Best Reciprocating Saw (Sawzall) – Reviews & Detailed Guide
Whether you call it a reciprocating saw, a sawzall, saber saw or recip saw, it’s an essential tool for the handyman and the DIY enthusiast. However, searching for the best reciprocating saw online can be difficult as each product will say they’re the best. No need to worry though as we’ve done the job for you by selecting the top 7.
Best Reciprocating Saw Models for 2017
The Top 7 Reciprocating Saws
The DeWalt DW311K is one of the top Sawzall saws today and comes with plenty of practical features like depth adjustment, orbital motion, speed control and multiple speed options. The DeWalt also comes with a powerful motor which should be more than enough to take care of sawing jobs.
The DeWalt also makes it easy to go into orbital action mode, great when you’re trying to do a lot of wood cutting, and what’s more impressive is you don’t need to make adjustments to the length of the shoe and/or change the blade. Additional features include variable speed with a maximum SPM of 2700.
The DeWalt has a stroke length of 1-1/8″ and is capable of cutting through nails, metal tubes, conduits, wood and other materials. For all its power and capabilities, the DeWalt weighs quite less and with a handle that's made to not slip, you don’t have to worry about dropping the saw while you’re cutting.
- Not too heavy
- Provides orbital action that's useful in wood cuts
- Shoe is stainless steel
- Deigned for heavy duty use
- Has no controls for vibration
The 13 Amp power should be more than enough to take care of your cutting needs, and it’s powerful enough to go through most types of DIY materials. The DeWalt does not come with a lot of fancy features, but if you are a DIYer and looking for a no-frills power tool, the DeWalt is up to the task. Just make sure you wear gloves when using this tool for protection.
The RS428 was constructed from the ground up to handle an assortment of cutting jobs ranging from plastic, wood, ceramic and metal. This saber saw is powered by a 14A motor and at just 8 lbs. provides one of the best weight to power ratio in its class.
As far as power and performance goes the Bosch lives up to your expectations with constant orbital action, 2900 SPM and a 1-1/8″ stroke and speed that you can count on. In addition to these features the RS428 also has an adjustable shoe and keyless blade change so you handle different types of cutting tasks. Furthermore the saw comes with a specially designed anti-vibration mechanism so you can use it for an extended period of time without suffering fatigue.
- Cord is 12 ft. long
- Power to weight ratio is exceptional
- Provides constant speed
- Orbital action for every cut
- Plenty of power for large tasks
- A case would have been preferable to the provided bag
Bosch has long been known for their powerful Sawzall products and the RS428 is no exception. Compared to the previous models, the RS428 is lighter without compromising in terms of performance or cutting power. While its cutting prowess is certainly impressive, it is the anti-vibration feature that will entice buyers.
The anti-vibration mechanism is a huge boost for DIY enthusiasts and construction workers who have to use these tools for long periods of time. Aside from the anti-vibration element, the Bosch is also helped by constant speed as it is handled electronically. While other recip saws slow down when the load is increased, this one does not, and it's a testament to its quality.
The JR3070CT is a solid candidate for the title of the 'best sawzall', owing to its powerful specs. Aside from the 15A motor the saw has an SPM of 2800, electronic speed compensation and 1 1/2in. stroke for rapid cuts. The Makita also has variable speed built in so you can adjust the saw to fit your specific needs.
The JR3070CT also comes with its own blade clutch that provides protection for the gear in case the blade blinds, a feature that goes a long way towards improving its lifespan. Another notable feature on the saw is the anti-vibration system that prevents fatigue from setting in.
The saw is a bit on the heavy side at 9.7 lbs. but if you’re looking for a tool that can cut through wood beams, steel and other materials, this will do the job. Makita has embedded their proprietary AVT (a technology for reducing vibration) here, and considering that it is based on the principles of seismic engineering, it should come as no surprise that the Makita has virtually no vibrations.
- Anti-vibration system is exceptional
- Blade clutch provides protection for the gears and motor
- The blade is long and solidly built
- A bit heavy
The Makita JR3070CT may be a bit on the bulky side, but its features, power and the fact that it is vibration free makes this an ideal choice for those serious about doing DIY projects. In short, this is the type of reciprocating saw that you can rely on for years.
If you’re in the market for the best reciprocating saw for the money then the DWE304PK should be on your radar. The 10A motor may not be as powerful as those of other Sawzall saws, but DeWalt has done a good job implementing the feature so it is more than enough for a lot of DIY tasks.
