Having a reciprocating saw or even more in your tool arsenal is almost inevitable, as someone will recommend it sooner or later or you will want yourself to add it to your collection after trying one. It is such a versatile tool for a wide range of tasks, from pruning your trees to demolishing thin walls and cutting pipes for plumbing. The best reciprocating saw for the money will be used very often whenever you have a construction, renovation or demolition project and it is a very fun tool to operate.
Let’s see how you can choose the best reciprocating saw for your needs and which models are the top of the market right now.
How Does a Reciprocating Saw Work?
The mechanism through which cutting is achieved with a reciprocating saw is the back-and-forth motion of the blade. A motor connected to the blade lock moves the blade in a push-and-pull motion, at a certain speed, allowing it to go fast through materials like wood, metal, drywall, branches etc.
Besides the mechanic action of the blade, which gives this tool its name, a reciprocating saw has other specific characteristics. First of all, it is a hand-held tool that you can use freely, both horizontally, vertically or at any angle you need. The relatively large blade is locked onto the tool, which has a foot at the base of it, preventing it from slipping away from the cut. This allows the user to rest the foot on the surface that is being cut and direct the saw more precisely.
Top 7 Best Reciprocating Saws
1. DEWALT DCS387B 20-Volt MAX Compact Reciprocating Saw
The reason why so many people love this tool is that it is incredibly ergonomic. Not only the battery will last through a long day of construction or demolition work, but you won’t feel tired of working with it after prolonged use.
It has a soft grip with an ergonomic design which allows you to control the tool and direct it effortlessly wherever you need it to be. No need to press or grip strongly, because its blade will do all the work.
Depending on the work you need to be done, you will need various types of blades. The tool is great for households and construction sites alike because you can fit specialized blades easily and quickly. You only use a clamp system to change the blades, no tools needed. It can also lock the blades in four positions, allowing you to choose the safest and most efficient way of cutting.
What adds a lot to the versatility of this tool is the speed trigger it is equipped with. You can adjust the speed with ease, only using one finger, according to the task at hand. The trigger is not so sensitive, so it is safe to use, but not so stiff that you need to struggle to control it.
All in all, the Dewalt DCS387B reciprocating saw is a great tool for both professional construction workers and regular customers. It is adaptable, easy to use and powerful enough to handle everything, from gardening to demolition work.
- It is very light weight compared to similar products
- It is well balanced thanks to the vertically positioned motor
- Its speed trigger is easy to control
- You can insert dual blades in it
- Increased mobility for various tasks
- It does not have a brushless motor
- It does not come with a case to store it in.
2. Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 FUEL SAWZALL
To compensate the fact that it is not the lightest reciprocating saw you can find, the Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 has a built-in rafter hook for when you need to put it away while you are on a ladder or anywhere above ground level. It is also great for storing it for a short time outside of its sturdy case.
Another feature that helps with working in tight, dark places is the LED lamp at the head of the tool. It is natural to add something like that to it, considering that you can use it in tight corners and difficult to reach places which you cannot always lit properly from the outside.
Given that it is fit for prolonged use, the Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 is ergonomic and easy to grip and control. It has rubber armor on most of the handle to protect both you and the tool itself. It is comfortable and easy to use no matter what the position of the blade is. The end handle is also pretty sweet when you need to secure the saw in case the blade wears off and starts oscillating harder.
Available as tool-only or as a kit, theMilwaukee 2720-21 M18 is great to have for your construction projects.
- It is one of the fastest cutting reciprocating saws on the market
- It is equipped with a LED light that keeps you safe and effective
- You can easily store it or put it aside during work thanks to a hook it is equipped with
- Brushless motor that prolongs the runtime
- Very handy carrying case
- Price range is well above average
- The case does not have storage room for longer blades
3. Bosch CRS180BL Bare-Tool 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Reciprocating Saw
A very useful feature of this saw is the variable speed trigger you can set for two speeds, according to the task and material you are working on. This can also save the energy of the saw and enable you to use it longer. Use the lower speed when cutting softer materials and the higher speed for tougher ones, therefore maximizing your efficiency.
