Milwaukee M18 Cordless Hackzall Review 2625-21
For years, Milwaukee has been known for its introduction of the SawZall and advances in that tool category. As anyone who has done demo work knows, the reciprocating is a tool that is simply unmatched in its ability to demolish, disconnect, and generally destroy a job site – on purpose, that is. The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Hackzall takes what the SawZall provides and packs it into a smaller one-handed tool. It also does it in a cordless form factor, freeing it even further for more applications.
We reviewed Milwaukee’s M12 HackZall which we found to be exceptionally handy—and the new Milwaukee M12 Brushless HackZall is even more impressive. With that said, our job was to determine if this is a revolution in tool-making, or simply a solution in search of a problem.
Milwaukee M18 Cordless Hackzall Build Quality
The Milwaukee HackZall comes in a standard retail box. Inside we found a zippered-top tool bag, the HackZall, a metal blade, a single M18 XC battery, charger, and instruction manual. The bag is large enough to store the tool with a blade inserted, and also contain the full complement of battery and charger. There is even ample room for spare accessory blades.
It was a bit odd to see Milwaukee select a bag over a blow mold case for a single tool, given that most of their M18 line comes with a hard case, but for a tool like this we can’t fault them for wanting more flexibility in the storage solution. The bags Milwaukee includes are made of durable ballistic nylon and come with an oversized high-quality zipper that appears to be able to withstand tough job site abuse.
Milwaukee M18 Cordless Hackzall Design
The HackZall is very similar in design to Milwaukee’s current line of M18 Cordless Drills. In fact, the tool has nearly the same form factor up until the trigger, where it takes a decidedly vertical turn and substitutes a standard reciprocating saw mechanism and blade for a chuck and bit. The other difference is that the HackZall cannot stand vertically upon the battery. In fact, you either need to lay the tool on its side or stand it up by tipping it forward until the blade rests parallel to the surface.
Milwaukee’s M18 HackZall is the expected red and black, with plenty of rubber overmold where it counts. This tool stands up well to even oily hands. It won’t slip, and control over the tool is easy to maintain. Balance is excellent, and we found the weight of the tool rested evenly, providing a solid grip that doesn’t tip the HackZall forward of back during use. As a result, it’s easy to control and cuts tend to be smooth and consistent.
Changing the Blades
Blade changes are easy and tool-less. While the shoe isn’t adjustable for depth, there is an LED light underneath the blade to light up the work area during use. It was great to know that we could use any standard reciprocating saw blade with this tool in addition to Milwaukee’s line of HackZall blades.
The trigger of the M18 HackZall is variable and offered a range of speed and control similar to that found with a conventional SawZall – actually more like a conventional cordless drill. That is to say that it was easy to gradually work our way into a piece of lumber so as to give the HackZall a bite before we released it to its maximum speed. There is also a lockout button that will keep the tool from accidentally engaging while being stored in a bag. Yep, there’s nothing worse than a tool trying to eat its way out of a bag while stored in the back of your truck.
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Testing and Use
The first time we used the HackZall was for a project we did with a local nonprofit organization, Parker Street Ministries, which, among many other things, helps homeowners to complete repairs on their homes that they cannot do themselves. On this particular project, we replaced a front door. Part of that job involved removing a rusted away metal railing that was literally falling over and not much use for anything.
While the top end was easily unscrewed from the home, the bottom came away leaving a jagged piece of metal that looked like it was hunting for the sole of the nearest foot it could find. The trouble was, the metal was essentially a rusty piece of 3/4-inch rebar. We placed a metal cutting reciprocating saw blade into the HackZall and went to town. The vibration wasn’t excessive and the metal shoe steadied the tool as it rested against the concrete while we made the cut two-handed to steady the blade and ensure a perfect cut. A couple of minutes later we were looking at a flush piece of metal that could no longer do any damage.
The experience turned a few heads and the entire process was accomplished quickly, making us look like the professionals we were (and drawing a significant amount of attention at this new tool we were sporting).
Low Vibration – From Metal to PVC
What really impressed us about the tool was its lack of vibration. Considering it was pushing the blade at up to 3000 strokes per minute, you’d figure it would be shaking our hand to bits, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, Milwaukee’s anti-vibration technology makes the Hackzall extremely easy to use overhead, or anywhere, without producing the kind of vibration that might cause you to fall off a ladder.
Having run it through a piece of solid steel, we next tested the HackZall on a piece of 2-inch PVC to test its use in the more common one-handed applications for which it is particularly well-suited. After all, this is the true power of the HackZall and what distinguishes it from a reciprocating saw. Plus, the Hackzall seems to be a tool that does well one- or two-handed.
We loved the way it could be easily picked up and used on a project, freeing up your other hand to hold material, or yourself, steady. Imagine standing on a ladder and now being able to use a one-handed reciprocating saw while still holding on – it’s a solution that eliminates a lot of risk-taking and one that we feel meets a major need.
The 18V HackZall is a unique tool – and that puts it into the unique position of having absolutely no reference point for comparison. With very little reservation we can say that this tool is something that, unlike many new products, is something that is actually needed. The usability of what is essentially a one-handed reciprocating saw is self-explanatory. In any situation where getting into position requires one hand, or you are required to hold something in place while you cut, the HackZall is going to meet a need that formerly was only met by an assistant or a clamp.
Hey, could this be the start of a new wave of downsizing in the construction industry? Well, we won’t go that far, but we do know that Milwaukee hit one out of the park with the M18 HackZall and for that, we cant help but give it a 9/10 for performance and the same for value. It’s a great tool and one that we can’t think of any reason a professional wouldn’t want as part of their tool kit.