Last Updated on January 5, 2021 by builder Aaron Barnett
When it comes to reciprocating saws, both cordless and corded have their pros and cons for different jobs. For big jobs, a corded Sawzall will let you take out an entire wall in only a few hours. Meanwhile, a cordless version will let you more comfortably take outdoors, windows, and parts of wall framing on your renovating projects.
Whether you opt for a Dewalt 10 amp reciprocating saw or the Makita cordless Sawzall, the choice comes down to the size of the most regular jobs you intend to do. The corded option can do everything, but so can a cordless one with more time.
#3 Most durable Milwaukee cordless
Milwaukee 2621-22 0-3,000 SPM, 1-1/8 inch, 18V cordless reciprocating saw kit
#4 Powerful Milwaukee cordless
Milwaukee 2722-21 0-3,000 SPM, 1-1/4 inch, 18V cordless reciprocating saw kit
#11 Best shoed cordless reciprocating saw
DeWalt DCS367B 0-2,900 spm, 1-1/8 inch, 20V cordless reciprocating saw
#12 The best DIY cordless reciprocating saw
Craftsman CMCS300M1 0-3,000 spm, 1 inch, 20V cordless reciprocating saw kit
#13 Fastest stroke per minute DIY choice
Ryobi P517, 0-3,200 spm, 1-1/8 inch, 18V, cordless reciprocating saw
#14 Ryobi cordless reciprocating saw
Ryobi P516 One+ 0-2,900 spm, 1-1/8 inch, 18V cordless reciprocating saw
#15 Best Black + Decker cordless reciprocating saw
Black + Decker BDCR20C 0-3,000 spm, 7/8 inch, 20V cordless reciprocating saw kit
#16 Most affordable cordless reciprocating saw
Porter Cable PCC670B 0-3,000 spm, 1 inch, 20V cordless reciprocating saw
#17 Best low-cost DIY cordless reciprocating saw
Skil PWR Core RS582902 0-3,000 spm, 1 inch, 20V, cordless reciprocating saw
#18 The Ridgid cordless reciprocating saw
Ridgid R8643B 0-3,100 spm, 1-1/8 inch, 18V cordless reciprocating saw
Best corded reciprocating saw
#3 Most durable corded reciprocating saw
Milwaukee 6536-21 0-3,000 spm, 1-1/4 inch, 13 amp reciprocating saw
#4 Milwaukee sawzall
Milwaukee 6509-31 0-3,000 spm, 3/4 inch, 12 amp reciprocating saw kit
#5 Clamped corded reciprocating saw
DeWalt DW304PK 0-2,800 spm, 1-1/8inch, 10 amp reciprocating saw
#6 Good value corded reciprocating saw
Bosch RS428 0-2,900spm, 1-1/8 inch, 14 amp reciprocating saw
#7 DIY anti-vibration corded sawzall
SKILSAW SPT44A-00 0-2,800 spm, 1-1/8 inch, 13 amp reciprocating saw
#8 Another DIY corded reciprocating saw
Porter Cable PCE360 0-3,200 spm, 1-1/8 inch, 7.5 amp reciprocating saw
#9 Best adjustable shoe corded reciprocating saw
Skil 9206-02 0-2,700 spm, 1-1/8inch, 7.5 amp, reciprocating saw
#10 Most affordable corded reciprocating saw
Black + Decker RS500 0-2,400 spm, 1-1/8 inch, 7.5 amp reciprocating saw
The power saw landscape was forever changed when Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. introduced its right-angled saw in 1949. A heaven-send for plumbers, it allowed them to easily make cuts in tight corners for demolition work. When in 1951, they set what would be the standards for all reciprocating saws to come.
Not much has changed with the reciprocating saws in the last 5 decades except the improvement of portability and cordless technology. Though it’s not a tool that everyone fancies, many professional construction workers and even rescue workers call it essential.
Whether you’re building a house (or tearing one down), fabricating workpieces, or just plain looking for something to gift a tool-savvy friend or relative, consider getting them one of these. Crude-looking and multi-purpose, but totally reliable, this guide will let you peek at the best reciprocating saw.
Features to consider when buying a reciprocating saw
Reasons to buy a reciprocating saw
Things to check before buying a reciprocating saw
Know your brands.
The prestige and track record of a particular brand will already tell loads about the potential performance of a tool. Milwaukee, the pioneer, and other big names like DeWalt and Makita, all have the experience and expertise to ensure the delivery of proven quality products time and time again.
Perhaps one of the most, if not the most, important components of the saw is its blades. Keep in mind blade factors such as Teeth-per-inch (TPI), length, width, and thickness as they basically determine a blade’s level of stress tolerance, flexibility, material compatibility, and lifespan. Literally different strokes for different folks.
Check the durability.