Changing blades is part of the utility of a reciprocating saw, but some of them require additional tools to change or replace the blades, especially if one of them breaks. The Bosch CRS 180BL has a blade lock mechanism that allows you to easily access a broken blade’s stump and remove it for locking the new blade into place.
Another sweet addition to your purchase is the case the saw comes in. It is ergonomic and sturdy, allowing you to store and transport your Bosch CRS 180BL safely. It also gives you extra space for the additional blades and accessories you can use with your saw. Also consider adding an extra battery (which conveniently fits in the case, by the way) if you will use the saw regularly and for longer periods of time.
- Ergonomic and handy carrying case
- Lightweight and comfortable to use
- Powerful tool
- Has a variable speed trigger that helps you adjust to the task and material you are working on
- More suitable for light materials, not the best for hardcore cutting (metal or other dense, large materials)
4. DEWALT Bare-Tool DC385B 18-Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saw
A very cool feature of the Dewalt Bare-Tool DC385B is the orbital action setting, which allows you to cut pieces of wood very fast and very effectively. The orbital action adds to the normal push-and-pull motion of any recip saw, by moving the blade in a slightly orbital way. This means the blade will slightly rise above the cut before going into it again, making it work faster and remove the chips as it cuts into the material. This is a feature that can be easily turned on or off, which is important since working with metal, for example, requires more precision and would be compromised by the orbital action.
What we like about the Dewalt Bare-Tool DC385B is its electric break, which makes it a great tool for beginners, but also protects professionals alike and the blades and tool itself. This is a feature more often present in newer models of reciprocating saws on the market and it stops the blade immediately when releasing the trigger.
There aren’t many things one can complain about the DC385B, maybe just the fact that it doesn’t come in a complete kit and you have to buy the blades and batteries separately. But it is definitely worth trying for its power, maneuverability and safety.
- Equipped with blade clamp so you can replace or change blades quickly and easily, without extra tools required
- Cordless and ergonomic, you can take it anywhere
- Four blade positions possible
- Adjustable shoe
- One of the best under 100
- You need to purchase the blades, battery and charger separately
- The battery life is not impressive
5. PORTER CABLE PCC670B 20-volt MAX Lithium Bare Reciprocating Tigersaw
This powerful motor is protected by a metal capsule, preventing dust and other particles from damaging it. The design also makes it durable and sturdy, so you won’t have to repair or replace it anytime soon, so it definitely is a long term purchase.
Design-wise, it is pleasant for any user and for any task, because it provides good grip and is ergonomic. It is very light weight, allowing you to use it for a long time without getting tired and putting yourself at risk of injury. Speaking of safety, its design also prevents you from accidentally pressing the buttons while not using the tool, as it has the steel buttons surrounded by rubber ridges, making them harder to press.
Considering that you will probably purchase a few different blades for this tool, it’s good to know that the replacing and changing of the blade is done easily, without requiring extra tools. It has a blade grasp a free release which you can easily operate on the spot. The shoe holds the blade securely and keeps it in contact with the wood or other material you are cutting.
Porter Cable also added some useful features to the battery and charger, to provide a longer run time. The charger works fast, fueling the battery fully in about 20 minutes. If you get 2 or more batteries you are covered virtually non-stop. The charger also has a built-in fan that protects the battery from overheating while it’s charging, therefore increasing its lifespan.
- A very versatile tool
- Compact design that allows you to work in hard to reach places
- Equipped with a variable speed trigger
- Good price
- It does not handle heavy duty jobs
6. Makita JR3070CT AVT Recipro Saw – 15 AMP
Although a reciprocating saw in itself is a versatile tool that can be recommended to anyone, the Makita JR3070CT might be a little bit too heavy-duty for regular users or easy tasks. But if you do plan on doing construction or demolition work and you need a sturdy, reliable tool, this is the right saw for you. It is built to cut fast and with power, going through wood, metal, nails, screws, drywall, branches, anything you need to be cut.
