Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw

The following article is a review of the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall, and is intended to be an info page with some description, photographs and technical specifications as provided by the manufacturer.

“Drills and saws may be operated for long duration at a time, and the move to go brushless may well be justified, despite being twice the price of the older brushed motor version. At least, that was my rationale.”

Milwaukee recently released the Fuel or brushless motor version of the older M12 Hackzall Recip Saw, so new that it is not yet available in my country, and was just launched in Australia just a couple of weeks back.

I was using the Milwaukee M12 Fuel CPD-202C before this, a hammer drill using the same brushless motor technology, and have come to prefer the POWERSTATE brushless motor technology for its higher power, and lower noise and heat during operation.

Being brushless means there are less wearable components and part, leading to a longer lifespan of the power tool. Drills and saws may be operated for long duration at a time, and the move to go brushless may well be justified, despite being twice the price of the older brushed motor version. At least, that was my rationale.

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw retails for about US$140, which is about twice the price of the non-Fuel brushed motor version.

It took a while before I was able to secure a set for myself. Not many were available for sale online as it was still rather new, and I focused my sights on a bare tool set. Buying a set without the battery and charger meant that I could keep the price lower, and batteries and charger were some things I didn’t need as I already have these from my Milwaukee M12 CPD-202C Hammer Drill Driver set. A US-based 110V charger isn’t going to work in my 220V country anyway.

This is the best thing about the Milwaukee M12 and M18 systems; if you already own a set running under this system, you have the option to purchase bare tool versions of their cordless power tools in the same series.


Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Review

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw 2520-20 Bare Tool only version – nothing else came with the saw. Everything you see above is all that was delivered – just one item!
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
The usual embossed Milwaukee insignia on this side with the word FUEL hinting its brushless motor power…
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
…and the information label with serial number and warning statement on the other side.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
As awkward as the appearance may be, the Hackzall was ergonomically designed to be held this way for comfortable saw action.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
An LED on the front illuminates the work as soon as the variable speed control trigger switch is squeezed.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
The front of the Hackzall where the blade is attached. There are some tool marks that came with it.

“The M12 FUEL™ HACKZALL® is the fastest cutting and most powerful saw in its class, delivering over 4X more run-time, up to 70% faster cutting, and up to 6X longer tool life than competitive saws. The POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor outperforms all leading competitors with constant power output, yet runs cooler with no wearable components…”

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
The M12 Fuel Hackzall with a short saw blade inserted.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
A variety of blades that cut through various materials from wood to plastic and metal is available for the M12 Fuel Hackzall.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
The Hackzall takes the standard M12 2.0Ah REDLITHIUM battery…
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
…as well as the M12 XC High Capacity REDLITHIUM battery for extended capacity!
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw review
The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall not only handles PVC in its stride, but wood and metal as well. With the right saw blades, you’re all set and ready for quick sawing work around the job site!

When I first saw this power tool in action on a number of online videos (which are appended further below), I could see the potential of this power tool in easing a lot of the previous sawing work I had carried out.

Granted, the stroke distance on this tool is rather short at only 5/8“, so it is not going to replace my Stanley cross-cut saw when sawing large pieces of wood.

However, even with a stroke length of slightly over half an inch, I am banking on its very fast oscillating strokes to make light of most saw work. The trigger switch, which allows control of the variable speed of the saw, takes the M12 Fuel Hackzall from zero to 3,000 strokes per minute at full depress. The speed of the stroke is controlled by the pressure of the finger on the trigger switch.

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Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw review
Being compact in nature, the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall is suitable for overhead cutting as well as in areas with space constraints.

For the short saw blade lengths available under the Hackzall series, sawing will most likely be confined to pipes and conduits, and small strips of wood and metal.

However, the M12 Fuel Hackzall will also accept the longer saw blades under the Sawzall series (from Milwaukee’s full-size Reciprocating Saws), which will allow you to saw 2 x 4’s and larger material.

With the right saw blade attachments, the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw will take on wood, plasterboard, metal and plastic. PVC pipes and EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing) will both give in to the ferocity of the M12 Fuel Hackzall. Even electrical GI trunking.

The M12 Fuel Hackzall will also slice through lumber with nails embedded. No kidding!

FUEL-powered Machinery

POWERSTATETM Brushless Motor

Milwaukee M12 Fuel hammer drill driver

“Combine an uber-efficient brushless motor and super-smart electronic intelligence with lithium battery power and what do you get?
…The benefits are lots more power, longer run-time and unmatched durability – in an ever-shrinking, light-weight tool.”

Tools on Steroids

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw is fitted with a brushless motor that allows it to run more efficiently with less heat.

Instead of wearable brushes, Milwaukee engineered more steel and copper into its POWERSTATETM brushless motor, resulting in longer motor life as a result of reduced friction, less heat buildup, and higher efficiency.

