The Best Reciprocating Saw in 2020 – A Comparison of Hand Picked Sawzall tools
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The best reciprocating saw in our opinion is the Dewalt DCS387B . This sawzall features an impressive design and only weighs 4.9 pounds. The Dewalt reciprocating saw has a soft grip handle and comes with a 4-blade clamp feature which allows you to cut up and down vertically as well as left and right horizontally. The sawzall has a variable speed of 0-2,900 spm which is controlled by the variable speed trigger and a 1-1/8” Blade Stroke that offers an impressive cutting speed. There are not many tasks where this saw is not up for the challenge.
Reciprocating tools are not your everyday building tools, they are more useful in tearing down or destroying objects. Reciprocating saws also fit in this category as they are best seen as a tool for demolition. These tools are a must have on a construction site as they double up as circular saws, portable saws, chainsaws and jigsaws. The possibilities and uses of the best reciprocating saws are endless.
Most users tend to use the reciprocating saws also known as a sawzall for a single application not knowing that they can be a great alternative to various tools.
Make sure to read the rest of our reciprocating review below....
Strokes per minute
Porter Cable PCC670B
RYOBI P514 One+
Our Top 6 Best Reciprocating Saws for 2020
What’s a reciprocating saw?
Before we dive into reciprocating saws, we’ve got to understand how they work. What does the word reciprocate mean? It is a word that means return, which is the principle by which reciprocating saws function. It is a basic forward-backward motion. This is the same motion you use with other types of saws such as jigsaws. Even the blades are similar. The only difference is the shape of the blades.
The concept of a reciprocating saw is likened to the two-man saws that were commonly used by lumberjacks. Each man would stand at one end of the saw and the pulling action would occur from one end to the other. It was a pull-pull situation. He pulls first and you pull back. This action was effective in cutting trees but very tiresome.
What styles are there?
A reciprocating saw is a tool with many designs that range from speed, features and power. Thanks to advancement in technology the size of these tools keeps reducing. Some are shaped like cordless drills and are largely used in DIY projects such as making furniture at home.
There are also large models that are built for professional use and are mostly corded due to their high power usage.
Most sawzalls have variable speeds which either work via dial on a saw or trigger sensitivity. New models have orbital action that allows you to cut circles.
Since 2011 when Dewalt announced the addition of the 20V platform in their long list of power tools, they cemented their status as one of the best power tool brands. The platform features tools such as Dewalt DCS387B, a reciprocating tool that’s compact, lightweight and has loads of power.
The DCS387B is a tool designed for plumbers, builders, masons, painters, carpenters, DIY households and construction companies.
It is not the most unique tool we have seen but it certainly does have a nice design. It features a drop motor design that makes the DCS387B quite compact, which gives you access to tight spaces that would have otherwise been impossible to reach with your regular reciprocating saw.
Dewalt Saw Design
It features an impressive design where the motor is positioned just in front of the trigger. The motor assumes a diagonal position thus distributing the weight all over. Talking of weight, the DCS387B weighs 4.9 pounds making it light enough for you to enjoy your job without noticing the extra weight. It is actually one of the lightest reciprocating saws on the market.
It is so lightweight that working with it while on a ladder or scaffolding is a breeze. The design makes it easy for you to work over your head without any complications or extra fatigue.
The Dewalt reciprocating saw has a soft grip handle that’s not only comfortable to grip but also makes it easy to pick up the saw and hold on to it while working. The soft grip handle gives you unparalleled control over your Dewalt sawzall. This boosts your efficiency and cuts the time required to complete the task.
Four Blade Positioning
The 4-blade clamp feature allows you to cut up and down vertically as well as left and right horizontally. This feature comes in handy in many occasions but perhaps one of our favorite is the ease at which the 4 blade clap allows you to make flush cuts. All you need is a blade that is long enough/ flexible enough to get right flush cut. Like earlier mentioned, the blade can be installed at 0, 90, 180 and 270˚ to the soft grip handle. It is a feature that’s added to make different actions easy and improve safety.
Nothing is as frustrating as losing your wrench at a time when you need it the most especially when you have a broken or dull blade. Such situations suck the life out of you. Luckily, the Dewalt cordless reciprocating saw features a keyless blade change lever that makes it easy to change broken and dull blades. The keyless blade change lever is a huge relief as it eliminates the hassle involved changing blades.
Sawzall Variable Speed
The DCS387B has a variable speed of 0-2,900 spm which is controlled by the variable speed trigger. The trigger is so small that it can only be operated by one finger. However, that’s the standard size for triggers and its small size gives you better control over the blade ensuring absolute precision.
