Knowing what year your Husqvarna chainsaw was manufactured is important when buying, selling or repairing old Husky saws. The year of manufacture is rarely printed anywhere on the saw, but can in most cases be deduced from the saw serial number.
Decoding a Husqvarna serial number is sadly not all that simple, as I found out with two old 3120 XPs and a 266: since 1980, Husqvarna has used at least seven different serial number codings, many of which are both ambiguous and hard to tell apart. Husqvarna’s websites give only the early 2000’s coding, and it was only after a few days of research could I to form a full decoding system for years 1980 to 2020.
I wrote this article to lay out my findings and spare you the same trouble. In summary: Husqvarna chainsaw production year can be deduced from the first one, two or four digits of the serial number on the saw nameplate. The number of digits and their interpretation depends on the format of the serial number, which has varied over the decades. The serial number can still be decoded based on details of the serial number, the nameplate layout and the saw appearance, as shown in this article. The serial number will sometimes also reveal the production week and a running order number.
Next, we will first go through the serial number formats used in Husqvarna chainsaws between 1980 and 2020. Then I will show how you can identify the format of a serial number you find on a saw nameplate, and then decode it to determine the manufacturing year, and possibly the week.
Husqvarna serial number formats
The serial number codings used on Husqvarna chainsaws are listed in the table below by decade. Included are -80’s, -90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s – 1960’s and 1970’s codings as still work in progress.
|HUSQVARNA SAW |
1986, week 12
1987, week 12
1997, week 40
2002, week 12
2015, week 11
Note that only the 2000s coding is currently on the official Husqvarna website; the rest is community knowledge I gathered from tens of enthusiast forum threads and many more identification cases. There is some uncertainty, particularly in the mixed early 1980’s situation, and making the table took a dose of guesswork.
Serial number identification & decoding table
The lookup table below is handier for decoding a Husqvarna chainsaw serial number: it starts from a layout and tag color you can observe on the saw nameplate, and gives you the manufacturing year – as long as it is between 1980 and 2020.
|Serial number |
(201, a digit,
space, 7 digits)
(0, a digit,
space, 7 digits)
(198, a digit,
space, 5 digits)
(7 digits total,
|198n or 199n|
(format #5 or #6)
198n (format #2)
|wk after y|
no wk info
(6 digits total,
A few words of explanation can be given for each identification case, i.e. table row:
Case 1: 201n␣….
If serial number starts with 201n␣…. – that is 201, one further digit, and a space – you are dealing with a 2010’s saw, serial number format #8 and the 201n is the manufacturing year right there.
The production week is the two digits after the space, and there should be exactly five more digits to indicate the running order number. 2010’s nameplates have usually lots of text and are easy to identify.
Case 2: 0n␣….
If the serial number starts with 0n␣…. (a 0, a digit 0…9, and space), it’s a 2000’s saw, and 0n is the manufacturing year 200n, and the week number is the two digits right after the space. This is serial number format #7 in the first table.
To make sure this really is the serial number (s/n) and the 2000’s format (#7), check that the space is followed by exactly 7 digits. Most 2000’s tags also carry the full part number (p/n), creating some potential for confusion. The p/n is usually above the serial, and serial number row may start with s/n to help you tell them apart.
Interestingly, this two-digit year format seems to have been introduced already in 1999 in anticipation of the turn of the century: nameplates with serial numbers in the format 99 1212345 can be found.
Case 3: 198n␣….
If the tag is silver and the serial number starts with 198n␣…. (198, a digit, and space), you can be sure it’s an early 1980’s saw and 198n is simply the manufacturing year in serial format #3.
This coding seems to give no clear week information in the 6 digits that follow the space: on some plates the first digits are 00 or higher than 52, which are not valid week numbers. The 5 digits following the space are most likely some sort of a running order counter.
Case 4: No spaces, 7 digits, black tag
If the serial number is on a black tag, has 7 digits and no spaces in between, the saw is either from 1990’s (#6) or late 1980’s (#5). We can further break this down to two cases:
- If the leading number is 5 or lower, you can be sure the saw is from the early 1990’s (format #6), since early-to-mid 1980’s used other codings and silver tags.
- If the leading number is 6 or higher, it may be either late 1980’s (#5) or 1990’s (#6). This is a tricky identification case and you have to use other pieces of info to resolve this – see below.
Case 5: No spaces, 7 digits, silver tag
If the serial has 7 digits and no spaces but is on a silver tag, the serial is format #2 and the saw is from the early or mid-1980’s. The leading digit gives you the accurate year: 1 means 1981, for example.
There may or may not be week information in the following digits. Many plates with this coding show numbers between 01 and 52 which would be valid weeks, but some show higher.
