Best Cordless Circular Saw Reviews 2024

Best Cordless Circular Saw Reviews

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you know that cordless circular saws now outperform their corded counterparts. Where battery-powered circular saws once struggled for adequate performance, top models now complete full-depth cuts through dense material. That’s a task most 15-amp corded sidewinders can’t accomplish. Our crew manually tested 11 different models and even several battery pack configurations to determine the reigning sidewinder champ.

Author’s Note: In this article, I focus on sidewinder-style models as they are available from every major manufacturer. If a rear-handle or worm-drive style is more to your liking, check out our Best Cordless Rear-Handle Circular Saw recommendations.

Our Top Picks for the Best Cordless Circular Saw

M18 Fuel circular saw rip cut

Milwaukee M18 Fuel (2732)

  • Blade Speed: 5800 rpm
  • Weight (tool): 9.19 lbs
  • Max cut depth: 2-9/16 in.
  • Shoe: Magnesium
  • Warranty: 5 years

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2732 remains our overall best cordless circular saw for good reason. While other saws might beat it on one of our tests or other metrics, this brushless saw outperforms everyone as the sum of its parts. With a Forge battery installed, it topped our rip-cut test and aced our full-depth cutting test, where we buried the blade in three sheets of 3/4-inch OSB and attached 20 pounds of weight to pull it through. When tallying all of the ways I could weight the performance results, when using an XC6.0 Forge battery, Milwaukee consistently edged out the competition—whether geared toward power, speed, or overall performance.

Beyond that, the Milwaukee 2732 has all of the features I look for in a circular saw: excellent adjustability, sightlines, and a reasonable price. While the kit comes with a 12Ah High Output battery, I definitely recommend picking up the Forge XC6.0 battery for the absolute best performance. About the only negative with this saw is you pay for all that power and performance with weight. On a tool like this which rests on the work material, however, that doesn’t bother me as much.

Reasons to Buy

  • Solid overall performance
  • Best performer on most common jobsite cut
  • Solid overall value
  • Cutline blower and LED help visibility

Consider Another Model if You…

  • Want a cheaper, lighter tool
  • Don’t have or intend to buy a Forge battery

Hands-on Testing Results

12.0Ah BatteryXC6.0Ah Forge
Weight (w/batt)12.6 lbs (14th place)11.26 lbs (9th place)
Sightlines4/5 (7th place)same
Blade Guard4.3/5 (2nd place tie)same
Rip 2 Sheets OSB26.12 sec (11th place)19.23 (1st place)
Full Depth Blade Cut69.25 in. (9th place)8.47 sec (3rd place)
DeWalt DCS578 cross-cutting

DeWalt FlexVolt (DCS578)

  • Blade Speed: 5800 rpm
  • Weight (tool): 8.34 lbs
  • Max cut depth: 2-9/16 in.
  • Shoe: Aluminum
  • Warranty: 3 years

Manufacturers have had four years or more to update their tools—which makes it all the more amazing that DeWalt is still the most powerful cordless sidewinder we’ve ever tested. It absolutely smashed our full-depth cut test and had the fastest time across the board—just 7.7 seconds. Some saws couldn’t make it all the way across. It also averaged well on our rip-cut test, slicing through a dual-layer of OSB in just 22.19 seconds. While other saws did it faster, the DeWalt’s weight (that FlexVolt battery is a beast!) and higher-friction shoe held it back.

I know power isn’t everything, which is why DeWalt adds some icing on the cake with a very comfortable handle and easy-to-adjust controls for bevel and depth. This is a great tool for you if you switch back and forth when framing up trusses or similar. When making one of the most difficult cuts, a compound 45º miter/45º bevel, the guard hung up slightly during the beginning of the cut, which pulled me to the left a hair. It did much better on crosscut and bevel cutting. Part of this might be due to noticeably higher shoe friction. This saw doesn’t slide very well across the wood surface, forcing you to push pretty hard through each cut.

Ending on a positive note, I love the cutline notches’ accuracy and the tool’s overall value. You can check out all of the scoring below.

Reasons to Buy

  • Most powerful cordless sidewinder we’ve tested
  • Accurate cutline notches and tracking
  • Best adjustability for setting depth and bevel
  • Handle design is my favorite among tested saws
  • Solid overall value

Consider Another Model if You…

  • Don’t want to pay a premium
  • Want a lighter-weight saw
  • Want lower friction on the shoe

Hands-on Testing Results

9.0Ah FlexVolt Battery
Weight (w/batt)11.5 lbs (11th place)
Sightlines4/5 (7th place tie)
Blade Guard4/5 (8th place tie)
Rip 2 Sheets OSB22.19 sec (9th place)
Full Depth Blade CutFull rip in 7.7 sec (1st place)

Best Cordless Circular Saw for the Money

Skil 20V circular saw cross-cut

Skil 20V Brushless (CR5440B)

  • Blade Speed: 5300 rpm
  • Weight (tool): 7.26 lbs
  • Max cut depth: 2-5/8 in.
  • Shoe: Aluminum
  • Warranty: 5 years

Keeping the price down without having disappointing performance or build is at the heart of finding the best value in a cordless circular saw. Both Ryobi and Skil excel in this category, however I find the Skil PWRCore 20 XP 7 1/4-inch circular saw consistently delivers slightly better value and performance overall. From scoring remarkably well in our power-to-weight ratio speed-cutting test to ticking all the boxes on adjustability and ergonomics, Skil makes a saw that, if you aren’t ina. hurry, checks all the boxes for getting the job done.

