Best Reciprocating Saw for 2018

Sawzall options for 2018The reciprocating saw operates with a detachable blade, which is pulled back and forth at a higher rate of speed when the user pulls the trigger. The saw’s power comes from a standard wall socket or a battery pack, depending on the model. So, what can the recip saw cut? Well, just about anything you can think of, as long as you use the proper blade. These saws are commonly used for demolition jobs because they can effortlessly cut through metal, drywall, plaster, and PVC pipe.

The sawzall is an all-around great tool to use on the job or around the home.

You can use one to remove a damaged piece of PVC pipe or trim limbs from a tree. This type of saw can work in tight spaces so they’re perfect for plumbing work, window refitting, and even floor repair.

But cutting isn’t the only thing this type of saw can do. Many manufacturers make attachments that fit into the blade slot and can be used for removing tile or busting up grout.

As we have mentioned, the saw tends to lend itself more to demo jobs, but in a pinch it can be used to cut lumber to the proper length, however, going in to make a straight cut that’s more than a few inches in length will take plenty of practice.

Many models are pretty bulky, so they’ll require two-handed operation in order to use them safely and control them easily.

When it comes to choosing a model, the biggest difference you’ll run into across the board is amperage, power type, speed, and stroke length.

The power option is pretty simple. Either the saw uses a battery pack or it plugs into the wall. A battery powered model allows for more freedom, but you’ll also have a limited amount of run time. There have been plenty of debates regarding which type of recip is better, electric or battery powered, but it’s ultimately a matter of user preference.

Tip: Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top five best reciprocating saws on the market. Each model has something different to offer from best value to best corded, the odds are if you’re serious about finding a solid recip to use, you’ll find it here. These reviews feature information regarding power, features, and overall performance. So you’ll learn how the pros felt each model handled, while also getting a closer look at how the saws operated out in the field.

We’ve also included an extensive buyer’s guide in hopes that learning more about recip saws and the different features they offer can help you to narrow down your search to find the best reciprocating saw for you and your building needs.

Quick Comparison Chart for the Top 5 Reciprocating Saws

ProductVolts/AmpsPower SourcePriceLowest Price
Dewalt DW311K
120/9Electric$$$$$Check Price
Milwaukee 272020 M18
18/12Battery$$$$Check Price
Hitachi CR13VBY
120/12Electric$$$Check Price
Makita XRJ01Z
18/15Battery$$Check Price
SKIL 921601
120/13Electric$Check Price

1.Milwaukee 272020 M18 Reciprocating Review-Best Cordless Sawzall

The Milwaukee 272020 M18 sawzall is a cordless model that weighs in at a little over eight pounds. It features a stroke length of 1 1/8 inch with 0-3,000 strokes per minute. This saw is able to deliver faster-cutting speed than a corded model, yet still offers comparable durability that you’ll commonly find with heavy-duty electric recip saws.

The Redlink Plus intelligence feature provides optimal performance with overload protection that utilizes system communication between the battery charger, battery and saw.

The saw comes with one 4.0 battery pack which is designed to provide superior battery life and power per charge.

The Quik-Lok blade changes are hassle-free and fast. The spring-loaded blade changing system features a slide that rotates around the front of the saw. You’ll be able to put the blade in reverse or forward, but not sideways. The spring action on the blade changing system is pretty heavy, but it’s definitely a secure lock that does a great job of minimizing the risk of accidental blade release.

This model also comes with a handy rafter hook, which is a great addition that any user who works above ground level will appreciate. This model also sports a single LED headlamp that provides ample lighting in dark spaces.

This recip utilizes a brushless motor in order to maximize runtime. Because the saw runs on a 4.0 AH battery, you can expect it to deliver plenty of juice. Obviously, the runtime will vary depending on the type of material you’re cutting and the type of blade you’re using.

