Milwaukee M18 FUEL Rear Handle Circular Saw Hands-On Review
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Rear Handle Circular Saw may be one of the most highly anticipated tools ever. Well, at least after the Milwaukee M18 FUEL compact router.
At the company’s 2019 Media event (dubbed “NPS19”) we got our hands on this new tool to give it a quick test. We cross-cut some lumber and did quite a bit of handling to get a good feel for the new tool. The new Milwaukee rear handle saw has a very similar (if not the same) motor as the powerful Milwaukee Fuel circular saw 2732, but now in a rear-handle configuration.
That Milwaukee sidewinder is one of the fastest-cutting saws we’ve ever tested. And now we’ve had a chance to test the rear-handle head-to-head against it and several other top brands.
- Top-tier cutting power
- Included vac adapter gives the saw excellent dust and chip collection
- Excellent sightline to the blade
- Perfect notch accuracy at 0º and 45º
- Excellent tracking
- Outstanding guard movement
- Low shoe friction
- On the heavy side (but still within corded weight ranges)
- Secondary handle is too thin for our liking
Power to Spare
Saying that a saw “generates the power of a 15-amp corded saw” makes a statement. In truth, most next-gen heavy-duty cordless circular saws have the raw power to best a corded Skilsaw nowadays. What makes this tool interesting is that it’s the first 18V tool to hit this level of power. The Makita X2 rear handle saw runs at 36V while the DeWalt FlexVolt rear handle saw operates at 60V (max).
Whereas saws used to compete for corded power, now they compete for sustained speed and power in ripping sheet goods. They also compete for run-time. Milwaukee claims the new rear-handle saw has the most run-time of any cordless rear handle circular saw on the market. They quantify that by saying it can crosscut up to 570 2x4s per charge using a Milwaukee RedLithium HD 12.0 battery.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL Rear Handle Circular Saw Features
Like most M18 Fuel cordless tools, the Milwaukee 7-1/4 inch rear handle circular saw uses a brushless motor with RedLink Plus. The motor drives the blade at an impressive 5,800 RPM. The new RedLithium High Output HD12.0 battery provides 50% more power, runs 50% cooler, and delivers 33% more run-time than the HD9.0 battery.
The Milwaukee rear handle circular saw features a cast magnesium shoe and blade guard to reduce weight. An electric brake quickly stops the blade after a cut, and the bevel gears require no additional oil. The saw has an LED work light built into the tool and a multi-sized rafter hook lets you hang the tool virtually anywhere.
We tested an elite group of advanced cordless circular saws that use upgraded batteries, brushless motors, and electronics compared to standard cordless saws. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel rear handle circular saw proved it belongs in the top performance tier.
Our advanced circular saws separated themselves into three distinct groups of power. Rip cutting through two layers of 3/4-inch OSB subfloor, Milwaukee joined DeWalt’s FlexVolt and Skilsaw’s TrueHVL 48V in the top tier of cutting power for the rear handle group.
Milwaukee’s native dust and chip removal is good, but Makita and Skilsaw did a better job. Milwaukee includes a vacuum adapter and with it installed and a vac running, the collection is superior.
If you’re working in an occupied space or on a job where you need to minimize the mess, using a vac will save you a lot of cleanup time.
Want to see a video that shows the difference? Check it out on our YouTube channel!
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel rear handle circular saw had a perfect score across all three elements of our accuracy testing.
On cuts where you want to keep your eye on where the blade hits your cutline, the blade left design is incredibly easy to see for right-handed use.
Even for lefties, looking in slightly from the side gives you a clear line of sight to the blade tip. There are also additional notches on the inside of the shoe to help guide you.
The notches on the front of the shoe are spot on at both 0º and 45º using a Spyder 24T framing blade.
The saw’s tracking is dialed in as well. With its classic worm drive-style angled secondary handle, we weren’t feeling it try to push right or left as we cut.
To test the saw’s guard action, we made plenty of rip cuts and cross cuts in 3/4-inch and 2x materials. We also tossed in shave cuts, 45º miters, 45º bevels and 45º/45º compound cuts to see if there were any hangups.
We had a few over the course of our testing, just none with the Milwaukee 2830 rear handle saw. In each cut, the guard was able to rise up and over the top smoothly.
Helping advance the saw, the shoe coating offers a very low friction as it slides over wood. We found Makita’s models had the lowest friction, but Milwaukee wasn’t far behind and is definitely better than most.
If you’re used to a worm drive circular saw, you’re already used to its higher weight. Even among the cordless rear handle saws, the Milwaukee 2830 is on the hefty side.
On our scale, it weighed 10.3 pounds without the 12.0Ah High Output battery and 13.7 pounds with it.
Corded worm drive saws that our crews uses range to about 14.2 pounds on the high end. Even though the M18 Fuel is floating around the heavy side of the cordless scale, it’s not completely out in left field when you compare it to corded.
The only real area of improvement ergonomically is on the secondary handle. It’s too thin for most of our testing team’s liking. We’d like to see it beef up in width to give us a better grip.
Milwaukee checks off all of the major boxes we look for in a circular saw feature set:
- Brushless motor
- Blade brake
- Cutline blower
- LED light
- Rafter hook
- Vacuum port adapter
The only thing it’s missing that you might find on other cordless circular saws is rail compatibility. That’s not a super-common feature yet and it tends to decrease the overall cutting depth somewhat. In fact, you won’t find it on any of the cordless rear handle saws.
For now, it seems that it’s best to leave that as an option for sidewinder styles.
Price and Value
You can pick up the Milwaukee M18 Fuel rear handle circular saw as a bare tool for $269 or in a kit with a 12.0Ah battery and charger for $449. If you go the bare tool route, remember that you’ll only get the top performance out of Milwaukee High Output batteries.
Even though Milwaukee is at the top of the price scale, it still earns a good value score from our team.
In addition to its excellent performance and design, it ‘s the only rear handle saw that extends out with a 5-year warranty and the number of tools that are compatible with the same batteries runs incredibly deep. When you put all of that together, we believe the Milwaukee 2830 proves itself to be a valuable member of your construction crew.
The Bottom Line
When we tallied up the final scores, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel rear handle circular saw was the best cordless rear handle model we tested. All of the models we tested scored 90 points or more, but Milwaukee rose above them all to be the best of the best.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL 7-1/4″ Rear Handle Circular Saw Kit Specifications
- Model: 2830-21HD
- Speed: 5,800 rpm
- Arbor: Diamond
- Bevel capacity: 53 degree
- Capacity (90º/45º): 2-1/2 in. / 1-7/8 in.
- Weight (bare/12Ah battery): 10 lbs./13.5 lbs.
- Warranty: 5-years
- Kit includes: M18 Fuel 7-1/4″ Rear Handle Circular Saw, M18 RedLithium HD12.0 battery, M12/M18 charger, framing
blade, and contractor bag
- Price: $269 bare, $449 kit with 12.0Ah battery