Best Cordless Circular Saw Framing Tool Reviews

Best Cordless Circular Saw Reviews for 2020


Cordless has come a long way since the early days of lithium-ion power. Where circular saws were initially struggling for adequate performance (and even a 7-1/4-inch blade), they now exceed the performance of 15-amp corded models. We decided to test the waters and pulled our expert team together to discover who makes the best cordless circular saw from an elite top tier of advanced models.

Even though we’re East Coasters, we decided to open things up a bit here at the top tier. We have both sidewinder and rear-handle styles in this test and we’ll give you our opinion for both.

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Best Cordless Circular Saw Overall (Sidewinder)

Metabo HPT MultiVolt Circular Saw C3607DA

Best Cordless Circular Saw - Metabo HPT MultiVolt

When the final scores were tallied, Metabo HPT’s MultiVolt circular saw edged out the Milwaukee M18 Fuel. Thanks to perfect scores in the cutting performance and accuracy sections and high scores in most of the others, it comes away with our award for the Best Cordless Circular Saw.

Another Great Option

The one thing our testing team really didn’t like about Metabo HPT’s design was how close the handles are to each other. If you’re in the same boat, Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel 2732 finished in a close second place.

Best Rear-Handle Circular Saw

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Rear-Handle Circular Saw 2830

Best Cordless Rear Handle Circular Saw - Milwaukee M18 Fuel

All four of the rear-handle saws in our testing scored more than 90 points overall and Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Rear-Handle Saw managed to earn a little bit of separation as our best cordless circular saw in the rear-handle division.

With perfect scores in our accuracy and movement sections to go along with a near-perfect score in cutting performance, it overcomes higher weight and so-so handle design to take the win.

Best Cordless Circular Saw Cutting Power (Sidewinder)

Metabo HPT MultiVolt Circular Saw C3607DA

Best Cordless Circular Saw - Metabo HPT MultiVolt

As we ran through a ton of tough cuts that included a stall test, the Metabo HPT MultiVolt circular saw proved it could keep its blade turning with more power than any of its peers. It’s so strong that it may benefit from a diamond arbor to keep the blade from slipping in extreme situations.

Most Powerful Rear-Handle Circular Saw

Skilsaw 48V TrueHVL Worm Drive Circular Saw

Best Cordless Circular Saw - Skilsaw TrueHVL Worm Drive

The Skilsaw TrueHVL 48 Worm Drive is the only true worm drive in the rear-handle group and its cutting performance showed. As we made cut after cut, its worm drive gearing consistently applied more torque to the toughest cuts than its competitors.

Best Cordless Circular Saw Capacity (Sidewinder)

Makita 18V X2 LXT 9 1/4-Inch Circular Saw XSH10

Best Cordless Circular Saw Capacity - Makita XSH10

The Makita XSH10 has the biggest capacity of any cordless circular saw we’ve tested. Its 9 1/4-inch blade is capable of cutting 3x material in a single pass – something that’s important if your local code allows for 3x engineered lumber.

If you want to stick with a 7 1/4-inch blade, the Ridgid Octane cuts deeper than its competition at 2 11/16 inches.

3x dimensional lumber is 2 1/2 inches thick, meaning DeWalt (2 9/16-inch) can also cut it. Milwaukee and Kobalt (2 1/2 inches) are right on the edge.

Best Rear-Handle Circular Saw Cut Capacity

Makita 18V X2 LXT Rear-Handle Circular Saw XSR01

Best Cordless Circular Saw - Makita XSR01

The most field-proven cordless rear-handle saw still has the greatest cutting depth. When you’re looking to make it through 3x, the Makita XSR01 is still your best bet, cutting 2-9/16 inches deep at 90º.

Another Contender on the Horizon

Keep your eye open in the fall of 2020. Skilsaw is due to release its cordless 10 1/4 inch worm drive to take over the crown.

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Best Lightweight Cordless Circular Saw (Sidewinder)

Metabo HPT MultiVolt Circular Saw C3607DA

Best Cordless Circular Saw Weight - Metabo HPT MultiVolt

The Metabo HPT MultiVolt circular is the lightweight in this high-performance class. At 7.5 pounds bare, it’s only 9.6 pounds once you add the battery. Not only is it the lightest, but it’s also the only model to stay within the professional corded sidewinder weight range.

