Reciprocating saws (often called “Sawzalls” after the first such product on the market) excel at cutting through a wide variety of materials. They feature 4-to-12 inch blades that move back and forth like a knife carving a turkey. They favor speed and strength over precision, so you won’t use them for fine woodworking. But they’re just what you need for many other tasks, from demolition work to pruning trees to cutting openings for windows. I’ve put together a list of what I think are the best reciprocating saws in a variety of categories.
If you just want to skip ahead to the final verdict, here are my picks:
- Best Overall / Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw: Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 Fuel Sawzall
- Best General-Purpose Corded Reciprocating Saw: DeWalt DWE305 12 Amp Reciprocating Saw
- Best Compact Reciprocating Saw: DeWalt DCS367B 20V MAX XR Reciprocating Saw
- Best Heavy-Duty Reciprocating Saw: Skilsaw SPT44-10 15 Amp Heavy-Duty Reciprocating Saw
- Best Low-Vibration Reciprocating Saw: Makita JR3070CTZ 15 Amp Reciprocating Saw
- Best Budget Cordless Reciprocating Saw: Black+Decker BDCR20C 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw
- Best Budget Corded Reciprocating Saw: Skil 9206-02 7.5 Amp Reciprocating Saw
Read on for reviews of all my picks as well as some tips on what to look for to choose the perfect reciprocating saw for you.
My Top Picks
I think the seven tools below represent some of the best tools on the market. But each has its strengths and weaknesses, so read on to find the best one for your specific needs.
Milwaukee Tool introduced the first reciprocating saw, the Sawzall, in 1951, and the term Sawzall has become synonymous with reciprocating saws. They still market a range of corded and cordless Sawzalls, and I think the M18 Fuel model 2720 is one of the best. It’s been on the market for a few years now, but its power and performance are hard to beat.
Its brushless motor is designed to reduce heat buildup, extending the life of the tool and ensuring it won’t overheat even with continual use. This kit includes one 5.0 Ah battery, which should get you through most jobs without needing a recharge. If you’ll be using it continuously, such as on a big demolition job, you’ll want a second battery for sure. The 9.0 Ah battery from Milwaukee should let you get through a whole day’s work.
At 7.4 pounds, this saw isn’t the lightest tool available. But its rugged construction and power make it worth it if you have serious demands of it. The only real complaint about its construction is that the blade release lever, which is plastic, is not as durable as the rest of the saw. Use caution when replacing the blades and you should be fine.
And if you already own Milwaukee M18 batteries and chargers, you can also buy just the bare tool.
- Power comparable to corded saw
- Brushless motor reduces heat and battery consumption
- Heavy-duty build quality (except for blade release lever)
- LED light
- Plastic blade release lever can break
If you prefer a corded reciprocating saw so you don’t need to worry about batteries, I think the DeWalt DWE305 is a great all-around choice. It’s relatively light at just 7 pounds, but it has a 12 amp motor. That’ll deliver plenty of power for any household or light construction job.
You can change the blade without using any tools, and the blade can be oriented in all four directions. That lets you position it to make the cut without needing to hold the saw in an awkward (and possibly dangerous) position.
The only real knocks on this saw is that it’s missing an orbital mode like some higher-end saws have. And it can be a little tricky to keep the speed constant when sawing at lower speeds. Other than that, this is an excellent tool for everyday use.
- Tool-less blade changing
- Blade can be oriented in any of four directions
- Fairly lightweight for the power
- No orbital motion for fast wood cutting
- Harder to control low speeds
If you’d like a lighter, smaller tool, the DeWalt DCS367B is an excellent choice. It measures only 14” long, so it will fit between standard-spaced wall studs. And at 5 pounds, it’s lighter than the full-size saws on our list.
The brushless motor uses less battery power than older brushed motors, and will last longer as well. It uses DeWalt’s 20 V batteries, but you can also use DeWalt 60 V FlexVolt batteries if you have them. The saw will generate the same power as with a 20 V battery, but the 60 V battery will last 3 times longer than it would if you use it in a 60 V tool. If you’ve already got DeWalt batteries and chargers, you can buy the bare tool without any batteries.
You can change the blade without needing any tools, and you can mount the blade in any of four directions in order to make a cut while still holding the tool comfortably. On the downside, because the saw is fairly light, vibrations from the blade get transferred back to your hand more than with a heavier saw. That won’t be an issue for small jobs, but bear it in mind if you think you’ll be using it for hours on end. If so, you might want to get a heavier tool or one with more advanced vibration reduction technology.