As far as cut quality goes, Skil definitely struggles to make both cross and bevel cuts quickly. Crosscuts are slightly obscured by the upper blade guard, but a viewing window on the side and markings on the shoe helped. Beveling is much easier to keep in view. The bevel adjustment mechanism gives you lots of tick marks. I really like both its clarity and accuracy. The same goes for the depth adjustment. The Skil circular saw had a tough time powering through compound miter cuts. It could do it, but it takes its time.

While a very usable tool, I hesitate to put it at the same level as professional saws. Keep it in its performance wheelhouse, and the Skil has enough features to love if a Prosumer-level tool can suffice. Additionally, the kit is compatible with Skil’s guide track, which may prevent you from needing a portable table saw in your shop. Solidifying its win for value, the kit is priced at less than $170.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent value
  • Solid performance for the price
  • Lightweight design
  • Rail compatible
  • Vac port adapter

Consider Another Model if You…

  • Want a saw to cut full-depth into LVL or triple-stacked OSB

Hands-on Testing Results

4.0Ah PWRCore Battery
Weight (w/batt)8.84 lbs (3rd place)
Sightlines4.7/5 (3rd place tie)
Blade Guard4.3/5 (2nd place tie)
Rip 2 Sheets OSB21.66 sec (6th place)
Full Depth Blade Cut6.5 in. (12th place)
Craftsman CMCS551 cross-cut 2x10

Craftsman V20 Brushless RP (CMCS551)

  • Blade Speed: 5000 rpm
  • Weight (tool): 7.26 lbs
  • Max cut depth: 2-9/16 in.
  • Shoe: Aluminum
  • Warranty: 3 years

The Craftsman V20 RP Brushless circular saw surprised me just a little with its real-world performance. Coming in third in our speed test, it ripped through two full sheets of stacked 3/4-inch OSB in just 20.22 seconds. In this power-to-weight ratio test, it beat the likes of DeWalt, Hilti, and even Flex. The test revealed that the saw combines enough power to get the job done with a lightweight design. In fact, the Craftsman CMCS551 was the lightest loaded saw of our group of 14 tool/battery combinations.

The saw tracks really well when making crosscuts, bevel, miter, and compound miter cuts in pressure-treated pine 2×10 lumber. If anything, it pulls ever-so-slightly to the left. There were moments when I felt the blade start to slow down, but as long as I kept a steady cut speed, it could maintain RPMs. The blade guard didn’t hang up at all during crosscuts or bevel cuts, though it did stick slightly during the compound miter cuts.

Near-perfect sightlines tied it for first place in that metric. I really like the quick blade shut-off that occurs at the end of the cut. I think Craftsmen did a lot to improve the overall safety of this tool with that feature. The tool’s price of $129 makes it an easy choice for homeowners and serious DIYers looking for a capable and dependable tool with a solid warranty.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent value
  • Lightweight design
  • Great power-to-weight ratio
  • Excellent sightlines

Consider Another Model if You…

  • Want the most powerful saw available

Hands-on Testing Results

4.0Ah PWRCore Battery
Weight (w/batt)8.74 lbs (2nd place)
Sightlines5/5 (1st place tie)
Blade Guard4.7/5 (1st place tie)
Rip 2 Sheets OSB20.22 sec (3rd place)
Full Depth Blade Cut14 in. (10th place)
Milwaukee M12 Fuel 5 3/8-inch Circular Saw 2521

Milwaukee M12 Fuel 5-3/8 in (2521)

  • Blade Speed: 3850 rpm
  • Weight (tool): 4.7 lbs
  • Max cut depth: 1-3/4 in.
  • Shoe: Aluminum
  • Warranty: 5 years

When it comes to the best cordless mini circular saw, there are a couple of options. One is the resurging trend of inline 4.5-inch models from brands such as DeWalt and Skil. I don’t care for those as they offer less flexibility, power, and capacity as compact 5-3/8 in. circular saws. The second-generation Milwaukee M12 Fuel 5 3/8-inch circular saw is my top pick for a compact circ saw.

While you may think a 12V circular saw is a bad idea, Milwaukee accomplishes a lot with this tool. Its brushless motor maximizes the 12V battery supply, and the tool easily cuts through 2x material in one pass (with room to spare). Its small size also makes it a lighter tool, weighing a little more than 5 pounds, including a 5.0Ah M12 battery pack.

Why would you want to use this tool? I like it for the same reason I like my M12 drill and impact driver. It saves space and weight when you aren’t doing more than shortening a series of 2x4s or similar for framing out a window. It also works great for punch lists and renovation projects like building knee walls and the like.

Reasons to Buy

  • Super-lightweight, compact design
  • Better ergonomics than elongated compact designs
  • Brushless motor offers excellent performance on a 12V battery system

Consider Another Model if You…

  • Want to cut more than 2x and a single layer of sheet goods
  • Need the performance of a full-size saw
  • Don’t already have any M12 tools and batteries but do have M18 tools
Hilti Cordless Metal Cutting Circular Saw

Hilti Nuron Metal Saw (SC 6ML-22)

  • Blade Speed: 4000 rpm
  • Weight (tool): 5.9 lbs
  • Max cut depth: 2-3/8 in.
  • Shoe: Steel
  • Warranty: 20 years

Milwaukee has enjoyed our award as the best metal-cutting cordless circular saw for several years with no real competition. However, newer models like the Hilti Nuron SC 6ML-22 present a compelling alternative for those looking for a lightweight, portable, and powerful metal-cutting saw. The saw you ultimately choose depends largely on the materials you tend to cut most frequently. For mild and stainless steel, I like the Hilti SC 6ML-22 for its portability and sub-6-pound weight.

