Best Battery Chainsaw Reviews 2023 | Best Cordless Chainsaws
Boy, did we open a can of worms when we started searching and testing to determine the best battery-powered chainsaw models. Not that long ago, there weren’t that many cordless chainsaws, and even fewer had high enough performance to warrant replacing gas saws.
Fast forward to today and cordless chainsaws meet and even exceed gas performance all the way up to 20-inch models. Most recently, saws hit the market that can replace gas in the farm and ranch class. Our team of experts got together to hash out which cordless chainsaws are the best in 2023.
Want even more chainsaw recommendations? Check out our Best Chainsaw main page for options including gas, battery, and electric models!
Best Battery-Powered Chainsaw for Pros
STIHL 36V Brushless 20-Inch Chainsaw MSA 300 C-O
Pros have more options than ever before and that includes 20-inch cordless chainsaws. Of the ones available, Sithl is likely the most anticipated battery-powered chainsaw for professionals in a tight battle (DeWALT and Greenworks Commercial also have 20-inch models). Aside from hitting the 20-inch mark, it has the power to replace farm and ranch class gas saws and, of course, is backed by STIHL’s dealer service network.
The saw has 3 performance settings so you have options when you want to prioritize runtime over power. It has an LED screen that displays power status, mode, chain brake position, and has a low oil alert. For those of you managing inventory, it’s also connected 2 A compatible.
STIHL introduced the AP 500 S battery along with the saw, giving the MSA 300 C-O an advanced power source to pull its high performance from.
Price: 789.99 bare (may vary)
Most Powerful Professional Battery-Powered Chainsaw
Greenworks Commercial 82-Volt 20-Inch Chainsaw 82CS34
In late 2021 at GIE, DeWALT, Geenworks Commercial, and STIHL all announced new 20-inch battery-powered chainsaws with the power to take on the farm and ranch class. All three also claimed to have the most powerful and as the dust settled, Greenworks Commercial’s had the highest-rated power.
In addition to having higher power, it’s also a couple of hundred dollars less than Sithl’s 20-inch model. It gets into a range that even homeowners with large properties to maintain might be tempted to step up.
As a side note, Greenworks also has a 20-inch chainsaw now available for its 60V residential lineup.
Price: 549.99 bare, 599.99 with 4.0Ah battery and charger
Best Battery Top Handle Chainsaw
Husqvarna 40V Top-Handle Chainsaw T540i XP
By our measure, Husqvarna’s 540i XP is the best cordless top-handle chainsaw currently available. Though quite not as powerful as the Greenworks Commercial 82V yet stronger than Echo’s 56V, its balance of 40cc power, weight, and 12 – 16-inch bar options make it an excellent choice for arborists.
While Echo takes the cake as the lightest professional choice, Husqvarna does have the option to use a backpack battery and shift some of the battery weight off of the saw. It’s not terribly practical when you’re climbing, but can be handy for ground-level work.
Price: 629.00 – 649.00 bare, 1049.00 – 1069.00 kit depending on bar length
Best Battery Pole Saw
Makita 40V max XGT Telescoping Pole Saw GAU02
When it comes to the best battery pole saw, multi-head systems are an excellent platform. However, most professional crews prefer dedicated tools to attachment systems. If that sounds like you, check out Makita’s GAU02. It’s a 9- to 13-foot telescoping system (full length, not just reach) that reaches significantly higher than most of its competition.
Its performance is impressive. It uses a single 40V max battery with its 10-inch bar to cut at speeds up to 3940 fpm (20.0 meters per second). In terms of overall power, it’s the equivalent of a 35cc gas engine. In fact, Makita’s internal testing showed 30% faster cutting compared to a 36cc gas model.
This model doesn’t include the torque boost mode that was in the 18V X2 LXT model we recommended last year. However, with the boost in overall power, it doesn’t really need it.
Price: 554.00 bare, 769.00 with a 4.0Ah battery and charger
Looking for a battery-powered pole saw for home use? Take a closer look at EGO’s 56V telescoping pole saw that has a total reach up to 16 feet, has a carbon fiber shaft, and sports an LED cutline indicator.
Best Cordless Chainsaw for Home Use
Greenworks 60V Pro Brushless 2026202
n choosing the best battery chainsaw for home use, we didn’t want to sacrifice the power we enjoy from our professional saws. While there are a lot of options available, we tend to get the best balance of performance and weight in the 60V class.
Greenworks brought a major upgrade to its 60V line with a 20-inch chainsaw. While it’s not quite as strong as the 3.4kW Commercial model, it’s still packing a strong 3.0kW of power. To put that in perspective, Greenworks’ internal testing had it cutting faster than a 60cc gas chainsaw. It also outputs 20% more torque. Not only is Greenworks the first to get a 20-inch battery-powered chainsaw to consumers, but it also has legitimate performance to back it up.
The downside of being the best is that it costs more—around 499.99 for the kit. This is for folks that need or want the highest performance available from a residential chainsaw.
Price: 499.99 with an 8.0Ah battery and charger
Best Small Battery-Powered Chainsaw
Choosing the best small cordless chainsaw isn’t just a matter of choosing something lightweight with a 10- or 12-inch bar anymore. The introduction of battery pruners with a 4- to 8- inch bar and chain ups the ante. So we picked one of each for you.
Ryobi 18V HP Brushless Whisper Series 12-Inch Chainsaw P2570
We value performance over price, so our top pick as the best small battery-powered chainsaw is the Ryobi P2750. It’s part of the 18V One HP Brushless line that delivers higher performance than its brushed counterparts. It’s also part of Ryobi’s Whisper Series. That means it operates at lower noise levels than other models and makes for a better overall user experience.
The small size also keeps things on the lightweight side of the scale. With a 6.0Ah battery, this 12-inch chainsaw weighs just 8.7 pounds.
Price: 229.00 bare, 249.00 kit with 6.0Ah battery and charger
Best Battery Pruner
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hatchet 8-inch Pruning Saw 3004
It’s almost unfair to call the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hatchet a pruner. While it has the general form factor of other popular mini-chainsaw pruners that have hit the market over the last few years, it’s on a completely different performance level.
While it’s certainly useful as a pruner when manual pruners or hedge trimmers can’t cut it, landscaping crews can also use it for limbing duties on the ground or working at height. In many ways, the Hatchet bridges the gap between pruners and top-handle chainsaws.
Battery Chainsaw Showdown! Stihl vs Husky vs Milwaukee
Price: 279.00 bare, 528.00 with an 8.0Ah battery High Output battery and charger, 579.00 with a 12.0Ah High Output battery and charger
Best Cordless Chainsaw for the Money
EGO 56V 16-Inch Battery-Powered Chainsaw CS1611
EGO already had a solid 16-inch chainsaw on the market, but they released a new one in 2022 that accomplished a couple of things. First, it upped the performance to compete with and even beat gas saws in the 40cc class. With a couple of kit options all under 300.00, it also earns our pick as the best value battery-powred chainsaw currently available. If getting the most bang for your buck is your highest priority, this is your chainsaw.
Price: 239.00 bare (CS1610), 279.00 with a 2.5Ah battery and charger(CS1611), 299.00 with a 4.0Ah battery and charger (CS1613)
Best Budget Battery-Powered Chainsaw
Skil PWRCore 40 14-Inch Cordless Chainsaw CS4555-10
Just because you’re on a sub-200 budget doesn’t mean you can’t get a quality brushless chainsaw. Skil’s PWRCore 40 system includes a 14-inch brushless chainsaw that finds an excellent balance of performance, design, and price.