Pros

  • We loved the saw’s pivoting, adjustable shoe located at the blade’s base. It’s incredibly easy to slide in and out thanks to the lever, which can be accessed from either side of the saw.  The pivot makes it easy to keep a solid amount of pressure against your workpiece, even when changing cut angles.
  • This saw is truly a beast and makes it easy to cut through practically anything from tree branches to screws, brackets, and sheet metal. This model works well for fixed or stationary objects the best because it can give quite a kick. For optimal performance, we highly recommend only using good quality blades based on application.
  • The adjustable front and LED light are nice bonuses. The saw’s blades are very easy to change and the safety switch is placed in the perfect location. This is a truly versatile model that you’ll be sure to get a ton of use out of for several years to come.

Cons

Because this saw has so much kick, if you want to cut anything small, such as screws or brackets, you’ll need to use a clamp. This saw will not go directly back and forth and instead utilizes an oval or elliptical pattern, which is why it’s so easy to slice through thicker material.

Conclusion

The M18 somehow manages to meld the convenience, flexibility, and efficiency of a cordless recip saw and the performance and power of a corded model in one. You’ll love the powerful, controlled operation, ease of use and overall quality that you’ll get from a saw that’s reasonably priced.

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2. Makita XRJ01Z Lithium-Ion Cordless Reciprocating Saw- Best Lightweight Recip

The Makita XRJ01Z lithium-ion cordless reciprocating saw is the perfect addition to your power tool arsenal. This saw makes cutting even the toughest material extremely easy and will save you plenty of energy and time. This model combines its half inch stroke length and variable speed option with its exclusive on and off switch for seamless paddle or trigger switch operation.

The saw features a compact design, weighing in at a little over three pounds, which makes cutting overhead or longer use a cinch.

Tip: With 3,000 strokes per minute, the saw’s variable speed allows you to quickly switch to a higher speed when cutting dense materials and allows you to seamlessly lower the speed when cutting lighter materials, for faster operation.

If you’ve ever used a full sized recip saw then you know how limiting they can be. Full sized models are bulky and heavy, making it difficult to use them for long periods of time due to their sheer weight.

But this compact, lightweight model allows you to effortlessly handle the saw in tight spaces, so you can cut longer in tight or otherwise awkward spaces, with ease.

The length of a saw’s stroke determines the blade’s speed and how efficiently you can make a cut. The saw’s half inch stroke is perfect for finding the right balance between speed and efficiency.

Most sawzalls require special tools you have to carry around in the event you need to swap out the blade if you need to start cutting up a different type of material. But this Makita saw features a tool-less blade change system, which will allow you to quickly swap out the old blade for a new one, no tools required.

If a saw comes equipped with a hard-plastic grip, it can be difficult to work with. This Makita features a durable handle that’s encased in a soft layer of rubber, for increased comfort during longer use.

The built-in LED light is perfect for demo work, night projects or any type of job that requires a little extra lighting.

This cordless saw runs on a lithium-ion battery, which is designed to provide a longer run time. Unfortunately, the battery is sold separately.

Pros

  • This saw is perfect for PVC or other types of non-metal materials.
  • The compact, lightweight design promotes one hand operation and longer usage time.

Cons

This saw just isn’t powerful enough to handle drywall or metals. Because the blade makes short rapid strokes opposed to longer strokes, the vibration level during a cut is increased. Some pros felt that the diameter of the housing wasn’t conducive to proper trigger use and good control.

However, the handle trigger, which is rear mounted, is very easy to use, but it can be awkward to hold up the front of the saw when the trigger is placed at the rear. Because of this, two-handed use is recommended.

Conclusion

This saw definitely has its limits. It’s designed as a lightweight, compact model in order to encourage easy one-handed use in tight spaces, but the trigger setup can make even weight distribution during use somewhat awkward. The saw isn’t much of a multitasker in terms of cutting a wide range of dense materials so it wouldn’t be a saw we’d choose for big demo jobs. For small to medium sized jobs around the home, this saw works like a champ.

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3.  Hitachi CR13VBY 12-Amp Reciprocating Saw Review-Best Vibration Protection

The Hitachi CR13VBY twelve amp reciprocating saw provides the type of aggressive cutting power you need to handle tougher jobs. The 1 ¼ inch blade stroke offers max reach, while the swing mode blade action promotes faster cuts while reducing blade bounce. The 0-3,000 strokes per minute can match any cutting situation or material.