These motors are packed with four times the amount of power generating components with higher grade rare earth magnets.

Brushless motors do not produce sparks the way conventional brushed motors do, and are therefore suitable for use at petrol stations and in the oil and gas industries.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel brushless motor

brushless motor
The FUEL BRUSHLESS insignia on the rear end of the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall is a nice finishing touch and a reminder of the powerful brushless motor within every time the tool is used!

REDLITHIUMTM 2.0 Battery Pack

M12 REDLITHIUM 2.0 battery pack
M12 REDLITHIUM 2.0Ah battery pack

The Milwaukee M12 REDLITHIUM batteries deliver up to twice the runtime and double the recharging capacity compared to standard lithium-ion batteries.

These batteries feature excellent pack construction, electronics and performance to deliver more work per charge than any battery on the market, and run cooler, even performing in climates below -18 deg.C.

The battery is equipped with an overload and discharge protection to prevent damage to the power tool and to the cell. Battery temperature and individual lithium-ion cells are also monitored to ensure that battery life is maximised. This is managed by Milwaukee’s exclusive REDLINK PLUSTM Intelligence (see next section below).


This is probably best described by Milwaukee in their press release:

Milwaukee REDLINK Plus Intelligence

REDLINK PLUSTM Intelligence is a best-in-class system that integrates full-circle communication between tool, battery and charger, and constantly monitors the internal network to maintain ideal conditions to deliver a high-efficiency commutation for longer run-time. This hardware and software is the world’s most advanced system of cordless power tool electronics that will maximize performance and protect the user’s investment.

Difference between M12 STANDARD and M12 FUEL Hackzall

Before the decision to purchase the Fuel version of the M12 Hackzall Recip Saw was made, I had wondered about the differences between the two models. I will outline quickly the technical differences between the two models below, in case you find yourself wondering the same way I did:

M12 Standard Hackzall 2420-20 M12 FUEL Hackzall 2520-20
Milwaukee M12 Hackzall 2420-20 reciprocating saw
11″ overall length 11″ overall length
2.2 lbs 3.2 lbs
0 – 3,000 strokes per minute 0 – 3,000 strokes per minute
1/2” stroke distance 5/8” stroke distance
milwaukee m12 fuel hackzall
MILWAUKEE M12 Fuel Hackzall


In summary, while both models are roughly equal in dimensions at an overall length of 11″, the FUEL version is noticeably heavier by about 1 lb. Also, while both models share similar maximum strokes per minute, the FUEL cuts a little more aggressively with a slightly longer stroke by 1/8 of an inch.

The vents have been redesigned in the FUEL version to a single slot which gives a slight glimpse of the POWERSTATE brushless motor within, as well as minor cosmetic changes to the profile and colour of the shoe (the metal part that conceals the blade clamp) and the word Hackzall on it, as well as to the trigger switch button and the rubber overmold grip on the handle.

Attaching Blades on the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall

Milwaukee Hackzall blade set
Click on the image above to buy the Hackzall blade set.

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall uses both the Hackzall as well as the longer Sawzall blades meant for the larger reciprocating saws by Milwaukee.

A number of blade sets are available from Milwaukee, and a good set to start out would be the article no. 49-22-0220. This 10-piece Hackzall blade set, as shown below, contains various saw blades that cut through EMT, duct metal, wood and PVC.

With the QUIK-LOK® Universal keyless blade clamp, attaching blades to the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall is simple and straightforward.

reciprocating saw blade set
The 10-piece Hackzall Blade Set 49-22-0220 from Milwaukee – with saw blades that will cut through EMT, duct metal, wood and PVC. I bought two sets which should last me awhile.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall blade
There are 3 EMT blades, 2 duct blades, 2 wood blades, and 3 PVC blades in the set. The PVC blades are longer than the others by 50%. Blade tips are designed slightly rounded and blunt for safety.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall blade
A soft carry case included.
reciprocating saw
1. Before mounting on any blades, it is always safest to remove the power source, by unplugging the battery pack.
power reciprocating saw
2. Alternatively, you may also depress the trigger lock button located just above the trigger switch. Just be attentive at all times.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall blade
3. Locate the keyless blade clamp just behind the power tool shoe. Yes, that part with the word Hackzall printed on it, is called the shoe! That’s what Milwaukee call it.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall blade
4. Work the blade clamp with one hand, twist it to open the slot, and slide the appropriate blade into the slot. Release the clamp back slowly as it rotates back to its original position to lock the blade.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
5. Plug in a battery pack and release the trigger lock, and the M12 Fuel Hackzall is ready to go!

