Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw 2731-21 Review
Milwaukee's M18 Fuel 7-1/4" Circular Saw competes with dual battery and 36V systems. It still performs well. You'll get the best run time and cutting consistency at this price point, and you'll have to almost double it to get to the level that Hilti is at.
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The new Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw features a single 18V battery system that runs a 7-1/4″ blade. This entry into the full size cordless circular saw arena made waves because of the fact that it only uses that one M18 RedLithium battery. Questions were certainly raised as to whether it would be able to perform with the LXT 18V X2 dual battery system from Makita or the 36V platform from Hilti. On paper, it specs out well with a no load speed of 5,000 RPM. While the kit includes 4.0 XC Redlithium batteries, the introduction of the 5.0 amp hour RedLithium batteries can only help.
Editor’s Note: This is the original review, but the ratings have been updated to reflect the results of our Cordless Circular Saw Shootout.
The newest Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw looks very similar to the other cordless saws on the market. The big difference of course, is that it is running a 7-1/4″ blade rather than the 6-1/2″ than most do. Hilti and Makita also run a 7-1/4″ blade, but to pull it off, their profiles are much larger. Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel offers the more compact design that we’ve come to love in the 6-1/2″ models.
The saw feels reasonably lightweight and it should be acceptable for one handed use. I really like how easy to read the etched markings are for the bevel adjustment and shoe measurements. I’m not entirely sold on the placement of the LED since I often use the front of the shoe to guide my cuts, but let’s reserve judgement until I actually put the blade to wood.
The rafter hook is a nice addition that is very welcome on the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw. It snaps into place in both the open and closed positions, so it shouldn’t get in your way during cutting. Like most circular saws, you’re required to push in the safety lever while pressing the trigger to activate the saw. This is easily accomplished one handed with either the right of left hand. There is also a satisfying click to let you know when the trigger has been pulled enough to activate the saw. It again will click confidently when the trigger is released.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw in Use
I tested the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw 2731-21 through stacked OSB and pressure treated 2 x 10 lumber. The 4 sheets of stacked OSB is a standard stress test and pressure treated lumber cross cuts are a very common application. There’s also the question of run time using only a 18V single battery.
The first thing that I did was swap out the blade. It’s not that Milwaukee makes a bad blade, but I had a few Diablo Demo Demon blades that I wanted to use for this kind of work. Replacing blades is relatively easy. My typical complaint on circular blade changes is that there’s often not enough clearance between the guard and the arbor to slide the new blade in without having to angle the blade around the arbor. This isn’t the case on the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw. The design offers enough clearance to do this easily.
I actually got to try using the M18 Fuel 2731 when we were first introduced to it at the New Product Symposium back in August. I’d already made a couple of cuts through the stacked OSB, but I really wanted to replicate the test. It’s not that I didn’t trust my own hands, but good data can be replicated, and I was not disappointed. The saw cut easily through the four sheets of OSB and tracked fairly well.
I was able to get the saw to bind up during the test, which would have been expected with any saw/blade combination that I used. That being said, the saw still cuts very quickly when you back off of the pressure and let the 2731 do the work. Although the cuts were quick, I have tested others that were slightly faster. When I say slightly, I mean maybe a second on a 4 foot wide cut. One performance feature that I really appreciate is the fact that the cuts were very consistent. Each one was as smooth and fast as the previous.
Cross cutting through 2 x 10 pressure treated lumber may be a common application, but the cut itself is far from common. It was almost pointless to try and time how long it took because the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw and Diablo blade make it through so quickly. I was more concerned with run time on this test and made over 125 cuts before the battery finally died. I should note that I got my hands on a Milwaukee 5.0 amp hour RedLithium Battery for this test. Mathematically, you can expect to get over 100 cuts using the included 4.0 amp hour battery.
I didn’t find the LED light to be terribly useful. Since I use the guide on the shoe to line up my cuts, I just didn’t need it. However, I did take a look at the possibility of using it in very low light conditions, and it’s pretty impressive. Were I to be working in an area that made it difficult to see my chalk line or markings, I’d absolutely slow down and be able to cut accurately by using this line of sight aid.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Specifications
- Models: 2731-20 (bare tool), 2731-21 (1 battery kit), 2731-22 (2 battery kit)
- Power Source: M18 RedLithium Battery
- Blade Size: 7-1/4″
- No Load Speed: 5000 RPM
- Bevel Capacity: 50 degrees
- Weight: 9.0 pounds
- Warranty: 5 years
- 2731-20: $229
- 2731-21: $309
- 2731-22: $429
- 2731-22HD: $529
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Features
- Brushless Motor improves efficiency and power
- 7-1/4″ blade capacity provides 2-1/2″ cutting depth
- Rafter hook
- LED light
- Magnesium components reduce weight
I’ve used Hilti’s and Makita’s 7-1/4″ cordless circular saws and the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw does more than just keep them in sight; it competes very well. While Makita and Milwaukee are very close in performance, Milwaukee does take a slight edge for a couple of major reasons. First, I only have to use one battery; that saves me money. Second, Milwaukee’s saw is lighter and easier to use one handed. Compared to Hilti, the Milwaukee 2731-21 single battery kit is about half the price.
I had all three saws sitting in my house with my choice of which one or ones to keep. I found good homes for the other two where they will be put to good use, but for the kind of work that I am typically doing, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw is the one that is staying with me.