We tested this saw cutting oak and it did an excellent job of confidently melting through branches up to 12 inches thick. With auto-oiling and a tool-free chain adjustment system, it’s very easy to use as well. Best of all, the kit is just 199.99.
Price: 199.99 with 2.5Ah battery and charger
See Also: Can battery power cut it? Read our article: Why use a battery-powered chainsaw
Recommendations from Brands We Trust
Best DeWALT Cordless Chainsaw – 60V Max Brushless DCCS677
Without a doubt, DeWALT’s 60V Max 20-inch cordless chainsaw (DCCS677) is the best model in Yellow’s lineup. As one of three professional battery-powered 20-inch chainsaws targetting the farm and ranch class, it’s in a very elite class and it happens to be the least expensive of them.
In designing the saw, DeWALT’s development team used the largest brushless motor in any tool they have, period. Along with a list of features that verify its professional pedigree, it’s also the first DeWALT chainsaw to come with a case.
Price: 379.00 bare, 479.00 with a 4.0Ah battery and charger, 549.00 with a 5.0Ah battery and charger
Best Echo Cordless Chainsaw – 56V Brushless DCS-2500T
Echo is moving away from its original 58V cordless line to a new 56V Force system (the two systems are not compatible). Along with the initial launch, there are two chainsaw offerings: a homeowner-grade 18-inch model and a Pro-focused 12-inch top handle.
The top handle is our choice as the best Echo battery-powered chainsaw. As part of the X-Series, the DCS-2500T oozes professional design. It starts with a muscular brushless motor and builds out the drop protection (including a quickdraw harness ring) you expect from a professional gas top handle saw. Plus, it’s very lightweight at just 7.3 pounds with the battery. It’s definitely not your least expensive top-handle option, but it is designed with the demands of professional arborists in mind.
Price: 479.99 bare, 569.99 with a 2.5Ah battery and charger
Best EGO Battery-Powered Chainsaw – 56V 18-inch Brushless CS1800
Moving to an 18-inch bar, the EGO CS1800 is still on the top of the charts for homeowners even though the brand hasn’t moved up to the 20-inch class (yet). It has excellent power and there’s plenty of runtime with available batteries up to 10.0Ah (a 5.0Ah pack comes in the kit).
In addition to its performance, EGO’s auto-tensioning system makes it super-easy to adjust the chain tension and access the bar and chain without the use of additional tools. There’s even an LED to help with post-storm cleanup when the power’s out and you can’t wait for sunrise.
While there are stronger residential saws available, the ease of use, size, performance, and price all come together in a very approachable manner for folks that aren’t used to professional models.
Price: 279.00 bare, 369.00 with a 5.0Ah battery and charger, 579.00 with two 5.0Ah batteries and charger
Best HART Battery-Powered Chainsaw – 40V Brushless Supercharge HLCS041VNM
HART is stepping up its chainsaw game this year by moving into the 18-inch class. Part of a new line of 40V Supercharge products, this brushless chainsaw pushes performance higher enough to compete with gas models in the 40cc range. Along with a quality feature set, it also comes with a handy case for storage and transport that holds both the saw and the 6.0Ah battery that comes in the kit.
Keep your eyes open for this saw to show up at Walmart by the end of February 2023.
Best Husqvarna Cordless Chainsaw – 40V Brushless Power Axe 350i
With Husqvarna’s deep heritage in chainsaw manufacturing, you may be surprised that the Power Axe 350i is its first 18-inch cordless chainsaw. This Lowe’s-exclusive model features a brushless motor that does most of its work at an efficient 9.4 m/s chainsaw speed and has a boost feature that kicks it up to 11.7 m/s for getting through tougher cuts.
This residential-focused chainsaw balances that performance with an easy-to-use design. It’s also light for its size and has completely tool-free chain tensioning.
Price: 279.99 bare, 449.99 with a 7.5Ah battery and charger
Best Makita Cordless Chainsaw – 40V max XGT GCU04
We’ve been using Makita’s 18V and 18V X2 chainsaws for years. However, it’s the 40V max XGT line that has the best options for Team Teal. The GCU04 steps up with 42cc gas equivalent power thanks to its brushless motor. It sports an 18-inch bar with chain speeds up to 5020 fpm (25.5 m/s).
This model has dual bar studs with captured nuts. If you prefer tool-free chainsaw tensioning, you can get the same performance with that feature in the GCU06.
Price: 429.99 bare, 599.99 with a 5.0Ah battery and Rapid charger
Best Milwaukee Cordless Chainsaw- M18 Fuel 2727
Milwaukee had one of the first really great cordless chainsaws and the M18 Fuel 2727 is still an excellent choice. It sports a brushless motor that runs its 16-inch bar and chain to levels that exceed 40cc gas power. It has a quality build with metal bucking spikes and dual captured bar nuts.
Even though other brands have pushed the power boundary forward, we still highly recommend this saw. Now that Milwaukee has raised the bar with its self-propelled lawn mower, there are whispers beginning to ask if there’s a new high-performance chainsaw in the works for later this year.
Price: 329.00 bare, 499.00 with 12.0Ah battery and charger (also available with a 14-inch bar for 319.00)
Best Ridgid Cordless Chainsaw – 18V Brushless R01101
Hey—we’re talking about a Ridgid cordless chainsaw for the first time! Ridgid is launching its first OPE products in 2023 and a 12-inch chainsaw is on the menu. While it’s on the smaller side, the saw’s 18V brushless motor is capable of 10 m/s chain speeds. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for something lightweight.
Like many Ridgid power tools, the chainsaw is eligible for the Lifetime Service Agreement.
Note: Look for Ridgid’s chainsaw to be available beginning March 1, 2023.
Price: 189.00 bare, 269.00 kit with a 6.0Ah Max Output battery and charger
Best Ryobi Cordless Chainsaw – 40V HP Brushless RY405110VNM
Ryobi’s launch of HP Brushless tools has been impressive. The 40V HP Brushless 18-inch chainsaw is a fantastic example as one of only two 20-inch models currently available on the residential scene. With cutting performance that can replace a 50 cc gas engine, it’s far ahead of Ryobi’s other models and enters the Farm and Ranch class.
With metal bucking spikes, dual bar studs, and an adjustable oil flow, Ryobi’s flagship cordless chainsaw acts more like a professional model than an occasional-use homeowner one.
Price: 289.00 bare, 379.00 with a 5.0Ah battery and charger
Best Skil Battery-Powered Chainsaw – PWRCore 40 Brushless CS4555-10
As we mentioned above, Skil’s 14-inch brushless chainsaw is the way to go if you’re looking for a budget saw that still does a great job. You get the performance of a brushless motor, confident cutting, and a price tag under 200. While it doesn’t have the same power and capacity as the larger saws, it does share many of the same features and costs significantly less.
Price: 199.99 with 2.5Ah battery and charger
Best STIHL Cordless Chainsaw – 36V Brushless MSA 220 TC-O
As our top choice overall, STIHL’s MSA 300 C-O is the best the brand has as well. It’s not the only class STIHL is in. Pros may want to consider supplementing that model with the MSA 220 TC-O. This top-handle chainsaw has a brushless motor. It’s the strongest cordless top-handle in STIHL’s cordless lineup and configures with either a 12- or 14-inch bar.