If you’re looking for a lightweight cordless circular saw, Metabo HPT is your best bet.

Best Lightweight Rear-Handle Circ Saw

Makita 18V X2 LXT Rear-Handle XSR01

Best Cordless Circular Saw - Makita XSR01

Lightweight from the outset as the first cordless rear-handle circular saw, Makita’s XSR01 is still the lightest. At 12.6 pounds with a pair of 5.0Ah batteries, it’s well within the standard weight range of corded models.

Best Budget Cordless Circular Saw (Sidewinder)

Kobalt 24V XTR Brushless Circular Saw KXCS 124B-03

Best Budget Cordless Circular Saw - Kobalt 24V XTR Circular Saw

Kobalt decided to kick down some doors with the launch of their advanced XTR line of 24V cordless tools. It shows with a huge improvement in cutting performance for the circular saw in the line.

This $149 bare tool saw put a pretty serious gap on Ridgid’s Octane model, outscoring it in every category but ergonomics.

While they’re budget saws compared to the premium models, neither are available as a kit with battery and charger at the moment. You can find both in combo kits, though.

Best Budget Rear-Handle Saw

Makita 18V X2 LXT Rear-Handle Circular Saw XSR01

Best Cordless Circular Saw - Makita XSR01

There are no true budget brands in the cordless rear-handle circular saw conversation right now, leaving premium professional brands to battle it out. The best budget circular saw you can get in this class is the Makita 18V X2 rear handle model. Its $199 bare tool and $349 kit price tags are the best in the group.

While we love this saw—you can also choose the XSH06 if you prefer a sidewinder.

Best Cordless Circular Saw: Fan Voting

You know what our picks are, but #PTRNation had an opportunity to share its opinion as well.

Best Sidewinder: Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw 2732

Milwaukee’s advanced sidewinder led the fan vote from the start with several folks saying they rely on Milwaukee every day.

Check out the Close Competition

Makita finished in a close second, just a few votes behind. DeWalt and Metabo HPT also received votes.

Best Rear-Handle: Makita 18V X2 Rear-Handle Circular Saw XSR01

Makita 18V X2 Brushless Rear-Handle Circular Saw

This one wasn’t anywhere near close. Makita’s XSR01 crushed the fan vote, putting the other contenders way back in its rearview mirror.

Best Cordless Circular Saw Features

All of the saws we tested cover the basic features such as a brushless motor and blade brake.

Not all of them have a rafter hook. Metabo HPT opts to omit it and Makita’s XSH08 has it available for purchase separately.

Then there are some features that stand out from the standard set and might help you make your decision.

Metabo HPT (36V MultiVolt) and DeWalt (60V Max FlexVolt) both run multiple voltage batteries. The batteries run the saws in this review at a higher voltage and both are compatible with each brand’s 18V/20V Max tools.

Metabo HPT has a silent mode. It automatically senses the load on the blade and increases the power – all the way to full power if need be. For thin materials, it’s noticeably quieter and acts as a bit of a soft start in tougher materials.

Metabo HPT MultiVolt Circular Saw Silent Mode

Wrapping things up, Metabo HPT is also the only saw in the group to offer an AC adapter.

Metabo HPT MultiVolt Circular Saw with AC Adapter

Makita includes AWS – Autostart Wireless System – on the XSH10. Paired with an AWS vac or using an AWS adapter, it automatically kicks your dust extraction on when you pull the trigger.

Makita AWS System

Makita’s XSH08 is the only saw in this test that includes a rail-compatible shoe. If you want highly-accurate track cuts and the ability to easily cut without one, it’s a handy feature to have.

Makita XSH08 cutting down door

The Skilsaw 48V Worm Drive is the only true worm drive in the rear-handle group. Its worm drive gearing is the same style as corded models, differing from the direct drive “worm drive style” of other cordless rear-handle saws.

Skilsaw Cordless Worm Drive

How We Tested

Blade Selection

Spyder Circular Saw Blades

Special thanks to Spyder Tools for supplying framing blades for our testing. Their nickel-cobalt carbide blend give the teeth up to 6 times the life of standard carbide teeth.

They have an anti-friction coating and vibration-reducing stabilization vents, similar to other premium blades on the market.

You can read our review on the Spyder circular saw blades. Ready to buy? Head over to your local Lowe’s or shop online!