The user vibration protection technology works to reduce vibration by as much as sixty-five percent. This is a corded model, so it comes as no surprise that it offers a reliable and powerful performance, consistently.

Tip: Weighing in at a little over nine pounds, this saw is easy to handle in awkward positions. The blade change system is tool-less and allows you to quickly and easily swap out blades.

This model comes packed with all the advanced features you could want, not to mention impressive cutting power that you’d normally expect from higher priced models. The saw is truly a workhorse that allows you to demo saw all day long without wearing out you or the saw. It’s also triple sealed against dust and moisture and is easy to clean and maintain.

Pros

  • This saw will easily feel at home in the midst of even the toughest demo jobs or even small jobs around the home.
  • The variable speeds make this model easy to use and cut with.
  • The feature that allows you to set a deeper bit for cutting through a softer material is highly efficient and fast.
  • The fact that the front base adjusts outward is useful when you’re cutting material of varying sizes such as tree limbs because you won’t have to stop to change out the blades.
  • Obviously, the anti-vibration feature is a huge selling point for this model. During start up, you’ll feel the saw start to buck, but the anti-vibration feature makes it manageable and really helps to reduce user fatigue.

Cons

The saw’s only weak point is the foot adjustment. It only offers a couple of positions, so when it comes to cut depth selection it’s pretty limited. Considering how tough and versatile this saw is, the foot adjustment issue is a little disappointing. But ultimately, the saw’s solid performance and vibration protection feature more than makes up for this design flaw.

Conclusion

Hands down, this saw offers the best vibration protection out of any model on the market. The entire design screams power and simplicity. Even changing the blades on this saw is a streamlined procedure that involves just pushing on a lever to remove the blade. This type of fast process can save you a lot of time and frustration if you’re doing a little demo work. This saw is designed to allow plunge cutting and circular cutting, lending some much-needed versatility to a saw that can be used both on the job and around the home.

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4.  Dewalt DW311K Reciprocating Saw Review-Most Power

The Dewalt DW311K reciprocating saw features thirteen amps of power, which will allow you to tackle most types of material while providing a longer duty cycle. This saw can even tackle masonry and cast iron, just be sure to use the right blade. The speed controller, if used correctly based on the type of material you’re cutting, works to significantly extend the saw’s and blade’s lifespan. The orbital action will keep the kerf clear when you’re slicing through wood, which works to speed things up, but you’ll need to switch it off when working with other types of materials in order to ensure straighter, smoother cuts.

Tip: If you plan on using this saw for an extended period of time, the lack of anti-vibration technology can be a serious drawback. Even with the saw’s ultra-soft grip it can create stinging and tingling in the hands which can lead to faster operator fatigue.

The saw’s blade clamp is tool-less, however, it’s an unprotected knurled knob. It’s definitely not the easiest clamp to use if you normally wear gloves. If you don’t wear gloves you’ll risk burning your fingers on the bare knob when you use the saw for an extended period of time.

Wearing a thin pair of gloves can fix this issue.

Some consumers may have a problem with the included carrying case. Because the case isn’t very long, you’ll have to remove the blade before storing it. Additionally, the size of the case also makes it difficult to store without first winding the cord tightly. The hinges on the cases are also weak, so be sure you don’t apply much pressure when snapping it shut.

Pros

  • The saw’s motor is large enough to easily handle larger jobs. The saw also allows for faster cuts with orbital motion. The adjustable shoe is durable and made from stainless steel. Overall, this recip offers an excellent power to weight ratio.
  • This corded saw weighs in at just under nine pounds, making it easy to handle for overhead work or even when you’re up on a ladder. The anti-slip, comfortable handle makes it easy to control the saw when handling tough material and also helps to minimize vibration.
  • This model comes with a limited three-year product warranty.

Cons

For many pros, the lack of vibration control technology was a major downside. This is especially true if you’re looking for a recip saw for on the job use. Without vibration control, sawing with this machine will require more effort on the user’s part, which can lead to user fatigue and soreness.