While some reciprocating saws are unable to make precise cuts, the DeWalt is more than capable of making quick and accurate cuts via its 1-1/8″ stroke (the SPM is 2800), orbital motion and changing speed trigger. Just like other saber saws, changing the blade is done via lever action clamp. In addition the four-position blade clamp lets you position the recip saw to cut in the manner you want.
If you are interested in buying a lightweight but powerful saber saw, then the DeWalt DWE304PK should be just right. Of all the models we are reviewing here, this is the lightest and as such is ideal if you’re new to DIY or just need a light reciprocating saw to perform small tasks.
At the same time, the light weight makes this ideal for overhead and ladder work, though obviously you won’t use this for heavy workloads.
- Light but powerful
- The shoe is made from stainless steel
- The blade clamp has multiple position options
- Easy to use
- Blades are not bundled with the product
The DeWalt DWE304PK is not the most powerful reciprocating saw, but if you only do occasional DIY work and don’t need a heavy duty power tool, this will do just fine.
The first thing that you will notice with the Milwaukee is that it is capable of delivering 3000 rpm, and that alone makes it a good choice if you’re looking for a value for money sawzall.
With an electrical power of 12 Amps and a blade stroke of 1-1/8″, this is clearly one of the more powerful reciprocating saws available. The 6519-31 also has the proprietary QUIK-LOK blade clamping that simplifies the blade exchange process.
It also sports a unique counterweight design that minimizes the vibration felt when using the saw, effectively limiting the wear you feel. A look at the overall design of this Sawzall also shows that it’s ergonomically designed so it’s comfortable to use even on hard materials. If you buy the kit edition it comes with the carrying case and the saw but not the blades.
The extra motor power does mean the Milwaukee is a bit on the heavy side, but it’s not a big issue as it really doesn’t get in the way of portability. However this saw is meant for more advanced users as it doesn’t have an adjustable shoe, something beginners use for fine tuning depth cuts. While the SPM is not an issue, the Milwaukee does not come with a dial for controlling the speed. What this means is if you’ve got a task that doesn’t need maximum SPM, you’ve got to use your finger.
- The assembly clutch is well designed
- There is an option for a ¾” stroke length if you need to do precision work
- Has plenty of power
- Variable speed setting not possible
The Milwaukee 6519-31 is one of the more robust recip saws you’ll find, but its unique features and design make it more suited for the power user rather than the occasional DIYer. If you’re out there looking for a powerful saw, mark this down.
BOSCH RS7 + RAP10PK
The Bosch RS7 gets our nod as one of the top rated reciprocating saws mainly due to its 10A motor, which is more than enough for most DIY tasks. With regards to cutting power it’s capable of going through everything from metal, dimensional lumber, roofing, cement board and plywood.
The RS7 weighs just 8.5 lbs. so it’s not going to be a problem when it comes to overhead work. Not even for the addition of LED lighting. The open shoe design makes it a breeze to follow cut lines compared to other models. Blade changes do not require a tool and its changing speed trigger gives you a good deal of control. The handle is soft so even if you use this on a consistent basis it’s not going to wear you down, and if you buy the kit you’ll get ten different blades that should be able to handle most of the materials you’ll be working with.
- LED line lighting is useful
- The toe shoe open design improves visibility
- Has enough power for heavy duty usage
- Does not have a vibration control mechanism
As far as quality goes Bosch does not disappoint, and its feature set is among the best in its class. While it doesn’t have a lot in terms of extras – no vibration control – the inclusion of the ten blades more than makes up for this.
One of the best Sawzall saws, the Hitachi CR13VBY is powered by a 12A motor that is capable of performing different jobs like HVAC, plumbing, construction, demo and many more. Its stroke is 1-1/4″, longer than most others in this range, and with the 3,000 SPM will allow you to go through most materials without a problem.
The CR13VBY also has a unique “swing mode”, an orbital motion that minimizes blade rebounding while improving wood cuts. The saw also uses Hitachi’s proprietary vibration protection technology (UVP) to cut down vibration by as much as 65%. Changing the blade requires just one hand and adjusting the shoe requires only the pressing of a single button. Like other Hitachi saws the CR13VBY has a five year warranty and weighs only 9.7 lbs.
Most Hitachi saws are brimming with features and so does this one. It’s got a high SPM, lots of cutting power, changing speed trigger and speed and the previously mentioned vibration control. Of all the features on this saw, the one that most people will probably like is the one button adjustment for the shoe and one hand blade change mechanism. At 9.7 lbs. it’s heavier than other reciprocating saws but the extra features compensate for this.