While using the Dewalt DCS387b you will find that the spring tension of the trigger is somewhat tight. It is not a flaw in the design. In fact, the extra spring tension is added to help maintain the speed control especially in instances when you are not on full throttle.
Dewalt Pros & Cons
The DCS387B is evenly balanced and the design is spot on. It does feel a little bit heavy on the front side without the battery but once you put in the battery it should balance evenly. It uses lithium-Ion batteries but you have to buy them separately.
Before we continue let’s look at the history of the sawzall
Reciprocating saws have not been around for long as their history dates back to the 1940s. Before the invention of electricity, the most common tool in a workshop was the hacksaw. Electricity became a necessity and the idea of power tools such as reciprocating saws was born.
In 1949, a company known as Milwaukee Electric Tool Co, made a right angle saw with a saw blade that pointed downwards. It was marketed as a tool for plumbers looking to saw pipes especially in tight areas. Two years later, the same company created the first sawzall. It was the first mobile power hacksaw and revolutionized the saw industry.
Note this, sawzall is not another name for reciprocating saws it is more of a brand name product. However, over the years the name sawzall has gained popularity and is now synonymous with reciprocating saws. It is now used to refer to small reciprocating saws that are easy to use and portable.
Types of Reciprocating Saws
Most reciprocating saws look similar the main difference being the design, size and strokes per minute. They are classified under several categories which include:
Corded vs. Cordless
The battle of corded vs. cordless continues, which is expected for a power tool.
Cordless reciprocating saws are battery powered and are the more convenient of the two. The battery capacity varies depending on the model. Although they are convenient, they often have drawbacks most of which are associated with the power and battery capacity. To curb this problem, you can always buy a powerful reciprocating saw and an extra set of batteries.
Corded reciprocating saws limit your maneuverability and flexibility. You just can’t use a corded reciprocating saw, there needs to be a power source nearby. The upside to this is the unlimited use as you do not have to worry about your battery running out. They are also more powerful and are suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
Mini reciprocating saws
The sizes range from small one-handed saws to large models that require 12” blades. The smallest of this lot are known as mini reciprocating saws and are often used for small tasks such as cutting pipes in tight spaces. You can’t use a mini reciprocating saw for heavy-duty jobs such as demolition or home construction.
Is there any difference between a jigsaw and a reciprocating saw?
Yes, there is. These two are similar in some but different in many. The only similarity is that the blades ‘reciprocate’ and that both are handheld. Jigsaws are designed for intricate tasks such as making curves on a workpiece. The jigsaw’s blade is smaller than that of a reciprocating saw and it has finer teeth. These two modifications allow you to guided cuts as well freehand cuts with utmost precision.
Reciprocating saw are for tearing up, demolition and making crude cuts on materials such as boards and pipes. They are the exact opposite of jigsaws. Their design and crudeness don’t allow even skilled operators to make precise angled cuts.
These may look similar in some ways, operated in the same way but one thing is for sure they have different uses.
Let’s get back to our reciprocating saw reviews.
Next Best Sawzall
The Makita XRJ01T is part of Makita’s 18V Lithium-Ion Series, which is one of the largest cordless tool line-up in the world. It is a tool that has the perfect blend of power, convenience, compactness and weight. It has the convenience of a 12V tool but feels like your everyday 18V tool.
Makita Sawzall Design
The Makita reciprocating saw features a compact design and is relatively small. It weighs about 3.9 lbs. which is inclusive of the battery. Its length is about 15-5/8” making it ideal for light-duty tasks.
The thing with big saws is they get the job done but they tend to have one flaw. When used for long they tire you easily which affects your precision. On the other hand, small reciprocating saws like the Makita sawzall are perfect for close quarter cutting as they weigh less compared to their bigger buddies. This makes it easy for you to guide the saw to exactly where you want to cut and you won’t tire easily even after using it for long.
Don’t let the miniature size fool you, the Makita XRJ01T is a work horse with a speed that reaches up to 3,000 spm. That is no small feat and the fact that the speed is variable makes it a perfect tool for your DIY household use or workshop. The variable speed allows you to tune it to a lower speed setting for thin and lightweight materials. High speed settings are best used to cut dense and heavy materials.
This is the feature that determines the blade speed and the efficiency of the cuts. For such a tool the ideal stroke length is 1/2” as it finds the perfect balance between efficiency and speed. With this Makita reciprocating saw you are assured of faster cutting and better efficiency.
Dual Position Switch
The saw has two switches, the first one is a paddle switch and the second switch looks like a trigger. Both switches can be used to turn the saw on and off. They are both located in strategic positions allowing you to continue working and only release the saw after it turns off.