At 10 pounds with the 14-inch bar and AP 300 battery, it’s not the lightest top-handle model on our list. However, it’s still a very manageable weight and, of course, you’re backed by Sithl’s dealer and service network.
Price: 589.99 bare with 12-inch bar (may vary)
Best Battery Chainsaw Buying Guide | What We Look For
Performance is King
Thanks to advanced brushless motors, electronics, and batteries, voltage no longer tells the entire story. However, cutting speed with the torque to get through thick hardwood species is the number one priority for us.
Runtime is (Sort of) a Big Deal
Ideally, a battery-powered chainsaw balances cutting speed and power with runtime. Larger batteries are certainly helping. Advancements in battery technology are as well. Denser cells with more robust connections are able to more efficiently transfer energy from the battery to the chain. This gives you higher performance without a drop in runtime that makes the saw irrelevant.
The other side of the conversation involves Rapid chargers. Most brands offer them now and several include them as a standard part of the kit. With today’s cordless technology, two batteries and a Rapid charger can be enough to keep you running continuously all day.
Most chainsaws are similar in form and share all of the same basic operational features. Where the best cordless chainsaws differ in form is primarily in their switches and triggers.
All of the saws have a UL or similar test lab certification on them, but they’re not all the same. In use, some of the saws in our test have more defined two-step triggers. Others easily activate using a single grasp around their lockout button and trigger. At the end of the day, we expect our chainsaws to keep us from accidentally activating the motor. All of our recommendations meet that requirement. From there, it’s just a matter of the feel or function you prefer.
The true two-step lockouts aren’t difficult to operate in normal conditions. In odd positions, such as reaching around a tree while limbing, sometimes the mechanical lockouts can be tricky to slide.
For select cordless chainsaws, the first of two (or sometimes three) stages of starting is an electronic power button.
Some electronic switch saws can be run with a single grab once powered on. You just have to be mindful of the auto timeout feature. It can be frustrating the pull the trigger to no effect when you thought the saw was ready.
Ease of Adjustment
Chainsaw bars need to be adjusted nearly every time you use the saw. A new chain stretches out pretty quickly. You need to snug it up at least a few times as it breaks in.
If your chain gets tight rather suddenly, it usually means the bar is not getting oil. Don’t loosen it until you make sure the saw is oiling properly.
Pro Tip: Get into the habit of loosening your chain at the end of the day. Cold weather can cause it to tighten as it cools and damage parts.
A saw’s bar will be designed for either tool-free adjustment or will require a screwdriver-wrench combination tool called—yep, you guessed it—a scrench. Tool-free adjustment is the quickest and easiest with plastic knobs and/or dials built into the saw. They loosen the bar, move the bar forward or back to properly tension the chain, and lock the bar down tight again.
Dual Studs vs Tool-free Adjusters
Saws with tool-free adjusters use a single stud to attach the bar to the saw, but manual adjusting models typically have two mounting studs (sometimes one on small or top-handle models). Some old-school users view dual studs as an indication that the saw is geared toward professionals, but we don’t think that’s a hard, fast rule. Not for modest-sized saws anyway. However, the biggest and strongest chainsaws made all have dual stud bar mounts.
Pro Tip: Be sure to snug the nuts evenly because torquing down on only one can loosen the other.
Lost bar nuts are a frequent occurrence during regular use in the field. To prevent this, some saws have the added feature of captive nuts that won’t come all the way off the cover no matter how much you spin them.
Pro Tip: Keep a spare nut on hand if the ones on your saw aren’t captuve—it’s not unusual to lose one in the field!
To keep your adjustment tool close at hand, look for models that have storage slots built into the saws.
Your preferences may vary, but we can appreciate both adjustment methods. We like the speed and convenience of tool-free adjustments for small saws. For big saws, we feel more confident securing the business end of these powerful tools down with a wrench.
It’s not a deal-breaker either way for the saws in our test unless the mechanism itself is flawed. The best battery-powered chainsaw for you is the one that instills a sense of both confidence and convenience.
Bars and Chains
Most chainsaw brands don’t try to reinvent the wheel by making their own bars and chains. Instead, many use quality Oregon components, though STIHL makes their own bars and chains. Most cordless chainsaws use 3/8-in. pitch, 0.043-in. gauge chains while stronger models are moving up to 0.050-in. gauge.
Bar and chain oil is the lifeblood of a chainsaw as the saw cannot run without it for very long. Most saws oil readily, but we occasionally run across models that have issues after a while. If a saw oiled well out of the box, it usually just needs a good cleaning to unclog it.
Most battery-powered chainsaws have translucent Windows that let you check if there’s oil in the tank, and most let you estimate the level pretty well. If yours has a small window or none at all, be sure to stop and check the oil level frequently. About every hour of working time or anytime you notice a change in performance is a good rule of thumb.
The ease of filling the oil reservoir is a noteworthy convenience factor when considering the best battery-powered chainsaw. We don’t like having oily fingers, so being able to fill the tank while leaving our work gloves on is our preference. Look for oil caps with lugs that are easy to turn with gloves on and/or flip-up tabs that provide an even better grip.
Chainsaws often leak oil while sitting because daily heating and cooling shrinks and expands a plastic tank like a rudimentary pump. Some saws are messier than others.
Wherever you store your saw, put a piece of cardboard underneath it to collect any oil. You can switch it out as needed and whenever an Amazon order arrives.
Be careful when filling your chainsaw. Some have a large section of the cap that goes inside the tank and displaces a surprising amount of oil when you fill it anywhere close to the top. Wiping gooey oil off a chainsaw is an annoying waste of time.
Another cause of spills is an oil tank with a filler neck that is too narrow. Bar and chain oil is thick and tacky. It can pour like molasses in the cold, so it easily “piles up” and overflows in a narrow neck.
Pro Tip: Only poke a small hole in the foil of your oil container or use a (clean) syrup bottle to dispense oil into your chainsaw’s reservoir.
Providing another challenge, plastic filters at the inlet of its tank can constrict the diameter.
Caps that cross-thread easily can also make the oil-fill process more of a chore.
Environmental Sidetrack: Try Biodegradable Bar and Chain Oil
The other part of this cleaner, greener, lithium-ion-powered story is you can pair your battery chainsaw with a biodegradable bar and chain oil made of vegetable-based ingredients, such as STIHL Bio Plus. Those barrels of useful wood waste also contain a few gallons of oil from the saws.
Aside from having to landfill all of your petroleum-preserved sawdust, it’s just good practice to minimize your exposure to petroleum oil on your skin, clothing, and the atomized portion that you breathe in.
Back on Track… Bucking Spikes
For pushing a saw through wood more efficiently, chainsaws come fitted with bucking spikes. You may also hear these called bumper spikes, felling spikes, or dogs. These spikes sit against the body of the saw alongside the bar. They anchor the saw in place while you pivot the bar through a cut.
The spikes allow you to apply a lifting motion of the rear hand instead of pushing downward. Holding the saw tight to the wood, the motor can exert its maximum pulling power. This saves you from some of the cutting vibrations common when holding a saw away from your work.
Our battery-powered saws all have some semblance of spikes. Most aren’t as long or as sharp as those on large gas saws. However, actual steel spikes are becoming more common. We prefer those to the simple plastic ridges on other models.
Pro Tip: Applying leverage with spikes adds control, but go easy and listen to the pitch of the motor. You can overload battery chainsaws with too much pressure, and the weaker models stall easily.