Many of our readers work in electrical or pipefitting, and the Hilti SC 6ML-22 is well-suited for cutting channels, pipes, conduits, or even corrugated sheet metal. HVAC installers can also use it to make openings in sheet metal for ducting. Hilti also made it guide rail-compatible — another great bonus. At $319, it’s $80 less than the heavier (but more powerful) Milwaukee. Both are great saws, but the Hilti — at half the weight — is simply more versatile and nimble.

Reasons to Buy

  • Fast cutting through 1/4-inch mild steel
  • Lightweight, portable design
  • Guide rail-compatible
  • Spark catcher/collector is easy to empty
  • Excellent cut-line visibility

Consider Another Model if You…

  • Want to sacrifice weight for more power to cut through thicker steel
  • Need 2-9/16″ cutting depth

Our Process and the Nitty Gritty

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

I only recommend circular saws that I’d actually use on the jobsite. Far too many brands and models exist to make a poor recommendation here. The Pro Tool Reviews testing rig, paired with hands-on subjective tests, helps me and the team rank and position these tools to help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. In the end, I hope that’s helpful when choosing a tool.

Pro Tool Reviews has been reviewing tools by hand since 2008. In addition to writing product reviews, we also report on industry news in the construction, automotive, and lawn care industries. That keeps us on top of the latest trends and technologies. Many of our Pro reviewers also work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools perform well on the jobsite.

Each year, we bring in and review hundreds of individual tools, accessories, and products. Our team also puts its hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

When I make a recommendation, it’s the result of years of product testing knowledge, real-world results, and a history of having my hands on some of the industry’s most powerful and innovative tools.

Other Tools We Tested in This Head-to-Head

Flex 24V Cordless Circular Saw FX2141-1D

Flex 7-1-4 circular saw cross-cut
  • Power Source: Flex 24V battery (Stacked Lithium recommended)
  • Blade Diameter: 7 1/4 inches
  • Blade Speed: 5800 RPM
  • Bare Weight: 9.28 lbs
  • 90° Cutting Depth: 2-5/8 inches
  • 45° Cutting Depth: 1-7/8 inches

Testing the Flex 24V circular saw against the top competitors revealed a powerful saw that sacrificed some weight for an ability to tackle tough tasks. At 12.74 pounds, it’s the heaviest cordless sidewinder circular saw of all models tested. Still, it makes up for that fact with a dominating drive to cut through most anything and a nice balance of visibility and value. Plus, there’s a lifetime warranty if you register your purchase.

During both cross and bevel cuts, the saw performed perfectly. It didn’t bog down and didn’t noticeably drop any speed. Oddly, visibility during bevel cuts was better than during crosscuts. This is due to the upper blade guard extending a little bit further than I would like. It was very difficult to start and maintain an accurate cut line on compound miter cuts as the blade guard didn’t immediately move into place. The sight line remains just as clear as when making a bevel cut, however. 

Coming in a strong second, Flex only tipped the hat to DeWalt in our full-depth 4-layer OSB cutting test. The additional weight gave ground to others in our speed-ripping test, so expect to have to push a little more weight around when you use this saw to cut one or two sheets at a time. Finally, the $199 tool price ($399 kit) includes a 5-year warranty on both tool and battery, making this a great purchase for those looking to save some money on a top-tier saw.

Hands-on Testing Results

6Ah Stacked Lithium10Ah Stacked Lithium
Weight (w/batt)11.56 lbs (11th place)12.74 lbs (15th place)
Sightlines4.7/5 (3rd place tie)same
Blade Guard4.3/5 (2nd place tie)same
Rip 2 Sheets OSB21.20 sec (5th place)22.31 (10th place)
Full Depth Blade CutFull rip, 9.43 sec (5th place)Full rip, 8.44 sec (2nd place)

Hilti Nuron 22V Circular Saw SC 30WR-22

Hilti SC 30WR-22 circular saw compound miter
  • Power Source: Nuron 22V 8.0 Ah and 12.0 Ah battery
  • Blade Diameter: 7 1/4 inches
  • Blade Speed: 4700 RPM
  • Bare Weight: 8.12 lbs
  • 90° Cutting Depth: 2-5/8 inches
  • 45° Cutting Depth: 1-7/8 inches

While the Hilti Nuron SC 30WR-22’s 4700 rpms may seem low, the brushless motor provides more torque to keep up the speed as the saw encounters higher loads. Sometimes, that matters more than a higher “no-load” rating. Putting the Hilti on our test track revealed that this saw indeed has ample power—it was one of only six saws to pass our full-depth torture test in 4 layers of 3/4-inch OSB. We also liked the swiveling dust port.

My biggest gripe with this saw is the crosscut sight line. The upper blade guard extends almost completely down to the shoe, making it nearly impossible to see the notch directly in front of the blade. They did include a 0° bevel marking on the front of the shoe as well as a notch to help you stay in line, but once you’re cut extends beyond the edge of the board, you’re pretty much flying blind.

Adjustability was top-notch on the bevel, and it uses a similar preset detent dial like Flex. The depth gauge is located on the side of the upper blade guard, so you need to set the saw down when making adjustments. Also, from a design standpoint, using the front pommel while making a 45° cut and maintaining a sightline is nearly impossible, so most of my cuts were made one-handed.

I also noticed that you can’t make a full-depth cut while using a 3P battery (the Hilti 12.0 Nuron, for example). The battery hits the shoe, preventing the saw from achieving its maximum depth of cut. This should have been caught before release. Overall, Hilti makes a capable saw that emphasizes power above all else. Stick with the 8Ah battery for maximum flexibility.

