Cordless Rear Handle Circular Saws are designed for Pros looking to cut the cord on their worm drive. Currently, there are four main players in this field, Makita, Milwaukee, DeWalt, and Skilsaw. Today, on the premiere of our Circular Saw Test Track, we put these saws through a series of cuts, designed to expose every strength (or weakness) these models may have. At the end, who will be on the top of our leaderboard? Will it be DeWalt, with its innovative FlexVolt Advantage technology? Or could it be Makita, who, even being a few years older than its competitors, can still stick around in the rear handle market? Find out who and much more on this week’s edition of PTR Time Trials!
What’s better than a cordless circular saw? Top-of-the-line cordless worm drive and rear handle circular saws! And what better way to test them than with a Time Trial showdown on the PTR Circular Saw Test Track!
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Battery-powered rear handle circular saws meet the needs of Pros looking to cut the cord on worm drives. Currently, there are four primary players on the market—with models from Makita, DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Skilsaw.
We’ve got four different voltages on the line here: 18, 36, 48, and 60. So there’s more than just pride on the line as each of these saws has something to prove about their choice of power source. Each has the opportunity to strut its stuff on the PTR Test Track where we’ve set up a series of cuts to assess the real-world potential of each tool.
The track starts in 2 x 10 pressure-treated pine with five standard cross cuts. Then, Tom—our resident Pro—will need to make a quick adjustment to find 45 degrees for five bevel cuts and then back to 0º for five 45º miter cuts.
Next, things get tougher and we’ll expose any flaws in the guard movement as we shift to compound cuts at a 45º miter and 45º bevel. Tom will have to make three cuts in the more comfortable direction before switching to the opposite side for three more cuts that have a trickier start.
To wrap it up, Tom will send each saw through a single 4-foot rip cut in double-stacked 3/4-inch OSB—and we’ll stop the clock. All told, he has to make three bevel angle changes on the track—and weight certainly comes into play while making these 22 cuts as quickly as possible.
Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel 2732 Sidewinder currently has the time to beat at 1:35 and the slowest time we’ve recorded among all 7 1/4-inch cordless models is 3:41.
Makita was the first to get a rear handle model on the market with their 36-volt XSR01. It’s the lightest in the group by far and has a couple of years of field experience over the competition.
It’s cutting pretty easily through the cross cut section but slowing some on the bevels. Back over to the miter cuts and it’s looking more confident. Tom’s definitely having to ease up to keep those RPMs high through the compound cuts, though Makita’s low-friction shoe and excellent guard action are helping make it a smooth effort. Over to the OSB where Tom is driving it hard and that’s a good finish.
Next up is the DeWalt. DeWalt followed Makita to market with their FlexVolt 60V Max DCS577, making a jump in power over the first-generation FlexVolt sidewinder.
Out of the gate, it’s flying through the first section and doesn’t seem to be too bothered after shifting to those tougher bevel cuts. On to the 45º miters and it’s making quick work of those. Even the compound cuts aren’t slowing Tom down, but it does look like there’s some guard hangup there. Through the OSB confidently and that looked pretty quick!
Milwaukee’s 2830 debuted in 2019, taking advantage of the M18 line’s boost in power from High Output batteries.
Still running on 18 volts with an advanced M18 Fuel brushless motor, it’s cruising through the cross cuts. A quick bevel angle change and it’s not slowing through those 45º bevels much at all. The miter cuts are no problem and its smoother guard action is helping put pressure on DeWalt’s efforts through those compound cuts. Sprinting through the OSB sheets and—man—it’s going to be close.
The most recent cordless rear handle saw is Skilsaw’s 48V TrueHVL worm drive. It’s the first cordless tool from Skilsaw and the only true worm drive in the group. The rest have direct drive motors with a rear handle design.
Engaging that worm drive and there’s no problem through the first two sections of the track. Tom was able to make his bevel adjustments easily, and it’s keeping pace through the miter section. Calling on more power, it’s still confident, though a tiny bit slower on those compound cuts. Hefting the heavier saw over and driving through the OSB, that’s an impressive effort from Skilsaw.
That was a workout for both the saws…and Tom. What’s interesting about this group is that they’re all still first-generation models. Even for Makita which has been around for a few years, the performance and runtime on these tools are so relevant—there hasn’t been a felt need to upgrade them.
In fact, every single one of these saws outperformed our 15-amp corded worm drive in multiple layers of testing. With that said, let’s look at the results.
Makita finished in 2:42. That’s more than a minute off the leader’s pace but nowhere near the slowest models we’ve tested.
If you remember back to our DeWalt vs Milwaukee Rear Handle video, the two saws were just one point apart in our final scoring and we couldn’t concretely say which one cut better. This time there’s some separation with DeWalt finishing in 1:39. Oddly enough, that’s exactly the same time as the Gen 2 FlexVolt Sidewinder.
Milwaukee took aim at its own sidewinder sitting at the top, but it fell short of overtaking it. In fact, it fell short of overtaking DeWalt, finishing in 1:47.
As the only true worm drive, Skilsaw put down a solid effort, wrapping up in 1:46 to finish just ahead of Milwaukee.
Before we wrap things up, let’s consider a bit of context. Even though Makita’s rear-handle saw was slower cutting, there’s a lot to be said for its significantly lighter weight. When you’re making a lot of cuts the way Tom was, it’s much less fatiguing than our other saws. For many Pros, taking an extra second or two per cut is well worth the weight savings.
Our other three saws finished within 8 seconds of each other. DeWalt’s time was excellent, so let’s not take anything away from its lead in the rear-handle category. However, when you factor in human error, they’re so close to each other that you’re not likely to notice any difference in power while making the cuts we showed here.
The PTR Test Track is a lot of fun, but we know you need more information to decide which one is best for your needs. To learn more, check out our individual videos or head over to protoolreviews.com for the written reviews. Have any questions or ideas for our next Time Trial video? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for watching!