If you need a powerful saw to help you cut through the toughest materials, a good reciprocating is a must-have. These saws can cut even through lumber that’s been embedded with nails.
Not sure what to look for or how to pick out the one that suits your needs? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back with a tailored list of the best reciprocating saws on the market as well as what to consider when you’re shopping for one.
Without Milwaukee, we wouldn’t have known the magic of the Sawzall series, and the 6519-31 is one of the best in the series.
It’s packed with power as it runs on a 12-amp motor, has a 1-1/8” stroke length, and variable speeds that go up to 3,000 SPM.
Although at 7.1 pounds it’s a bit heavier than I’d like a reciprocating saw to be, it does come with a counterweight that helps reduce vibrations on the handle and trigger as well as a rubber grip that’s soft to hold for longer durations.
Moreover, it’s equipped with an internal clutch mechanism that protects the motor and gears from excessive wear and tear, so your unit will last a good deal longer than other options on the market. This is why it comes with a 5-year warranty.
Finally, the Milwaukee 6519-31 Sawzall comes with a polyurethane case in which you can transport it from a place to another easily.
Looking for a Sawzall? What would beat the original? The Milwaukee 6519-31 is packed with power, comfortable ergonomics, and amazing performance. Whether you’re a professional or a DIYer, you’ll enjoy what reliability, durability, and power this saw has to offer.
Porter-Cable is known for manufacturing some of the most reliable power tools at an affordable price, and the Porter-Cable PCC670B is no exception. It does cut a few corners to come at such a price relative to its features, but for basic tasks, it’s a solid choice.
This cordless reciprocating saw runs on a 20-volt battery that you can recharge between uses. This means that you’ll be able to maneuver it easily and get a higher degree of mobility overall.
Its stroke length is a little above an inch at 1-1/8,” and it has a maximum speed of 3,000 –performance which is comparable to more expensive options. Unless you’re looking to cut down 100 wall studs in 10 minutes, you’re good to go.
Moreover, it has a trigger control that offers variable speeds depending on the pressure that you need for the job, so it’s quite versatile. Speaking of which, it has a tool-free blade release using a quick twist-lock method to swap between blades in a matter of seconds.
As for the handling, the PCC670B is around 4 pounds and has a contoured, over-molded handle, so you’ll definitely get a comfortable and firm grip on it.
Coming at under a hundred bucks, I didn’t expect the PCC670B to be such a solid, no-frills saw. It’s super easy to handle and cuts through anything –from trimming a pipe to cutting shrubs, it does it all seamlessly. However, it’s not the most durable option out there.
This corded reciprocating saw is pretty versatile and powerful, running on an 11-amp motor. It’s an ideal choice for roofers, builders, remodelers, general contractors, and metal fabricators.
Such versatility stems from the fact that it has variable speeds ranging from 0 to 2,800 SPM and a 1-1/8” blade stroke for efficient cutting whether you’re working with metal, wood, plastic, drywall, remodeling or demolition work.
It’s a little heavier than most options on the list, but its ergonomics like the soft-grip handle and large 2-finger trigger with lock-on button make its handling easy.
The Makita JR3050T comes with an internal dust blower system that works on clearing away any debris as you cut through your material to give you more visibility and precision. It also has tool-less blade changes with a heavy-duty shoe that enables you to make fast and convenient changes.
To make it more durable, this saw comes with all ball and needle bearings and a protective rubber boot to seal the motor and bearings from dust and debris.
The Makita JR3050T works very well for just about any application. Makita goes the extra mile by equipping this model with an 11-amp motor, plenty of convenient safety features, and a durable design.
The DeWalt DCS380B is another cordless option that runs on 20-volt batteries. As with most DeWalt products, it has superb durability and performance.
It’s quite powerful and comes with a variable speed trigger with speeds ranging from 0 to 3,000 SPM that you can control with a dial. This enables you to cut through metal as easily as you can through the wood.
Moreover, its cutting speed is improved with a 1-1/8” stroke length, which is the maximum standard long-stroke reciprocating saws.
A huge advantage that the DeWalt DCS380B offers is the 4-position blade clamp that helps you work your way around environments with limited clearance.
However, being a bare tool is a huge disadvantage. The fact that you have to buy the blade, battery, and charger separately increases the cost of purchasing this model.
Then again, it offers plenty of extra features that contribute to how comfortable and convenient it is. It has keyless blade changes, an adjustable shoe to give you more control, and an over-molded rubber grip to keep you comfortable throughout extended periods of work.
Although the DCS380B is a bare tool, it does give you value for the price as it comes with plenty of comfort features that enhance its superb performance and power.
Measuring 14.5 x 6 x 7 inches, the DeWalt is one of the best small reciprocating saws on the market. It’s also pretty lightweight at 5 pounds, which makes it easy to maneuver to cut in between studs and other tight spots.