While it’s true that the comfort and feel of a tool are largely subjective, it’s also true that some designs work better than others. Most Pros and experienced homeowners can immediately tell.
For the best battery-powered chainsaw, a balanced feel in your hands and the ability to cut straight without introducing a twisting motion to overcome are both important ergonomic factors.
Holding a saw with your left hand on the front handle in front of you should have the saw balancing fairly flat. Being a bit front-heavy is okay, but a rear-heavy saw lifts the cutting end of the saw up towards you and requires more effort and vigilance to use and carry safely.
Determining a good feel for felling cuts while holding the chainsaw sideways is more about the comfort of applying force to the front and rear handles as you grasp it from the side, and also the ease of operating the trigger while sideways.
In general, chainsaws with thicker handles are more comfortable to grasp in use because have more surface contact and soften that contact with your hand. Of course, rubber handle surfaces help too, not only for padding but also for the increased grip they provide.
Most cordless chainsaw triggers are large enough for two fingers to fit on them. Some have an extra-long trigger with more room to vary your grip stance for comfort. The best feeling triggers retract flush with the handle instead of leaving a raised bump your fingers have to push against.
The dry weight of the best battery chainsaws can swell to well over 15 pounds. Experience shows that a saw’s weight is less important than proper balance overall as you only feel the full weight when you’re NOT cutting.
But carrying around and positioning a heavy saw can certainly be more taxing over a long workday. The catch with these saws is that the batteries are a major part of the weight. So the stronger, longer-lasting saws with high-capacity battery packs and longer bars that we prefer end up being the heaviest.
While we do the majority of our testing with the kitted batteries, it’s worth looking at the full range a manufacturer has available for your cordless chainsaw. If you end up investing in the entire lineup, you’ll likely want to consider the biggest batteries you can buy for it to get all of your lawn chores done efficiently.
You might also want a lower-capacity battery to shave some weight when you don’t have a lot of work to complete.
Higher voltage means more power, right? There’s certainly an argument for that, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Power is measured in watts and that comes from multiplying the voltage times the current. You can make a 36V chainsaw with the same power as a 56V model. The lower voltage simply has to produce more amps (current) to get there.
That’s why you see chainsaws with 40cc gas performance at 18V, 36V, and 60V. It’s all about the combination of volts and amps.
Another thing that is interesting to note is the discrepancy between the amp-hour and watt-hour ratings on some of the batteries in our tests for their given voltage. We’ve covered the subject of battery voltage, storage capacity, and current output many times. To review simply:
Volts x Amp Hours = Watt Hours
It’s the same basic equation we use for power, just applied to energy storage instead of output. It’s an easy way to compare the available energy of one battery to another when they have different voltages.
We’re increasingly finding that manufacturers—perhaps to simplify things for consumers—are rounding amp-hours. Some calculate their watt-hours with maximum voltage while most use nominal. Unfortunately, this makes some comparisons more challenging and adds to potential confusion.
When you charge a lithium-ion battery, it will reach its maximum voltage. Shortly after putting it to use, it settles into a slightly lower voltage—its nominal voltage. The nominal voltage is where the battery spends most of its working life and is roughly 90% of the maximum voltage.
Brands have to choose which one to display. When you see numbers such as 60V Max, that’s a battery that settles into a 54V nominal voltage. When you don’t see “Max” on the battery and packaging, you’re usually looking at a battery that is displaying its nominal volts.
We say “usually” for a reason. Some brands market their maximum voltage but don’t make it clear.
Some European countries regulate stated voltages more stringently, and it seems that it could only serve to help if the simple math all added up.
Best Battery-Powered Chainsaw Accessories
While nearly every chainsaw comes with basic plastic scabbards to protect the chain while also protecting you from the chain, a few of the models go above and beyond.
We’ve seen an optional tip guard to make safe operation more foolproof. Attaching the guard makes you lose a few inches of cutting capacity and prevents any plunge cuts and other non-through cuts such as deep rips. However, casual users may feel more comfortable with the tip of the saw fully protected against kickback.
Once in a while, you can find a unique, form-fitting bag or case. It’s helpful for storage and transportation, though you might want to use it only after you’ve drained the oil from your saw.
Buy Into a System
One other consideration for these saws is the system of battery-powered OPE to which they belong. Like other cordless tools, you can purchase some of our best battery-powered chainsaws as bare tools at significant savings over the kit. If you’re already invested in one of these systems, the overall winner may not interest you as much as seeing which model from your brand is the best in the lineup. Though not the best overall, it might be the best balance of performance and value for you.
Look at the Entire Model Lineup
If you haven’t bought into a system yet and may pick up more outdoor power tools in the future, check out the entire lineup from a brand. Make sure they can fulfill your wish list before going after just the chainsaw. For many users, the saw functions as a secondary tool when compared to the hours you spend with a string trimmer or mower.
Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews
Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested the tools or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers?
That’s not us. We only recommend what we’d actually use, even if we don’t earn a commission from it. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.
We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction, automotive, and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.
Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.
We consult with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.
We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.
We’ll provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers—including objective evaluations of individual tools and products.
The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.
Best Cordless Power Tool Brands (2023)
Which is the BEST cordless power tool brand? DeWALT? Milwaukee? Ryobi? This seems like a simple question, but the answer isn’t.
I last attempted to tackle this question in early 2021, and there have been enough developments and changes in the 2-1/2 years since then to justify an update.
Here is the question that started it all:
If you had to stick to one brand for most of your tools which would it be? Taking into consideration tool reliability, power, ergonomics, batteries and number of cordless tools.
Just one brand?! DeWALT. Wait, no – Milwaukee. Metabo HPT?
Most cordless power tool brands have their distinct innovations and selling points, and tool brands continuously and fiercely compete for a spot in your tool box.
Whether the question is about the best cordless power tool brand overall, or even which one brand I would stick with, the answer depends on the user.
Are you an electrician? Plumber? Carpenter? Deck builder? DIYer? Every user’s needs are different, and there’s really no singular best brand overall.
The real question to answer is this one – which is the best cordless tool brand for you?
Instead of simply answering the title question, I will offer my opinions on each particular tool brand to help you make your own determinations.
As always, readers’ opinions are extremely valuable. What would you say to anyone looking to buy into a cordless power tool system?
The brands below are listed in alphabetical order.
Benefits: Good performance and reliability.
Downsides: Historically, Bosch has not kept up with competitors in the USA, and some innovations are released here later than in Europe or not at all.
What I Said in 2021: Bosch makes some spectacular tools. Looking at the greater picture, their 12V and 18V platforms aren’t as compelling as competing platforms. While I was impressed with some of their past releases, there are fewer reasons to buy into either of Bosch’s cordless power tool systems today.
What’s Changed? Bosch recently launched AmpShare, where their 18V battery will soon power a range of tools from numerous partnered brands. They have been releasing new tools at a faster pace, and also seem to have abandoned the somewhat silly names given to certain tools, such as “the Freak.”
Bosch still has holes in their cordless lineup, but they’ve been filling some of the more glaring ones. I anticipate that AmpShare will greatly help with this.
Benefits: Affordable price points for DIYers.
Downsides: Limited selection.
What I Said in 2021: Craftsman has been slow to expand their V20/20V Max cordless power tool lineup, but there are some interesting entries, such as a cordless air compressor.