- Vibration control is top of the line
- Shoe adjustment is easy
- Blade swing option available for cutting wood
- Two positions for blade clamps
- A bit heavy
The Hitachi saber saw line has always been good and this one is no exception. While it’s a bit more expensive than other reciprocating saws I've mentioned, you can’t go wrong with the quality.
How a Reciprocating Saw Can Help You
Before going through the reciprocating saw reviews, let’s examine the benefits of a saber saw. First and foremost, these are for making quick cuts, and similar to jigsaws you can use a reciprocating saw to make lumber end curves and other general quick cutting tasks. You don’t use a reciprocating saw for finesse cutting: that’s the job of a circular saw. The reciprocating saw is all about cutting as deeply and quickly as possible.
Among the benefits they provide are:
- Safer to use for overhead tasks compared to other saws
- They can reach tight areas
- Very effective for cutting slots in walls and sheet goods
- Versatile and can be used in different applications
Buying Tips and Suggestions
Cheap Sawzall saws are becoming more commonplace as manufacturers try to lure buyers, and that’s a good thing. However, price isn’t the only factor to consider as you also need to consider the following as well.
- Amperage: the more power the saw has the easier it will cut through materials. Most recip saws have 15 to 19 amps: if you’re a contractor, 15 amps is the minimum while 11 amps should suffice for DIY projects, though advanced DIYers might prefer a 15 amp saw.
- Length of stroke: long strokes equal faster cuts, but at the same time you don’t want the blade extending too much into the material you’re cutting. On the average these blades are 3/4 inch to 1 1/4 inches long. Many of them are adjustable too, and remember, the best stroke length depends on the project so take that into consideration.
- Blade changing system: this one is very important because you’ll be doing it often. In the past you needed to use a wrench to do this, but modern recip saws have specially designed locks that simplify the process. However the mechanisms used in these saws vary from model to model.
- Shoe adjusting: most saber saws have an adjustable shoe for additional control over the cut depth, effectively increasing the saw’s stability. Just like the blade change, the mechanism for shoe adjustment differs so look for one that is smooth and accurate.
- Straight vs orbital: an orbital reciprocating saw operates in an oval or elliptical manner instead of just going up and down. Always look for a saber saw with orbital motion because it leads to faster and more aggressive cutting.
- Strokes per minute: the average stroke per minute for reciprocating saws is around 2300 to 3000, with the higher amperages providing higher SPMs. This average is applicable to cord and cordless units so you can use these numbers as reference.
- Speed control: to be more precise, variable speed control. This speed is determined in strokes per minute, and variable control means you can tweak the setting to determine how fast the blade is going to cut. Having control over the speed is going to be crucial especially if you work with a lot of different materials and cut at different angles. However, variable speed control only becomes a factor if you use the saw often.
- Weight: weight is important if you’re going to use this for extended periods or cutting at off angles. If the reciprocating saw is well balanced it can help you deal with the weight, but it can only go so far, so go for the lightest sawzall possible that has the features you’re looking for. If you don’t need a fancy saw, then stick with the basics as they are lighter.
- Rotating handle and blade: some saber saws have rotating blades and / or handles. While not everyone likes it, this feature can be useful and simplify cutting at difficult angles.
- Cordless or corded: if you constantly need powerful and fast cuts, a corded saw is the best option as it has the power and specs required for heavy duty work. But if you’re assigned to a site where a power outlet is not available, you will need a cordless reciprocating saw. You will also find such a saw practical for small tasks as they are more flexible and maneuverable.
- Vibration: one of the issues with some reciprocating saws is they don’t have any anti-vibration mechanism. Ask anyone who has used a sawzall before and they will tell you that it vibrates when used for extended periods, and that can induce fatigue. If you’re going to use a saber saw for long stretches, an anti-vibration system will be an immense help.
- The case: the carrying case might seem like an afterthought, but it’s going to be important if you’ll bring the saw with you to the work site. These cases are made from different materials so look for the most durable ones.
Conclusion – So What is the Best Reciprocating Saw?
There was a time when your choices of reciprocating saws were limited and had very little in the way of resources. However that’s no longer true as the Internet has opened the door to a wider range of products. Now it’s the opposite as deciding which sawzall is the best for you can be overwhelming with so many options. But with the information in this guide, you’ll be better informed.