Hands-on Testing Results

8.0 Ah Nuron12.0 Ah Nuron
Weight (w/batt)11.04 lbs (8th place)12.20 lbs (13th place)
Sightlines3.3/5 (10th place)same
Blade Guard3.7/5 (10th place tie)same
Rip 2 Sheets OSBN/A*32.46 sec (13th place)
Full Depth Blade CutFull rip, 13.67 sec (8th place)N/A*
*We intended to run all tests with the 12.0 Ah Nuron battery as this represents the most powerful Hilti has. However, we discovered that you cannot achieve a full-depth cut using this battery, forcing us to switch to the 8.0Ah Nuron pack for our Full-Depth Blade Cut test.

Kobalt 24V Circular Saw XTR KXCS 124B-03

KXCS 124B-03 24V circular saw cross-cut
  • Power Source: 8.0 Ah Ultimate Output battery
  • Blade Diameter: 7 1/4 inches
  • Blade Speed: 5500 RPM
  • Bare Weight: 9.42 lbs
  • 90° Cutting Depth: 2-1/2 inches
  • 45° Cutting Depth: 1-3/4 inches

Kobalt decided to kick down some doors with the launch of its advanced XTR line of 24V cordless tools. This saw greatly improved cutting performance over prior models, including their 6.5-inch saw. Unfortunately, while a decent tool, Kobalt failed to really distinguish itself from its peers. That doesn’t mean it can’t do the job—it just didn’t quite get out ahead in any one area. It placed dead last in our power-to-weight ratio 2-sheet OSB ripping test. That likely reflects the fact that this saw weighs a stout 12.1 pounds with an 8Ah battery installed.

While cut quality was solid during my subjective testing on 2x10s, I noticed that the upper blade guard extends down a bit past where I want it. It obstructs the sightline to the blade when making crosscuts. When making bevel cuts, the sightline was fine. However, the 45° notch on the front of the shoe was pretty wide and slightly ambiguous. It didn’t give you a clear indication of where the actual cut would be located.

The blade guard action was perfectly fine, although it hung up slightly on both crosscuts and bevel cuts. Bevel adjustments benefit from a preset detent dial, and depth adjustment suffers from a hard-to-read, black powder-coated plate. It’ll be hard to set an accurate depth by the numbers in low light. One silver lining is that the tool costs a very reasonable $149 as a bare tool and comes with a 5-year warranty.

Hands-on Testing Results

8.0Ah Ultimate Output
Weight (w/batt)12.11 lbs (12th place)
Sightlines3/5 (11th place)
Blade Guard3.7/5 (10th place tie)
Rip 2 Sheets OSB33.55 sec (14th place)
Full Depth Blade Cut7-inches (11th place)

Makita 40V XGT Circular Saw GSH01

Makita 40V GSH01 circ saw bevel cutting 2x10
  • Power Source: 40V 4.0 Ah and 5.0 Ah XGT battery
  • Blade Diameter: 7 1/4 inches
  • Blade Speed: 6000 RPM
  • Bare Weight: 7.96 lbs
  • 90° Cutting Depth: 2-5/8 inches
  • 45° Cutting Depth: 1-7/8 inches

Makita’s circular saw game runs deep. That’s even more so with the 40V XGT line of cordless tools. For most folks, the GSH01 7-1/4 inch model is the way to go unless you have no interest in moving to the 40V XGT line. Just note that the similar GSH02 includes a guide rail-compatible shoe.

Makita did consistently well across the board in our testing (pun intended), with the exception of value. Their prices are topped only by Hilti. That means you can get saws from Milwaukee, DeWalt, or Flex—who outperformed Makita in at least one performance test—for less. Notably, Makita powered through our full blade depth test, placing fourth and completing the cut in just 8.72 seconds—only a second behind DeWalt.

In our 2×10 testing, both the bevel and crosscut sight lines were fantastic. Even though the upper blade guard extends down almost completely to the shoe, Makita gives you a cutout in the side that delivers a perfect line of sight in both 45° and crosscuts. The blade guard was very smooth during the crosscut and only hung up slightly on a bevel cut. It’s also worth noting that the shoe is incredibly slick and makes for very easy and smooth cutting.

The bevel adjustment features a preset detent dial, and depth adjustment is very clear—though it’s slightly obstructed by your hand whenever you hold the saw. A red indicator tells you exactly how deep you’re cutting, making it very easy to see. As expected, Makita handled compound miter cuts with ease. I did notice that the blade guard hung up slightly during the beginning of the cut—apparent because the cut sped up significantly once the blade guard fully retracted. Overall, the sight line is just as good as with the bevel cuts. This is an all-around solid saw with capable features and above-average performance.

Hands-on Testing Results

4.0 Ah XGT5.0 Ah XGT
Weight (w/batt)10.19 lbs (5th place)10.88 lbs (6th place)
Sightlines5/5 (1st place tie)same
Blade Guard4/5 (8th place tie)same
Rip 2 Sheets OSB21.86 sec (7th place)19.67 sec (2nd place)
Full Depth Blade CutFull rip, 10.5 sec (6th place)Full rip, 8.72 sec (4th place)

Metabo HPT MultiVolt Circular Saw C3607DA

3607DA 36V circ saw cross-cut
  • Power Source: Metabo HPT 36V battery or AC adapter
  • Blade Diameter: 7 1/4 inches
  • Blade Speed: 2000/4300 RPM
  • Bare Weight: 7.54 lbs
  • 90° Cutting Depth: 2-7/16 inches
  • 45° Cutting Depth: 1-7/8 inches

The Metabo HPT MultiVolt circular saw performed consistently well overall. It finished second place in our dual-OSB rip test and was one of only six saws to complete our full-depth power test—in 12 seconds, no less. One of the few flaws with this tool is its front pommel, which is located far too close to the main handle. It has good tracking, and the blade guard handles even compound miter cuts well—though not perfectly. It is one of only three Pro-level saws we tested that lacks a rafter hook (but Metabo HPT took care of that and the handle issue with the updated C3607DB).

