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May 18, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw Reviews 2021

Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw Reviews 2021

What’s better than a cordless circular saw? The best cordless worm drive and rear handle circular saws! And what better way to test them than with a Time Trial showdown on the PTR Circular Saw Test Track!


Cordless rear handle circular saws meet the needs of Pros looking to cut the cord on worm drives and we were able to test four primary players on the market from Makita, DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Skilsaw.

With four different voltages, there’s more than just pride on the line as each of these saws has something to prove about their power sources. They’ll have the opportunity to strut their stuff on the PTR Circular Saw Test Track where we’ve set up a series of cuts to assess their real-world potential. 

What’s interesting about this group is that they’re all still first-generation models. Even for Makita, a model that’s been around for a few years, the performance and runtime are so relevant that there hasn’t been a felt need to upgrade them. 

Want to see these saws in action? Check out our YouTube video review!

Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw Results

Makita 18V X2 (36V) Brushless Rear-Handle Circular Saw | Overall Score: 4.5 out of 5.0

Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw Reviews | Makita XSR01

Makita was the first to get a rear handle model on the market with their 36-volt XSR01. It’s the lightest in the group by far and has a couple of years of field experience over the competition. 

Makita finished our Test Track in 2 minutes, 42 seconds. That’s more than a minute off the leader’s pace but nowhere near the slowest models we’ve tested. 

Even though Makita’s rear-handle saw was slower cutting, there’s a lot to be said for its significantly lighter weight and overall design. When you’re making a lot of cuts the way Tom was, it’s much less fatiguing than our other saws. For many Pros, taking an extra second or two per cut is well worth the weight savings and makes this their choice as the best cordless worm drive.

Pros

  • Best cordless rear handle value
  • Perfect guard movement
  • Perfect notch accuracy at 45º and 90º
  • Lowest shoe friction
  • Lightest weight of the cordless rear handle group (12.6 pounds with batteries)
  • Deepest cutting capacity (2 9/16 inches at 90º)
  • Excellent tracking
  • Perfect score for dust and chip clearing (without a vac)
  • Massive group of compatible tools using the same batteries

Cons

  • Slowest Time Trial of the cordless rear handle group
  • No vacuum attachment available

Learn more at Makita’s website.

DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Worm Drive Style Circular Saw | Overall Score: 4.6 out of 5.0

Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw Reviews | DeWalt DCS577

DeWalt followed Makita to market with their FlexVolt 60V Max DCS577, making a jump in power over the first-generation FlexVolt sidewinder.

If you remember back to our DeWalt Vs Milwaukee Rear Handle video, the two saws were just one point apart in our final scoring and we couldn’t concretely say which one cut better. There’s some separation this time with DeWalt finishing in 1:39. Oddly enough, that’s exactly the same time as the Gen 2 FlexVolt Sidewinder.

On a 100-point scale, DeWalt was just 1 point behind Milwaukee in our final results. That’s a statistical tie in our book and some people consider it the best cordless worm drive over Milwaukee thanks to its more comfortable handle ergonomics.

Pros

  • Fastest Time Trial finish in the rear handle group (tied for 2nd overall)
  • Top-tier cutting power
  • FlexVolt battery is compatible with a huge line of FlexVolt and 20V max tools
  • Excellent tracking
  • Perfect notch accuracy at 45º and 90º
  • Very good ergonomics on both handles
  • Excellent dust and chip clearing (without a vac)
  • Optional vac adapter available

Cons

  • A little guard hesitation on compound cuts

Learn more at DeWalt’s website.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Rear-Handle Circular Saw | Overall Score: 4.6 out of 5.0

Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw Reviews | Milwaukee 2830

Milwaukee’s 2830 debuted in 2019, taking advantage of the M18 line’s boost in power from High Output batteries. It’s running on 18 volts with an advanced M18 Fuel brushless motor. 

Milwaukee took aim at its own sidewinder sitting at the top, but it fell short of overtaking it. In fact, it fell short of overtaking DeWalt as well, finishing in 1:47. Still, it’s a solid finish and clearly in the elite group of top-performing saws.

The Milwaukee 2830 finished with the highest score in our algorithm, making it the best cordless worm drive based on how we prioritized the overall package.

Pros

  • Top-tier cutting power and performance
  • Excellent sightline to the blade
  • Perfect tracking
  • Perfect notch accuracy at 45º and 90º
  • Very low shoe friction
  • Outstanding guard action
  • Vac adapter included
  • Incredibly deep line of compatible 18V tools

Cons

  • We’d prefer a thicker front handle

Learn more at Milwaukee’s website.

