Ridgid 18V SubCompact 6 1/2-Inch Circular Saw Review

PTR Review
  • Overall Rating 8.8

Like many compact tools, there's a trade-off between having a smaller, lighter tool and the high-performance modern battery technology allows. The Ridgid 18V SubCompact 6 1/2-inch circular saw certainly is capable of getting the job done but you will see noticeable dips in performance on more demanding cuts. Overall, it's a fantastic supplement to the more powerful 7 1/4-inch saw that's great for quick cuts when you'd rather not drag your larger saw out.

Overall Score 8.8 (out of 10)

Ridgid 18V SubCompact Circular Saw Offers Lightweight Convenience

Manufacturers are always on the hunt to create a relevant balance between performance and size. The Ridgid 18V SubCompact 6 1/2-inch circular saw fills that need for Ridgid’s 18V platform. We wanted to find out if it’s a cut above the rest.


Pros

  • Lightweight magnesium shoe and blade cover
  • Integrated dust port
  • Electric brake
  • Comfortable handles

Cons

  • Easy to bog down in longer cuts
  • Plastic blade guard

Ridgid SubCompact 6 1/2-Inch Circular Saw Performance

Cutting performance essentially boils down to power, accuracy, and overall cut quality. Both 90° and 45° cutline markers were to be dead on and the saw tracks well.

There’s is a clear power difference between this and Ridgid’s current 7 1/4-inch brushless circular saw. It reminds us quite a bit of the power level of Ridgid’s first 7 1/4-inch brushless circular saw. While it ultimately was able to complete our series of cross, miter, bevel, and compound cuts in 2×10, it struggled on the compound cuts.

That translates into working at a slower pace than you do with full-size saws, but not oppressively slow. Just understand the saw’s limits and take your time on the tougher cuts.

During most of our cuts, the guard action worked just fine. The exception is on shave cuts when the blade guard tends to snag the same way it does with most circular saws.

Pro Tip: Shave cuts typically let the sliver of waste material slip between the blade and guard. Start your cut by holding the guard open with one hand and guiding the saw with the other.

Ridgid SubCompact 6 1/2-Inch Circular Saw Design Notes

Size and Weight

Ridgid Sub Compact Circular Saw

True to its name, the Ridgid SubCompact circular saw weighs just 7.25 pounds with a 4.0Ah MaxOutput battery. Magnesium for the guard and shoe contributes to that low weight.


From tip to tail, it measures 11.5 inches, which is about an inch shorter than other 6-1/2 inch saws we have in our shop.

Ergonomics

Ridgid Sub Compact Circular Saw

The general look and feel of this saw haven’t changed much through its past generations but there are some noteworthy features. Its main handle is robust and contours nicely to my hand which gives a real sense of control when making cuts.

One thing worth mentioning is the distance between the front and main grip is pretty small so you might find it a bit cramped when using both hands. That’s a common characteristic of compact circular saws, and not unique to this one.

Height and Bevel Adjustments

Bevel Adjustment

Adjusting the bevel and blade height is pretty straight forward and both are tool-free like most modern circular saws. They both have vivid white markings to make seeing the angle easier. However, there aren’t any preset bevel detents. It’s not a dealbreaker, but something to be aware of if you rely on positive stops frequently.

Dust Port

Ridgid includes a dust port that connects to the back. If you’re using a vac, it’s great. When you’re not, we recommend to you take it off so the dust can direct downward better.

Additional Features

  • Plastic blade guard
  • LED light
  • Folding rafter hook

Ridgid SubCompact 6 1/2-Inch Circular Saw Price

The Ridgid 18V SubCompact circular saw retails for $149 as a bare tool and $209 kitted with a 4.0Ah MaxOutput battery and charger. Ridgid backs this circular saw with a 3-year warranty and their Lifetime Service Agreement.

The Bottom Line

Like many compact tools, there’s a trade-off between having a smaller, lighter tool and the high-performance modern battery technology allows. The Ridgid 18V SubCompact 6 1/2-inch circular saw certainly is capable of getting the job done but you will see noticeable dips in performance on more demanding cuts. Overall, it’s a fantastic supplement to the more powerful 7 1/4-inch saw that’s great for quick cuts when you’d rather not drag your larger saw out.

To see Ridgid’s full power tool lineup, click here.

Ridgid SubCompact Circular Saw Specifications

  • Model: Ridgid R8656
  • Power Source: Ridgid 18V battery
  • Arbor: 5/8 in.
  • Max bevel: 50°
  • Brushless motor
  • No-load speed: 5000 RPMs
  • Max cutting depth: 2-1/4 in.
  • Weight: 5.75 lbs. (bare), 7.25 lbs (with 4.0Ah MAXOutput battery)
  • Warranty: 3-year warranty, Lifetime Service Agreement
  • Price: $149 (bare), $199 (with battery and charger)

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Christopher

Alright, hate me if you want. Been using a Ryobi 6-1/2 for years. After my third one, I spent more for a Ridgid ($30.00). Same manufacturer, different quality. Definitely a great saw. Better shoe, less flex. Better decibels, much quieter. Better power, no bogging down (using 4 ah batteries). BTW, the MAX is better than the standard battery. I already had Ridgid stuff, so it was an item only purchase. Usage is mostly 2×4 and 2×6. Ripping is left up to my 7-1/4.
I am a carpenter. This is my every day, every hour saw now.

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