Case 6: No spaces, 6 digits, silver tag
If the serial has 6 digits and no spaces but is on a silver tag, the saw is from the early 1980’s (or from earlier decades). The serial is in format #1 the leading digit gives you the accurate year: 0 means 1980, for example.
There seems to be no week information in this early format in the following digits. The stamped serial number may be preceded by a printed black 4-digit model number on the same row.
Sadly, 1970’s Husqvarna saws seem to have the same serial number format and I have not yet figured out how to tell the nameplates apart.
Guessing late 80’s vs. 90’s
Telling if a 7 digit, no space, black tag serial number (Case 4) is from late 1980’s or 1990’s requires a wider look on the nameplate and the saw. I have found three easy identifiers, two of which are highlighted in the image below.
Top cover color: many late 1980s Husqvarna models had dark grey top covers (cylinder head/air filter cover), whereas all late 1990s models have an orange cover. If the cover is grey, it’s 1980’s; if it’s orange, you cannot tell.
Husqvarna spelling (city): Husqvarna the company seems to have a different spelling for the Husqvarna the city on 1980’s and late 1990’s nameplates:
- late 1980’s plates use the old Husqvarna, SWEDEN
- late 1990’s ones use the modern Huskvarna, SWEDEN
(The company name, also present on the nameplates, is always Husqvarna according to the old spelling.)
Year field: On some late 1990’s saws, the nameplate carries a separate manufacturing year field. If you can identify such a field, this obviously tells you what you wanted to know.
How to find the serial number?
Husqvarna chainsaws carry the serial numbers on a separate nameplate or tag. Finding the serial number involves two steps: you have to first find the plate on the saw and then you have to identify the serial number from all the other inscriptions on the plate.
Step 1: Find the nameplate (tag)
Husqvarna chainsaws have their serial number printed/stamped on a small black or silver nameplate located on the left-hand side of the saw body low near the oil cap (see image).
Some 300-series saws have the nameplate on the bar side of the saw, next to the cylinder, half under the handle.
Step 2: Identify the Serial number
The nameplate always contains at least lines two of text, including some of the following fields:
|Nameplate field||Example values:|
|Model name:||Husqvarna 3120 (XP)|
|Part number (p/n):||970 51 57-60|
|Year of manufacture:||1998|
|Company name:||Husqvarna AB|
|Production site:||Huskvarna, Sweden|
The layout and which fields are included on the plate varies. Here are some guidelines for identifying the serial:
- The serial number is on the middle or bottom rows – never on the top
- On silver tags (1980’s and earlier), the serial is stamped into the metal, while the other text is printed
- The serial is mostly on its own row. On compact 1990’s saws, the year may be added in front the serial; on 1980’s silver tags, a short model number may be on the same row.
Serial vs. part number: Mixing the part and serial numbers is the main risk with newer (1999 and later) saws. To tell them apart, note that
- Part number or model number (P/N) often starts with 96 or 97, has a few spaces, and contains a hyphen near the end, while
- Serial number (S/N or s/n) is in one of the formats in the table above, has no hyphens, and has a single space at maximum.
Year on same row: An another possible pitfall is that some compact 1990’s nameplates have the manufacturing year in four digits (eg. 1994) printed right before the serial number on the same row. This year field is not a part of the serial number: the serial format is actually the common y-wk-nnnn, and starts after the space.
The serial number identification & decoding system in the tables above should allow you to tell which year a Husqvarna chainsaw was manufactured for the vast majority of saws from between 1980 and 2020.
Some work remains to be done: late 1980’s and 1990’s saws are not always easy to tell apart, and I am trying to figure out more robust identifiers than the top color and Husq(k)varna spelling. Further, early 1980’s white-top saws may mix with similar-looking late 1970’s saws, whose nameplates are also similar and serial coding unclear.
Q & A
Can you tell a Husqvarna saw model from the serial number?
The serial number of a Husqvarna chainsaw does not tell which chainsaw model is in question. The serial number formats listed above contain, at a maximum, the year and week of manufacture and a running production order number. None of these pieces of data are linked to the saw model as such.
In principle, a Husqvarna saw serial number could be linked to the saw model if detailed factory records were available. After all, the serial number is a unique identifier (or almost unique), and the factory records could tell which batch of saws a certain running order number range was assigned to each week. However, such records are not available to the public.
Though not from the serial, a Husqvarna saw model can be deduced from other fields on the saw nameplate:
- Most nameplates have the saw model in plain text on the first line (unless worn off)
- Newer 2000’s and 2010’s nameplates often carry a part number (p/n), which is uniquely assigned to a certain saw model
- Early 1980’s and late 1970’s silver tags may carry the saw model on the same row and in front of the serial number. The model number is the two middle digits of the 4-digit black-print code: “3441” means Husqvarna model 44, for example.