Test Results

The saws were subjected to two tests. For the power test, each saw was timed, in seconds, making a cut through nailed-embedded, doubled 2x6s. For the runtime test, the number of cuts made with a fully charged battery through nail-embedded, doubled 2x6s were counted. The top-scoring saw is listed first in each set of test results. Lower-scoring saws follow in order.


  • Bosch CRS180 K
    Bosch CRS180 K

Bosch CRS180 K

Battery: 18 volts; 4.0 Ah
Battery gauge: 3 bars; on battery
Weight: 7.66 pounds
SPM: 0–2,400; 0-2,700
Stroke length: 1 1/8"

Blade clamp: External metal twist collar; one-hand operation
Shoe: Non-adjustable; 9/16" of blade unused behind shoe
Other features: Lower speed setting enabled by trigger-limiting switch (not lower gear)
Web price: Bare tool, $160; kit with battery, charger, and case, $250
Country of origin: China
Performance: Power—fifth place, 63% of best; runtime—third place, 91% of best

Comments: Medium-duty saw with medium-high vibration—the best saw outside of the heavy-duty models.

Pro: Long running. One-handed blade changes. Lower speed setting nice for controlled cutting. Comfortable one- or two-finger trigger.

Con: Fixed-position shoe limits versatility, blade performance, and economy. Have to touch hot metal clamp collar to remove blade. Difficult to steer at times—cut crooked more than other saws in the test. Longest charging time at 2 hours, twice as long as most others.

  • DeWalt 20V MAX DCS380 M1
    DeWalt 20V MAX DCS380 M1

DeWalt DCS385 L

Battery: 18 volts; 2.0 Ah
Battery gauge: No
Weight: 7.21 pounds
SPM: 0–3,000
Stroke length: 1 1/8"

Blade clamp: Recessed with lever release; two-hand operation; 4 position blade slots
Shoe: Adjustable to 3 positions; minimal 3/16" of blade unused behind shoe |
Web price: Bare tool (DC385B), $93; kit with battery, charger, and case; $260
Country of origin: Mexico
Performance: Power—fourth place, 66% of best; runtime—tenth (last) place, 45% of best

Comments: Heavy-duty saw with high vibration—gets the job done but doesn't do it for very long.

Pro: Flexible-fuel tool—comes with Li tower pack but also compatible with brand's common NiCad batteries. Excellent blade economy with very few of the teeth wasted behind the shoe. Nice handle comfort with rounded top for different handgrip positions.

Con: Shortest runtime. Lowest amp-hour battery in test. High-vibration tool. No battery gauge. Loose shoe wiggles around in use and can contact blade

  • DeWalt DCS385 L
    DeWalt DCS385 L

DeWalt 20V MAX DCS380 M1

Battery: 18 volts; 4.0 Ah
Battery gauge: 3 bars; on battery
Weight: 7.27 pounds
SPM: 0–3,000
Stroke length: 1 1/8"

Blade clamp: Recessed with lever release; two-hand operation; 4 position blade slots
Shoe: Adjustable to 3 positions; minimal 3/16" of blade unused behind shoe
Web price: Bare tool DCS380B, $126; kit with battery, charger, and case, $275
Country of origin: Mexico
Performance: Power—fourth place, 75% of best; runtime—fifth place, 82% of best

Comments: Heavy-duty saw with high vibration—a capable second-place tool that's a little rough around the edges.

Pro: Fast cutting. Long running. Excellent blade economy with very few of the teeth wasted behind the shoe. Nice handle comfort with rounded handgrip top for different thumb positions.

Con: High-vibration tool. Loose shoe wiggles around in use and can contact blade.

 

Hitachi CR18DSL

Battery: 18 volts; tested with latest 3.0 Ah slide-pack battery
Battery gauge: 2 bars; on tool
Weight: 7.81 pounds
SPM: 0–2,300
Stroke Length: 1 1/8"

Blade clamp: External clamp with small release lever; two-hand operation
Shoe: Adjustable; requires loose hex wrench; 9/16" of blade unused behind shoe
Web price: Bare tool, $130
Country of origin: China

Performance: Power—tied for last place, 46% of best; runtime—seventh place, 64% of best

Comments: Medium-duty saw with low vibration—slow, steady and reliable.

Pro: Gentle, low-vibration saw especially comfortable to operate

Con: Cuts slowly. Requires loose hex wrench to adjust shoe—tool-free adjustment is preferred. One- or two-finger trigger has a hard edge below that pushes into finger during two-finger use.

  • Makita BJR181
    Makita BJR181

Makita BJR181

Battery: 18 volts; 3.0 Ah
Battery gauge: None
Weight: 8.22 pounds
SPM: 0–2,900
Stroke Length: 1 1/8"

Blade clamp: External rubber-covered twist collar; one-hand operation
Shoe: Adjustable to five positions; 5/8" of blade unused behind shoe
Other Features: Large hanging hook; LED headlight with 12-second delay
Web price: Bare tool, $158; kit, $329
Includes: Two batteries; charger; extra-long plastic case
Country of origin: China

Performance: Power—tied for last place, 46% of best; runtime—ninth place, 46% of best

Comments: Light-duty saw with medium vibration—doesn't have enough to offer.

Pro: Easy one-handed blade changes with comfortable rubber-covered collar. Nice hang hook and headlight. Long case allows storage with 6-inch blade attached to saw. Short battery charge time, just under the one-hour time of most others.

Con: Cuts slowly and bogs down under pressure. Short runtime. No battery gauge.