To get this tool going for a long time without putting any strain on the user, the producer has included AVT technology and a counterbalancing system that completes the powerful motor. Not only they greatly reduce the vibrations and noise levels, but they increase efficiency by keeping the tool steady while it cuts. The system is also built to use as little energy resources as possible, so don’t worry about it affecting the usage time.
The Makita JR3070CT Reciprocating Saw’s versatility also comes from the four-way positioning of the blade which allows you to make cuts in every direction and change your approach according to the available space, the kind of cut you have to make, the type of material you are working with etc. This way, the blade can cut vertically or horizontally without you having to change the tool’s position so much. Just fit the right blade in, depending on your task, and get to cutting at a constant speed. Replacing the blade is also easy to do because of the lock mechanism.
- Powerful 15 AMP motor
- Low vibrations
- Balanced and equipped with ergonomic grips
- Speed dial adjuster
- Extended trigger switch to use with different fingers (comfortable with prolonged use)
- Might be a bit too much for amateur construction workers or for lighter tasks like pruning and hobbys
7. Milwaukee 2625-20 M18 18-Volt Hackzall Cordless One-Handed Reciprocating Saw
The blade can be locked in either direction, allowing you to cut harder to access pipes or nails without a problem. As all blades for reciprocating saws are universal, feel free to choose whichever sets you think you need and use them with this reliable tool. This is why it is also sometimes called a hackzall saw, because it accepts both Hackzall and Sawzall type blades.
The Milwaukee 2625-20 M18 Hackzall also features an anti-vibration system that allows you to make precision cuts even in the toughest materials without worrying about it shaking too much and possibly messing your cut or important wiring near it. It also feels much better for prolonged use, as you don’t have to counter the vibrations yourself, allowing your hand to rest.
Yes, we said “hand”, because this is the best one handed reciprocating saw. Many workers choose it for that reason only, as it increases their autonomy and efficiency by a lot. It is very compact and lightweight, suitable for being held with one hand. If your arm gets tired you can switch it, also you can operate the tool safely above ground, as you are able to hold on properly with the free hand.
- Ergonomic design, easy to handle and to work with for longer periods of time
- One-handed design allowing you to be more efficient
- Batteries with great capacity, does not need recharge very soon
- Powerful motor that allows you to cut through various materials
- Not suitable for heavy-duty tasks or denser materials
- Batteries need to be purchased separately, they can get expensive
- The shoe does not pivot
- It does not come with a blade
Bonus Tips: How to Choose the Best Reciprocating Saw
There are many types of reciprocating saws on the market, all promising to do a miracle on the construction site, but purchasing the best one for you depends on a lot on what you intend to do with it and what you see as strengths and weaknesses. But, ultimately, when choosing a recip saw you must keep in mind some extra features and characteristics that will make it a valuable tool in the long run.
Look at the design, ergonomics and technical specifications and see if you need a more powerful tool, a lightweight one or one that allows you to fit the blade in many different directions and lengths. Also, check some of the features below to see if you need them on your recip saw of choice.
One of the culprits of working with a recip saw for long hours is the tiredness your arms feel after so many vibrations. A good recip saw has a vibration control feature that is not only easy on your wrists but also helps you make more precise cuts, even in the toughest materials.
Some saws that are more heavy duty have an orbital action feature. First, let’s explain how that works. By definition, a reciprocating saw has a back and forth movement of the blade. When cutting into the more dense material, it is more efficient to give the blade an orbital movement and reduce unnecessary friction. The blade will move on an elliptic trajectory, “chewing” into the material easier.
When cutting into bricks, metal or hardwood, this feature will increase the power and efficiency of the blade and it will prevent the blade from breaking.