The Makita reciprocating saw has a tool-less change system. The blade change process is very easy. You simply twist to open the blade lock allowing you to release or insert a blade with ease. Once the lock is opened, a spring ejects the blade gently. If you don’t want the hassle of having to twist the lock back so as to lock the new blade in position, you simply twist the blade lock far enough. It can hold open in this position and once you insert a new blade it auto-locks itself.
The lock has a rubber overmold that keeps it comfortable.
LED Lights have pretty much become a requirement for cordless tools, however, not all cordless tools have this feature. Luckily, the Makita reciprocating saw has one which is located just above the blade. It directs light straight through the shoe making it easy for you to cut precisely where you want to even in low light.
The Makita XRJ01T does not come with a battery, you have to buy the battery separately. It uses a Lithium-Ion battery which should not be hard to find. The 18V Lithium-Ion battery has a longer run time compared to other batteries and has 5X lower self-discharge than the average battery.
The saw connects to the battery via its 16 firm-holding contact terminals. It takes about thirty minutes to charge the battery from zero to full charge.
Makita Saw Pros & Cons
Makita XRJ01T sawzall has it all but they could definitely improve on the performance as it tends to be slow cutting when faced with heavy-duty tasks such as thick steel tubes. Its size and lightweight makes it easy to control, maneuver even in tight spaces and the level of precision is impressive.
The thrill of having the freedom to work anywhere in a room without being tied to a wall was a much-needed advancement in the reciprocating saw industry. It was a transition everyone looked forward to but most forgot that going cordless meant that they would have to compromise on power. This one thing really nagged us until we were introduced to the Milwaukee 2720-21 reciprocating saw. It has managed to cut down on the compromises and given us even more reason to include this tool in our reciprocating saw review and drop our corded reciprocating saws for this cordless tool.
The Milwaukee 2720-21 was among the first saws that incorporated the use of a power state brushless motor. One thing is for sure, thing tool is a beast. It cuts through construction materials with ease.
It has one of the easiest and fastest blade change systems. The system features a Quik-lok which has a spring loaded slide. The slide rotates around making it easy for you to place your blade either in reverse or forward but never sideways. Its spring action is somewhat heavy which should inspire confidence that the lock is secure.
The Milwaukee reciprocating saw has a rafter hook that comes in handy especially when working above ground. The rafter hook allows you to hang up the tool when the need arises. You can hook it to your tool belt and look like a gunslinger. However, don’t try hanging it in a position that puts you in risk of dismemberment. Safety first.
Like most reciprocating saws, the Milwaukee reciprocating saw has an LED bulb that comes in handy in low light work areas.
Milwaukee Battery and Runtime
We tried a 4.0 AH battery to see how long it would power up the Milwaukee sawzall. It exceeded our expectations as we were able to complete 90% of the task we were working on. The shoe required adjusting only once. The run time was impressive but we would recommend that you have several fully charged batteries ready for tasks such as major demolitions.
Simple tasks such as electrical, plumbing and minor remodeling projects will only require a single battery, which should last close to a day or more.
Milwaukee Pros & Cons
It is a nice tool but there are a few things that we didn’t like. For example, the handle could be more forgiving for when the blade starts binding and instead of the blade reciprocating the whole tool does. You will want to use gloves if you intend to use the Milwaukee reciprocating saw for long periods.
The pivoting and the adjustable shoe were impressive. The tool has the ideal combination of power, performance, flexibility, convenience and efficiency of a cordless saw.
Ryobi have become very popular with DIY weekend warriors due to the affordable pricing and value for money. The Ryobi P514 is ideal for light to medium-duty tasks such as cutting pipes, trimming tree branches and cutting tiles.
The Ryobi P514 is the bigger brother to the P515 an equally respected reciprocating saw. It is sold as a bare tool, which explains its incredibly low pricing.
It has a maximum speed of 3,100 spm which is controlled by the variable speed trigger. It allows you to tune the speed according to the task at hand- a feature that promotes efficiency and precision. The variable speed trigger makes it easy for you to adjust according to the material you are dealing with.
Blade Change On The RYOBI
It has a tool-less blade clamp that secures the blade tightly in position and like its name suggests it does not require any tools to remove or insert a new blade. It has an integrated system that only requires the push of a lever to release the blade. Replacement blades for the Ryobi reciprocating saw should be easy to find.
The adjustable shoe comes in handy in increasing the lifespan of the blade as it hides away the worn out parts of the blade and rotates the unused sections of the blade. This ensures that you get full value for your money. It also comes with a hex key for easy installation of the adjustable shoe.
