The Best Reciprocating Saws

These versatile saws cut through all types of materials and make quick work of many tasks. Here are the best of these must-have tools.

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Reciprocating saws, often referred to as “Sawzalls,” are invaluable tools for any pro, but they’re also indispensable for a homeowner or DIYer. These saws cut through just about anything and make quick work of many tasks.

Primarily regarded as a demolition tool, reciprocating saws are also employed for plumbing, electrical, metal work, framing and even yard work. To showcase this tool’s versatility, I created some relevant categories and sought the best product for each.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro looking for an upgrade or DIYer completing your tool arsenal, you’ll find the saw you need right here.

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Best Corded Saw

Milwaukee Super Sawzall

It’s hard to beat a corded saw when you need a lot of power. There’s an earlier rendition of this saw that I always go to when my cordless saw isn’t “cutting it.” I tried ignoring my bias, but I truly couldn’t find a corded saw with the power and reliability of this one. Features include:

  • Powerful 15 amp motor with overload protection to prevent motor burn out/failure;
  • A unique clutch mechanism that extends gear and motor life by absorbing forces caused by blade lock-ups;
  • Counter-balanced mechanism for low vibration;
  • Variable-speed trigger and dial speed control;
  • Super-easy blade changes with Quick Lock system.

The best feature is its constant power technology. It maintains speed and power under load, which keeps your blade from bogging down when the going gets tough. If you’re looking for a reciprocating saw that will get the job done every time, grab this Super Sawzall. You won’t be disappointed.

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Best Cordless Saw

Makita XRJ05T 18V LXT

The last thing you need in the middle of a job is to have the battery on your cordless tool die. A reciprocating saw under load can suck the life out of a battery. Makita’s 18 volt LXT batteries run long and charge fast so you’ll always have plenty of juice. Features include:

  • An easy to use tool-less blade change system;
  • LED light to see cut line;
  • Retractable tool hook;
  • Large two-finger variable speed trigger.

I like the long 1-1/4 in. stroke of this saw — it really tears through stuff without much blade deflection or vibration. The power of this saw, combined with its brushless motor technology that matches torque with RPM’s, rivals that of any corded saw.

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Best Budget Cordless Saw

Black and Decker BDCR20C

If you like the convenience of a cordless saw without the price of a full-fledged pro tool, get this Black and Decker. Its 20 volt battery platform and gutsy motor will handle most chores capably without breaking the bank. Features include:

  • Powerful motor capable of 3000 strokes per minute;
  • Tool free blade change;
  • Variable speed trigger;
  • Pivoting cutting shoe.

Black and Decker has long been the handyman’s tool of choice. This saw carries on that legacy with its pro features, feel and power, all at a great price.

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Best Budget Corded Saw

Skil 9206-02

If you don’t mind the tether of an extension cord, this affordable Skil saw is spot on for any homeowner. It’s built solidly and brings power to spare for any chore you put it to. Features include:

  • Heavy-duty metal gear housing;
  • A 7-1/2 amp motor;
  • Tool-less blade change;
  • Counter-balance design for reduced vibration.

This is the ideal saw for tasks around the house. From demolition work to trimming trees and other small projects, it cuts efficiently in every situation. If you’re looking to expand your skill set without breaking the bank, you can do it with this Skil saw.

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Best Saw for the Money

DeWalt DCS 380P1

For maximum reciprocation there is no better value than this DeWalt saw. Whatever it may lack in performance, it easily makes up for in quality and durability. The added value design features that other saws don’t have truly makes it the best in this class. Features include:

  • 1-1/8-in. stroke length;
  • Four position tool-less blade clamp;
  • Variable speed trigger;
  • Comfortable rubber over-molded grip area,
  • Oil sealed shaft;
  • A five amp hour battery

The four position blade clamp on this saw is genius. I can’t tell you how many blades I’ve trashed over the years trying to make sideways cuts. Orienting the blade in all four directions makes it so much easier to cut in an awkward space. DeWalt again created a simple design solution for something that should be an inherent characteristic of any tool. If you want smart design and superior quality, all at reasonable price, this is your best bet.

