In the search for the ultimate cordless compact circular saw, we’ll be investigating the DeWalt DCS571B XR Atomic vs the Makita SH02R1 CXT. These are two of the most respected brands in the business. Leaders when it comes to battery-powered tools. Which is the best compact circular saw? Read our review and decide for yourself.
DeWalt vs Makita
Of the top power tool brands, DeWalt probably features more prominently in the minds of tradesmen and DIYers. The no 1 spot for the best brand is often contested between DeWalt vs Milwaukee. These are widely recognized as the most prestigious US power equipment brands. I can hardly argue with that, they both manufacture amazing products. However, I don’t feel that Makita gets the attention it deserves. This is certainly the no 1 Japanese power tool brand and equal to any of its American or European counterparts.
It’s a little-known fact that Makita actually pioneered the concept of battery-powered tools. Way back in 1978, Makita introduced the first commercially available battery-powered drill. The Makita 6010D used a Nickle-Cadmium rechargeable battery. This was the best technology of its day and put the Makita brand on the map as the leader in cordless power tool development. Ever since, the company has invested massively in battery research and development.
When lithium-ion battery tools became commercially available, in the 1990s, I was one of the first to get excited by this new technology. At that time (I believe) Makita 12V cordless tools were the best you could get. My first cordless power tool kit was a really cool Makita set with a drill/driver, two batteries, a charger, and an amazing selection of driver bits, almost 100 accessories in all. The whole kit came in a really cool metal toolbox. Man, was I proud of this investment. Quite a novelty in its day.
DeWalt was quick to catch on to the potential of this new market. When they introduced their range of 20V cordless tools, these became the best. At least, in my opinion. This is when I made the switch from Makita to DeWalt as my preferred cordless tool brand. I haven’t looked back.
I still rate Makita very highly, probably as good as DeWalt and Milwaukee in this arena. However, having made the switch to DeWalt, it’s hard to change allegiance. Once you start collecting a bunch of cordless tools, you want to stick to a single battery platform. It’s just much more convenient and cost-effective. Now that DeWalt has started to move on from the 20V MAX series as the top of the line, with the introduction of the 60V and 120V cordless tools, the 20V models are not (nor will they become) redundant. This is thanks to the backward compatible DeWalt FlexVolt technology, a 20V/60V battery that can be used in any of their 20V, 60V, or 120V cordless tools.
In the race to develop more powerful and efficient cordless tools, Makita has taken a more pragmatic approach. Since their 12V CXT and 18V LXT batteries are already about as good as it gets, with some of the best battery charger technology, why fix what ain’t broke? Instead, Makita engineers decided to remain with these two tried and tested battery platforms. For their more powerful cordless tools, Makita uses 2 X 18V LXT batteries to give us 36V tools with incredible power and efficiency.
Of course, DeWalt upped the ante by using 2 X 60V batteries in parallel to offer the only 120V cordless tools in the world. The range of DeWalt 120V tools is limited, and they’re mighty expensive. Nonetheless, no other cordless tool can compete with this wonderful concept. I reckon the DeWalt DHS790AB compound miter saw is a marvel of modern engineering. The best thing to come out of the DeWalt 120V cordless tool range.
This review is all about DeWalt vs Makita to examine which brand manufactures the best cordless compact circular saw. Since I have equal respect for both power tool brands, my review will simply be about the two products. I’ll leave you to compare them and decide which is the best.
DeWalt DCS571B 20V MAX XR Atomic
- A Brushless motor allows you to cut up to 369 linear feet of 3/4 in. OSB using DCB205 battery.
- Hang hook for increased convenience.
- 1-1/2 in. finger trigger allows users to choke up on the tool if necessary.
- Bevel gear allows users to cut 2x material at 90 degrees with a 4-1/2 in. blade.
- Electronic blade brake stops blade quickly for safety and productivity.
- Bevel lever gives the user the ability to bevel at 45 degrees to cut 1x dimensional lumber.
- On-board dust port for dust control.
- Removable auxiliary handle for increased control.
- 3-Year warranty, 90-day money-back guarantee, and 1-year free service plan.
The DeWalt DCS571B is quite novel in that it is one of the few compact circular saws to accommodate a 4½” blade. This is slightly larger than most others in its class. I’ve seen a few cheap unknown brands with the same size blade, but DeWalt is the only big name brand to make a saw of this size. It’s large enough to cut 2 boards stacked one upon the other. A really great time saver if you’re cutting a bunch of boards to the same size. It can also cut through up 1” at 45°.
Apart from the very practical blade size, the DeWalt DCS571B impresses me in many other ways. For starters, this is a DeWalt XR atomic tool. If you don’t know much about how DeWalt branding works, allow me to explain. The first bit of useful information is the letters “XR”. Some time back, DeWalt upgraded their 20V platform to include the XR range. The old-fashioned brushed electric motor has been replaced with an advanced brushless motor which improves performance, power to weight ratio, and durability. While DeWalt 20V XR tools are more expensive than the standard 20V MAX cordless tools, they are far superior. Definitely worth paying for if you want the best.
