What Does G Mean On Stihl Chainsaws? Stihl GEAR Drive Explained

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There are only 3 or 4 Stihl saws with the G designation and they all ended production over 30 years ago.

What does G mean on Stihl chainsaws?

G = Gear Drive.

This means that the saw has a gear reduction drive type rather than a direct drive (which is what 99% of chainsaws have).

Before logging chainsaws had the power that they do today, a gear drive system was a way for them to pull longer bars through very large trees. The gears slow the speed of the chain but allow the saw to pull through the wood with a lot more torque.

It’s an uncommon feature on vintage chainsaws and hasn’t been used on new saws for decades.

There were also many other chainsaw companies that also had gear-driven chainsaw models, such as McCulloch and Sears, and some of them also used G to designate it.

Stihl G Meaning


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There are only a few Stihl saws with the G designation, and they are:

@andrewmillson shared the 090 G above on Instagram, stating:

This one is a 107cc with a 2:1 gear reduction this is where 090 “G” comes from. But still pulls hard?

On The Chainsaw Guy’s old 090 G for sale video, one fellow said:

The 090G had the same engine as the 070, which is 106 cc. It was gear driven so it could pull the longer bars needed for cutting big tropical hardwoods. 

The Chainsaw Guy shared:

Since it’s a gear drive, the best bar is four foot and more, with full house chain. A three foot bar is minimum, maybe for milling up hardwoods.

A regular 090 is faster than the gear drive, but only up to maybe a 4 foot bar. Then the gear drive is best. I got this saw with a 52″bar, it looks very intimidating. I am selling it on ebay with a 3 foot bar.

On vintage saws, a gear-driven version is best for use with long bars.

Gear Drive Explanation

This is a very old video showing and explaining the difference between a gear, direct, and belt-driven chainsaw.

The video and audio aren’t the best quality, but the information is solid!

None of the saws used are Stihl, but it’s the same system.

Gear Drive Chainsaws


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Other chainsaw companies also used G to designate gear drives.

One example, pictured above, is the Sears U4G Chainsaw – another vintage model made in the 1950s. 

You should also check out this video of the McCulloch 1-80, another old chainsaw from around 1960 that also had a gear drive.

Let us know if you have any questions below, or next up, find out what R means on the Stihl 015!


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