Reciprocating saws, or what has come to be commonly known as sawzalls, have become a must-have tool in the modern woodworker’s and DIYer’s tool-belt. Not known as a fine crafting tool, the reciprocating saw is often used for demolition purposes, and will cut through wood, nails, rebar, and metal pipe quicker than most other tools out there.

When looking for the best reciprocating saw, keep in mind there are two main categories: one-handed and two-handed cordless reciprocating saws. One-handed reciprocating saws trade power and cutting speed for lower overall weight and better vibration dampening.

Best reciprocating saw

Two-handed designs commonly angle the secondary handle down in order to shorten the tool and allow for guidance of the tool in tight spaces. One-handed models tend to angle the motor up, which shortens the length and keeps the overall height about the same.  

One-handed models work well for HVAC technicians, plumbers, irrigation specialists, electricians, and landscapers. An overall easy and comfortable cut is expected from the one-handed models, while higher performance is expected from the two-handed models.

One-handed models are customarily not used in professional woodworking applications, but for the average DIYer, the one-handed versions can accomplish most tasks, just not as easy as the two-handed variety.

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TWO-HANDED RECIPROCATING SAWS

Makita 18V LXT Reciprocating Saw XRJ07ZB

The Makita XRJ07 18V brushless reciprocating saw is one of the top contenders in the field of reciprocating saws.  The Makita’s motor can produce 0-3,000 strokes per minute and is combined with a 13/16” stroke length that produces efficient and fast cutting capabilities.

Pros:

  • Best vibration control in its class by independent tests;
  • Most compact two-handed saw at 12 ½” long, which is optimal for tight cutting situations;
  • “Tool-less” blade change system;
  • 3-year limited warranty;
  • Springblade ejection;
  • Pivoting Shoe for constant contact with the cutting surface.

Cons

  • 5.7 lbs tool weight makes it the heaviest in its class;
  • At $126 it’s one of the costlier two-handed saw options, tying with DeWalt;
  • Its 18v battery potentially could be seen as weaker than its 20v competitors.
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DEWALT 20V MAX XR Reciprocating Saw

The Dewalt 20V Max XR brushless reciprocating saw is a great option for a two-handed saw that will make demolition in tight spaces doable. With a variable speed trigger and a motor that produces 0-2,900 strokes per minute, it has the capacity to accomplish the hard tasks.

Pros

  • 1-1/8″ stroke length, the longest in its field;
  • Has the fastest cutting speed, based on performance in an independent test (likely due to the long stroke length);
  • 5 pounds weight (about average);
  • 20v battery;
  • “Tool-less” blade change system;
  • 3-year limited warranty;
  • Pivoting shoe for constant contact with the cutting surface.

Cons

  • At 14 ½”, it is average in length;
  • Vibration: compared to other options, in an independent test, DeWalt had more vibration than Makita or Skil;
  • It won’t do your dishes or balance the checkbook.
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Skil 20V Compact Reciprocating Saw

The Skil 20V Compact two-handed reciprocating saw comes in with the best value compared with the other two-handed competitors, as you get a 2.0 AH battery and charger with the purchase. With a 1” stroke length and up to 3,000 strokes per minute, it cuts stuff…fast.

Pros

  • It is the lightest two-handed option in this review, allowing you to saw things for longer;
  • Best value, based on price and included battery;
  • Brushless motor, because really, who needs brushes anymore;
  • 5-year limited warranty is the best of the 3 reviewed;
  • “Tool-less” blade change system;
  • Pivoting and adjustable shoe.

Cons

  • At 16.3” it’s the longest in its category;
  • Slowest average cut time, based on an independent test;
  • Average vibration control.
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One-Handed Reciprocating Saws


Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hackzall Reciprocating Saw

Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Hackzall is a great piece of engineering coming in at 4.55 pounds and 14.8 inches long. In an independent test against other-one handed reciprocating saw options, it was rated as best in its class and as having the best vibration control overall.

Pros

  • Best in class vibration control, best on an independent test;
  • Pivoting shoe provides constant contact.

Cons

  • At 4.55 pounds it’s on the heavier end of the weight spectrum;
  • At 14.8 inches it’s on the longer end of the length spectrum;
  • Average cutting speed for a ¾” EMT, based on an independent test.
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Kobalt 24V Brushless Reciprocating Saw

Kobalt’s 24 Volt Max brushless reciprocating saw weighs in at 3.7 pounds and 13.58 inches long, with a 1-inch stroke length. At 24 volts it has the most voltage in its class and accomplished the quickest EMT cut in an independent test.

Pros

  • Quickest cutting for EMT, based on an independent test;
  • At 3.7 pounds it’s on the lighter end of the weight spectrum;
  • 5-year warranty.

Cons

  • Average vibration control, based on an independent test;
  • Average for weight in its class.
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Ridgid 18V Octane Brushless Reciprocating Saw

Ridgid’s 18 Volt Octane reciprocating saw, comes to the table with the best warranty in class: a lifetime warranty, which is probably why it also is the most expensive in its class at $147. While it is the longest and heaviest in its class, it makes up for it by cutting a 3” PVC the fastest and ¾” EMT the second-fastest.

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty, the best warranty in its class;
  • Fasted 3” PVC cutting, based on an independent test;
  • Second fastest in cutting speed for a ¾” EMT, based on an independent test.

Cons

  • 5.21 makes it the heaviest in its class;
  • At 15.98 inches it’s also the longest in its class;
  • Shoe does not pivot;
  • Poor vibration control, based on an independent test.
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Metabo 18V LTX Compact Reciprocating Saw

Metabo’s 18-volt LTX compact reciprocating saw packs a punch in its small frame. It comes in as the shortest in length in its class and includes a 3-year limited warranty. It’s about average in the value category as well as in the weight category at 3.7 pounds.

Pros

  • Most compact in its class at 12 inches long;
  • 3-year warranty;
  • Adjustable shoe.

Cons

  • At 3.7 pounds its average for weight;
  • Average vibration control, based on an independent test;
  • Second slowest cutting speed for a ¾” EMT, based on an independent test.
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Makita 18-Volt LXT Reciprocating Saw XRJ01Z

Makita’s 18 Volt LXT reciprocating saw has a lot of great features. This is a very budget-friendly option, it’s the lightest in its class and includes many features, such as tool-less blade change and a spring blade ejection to make using this tool a breeze.

Pros

  • Has the best value in its class with the $79 (on Amazon);
  • At 3 pound, it is the lightest in its class;
  • “Tool-less” blade change;
  • Adjustable shoe;
  • Springblade ejection.

Cons

  • At 15 ⅝” it’s one the longer end of the length spectrum for its class;
  • ½” cutting stroke;
  • Shoe does not pivot;
  • It has the slowest cutting speed for a ¾” EMT, based on an independent test;
  • Worst vibration control, based on an independent test.
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Final Thoughts

Be sure to know the features matter most to you before buying your next reciprocating saw. For the average user, some of the more important features might be vibration dampening, a pivoting shoe, and the overall weight of the tool. These features when combined together have a great deal of impact on the overall tool experience.  

For the working professional, the size of the reciprocating saw, its weight, and the speed at which it cuts might be more important in order to timely complete your job. Each of the many different options plays a role, but it also might come down to which brand you have bought in the past and if you have to buy extra batteries and charging units or not. 

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8 Best Reciprocating Saws #sawdustprojects