Battery Selection

As much as possible, we tested with the batteries that come kitted with these saws. For those that are only available as a bare tool, we asked the manufacturer which battery they recommend pairing with it.

Sidewinders

  • DeWalt DCS578: 3.0/9.0Ah FlexVolt (162 Wh)
  • Makita XSH08: 2 x 5.0Ah LXT (180Wh)
  • Makita XSH10: 2 x 5.0Ah LXT (180Wh)
  • Metabo HPT C3607DA: 4.0/8.0Ah MultVolt (144Wh)
  • Milwaukee 2732: 12.0Ah High Output (216Wh)
  • Ridgid R8654: 9.0 Octane (162Wh)

Rear Handles

  • DeWalt DCS577: 3.0/9.0Ah FlexVolt (162 Wh)
  • Makita XSR01: 2 x 5.0Ah LXT (180Wh)
  • Milwaukee 2830: 12.0Ah High Output (216Wh)
  • Skilsaw SPTH77M: 5.0Ah True HVL (216Wh)

Cutting Power

Rip cutting through two sheets of 3/4-inch subfloor, this elite group proved its ability to cut better than standard cordless saws.

We also did a stall test in 2x 10 pressure treated lumber out of curiosity and came up with some interesting results. The Metabo HPT MultiVolt kept its blade working further than any other model, sidewinder or rear-handle.

It even had enough power to spin the arbor slightly, making us wonder if it might be better off with a diamond arbor.

A large group of saws joined Metabo HPT as having more power than the rest:

  • DeWalt DCS578
  • Metabo HPT C3607DA
  • Milwaukee 2732
  • DeWalt DCS577
  • Milwaukee 2830
  • Skilsaw SPTH77M

Tracking

We marked a straight cutline to see how well each saw tracks. It’s not about having an arbor that’s off – that would be a defect. We were looking to see if the handle design encouraged us to push to either side.

Most of our models are excellent, however, we noticed that Milwaukee’s 2732, Ridgid’s R8654, and Kobalt’s KXCS 124B-03 tended to have us wandering slightly compared to the others.

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.

After making a ton of cuts, here are the saws that earn a top score for guard action:

  • Metabo HPT C3607DA
  • Milwaukee 2732
  • DeWalt DCS577
  • Makita XSR01
  • Milwaukee 2830
  • Skilsaw SPTH77M
  • Makita XSH10

Dust and Chip Removal

Some of our circular saws have vacuum ports and those do a better job of clearing chips and dust away than those without. Considering we were testing cordless saws, we paired them with Makita’s AWS cordless vacuum.

Who has a dust port that comes with the saw?

  • DeWalt DCS578
  • Milwaukee 2732
  • Ridgid R8654
  • Kobalt KXCS 124B-03
  • Milwaukee 2830
  • Skilsaw SPT77M
  • Makita XSH10

Note that Makita’s XSH08, Metabo HPT’s C3607DA, and DeWalt’s DCS577 have optional dust port adapters you can buy separately. Only Makita’s XSR01 doesn’t have the option.

Without the dust port attachments, some saws do a better job of clearing dust and chips better than others. These models earned a perfect score:

  • DeWalt DCS578
  • Metabo HPT C3607DA
  • Milwaukee 2732
  • Kobalt KXCS 124B-03
  • Makita XSR01
  • Skilsaw SPTH77M
  • Makita XSH10

Handle Ergonomics

None of the handle designs were particularly offensive. Our crew is drawn towards handle designs that aren’t too thin, too close together, or angled in a direction that becomes uncomfortable.

Overall, we like DeWalt’s handle design the best. This is the group that all earned a perfect rating for handle ergonomics:

  • DeWalt DCS578
  • Makita XSH08
  • Ridgid R8634
  • Kobalt KXCS 124B-03
  • DeWalt DCS577
  • Skilsaw SPTH77M

Weight

There are a wide range of weights and sidewinder styles tend to be lighter than rear-handle models.

Of the sidewinders, Metabo HPT was the lightest while Makita took the crown for the rear-handle group with the recommended battery loadout.