What’s Changed? Craftsman has steadily been expanding their line of V20 cordless power tools, but still not at anywhere close to the pace of their top competitor. Their Brushless RP tools offer higher performance.
Benefits: Excellent tools, expansive selection, comfortable ergonomics, great reliability. DeWALT has been continually expanding their 20V Max cordless power tool lineup, as well as their FlexVolt lineup, and they have also been actively expanding their 12V Max Xtreme Subcompact line.
Downsides: Sorting through some of their core options can be a little confusing. For instance, you can now choose between 20V Max brushless, 20V Max Power Detect, FlexVolt 60V Max, and 20V Max FlexVolt advantage saws.
What I Said in 2021: DeWALT continues to have a lot of “firsts.” They’re no longer playing catch-up and are once again pushing boundaries.
Quite simply put, you cannot go wrong with DeWALT cordless power tools. DeWALT’s cordless platforms continue to have a lot of strengths, and few weaknesses.
If I had to choose a “Best Cordless Power Tool Brand Overall” winner, DeWALT would face off against Milwaukee in a battle too close to easily call.
What’s Changed? DeWALT has entered the automotive tool market with new ratchets, and recently launched new rivet tools. They’ve been filling noticeable holes. DeWALT’s PowerStack batteries provide numerous benefits over older technologies.
Notable Products: Power Detect and FlexVolt Advantage lines bridge the gap between 20V Max and FlexVolt 60V Max platforms. Even so, FlexVolt still provides a power benefit that most other 18V/20V Max systems struggle to match.
Benefits: Unique tools, such as hybrid corded-cordless sanders, good quality, brand reputation.
Downsides: Very limited product selection, very high pricing.
What I Said in 2021: If you want a Festool power tool, and you want it to be cordless, you have some options. Festool made a push in 2020 to consolidate some of their cordless power tools into combo kits aimed at contractors and remodelers.
Festool’s cordless platforms are limited, presumably because they are more of a finish and fine work brand. The brand is not focused on the broader needs of users involved in construction or the trades.
Additionally, Festool’s high pricing can make the tools inaccessible to many individual users.
What’s Changed? Festool has made some questionable design choices, such as launching a cordless dust collector vacuum that can only be used with smaller low capacity batteries. There’s also a new cordless reciprocating saw, which fills a hole in their cordless lineup, but doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the brand’s core competency – fine finishing tools.
Benefits: Competitive performance (at least), next-gen Stacked Lithium batteries, numerous innovations and tools with distinct user benefits.
Top 6 Best Battery Chainsaws You can Buy Right Now 
Downsides: As a relatively new brand, Flex is going to be playing catch-up for a few years, in terms of product selection and market share. Their 24V battery is going to be slightly larger than 18V batteries, but not without positive traits (such as in power delivery).
Overall: Flex has expanded their line of 24V Max brushless cordless power tools at a Rapid pace. The brand recently launched new compact core tools, and a strong selection of specialty tools, such as a cordless router, sander, and Band saws.
Flex aspires to be a major player in the professional cordless power tool industry, and so far it seems they’re doing everything right to get there.
What I Said in 2021: Hart is a Walmart-exclusive brand that offers entry-priced cordless power tools that are similar to Ryobi’s most basic offerings. If you’re shopping for the lowest cost cordless power tools on the market, I’d go with Hart (or any of these other brands) over the no-name stuff on Amazon and other online marketplaces.
What’s Changed? Hart doesn’t share product news, but it looks like they added a couple of new tools since I last checked. Hart still looks to be an entry-level cordless brand aimed at beginners or Walmart shoppers buying on impulse.
Hercules (Harbor Freight)
Benefits: Better cordless tools for Harbor Freight shoppers.
Downsides: Limited selection, young brand reputation, still Harbor Freight.
What I Said in 2021: Harbor Freight launched the Hercules cordless power tool platforms with name-brand competitors in sight. I purchased earlier samples, and while respectable, the tools lacked the fit and finish I would expect from true professional-grade cordless power tool brands.
Harbor Freight and their Hercules line have potential, but it seems they are still striving to make cheaper tools. With new brushless tools on the way, it’s possible they are trying to walk down a different path, at least as far as the Hercules lines are concerned.
Harbor Freight has the potential to disrupt the core cordless power tools market, but they still have to prove they can deliver quality.
What’s Changed? Harbor Freight has been steadily expanding their Hercules lineup of “professional” tools. The quality seems to have improved – from pretty good to almost great – and the tools now boast a 5 year limited warranty.
Harbor Freight has been bouncing between different marketing strategies, and with the latest changes they’ve been following examples set by major industry players.
The tools are not quite on even ground with those from the tool brands Harbor Freight claims Hercules compares to, but they are inching closer.
Benefits: Strong reputation, gimmick-free solutions.
Downsides: Limited retail availability, limited tool selection, high prices.
What I Said in 2021: Hilti tends to target commercial users, rather than individuals. They have a strong FOCUS on masonry tools, but also some exceptionally capable tools for working with wood, metal, and other common construction and fabrication materials.
What’s Changed? Hilti launched Nuron, a new line of 22V cordless power tools. While not as comprehensive as competing professional tool brands’ lineups, Hilti quickly converted over dozens of tools from the outgoing tool system. There are still a lot of holes that need to be filled.
Hilti still needs to do a better job at appealing to individual tool users.
Benefits: Brushless motors, inexpensive pricing on spare/replacement batteries.
Downsides: Limited selection.
What I Said in 2021: Lowe’s Kobalt 24V max cordless power tool platform focuses on brushless-motor tools, and with reasonable and competitive pricing.
There’s not much compromise when it comes to performance, and the newer XTR tools take things to another level with respect to power and features.
What’s Changed? Kobalt launched all-new core cordless power tools. They seemed to have all but dropped the XTR performance line of tools, except during holiday shopping seasons when the combos make a quick reappearance.
Lowe’s never seems to have a clear direction in mind for their exclusive tool brand.
Benefits: Broad 18V cordless power tool system.
Downsides: Makita has been slow to adapt to industry trends, and certain product categories are difficult to sort out with an excessive number of options. The 18V line hasn’t kept up with competing tool systems, and the new XGT line is very limited and expensive. Their revamped 12V Max cordless system has been stagnant.
What I Said in 2021: Some of Makita’s 18V LXT cordless tools are competitive, but the system has hit its limits. The new Makita XGT 40V Max platform is due to launch in the USA at some point, but the new system is not backwards compatible with their 18V cordless system.
What’s Changed? Makita has finally brought a couple of tools from the XGT line to the LXT line, but many premium features remain XGT exclusives, such as cordless drill anti-kickback tech.
Makita launched Outdoor Adventure in the USA, a new line of existing 18V tools but in an olive green color.
They have two main cordless systems – 18V LXT and 36V/40V Max XGT, and aren’t throwing their full weight behind either one.
Makita USA recently cut jobs company-wide, following their third price increase in just over a year.
Benefits: Great quality, performance, and reliability, and a strong reputation. Metabo offers more specialty tools that cater to fabrication and metalworking industries.
Downsides: Limited selection, less market availability and visibility compared to other pro-grade brands,
What I Said in 2021: Metabo has a lot of great cordless power tools, and has been expanding steadily. Its 18V cordless platform is more expansive in Europe, but an increasing number of tools have launched in the USA as well.
Metabo has embarked on a mission towards enabling a truly cordless jobsite, and each year they move closer and closer to that goal.