Conclusion

The saw’s 1 1/8-inch stroke length offers the user plenty of depth when working with thick materials or making deeper cuts. This saw is able to quickly slice through a pipe, conduit, cement, nails, and piping. When you switch on the orbital blade action it helps to speed up the cutting time when you’re working with coarser materials such as tree branches or dimensional lumber.

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   5.  SKIL 921601 Reciprocating Saw Review-Best Value

Often, lower priced recip saws don’t offer much in terms of features or cutting power, which is why we were so impressed with this model by SKIL. Compact, with a soft comfortable grip, this saw can be used around the home and on the job for hours of continuous use. You’ll love the type of sawing power this model has to offer, not to mention the variable speed feature and fast tool-less blade change.

The SKIL 912601 reciprocating saw features a nine-amp motor to back up its durable performance. It also features speed control for improved safety and cutting precision. This model is easy to control and handle, even with its powerful motor. Other popular features include soft grip design and tool-less blade change.

Tip: This saw is designed for precision and power to ensure an accurate cut each and every time without taking much effort.

The heavy-duty motor ensures high-performance cutting, which the user can adjust depending on the toughness of the application. This recip has a reputation for easily slicing through any type of surface in the fastest amount of time possible.

Pros

  • The saw’s variable speed control helps the user to manipulate and manage the speed rate of the cutting performance. This feature allows both the beginners and pros to control the saw, easily. Now, you can enjoy a time-efficient performance, so there’s no chance of user fatigue.
  • This saw also features a power on indicator. This safety feature will alert the user that the saw is plugged in and ready to go.
  • The tool-less blade change allows you to change blades quickly and without any hassle.
  • For improved durability, the saw is covered with a heavy-duty metal housing,
  • The counterbalance and pivoting foot provide added sturdiness and stability when you’re cutting through tough materials.  The saw’s soft grip design improves user comfort for effortless continuous use.
  • This saw features an easily adjusted blade speed, nine amps of power and impressive versatility that will allow you to tackle a wide range of jobs around the home.
  • This model also comes with a one-year product warranty on defects and all parts.

Cons

The cord length measures in at just six feet, which can be somewhat limiting for bigger jobs. The manufacturer’s description wasn’t very specific in regard to the saw’s variable speed feature. Because the speed control is separate from the main trigger it can be difficult to change speed as you’re cutting. Many pros felt that this model didn’t offer true variable speed performance.

Conclusion

A model that’s reasonably priced and one that has a reputation for packing some serious power, while also offering durability and a reliable performance, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with a saw that can handle pretty much anything. Overall, we felt that the saw works well for medium sized jobs around the home, but it may not offer the type of functionality that you’ll need for on the job or larger project use.

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Best Reciprocating Saws for DIYers and Pros

Reciprocating saw cuttingReciprocating saws are considered one of the most versatile demolition tools on the market today. They’re the go-to power tool if you’re planning on installing plumbing, skylights, windows or just about anything else that will require heavy-duty removal.

Power tool manufacturers usually create a saw that’s able to make exact cuts. Reciprocating saws are the exception because they’re used to make rough cuts for demolition or building materials.

The motor of the saw sends a large amount of power to the blade, which in turn allows the user to cut through a wide variety of materials including plaster, wood, masonry, stucco, and fiberglass.

These saws are a popular option for HVAC, plumbing, electrical jobs, and construction. Overall, the saw’s use can also heavily depend upon the type of added features that are purchased with a model. When you buy a reciprocating saw, there are several factors you’ll need to consider. As an example, you should determine how much tool movement you’ll require, in addition to power outlet accessibility. Additionally, you should also assess a saw’s size and weight, along with runtime length. You should compare power capabilities against convenience.

Reciprocating Saw Buying Guide

There are several factors that can affect the saw’s performance and pricing. If you have a good idea of how frequently you plan on using the saw, in addition to what type of materials you’ll be cutting, this will give you a good idea of which model will work for you.

