I posted about the new Makita 18V sub-compact circular saw the other day, and several readers brought up the Milwaukee M12 Fuel circular saw.
So, how do they compare on paper?
Milwaukee: 5-3/8″ or 5-1/2″
If you need a new blade in a pinch, you’ll have more choices with the 6-1/2″ size.
A quick online search tells me that my local Home Depot carries Avanti 5-3/8″ 18T framing blades. A search of 6-1/2″ blades shows that I can pick up a framing blade, plywood blade, finish blade, or fast framing blade.
Bottom line, you can easily get blades for both saws, but immediate availability sides with the Makita – or the other 6-1/2″ saws in Milwaukee’s M18 lineup, or other 18V-class platforms.
Milwaukee: 1-5/8″ at 90°
Makita: 2-1/4″ at 90° (reported but not yet officially confirmed)
Both saws can cut plywood and 2x dimensional lumber. If you need to cut more than that, neither saw will do.
Milwaukee: 3600 RPM
Makita: 5000 RPM (reported but not yet officially confirmed)
Usually, lower speeds meed higher torque.
Without seeing both tools in person, I can only make a prediction that the Makita will see faster application speeds.
Taking into account the blade sizes, and ignoring unknown variables such as if or how the speed changes when under load, let’s do some math.
A 5-3/8″ blade has a 16.87″ circumference, and at 3600 RPM, you have linear cutting speed of 84.4 feet per second.
A 6-1/2″ blade has a 20.42″ circumference, and at 5000 RPM, you have a linear cutting speed of 141.8″ feet per second.
In reality, a lot of factors could come into play. But given the larger blade size and faster speeds, the Makita will likely cut faster. That’s not unexpected, given that it’s an 18V tool and the Milwaukee M12.
Size & Ergonomics
To me, the Milwaukee looks more comfortable to use, but that’s based on 2D images of the Makita. I’ve used the Milwaukee, but not the Makita.
Milwaukee: 5.35 lbs (with XC battery)
Makita: 7.56 lbs (with 5.0Ah battery)
The Makita is 41.3% heavier than the Milwaukee.
Milwaukee M12 vs. Makita 18V?
Well, you know which way I’d vote. The answer starts with an “M.”
Milwaukee: $149 bare tool, $229 kit
Makita: $179 bare tool
The Milwaukee saw has been out for over 3 years, and it remains at the same pricing. Makita’s tools, especially sub-compact, have been excluded from all of the recent store promos, at least in my recent memory. Home Depot and other retailers have regular Milwaukee M12 and M18 promos.
Both the M12 and 18V tools seem to be pretty reasonably priced for what they are.
These are different tools for different folks.
The Milwaukee M12 Fuel circular saw seems to be a better fit for cutting trim, 2x lumber, and possibly other materials, such as sheet goods.
The Makita 18V sub-compact saw seems better for… well, I’m not sure. I asked Makita USA about whether they were targeting certain user types with the new circular saw, but they never got back to me.
I’m a little hesitant about the Makita’s ergonomics, given its handle locations. But I’ll refrain from judgement; that’s something that you just can’t tell for sure from a bunch of product photos or images.
On paper, the Makita is appreciably heavier than the smaller Milwaukee M12 saw, but it also has a larger blade size and faster no-load motor speed.
Which one to buy? It’s completely dependent on your needs. Did you buy into Milwaukee’s M12 platform? Makita’s 18V? Do you want a very small saw? Or a smallish saw with greater blade selection?
Although joking before, about the saw whose brand starts with “M,” I think that the M12 is a better choice, as it pairs nicely with a full-size 18V-class 6-1/2″ or 7-1/4″ saw, or a plunge-cutting track saw. But if you don’t want two saws, the Makita might be a fair compromise. Really, you probably couldn’t go wrong with either.