- Short enough to fit in areas where other saws won’t fit
- Easy-change blade mechanism supports mounting in all 4 directions
- More vibrations transferred to your hand than in heavier saws
If you spend your days sawing through thick, tough material, this may be the saw for you. The motor draws a full 15 amps, delivering the most power you’ll get from a standard electrical circuit. Despite all that power, it operates very smoothly.
Many other saws require you to adjust your finger pressure on the trigger to control the speed. This saw features a dial that lets you control exactly the speed you want for the material you’re cutting. Then you can pull the trigger and the saw’s electronics will deliver a constant speed as you cut. And unlike cheaper models, it offers an orbital mode. This adds a slight circular motion to the blade and helps cut through wood even faster.
Before you buy a saw like this, though, make sure you really need it. This saw is both big and heavy, so you’ll get a workout after using it for a couple hours. If you’re not particularly buff yourself, you might want to look at one of the lighter models in our list.
- Variable-speed dial for more precise control
- Electronics vary power to deliver constant power for all cuts
- Decent vibration reduction
- Orbital mode for fast cutting in wood
- Big and heavy
As you may have read in the other reviews, vibration can be a big problem with reciprocating saws. You might not notice it on short jobs, but after using the saw for an hour or more, you’ll definitely feel it in your hands and arms. Many higher-end saws have some kind of vibration reduction technology, but this Makita saw is tops in this department.
If you’re cutting through a lot of wood, you may want to switch to orbital mode. This imparts a slight circular motion to the blade, letting it cut more aggressively. This saw features four different orbital settings, so you can dial in exactly how aggressive you want it.
Like other high-end saws, it features a dial to set the exact speed you want for the material you’re cutting. Then you can just pull the trigger and let the saw deliver the right amount of power.
This saw is really targeting professionals who will be using it all day on tough materials. If you have lighter demands, you might not want to be carrying this 10 pound tool around. But if the task requires it, this is an excellent choice.
- Excellent vibration reduction
- Tool-less blade change
- Multiple orbital modes for fast cutting in wood
- Clutch to disengage if blade binds up
- Heavier than many other saws
If you’re looking for a cordless reciprocating saw that won’t break the bank, consider this model from Black+Decker. It’s definitely not a heavy-duty tool like most of the others on this list. So I’d look at the others if you anticipate heavy use or demanding tasks. But for basic work around the home, this tool should fit the bill.
It uses Black+Decker’s 20 V MAX battery system. Note that although the DeWalt and Black+Decker brands are owned by the same company, their batteries are not compatible with each other. So if you already own DeWalt batteries, you might find a DeWalt saw actually ends up being cheaper than buying a whole new battery set.
In spite of its low price, the saw is fairly sturdily built. It works great for pruning trees or light demolition work around the house. As with most lightweight reciprocating saws, vibration can become quite tiring after a while. If you expect to use it for a long job, you’ll want to wear gloves, ideally ones specifically made to reduce vibrations.
- Small enough to reach into tight spaces
- Considerably cheaper than professional-grade tools
- Vibration becomes a problem with extended use
- So-so battery life
If you prefer a corded saw but don’t want to shell out for one of the top-of-the-line professional models, this Skil reciprocating saw is a good bet. It draws 7.5 amps, so it doesn’t have the power of the big 12-15 amp models. But for typical jobs around the house and yard, it should have no problems.
You can change blades without any tools, and blades can be installed to cut either up or down. Surprisingly for a fairly light tool, vibration is not too much of a problem due to the saw’s design. The build quality is adequate for use around the house, but it definitely won’t stand up to a professional’s constant (ab)use.
- Effective vibration reduction
- Tool-less blade changes
- Not designed for heavy-duty use
If you’re new to reciprocating saws, you might be wondering what features to look for. I’ll walk you through the most important features to help you decide which ones matter to you and which ones don’t.
Corded vs. Cordless
The first big decision you’ll need to make is whether you want a traditional corded reciprocating saw or a cordless model. Will you always be near a source of electrical power, or at least within reach of an extension cord? For many home improvement or light construction projects, that might be the case. (But remember that power cords are a huge tripping hazard, so always be careful to avoid an accident.)