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Best DIY Saw

Ryobi P517

Ryobi boasts one of the worlds largest 18v tool systems in the world, everything from glue gun to lawnmower to any type of power tool — even a refrigerating cooler. They have it, and it all runs on the same battery platform they’ve had for years. Though some may not regard them as “pro” tools, I’ve seen plenty on job sites, and they’re all solid performers. This saw is no exception. Features include:

  • A 1-1/8-in. blade stroke;
  • Easy open lock blade clamp for tool-less blade changes;
  • Pivoting shoe allows for depth of cut control;
  • Anti-vibration handle for reduced fatigue;
  • Three-year warranty

If you’re looking to build an arsenal of cordless tools for your DIY endeavors, combine this Ryobi with one of their 18Volt drill/drivers or circular saws and you’re well on your way.

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Most Innovative Saw

Bosch Misfit

The basic design of reciprocating saws hasn’t varied much over the years. Now Bosch has changed all that. The Misfit has an angled motor design that’s super-ergonomic — there are several comfortable ways to grip it. This Misfit is one of the best balanced and efficient saws I’ve ever worked with. Features include:

  • Three orbital settings for blade path;
  • Brushless motor;
  • Counter balance for vibration control;
  • Tool-less blade change integrated into blade shroud;
  • Cool Pack technology that keeps batteries from overheating.

Besides being comfortable to use, this saw has beastly power. And its orbital settings allow you to optimize its cut depending on the material you’re trying to get through. If I had to do demo work all day, I’d choose this bad boy as my companion.

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Best Compact Saw

DeWalt DCS367P1

One of the challenges with a reciprocating saw is getting into tight spaces. Most saws don’t allow you to easily get in-between studs or joists, let alone around plumbing or electrical lines. DeWalt’s 20 Volt Max XR compact saw will get you into those places and to make the cut you want. Features include:

  • A 14-1/2-in. length
  • It’s lightweight — 5 lbs. without the battery.
  • Four position tool-less blade clamp
  • Bright LED light

The four-way blade positioning enhances this saw’s ability to work in confined spaces. If you often find yourself in a tough spot, let this compact saw free you up and get the job done.

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Best One-Handed Saw

Bosch PS 12V Max

So many tasks can be easily accomplished with a one-handed saw. Whether reaching up to cut out plumbing or climbing a ladder to prune a limb, this powerful, pint-sized Bosch 12V Max will get it done with ease. Features include:

  • Compact and lightweight;
  • Powerful motor suppling 3,000 strokes per minute;
  • Electronic cell protection protects against overheating and overloading;
  • LED light;
  • Battery life indicator.

Many plumbers and electricians use this saw for quick cuts on pipe and conduit. Its “pocket” dimensions make it convenient for lots of light duty tasks, especially if you only have one hand available at any given moment.

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Best of the Best

Milwaukee M-18 Fuel

Because of its lengthy run time and cutting speed, the Milwaukee M-18 Fuel Sawzall edged its competitors for the crown in this category. If you want a saw that will out-perform most corded saws, I would go with this one. Not only is its performance unparalleled, but it has a ton of great features that put it firmly on top. Features include:

  • Power State brushless motor designed for constant power and reduced heat;
  • Extended capacity battery pack for long run time;
  • Red Link Plus technology gives optimal performance and protection from overloading;
  • Quick lock blade change;
  • LED battery gauge indicator;
  • Safety lock switch;
  • LED work light, adjustable shoe and hang hook.

Milwaukee remains committed to further re-designing and upgraded their original Sawzall. This saw is all a Sawzall can possibly be in this era of tool technology, and there isn’t much more one could ask for in a reciprocating saw. Given a hammer, some nails and only one saw to build a project, this Sawzall would be my choice.

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Bill Bergmann
“Bungalow” Bill Bergmann is an associate editor at Family Handyman. He’s been a licensed contractor/builder for more than 20 years. For him, there’s nothing better than taking out a few walls to make people happier in their homes.