When checking for durability, consider that of the tool and the blade. You’d want the tool and its teeth to last you a long time, as both are expensive. Look at customer and professional reviews before purchasing to lessen the risk of getting a model whose motor easily clunks out and/or which blades can break early.
Think about the price.
Just because some reciprocating saws are more expensive than others, doesn’t mean that they’re automatically better. When factoring in price, consider what you’ll use it for and how often. It’s better to invest in a tool that you’ll use for the long-term, otherwise, get the lower-priced models for one-off uses.
Corded vs cordless reciprocating saw
Corded reciprocating saws are absolute powerhouses, capable of removing entire walls. They are generally larger and stronger but do tend to cut more roughly. Given the heavy-duty nature of their applications, corded saws are more suited for demolition work and are less safe and practical for beginners.
Cordless reciprocating saws have decent power, are more accurate and portable, and are generally safer. They are light and can be handled with fair ease even by untrained hands. They’re ideal for small jobs, given their compactness and limited power.
An exception to this is Makita’s line of 2-battery models who experience the best of both worlds – longer run time with 2 battery packs and almost the same amount of power as corded models thanks to Makita-brand engineering and design.
Brushed or brushless?
Brushed motors were a big thing at least back in the 1800s. Brushless motors have since then gained increasing popularity, especially as alternative engines for power tools. Both basically make use of components called rotators and magnets that harness electricity and convert it into mechanical energy.
Brushless motors have a more sophisticated design, reducing maintenance requirements and allowing for more efficient power management. If you’re wondering about the motor type, go with a more efficient brushless motor over an older outdated brushed one.
Small one-handed or two-handed saw?
While there is a place for one-handed reciprocating saws, you’d generally want to go with the conventional or two-handed ones. You just can’t get as much out of smaller saws; while you can work with more control and accuracy, scope and durability is diminished.
Two-handed saws are more robust and have more rigidly constructed blades. While they’re a tad bit heavier, they can take on a variety of jobs with minimal effort and can be just as easily controlled with proper positioning.
Where are reciprocating saws mostly used?
Reciprocating saws are also affectionately called ‘precision demolition saws’. They are great for renovating and/or demolition-type jobs where they can easily make precision-cuts to take out unwanted pieces of material, wood, and metal alike.
With that being said, reciprocating saws are most commonly used in jobs that involve construction and interiors. Builders, carpenters, and woodworkers all make use of the tool fairly common as well, with some even using it to trim tree branches.
What blades to use and when?
Reciprocating saw blades usually vary in length anywhere from 6” to 12” and have different appearances as well as teeth orientation. Each blade is designed to work optimally on specific materials and produce different results, with some being more polished than others.
Thicker blades are sturdier but less flexible. In some cases, flexibility offers a smoother cut but tends to falter with thicker and denser material. Familiarize yourself with these standard blade thicknesses.
0.035” – Standard-duty
0.042” – Light heavy-duty
0.050” – Heavy-duty
0.062” – Ultra heavy-duty
What determines the grade of application is usually material thickness and density, so refer to the thicknesses depending on the composition of materials you are to work with. It’s a good idea to have at least 2 to 3 types of blades with you in order to really work with a wide array of materials.
A saw blade’s lifespan is greatly affected by stress and frequency of use. Ideally, a quality blade, given the premise of heavy and daily use, should last you about 3 months before it begins to dull or break. Depending on how well you use the tool and how well you take care of the blades, some can last you for years!
Choosing the top reciprocating saw
Best performing allrounder
The Makita XRJ06PT is hands down the best cordless reciprocating saw. With two 18V lithium-ion batteries, you get twice the amount of power and performance. Its brushless motor further lengthens runtime by up to 50% and its crank mechanism reduces vibration and blade deflection, allowing for deep, smooth cuts even with heavier applications.
The 1 ¼” stroke length gives you fast and efficient cutting and, coupled with its tool-less blade change, really makes it a versatile tool. With a patented computer control system, not only does it have efficient power management, but also offers up to 3x faster charging with auto-overcharge prevention.
Best value cordless reciprocating saw
The best value cordless reciprocating saw goes to the Makita XRJ05Z. Its variable 2-speed brushless motor gives it considerable and lasting performance, able to reach an astonishing rate of up to 3,000 strokes per minute (SPM)!
It’s a lighter and more compact alternative to the Makita XRJ06PT, weighing in at only 8.2lbs with a fully charged battery. While this Makita sawzall may lose out to its more expensive brother in terms of up-time, performance-wise it holds its own.
Best corded reciprocating saw
When it comes to being the best corded reciprocating saw, the DeWalt DWE305 stands on top. It’s perfect for heavy-duty applications given its ample motor chugging out 12 amps of power. Its 4-position blade clamp lets you flush cut with ease and allows for some nice versatility.
The 1 ⅛” stroke-length allows for some clean and precise cuts, despite what may be a little heftiness of the tool. The variable speed control trigger also allows you to work at your own pace and helps maintain consistency of results. Robust DeWalt manufacturing lets you take on tougher materials with this saw.