If you have a large property or are working somewhere without easy access to electricity, a cordless model may be just the ticket. Of course, you still need electricity to charge the batteries. But as long as you have a couple batteries charged up, you can do quite a bit of sawing before you’ll need to recharge.
A less obvious factor is the amount of power you’ll need from your saw. Many cordless reciprocating saws deliver considerably less power than their corded cousins. If you’re cutting through typical home construction like framing timber, plywood, and PVC pipes, you don’t need to worry. But consider a corded model (or a higher-end cordless) if you’ll be tackling metal pipes, heavy timbers, or pressure-treated wood.
Also bear in mind that manufacturers’ batteries are generally not compatible with each other. You’ll need to buy batteries and chargers specific to your cordless reciprocating saw’s manufacturer. If you already own some tools in a particular manufacturer’s cordless line, it may make financial sense to stick to a reciprocating saw from that same company.
I touched on this above, but think about what material you’ll be cutting through with your reciprocating saw. If you choose a corded model, motors up to about 11 or 12 amps will be adequate for most home improvement projects, pruning branches, and so forth. For thicker or tougher material like thick or pressure-treated timbers, metal pipes, and the like, you’ll want a heavier-duty 13 to 15 amp model. Any of these will run on a standard residential 15 amp electrical circuit, but if the saw is drawing the full 15 amps, you’ll need to make sure it’s the only thing on that circuit.
For cordless tools, it’s not as simple. While higher-voltage cordless tools will generally provide more power, it can vary a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer. I recommend reading the individual reviews for cordless reciprocating saws to see what types of jobs they’re appropriate for.
The back-and-forth motion of the blade in a reciprocating saw can generate a lot of vibration in the tool. These vibrations are typically transferred right back to your hands and arms. With prolonged use, you’ll find your hands cramping, feeling numb, and just generally sore. Special vibration-reducing gloves can help, and are a cheap fix especially if you already own a reciprocating saw.
Heavier reciprocating saws tend to dampen the vibrations more than lighter ones, although of course their extra weight brings its own physical challenges. Higher-end saws from many manufacturers these days have some sort of vibration reduction mechanism. The exact mechanism varies, but in general they try to either isolate the vibration from the operator or counterbalance it internally so you don’t feel it as strongly. If you expect to be using your reciprocating saw for hours on end, this could make for a huge improvement in your experience.
Most reciprocating saws, including all of the ones I’ve listed above, accept the same style of blade. So while most manufacturers have their own lineup of blades, you aren’t limited to just that company’s blades. You can shop around and find the blade that is right for the task at hand, whether from that manufacturer, one of their competitors, or a third-party company that just specializes in blades.
It’s important to use the right blade for the material you’re trying to cut through. Many saws come with a “general-purpose” blade that’s good for cutting through things like 2x4s with nails in them. But you’ll find the job becomes much easier (and safer) with a blade specifically made for the task. One of the main differences between blades is the number of teeth per inch (TPI). Lower TPIs tend to cut faster but leave a more jagged cut than higher TPIs.
Most blades for cutting wood have between 5 and 10 TPI. Lower TPI blades make fast work of wood, as long as you know it doesn’t have contain nails or other metal. For cutting through wood with nails, you want a blade with 10 TPI or higher.
Metal-cutting blades have much finer teeth, ranging from 10 to 24 TPI. The blades with 10 TPI are appropriate for cutting through wood with nails in it. Higher TPI are for cutting pure metal like pipes.
Some blades have two different TPIs on different parts of the blade. This lets you quickly cut through varying materials by adjusting which part of the blade you’re using, without changing blades. Read the specifications of the blade to find one for the combination of materials you’re cutting.
These are similar to wood-cutting blades or combination blades, but are typically thicker and sturdier. They’re meant for demolition work where quickly cutting through a variety of material is more important than precision and clean cuts.
You can find all kinds of specialty blades for cutting different materials. Examples include cutting through landscaping stone, shower tiles, plaster, and so forth. If you have to cut through something that doesn’t fall into one of the above categories, odds are someone makes a blade for it.
All reciprocating saws are made to quickly cut through a wide variety of materials. Some are better for heavy-duty jobs, while others excel at getting into hard-to-reach spaces.
I think the Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 Fuel Sawzall is an excellent all-around choice. But you might have specific requirements, so I hope the reviews above have helped you find the tool that’s right for you!