What is Low Profile Chainsaw Chain? 7 different types

What is Low profile chainsaw chain?

As chains are an essential tool for many tasks related to tree care, the development of chainsaw chains has been ongoing for some time.

Low profile chain is one of the latest innovations in this regard and is a special type of circular saw chain designed to provide better performance and less risk of kickback. Low profile design reduces the contact between the cutting surface and the chain, allowing the chainsaw to make perfect cuts.

This type of chainsaw chain is lighter in weight than standard chains, allowing for safer and more comfortable handling. So, get into the depths of the article to learn about the low profile chains, their types, and the differences in how they compete with their counterparts as well.

What is Low Profile Chainsaw Chain? Features and Benefits

A low profile chain is a type of chain that has been specially designed for chainsaws. Unlike standard chains, low profile chains have small cutters that are spaced closely together. This design makes the chain more efficient at cutting and also helps reduce kickback and vibration from the saw blade. So, some of its design and functionalities are discussed below:

Design and Features

  • Low profile chainsaw chains are designed with a focus on providing efficient cutting performance while maintaining a sleek and compact profile.
  • They feature a reduced height and narrower width compared to standard chains.
  • This design allows for smoother and faster cutting through wood.
  • Functionality is a key aspect of low profile chainsaw chains that provide long-lasting performance.
  • The teeth are strategically positioned and shaped to efficiently grip the wood, resulting in clean and precise cuts.
  • The low-profile design combined with sharp and properly aligned teeth improves control and maneuverability.
  • Low profile chainsaw chains are often built with durable materials and advanced manufacturing techniques for longevity and reliability.

Benefits of Low Profile Chainsaw Chains

Low profile chainsaw chains offer several advantages, some of which are as follows:

  • One of their biggest advantages is that they’re lighter in weight than standard chains, allowing for easier handling and less fatigue over extended periods of use.
  • The smaller and lighter design reduces drag, requiring less power to operate the chainsaw.
  • This reduces strain on the chainsaw engine, potentially prolonging its lifespan and reducing the need for frequent maintenance.
  • Low profile chains produce a smoother cut, making them excellent for precision-based tasks.
  • The reduced profile helps in reducing kickback and enhancing user safety during cutting duties.
  • This safety feature is due to the reduced “grab” of the low profile chain on the wood being cut.
  • They are ideal for lighter-duty tasks and more manageable for the average user.
  • They are especially beneficial for homeowners.

How do I know if my chainsaw chain is low profile?

To determine if your chainsaw chain is low profile, you need to consider the following:

  1. Distance between the Drive link:

Check the spacing between the drive links on your chain. Low profile chains typically have a smaller distance between the drive links compared to standard chains.

  1. Size of the Cutters:

Look at the size of the cutters on the chain. Low profile chains usually have smaller cutters compared to standard chains.

  1. Shape of the Teeth:

Examine the shape of the teeth on the chain. The teeth on low profile chains are smaller and closer together. Low profile chains often have shorter and more rounded teeth compared to standard chains.

Low profile chains also have a unique identifier stamped on them.

For instance, Oregon, a leading manufacturer of chainsaw chains, stamps a ‘91‘ on their low-profile chains. In cases of uncertainty, it would be best to refer to the chainsaw’s user manual or consult with a professional.

By observing these factors, you can determine if your chainsaw chain is low profile or not.

Types of Low Profile Chainsaw Chains

There are different types of chainsaw chains, each with its own distinct characteristics and applications. Some of them are as follows:

Semi Chisel

Semi-chisel low profile chainsaw chains are a popular choice among chainsaw users due to their overall versatility and durability. The semi chisel chain features cutters with rounded corners.

This design element makes them less susceptible to damage when cutting dirty or frozen wood.

It also helps these chains maintain their sharpness for longer periods, reducing the frequency of sharpening. However, these chains tend to cut slower than their full-chisel counterparts.


Full chisel chainsaw chains are characterized by square-cornered cutters.

These chains are designed for professional users who need to cut hard and clean wood quickly.

Full-chisel chains cut faster than semi-chisel chains, but they also dull faster, especially when used on dirty or gritty wood. Also, they have a higher risk of kickback, and are thus recommended for experienced users.


Skip-chisel chains, also known as skip-tooth chains, have fewer teeth than full-comp or semi-chisel chains. This design allows the chain to take larger bites of wood, making it ideal for larger chainsaws and heavy-duty cutting tasks.

They require less power to operate and stay sharper longer, but may produce a rougher cut.

Round Ground vs. Square Ground

Another way low-profile chainsaw chains differ is in the grind of their cutters. These can either be round ground or square ground.

