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September 26, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet 6-Inch Pruning Saw Review 2527

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw Review
PTR Review
  • Overall Rating 9.5

Mini chainsaws, cordless pruners, pruning saws, or whatever you'd like to call tools such as the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet don't have a ton of competition at the moment. Among the ones available in the US, Milwaukee's is a bit bulkier. However, its performance is higher and its design is more complete than its competition. Considering the overall landscape, this is the top cordless pruning saw on the market.

Overall Score 9.5 (out of 10)

Milwaukee M12 Hatchet Pruning Saw Take Mini Chainsaws To A New Level

You could use a chainsaw to deal with your garden pruning needs when a hedge trimmer can’t cut it, but why do you need such a big tool for small branches? The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw joins a growing group of garden pruners— also known as mini chainsaws—that aim to get the job done with less hassle.


Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Performance

Pruning saws such as the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet step in to cut branches up to 3 inches or so. These are much larger than hedge trimmers can handle and almost frustratingly small for your 16-inch chainsaw.

Hatchet Cutting

In Milwaukee’s case, they start with a brushless motor and pair it with a 6-inch Oregon bar and chain. Despite the smaller form factor, the Hatchet uses a full-house chain with a cutter on every link instead of a skip-tooth design that makes it easier on the motor at the cost of cutting speed.

When it comes time to replace the chain, look for a 6-inch, 28-link, 3/8-inch pitch, 0.43 gauge replacement.


Chain Close-Up

There’s a variable speed trigger to control your cutting speed up to 984 fpm. Practically, it’s not only much faster than a hand saw, but it’s also much less fatiguing.

If you’re used to gas saws for pruning and light limbing, one nice trait of switching to battery power is that the chain spins up right away. You don’t have that slight delay of the engine as fuel makes its way through.

Runtime

For runtime, Milwaukee tells us that you can make up to 120 cuts in 2-inch oak on a single charge of the 4.0Ah battery that comes in the kit. Paired with a hedge trimmer for branches up to 3/4-inch, a chainsaw for branches over 3 inches, and the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet for everything in between, one battery is plenty to get through a full day of landscaping.

What About Using a Reciprocating Saw?

We’re advocates of pairing a reciprocating saw with a pruning blade for this kind of work, especially when you use a one-hand model such as the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hackzall. However, there are some advantages of switching to Milwaukee’s mini chainsaw instead.

First, it’s purpose-built for the job of pruning. One-hand reciprocating saws do their best work on thin wall pipes and other thin materials. The pruning saw is specifically designed to cut thicker and harder woods than we prefer taking a one-hand reciprocating saw to and it’s much lighter and more compact than a full-size model. Plus, the Hatchet makes it through cuts faster.

Then there’s the action of each saw. Reciprocating saws have much more vibration than chainsaws, and the Hatchet is a far more comfortable tool to use for pruning.

There’s nothing wrong with using a reciprocating saw for pruning, but we have a much better overall experience when we bring the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet to the job.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Design Notes

Foundations

A quick look at the Hatchet’s design reveals a foundation very similar to the M12 Fuel Hackzall. From there, it swaps a blade clamp for a 6-inch bar and chain and adds a handguard on the front. In addition to offering protection against the top of the chain, it also encourages two-hand use.

There’s also a lower guard under the trigger.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw Review

Size and Weight

Including the bar and chain, the tool is 18.5 inches long. Clearly, that’s more compact than standard chainsaws or reciprocating saws and much easier to maneuver around branches you want to keep.

The weight is also significantly better than other power tools you might turn to. With a 4.0Ah battery, it’s just 4.85 pounds.

Bucking Spikes

Bucking spikes are great for securing the saw against the branch to pivot through your cut in a stable, controlled fashion. On lighter-duty saws, we typically see plastic bucking spikes (if they’re present at all) and we wouldn’t have thought twice if Milwaukee used plastic. However, they stepped up and put a metal set on and we appreciate having a more durable component.

Chain Tensioning

Instead of using a tool-free chain tensioner, the Hatchet uses a single-stud design that requires a scrench. The upside is a more secure hold on the bar, so you spend less time re-tensioning over the course of the day. The scrench stores onboard, making any adjustments you need to make more convenient.

Given the choice between easier or more secure tensioning, we prefer greater security.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw Review

Automatic Oiler

One thing that sets Milwaukee’s mini chainsaw apart from the Stihl GTA 26 Garden Pruner is an automatic oiler. Manually oiling a chain every time you use the saw is annoying and it’s not as effective as automatically oiling more frequently. As we expect, the oil tank is translucent, making it easy to check your levels at a glance.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw Review

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw Price

If you already have M12 batteries and want the bare tool, the Milwaukee 2527-20 is $179. Adding a 4.0Ah battery and charger, the 2527-21 kit is $249.

Milwaukee backs the tool with a 3-year warranty.

The Bottom Line

Mini chainsaws, cordless pruners, pruning saws, or whatever you’d like to call tools such as the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet don’t have a ton of competition at the moment. Among the ones available in the US, Milwaukee’s is a bit bulkier. However, its performance is higher and its design is more complete than its competition. Considering the overall landscape, this is the top cordless pruning saw on the market.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hatchet Pruning Saw Specs

  • Model: Milwaukee 2527-21 (kit); 2527-20 (bare tool)
  • Bare Size: 6 inches
  • Chain: 0.043 in. x 3/8 in.
  • Chain Speed: 984 fpm
  • Oiler: Automatic
  • Dimensions (LxHxW): 18.5 x 9.1 x 3.8 in.
  • Weight: 4.85 lbs w/battery
  • Warranty: 3-year limited
  • Price: $249 (kit); $179 (bare tool)

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Mark

This looks like a neat tool – but after I did a bunch of homework I ended up going with a Silky hand saw instead. For a 3″ branch or less, I can cut it in a few seconds – with close to zero upkeep for a hand saw.
Haven’t spent much time with these mini-chainsaws but at 5 lbs I suspect I can work one-handed (and I usually want the other hand on the branch) longer and tire less with a lightweight, very sharp handsaw than I would with a mini-chainsaw.

Don

Chris: Please comment on the chain tensioning mechanism. I was ready to buy the M18 16″ version but a significant % of reviewers had the same chain tensioning problem, all related to the nuts being pressed into the plastic case and breaking or not holding the bar. I like this little guy even more, lighter for ladder work. I am heavily invested in M12 and M18 Milawukee tools and generally like them. Maybe those guys were just ham-handed but all reported exactly the same problem unlike someone who gives 1 star for the wrong color or for breaking when it… Read more »

Tommy

Wonder if the guy who put a rc gas motor in the Bosch mini chainsaw would it will put a gas motor on this. I’m sure it will be a neat little tool if it’s anything like the mini 3 inch cut off tool. Very handy and great for some jobs.

OldDominionDIYer

Love it! 12V and less than 5lbs! Gonna be handy in the right situation, looks solid and enables various and versatile grips that would seem comfortable in most positions. Way to go Milwaukee!

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