It comes with a brushless motor that provides you with up to 2.5 times more run time than a typical reciprocating saw.
Combining a 1-1/8” stroke length and variable speeds that go up to 2,900 SPM, you can be sure to finish all your demolition and remodeling jobs quickly and smoothly.
Like the DeWalt DCS380B, the DCS367B comes with a keyless, lever-action 4-position blade clamp for easy and quick blade changes and an ability to work in limited spaces as well as on limited applications such as flush cutting.
Finally, it’s equipped with a bright LED light to illuminate your work area for you and help you make more precise cuts.
If you know you’re going to work around tight corners and places that are hard to reach, I’d highly recommend the DeWalt DCS367B for its compact design and high maneuverability.
The Black+Decker BDCR20B is another battery-powered model, but it comes with a lithium battery that enables it to run for longer periods than standard batteries.
Generally, it’s not an expensive option, but you have to keep in mind that you’ll have to buy the charger and battery separately, which adds to the cost of purchasing it.
Running on 20 volts of power, the Black+Decker BDCR20B can cut through whatever you need. Its stroke length is a bit inferior to most other options on the list, measuring 0.875 inches while the others hit the 1-1/8” mark. However, it’s a lot more lightweight than any other option at only 3.8 pounds.
Plus, it’s not that big of a deal when you consider that it features a pivoting shoe and a variable speed trigger with a maximum speed of 3,000 SPM. Moreover, it gives you the ability to make quick changes thanks to the tool-free blade cover.
A downside, however, is that the Black+Decker BDCR20B’s vibrations can be a little excessive and heavy.
If you already know that you’re going to work for extended periods, you might as well get a lightweight reciprocating saw like the Black+Decker BDCR20B. Although you’ll have to buy the charger, battery, and blades separately, its performance gives you good value for your money.
The DeWalt DC385B is the perfect reciprocating saw for anyone that’s looking for great capability at an affordable price. It’s true that it’s a bare tool, so you won’t get a battery or blade, but it does provide you with great value.
Running on 18-volt batteries, it has a 1-1/8” cutting stroke length and delivers anywhere from 0 to 3,000 SPM cutting speed that you can control by the pressure you apply to the trigger. This gives it a high degree of versatility to be used by contractors and home users.
Moreover, it comes with a lever-action keyless blade clamp that provides users with quick and easy blade changes in under 5 seconds. Its clamp has four positions to provide you with flushed cutting and maximum versatility.
It’s also pretty lightweight at 5.8 pounds and comes with an anti-slip comfort grip, which means you’ll have full control over the tool as you operate it. The pivoting adjustable shoe also gives you plenty of visibility for accurate work.
The DeWalt DC385B is an ideal choice for anyone who’s looking for a combination of affordability, maneuverability, and enough power.
I’d highly recommend the SKIL 9216-01 if you’re looking for a corded reciprocating saw. It runs on a reliable, durable 9-amp motor and a 1-1/8” stroke length that can seamlessly cut through any material.
You can adjust the speed according to the toughness of the project at hand, though the speed’s maximum rate is 2,500 SPM –considerably lower than most other options.
It does feel more controlled and safer, especially with the tool-less blade changes that provide hassle-free changing as well as the counterbalance and pivotal foot that adds sturdiness and stability during operation.
As for ergonomics, the SKIL 9216-01 comes with a soft-grip handle that makes it easy to handle and reduces fatigue. If you’re new to the world of sawing, the manual that comes with this saw will help you understand what type of blade works best with what project.
Whether you’re going to cut through wood or concrete, the SKIL 9216-01 is one of the best corded reciprocating saws you can get for the job. Not only is it powerful, but it’s also easy to handle. However, it’s not as fast or light as other models.
When you’re shopping for a reciprocating saw, there are a couple of things that you have to consider. Most of them will be able to cut through basically anything you throw their way, but you shouldn’t go for just any model as some factors affect how you can perform your cuts. These include:
You can either get a saw with a battery or one that plugs in. While they perform the same tasks, they do so in different ways.
Cordless reciprocating saws are more powerful and way more maneuverable. However, their batteries can only last so long, so if you need a continuous operation, you should look into a corded model.
Of course, how long the batteries last depends on how tough the material you’re cutting is and how long you keep your tool running.
One of the important things to watch out for while using a corded saw is not to cut its own cord accidentally.
The maximum strokes per minute (SPM) reflects your saw’s abilities. The blade on your reciprocating saw cuts by moving back and forth rapidly, and the faster it goes, the easier you’ll be able to cut through the material.
However, more SPM isn’t equivalent to more power, only smoother operation during cutting.
Moreover, most saws come with a variable speed trigger that allows you to control the SPM as you cut, and some of these even feature a locking mechanism to make operation easier.
So once you find the ideal speed at which you can cut your material, you can trigger the lock and hold the SPM at a steady pace.