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall Recip Saw in Action



And here’s a nice review on the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall by my friend Javier:



Specifications Technical Data
Operating battery voltage 12 V Lithium-ion
Stroke length 5/8
Stroke frequency 0 – 3,000 strokes per minute
Illumination White LED Light
Length 11″
Weight 3.2 lbs
Keyless Blade Clamp QUIK-LOK® Universal

Some Precautionary Measures Taken

Protecting the Shoe from Premature Wear and Scratch

I realise that the front of the shoe is prone to some wear and scratches with use over time, as this area is usually in contact with the material being sawn.

Being a sucker for always wanting to keep my possessions in pristine condition for a long time, I decided to protect this area with a little fabric tape. I think duct tape would work just as well, but I prefer the slight grip offered by a fabric or cloth tape.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall
1. Bought a roll of grey cloth tape – grey so that it won’t look out of place on the shoe. The tape should be a minimum of 1¾ inches in width.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall care
2. Wrap the cloth tape flat on the front surface of the shoe, running the excess to the sides and around the top and bottom.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall care
3. Make the necessary cuts along the perimeter…
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall care
4. …and anywhere else necessary to facilitate the wrapping.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
5. Trim off whatever excess that cannot be used.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
6. This is how the tape should look like at this point. But we’re not quite done yet.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
7. Take a blade and make a slit down along the centre, where the saw blade is supposed to go through.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
8. Make other necessary cuts with a pair of scissors to make the fold back of the tape easy.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
9. Fold back all excess tape to make a clear opening for mounting the blade. The size and shape of opening should be exactly the same as the one originally on the shoe.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
10. This is the end result of the shoe wrapped and protected with cloth tape! It’s not just for fussy people – I think it is wise to protect this part from damage if you can help it. It’s not like we’re wrapping the saw blades – this is after all, a non-consumable part of the tool!
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall
The shoe, wrapped and protected from premature damage and scratch, the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall with a PVC blade mounted is now ready to saw!

Keeping the Blade Clamp Spindle Protected from Dust during Storage

When the tool is not in use, especially during storage, I always make sure that the spindle of the blade clamp is retracted into the M12 Hackzall. This keeps the spindle from being exposed to dust and dirt, which would likely adhere to the grease on the spindle over time as the tool remains in storage.

Dirt, dust, lint and other similar matter may interfere with the operation of the tool, and it is always good practice to check that this part is clean but greasy before use. To retract the spindle, just squeeze the trigger slightly until the oscillations end up with spindle withdrawn into the power tool.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
With the greasy spindle out like this during storage…
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
…dust, dirt, fur, lint and the like may adhere on the spindle and interfere with the tool operation during the next use.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
I usually keep the spindle retracted like this during long term storage…
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
…to keep it protected from dirt. Not really an issue if your Hackzall is used regularly!


Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall review
Using the M12 Hackzall to cut through a stack of GI conduit (EMT) in half in under 5 minutes, versus a manual hacksaw which would have otherwise taken four times as long.

I had the opportunity to put the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall through its paces recently, a few opportunities in fact!

In one of my fire protection system installations, I had about twenty full-length EMT (electrical metal tubing more commonly known as GI conduits here) delivered to site, and discovered that they could not fit in the elevator as they were too long. The installation was at Level 21 of the building. The only way was to cut these tubes down by half.

My worker used a hacksaw and it was obvious cutting even a few of these became a tiresome chore after a while. I went to my car and brought out the Hackzall, and cut the entire stack of tubes in under 5 minutes. It would have taken 15 to 20 minutes to do the same with the hacksaw.

In an office renovation job the day before, the M12 Fuel Hackzall was used to create an opening in plywood which was blocking a window (below left), and to saw off excess pieces of L-angle iron holding an air-conditioning outdoor condensing unit (below right).

Hackzall recip saw
The Hackzall first cuts through a piece of plywood to make an opening for a window with a wood saw blade attachment…
Hackzall review
…and was later used to cut off excess iron bracketry pieces with an EMT saw blade attachment.

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall can be a little intimidating to use at first if you have not used a powerful reciprocating saw, but you’d quickly overcome all fears and develop the confidence to use it at the very first attempt.

The M12 Hackzall is robust and efficiently cuts through metal, wood and other materials, saving precious time on tedious tasks which would otherwise have taken a longer time to accomplish manually.

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Stanley Si
7 years ago

I am curious how well this cloth tape thingy works in the real world when you are sawing … and also if you can use this to replace a jig saw. …..

Devon Buy
7 years ago

Fabric tapes are usually used to cover the bindings of books and documents and can usually withstand some wear and tear and take quite a beating. Definitely a suitable protective layer that can be easily replaced whenever it is worn or torn. It should be able to replace a jigsaw for quick short cuts, but the awkward holding position makes it difficult and tiresome to wield the tool for standard jigsaw cuts on countertops. That’s why I bought a jigsaw too! **wink!**