Price and Value

Here are the bare tool and kit prices for each of our best cordless circular saw contestants from lowest to highest:

  • DeWalt DCS578: $199.00 bare, $299.00 with one 3.0/9.0Ah FlexVolt battery and charger
  • Makita XSH08: $339.00 bare, no kit option available
  • Metabo HPT C3607DA: $179.00 bare, no kit option available
  • Milwaukee 2732: $249.00 bare, $449.00 with one 12.0Ah High Output battery and charger
  • Ridgid R8654: $169.00 bare, no kit option available
  • Kobalt KXCS 124B-03: $149.00 bare, no kit option available
  • DeWalt DCS577: $249.00 bare, $399.00 with one 3.0/9.0Ah FlexVolt battery and charger
  • Makita XSR01: $199.00 bare, $349.00 with two 5.0Ah LXT batteries and dual-port charger
  • Milwaukee 2830: $269.00 bare, $449.00 with one 12.0Ah High Output battery and charger
  • Skilsaw SPTH77M: no bare tool option, $399 with 5.0Ah battery and charger
  • Makita XSH10: $475 bare, no kit option available

Prices are at the time of writing.

While Kobalt is the least expensive, we feel that Makita’s XSR01 gives you the best value when you consider the performance and features of the saw along with the price. It’s a sale price that will go back up, though. Here are all the saws that score 90 points or higher for value:

  • DeWalt DCS578
  • Metabo HPT C3607DA
  • Makita XSR01

Want More Details? Dig Into Our Standalone Reviews!

Some of these are new circular saws to our shop and we’re working on the reviews and updates as we speak.

Best Cordless Circular Saw Buying Guide

Sidewinder or Rear-Handle?

The spread between sidewinder and rear-handle cordless circular saw styles are 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 exception is Skilsaw’s 48V cordless worm drive. The rest use a direct drive gearing system and go with a rear-handle design to accommodate the preference to 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.

Voltage

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

When you fully charge an 18V battery, it’s delivering 20V for a brief period. We call that 20V max. Once it does a little bit of work it settles into its nominal 18V power level. Whether it’s called 18V or 20V max, it’s the same voltage. Read more about the relationship between 18V and 20V max here.

Kobalt uses 6-cell sets instead of the 5-cell sets we see on 18V/20V max tools. Those actually run at a higher voltage. Marked 24V Max by Kobalt, runs at 21.6V nominal.

36V tools used to be the best way to get more power, but there aren’t as many brands that primarily focus on it. The advent of advanced batteries using 21700 lithium-ion cells makes it possible to deliver more power to 18V/20V max platforms without the need for bulkier 36V battery packs.

However, Makita uses two 18V batteries to run at a higher 36V power level on their 18V X2 (36V) models. Metabo HPT runs its MultiVolt system at 36V for more power-hungry tools.

Skilsaw is a relative newcomer to the cordless market with its 48V TrueHVL system. This is a voltage level other brands have not moved into.

DeWalt’s FlexVolt circular saws reach the highest with their 60V max (54V nominal) power ratings. While you can find other brands in the 60V max space for lawn care equipment, DeWalt is the only one to have handheld power tools there.

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

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

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We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction, automotive, and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

We consult with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.

We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.

We’ll provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers—including objective evaluations of individual tools and products.

The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.

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Brian Lutz

The Makita 6 1/2″ cordless left facing circ saw is the best cordless tool I’ve ever used. It’s lightweight, it’s the easiest to use when trying to make a freehand accurate cut, it’s lightweight, and it’s lightweight. ; ) If I need more power I’m using a chop saw or busting out my corded, left facing worm drive skil saw.

OnePunchMan

Kobalt XTR rocks

Mick

I see that Metabo’s is the lightest and most powerful, but it would be handy to have a weight bar-chart and a speed (and/or distance) bar-chart.

‘Lightest’ or ‘fastest’ could mean 10% delta or 100% delta.

Mick

I’ve been pondering a bit of trivia and can’t quite recall:

In what year did we start seeing in influx in 7 1/4″ cordless saws, and who were the OEM(s) that led the charge?

I don’t recall a 7 1/4 from DW on the old 18V platform. Was it when everyone went Li-Ion?

Steve

Need to test these saws in OAK and other harder woods. Not all of us are working just in soft, plantation pine. I’m building a fence around a new goat paddock and would love to know if a cordless circular saw is at all practical for cutting through dense white-oak fence boards. My guess is—no.