Best value corded reciprocating saw
The Bosch RS428 is the best value corded reciprocating saw. The thing that really stands out with this tool is the fact that it only weighs 8lbs despite having an insanely powerful 14-amp motor. It’s outfitted with a vibration control system to allow for efficient and controlled work.
With its raw power, you can literally go down on any material you see fit, just be sure to equip the right blade type to avoid overbearing on it with the motor’s output.
Most affordable corded
If it’s affordability that you want, then look no further than the Black + Decker RS500. It has pretty much everything that you would need for a fully functional and work-ready reciprocating saw.
Variable speed, tool-free blade change, adequate power, and of course a nice price tag all make the RS500 a decent choice. It’ll get the job done for what it’s worth, just don’t go industrial-level with it.
What other tools should you consider instead?
Should you consider using other tools? That really depends on what job you’re taking on. For demolition, no not really, a reciprocating saw will do you just fine. If you mainly want to engage in cutting, then perhaps try a skilsaw for straight and accurate cuts.
You can pair using reciprocating saws with other tools for especially large-scale demolitions, such as with a wrecking bar or Estwing hammer , for when you need a claw hammer to rip apart what you are cutting.
While these saws make quick work of wood and nails, packed and dense materials such as bolts are not so easy. Combo this with an alternative metal cutting tool that can cut bolts for demolition work faster, like a Makita 18V angle grinder .
Finally, if you’re looking into cutting a variety of tree and branch cutting and trimming jobs, you may opt for a Makita cordless chainsaw.
Tips for using a reciprocating saw
Comparing cordless reciprocating saws
|Makita XRJ06PT||Makita XRJ05Z||Milwaukee 2621-22||Milwaukee 2722-21||Milwaukee 2720-20 sawzall||DeWalt DCS380B||Makita XRJ07R1B||DeWalt DCS387B||Bosch GSA18V-125K14||Bosch CRS180B||DeWalt DCS367B||Craftsman CMCS300M||Ryobi P517||Ryobi P516 One+||Black + Decker BDCR20C||Porter Cable PCC670B||Skil PWR Core RS582902||Ridgid R8643B|
|Verdict:||Top performing cordless||Best value cordless|
|Weight:||10.2 lbs||8.2 lbs||7.4 lbs||8.8 lbs||7.4 lbs||6 lbs||5.7 lbs||5 lbs||7.7 lbs||7.6 lbs||5 lbs||7.06 lbs||5.6 lbs||6 lbs||4.5 lbs||4 lbs||7.2 lbs|
|Speed:||0-2,300/ 0-3,000 spm||0-2,300/ 0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-2,900 spm||0-2,500 spm||0-2,400/ 0-2,700 spm||0-2,900 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,200 spm||0-2,900 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,100 spm|
|Stroke length:||1-1/4 inch||1-1/4 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/4 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch||13/16 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/4 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch||1 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch||7/8 inch||1 inch||1 inch||1-1/8 inch|
Comparing corded reciprocating saws
|DeWalt DWE305||Makita JR3070CT||Milwaukee 6536-21||Milwaukee 6509-31||DeWalt DW304PK||Bosch RS428||SKILSAW SPT44A-00||Porter Cable PCE360||Skil 9206-02||Black + Decker RS500|
|Verdict:||Most powerful corded||Best value corded||Most affordable corded|
|Weight:||7 lbs||10 lbs||9.8 lbs||7.1 lbs||8 lbs||8 lbs||9 lbs||6 lbs||2.81 lbs||5.35 lbs|
|Speed:||0-2,900 spm||0-2,800 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-3,000 spm||0-2,800 spm||0-2,900spm||0-2,800 spm||0-3,200 spm||0-2,700 spm||0-2,400 spm|
|Power:||12 amp||15 amp||13 amp||12 amp||10 amp||14 amp||13 amp||7.5 amp||7.5 amp||7.5 amp|
|Stroke length:||1-1/8 inch||1-1/4 inch||1-1/4 inch||3/4 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch||1-1/8 inch|
If you want the best cordless saw, get the Makita XRJ06PT. It has the power and lifespan to get you through most jobs. A bit pricey, but it nets you a well-engineered and efficient tool. A good alternative to it is the Makita XRJ05Z, which is basically a lighter, single-battery version that shares the same tool-free blade change and stroke-length.
For best-corded saw, the DeWalt DWE305 is undisputed, one with its powerful motor and durable manufacturing. Tackle heavy-duty applications easily with its 4-position blade clamp and precise stroke-length. The Bosch RS428 nets the best value, mainly for its lightness and versatility thanks to an extremely powerful motor.
If you’re looking for a decent enough tool that gets the job done without having to throw a great deal of money, then the Black + Decker RS500 is your best bet. It’s not great, but it works. And those are the best reciprocating saws.
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