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We Tested the Cordless Makita Brush Cutter—Did It Make the Cut?

This popular battery-powered brush cutter quickly cleared out a swath of overgrown vegetation without wearing me down.
Mark Wolfe Avatar
A person using the Makita brush cutter to clear vegetation along a wooded area.

Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

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A handheld brush cutter may look like a string trimmer, but its calling card is power. The best brush cutters pack a punch in terms of the torque and revolutions per minute (rpm), allowing them to buzz through tall grass, coarse weeds, vines, and woody stems. These machines can be equipped with either heavy-duty trimmer lines or steel blades, depending on the vegetation at hand. As a prime example, I recently tested Makita’s XRU16PT, one of the most popular battery-powered brush cutters on the market.

Makita has been at the top of the battery-powered tool industry for a long time, so I had high expectations from the jump. I spent an afternoon clearing a section of power line right of way with the Makita 36-volt (V) brush cutter, and I have to say I was impressed. It displayed an excellent combination of everything most people look for in a battery-powered brush cutter: robust power; a lightweight yet durable construction; and a smooth, quiet operation. Read on for my observations from trying it out—this might help you find out if it’s the right brush cutter for your needs.

Makita XRU16PT 36V LXT Brushless Brush Cutter Kit: At a Glance

Rating: 4.6/5

The cutting head on the Makita cordless brush cutter trimming grass and weeds to a short height.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila


  • Type: Handheld
  • Cutting width: 9 inches
  • Weight: 15 pounds


  • Power equivalent to a 30 cubic centimeter (cc) gas brush cutter but without the pull starts, emissions, and maintenance
  • Comfort and control features include bicycle-style handlebars with molded grips and variable trigger
  • Durable steel drive shaft efficiently transfers energy to the blade while minimizing vibration
  • Padded backpack-style harness system effectively minimizes user fatigue


  • 30-minute runtime per charge may not be adequate for larger properties
  • Premium price for high-level performance

Get the Makita brush cutter at:

What is the Makita XRU16 36V brush cutter?

There are only a handful of battery-powered brush cutters on the market that offer comparable performance to gas-powered brush cutters, and the Makita 36V brushless brush cutter is one of them. The Makita XRU16PT features an efficient brushless motor that the company claims can produce power equivalent to a 30cc gas brush cutter. The motor runs on two 18V 5-amp-hour rechargeable batteries.

This electric brush cutter comes equipped with bicycle-style handlebars and molded grips, a variable trigger throttle, a durable steel drive shaft, a 9-inch steel brush blade, and a padded harness system. The kit also includes two batteries and a dual charger. The variable-speed cutting head can move at speeds of 4,600; 5,500; and 7,000 rpm. It also offers reverse rotation to quickly clear entangled debris from the cutting head.

This tool is packed with intelligent design and software features that help users get the most out of the available battery life. The brushless motor delivers high power and stronger torque than brushed electric motors. Its Automatic Torque Drive Technology automatically adjusts the power output to increase power and/or extend runtime. The company’s proprietary STAR Protection Computer Controls technology protects the batteries against overloading, overheating, and overdischarging, while its Extreme Protection Technology seals out dust and water for added durability in tough cutting conditions.

I tested the Makita 36V brush cutter on 15,000 square feet, in a power line right of way covered with shoulder-high grass and weeds, blackberry thickets, and tree saplings. After two battery life cycles and an hour of cutting, I believe this is not only one of the best battery brush cutters around but also one of the best brush-cutting options of any kind—battery or gas-powered—for many midsize property owners.

The dual-battery motor of the Makita cordless brush cutter outside during testing.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Assembly: 5/5

With the exception of the handlebar and the blade, the tool arrived mostly assembled. First, I placed the batteries on the charger to ensure that they would be ready to go as soon as possible. Then, I followed the tool assembly instructions that came with the kit. It only took about 10 minutes to put together and another minute or two to adjust the harness system. Clear instructions and no missing parts meant no problems.

The included dual battery charger kept charging time to a minimum. Because the batteries arrived with a half charge, they were ready to work 20 minutes after I assembled the machine. Later, after I had run the batteries down completely, they took about 40 minutes to fully recharge. For those who own other Makita LXT cordless tools, those 18V batteries are compatible with this unit, so they could power the 36V brush cutter for added runtime while the depleted batteries recharge.

Operation: 5/5

The Makita XRU16PT brush cutter was comfortable and easy to use thanks to its thoughtfully placed controls, powerful motor, and long runtime per charge. I tested it through two complete charge cycles, first cutting about 10,000 square feet of tall grass and coarse weeds, then cutting about 5,000 square feet of tougher vines, invasive shrubs, and tree saplings. The difference in runtime between those two areas was negligible, but I was able to cover about twice as much ground in the weed/grass test because the terrain allowed for a steady sweeping movement and easier footing.

The harness system was great. It goes on like a backpack and features well-padded adjustable shoulder straps, a sternum closure, an adjustable waist strap, and a height-adjustment strap. I was able to make all adjustments and operate the tool clip with one hand. The clip loop on the cutter shaft was perfectly placed to maintain balance when the batteries and blade were installed. Since the cutter only weighs 15 pounds and felt perfectly balanced, I experienced no muscle strain or fatigue at all.

