A reciprocating saw is great tool for all sorts of activities, demolition in particular. So many jobs look tough, but then with reciprocating saw you can get the job done effortlessly. With one of these you can use it to easily cut through walls, plumbing, branches, and, well, just about anything.
What Is A Reciprocating Saw?
A reciprocating saw, usually called a “sawzall,” is a very versatile tool and an important one in construction and demolition activities. Its name comes from the stroke of the blade moving back and forth. The fast sawing motion of the blade means you can cut through almost anything and you don’t need a lot of room in which to do it.
A reciprocating saw can get in tight spots, it cuts fast, and it works at a variety of angles so you will find it’s a good tool for many different jobs where you might have been scratching your head thinking, “How am I going to cut that?”
And, to be clear, a “Sawzall” might be what most people call these things, but that’s actually the brand of the tool that Milwaukee makes not the name of the category of tools. It’s like how a Kleenex is actually a type of tissue, not the name of every tissue.
To Cord Or Not To Cord?
Typically when you think of a modern sawzall you think of one that’s cordless. That’s because the batteries of 2021 are much better than they were just a few years ago. For most of their existence a reciprocating saw was a device you plugged in because these things are on the larger side and they are power-hungry. They also don’t work well if they are running on empty (you might be able to get just a few more minutes out a power drill, you can’t do that with a reciprocating saw).
So, typically speaking, the safe money is going with a corded model since you know you’ll have enough power and it’ll last forever, but most people are looking towards cordless today, just like with all other power tools.
It used to be that if you wanted maximum power from a power tool you needed the corded one, but the latest round of tools now have corded power in a cordless variety, but you’ll have to pay a premium. Just look at the price of the Milwaukees…
- Milwaukee 12 Amp Sawzall (Corded): $120
- Milwaukee M18 FUEL Super Sawzall (18V Cordless): $349
Top Reciprocating Saws of 2021
Let’s have a look at some of the best reciprocating saws available in the market…
There is a reason why the category of tools is usually known as a sawzall, and Milwaukee Sawzall and Super Sawzall tools really are a great pick. The question is, which is the right one for you?
The line-up looks a little like this:
- Corded Sawzall (12 amp): $120
- M18 Cordless Sawzall: $120
- Corded Super Sawzall (15 amp): $200
- M18 FUEL Sawzall: $200
- M18 FUEL One-Key Sawzall: $250
- M18 FUEL Super Sawzall: $250
These are all great tools, but the sky is the limit in terms of pricing, especially once you start adding on spare batteries, extended life lithium ion batteries, and chargers.
A lot of people ask, what’s the difference between a Sawzall and a Super Sawzall? Basically it comes down to this: if you want to demolish a garage, a Sawzall is a great choice. If you need to demolish garages all day long, then you get a Super Sawzall because it’s the heavy duty, pro-grade version.
Dewalt DWE305 Reciprocating Saw
If you like your tools in yellow instead of red then you can go for the Dewalt DWE305 reciprocating saw. This is another base-level buy-it-for-life, corded recip saw that sells for right around $100, similar to the entry-level Milwaukee. A 12-amp motor powers the Dewalt DWE305 just like that Sawzall.
- Provides 1-1/8″ stroke length
- 0 to 2900 strokes per minute.
- The variable speed trigger
- Four-position blade clamp for flush cutting
- A keyless lever blade clamp for quick blade changes
Budget Option: Dewalt also sells the DE304, which is the 10 amp version of their reciprocating saw. You’ll only save about $10 with it though, so it’s not worth it unless you are really worried about tripping breakers. If you do have power concerns though, don’t get an underpowered saw, just go cordless.
Ryobi 18V One+ Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Ryobi is in a respectable third place — alongside Makita — in the world of reciprocating saws. Popular models like the Ryobi P518 offer a bit more value than the Milwaukee and Dewalt alternatives and will let you go cordless for less.
