A common question our sales team hears from customers is “What are the differences between grade 70 chain, grade 80 chain, grade 100 chain, and grade 120 chain?”
Note: to view a complete chain grade comparison chart and WLL chart, see our recent chain grade overview post.
Grade 70 chain
Grade 70 chain is transport chain manufactured in heat-treated carbon steel. As the name suggests, it’s used as tie-downs on over-the-road trailers so it’s also known as truckers chain. It’s never to be used for overhead lifting. Grade 70 chain generally features a gold chromate finish so it’s easy to recognize and meet California Highway Patrol and DOT requirements. In addition to transport uses, it’s also commonly used in towing, logging, oil rigs, and safety chain applications.
Grade 70 chain is embossed with 7, 70, or 700.
Grade 80 chain
Grade 80 chain is a heat-treated steel chain with a high strength to weight ratio. Its strength makes it safe for overhead lifting and lifting slings. It’s also excellent for uses such as recovery, safety, and towing chains. Grade 80 chain is also becoming more common in the flatbed trucking industry to secure heavy-duty industrial loads. Because these types of chains are generally equipped with a specific type of clevis grab hook, Grade 80 tie down chain assemblies are not approved for overhead lifting.
Grade 80 alloy chain is embossed with 8, 80, or 800.
Grade 100 chain
Grade 100 chain is a newer product and is becoming increasingly popular as a replacement for grade 80 chain. Considered premium quality by chain manufacturers, it provides about 25% higher working load limits than grade 80 chain and is approved for overhead lifting applications. Due to the added strength of grade 100 chain over grade 80 chain, it’s becoming more widely used to secure flatbed loads since a smaller-sized chain can be used without sacrificing working load limit capacities. However, because these chains are generally equipped with a specific type of clevis grab hook, Grade 100 tie down chain assemblies are not approved for overhead lifting.
Grade 100 alloy chain is embossed with 10, 100, or 1000.
Grade 120 chain
Grade 120 chain is also a newer category of high performance chain, offering the highest strength in the industry. The square link style creates increased contact between the bearing surfaces on the links, which reduces pressure on the chain. This translates to working load limits that are 50% higher than grade 80 chain, and 20% higher than grade 100 chain. Chain grade 120 is approved for overhead lifting. It’s important to note that as with Grade 80 tie down chain assemblies and Grade 100 tie down chain assemblies, Grade 120 tie down chain assemblies are also not safe for overhead lifting due to the type of hooks used.
Grade 120 chains have a bright blue finish to make them easily recognizable.
Regardless of the type of chain, all must adhere to standards set by the National Association of Chain Manufacturers (NACM), which include:
• Chain lifted loads should never be transported or suspended over people.
• All chains should be periodically inspected for cracks, gouges, wear, elongation, nicks, and suitability.
• Excessive temperatures or exposure to chemically active environments such as acids or corrosive liquids or fumes can reduce a chain’s performance.
• If chains are to be used outside the recommended temperature range ( -40 °F to 400 °F), the user should first consult the chain’s manufacturer.
• If the thickness at any location on the link is less than the listed minimum value, all chain should be removed from service.
• When mixing chain or component types, all should be rated at the working load limit of the lowest-rated component or chain.