H22,
H23, H27,
95, 20,
2350JPM320, SPR32082

28RCK2C, K2LH25, H2121, 342558JSPR328083, 686

23RC, 23SCK3C, K3LH2622, 352663J--
43RC(S), 43RP,
B3H, B3M
H64, H57,
27, 68,
4663B, HCPM403, SPR403103, 108
48H(X)B5M-19, 18402HC--

All you need to do is find the stamped number on your chain and then look it up on this chart to determine your chain’s pitch size.

And if you happen to be using a brand that’s not listed here, don’t sweat it – you can usually track down the chart for that specific brand online.

4) Measure it Yourself

Anyways, if you couldn’t find the pitch information anywhere else then you can simply measure it yourself.

Here’s how you can measure the pitch of a chainsaw chain: 👇

1) First, lay out your chain on a flat surface.

2) Then, take a ruler or a caliper, and measure the distance from the center of one rivet to the center of the third rivet. 

measuring chainsaw chain pitch

3) Make sure you’re measuring in INCHES.

4) Finally, divide the result by 2, and you’ll get the pitch size of your chain!

As simple as that!!

What’s the Most Common Chainsaw Chain Pitch?

3/8″ pitch chainsaw chains are the most common, followed by 0.325″ and 0.404″. The 3/8″ pitch chain is the perfect all-around size for most cutting tasks and is the most popular choice for homeowners.

Almost 3 months back, I posted a poll on our Reddit Community asking the chainsawers to VOTE for their chain pitch size.

Here are the results: 👇

More than 63% of the respondents voted for the 3/8″ pitch chain, 27% chose the 0.325″ size, and only 5% voted for the 0.404″ pitch chain as their preferred choice. (Check the full post here)

It’s no wonder why 3/8″ is the most popular choice among chainsawers as it offers a GOOD balance between cutting speed and safety!

Half of my saws run on 3/8″ pitch chains (standard + LP), while the other half run on 0.325″ or 0.404″. But for my small electric saws, I prefer 1/4″ pitch chains.

Why is Chainsaw Chain Pitch So IMPORTANT?

I know what you’re wondering – “why is it so important to know the pitch size of a chainsaw chain?”

Well, that’s because your saw’s drive sprocket and your bar’s nose sprocket are designed to run a specific pitch size.

If you slap on a chain with the WRONG pitch that doesn’t match those sprockets, your saw won’t cooperate and can even sustain damage.

The chain will keep coming off the bar, and won’t cut.

That’s why you need to know the pitch of your chain and make sure you’re using the correct one.

Always keep this in mind 👉 Chainsaw chains are NOT universal. There’s NO one size fits all!

GoodBye Words!

That’s all I had to say!

Hope now you know what chainsaw chain pitch is and why it’s IMPORTANT!

Always stick to the correct pitch chain for your saw, or you might find yourself in a world of trouble!

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

BYE for now! 😀

Happy Sawing! 🪓

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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