In subjective testing on 2x10s, the upper blade guard obscured the sightline on the crosscut, but the bevel cut provided a clear view of the markings on the shoe. The blade guard didn’t hang up at all during the crosscut and only slightly when beveling. While I like the bevel adjustment, moving the blade depth with no clear markings to let you know the actual depth means you have to set it by sight. The blade guard did hang up slightly when making compound miter cuts.

The C3607DB—which we did not have available for testing—increases speed and should improve an already great saw. This is also the only saw in the lineup that can use an AC adapter for unlimited runtime. Sweetening the deal, Metabo HPT offers a limited lifetime warranty on the tool. For the money, the Metabo HPT 36V circular punches above its class and remains a solid recommendation for professionals.

Hands-on Testing Results

4.0Ah MultiVolt
Weight (w/batt)9.66 lbs (4th place)
Sightlines3.7/5 (9th place)
Blade Guard4.3/5 (2nd place tie)
Rip 2 Sheets OSB20.87 sec (4th place)
Full Depth Blade CutFull rip, 12 sec (7th place)

Ridgid 18V Circular Saw R8657

Ridgid 18V brushless circular saw cross-cut
  • Power Source: 8.0 Max Output battery
  • Blade Diameter: 7 1/4 inches
  • Blade Speed: 5400 RPM
  • Bare Weight: 8.75 lbs
  • 90° Cutting Depth: 2-5/8 inches
  • 45° Cutting Depth: 1-7/8 inches

The Ridgid R8657 makes switching between cross, miter, bevel, and compound cuts easy. When I ran the saw through the Pro Tool Reviews test track, it had mixed results. In our power-to-weight speed test through double-stacked 3/4-inch OSB subfloor, the Ridgid R8657 blazed through in 22.06 seconds, placing it 8th out of about 15 saws.

Dropping the blade all the way down, I ran the saw through a full-depth cut in 4 sheets of stacked 3/4-inch OSB. The result confirmed my testing when pushing the saw too hard through 2x material. It only made it 5.5 inches before the overload protection kicked in and stopped the blade. While challenging for any circular saw, this indicates you need to slow it up when cutting tougher materials. Compared to other Pro saws, it falls in the middle of the pack but saves a lot of money compared to the premium brands.

The Ridgid saw cut remarkably well in subjective testing on 2x material, and shoe friction was barely noticeable. The blade guard slightly obscured the crosscut sightline, but on bevel cuts, it was wide open. The front cutouts on the shoe show a very clear line and led to some very accurate cuts. I didn’t notice any hangups on crosscuts or bevel cuts from the blade guard. Positive detents in both the bevel and depth adjustment make it really easy to adjust. 

The blade guard hung up two out of the four times I made a compound miter cut, stopping the saw in its tracks. I was able to power through the cut regardless, but this could prove problematic if you try to cut too quickly.

Hands-on Testing Results

8.0Ah Max Output
Weight (w/batt)11.03 lbs (7th place)
Sightlines4.7/5 (3rd place tie)
Blade Guard4.3/5 (2nd place tie)
Rip 2 Sheets OSB20.06 sec (8th place)
Full Depth Blade Cut5.5 inches (13th place)

Ryobi Circular Saw PBLCS300

Ryobi PBLCS300 ripping OSB subfloor
  • Power Source: 4.0 High Performance battery
  • Blade Diameter: 7 1/4 inches
  • Blade Speed: 4300 RPM
  • Bare Weight: 7.02 lbs
  • 90° Cutting Depth: 2-7/16 inches
  • 45° Cutting Depth: 1-3/4 inches

This saw’s sightlines are good, particularly on bevel and compound cuts. However, due to sawdust buildup, even with the integrated LED, the sightlines can get partially obscured on cross-cuts. Ryobi includes a vacuum dust adaptor that works with 1-7/8 in. and 1-1/4 in. hoses, which can help keep cut lines clean.

Moving on to the Pro Tool Reviews test track, Ryobi finished 12th on our power-to-weight ratio speed test. It sliced through two stacked sheets of OSB in 31.52 seconds when pulled by a 10-pound weight. To test max power, I dropped the blade all the way down and did a full-plunge test in four sheets of stacked OSB. Ryobi’s thermal protection kicked in after just 4.25 inches, placing it dead last. That doesn’t make this a bad saw—just not a professional-grade tool that you can really push. Take it slow, and you’ll likely make even more difficult cuts.

While crosscuts offered little resistance, bevel cuts proved more challenging in our subjective testing on 2x10s. When using two hands during crosscuts, the sightline was slightly obscured, but using one hand allowed you to better see the viewing window. During bevel cuts I could see the cutline perfectly which increased accuracy.

The blade guard didn’t hang during crosscuts but did drag slightly on beveling. Bevel adjustments are easy, though it took some practice. The depth adjustment features a scale on the side of the upper blade guard that lets you set the depth correctly the first time.

Ryobi also did well on compound miter cuts, maintaining blade speed on a nice, smooth cut. The sightline was just as good as it was with the bevel cut, and the blade guard reacted similarly. Ryobi includes a handy vacuum dust adaptor that works with 1-7/8 in. and 1-1/4 in. hoses. This can help keep cut lines clean.