- In slippery conditions, rubber notches on the handle keep your hands from losing hold
- Up to 3100 strokes per minute
- Just pull the latch up and your blades can be removed
Makita XRJ05Z Reciprocating Saw
The Makita XRJ05Z has a lightweight 7.3 lbs body and an 11 amp brushless motor powered by a lithium ion battery.
- Equipped with a 0 to 2800 strokes per minute motor with a variable trigger
- 1.25-inch stroke length
- It includes an internal dust blower system that removes debris from the cutting line for better visibility.
- Heavy-duty shoe and tool-less blade replacements
- Designed for long tool life with needle bearings.
- Reinforced body design with rubber protection to screen the engine and the rollers from dust and debris
- Soft handle and grip for improved comfort
- Tool-less blade swapping
Low Cost Reciprocating Saws
If you want to save money because a reciprocating saw is not something you plan to use regularly, there are options available to you as well. These tools won’t have the power to build quality of the upper-tier options, but you can get the job done for $60-75.
Black and Decker BDCR20B Cordless Reciprocating Saw
The tool-free blade is a nice perk found on the affordable Black and Decker BDCR20B 20v MAX reciprocating saw. This is an affordable tool that let’s you use the popular 20V Black and Decker battery system.
- Equipped with a pivoting shoe and variable speed trigger
- Easy blade removal
- 18-volt battery (nominal)
- 0 to 3000 strokes per minute
- Provides a 7/8″ stroke
- Watch out, if the price is too low you might need to buy the battery separately
Porter-Cable Corded 7.5A Reciprocating Saw
No list of affordable power tools would be complete without a Porter-Cable. The entry-level 7.5A corded model from P-C will get you cutting for under $60. It’s light on power, but it’s affordable and it cuts, what more do you need?
- 7.5 amp motor
- Variable speed (0-3200 spm) operation
- Lighter design than the more powerful saws
Air Compressor-Powered Reciprocating Saws
If you use our top air compressor list to get your garage a new tool, then you can save some money by getting an air-powered recip saw. You’ll lose a lot of mobility, but you’ll get good power and an affordable device. Plus the air compressor powered units look super cool.
The Ingersoll Rand 429 Air reciprocating saw will cost you under $75, for which you will get a small, powerful saw. It’s super light and smaller than you’d think, plus it has a horizontal layout, opposed to the standard vertical grip found on a sawzall. This is popular choice in auto shops and garages where you aren’t straying too far from the compressor and there the high max speed (10,000 strokes/minute) will benefit your job.
With the saw you get 6 blades, which is a nice perk. It uses smaller 4.5 inch blades and has a tiny 3/8 stroke length, so this is really for precision cutting of metal, fiber glasses, etc. not demolishing a deck.
Make sure you air compressor has at least 8 SCFM in order to power this device!
What is the Milwaukee FUEL line of power tools?
Milwaukee's FUEL sub-brand might just seem like marketing, but it actually makes a difference. These are meant to the the top-of-the-line, pro-level tools in their respective categories. The FUEL models (made of M12 and M18 for 12V and 18V battery types) have more power, longer battery life, brushless motors, and lithium batteries. FUEL models do come with a price premium as well.
Is Milwaukee M28 FUEL better then the M18 FUEL?
No, it is not. The M28 line is actually older and, in most way, a downgrade when compare to the newer M18 FUEL set of power tools. Some of the professional grade tools that were in the M28 line did also transition to the MX FUEL series of contractor-grade tools, like the massive MX FUEL 14-inch cut-off saw.
What is Milwaukee One-Key? Do I need it?
Milwaukee's One-Key system is a cloud-based tool inventory management system. If you don't know what it is or you are a home tool user, you don't need it and won't benefits from your sawzall having a connection to the cloud. Using One-Key's online platform you can track tool inventory, usage, and activity from a central reporting dashboard.
What's the difference between the Dewalt DWE305 vs. the Dewalt DWE304 reciprocating saw?
The DW305 is slightly more expensive than the DWE304 because it is more powerful. The DW305 has a 12 amp motor while the DE304 has a 10 amp motor. 12 amp is standard for a corded reciprocating saw, while 10 amp is slightly underpowered.