Industrial chains are an extremely versatile piece of hardware that is used for all kinds of applications. Heavy-duty chains are most commonly used for safely transporting machinery and supplies or lifting equipment on construction sites. But not all chains are created equal.

Industrial chain suppliers often carry a variety of chains – each of which is designed for specific purposes and weight load limits. The way that a chain is assembled and the materials used for the links impact its strength, flexibility, and durability.

This is why some are responsible for securing heavy loads, while others are specifically made for overhead lifting purposes.

Here is the ultimate guide to help you differentiate between the industrial chain materials and designs when placing an order with your industrial chain supplier.

Which Grade do You Need?

Industrial chains have various grade ratings which state their ultimate tensile strength (also known as breaking strength). This number is a calculation of newtons per square millimeter. Some applications require a minimum chain grade to ensure that they will not snap during use. 

Grade 30

The lowest chain grade is 30, and this is typically a more general use chain that you can find in any hardware store. It is fine to use for vehicle towing, cargo tie-downs, or guard rails but it is not equipped for heavy-duty purposes. This is best to use with weights that are under 7,000 lbs.

Grade 43

Grade 43 is somewhat stronger than Grade 30, but it is not approved for overhead lifting. This grade is also called High-Test or G-4 chain. This grade is approved by the DOT (Department of Transportation) for trucking tie-downs and towing, such as for logging, transport, and shipping containers.

Grade 70

Grade 70 chain is constructed out of heat-treated carbon steel, which makes it quite durable and resistant to scratches and damage. This makes it ideal for more heavy-duty transport securement, as well as some construction applications, oil rigging, and tie-downs. Although Grade 70 chain is incredibly strong, it is not approved for overhead lifting. 

Grade 80

Grade 80 chain is made of alloy steel, which qualifies it for overhead lifting. This type of chain is incredibly durable, strong, and can be used for a wide range of heavy-duty applications such as rigging, mining, and towing. This type of chain is designed to stretch by up to 20% of its length without breaking.

Grade 100

Grade 100 is one of the strongest types of chains available and is approved for extremely heavy overhead lifting jobs. This chain is 25% stronger than Grade 80 and can withstand weights that exceed 35,000 lbs. 

When to Use Alloy Steel Chain 

Both Grade 80 and Grade 100 chains are made from alloy steel whereas Grade 30, 43, and 70 are made of carbon steel. Although carbon steel on its own is very durable, adding in additional metals can increase its strength ratio.

OSHA requires material handling and overhead lifting equipment – such as slings – to be made from alloy steel chain, not carbon steel. 

Industrial chains made of alloy steel contain additional elements like nickel, copper, chromium, or manganese. These added metals increase the chain’s maximum breaking strength and qualify it for overhead lifting purposes.

When to use Proof Coil Chain

Proof coil chain is another name for Grade 30, which is the lowest strength industrial chain available with the Industrial Chain Suppliers. Although proof coil chain is not nearly as strong as other grades, it is designed for shock resistance. This makes it a great choice for barriers, tie-downs, and light towing.

Additionally, this type of chain is naturally rust and weather-resistant, so it can be exposed to the elements. Proof coil chains are often used for marine applications, as well as agricultural purposes.  

When to use Windlass Chain

Windlass chain is specifically designed for boats and marine applications. The windlass is the machine that controls the anchor, so the chain must be strong enough to support this weight and withstand friction and water.

Most windlass chains are Grade 43, meaning that they are made of carbon steel. This gives it a slightly higher breaking strength than Grade 30 without increasing the weight of the chain excessively. Note that not all Grade 43 chains are windlass; this is a specific type of design for marine purposes. 

Stainless Steel, Galvanized, or Bright

Industrial chains come in three different finishes: bright, galvanized, and stainless steel. 

Bright Industrial Chains

Bright industrial chain (also called self-colored) is made of carbon or alloy steel without any coating. This leaves the metal exposed, which can cause it to rust or corrode. However, this makes it a less expensive option – of which is still quite durable if it is maintained and protected from moisture.

Galvanized Industrial Chains

Galvanization is the process where a metal is coated in a thin layer of zinc. Zinc helps to protect the metal from rusting, scratching, and corrosion. It also helps to improve the metal’s strength and durability.

Galvanized chains have a similar price point to bright chains, but they tend to last longer. The protective coating prevents excess wear and tear, making it an ideal choice for general purposes and construction applications. 

Stainless Steel Industrial Chains

The stainless steel chain is iron-based with a 10-11% concentration of chromium. Chromium is an element that naturally resists corrosion and rust while also giving the iron a bright shiny appearance. Stainless steel industrial chains are stronger than their galvanized or bright counterparts but they are more expensive and heavier. 


Weighing your options for the different types of chains can be confusing. If you choose the incorrect type, you could face severe fines for violating OSHA regulations. Additionally, you may need to spend more to replace a chain that wears down too quickly or is not optimized for the application. 

Leave it to expert industrial chain suppliers to help you get the right style, size, and finishing the first time. Elite Sales carries a wide variety, including proof coil chains, windlass, stainless steel, galvanized, and multiple Grade types. 

To find the exact size and type you need, contact our team to learn more and place an order.