Hands-on Testing Results

8.0Ah Max Output
Weight (w/batt)8.60 lbs (1st place)
Sightlines4.7/5 (3rd place tie)
Blade Guard4.3/5 (2nd place tie)
Rip 2 Sheets OSB31.52 sec (12th place)
Full Depth Blade Cut4.25 inches (14th place)

CMT Orange Tools Zero Gravity Framing Blades

CMT Orange Tools Circualr Saw Blades

CMT supplied us with enough of its Italian-made Zero Gravity saw blades to test every major manufacturer’s circular saws. I’ve been impressed with how well the blade stands up to our aggressive testing schedule. You’ll note the low-mass plate design and unique tooth geometry. Together, these reduce heat buildup while handling nail impacts. CMT claims its framing blades perform up to 5X more cuts on nail-embedded wood than competitors in its class. Large gullets also store chips while you work and eject them as the blade rotation stops, leading to reduced cutting effort and better tracking.

Our Testing by the Numbers

Weight w/Battery

Knowing a tool’s weight is one thing, but we don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. We want to know the weight of each tested tool with the battery we used in the testing.

BrandModelTested BatteryWeight w/Batt
RyobiPBLCS3004.0 High Performance8.60
CraftsmanCMCS5516.0 V208.74
SkilCR5440B-004.0 PWRCore 208.84
Metabo HPTC3607DAQ44.0 Multivolt9.66
MakitaGSH014.0 XGT10.19
MakitaGSH015.0 XGT10.88
RidgidR86578.0 Max Output11.03
HiltiSC 30WR-228.0 Nuron11.04
Milwaukee27326.0 Forge11.26
DeWaltDCS5789.0 Flexvolt11.54
FlexFX2141-1D6.0 Stacked Lithium11.56
KobaltKXCS 124B-038.0 Ultimate Output12.11
HiltiSC 30WR-2212.0 Nuron12.20
Milwaukee273212.0 High Output12.60
FlexFX2141-1D10.0 Stacked Lithium12.74

Power-to-Weight Ratio Testing (2 x OSB, 10 Pounds of Pull)

In this power-to-weight ratio test, it doesn’t push the saws to their limits, but rather sees how well they perform under a realistic load. This test heavily factors in both the weight and the power of the tool under a reasonable (“normal”) load. This is akin to asking: “How well does this saw do if I run it across two sheets of OSB with a reasonable amount of effort?”

BrandModelTested BatteryTime (sec)
Milwaukee27326.0 Forge19.23
MakitaGSH015.0 XGT19.67
CraftsmanCMCS5516.0 V2020.22
Metabo HPTC3607DAQ44.0 Multivolt20.87
FlexFX2141-1D6.0 Stacked Lithium21.20
SkilCR5440B-004.0 PWRCore 2021.66
MakitaGSH014.0 XGT21.86
RidgidR86578.0 Max Output22.06
DeWaltDCS5789.0 Flexvolt22.19
FlexFX2141-1D10.0 Stacked Lithium22.31
Milwaukee273212.0 High Output26.12
RyobiPBLCS3004.0 High Performance31.52
HiltiSC 30WR-2212.0 Nuron32.46
KobaltKXCS 124B-038.0 Ultimate Output33.55

Full-Depth Blade Bury Test (4 x OSB, 20 Pounds of Pull)

This maximum power test is designed to see how the saw does under extremes. We affix 20 pounds of weight to our pulley system to create an aggressive amount of force to pull the saw while its blade is buried in OSB.

BrandModelTested BattLength (in.)Time (sec)
DeWaltDCS5789.0 Flexvolt96 (full)7.7
FlexFX2141-1D10.0 Stacked Lithium96 (full)8.44
Milwaukee27326.0 Forge96 (full)8.47
MakitaGSH015.0 XGT96 (full)8.72
FlexFX2141-1D6.0 Stacked Lithium96 (full)9.43
MakitaGSH014.0 XGT96 (full)10.5
Metabo HPTC3607DAQ44.0 Multivolt96 (full)12
HiltiSC 30WR-228.0 Nuron96 (full)13.67
Milwaukee273212.0 High Output69.25
CraftsmanCMCS5516.0 V2014
KobaltKXCS 124B-038.0 Ultimate Output7
SkilCR5440B-004.0 PWRCore 206.5
RidgidR86578.0 Max Output5.5
RyobiPBLCS3004.0 High Performance4.25

Sight Lines (Cross, Bevel, Compound)

We test sightlines using cross, bevel, and compound miter cuts as well as with hands on and off the front handle.

BrandModelBatteryRating (5 max)
CraftsmanCMCS5516.0 V205.0
MakitaGSH014.0 XGT5.0
FlexFX2141-1D6.0 Stacked Lithium4.7
RidgidR86578.0 Max Output4.7
RyobiPBLCS3004.0 High Performance4.7
SkilCR5440B-004.0 PWRCore 204.7
DeWaltDCS5789.0 Flexvolt4.0
Milwaukee273212.0 High Output4.0
Metabo HPTC3607DAQ44.0 Multivolt3.7
HiltiSC 30WR-228.0 Nuron3.3
KobaltKXCS 124B-038.0 Ultimate Output3.0

Blade Guard (Cross, Bevel, Compound)

We tested the blade guard using cross, bevel, and compound miter cuts to see if it hung up.

