Do drive links matter on chainsaw?

Do drive links matter on chainsaw?

As drive links are so important for the chainsaw, it is necessary to consider how they can be used optimally.

Drive links have two main parts: the bar and the chain. The bar securely holds the chain in position, ensuring stability and support during wood cutting or other material processing. The question arises: Do drive links matter on chainsaw?

Yes, the number of drive links in chainsaws matters, as it directly affects the balance, strength, and length of the chain. The number of drive links affects the overall performance and functionality of the saw.

In this blog post, we will discuss the drive links on a chainsaw and also try to cover related questions as well. So, let’s get started.

Do drive links matter on chainsaw? Discuss in Detail

Drive links play a crucial role in chainsaw operation, dictating how the tool interacts with the material it cuts. Understanding the impact of drive links on a chainsaw’s performance is the first step to maximizing its utility and lifespan.

How Drive Links Impact Chainsaw Performance – 5 Key Factors

The performance of a chainsaw is largely dependent on the number of drive links it contains. It depends on a few factors, such as the pitch or size of the chain and how well it fits in a particular bar. Some important factors are:

Balance of the Chain

The balance of the chain is also affected by the number and type of drive links. A properly balanced chainsaw will be easier to maneuver, while an unbalanced chainsaw may lead to uneven cuts and increased vibration. This can not only make it harder to control the saw but also increase fatigue for the user.

Length of the Chain

The length of the chain is also affected by the number of links. A longer chain will allow for cleaner cuts, but it can also put extra strain on the saw motor.

As such, it’s important to find the right balance between cutting performance and motor stress.

Strength of the Chain

The strength of the chain is an important factor for any chainsaw. A stronger chain should be able to withstand the force generated during cutting and vibrations associated with chainsaw use.

Weak or worn-out drive links can lead to a weakened chain, which can cause it to break mid-cut and possibly even fly off the bar.

Optimal Number of Drive Links for Different Projects

The appropriate number of drive links for a chainsaw chain largely depends on the nature of the project. A chain with fewer drive links may suffice for light-duty tasks like pruning or cutting small branches.

On the other hand, for heavy-duty tasks such as felling large trees or cutting through thick logs, a chain with more drive links would be more appropriate.

Identifying When a Chain Needs Replacing or Repairing

It is important to know when to replace or repair a chain to maintain the chainsaw’s performance.

The important factors that a chain may need to be replaced include difficulty in cutting, the chain slipping off the bar, or visible damage to the drive links. Regular maintenance is the key to keeping drive links in top-notch condition, preserving your chainsaw’s overall health and performance.

What are Drive Links and Its Types?

Drive links are crucial in securely attaching the chainsaw chain to the bar and drive sprocket while operating with a chainsaw. These links are located on the underside of the chainsaw chain and fit into the guide bar’s groove to facilitate smooth chain movement.

Types of Drive Links

What is the difference in chainsaw links? There are primarily three types of chisel on the chainsaw drive links based on their shape: full-chisel, semi-chisel, and low-profile chisel.

  1. Full-Chisel Drive Links

Full-chisel drive links feature square-cornered teeth, providing aggressive sharpness. They are ideal for professional-grade tasks that demand high cutting speed. However, this type tends to dull quickly and is more prone to kickback.

  1. Semi-Chisel Drive Links

Semi-chisel drive links have rounded-corner teeth. While they cut slower compared to full-chisel links, they retain sharpness for a longer time and offer better resistance against kickback. This makes them suitable for beginners and homeowners users.

  1. Low-profile Chisel Drive links

Low-profile chains are designed for improved safety, as they are less likely to kick back than other chains. They feature round-corner teeth that cut slower but tend to last longer, making them an excellent choice for beginner chainsaw users.

Choosing the Right Drive Link

Selecting the appropriate type of drive link is crucial for achieving optimal performance, longevity, and safety during chainsaw operation.

Three measurements of chainsaw chains

Understanding the three crucial measurements of chainsaw chains is essential for proper chainsaw operation and maintenance. These measurements are the pitch, the gauge, and the number of drive links. Each of these parameters contributes to the overall functionality of the chainsaw.

Chainsaw Chain Pitch

The chain pitch is the distance between the number of drive links on the chain. It plays a crucial role in determining the compatibility between the chain and the sprocket. A smaller pitch size will cut slower but smoother, while a larger pitch size will cut faster but rougher.

Most saws use 0.325″, 3/8″, or 0.404″ pitch, with 1/4″ less common. Most consumer saws use a type of 3/8″ chain called “low profile”. We call it Picco. A few older saws use a 1/2″ pitch chain.

Chainsaw Chain Gauge

The chain gauge refers to the thickness of the drive links. It is essential to match the gauge of the chain with the gauge of the bar groove for proper fitting.

Guage Sizes: 0.050″ (1.3 mm) and 0.058″ (1.5 mm) are most common, 0.043″ (1.1 mm) and 0.063″ (1.6mm) are less common.

  • Both pitch and gauge determine the size of the chain. Improper sizing will affect the chainsaw’s cutting speed, smoothness, and performance.
  • The reference of size chain is from

Number of Chainsaw Chain Drive Links

The third crucial measurement is the number of drive links on a chainsaw chain. This determines the length of the chain, which should match the length of the chainsaw bar. An incorrect number of drive links can result in an improperly tensioned chain, reducing the effectiveness and safety of the chainsaw.

What does the number on a chainsaw drive link mean?

The number on a chainsaw drive link provides crucial information about the specific chain’s dimensions. This number usually refers to the number of drive links on the chain. It’s essential to note that chains with more drive links are typically longer and designed for bigger chainsaw bars.