Size and weight
The Ryobi sawzall is lightweight as it weighs about 4 pounds without the battery and 10 pounds with battery. Its small size and well distributed weight makes it the best reciprocating saw for precision cuts. It offers impressive levels of control and balance. The Ryobi reciprocating saw is so light that handling it when on a ladder or any raised position will be a thing of past.
Did we say that it is a cordless saw? Cordless saws are a huge relief from the bulky saws that would confine us to a specific working radius. With the Ryobi sawzall you don’t have to worry about maneuverability and working radius. You can work anywhere you want as you long as you have your battery charged and an extra battery just in case you run out of juice. It is the ideal tool for workers who are always on the move. It is lightweight, has a manageable size and is cordless, which is the perfect recipe for some outdoor ‘fun’ such as pruning.
The Ryobi reciprocating saw does not come with a battery but the good thing is that it is compatible with Ryobi’s ONE+ 18V batteries. If you’ve ever used any of these tools in the past and have an extra battery, it should work just fine. Lithium-Ion batteries have a better run time than it's Ni-Cd counterparts. 18V Lithium-Ion batteries should work fine with the 3100 spm motor.
The whole unit is well designed, we couldn’t find a flaw in its design and the handle is no different. It has an ergonomic handle which features an overmold on the grip for a much relaxed and comfortable handling. Most power tools vibrate which makes it hard for you to control the tool for precision cuts. The addition of an overmold on the handle of the Ryobi saw acts as a way to cushion your hand from the vibrations. This makes it easy for you to make precision cuts without worrying about the vibrations.
Ryobi Pros & Cons
While the Ryobi reciprocating saw may not be the most powerful it certainly impressed us. We didn’t expect it to rival premium saws but it actually held up pretty well. Check it out, it might impress you too.
If you have used the 18V Porter cable grinder before then the Porter cable 20V reciprocating saw should be a nice addition to your tool collection. It has an impressive design and powerful motor to its name. It is a tool that is designed for remodeling artisans, plumbing contractors, DIY weekend warriors and general builders.
Tool-free blade changing
This is a feature that is on almost all reciprocating saws and it saves you time and the hassle of having to look for specific tools. It has a release feature that shortens the blade changing process. You simply twist and remove or insert the blade securely into the pivoting shoe. It holds the blade securely ensuring that you continue working with no issues.
Porter Cable High- performance motor
The Porter Cable reciprocating saw has a powerful motor- not the most powerful we’ve seen but it was good enough for the tasks we carried out. In addition to the powerful motor, it features a variable speed trigger that controls the speed from 0 to 3,000 spm. The variable speed trigger allows you to adjust the speed according to the material you are cutting and the level of precision required.
Dense materials require the maximum speed setting while light materials require low speed settings.
This Porter Cable sawzall has a compact design and a lightweight frame. Its length is 14 ½ inches, which is about the right size to reach tight spaces. The size of a reciprocating saw is a vital feature that you should not ignore as it dictates how and the places you can use your saw. For instance, it will be almost impossible to reach spaces with a big reciprocating saw but easier to complete the same task with a smaller reciprocating saw.
The PCC670B reciprocating saw weighs about 1.7 kg, which is lightweight compared to other models in the same category.
The best material for motor housing is metal as it dissipates heat better than plastic housing. This allows you to use your saw for longer. The PCC670B boasts of a metal housing and a contoured handle that allows for improved control. The metal housing is not only responsible for dissipating heat, but it also protects the motor from damage.
This saw uses a 20V lithium battery that has a low self-discharge allowing it to last for longer compared to the average battery. The Porter-Cable reciprocating saw also has quality power connects that are put in place to reduce the risk of power disruptions.
It takes about 20 minutes to charge the battery from zero to full charge. The charger has fancy features that monitor the current and voltage flowing to the battery. It also monitors battery temperature and has a fan that regulates temperature fluctuations
Porter Cable Pros & Cons
The Porter cable sawzall has a nice balance between freedom and power. It is also lightweight but powerful enough for your daily outdoor tasks such as cutting shrubs, pruning. The only disappointment is perhaps the lack of a battery, both the charger and the battery are sold separately.
Are you a home DIY warrior or work in the construction industry and need an affordable reciprocating saw? If yes, then the Bosch CRS180B might just be the best reciprocating saw for the money.
Bosch has an arsenal of very powerful tools with designs to match the power and the CRS180B is no different. One of its standout features is the balance and feel. When you hold it in your hand, you will notice that its balance is impressive for a reciprocating saw that weighs 7.6 lbs. The weight is distributed equally, which contributes to the balance.