Skilsaw 48V True HVL Cordless Worm Drive | Overall Score: 4.6 out of 5.0

Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw Reviews | Skilsaw SPTH77M

The most recent cordless rear handle saw is Skilsaw’s 48V TrueHVL worm drive. It’s the first cordless tool from Skilsaw and the only true worm drive in the group. The rest have direct drive motors with a rear handle design.

As the only true worm drive, Skilsaw put down a solid effort, wrapping up in 1:46 to finish just ahead of Milwaukee. 

While it is heavier than the other contenders, Skilsaw throws its name in for consideration as the best cordless worm drive with a solid overall design and top-tier performance. If you’re making a prediction on what might come in the future, there’s a good chance that Skilsaw’s hyper-focus on saws might see them develop the most capable line of cordless saws on the market. True HVL table saw, miter saw, and chop saw? We’d bet on it!

Pros

  • Top-tier cutting power and performance
  • Excellent tracking
  • Perfect notch accuracy at 45º and 90º
  • Perfect guard action
  • Very low shoe friction
  • Outstanding dust and chip removal (without a vac)
  • Includes a vac adapter

Cons

  • Heaviest of the rear-handle group
  • Limited number of compatible tools currently

Learn more at Skilsaw’s website.

What About Hilti?

We are definitely aware of Hilti’s cordless rear handle circular saw, but we haven’t had a chance to run it through our tests yet. Once we do, we’ll update our results.

Final Thoughts

All of these are great saws and exceed the performance of any standard cordless circular saw out there (along with a lot of corded models). We hope we’ve given you enough information to make a decision based on your top priorities. Check out the individual reviews if you’d like more details.

Have any questions or feedback for us? Let us know in the comments below!

Best Cordless Rear Handle and Worm Drive Circular Saw: How We Tested

Blade Selection

Spyder Circular Saw Blades

Spyder Tools supplied the 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 here. Ready to buy? Head over to your local Lowe’s or shop online!

PTR Circular Saw Test Track

The track starts in 2 x 10 pine with five standard cross cuts. Then Tom will need to make a quick adjustment to find 45 degrees for five bevel cuts and then back to 0º for five 45º miter cuts. 

Things get tougher and we’ll expose any flaws in the guard movement as we shift to compound cuts at a 45º miter and 45º bevel. Tom will have to make three cuts in the more comfortable direction before switching to the opposite side for three more cuts that have a trickier start. 

Switching sides completely, Tom will send each saw through a 4-foot rip cut in double-stacked 3/4-inch OSB where the time finally stops. Along the way, he has to make three bevel angle changes and weight will come into play considering there are 22 cuts to make as quickly as he can. 

Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel 2732 Sidewinder currently has the time to beat at 1 minute, 35 seconds and the slowest time we’ve recorded is 4 minutes, 19 seconds. 


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.

  • 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)

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.

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.

Dust and Chip Removal

Most circular saw cutting is done in an area where making a mess isn’t a big deal. For those applications, we look at how well each saw removes sawdust and chips from the material. The big thing we’re looking for is a clear look at our cutlines.

When you do want to contain the mess, attaching a vacuum is a tremendous help. For the saws that come with one, we also check the dust collection using Makita’s AWS cordless vacuum.

Handle Ergonomics

When we put our hands on a circular saw, we want to have a natural feel that offers excellent control. We’re looking for appropriate distance between the handles, how comfortable the grip is, and whether it encourages us to push the saw right or left during a cut.

Weight

Since the majority of circular saw cutting is done on top of the material you’re cutting, weight might not be a big deal to some folks. However, it does make a difference when you’re carrying it around a jobsite and it can contribute to how much shoe friction you experience.

We weight each saw bare and with its battery loadout and consider its effects over the course of a work day.

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 DCS577: $249.00 bare, $399.00 with one 3.0/9.0Ah FlexVolt battery and charger
  • Makita XSR01: $199.00 bare, $249.00 with four 5.0Ah LXT batteries and dual-port rapid 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

Prices are at the time of writing.

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.

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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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Justin

Our crew has 3 of the Makita’s, largely because we were already well invested in the battery platform. We’ve used them heavily over the last couple years , oftentimes outside in horrible weather, and they’ve never missed a beat. They’re a click lighter than our corded Mag’s as well, and for framing are more than powerful enough.

Scott

How does the Hilti SC 60W-A36 stack up in comparison to these other saws included in your comparison? Why not include it?

HILTI SC60W-A36.JPG
Mike Giddings

I have used the Dewalt cordless for everything as a master carptenter, framer, building remodeling contractor…………yrs now on the 60 v. has not missed a beat. 5 stars ……5/5 great tool .GIDDINGS CONTRACTING

Vern

I really find your tool reviews helpfull and fair, but what is always so frustrating is you don’t tell us the decibel level of each tool or the weight of each tool.

OldGuy

So where does the Ridgid cordless 18v Circular Saw place?

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