An incorrect number of drive links can adversely affect the chainsaw’s performance, leading to problems like ineffective cuts and increased safety risks. Therefore, ensuring that the number of drive links is compatible with your chainsaw bar’s size is critical for optimal operation.

Below mentioned is the chainsaw drive link chart for McCulloch Chainsaw:

This chart can help you find a chain for your saw, but you should determine the size of your existing chain and the number of drive links before purchasing. Below are McCulloch chainsaw chain drive links explained:


McCullochNotesBar LengthReplacement Chain SizeNumber of Drive Links
PRO35, 40, Mini Macs PM 6, PM 12, PM series (155, 310, 320, 330, 340, 355, 360, 364, 370, 374, 375, 384, 470, 474, 480, 484, 494, 510, 515), Eager Beaver, Mini Mac (all Models), Mac 110, 115, 120, 130, 140, 160S, 400, 430, 435, 440, 445, 3200, 3210, 3214, 3216, 3514, 3516, 3518, 3816, 3818AV, McCat Super 6AV, 18AV, Silver Eagle 2010, 2012S, 2014S, 2016S, 2116AVS, 2316, 2318AVS, Titan 35,40, Wildcat/MacCat, Electramac 10ES, 12ES, 14ES, 16ES, 200-12, 250-12, 250-14, 300S-16, 450S-16, Silver Eagle, 250-14, 300S-16Chain length may vary. Count drive lugs on the existing chain. Some models used a 1/4″ chain.10″12″14″16″3/8″ Picco®38/3944/45495054/55
MAC 4600,4900 Series16″18″20″.325″ .050″667278
Mac (1-10, 2-10, 3-10, 4-10, 5-10, 6-10, 7-10, 10-10), CP55, CP70, CP70L, 10-10A, Pro 10-10A, Pro Mac (55, 60, 555, 570, 605, 610, 650, 655, 700, 800, 805, 850), Super Pro (60, 70, 80, 81,), Double Eagle 50, Double Eagle 80, Eager Beaver 3.4, 3.7, Titan 50, 57, Timber Bear, Silver Eagle 3420, 372016″18″20″24″3/8″ .050″60667081

Does the number of links of a chainsaw chain affect the sprocket?

Yes, the number of links of a chainsaw chain does affect the sprocket. The drive links interact directly with the sprocket as they enter and leave the bar groove. If the number of drive links is not correct for the size of the bar and sprocket, the chain may not fit properly. This can lead to inefficient cutting, increased wear on the sprocket, or even damage to the chainsaw. A question arises from users on discussing it: Should I have more or less links on my chainsaw chain?

Is more chainsaw chain links better?

More chainsaw chain links are not necessarily better. The number of drive links on the chain should be appropriate for the size of the bar and sprocket. Having too many links can lead to loose chain tension, reducing cutting efficiency and potentially causing the chain to jump off the bar.

Is fewer chainsaw chain links better?

On the other hand, too few links can lead to overly tight chain tension, increasing wear on the chain and sprocket and making the chainsaw harder to operate. It may even prevent the chain from fitting onto the bar altogether. Therefore, the optimal number of chainsaw chain links depends on the specific design and requirements of your chainsaw.

How many drive links are in a 16-inch chainsaw?

The number of drive links in a 16-inch chainsaw depends on the specific model of the chainsaw and the manufacturer’s design.

For Example, Husqvarna 435 chain 16-Inch chainsaw bar has a Pitch 0. 325”, Gauge 0. 050″, and chain drive link count: 66 (The same saw can be equipped with different bar lengths).
Also, STIHL 16-inch bar has 55 drive links for MS-170.


In conclusion, matching the correct number of chainsaw drive links to your chainsaw’s bar and sprocket is paramount. Incorrect sizing can lead to inefficient cutting, increased wear, and tear, or even damage to the chainsaw.

Therefore, always check your chainsaw’s specifications or consult a professional to ensure you use the right chain for your specific model.


Differentiate between 70 vs. 72 link chainsaw chain?

A 72-drive link chain typically has a 0.050-inch gauge or 1.3mm, whereas a 70-drive link chain has a similar thickness. However, the exact measurements may vary depending on the brand and type of the product.

What chainsaw chains do professional loggers use?

Professional loggers often prefer chains with a square chisel cut, such as Oregon’s SpeedCut Chain. This chain reduces kickback and provides a smooth, efficient cut for hard and softwood logs.

What is the difference between 56 link vs. 57 link chainsaw chain?

These chainsaw chains have differences in their lengths. 55 vs. 56 drive links? 55-link is slightly shorter in length than the 56-link chainsaw. The 57-link chain is slightly longer, and each may fit different chainsaw models. Most 56-link chainsaws have 56 drive links.

Differentiate 72 vs 80 drive links?

Forum Answer 1: Husqvarna chains in the .325 size are typically available in the following configurations: 16″ with 66 drive links, 18″ with 72 drive links, and 20″ with 78 drive links. The gauge can vary between .050 and .058.
Forum Answer 2: Stihl chains have different specifications: 16″ with 67 drive links, 18″ with 74 drive links, and 20″ with 81 drive links. However, if it’s for an 025/ms250 model, then the specifications change to 16″ with 62 drive links and 18″ with 68 drive links. In this area, all these chains have a gauge of .063.

How many drive links are on a 20-inch bar?

The number of drive links on a 20-inch bar varies based on the chainsaw’s model and manufacturer. However, a 20-inch chainsaw bar usually uses a chain with approximately 72 to 81 drive links. Always refer to your chainsaw’s specifications.

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