All controls are located on the right-side handle. A safety switch is located in the palm area, and the trigger throttle is positioned beneath the index and middle finger areas of the grip. The on/off/rpm selector button and the reverse rotation button were both positioned within easy reach above the thumb area. Everything felt comfortable and intuitive to operate.

A person with their hand on the controls of the Makita cordless brush cutter during testing.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Cutting Power: 4/5

As far as torque and blade speed are concerned, the Makita 36V brush cutter proved to be extremely capable. It delivered plenty of cutting power to buzz through everything from grass to woody stems up to a half-inch thick. Because the cutter worked so efficiently, I rarely used the reverse mode to detangle vegetation from the blade—there was virtually nothing to detangle. It felt like it could cut through anything.

Aside from torque and speed, the other variable that must be considered is the blade itself. Unlike some of the other kits I’ve tested that came with multiple cutting options, this one only included a 9-inch, 4-tooth steel brush blade. The blade functioned well as an all-purpose brush cutter, but it was less than ideal for areas that were covered mostly with grassy, fibrous growth, as well as for areas with thicker woody stems. I could have moved more quickly through the grass with a heavy-duty string trimmer head. If I needed to cut thicker woody stems, a brush saw blade would have been necessary. The good news is that this machine packs the power required for these jobs.

Quality: 5/5

The Makita XRU16PT brush cutter proved to be comfortable, capable, and quiet in testing, but how did it measure up in terms of overall quality? As noted above, the cutting power and runtime per battery charge were both up there with the offerings from other premium brands. I can also attest to the quiet noise level of the motor and the nearly vibration-free operation.

The only way I was able to evaluate the electronics was through observation while operating the brush cutter. The basic selection functionality worked flawlessly, as did the automatic torque adjustment system. The batteries consistently lasted for about 30 minutes per charge, which was enough time to clear from 5,000 to just over 10,000 square feet of brush, depending on the density and toughness of vegetation.

From an operational standpoint, the harness’s design details were extremely important. A well-padded and fully adjustable harness can essentially eliminate strain and fatigue that otherwise comes with toting a brush cutter all day. This one was more than up to the task. Everything about the Makita XRU16PT points to quality and durability.

The well-padded harness system on the Makita cordless brush cutter allowing a person to operate the tool clip with one hand.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Is the Makita 36V brush cutter worth the money?

Selling for just under $700 at the time of this writing, the Makita XRU16PT is one of the more expensive battery-powered brush cutters on the market. However, it’s loaded with premium features that make it one of the best performers as well. To price shop, stay away from the budget outdoor power equipment brands and check out premium-tier competitors.

By comparison, the Husqvarna 535iFR sells for about $650, plus about $175 for the BLi200 battery, and comes with a string trimmer head, 3-tooth grass blade, and 22-tooth saw blade. It has a maximum output of 8,200 rpm, and the 80 A-weighted decibel noise rating is a bit higher than the quiet motor on the Makita. On paper, it’s a more comprehensive kit and a slightly more powerful machine for a few more dollars, but it’s on backorder for most retailers.

Meanwhile, the Stihl FSA 135 brush cutter retails for about $500 as a bare tool, before adding the AP 300 S battery for an additional cost (about $300), plus a brush cutter blade. Designed for more torque at lower blade speeds, it has a maximum output of 5,900 rpm. The Makita brush cutter offers a better mix of power and performance for a broader range of cutting capabilities. Of these three premium battery-powered brush cutters, the Makita XRU16PT offers the best blend of performance for the price, and you won’t need to buy anything else to get it working.

Is the Makita 36V brush cutter right for you?

If you’re shopping for a durable yet lightweight handheld brush cutter that can take on a wide range of cutting conditions, then the Makita 36V brushless brush cutter could be a smart buy. It’s not the cheapest tool around, but it packs the cutting power and versatility to work for anything from fence line maintenance to overgrown fields. The general-purpose brush blade that comes with it will do an excellent job cutting coarse weeds, vines, brambles, and tree seedlings, and by adding another blade or a string trimmer head, the tool’s potential is almost unlimited.

But this is not the right machine for everyone. For instance, those who frequently need a brush cutter for all-day work might be disappointed. Swapping out batteries every half hour could get tedious, so they might prefer a gas-powered model. Also, those who only do occasional brush-clearing projects could probably get by with a less costly brush cutter. But anyone in need of aBest Brush Cutter Review clean, quiet, and capable tool for routine property maintenance can expect to get just what they’re looking for.

The cutting head on the Makita cordless brush cutter trimming grass and weeds to a short height.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Where to Buy the Makita 36V Brush Cutter

Get the Makita brush cutter at:

Meet the Tester

Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industries. For more than 20 years he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn care products, and other outdoor living goods.

Mark Wolfe Avatar

Mark Wolfe

Staff Writer

Mark Wolfe is a second-career freelance writer based in Georgia and has an extensive background in the horticulture industry. Since 2020, he has contributed numerous gardening and home improvement articles to, along with a variety of consumer product reviews.