Amperage:

The higher a saw’s amperage, the more power you’ll get. Power capabilities range from nine to fifty amps of power. A fifteen-amp model is the perfect amount of power for contractors, while eleven amps are plenty of power for a big demo project or for the DIYer.

Stroke Length:

Next up is stroke length. When it comes to stroke length, the longer the stroke, the faster the cut. That being said, users don’t always want the saw’s blade to protrude too far into the material. Most models run from ¾ of an inch to about 1 ¼ of an inch in stroke length. Other models are highly adjustable. The best way to determine the type of stroke length that will work best for you involves knowing your projects.

Blade:

The blades on this type of saw need to be changed frequently, so how the blade is changed will have a major impact on user experience. Many manufacturers design models with blade locks, which don’t require the use of an additional Allen wrench. Blade lock designs tend to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Shoe:

A saw with an adjustable shoe provides the user with more control over the cut and depth and can make a saw more stable. Be sure that the adjustment mechanism is precise and smooth.

Orbital Cut Mode and Variable Speed

Orbital reciprocating saws move in a more oval or elliptical shape as opposed to just up and down. This makes the saw more aggressive, giving it a faster cut. A straight saw moves on a single plane.

Both cordless and corded saws run from 2,300 to 3,000 strokes per minute. A higher amperage typically translates to higher strokes per minute.

Variable speed control means that the user can adjust how fast the saw cuts. Depending on the angle or the material you want to cut, this can be a huge benefit. If you don’t use a reciprocating saw very often, then this feature won’t make much of a difference.

For anyone who’s running a reciprocating saw for long periods of time or at off angles, the saw’s weight can be a serious consideration. A saw design that’s balanced can help to reduce user fatigue, but it doesn’t help much.

How Your Saw Handles

Many reciprocating saws come with handles or blades that rotate, which makes sawing in awkward positions a little easier.

In order to maintain powerful, fast cuts, the corded model is your best bet. But if you’re working without electricity, then a cordless saw will be your only option. Cordless models can also provide more flexibility and maneuverability. The voltage options typically run from eighteen to twenty-four volts.

Some models will vibrate more than others. This can cause user fatigue to set in much faster, especially if you need to saw for long periods of time. The recent technology used in newer models can help to reduce vibration, so if you’re planning on cutting for several hours, be sure you look into a particular model’s reputation for vibration.

Is a Reciprocating Saw for you?

Sabre saw, sawzall, and recip saw are just a few of the names the reciprocating saw goes by. Sawzall is probably the most common name used. Regardless of the name you use for this type of saw, it’s an important tool in every plumber, remodeler, contractor, and carpenter’s tool kit.

Really, the reciprocating saw’s versatility is unparalleled. It features different blades for cutting through a wide range of materials include plastic, metal, and wood.

The best reciprocating saw can handle anything from cutting screws and nails to removing old pipe and wood. Using this type of saw offers a ton of convenience, which in turn will save you a lot of man hours when it comes to bigger demo jobs.

These saws can be used to make a variety of cuts. Surface cuts, flush, and plunge cuts are just some of the many types of cuts you can make with this type of saw.

Do you usually work with more than one type of material, such as metal and wood? Owning one saw that can cut through concrete, brick, metal, tile, wood, and pipe can be more cost effective than having a different saw to work on different materials.

These saws can do pretty much anything. If you’re a remodeler, you can use a recip to remove old linoleum and damaged drywall, and brick. As a DIYer, if you’re working on major projects around the home, this type of saw can cut the project time in half. The only thing required is specialized blades. Changing out the blades allows you to go from cutting up brick or pipe to pruning trees.

How the Reciprocating Saw Works

The working principle of this saw is pretty similar to that of the electric carving knife. A cam, crank, or swash plate provides the back and forth cutting motion, the blade cuts through most types of material with the help of its teeth and does so by preventing the chips of the material from binding to the blade by guiding it out of the cut material.

The mechanism that produces the reciprocation motion and the motor is what powers the blade. The motor can be powered by batteries or electricity.

Corded versus Cordless

There are a couple of basic types of reciprocating saws: corded and cordless.