BrandModelBatteryRating (5 max)
CraftsmanCMCS5516.0 V204.7
FlexFX2141-1D6.0 Stacked Lithium4.3
Milwaukee273212.0 High Output4.3
Metabo HPTC3607DAQ44.0 Multivolt4.3
RidgidR86578.0 Max Output4.3
RyobiPBLCS3004.0 High Performance4.3
SkilCR5440B-004.0 PWRCore 204.3
DeWaltDCS5789.0 Flexvolt4.0
MakitaGSH014.0 XGT4.0
HiltiSC 30WR-228.0 Nuron3.7
KobaltKXCS 124B-038.0 Ultimate Output3.7

Bare Tool Price

To help understand the value of a tool, it’s good to know what each tool costs relative to the others.

BrandModelBare Tool Price
KobaltKXCS 124B-03$149
Metabo HPTC3607DAQ4$179
HiltiSC 30WR-22$349

How We Tested

With all of our head-to-head comparisons, we first cover the basics. That includes measuring the bare tool weight as well as the battery weight and documenting everything in a spreadsheet. We also document things like warranty and check blade speed, maximum depth of cut, bevel capacity, and what material the shoe is made from.

After that, however, we get to the “fun” stuff. That often takes a LOT of work. For example, how do you test the power-to-weight of a circular saw? How do you test its performance under a significant load? We had to ask (and come up with the answers to) all of those questions.

Testing Power-to-Weight

It became quickly apparent that one saw weighed much differently than another. On the ends of the spectrum, we had brands like Ryobi (the lightest) and Flex (the heaviest with its 10.0 Stacked Lithium battery).

What happens when you pull a lighter saw across two sheets of 3/4-inch OSB subfloor as opposed to a heavier saw? Well, it depends. The idea is to apply the same amount of horizontal force and simulate a real-world amount of “effort” to move the saw along its path. Then, the power of the saw, working against the weight of the saw, does the rest.

The results can be surprising, as a more powerful saw hampered by weight may be outdone by a less powerful saw that weighs far less. That’s why we call this our Power-to-Weight ratio test.

Flex FX2141 circular saw testing rig

Using a Kreg Accu-Cut Aluminum Circular Saw Track (plus an extender), we set up a series of pulleys mounted to our shop’s concrete floor and ceiling. Using this system, we affixed a 10-pound weight to steel cabling and pulled each saw across a double stack of 3/4-inch OSB. We prefer OSB because of its randomness, which helps give us more consistent results. Each blade was set to a 2-inch depth of cut to allow the blade to fully penetrate the OSB and give us a clean cut.

Recording the footage on no less than four different cameras (and four different angles), we noted the times each saw took, from starting its cut to striking the end plate at the end of the run. After each run, we blew off the track using a cordless blower and reset the tool. Each saw got two runs to determine a time, with a third run available if the first two differed greatly.

Full-Depth Blade Cut Power Test

The design of the Full-Depth Blade Cut test is to gauge each circular saw’s power when driven by a tough load. Doubling the weight, we stacked four layers of 3/4-inch OSB subfloor and ran the saw across—this time with its blade fully-extended.

Astute fans will note that there are some issues with this test—and indeed, we saw the same problems. For one, each of our saws differed in how deep their blades would go. For example, on one end of the scale, you have Kobalt with a 2.5-inch blade depth. Flex and others go down to 2.625 inches.

Still, the idea wasn’t to allow saws with more power to “get by” with less blade depth but simply to test each saw to its maximum capacity. After all, that’s what happens when you slam home the shoe—you get a max-depth cut. I wanted to see what happens when you “bury the blade.” Conversely, you give an inherent advantage to saws whose blades may not extend as deep. Oh, well.

In the end, we got some pretty interesting results. Around half our saws couldn’t complete the cut. Of those that did, we started recording times to differentiate them in our scoring. The 20 pounds of weight affixed to our cable proved just the right amount (and we definitely did some experimenting to get there). Could we have added more? Certainly, but not in a way that we felt was safe, so 20 pounds remains our standard for this test.

Subjective Crosscut, Bevel, and Compound Miter Cuts

When running our subjective crosscut, bevel, and compound miter cuts on 2×10 lumber, I’m looking for several things. First, does the blade guard hang up when making any or all of these cuts? Second, can I see my sightline clearly in each type of cut? Third, does the saw have enough power when driven hard into these cuts (Can it cut quickly and easily)? Fourth, does the shoe slide easily over the wood, or is there too much friction?

Milwaukee 2732 cross cut

I also check to see how well the saw is tracking during cuts where I’m following a line. Does it pull left? If so, why? This is a great time to get a solid feel for each circular saw.

Feel, Handling, and Ergonomics

This is also the time to collect opinions and data on how the saw feels in the hand. How well is the front handle placed, and does it block any sight lines? Can I hold the saw with two hands while maintaining a clear view of the blade and cutline? Does the cut line blower work well enough to keep the cut line visible when cutting through thicker material? How well does the saw track during a longer cut?

Each saw also goes through a round of blade changes. This is often where we note the presence of onboard tool storage and any mechanical issues with the guard.

Lastly, a series of miscellaneous cuts—both ripping and cross-cuts occur to ensure we have a very solid feel for the tool in a variety of situations.

More Cordless Circular Saw Recommendations

Bosch 18V ProFactor Cordless Circular Saw GKS18V-25CN

Bosch made a big step forward in its cordless circular saw performance with the launch of its ProFactor models. The latest generation keeps that high level of performance and build quality while making a couple of changes. Most noticeably, it makes the change to a blade-left orientation (my personal preference) and adds an LED cutline indicator. It also shaves more than 1/2 a pound off the weight. Plus, this model is Connected Ready, and there’s an option for a track-ready shoe.