The second significant trademark is the word Atomic. This is an elite group of DeWalt XR cordless tools. DeWalt Atomic tools have an improved power to weight ratio when compared to the already impressive XR range. These tools are also more compact than any other similar cordless tool. The Atomic advantage is abundantly evident when going through the DeWalt DCS571B specifications.
This immensely powerful little bombshell weighs only 5.5 pounds and I think the design is as close to perfection as it comes. This weight is almost unbelievable when we observe the solid metal blade guard and housing for the motor and gearbox.
The long handle, angled slightly upwards, makes the DeWalt DCS571B a wonderfully nimble tool to use. It has a stubby auxiliary handle just above the blade for even better control. You can remove this handle, making it the perfect circular saw for working in tight spaces. The trigger switch is a massive 1½ inches and is superbly designed for easy operation no matter how you hold the DeWalt saw. Other useful features include a metal hanging hook and electric brake. Always a welcome function on a circular saw.
A nicely positioned dust extraction port is practical to use and very effective. The saw includes a dust port adaptor. Blade rotation is a mighty impressive 4500 RPM and you get a high-quality 24-T carbide blade with your purchase. The only issue with using such a unique blade size is finding replacement blades or specialized blades for specific material types.
A cordless compact circular saw is a wonderful tool to own. It’s just so amazingly versatile. When you add DeWalt XR power and durability into the mix, you start heading into the realm of the exceptional. The compact and lightweight Atomic design makes the deal even sweeter. As I’m already a devoted DeWalt fan, it doesn’t take much to convince me that the DeWalt DCS571B is about the best cordless compact circular saw there is. Hopefully, DeWalt will work on increasing the selection of 4¼” blades and their availability. This does concern me. Why buy the most fantastic saw only to find that obtaining the blade you want is going to be an epic mission.
Makita SH02R1 12V CXT
- Makita-built motor delivers 1,500 RPM for faster cutting.
- 3-3/8″ blade delivers a maximum cutting depth of 1″ for a wide range of cutting applications.
- Adjustable cutting depth from 1″ at 90° and 5/8″ at 45°
- Tilting base for bevel cuts from 0° – 45°.
- Cuts plywood, MDF, pegboard, particleboard, melamine, drywall, and more.
- Weighs only 3.5 lbs. with battery for reduced operator fatigue.
- Compact design at 12-3/8″ long.
- Built-in dust blower helps keep the line of cut free of debris for increased accuracy.
- An ergonomically designed handle with a rubberized soft grip provides increased comfort.
- Blade wrench is attached to saw for fast and convenient blade changing.
- Battery Protection Circuit protects against overloading, over-discharging, and over-heating.
- 12V max CXT® Lithium-Ion 2.0Ah battery BL1021B features an integrated L.E.D. battery charge level indicator.
- Part of the expanding 12V max CXT® series, combining performance with superior ergonomics in a compact size.
- 3-year limited warranty on tool, battery, and charger
Like the DeWalt DCS571B, the Makita SH02R1 is an incredibly lightweight and compact circular saw. In fact, the Makita is noticeably lighter than the 4¼ DeWalt model – only 3.5 pounds. Though this is to be expected since the Makita SH02R1 is a smaller 3⅜” saw with a more compact handle design. An advantage if you value compact design over increased depth of cut.
Makita 12V CXT technology is tops. I’d say it is equal to DeWalt XR any day. The Makita SH02R1 also has a super-efficient brushless motor and the voltage difference of 12V vs 20V is a non-issue. For its size and weight, the agile little Makita is phenomenal, with 1,500 RPM and insatiable torque. From the time Makita started making lithium-ion tools, I’ve always been amazed by their incredible battery chargers. Rapid charging with full battery protection, ensuring maximum battery lifespan and performance.
The blade is perfect for 90° cuts when working with standard 1” boards. When you tilt the blade to the maximum 45° maximum, it doesn’t quite make the cut for this size board. Depth of cut at 45° is only ⁵⁄₈”. This is where the DeWalt saw is more practical, if that’s what you need.
The handle and trigger design is great. You can easily lock the blade speed with a press of the thumb. While I find the DeWalt handle more comfortable, with a much better grip, the Makita is much more compact. I guess this can be an advantage in many working scenarios.
Something I really love about the Makita SH02R1 is the cutline dust blower. I wish all saws included this. It eliminates that terrible frustration when your line is covered with sawdust and you can’t see where you should be cutting. The 20T 3⅜” carbide blade included with the Makita SH02R1 is a great all-purpose blade for general construction carpentry. Unlike the DeWalt DCS571B, you won’t have a problem finding a good variety of high-quality blades for the Makita 3⅜” circular saw.
In terms of build quality and superior materials, I would rate the Makita SH02R1 3⅜” circular saw and the 4½” DeWalt DCS571B as worthy equals. These are both fantastic brands, with similar 3-year warranties and excellent dealership service. I commend the little Makita circular saw for its incredibly low weight and extremely compact design. Certainly one of the best compact circular saws.
I think deciding between the two cordless compact circular saws in this review will be a matter of which features you prefer. DeWalt DCS571B vs Makita SH02R1 compares two saws that are similar in many ways, yet very different in others. With the common ground being two of the very best power tool brands.