What’s Changed? Metabo used to do their part in driving the industry forward, but lately it seems like they’ve been falling behind. Where’s the cordless table saw, dust collection systems, air compressor, or other tools needed for the “cordless jobsite” they talked so much about over the years?
Metabo HPT (Formerly Hitachi Power Tools)
Benefits: Metabo HPT offers many excellent-quality 18V and MultiVolt cordless power tools, and occasionally innovates with unique offerings.
Downsides: Limited selection, Hitachi to Metabo HPT name-change has resulted in quite a bit of confusion. There’s added confusion between Metabo HPT and Metabo, as there is zero compatibility between the two brands’ cordless platforms.
What I Said in 2021: As a system, Metabo HPT offers a much smaller selection of cordless power tools than other brands. They have quite a few competitive and compelling tools, making the brand a potentially good choice if their strengths align with particular user needs and wants.
What’s Changed? Metabo HPT has been releasing new tools at a steady pace. Their MultiVolt cordless platform is excellent, and remains a very competitive choice. The brand needs greater market visibility; select tools are available at Lowe’s, but the retailer has done little to promote the brand or drive consumer awareness.
Notable Products: Metabo HPT’s 18V Triple Hammer impact driver remains a personal favorite.
Benefits: Great quality, reliability, and performance. Fantastic M18 (18V/20V-class) cordless power tool system and unmatched M12 (12V-class) tool selection. Milwaukee Tool is a very active innovator.
Downsides: M12 tools have a stem-style battery that inserts into the hand grip, resulting in a chunkier grip than some other brands can accomplish with slide-style batteries.
What I Said in 2021: Milwaukee seeks to be a “solutions provider,” and they charge into new markets with a disruptive ferocity. Their philosophy for the M12 cordless system has been to provide user-friendly alternatives to hand tools, and their expanding M18 system offers all the core tools pros and demanding users might need, plus many trade-specific options.
Milwaukee Tool cordless power tools can carry premium pricing, but they regularly offer very aggressive promotions in the form of free tool or battery bonus bundles.
While not the market-leader in every category, Milwaukee is an easy recommendation. Quite simply put, you can’t go wrong with Milwaukee cordless power tools.
If I absolutely had to choose a “Best Cordless Power Tool Brand Overall” winner, Milwaukee would face off against DeWALT in a battle too close to easily call.
What’s Changed? Milwaukee has continued to innovate and push forward in recent years. I expect to see the brand shake up the entire industry once they launch – and heavily advertise – next-gen power tool batteries built with pouch-style Li-ion cells.
The MX Fuel line of cordless equipment redefined what can be powered with a cordless battery, and still holds untapped potential.
Notable Products: Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel and M18 Fuel brushless power tools are often considered the gold standard.
Downsides: Limited selection, limited availability.
What I Said in 2021: Porter Cable was effectively pushed out of Lowe’s when Craftsman (also a Stanley Black Decker brand) came along, and out of Walmart after TTI launched their exclusive Hart tool brand there.
Porter Cable announced a new partnership with Tractor Supply in late-2021. No new tools or developments have been announced since then.
The brand doesn’t appear to be investing any time, effort, or resources into their cordless platform.
What’s Changed? Nothing.
Benefits: Ridgid has a strong selection of core 18V cordless power tools, and some unique and innovative tools sprinkled in. The brand offers a good balance between performance and price.
The Limited Lifetime Service Agreement covers parts, service, and batteries – with some restrictions.
Downsides: Smaller selection of 18V tools compared to other brands, 12V system has been abandoned (although you can still buy replacement batteries or chargers).
What I Said in 2021: Ridgid is a good brand and they have continued to expand and enhance their 18V cordless power tool system over the years. Some of their tools offer innovations not found in other cordless systems, giving some users reason to choose Ridgid as their primary or secondary brand.
What’s Changed? Ridgid has continued to launch new 18V cordless power tools. They haven’t been as innovative as in recent years, but are still going strong. Ridgid’s 18V line continues to be exclusive to Home Depot.
Benefits: Ryobi’s 18V One platform is huge, and satisfies a broad range of user needs, from beginner DIYer to value-minded pros.
Downsides: Ryobi’s commitment to DIYer users (a great thing) also means they haven’t updated their battery system to a slide-style form factor yet. Lower-priced tools have compromised features or performance.
What I Said in 2021: Ryobi is a very customer-centric brand that is well-liked and well-regarded among their many loyal DIYer users. Some pros will use certain Ryobi tools as well, especially for specialty tasks where a tool might not see frequent use.
What’s Changed? Ryobi has expanded their line of compact brushless 18V One HP tools, and added new home, hobby, and lifestyle tools, including from a new USB Lithium line of 4V-class tools and accessories.
Ryobi tools remains exclusive to Home Depot.
Benefits: Skil’s new cordless power tool platforms offer very high bang for the buck – competitive performance and above-average features for what you pay.
Downsides: Limited selection.
What I Said in 2021: Under new ownership, Skil has refreshed their branding and launched all-new cordless power tool lineups. They’re definitely worth a chance for DIYers looking to get modern features at affordable pricing.
What’s Changed? Skil has launched more tools and updated their core 12V and 20V class offerings. They have also expanded their cordless outdoor power tool offerings. With respect to core offerings – drills, drivers, and saws – Skil tools in many cases outperform competing products while also being more affordable.
Skil is definitely worth paying attention to.
Which cordless power tool lineup(s) did you go with? What would you recommend to someone looking to buy into a new cordless power tool system?
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As you made clear in the beginning of the article, the real answer is “it depends”. I think for the average homeowner or DIYer it’s hard to go wrong as nearly any brand will cover all the common bases. I am on DeWALT 20V and Flexvolt for standard and larger tools, and Milwaukee M12 for compact mechanics tools, and I’ve been very happy with that choice. Still, there are a handful of tools I have from other brands: A Makita bandfile I purchased a couple years ago when DeWALT and Milwaukee’s were unknown, a Metabo compact recip saw which can accept jigsaw blades, etc. I like FLEX a lot. I very nearly jumped into the system during the holidays last year. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before I will do so. Their inline handle circular saw is killer and it’s only a matter of time before I’ll need a replacement for my impact driver and Flex is my top choice because of the trigger bit release. It’s no slouch in the power department either as Torque Test Channel has demonstrated.
I also think flex is going to be a big player. I’m pretty heavily invested in red as a sparky, with some more red mixed with corded orange stuff (wen/rigid) still filling gaps for the some of the wood/metal and automotive/mechanic tools. I’ve gotten hands on some of the younger guys flex tools and like them. My eyes are on flex when their line flushes out and I need more solutions/replacements
I’m in the same boat as you. DeWALT 20V with slow expansion in to FlexVolt are my main tools, and M12 for compacts and “go bag” stuff. I see no reason to change that setup, but I wouldn’t call it brand loyalty so much as brand inertia. Both are good brands at more reasonable than Festool or Hilti, easy to get tools and accessories for, and reliable. For oddball one-off things I have gotten in to Ryobi 18V, but definitely prefer the red or yellow if I rely on it or use it a ton. Corded tools are all over the place, you don’t have to deal with battery lock-in.
Similar here with Makita 18v and Milwaukee 12v. Makita is only lacking 21700 based (or pouch) batteries to make their LXT lineup shine. Why they hesitate, I have no idea. M12 is awesome. So many choices, so many specialty tools. Only downside is ergonomics of the chunky handle, but I have size XL hands so not a deal breaker. Oh, and the price of some M12 Fuel tools is ludicrous, more than many 18v tools.
