We’ve been working through each of the saw from our cordless circular saw shootout to take a closer look at what each one has to offer. Even though they have a wide range of performance results, features and value play a large part in the decision-making process. The Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw comes in as an update to their Gen5X 18V 7-1/4″ Circular Saw. At the time, it was one of just a few full-size cordless circular saws available.
Handle and Trigger
There’s a familiar look and feel to the brushless model. Close your eyes and you might not be able to tell if you’re holding it or its brushed older brother. There are some positives that go along with that. The Hex Grip overmold and offset pommel offer a nice feel in hand, particularly for users with large hands. However, it’s very clearly set up for right handed users. Sorry, southpaws. The handle isn’t as contoured as you’ll find on some models, but you definitely get a secure, comfortable grip.
The trigger safety is a push-down style – a win in my book. It’s a more natural motion for your thumb to press down to make your cut than the push-in style safeties, though it could stand to be a little wider for comfort.
One reviewer noted that the handle opening was small. I haven’t found it to be a problem in my use. Tom Gaige has also been using this model without an issue, even with gloves on.
It’s very possible that there aren’t any major differences between this saw and the brushed model other than a motor swap to a brushless motor. We haven’t taken it apart to see what other differences there may be. Regardless, you should see longer runtime and a longer life from this motor.
The Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw has a blade right orientation. Personally, I’m a blade left guy, but I’m not going to base my purchasing decision on it. Still, ask any Pro whether he or she prefers the blade on the left or right and you’re likely to get a passionate answer.
Height and Bevel Adjustments
The height adjustment is a standard lever lock with 1/8″ marks next to the blade and numerical indicators every 1/2″. What I like about Ridgid’s design both here and on the bevel adjustment is the white on black contrast that stands out really well. The potential downside is that they are printed and may wear off over time.
The bevel lock also secures with a lever lock and sports detents at 15°, 22,5°, 30°, and 45° along with a maximum bevel of 56°. On this scale, you get a mark for every 1°. Both adjustments are agreeably smooth to operate and lock securely.
When it comes to cordless tools, you always have to consider weight. In the case of circular saws, some heft helps since you’re nearly always cutting on top of a surface when accuracy and cut quality matter. Obviously, demo work is another story. The Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw weighs in at 8.4 pounds bare – one of the heavier saws in the group we tested. The battery will take you up over the 10-pound mark. Depending on what you cut most of the time, that weight can be either a benefit to stability or a detriment on arm fatigue. For the majority of my work, it doesn’t bother me.
Other features we consider to be standard for this class include an LED light and a metal upper blade guard. The lower guard is plastic, which is okay, but metal would be better. The only thing that’s really missing in my book is a rafter hook.
Head to head in our shootout, there were some clear differences from the top of the list to the bottom. The stress test was performed at a 2-inch depth with the blade fully covered in stacked OSB. It’s enough to stall nearly every cordless saw on the market. The fastest rip cut made across 48 inches was 15.06 seconds, 11th overall in speed. Like several other saws, it wasn’t terribly difficult to stall when Michael really pushed into the cut.
In basic testing on cross cuts, it’s hard to tell the difference between the power in the Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw and its brushed counterpart. I’d say that’s a compliment to the power Ridgid is getting from their 4-pole motor in the original Gen5X saw. While you can tell it doesn’t have quite as much muscle as a 15-amp corded circular saw, it’s still very capable within its full depth of cut range.
So stress test aside, the Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw may not cut as fast as some of the newest cordless saws out there, but it can certainly get the job done well.
Cutting performance really boils down to accuracy and cut quality. When you get those areas right, Pros can deal with a little less speed on the cut. At both 90 and 45 degrees, the cutline marker is dead on with the Irwin WeldTec blade.
On shave cuts, the blade guard has a tendency to catch like it does on most saws. Only a few have made changes here to address that. On other cuts, though, the guard action is just fine.
An issue popped up when Michael ran his tests against a straightedge, though. The saw consistently drifted to the right, which would also affect the cutting speed. Since we have a second saw on hand with one of our other Pros, I asked him to run a similar test and see if it was an issue on his saw as well. To expose any weakness in this area, he set it up on a track to see if the cut seems to stick or leave a less-than-ideal finish in the wood.
The end result showed no tracking issues. In fact, he was able to cut straight lines against a straight edge and freehand without having the blade fight him to stay on the cut line. We’re going to have to chalk the original results up to a fluke saw that had an issue. It’s a good thing Ridgid has a 3-year warranty and Lifetime Service Agreement!
The Bottom Line
The Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw is in the middle of the pack when it comes to cutting speed and power. It’s a capable option that will get the job done as well as most any other cordless option on the market. It has a pretty full feature set, missing only a rafter hook when it comes to the standard offerings.
But when you step back from the nit picky minor details and look at the saw wholistically, the value comes into play. At the time of writing, this model in on sale at the Home Depot for $119 – pretty much a steal for the Pro level.
Could you get a faster saw? Could you get a few more features? Could you get a lighter option?
Sure, but you’ll pay premium prices to get them. When you need a saw that’s ready to come to work every day from a brand that backs its tools for life and doesn’t break the bank, you call on Ridgid.
*Editor’s Note: Review updated 10/03/17 to include additional testing and reviewer feedback.
Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw Features
- Brushless motor technology delivers more run-time, more power and longer motor life
- Sight line blower directs debris away from cut line for increased visibility
- 7-1/4 in. blade for maximum cutting depth
- 0° – 56° bevel detent system positive stops at common angles for quick adjustments
- Grip light engages light independently of trigger to illuminate work space
- Heat treated aluminum base for durability on the jobsite
- Hex grip micro texture grip enhancing micro texture for maximum user comfort
Ridgid Brushless Circular Saw Specifications
- Model: Ridgid R8653B
- Voltage: 18V
- Tested Battery: 9.0 Ah battery; 162 Wh rating
- Blade Diameter: 7-1/4″
- Blade Orientation: Right
- No Load Speed: 3,800 RPM
- Depth of Cut: 2 3/8” at 90°; 1 3/4” at 45°
- Bevel Capacity: 0-56°
- Weight with Battery: 10.98 pounds
- Warranty: Lifetime service agreement
- Price: $139.96