Round Ground

Round ground chainsaw chains are the most common and are found on most residential and commercial chainsaws. The edges of the cutters are rounded, making them less prone to damage and more durable. They are easy to sharpen, but they might not cut as quickly as square ground chains.

Square Ground

Square ground chainsaw chains have square edges, which allows for a more aggressive cut. These chains are typically used by professionals for heavy-duties. They can cut faster than round ground chains, but they are also more susceptible to damage and wear, requiring more frequent sharpening.

Safety Low Profile Chainsaw Chains

Safety chains are designed with an extra safety feature to reduce the risk of kickback, an abrupt upward movement of the chainsaw that can cause serious injury.

These chains have a small hump or ramp in front of the cutter tooth, which deflects the chain if it tries to cut too quickly. While they may cut a bit slower, safety chains are an excellent choice for less experienced users.

Measurements of Chainsaw Chains

Understanding the measurements of chainsaw chains is crucial for selecting the right chain for your chainsaw.

Chain Pitch

The size of the chain is determined by its pitch, which is measured in “links” or the distance between any three consecutive rivets.

Common chain pitches are 3/8 inch, .325 inch, and .404 inch. For most chainsaws, choosing a low profile chain that matches the saw’s pitch is essential for proper fitment and performance.

Most low profile chains use the 3/8 inch pitch, which is suitable for smaller and lighter duty saws. It provides more control during cutting compared to a .404-inch pitch chain, making it ideal for precision tasks.

The .325-inch pitch of the chain is also popular, as it fits many larger saws and offers superior cutting performance.

Chain Gauge

The chain gauge is another important measurement to consider when selecting a chainsaw chain. It measures the width of the drive links, which help determine the compatibility with your saw’s bar and sprocket. There are 4 common chainsaw chain gauges: .043”, .050”, .058” and .063”.

Most low profile chains have a .050-inch or .043-inch gauge, but some may be thinner or thicker depending on their application.

When in doubt, always refer to the user manual of your chainsaw for the correct chain gauge size.

Chain Length

Chainsaw chains come in a variety of lengths, depending on the size and type of saw. The chain length of your chainsaw is crucial, measured in drive links. If the chain is too short, it won’t fit on the saw, but if it’s too long, proper tensioning becomes a challenge.

Find the right chain length for optimal performance and functionality. Most low profile chains are available in pre-cut lengths, but you can also get custom lengths to fit your particular saw setup.

3/8” Standard Vs. 3/8” Low Profile Chainsaw Chain

What is the difference between 3 8 and 3 8LP chainsaw chains?  When comparing a 3/8” standard chainsaw chain to a 3/8″ low profile chains, there are a few key differences to note.

Standard 3/8″ Chains

Standard 3/8″ chains are often used for heavy-duty or professional cutting tasks. They possess larger cutters and drive links, offering aggressive cutting potential and the ability to cut large-diameter wood efficiently.

3/8″ low profile chainsaw chains

3/8″ low profile chainsaw chains, sharing the same pitch as the standard 3/8″ chains, are designed with smaller cutters and drive links. This makes them ideal for smaller chainsaws and less demanding tasks.

Additionally, their smaller size reduces the risk of kickback, enhancing safety during operation. However, they may not perform as efficiently as standard chains when it comes to cutting larger pieces of wood.

In terms of maintenance, 3/8” low profile chains tend to require more frequent sharpening compared to standard chains due to their smaller teeth. But, on the upside, sharpening them is typically easier because of their more rounded cutter design.

Special Types of Chainsaw Chains

Beyond low profile chains, there are various other types of chainsaw chains that cater to different cutting demands and user experience levels. Here are some of the most common ones:

Standard Chains

Standard chainsaw chains are the most basic type, typically used for ordinary woodcutting tasks. They offer a compromise between performance and ease of use, making them suitable for general-purpose applications.

Carbide Chains

Carbide chainsaw chains are built to handle tough conditions and resist wear and tear. The cutters on these chains are tipped with carbide, a material several times harder than steel. As a result, these chains stay sharp for extended periods, even when cutting abrasive materials like dirty or frozen wood.

Ripping Chains

Ripping chainsaw chains are designed specifically for cutting along the grain of the wood, a process known as “ripping.” These chains feature a special cutter design that creates a smoother cut, making them ideal for milling lumber.

Pole Chains

Pole chainsaw chains are designed for use with pole saws, tools used to cut branches or limbs at height. These chains have a narrow kerf and low kickback design, ensuring safer and more efficient cuts when working at elevated positions.

Narrow Kerf Chains

Narrow kerf chainsaw chains feature thinner cutters, reducing the amount of wood removed with each cut. As a result, these chains require less power to operate, making them ideal for smaller, less powerful chainsaws.