 

  • Metabo ASE18LTX
    Metabo ASE18LTX

Metabo ASE18LTX

Battery: 18 volts; tested with latest 5.2 Ah slide pack battery
Battery gauge: 4 bars; on battery
Weight: 8.23 pounds
SPM: 0–2,700
Stroke Length: 1 3/16"

Blade clamp: Recessed with lever release; two-hand operation
Shoe: Adjustable; requires onboard hex wrench; 3/4" of blade unused behind shoe
Web price: Bare tool, $148
Country of origin: China
Performance: Power—tied for last place, 46% of best; runtime—second place, 93% of best

Comments: Light-duty saw with low vibration—runs forever, but a bit too slowly.

Pro: Long running. Low vibration.

Con: Cuts slowly and bogs down under pressure. Have to hold in safety lock-off button every time you want to pull the trigger. Requires hex wrench to adjust shoe—tool-free adjustment is preferred. The combination of a rear-facing battery-release button and battery removal direction toward the front of the tool causes the battery to disengage and sometimes fall out dangerously whenever your body pushes forward against it while cutting. Long charging time of one hour, 55 minutes—almost double that of most others.

  • Milwaukee 2620-21
    Milwaukee 2620-21

Milwaukee FUEL Brushless 2720-21

Battery: 18 volts; 4.0 Ah
Battery gauge: 4 bars; on battery
Weight: 9.06 pounds
SPM: 0–3,000
Stroke length: 1 1/8"

Blade clamp: Recessed with slide release; two-hand operation
Shoe: Adjustable to eight positions; 11/16" of blade unused behind shoe
Other features: Only tool in the test with a brushless motor; large hanging hook; LED headlight with 11-second delay
Web price: Bare tool (2720-20), $249; kit with charger, battery, and case, $371
Includes: One battery; charger; plastic case
Country of origin: China
Performance: Power—first place; runtime—first place

Comments: Heavy-duty saw with medium vibration—this high-tech brushless motor tool is top performer all around.

Pro: Fastest and longest-lasting tool in test. Most manageable vibration among the heavy-duty saws. Nice hang hook and headlight.

Con: Longer-than-average charge time of 1 hour, 20 minutes, one-third longer than most others. Heaviest tool—a negative for portability, but extra mass a plus for faster cutting and vibration reduction.

 

  • Milwaukee FUEL Brushless 2720-21
    Milwaukee FUEL Brushless 2720-21

Milwaukee 2620-21

Battery: 18 volts; 3.0 Ah
Battery gauge: 4 bars; on battery
Weight: 8.25 pounds
SPM: 0–3,200
Stroke length: 1"

Blade clamp: Recessed with slide release; two-hand operation
Shoe: Non-adjustable; 5/8" of blade unused behind shoe
Web price: Bare tool (2620-20), $95; kit with charger, battery, and case, $292
Country of origin: China
Performance: Power—second place, 85% of best; runtime—sixth place, 68% of best

Comments: Heavy-duty saw with medium-high vibration—a refined second-place tool that only lacks an adjustable shoe.

Pro: Fast cutting. Nice handle comfort with rounded handgrip top for different thumb positions.

Con: Fixed-position shoe limits versatility, blade performance, and economy.

  • Panasonic Dual-Voltage EY45A1 LS1G
    Panasonic Dual-Voltage EY45A1 LS1G

Panasonic Dual-Voltage EY45A1 LS1G

Battery: 18 volts; 4.2 Ah
Battery gauge: None
Weight: 7.45 pounds
SPM: 0–2,800
Stroke length: 1 1/8"

Blade clamp: External rubber-covered twist collar; two-hand operation
Shoe: Non-adjustable; excessive 1" of blade unused behind shoe
Other features: Shock-absorber shoe design; thermal-overload and spent-battery warning lights; IP56 dust and water-resistance rating
Web price: Kit with charger, battery, and case; $390
Country of origin: China
Performance: Power—seventh place, 51% of best; runtime—fourth place, 90% of best

Comments: Medium-duty tool with very high vibration that makes it difficult to use.

Pro: Long running. Flexible-fuel tool—fits several of the brand's 14.4- and 18-volt battery packs for more versatile use as an add-on tool. Best tool case in the test.

Con: Have to hold in safety lock-off button every time you want to pull the trigger, which is a constant hassle. Fixed-position shoe limits versatility, blade performance, and economy. No battery gauge. Shock absorber design adds excessive vibration while robbing control. Have to touch hot blade when changing.

 

  • Ridgid R8641 B
    Ridgid R8641 B

Ridgid R8641 B

Battery: 18 volts; tested with 4.0 Ah battery
Battery gauge: 4 bars; on battery
Weight: 7.66 pounds
SPM: 0–3,600
Stroke length: 3/4"

Blade Clamp: External metal twist collar; two-hand operation
Shoe: Adjustable to six positions; shoe plate can lock in three angle positions; excessive 1 1/8" of blade unused behind shoe
Other Features: Orbital action; LED headlight with no delay with separate trigger switch
Web price: Bare tool, $129
Country of origin: China
Performance: Power—sixth place, 52% of best; runtime—eighth place, 62% of best

Comments: Light-duty tool with low-medium vibration—has nice features but the overprotective battery won't let them work.

Pro: Orbital action speeds up the performance. Nice shoe angle locking feature and headlight.

Con: An unpredictable performer plagued with sudden stalling. Too finicky in use as the battery pack's protective circuit shuts down often. When all is going well, it will cut at a fast pace—especially in orbital mode—but it is always right on the edge of unexpectedly stalling with no warning, so it's difficult to get much done with this saw. Have to touch hot metal clamp collar to remove and install blade.

Michael Springer is the former executive editor of TOOLS OF THE TRADE Special thanks to Lenox for providing the blades used during testing.