Milwaukee M12 FUEL Circular Saw Review

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Milwaukee M12 FUEL Circular Saw Review

Milwaukee M12 FUEL Circular Saw

Manufacturer: Milwaukee
Model number: 2530-21XC
Price: $229 kit, $149 bare tool
Power source: Any M12 Battery
Weight: 5.35 lbs
Circular saws. To some trades, they are in the top 5 tools used every day. Other trades though, they are in the “next 5” group of tools used. They may not be every day tools but are still indispensable on the job site. The pro carpenters and framers have the M18 FUEL 7-1/4” Circular Saw or the M18 FUEL 6-1/2” Circular Saw but other trades didn’t necessarily need that big of saw. Milwaukee stepped in and filled the gap with a smaller, lighter, yet still very capable 5-3/8″ M12 FUEL Circular Saw.M12 Fuel Circular Saw -5

Features and Specifications

  • POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor: Delivers maximum power and provides up to 2x longer motor life.
  • REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence Provides optimized performance and overload protection using total system communication between tool, battery and charger
  • REDLITHIUM™ XC4.0 Battery Pack: Provides superior pack construction, more work per charge and more work over the life of the pack than competitive batteries.
  • 1-5/8″ Cut Capacity allows saw to cut 2x dimensional lumber.
  • LED Light for greater cutline visibility in low light situations.
  • Voltage – 12V
  • Battery – M12™ REDLITHIUM™
  • Charger – M12 Charger
  • Tool Warranty – 5 Years
  • Length – 12-3/8″
  • Weight – 5.35lbs
  • Battery Warranty – 2 Year
  • No Load RPM – 3,600
  • Blade – 5-3/8″ Or 5-1/2″
  • Arbor Size – 10mm
  • Blade Guard – Aluminum
  • Shoe – Aluminum
  • Maximum Bevel Capacity – 50 degrees


Small Package, Big Power

The word FUEL in the tool world has now become synonymous with almost unbelievable power. At the 2014 New Product Symposium, we all saw the prototype of this saw sitting on a stack of OSB and I (like many others) initially thought that this saw probably has similar performance as other 12V saws on the market. It could probably cut sheet goods but it would never find a home in a professional’s kit. Like many tools in the FUEL lines, we were pleasantly surprised when we got to make some cuts with it. This thing has much more power than anyone would expect out of a 12V tool. The brushless motors Milwaukee is developing for the M12 line make big power for their size. The M12 FUEL circular saw follows that same MO, big power despite its lightweight package. As a bare tool it weighs just 5.35 pounds and with a 4.0 XC battery it tips the scales at just over 6 pounds. That is way light.M12 Fuel Circular Saw -7

The all aluminum shoe and blade guards contribute to the low weight but they are also reinforced in all the right places to still give it strength and rigidity. With light plastic in other non-critical areas and an almost unbelievably small form factor motor, this saw can easily be handled one handed. It almost feels toy-like… until you use it. Check out the video below to see what I’m talking about. I cut up a 3/4″ thick, 12″ wide, 6′ long piece of shelving stock. I ran out of board long before I ran out of power.

Not the first but the best

Like I mentioned above, Milwaukee isn’t the first to the market with a 12V circular saw. Their claim to fame though is that the M12 Fuel circular saw is a 5-3/8″ saw and will cut 1-5/8″ deep. That’s enough to cut even the wettest, swollen green-treated 2×4. No other 12V saw can do that, period. As any contractor knows, the ability to cut framing materials is the bar any saw has to meet. Now that it is in the M12 line, it is perfect for MEP contractors (Mechanical, electrical, plumbing). Many of them are heavily invested in the M12 line and now there is a way for them to cut framing materials using the same platform they already have. Contractors aren’t the only ones that can benefit from this tool. This is a great saw for the weekend warrior too. M12 FUEL tools are small and easy to store but with power to spare, this saw continues that tradition.M12 Fuel Circular Saw -8

Overall Impression

To be completely honest, this was the tool I was most excited about from the 2014 New Product Symposium. Like the prototype, this saw really delivers. Small form factor, light weight, big power. The only improvement I would make to it is to improve the dust ejection. Otherwise, this saw is a homerun. It is great for cutting framing materials or processing sheet goods. I used it most recently to frame out a fireplace. This saw was perfect for that. I cut the materials and built the wall in place, easy peasy.

M12 Fuel Circular Saw -11

M12 Fuel Circular Saw -11

Where to Buy

Milwaukee M12 FUEL Circular Saw
$229 kit, $149 bare tool

About the author

Jeff Williams

Contributing Editor Jeff Williams is a carpenter for a commercial General Contractor specializing in concrete, steel, and wood buildings. Jeff comes from a long line of contractors. His parents started a commercial General Contracting firm many years ago and it has afforded him life-long, hands-on learning opportunities from rough and fine carpentry all the way to structural steel and concrete. Jeff has a Construction Management degree and loves the thrill of coordinating and successfully managing large jobs from start to finish. Inspired by the difficulties sometimes encountered to complete punch lists his motto is, "Work hard until the job is done."


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