The speed and power of a reciprocating saw will tell you exactly how far you can go with it. A powerful saw with a speed variation option will cover just about any cutting task. If you know that your projects will involve dense materials, choose a strong saw with as many rotations per minute as you can. This will save you time and energy and it will be an absolute pleasure going through metal pipes like a knife in the butter.
Adjusting the speed is a feature many modern reciprocating saws have. This allows you to adapt the speed to the type of material you are cutting. Softer materials will allow you to work at minimum speed with the same efficiency. Don’t forget to research the blades and accessories you can fit on a reciprocating saw – these are just as important in your work as the bare tool. A good reciprocating saw can fit the blades in more than one position and has a simple, easily accessible way of changing or replacing the blades.
What Is an Orbital Reciprocating Saw?
A more specialized variation of the basic reciprocating saw is the orbital reciprocating saw. Many of the more modern models have this added feature that allows the user to cut more efficiently through materials like wood, that generate a lot of debris when cut.
So, how does it work? In addition to the defining back-and-forth motion of the blade, an orbital reciprocating saw’s motor also moves the blade on a vertical level, perpendicular to the push-an-pull motion. This achieves an oval-shaped trajectory of the blade, which is why this saw is called an orbital reciprocating saw. This additional movement of the blade allows the saw to better “chew” at the material – mainly wood – and get rid of the debris that would otherwise get in the way of cutting.
Is There Any Difference Between a Jig Saw and a Reciprocating Saw?
Yes. Although technically, a jigsaw is a type of reciprocating saw, these two tools have certain specifications that clearly set them apart for any professional or amateur construction worker.
A jigsaw blade has the same back-and-forth motion as a reciprocating – or sabre saw. But its design makes it fit for only a certain type of cutting, which is cutting shapes in a flat, horizontal surface. It is ideal for cutting custom, curve or complicated shapes into wood or metal sheets. Its base is wide and helps you direct the blade precisely on the contour of the shape you want to achieve.
A reciprocating saw is much more versatile, in the sense that you can use it at any angle, the blade gets into tight corners and you can even cut things that are above your head. But it is less versatile when it comes to the precision of cutting, since it is much less stable on the surface and you need to use your hand exclusively to guide it. It also has a foot for the blade, but it is not as wide as a jigsaw’s and it will not help much if you want to cut a perfect circle, for example.
What Is the Difference Between a Reciprocating Saw and a Circular Saw?
If it was easy to confuse the reciprocating saw for a jigsaw, the differences between a reciprocating saw and a circular saw are so big that these two are rarely mistaken for one another. A circular saw, as its name suggests, has a circular blade and it has a rotating motion. It is usually not a hand-held tool, but one that is fixed to your working station.
You can make straight cuts into a wood and other materials by pushing them into the blade of the circular saw and keeping them in a straight line. This is the best use for a circular saw: cutting straight lines.
A reciprocating saw is hand-held and behaves differently since its blade moves in a push-and-pull motion. It is much more versatile and can perform a lot more tasks than a circular saw, but it will never be as good at cutting straight, long lines.
While there is no way of saying that one of the saws above is better than the rest, you can see how some are more powerful, making them the best reciprocating saw for professional use while others score in the versatility department. It all depends on what you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of such a tool and what you plan on doing with it.
It would be ideal to test the saws that made it on your shortlist and see how they feel in your hand, how you like the cutting performance and how much you can stretch your budget, as some may need extra batteries or blade sets.
Ask around for professional opinions and watch YouTube tutorial to see how they perform on different materials. You can also rent power tools from construction stores and test them at home, in your own environment, before deciding to buy one.
If the reviews above did not convince you to buy a reciprocating saw, getting your hands on one and trying it even for a few minutes will do the job. It is really a highly versatile tool to have in your garage and if you choose a good model it will last for years and it will loyally handle the tasks you have. Completing it with a set of blades and accessories can help you save money on other separate tools and space in your toolbox. You can easily transport and store your reciprocating saw and getting the best cordless reciprocating saw will make you completely mobile.