3/8 vs .404 Chain (Which One is Better)

While lumberjacking, you will need to replace your chain at some point. Especially, when the old one wears out.

But things can be confusing. There are so many options out there. The ⅜ and .404 chains are the most common ones.

However, you might ask yourself, Which is better between 3/8 and .404 chain?

The ⅜ chain is versatile and compatible with most chainsaws. No sprocket change is needed like the 404 chain which requires a 7-pin sprocket. The ⅜ chain is also faster and lasts long. But the 404 chains can cut wider kerfs and through hard material. Moreover, the ⅜ chain lasts longer too.

That will be the summary. Stick along to know the detailed comparisons.

3/8 Vs 404 Chain: Quick Comparison

Before we start the battle of chains, let’s have a look at this quick table.

Aspect  ⅜ Chain  0.404 Chain
Kerf Size Smaller  Wider
Speed  Faster Slower
Durability  Longer Wears out Faster
Compatibility  No sprocket change  7 pin sprocket needed 
Price $20-30 $20-30

Now, let’s move on to the main discussion.

3/8 vs 404 chain: Detailed Comparison

Chainsaws are essential tools for the weekend lumberjack, who uses them to speedily complete large tasks. It’s incredibly versatile and easy to use, but are you making the most of your saw?

The right person, using the right chain on their blade, can save a lot of time and effort. When looking for a chainsaw, it is important to think about the chain size. 

Especially, when it comes to choosing between ⅜ and .404 chains. Otherwise, things might get confusing like 0.050 and 0.043 chainsaws.

To make this thing easy for you, we have compared the key aspects of these two chainsaw chains. 

This will hopefully clear things up for you and help you decide on the right pick for you. 

1. Kerf Size

Kerf size is very important when choosing chainsaw chains. The thickness of a full kerf blade ensures that it will last a long time. 

As an added bonus, it enables clean cuts through even the thickest of timber. Use a saw with at least three horsepower. These blades are best suited for larger saws.

The ⅜ chain has a smaller kerf size than the 404 chains. Hence, it can cut faster and provide clean cuts. But For larger saws, this can backfire. There you will need chains with large kerf sizes like the .404 chain.

Winner: ⅜ chains will surely win this kerf battle. It has a small kerf size that allows smooth and fast cuts.

2. Speed 

Chainsaw speed is very crucial for cutting material, quality, and finishing.  The faster the chain speed, the faster the chainsaw cuts. A faster speed also provides smooth finishing like the skip chain.

However, do keep in mind that high chain speed is for softer materials only. If you want to cut hardwood, a slower chain will be needed. But the cut will not be as smooth as the cut of a fast chain.

Hence, if you are looking to cut softer materials and wood, pick the ⅜ chain. It will provide fast and excellent quality. 

If you are looking for a chain to cut hardwoods and materials, the .404 chain is perfect. Although it will not provide smooth finishing, it will do the job.

Winner: We will not decide on a winner here. Each of the chains is used in specific situations. Hence, they cannot be compared in a common ground.

3. Durability

Durability is one of the major factors you should always consider while buying any tool. In fact, it dictates many other aspects like maintenance, cost, quality, etc.

You will always want a chain that lasts longer, saving you from hassles. If this is your concern, the ⅜ is ideal for you. The chain teeth are exceptionally durable and do not dull out easily.

 On the other side, for its slow speed, the .404 chain teeth wear out faster. This is because it is used to cut harder materials and requires more power for it. While cutting wide kerfs, the .404 chains waste a lot of energy. As a lumber cutter, you will not want it.

Winner: The winner will be ⅜ chain for its exceptional durability and longevity. It does not waste energy like the .404 chain while cutting kerfs.

4. Compatibility 

Compatibility is another factor that is linked with cost and maintenance. A chain with better compatibility is always preferred over the one that is less compatible.

You will not want a chain where you will need to change sprockets to fit. This is annoying and time-consuming. Also, extra parts will cost you more.

When you are using the ⅜ chain, you will not need to change the sprocket. It fits all shapes and sizes. Hence, you will not need to spend some extra bucks for compatibility.

On the other hand, the .404 chain requires a sprocket change. A 7-pin sprocket is needed to fit in the chain. This takes time and money to fix. Also, it can be pretty annoying at times like fitting a smaller bar in the chainsaw.

Winner:  The winner of this round will be the ⅜ chain. It is compatible and does not require any sprocket change.

5. Price

Pricewise, both chains are priced in the same price range. They are cheap and inexpensive. But their features and usage vary from situation to situation.

Both chains will cost you around $20-30. Hence, there will be no winner on this part. But you need to understand their purpose before you move on to the purchase.

So, Which One Is Better?

Both chains are good. But the ⅜ chain outshines the .404 chain in some aspects.

Especially when it comes to speed and compatibility. The ⅜ chains are unparalleled. They have better-cutting speed and finishing quality. 

Apart from that, these chains are compatible with any chainsaw without any sprocket change. If you want a fast, clean, low-maintenance chain, pick this one.

However, the .404 chain is ideal for cutting through hard materials and wood. It can also provide bigger kerf cuts. But it is slower in speed. This results in rough cuts. 

If you want to cut hard material and bigger kerfs, pick the .404. However, most professionals would still stick to the ⅜ chains.


What Is A Skip Link Chainsaw Chain?

When compared to a regular chain, a skip chain has fewer cutting teeth. This means fewer teeth will be dragged through the wood as you work. As chain resistance decreases, less energy is required to see through the log. As a result, your saw’s motor is operating at a higher RPM.

What’s the Difference Between 3/8 And 325 Chain?

Three-eighth-inch chains are more robust and long-lasting than their smaller counterparts. Although the.325 is shorter and faster, it may not be the best choice for general-purpose use. Because of this, it is one of the most sought-after switches by chainsaw enthusiasts.

How Do I Know What Size Chain I Need for My Chainsaw?

You may determine your chain’s size by counting the rivets. Then, calculate the gap size by starting at the centers of each pair. Now, to determine your actual size cut that number in half. Take the example of three half-inch-wide rivets; dividing that number by two yields a pitch of a ¼ inch.


That will be all from our side on 3/8 vs 404 chain. Now you know which one is best suited for your purpose.

Do not forget to sharpen your chain teeth using a suitable file. This will ensure top-notch performance all the time.

See you soon.

Jim Boslice

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