It has a D-handle is big enough for users like us who prefer to use large gloves. This handle allows for a firm grip even when cutting overhead, moving down a wall or cutting on a floor.
Stroke length and speed
The Bosch reciprocating saw stroke length is 1-1/8 inches and is combined with a 0-2,400/0-2,700 No load spm. It has two speed settings- one achieves a maximum spm of 2400 and the other reaches 2,700. The CRS180B is on the lower end of powerful reciprocating saws. The variable speed allows you to match the speed to the particular material you are working on and tweak it if the need arises. It also features a lockjaw holder that makes it easy for you to access tight corners with only a single hand.
Bosch Pros & Cons
The most compelling reason to buy the Bosch reciprocating saw is the price and its value for money. Otherwise, if you are looking for a powerful reciprocating saw there are better options.
Reciprocating Saw Uses
This is one of the most versatile power tools, its uses are endless. Below are some of these uses:
Plumbing & HVAC
Plumbing is among the main reasons that reciprocating saws were built. Plumbing often involves working in tight areas that are hard to reach with normal sized tools. What do you do? Get a reciprocating saw that is small enough to fit in the area you working on. There are instances where the space available is only a few inches and you need to complete the task.
With the right blade, a reciprocating saw will maneuver the tight spaces and saw off whatever you intend to cut. Its working mechanism makes the process of cutting pipes in tight spaces very easy. Instead of moving the saw back and forth, you squeeze the trigger and the reciprocating saw does the rest.
Reciprocating saws also come in handy in HVAC work as it has the same space limitation often experienced in plumbing.
This one of the most frustrating task on a construction site as you are required to get measurements right to the millimeter. If you are not exact, you have to take it back and trim off the extra cm or inches. In worst cases, you are forced to resort to desperate measures such as tearing down the wall.
Luckily for you, there is a power tool known as a reciprocating saw that can help reduce your window fitting woes. Using the reciprocating saw, you can trim off the extra inches instead of redoing the whole wall.
This a tool that comes in handy in many situations such as when trimming wayward studs or when making the frame.
Emergency Rescue services
You wouldn’t expect such a use for the reciprocating saw; however, it has proven to be very useful in emergency rescue services. The protruding makes it easy for you to cut through material thus gaining access to people who are trapped.
Reciprocating saws have been used on numerous occasions to rescue people trapped in cars or homes hit by tornados. They also come in handy during fire rescue in situations where the only way into a building that is blocked and the rescuers resort to making their own entrances.
It's use in the construction field is so fast that we will probably not exhaust all its uses. For the most part, reciprocating tools are used in demolition projects such as removing walls or tearing down studs.
For example, you can remove the drywall on a wall without affecting the structural integrity or look of the other side of the same wall. It is the best tool for working in a room that shares a wall with an already completed room.
With a sawzall, you can make calculated cuts thus allowing to carefully remove studs or part of a wall leaving a clean workspace.
A reciprocating saw is indispensable at home from trimming trees to cutting just about anything. The small blades makes them suitable for cutting down small branches.
Choosing a great reciprocating saw
Some of the main features that you ought to look for include:
Since you are likely to use the reciprocating saw to cut through different materials with different densities and thickness, it is advisable that you choose a saw with variable speeds. Some materials are best cut at certain speeds while other require low speeds for precision.
Normally reciprocating blades move up and down but with the addition of the orbital action they can now move side to side or up and down. This feature improves the performance and cutting power of a reciprocating saw by making more aggressive cuts. It comes in handy especially in situations where the reciprocating saw is not powerful enough to complete the task at hand. Switch on the orbital action and the saw will tear through with ease.
Short strokes take too much to complete the job while longer strokes are faster and save time. Both the short and long stroke lengths have their uses. They are tasks that you can’t handle with the long stroke but the shorts stroke will complete with ease. Therefore, the best choice is to buy a reciprocating saw with an adjustable stroke length.
This is a vital feature as it not only makes working with a reciprocating saw safe but it also increases its work life. The feature automatically stops the blade at the exact moment you cut power supply to the saw. In case the brushes wear out, the saw stops automatically preventing further damage to the motor.
Other important features include saw blades, carrying case, comfortable grips, tool-less blade change, adjustable shoe and metal housing.
Reciprocating Saw Reviews Final Words
Whichever reciprocating saw or sawzall you decide on getting, one word of advice. Make sure to read the user reviews you will find on sites such Amazon. They should help you make an informed buying decision.
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