The stroke length is a bit related to SPM, and it gives you insight into how fast you can get the cutting done. It’s measured in inches and indicates how far your blade extends and retracts as it goes back and forth.
Most stroke lengths fall between ¾” and 1-⅛”, which may not seem like such a big difference. However, you should buy the maximum saw length you can in order to finish your work faster.
Plus, greater stroke lengths mean that you’ll spread the cutting action out over more of the blade, consequently extending its lifespan.
By combining the maximum SPM and stroke length, you’ll get the fastest cutting possible.
The average reciprocating saw would probably be around 18” long and weigh between 6 to 8 pounds. This gives you an ample amount of power in a conveniently compact package. If you’re doing basic demolition work, this would be an ideal combination.
However, if you need your saw to reach tighter spaces or if you’re going to work with it while you’re at the top of a ladder, you might want to go for a saw of a smaller size of around 14”, which will likely be battery-powered.
The ergonomics of your saw should be suitable for the kind and duration of your work. So look into comfort grips and vibration-reducing technology.
Your blade choice is almost as important as your saw choice. Blades vary in length, teeth per inch (TPI), width, thickness, shape, and material.
Their sizes can vary between 3 to 12 inches, with most falling between 6 and 9 inches. Longer blades produce deeper cuts, so it depends on how deep you want to go.
A typical blade will have between 3 to 24 teeth per inch. A lower count results in faster cuts but with rougher edges, so it suits cutting wood. On the other hand, a higher count results in slow cuts but gives you smoother edges, so it’s best for cutting metal.
As for thickness, the maximum you’ll get is 1,” and this gives you the maximum sturdiness. However, if you’re looking for precision when you’re cutting metal, go for smaller width such as 1/16″.
Apart from the specs, your blade’s material also makes a difference in its operation. It can be made of carbide grit, carbon-steel, hi-speed steel, or it can be a bi-metal one, which is a combination of both.
Carbon-steel is flexible, tough, and works best with wood and plastic. Hi-speed ones give you strong and more durable teeth but is more prone to break.
Bi-metal ones combine the flexibility and break-resistance of carbon-steel ones with the durable teeth of the hi-speed ones.
Finally, carbine and diamond grit blades are the most powerful ones and are typically used for super tough materials such as ceramic tiles, fiberglass, and cement board.
To maximize the diversity of your reciprocating saw, you’ll want to do a couple of blade changes as you work. That’s why you should go for an option with an easy blade-changing mechanism.
Most don’t require special tools anymore to let you change the blades, but some give you the freedom to install the saw blades in four directions, not just the right side up or upside-down configuration.
The shoe is located at the end of the saw, and through it, the blade runs. When you use it properly, you can make your sawing faster, extend the life of your blade, act as a fulcrum for plunge cuts, as well as pin down materials.
As you get more familiar with your saw, you’ll learn better how to use your shoe in the right technique.
Traditional reciprocating saws only move in a straight line back and forth. However, there are newer models that offer a bit of an orbital path for the blade.
Orbital saws reduce cutting time, but they don’t suit precision work like metalwork or detail work.
They cost a little more, so you should consider whether your work is mostly demolition work that requires speed but not much accuracy.
If you already own a jigsaw and you’re wondering whether you need a reciprocating one, the answer is most probably yes.
A jigsaw is a great tool for cutting along certain lines and gives you a high degree of control and precision. Moreover, you can lean into it while cutting to keep the shoe flush with the surface and create very elegant results.
Contrarily, a reciprocating saw has no space for a specific line or precision. It’s mainly used for destruction and demolition work, not creation.
So, while you can use them interchangeably for some settings, at their cores, they’re made for entirely different purposes.
Hackzall and Sawzall to reciprocating saws are what Xerox and Kleenex are to photocopying machines or tissue boxes. A popular brand that became so popular it became synonymous to the item itself.
Both are manufactured by Milwaukee tool corporation, although Hackzall saws are smaller, battery-powered versions of the Sawzall saws.
Honestly, if you’re asking what you can cut with a reciprocating saw, you’re asking the wrong question. The right one is what can’t you cut with a reciprocating saw.
This power tool allows you to cut just about anything that you can imagine. They’re even used by emergency rescuers to cut people out of cars and other tight spots.
They’re also used by window fitters, construction workers, plumbers, irrigation installers, and backyard gardeners. From the wide variety of the jobs they serve, you can probably tell how diverse and powerful they are.
While all the options I’ve picked out can be considered the best reciprocating saw on the market, there are some that I’d recommend for hitting better combinations of desired features.
For one, the Milwaukee 6519-31 is the original Sawzall reciprocating saw, so it has plenty to offer and is generally the best option you can get overall.
If you’re looking for an affordable option, you can go for Porter-Cable PCC670B or the DeWalt DC385B.
Finally, the Makita JR3050T is the ideal choice for someone who’s looking for versatility and great performance at a reasonable price.