The M12 grip isn’t great, I agree. But like you I have large hands so it’s not a big deal for me either. And for some mechanic’s tools I really like how the smaller M12 batteries fit completely inside the tool’s handle so there is no brick hanging off the back. That is a huge benefit when you have to reach the tool into tight quarters.
It’s hard as a top to bottom home builder (we are in Northern Michigan and decent subs are few and far between)to run one platform. We run mostly Metabo HPT from ground up to framing. Great rebar tools, everyone loves their circ saws, impacts and nailers over the M18 stuff. Plus the corded adapter runs better off a generator than regular corded tools. We do use the M18 concrete vibrator as well, and the concrete saw to cut out centers for our bond beams. Mechanicals are pretty much all M12. From drywall out its pretty much Bosch, both 18 and 12. We do run some 18v Makita for trim still, but I’m trying to phase out and dump the system. If Bosch does a trim router they are probably gone. Absolute top quality tools for sure, but they haven’t kept up with their 18v stuff, and I don’t feel like adding another system with the 40v.
https://www.amazon.com/Bosch-Brushless-Palm-Router-GKF12V-25N/dp/B07B8YLWCC/ Bosch has this little 12V router that is an absolute blast. I’m not in a construction environment, so I can’t say if it’s got enough power, but it’s just so tiny and well balanced. I build a lot of plywood box shapes and use it to flush trim and 1/4 round the corners.
Suprised you skipped on Bauer cordless from HF especially seeing you included Walmart Hart among some others low budget offerings. I am firmly invested in Milwaukee. Not saying each cordless tool is the best you can get, but the wide platform if 12 18v gives an extremly wide range of options. I personally have more of their 12v than 18v tools for my various jobs. One thing I would like to see is more of the either batteries option on the tools. M12/M18 BT speaker is a great example. They could done easily that with the fan, many of the lighting options and some of the other accesories like maybe the vac. Seems redundent all the new M12 only releases on exsisting tools. Also something like the small 5- 3/8″ M12 circ saw being is such a dud it would truly benefit from an 18v power source and bring it up “speed” (rpm) considering its FUEL. My 20 yr old 18v Ni cad Makita 6 1/2 circ cuts much better
I am split Ryobi and DeWALT 20v, with a sprinkle of Milwaukee 12v. But for my friends, if they’re somewhat serious about handyman I’ll guide em red or yellow, otherwise I push Ryobi. It’s such a solid brand for the price.
I would add that where you prefer to shop should be considered. Amazon is not an authorized Milwaukee retailer and Ryobi is exclusive to Home Depot. This may impact the platform you buy into. I bought a Bosch drill/driver kit almost 10 years ago but haven’t further invested in the platform. The tools work excellently but they don’t offer nearly as wide of a selection as other brands and they do not have many tools at various tiers. I have several Ryobi tools that don’t see regular use and I would recommend each of them. I have a DeWALT circular saw and drill/driver that I also love. I will buy more Ryobi and DeWALT tools as the need arises.
I like Milwaukee’s lights more (A/C and Battery option). I like their longer warranty, though they’ve shortened it for some of their stuff. I like packout. I like their specialty tools. But as a contractor that uses heavier cordless equipment I have to go with DeWALT. I tried Milwaukee’s chainsaw, tablesaw and 9″ cut off saw and they were great when they worked, but running them constantly for longer than 10 minutes (or less) would overheat the batteries. The tools were great, but 18v can’t handle the heat when a tool is drawing higher amperages. DeWALT’s solution of 20v/60v batteries really saves the day. Their batteries don’t last as long (at least to me they didn’t), but they don’t die in the middle of use from overheating. Their tools aren’t typically the most powerful, though they do have a couple tools that rank high, but their tools are fully capable for the tasks they were made for. I’m never wishing I had more power with anything they’ve made. If I need more power it’s generally because I need the big brother to whatever I’m using (don’t use an impact driver to put in 5″ LVL lags). You can’t go wrong with either brand but my setup is 20v/60v DeWALT Tools and 12v Milwaukee. All of it contained within Packout. If Milwaukee had done a 20v/60v switcharoo like DeWALT then I’d have gone with Milwaukee 100%.
My needs are pretty straight-forward, but after buying a Mafell FM 1000 WS as a spindle for my Shapeoko, I’m sorely tempted to get a Mafell drill as my only battery-operated power tool, and the P1CC Jigsaw as one of only a couple power tools.
The Mafell drill resembles Metabo’s, with the rotary dial above the battery being a common feature. Which would be the OEM?
Will, do you have more info on this spindle and mounting it to your CNC? I see your posts on r/hobbycnc a lot but haven’t seen much about this particular motor.
I still get requests for recommendations from family and friends – and also counsel that there is no one right answer. Each of the major brands have introduced one or more new tools that seem like they want to innovate. – but no one brand seems to me to cover 100%. On an A to Z basis I’v noticed a few new (or newish) items that look interesting as non-mainstream or innovative items: Bosch: Their Cordless T-Nailer for concrete (GNB18V-12N) DeWALT: Their Powerstack batteries Festool: nothing new that has caught my eye Mafell: Their KSS 40 and KSS 60 18m (185mm) cordless track saws Makita: Their GSX track saw (GPS01Z) and 10.25 inch saw (GSH04Z) Metabo: Cordless tapping drill (GB 18 LTX BL). cordless burnisher (600154850) and pipe sander (600192850) Metabo-HPT: cordless 36V Router (M3612DA), cordless connector nailer (NR3665DA) and duplex nailer (NR3675DD) for concrete forms Milwaukee: Garden lopper (2534-20), cable staple gun (2448-20) and fence stapler (2843-20) Ryobi: They keep impressing me with their releases in the hobbyist, home cleaning and OPE areas – although some of their newer cleaning tools seem to get mixed reviews.
@stuart Your comment about Milwaukee launching pouch-style batteries has me curious. When do you think we’ll see that happen? And will pouch-style effect M12 batteries also or only M18? I’m probably going to buy into M12 soon so don’t want to buy only to have way better batteries coming out shortly thereafter…
I don’t see how pouch style M12 batteries would work. If buying into M12, the 2.5Ah and 5Ah batteries are the latest and greatest.
That’s what I thought. What about the M18? When do you think we’ll see them introduce pouch-style batteries?
They have a new M18 battery coming out that they are calling FORGE. Their not yet released 2967 1/2″ impact is advertised as achieving its maximum torque with the aforementioned FORGE battery. Many people are speculating that it is a pouch style battery, but no one has been able to – or is allowed to – confirm that. Milwaukee is being pretty tight with details. The few retailers that had it posted have since pulled the listings down, but it seems like it is just around the corner.
Milwaukee has a patent for M12 HO batteries that use 3x 18650 in the handle and 3x 21700 in the base. No reason they couldn’t substitute 3x pouch cells in the base. As long as the chemistry is the same different style cells can be wired in parallel.
M18 pouch batteries are supposedly called “Forge” batteries and Milwaukee is going to advertise the new batteries with new tools that feature increased output when paired with the Forge batteries.
The big 3 are all good, but Milwaukee seems to be leading the charge in recent years, followed by DeWALT and Makita has been slipping a little imho.
Makita has excellent tools that just need a higher power battery to be competitive. 21700 or pouch style batteries would put them right back in the running. Pouch cells could even work on 18v X2 tools where battery width is a concern.