Types of Chainsaw Cutters Tips

Understanding the types of chainsaw cutter tips is crucial for optimal performance. Here are some of the most common types:

Steel Cutter Tips

Steel cutter tips are typically found on standard chainsaw chains. They provide a good balance between cutting performance and durability, making them suitable for a wide range of woodcutting tasks. However, they tend to dull quickly when used on harder or dirty wood.

Carbide Cutter Tips

Carbide cutter tips are significantly harder than steel, making them more durable and resistant to wear. These cutter tips stay sharp for longer periods, even when cutting abrasive materials like dirty or frozen wood. This makes carbide-tipped chains a popular choice for professional users who need to cut through tough materials.

Diamond Cutter Tips

Diamond cutter tips are the hardest and most durable type. They’re designed for cutting through extremely hard materials such as concrete and stone. These cutter tips are rarely used for woodcutting tasks because of their high cost and the fact that they overperform for most woodcutting applications.

Chisel Cutter Tips

Chisel cutter tips are common on full-chisel chainsaw chains. They have square-cornered edges that allow for fast, efficient cutting of clean hardwood. However, they dull quickly when used on dirty or gritty wood.

Semi-Chisel Cutter Tips

Semi-chisel cutter tips are found on semi-chisel chainsaw chains. They have rounded edges that are less susceptible to damage and stay sharp for longer periods, making them ideal for cutting dirty or frozen wood. However, these chains tend to cut slower than chains with chisel cutter tips.

Types of Chainsaw Chain Bars or Blades

Chainsaw bars or blades come in a variety of types to suit different cutting tasks, user experience levels, and saw models. Here are the most common types:

Sprocket Nose Bars

Sprocket nose bars are the most common type of chainsaw bar. They have a sprocket at the nose that reduces friction, allowing for smoother and faster cutting. These bars are ideal for heavy-duty cutting tasks such as felling and bucking trees.

Solid Nose Bars

Solid nose bars, also known as hard nose bars, do not have a sprocket at the nose. As a result, they are more durable and resistant to damage, especially when used in harsh conditions like cutting dirty or frozen wood. However, they don’t cut as smoothly or quickly as sprocket nose bars.

Carving Bars

Carving bars are designed for detailed, precision cutting tasks. Their narrow tip allows for greater control and accuracy, making them ideal for intricate wood carving and pruning.

Laminate Bars

Laminate bars are lightweight and affordable, making them popular for casual or occasional users. They’re designed for light-duty tasks such as trimming and pruning but don’t offer the strength or durability needed for heavy-duty applications.

Professional Bars

Professional chainsaw bars are designed for heavy-duty and prolonged use. They’re built to withstand the demands of professional logging, including felling and bucking large trees. These bars are typically more durable and longer-lasting than other types.

Is Picco the same as low profile?

“Picco” is a term that STIHL uses to identify their low-profile chainsaw chains. So, yes, Picco chains are essentially the same as low-profile chains. These chains are designed for smaller saws and are particularly advantageous for arborists or those doing detailed woodwork. They facilitate precision cutting, and their lightweight nature reduces user fatigue.

However, while they may be easier to handle, remember that they also require more frequent maintenance, such as sharpening, due to their smaller tooth size. Despite this, many users appreciate Picco chains for their balance between performance and ease of use.

Final Thoughts: What is low profile Chainsaw Chain?

In conclusion, a low profile chainsaw chain, often recognized as a Picco chain by STIHL, is designed to cater to smaller saws and precision tasks. Noted for its easy handling and reduced weight, it eases user fatigue and ensures greater control.

However, its smaller tooth size necessitates more regular maintenance, particularly sharpening. It’s a preferred choice for many due to its blend of performance and user-friendliness.


What is the best chainsaw chain for hardwood?

The best chainsaw chain for hardwood is typically a full-chisel chain. Full-chisel chains feature square-cornered cutting edges, which allow for fast, efficient cutting of clean, hard wood. However, they tend to dull quickly when used on dirty wood.

What is the best chainsaw chain for professional use?

Carbide-tipped chains are generally favorable among professionals. These chains are extremely durable and stay sharp for extended periods, even when cutting tough materials, reducing the downtime for maintenance.

What are the two types of chainsaw chains?

The two primary types of chainsaw chains are full chisel chains and semi-chisel chains.

What type of chainsaw chain cuts the fastest?

The type of chainsaw chain that cuts the fastest is the full-chisel chain. Full-chisel chains are equipped with square-cornered cutting edges, enabling them to swiftly and efficiently cut through clean, hard wood.

What is the most common chainsaw chain size?

The most common chainsaw chain size is the .375-inch (or 3/8 inch) pitch chainsaw chain. This size is often used on professional and heavy-duty chainsaws due to its optimal balance of performance and durability. 

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