Metabo 18V Cordless Circular Saw KS 18 LTX 66 BL

There’s a lot to love about Metabo’s 6 1/2-inch KS 18 LTX 66 BL circular saw. It starts with low weight—just 7.7 pounds bare and 9.9 pounds with a battery. Then it adds a track-compatible shoe. With Metabo or other FS-style tracks, you get outstanding accuracy for cross, rip, and miter cuts without the need for a larger saw. Plus, Metabo tools and batteries are cross-compatible with more than two dozen other brands in the Cordless Alliance System (CAS)! There’s even more, so be sure to check out our article by clicking the headline above.

Cordless Circular Saw Buying Guide – What We Look For

Cutting Power

It wasn’t that long ago we had to feather cordless circular saws compared to the way we cut with corded models. Today’s battery-powered options are much better and many brands easily outperform 15-amp corded saws with their flagship brushless models.

If cutting power is your number one priority, expect to pay for a more expensive saw. However, if you don’t mind taking your time, some excellent high-value cordless options can help you get the job done for less.


Tracking isn’t about having an arbor that’s off—that would be a defect and you should return the saw if that’s the problem. Sometimes the handle design can encourage you to push to one side or the other, especially with saws that have the front and rear handles close together. Most of the time, you can adjust to the handle design pretty quickly.

Guard Action

The lip of a circular saw guard can catch in some cases. Even when it’s smooth on a typical cut, thin, miter, bevel, or compound cuts can expose issues. Make a series of test cuts on scrap material to see if your guard catches on a particular type of cut so you know when to manually lift it without dragging it away from your cutline.

Dust and Chip Removal

Many of the best cordless circular saws have vacuum ports and those do a better job of clearing chips and dust away than those without. However, the majority of our team never connects a vac for normal cutting. We prefer a vacuum adapter that’s either removable or pivots to direct the chips where we want them.

In general, most circular saws do a good job of clearing dust and chips. As RPMs drop because of a lower top-end speed or bogging down, the clearing suffers. Look for models with at least 4500 RPM (5000 is even better) and a brushless motor to maintain effective clearing.

Handle Ergonomics

Handle comfort is largely an individual choice with the size of your hand driving a lot of what feels best. While rear handles are rarely an issue, our crew is drawn towards front handle designs that aren’t too thin, too close to the rear handle, or angled in a direction that becomes uncomfortable. See if you can put your hands on the saw in the store before you take it home. If you hate the grip in the store, it’s unlikely to get better once you’re cutting.


Because you nearly always cut on top of your material, the weight comes into play primarily when you’re carrying your circular saw from one place to another. However, heavy saws can contribute to “stickier” cutting if the shoe isn’t low-friction enough. There’s no reason to carry more weight than you have to, though, and it’s possible to get a Pro-level saw under 10 pounds with the battery.

Price and Value

We’re big on value and love figuring out what the best saw for our budget is. Start with what you know you’re willing to spend and build your priorities from there. Here are things we consider as part of our value calculation:

  • Performance
  • Design and features
  • Depth of compatible tools on the same battery system
  • Service after the sale and warranty

Sidewinder or Rear-Handle?

The spread between sidewinder and rear-handle cordless circular saw styles is largely regional. The West Coast tends to prefer rear-handle while the East Coast generally goes sidewinder.

Most cordless rear-handle saws aren’t true worm drives. The exceptions are Skilsaw’s 48V cordless worm drives. The rest use a direct drive gearing system and go with a rear-handle design to accommodate the preference for that style.

Like their corded counterparts, cordless rear-handle saws are heavier than the more compact sidewinder style.

Both styles use brushless motors and a direct drive (aside from Skilsaw’s worm drive), so there isn’t necessarily the same higher torque in the rear-handle style as there is with corded models.

When it comes to these high-end cordless circular saws, it’s more a matter of preference.


There’s some confusion between 18V and 20V cordless circular saws. Many folks believe that 20V is more powerful, but they’re the same voltage.

More brands are using 6-cell sets instead of the 5-cell sets we see on 18V/20V max tools. Those run at a higher voltage. Marked 24V Max or 22V, they run at 21.6V nominal. With 20% more cells, they do have the potential to produce more power or runtime.

36V/40V Max batteries are one way to get more power. Makita and Skil both have 2-battery systems that take 18V/20V max batteries and combine them in series on the tool to reach a higher voltage. Makita also has a 40V max XGT line and Metabo HPT has a 36V MultiVolt system.

Skilsaw has a couple of options for its 48V TrueHVL system while DeWalt’s FlexVolt system runs a 60V max (54V) platform.

However, the advent of advanced batteries using 21700 lithium-ion cells and more recently pouch cell batteries makes it possible to deliver more power to lower voltage systems without needing bulkier high-voltage battery packs.

Blade Left or Blade Right?

Very few Pros and DIYers we come across don’t care what side the blade is on. Nearly everyone has a preference and won’t buy a saw with a blade that sits on the “wrong” side. Your best bet is to try both and see which one is easier for you to track your cutline.

As a right-handed user, I prefer a blade-left design. Then again, PTR’s Editor-in-Chief, Clint DeBoer, is also a righty and prefers blade-right. Read more about the considerations here.

Features To Look For

  • Brushless motor: offers better performance, runtime, and longer life
  • Electronic brake: stops the blade quickly as a safety feature
  • Rafter hook: great for hanging on a variety of objects instead of setting the saw on the ground
  • Trigger safety design: some people prefer a push-in style, others a push-down
  • Dust port: offers a connection to a vacuum for better cleanup
  • Rail compatibility: gives the saw the ability to attach to a track for highly accurate cuts
  • LED light: adds light to the visible blade area to help you see your cutline
  • Cutline blower: uses exhaust airflow to push sawdust away from your cutline
  • Magnesium components: reduces the weight without sacrificing strength

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