These days I look at Makita a lot like Toyota. Top notch reliability, easy to repair is something does break, but quite slow to adopt new technology and not the top performance.
Milwaukee is the easy choice. Simplicity, no redundant/overlapping battery systems, high performance, trade specific options, market innovation. I’d like to see DeWALT catch up in some of those areas as well as Makita but from where I’m standing it’s a no-brainer.
I ended up buying into Hercules, not only for the price point, but the location of my local Harbor Freight just works well for me. As a DIY homeowner, I often have a need for a one time use tool, and Harbor Freight fills that bill perfectly and on a budget. (Of course, I was also moving on from an old Porter Cable kit, so take that for what it’s worth.) I notice you left off Bauer, and while I haven’t bought into that platform, it does seem to have the broad selection and affordability of a Ryobi, and definitely topping Craftsman. Thanks for the post. I’m always keeping my eye out for a secondary platform, sothese insights, and user input, are invaluable.
I don’t think Hilti will ever put any emphasis an on the individual tool buyer (at least at the DIYer / prosumer level). Even small general construction contractors wouldn’t have much of a need for a complete range of Hilti power tools, given what else is available as an alternative here in the USA. They might opt for a single specific solution to perform a required task, something that Hilti has always excelled at, but I can’t imagine Hilti ever competing with the breadth of product range that Milwaukee has and therefore never providing a total power tool solution to the entire construction trade. Even in the European market, Hilti doesn’t go after the sales at the individual level. Hilti HQ is about 10 miles from my father’s house in Liechtenstein. They do have a corporate store you can visit and make purchases in. But I don’t recall ever seeing any Hilti products in the nearest Bauhaus (European chain of home improvement stores). This just isn’t their FOCUS. On another European tool note, I just came back from Goodwood Festival of Speed. Wera had a very large demo store and stand setup, rivaling some of the smaller car manufacturers stands. A company I never heard of, Red Box Tools (https://www.redboxtools.com/), also had a very large stand store constructed from shipping containers at the FoS. Interestingly, Red Box has a USA location in Georgia and does custom foam tool organizer inserts, as well as selling a variety of European tool brands (Bahco, Knipex, Facom, etc). Outside of those two, I can’t recall any other major tool brands / vendors at Goodwood.
For me, both on a personal level and business level (I own a high end European automotive restoration shop), I went with Milwaukee back in 2015 or so when I realized that Lithium Ion battery tech was now viable and superior to previous generations and could replace corded and air tools in a professional environment. So our shop is exclusively M12/M18 for cordless power tools. Unlike what is typical in the USA with mechanic employees, I don’t require or even allow my staff to bring their own tools. That said, when I’ve made recommendations to friends and family for their general purpose cordless tools (mostly for DIY home tasks), I typically push Ridgid. The Home Depot Ridgid bundle deals are great value, the lifetime warranty gives long term piece of mind especially for casual DIYers where the tool and batteries may not be used for extended periods. And the Ridgid cordless range is wide enough to cover most DIY and prosumer level tasks.
Great article Stuart. Thanks for posting it. I’m slowly moving toward M18 tools but I’m so heavily invested in air and corded premium level tools that I’ll never have the collection some do. I’m still using my 12v Bosch tools that I purchased when they used to be labeled “10.8v” They just keep working. Ryobi continues to temp me. I use their 18v yard tools in my small AZ yard. I love the brushless 18v blower. I also have three different lights and their portable compressor. Direct tools, 40% off sale, is my go to for these products. Factory blemished has never let me down. As a retired mechanic my needs are much simpler now.
I’m was about 70/30 Milwaukee/DeWALT as a heavy DIY’er, occasionally contract jobber. Then Ridgid/HD started offering some crazy battery/tool combo deals and in spite of my OCD about adding a third battery platform, I’ve now got some Orange and have been super happy with them. Particularly the jobsite fans, a couple of lights, and their small bandsaw.
Fully brand agnostic. No one brand is consistently good enough or reasonably priced enough to use exclusively. Brands aren’t friends you’ll never catch me fanboying about any of them.
I have invested in Bosch. i like them and the 4.0 A batteries are the size of a 2.0 A However that FREAK still not convincing me, i like the fact you can change from tips to sockets, but not sure if i will buy again, kinda big too. I saw the new impact coming out soon from Bosch, maybe i’ll give it a try, or maybe i can get the new DeWALT DCF 845, seem nice and i still have a lot of batteries from when i was invested in DeWALT stuff. Will see.
Ryobi guy. DIY stuff only. They are great for DIY for two reasons. Cheaper than a lot of pro or on-site tool lines. A huge, absolutely huge offering of not only tools, but for stuff around the house. Not only do they offer a complete lineup, but they have several options for each to meet the budget. Their HP line was enough for me to not to buy Milwaukee/DeWALT/Flex as a supplemental system. For the non tool stuff, we have things like a water pump so we can drain our decorative fountain in seconds to clean it. A misting fan, how cool is that? Lights, flashlights, air compressors, job site and leaf blowers, hedge trimmers. For furniture assembly and lightweight tools, I picked the Skil 12v line. I have an irrational love of the Skil line-up. They are great to use with well thought out features, and they keep adding more tools. Which is encouraging. Their retail outlet is Lowe’s, which keeps them to odd end cap shelves. I thought about Craftsmen. But SBD batteries are kind of expensive. That’s okay for DeWALT, but for DIY, the pricing is silly.
If I were to pick one brand, it’d have to be Ryobi for: 1) All their crazy tools, like 4V ratchet, 4V foam cutter, 18V jump starter (if the reviews are good, I’m getting one), etc. 2) Selling affordable niche tools, like the belt file and glue gun. 3) HP line for more powerful tools 4) Getting deals at DTO Besides Ryboi, my other main line is Bosch 12V (frustrated with Bosch’s slow motion introduction of new tools, but love the ones I have). I have 1 Milwaukee and 1 Makita LXT. If I were to add other systems, I’m most tempted by Metabo HPT Multi-Volt, then maybe DeWALT 12V or M12.
Great update article! Minor typo: I think “Metabo HPT has been releasing new tools at a steady base” should be “steady pace”.
Pick a battery platform and don’t look back. Red or yellow you can’t go wrong. I have all red now except for my sawzall (NiCad yellow) and my impact drill (Makita). I had a Makita drill and a yellow drill stolen so I decided I was going to pick one platform for everything else and Milwaukee won out because I am a plumber.
Years ago I decided to go in on Craftsman based off the fact their BOGO deals helped me amass a collection rather quickly. I can honestly say I have had very good results thus far. Especially once I made sure it was going to be strictly brushless where available as the majority of their brushless tools are just red DeWalts. Although, if I were to start over, I would more than likely go with either Kobalt or Ryobi.
I have Metabo HPT (great brand for construction and framing due to their gray saws, drills, drivers and nailers). Bosch 12v for trim work. A few DeWALT XR 20v tools (jigsaw and OMT). I have corded Festool stuff, but haven’t gone into their cordless. I don’t plan to, because I am happy with Bosch. Would like to say that folks love to harp on Festool being expensive, but you do get some extras for the price. Each tool comes with Systainer, which is an appropriate system for a finish tool. The batteries are quite nice as well. I find it interesting that folks will buy M18 Fuel or DeWALT XR tools with big batteries, then get Packout or ToughSystem and call Festool “cost prohibitive”.