Corded models are powered by electricity and are typically more suited to heavy-duty industrial work because they’re able to deliver a large amount of torque non-stop. The ability to work with a saw continuously is the biggest advantage of using a corded model. This type of saw is often much lighter than a cordless model because the rechargeable batteries often contribute quite a bit of weight.

Typically, corded, high-powered models will cost significantly more than their cordless counterparts.

Cordless models use rechargeable batteries. These batteries are usually rated at eighteen volts or higher. All battery powered models come with a charger and feature a charge time that ranges from twenty to thirty minutes. Portability is the best thing about cordless recips. Because this type of saw isn’t limited by a power cord, you don’t have to worry about staying in proximity to a power source. While corded models have a reputation for producing more torque, cordless saws are quickly gaining ground in this area. A cordless model that’s rated at twenty volts or higher can rival an electric recip in torque production. Cordless saws offer better depth strokes compared to corded saws. Better maneuverability is one of the biggest advantages to using a cordless saw. And the best part? You don’t have to worry about slicing through the cord when you’re using a battery powered model.

Carrying around an extra battery pack is the perfect solution for longer use if you own a battery powered recip and have a big project coming up.

Six of the Best Reciprocating Saw Uses around the Home

There are a ton of household tasks that require different tools, but reciprocating saws are a popular all in one tool that can take the place of several others. This saw uses a push and pull motion to cut and it’s often used in hard to reach places when another type of saw can’t fit. You’ll be able to cut through difficult areas such as floors and corners, without the hassle. This is one of the best power tools you can use to make your job a little easier.

  • When you’re remodeling your home and you need to place some wiring in the walls, you’ll have to make an indentation. The reciprocating saw is the perfect power tool for the job, especially if the project includes odd angles.
  • You’ll often find PVC pipe located in spots where a regular saw can’t reach, so usually, there’s nothing more effective than using a recip saw when you need to modify piping. PVC is also easy to cut, so making any changes is a cinch.
  • You should also take advantage of a sawzall when you come across pins or nails that are difficult to remove. If you’re working on a major project where there’s no other way to remove pins or nails because of the difficult hold, you can use a recip to slice off the head instead of pulling it out.
  • If you need to get rid of branches in your yard this is the perfect tool because of its sheer cutting power and durability. Why bother using an axe to chop down branches when you’ve got a high-powered cutter that doesn’t require much manpower?
  • This handy power tool is also what the professionals will use to fit or cut down a window because it works easily in tight spaces.
  • When you’re cutting with a sawzall, anything goes, especially since the saw’s area of use is incredibly flexible. You’ll be able to cut almost any type of material you’d like.

The Five Best Sawzall Accessories

man at work with sawWhen fitted with the right accessory, a recip saw can brush off rust, scrape up vinyl flooring, scrub away tough stains, and scratch out tile grout.

Swap out the regular recip blade for a scraper blade, which will allow you to easily and quickly scrape up linoleum tile, glued down carpeting, resilient flooring, dried drywall compound, blistered paint, and wallpaper.

Put the power and speed of your saw to work shaping wood by using a wood rasp. This type of fast cutting accessory is similar to a file; however, the wood rasp is armed with rows of razor sharp teeth.

Removing the hardened grout from between the tiles is a tedious and slow process, unless you use a saw that’s fitted with a grout snake. This is definitely a time saving accessory that features a five-inch-long steel blade that has a slightly curved cutting edge that’s coated with long-lasting, sharp carbide grit. It can be used to quickly remove epoxy grouts and cement based grouts.

The next time you have to clean out a grease loaded barbecue grill or even a stained old porcelain tub, reach for your saw and use a scouring pad attachment. With this type of accessory, you’ll be able to clean any filthy, grimy, greasy surface, including wood, ceramic tile, stainless steel, concrete, brick, stone, and wood.

Once you equip your sawzall with a wire brush accessory, you’ll never go back to using a standard wire brush. The recip’s high-speed motor and raw power will provide an impressively fast way to remove caked-on mud, flaking paint, corrosion, grime, and rust from any type of surface including concrete, stone, metal, and wood.