Top 10 Best Reciprocating Saws | How To Choose A Reciprocating Saw
When it comes to making quick cuts whether through wood, which does not require a high degree of precision or accuracy, a reciprocating saw is just the right tool for the job.
If it’s a high degree of precision you desire, you might as well get a circular saw or a compound miter saw.
However, with a reciprocating saw, it’s not all about how accurate the cut is. It’s just all about making the cut happen as quickly as possible through whatever kind of material that needs to be cut, and wherever the cut needs to be made.
In the early days, cuts made during construction projects are carried out with manually powered handsaws, by pushing and pulling the handsaw to and fro with your hand through the material being cut.
This is not only labor intensive but also time wasting, as cutting through hard materials like metal requires a lot of time. Thank God, those days are gone.
The introduction of the reciprocating saw by Milwaukee changed everything. They called it, the Sawzall. You can think of it as a motorized hacksaw or handsaw.
This is because, cuts are made quickly through the reciprocating action or to and fro motion of the blades through the material with power supplied to the blade by means of a motor.
Thanks to inventions like this, you can save your strength for other important tasks during your projects.
A reciprocating saw is the ultimate demolition tool. Provided you fit it with the right blade, it can cut through anything. Wood, plastic, metal, you name it.
The caveat is, you have to fit it with the right blade. It’s not just, this is a reciprocating saw, and then you just pick it up and start cutting through whatever you see. No!
A reciprocating saw is only as good and powerful as the blade it’s equipped with. The blade makes all the difference.
You can do some serious pruning in your garden with a reciprocating saw when you equip it with a pruning reciprocating saw blade.
The versatility of the tool is what makes it effective and one of the most useful tools you can ever have in your tool arsenal.
I can go on and on talking about the different things you can do with a reciprocating saw. But I won’t do that because the main focus of this article is on the top 10 best reciprocating saws out there, their different features and how to choose the best reciprocating saw.
The following table shows the top 10 best reciprocating saws in a comparison table, so that you can quickly browse through them.
Top 10 Reciprocating Saw List
|Dewalt DWE305||12 Amp||2900 SPM||Corded|
|Milwaukee 6519-31||12 Amp||3000 SPM||Corded|
|Skil 9216-01||9 Amp||2700 SPM||Corded|
|Makita JR3050T||11 Amp||2800 SPM||Corded|
|Milwaukee 6538-21||15 Amp||2800 SPM||Corded|
|Bosch CRS180B||18 Volts||2700 SPM||Cordless|
|Dewalt DCS380B||20 Volts Max||3000 SPM||Cordless|
|Porter Cable PCC670B||20 Volts Max||3000 SPM||Cordless|
|Ryobi P515||18 Volts||3100 SPM||Cordless|
|BLACK+DECKER BDCR20B||20 Volts Max||3000 SPM||Cordless|
How to Choose the Best Reciprocating Saws
Corded Vs Cordless
When choosing your first reciprocating saw, the first decision you have to make is whether you want a corded reciprocating saw or a cordless one.
Obviously, a corded one is one with an extension cord for connecting it to a power source, while a cordless one is one that uses batteries.
The decision to choose either one of them will depend on the type of work you want to do, where you want the job done and how long you will be doing the job. Though, it will largely depend on the latter two.
A cordless reciprocating saw will allow you the freedom to get work done anywhere. It is the option you need when you don’t have access to a power outlet.
For example, in a remote jobsite where you don’t have access to electricity or even around your home, when you want to prune some trees in the garden, a cordless reciprocating saw is your best bet.
Normally, when you talk about a cordless tool, most people usually associate it with less power and less run time because of limited battery power.
However, recent technological advancements in the motors used in cordless tools and batteries have leveled the playing field to some extent.
For instance, manufacturers now use brushless motors which are more energy efficient. Coupled with that, innovations in batteries such as the Dewalt Flexvolt Battery Technology has totally revolutionized how batteries integrate with tools, and made it possible to get more run time from cordless tools.
So on this note, if your work will take you where there is no electricity, don’t be afraid to invest on a cordless tool.
On the other hand, if you will have continuous access to electricity, then by all means, get a corded reciprocating saw. Then, there is no need to get a cordless one.
Motor / Power
When shopping for a cordless reciprocating saw, you’re going to come across several amp ratings on these saws.
You must note this because, it is very important. The greater the amp, the tougher the work it can do. So, you are going to see 7.5 amps, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 up to 15 amps.
For light-duty tasks around the home, you can get a 7.5 to 10 amps reciprocating saw, depending on how light-duty the task is.
Task such as pruning little trees around your home can easily be handled with a 7.5 amp reciprocating saw.
On the other hand, when you need to get more done and handle really tough tasks in the jobsite, then you need to start your selection from 11 amps upwards.
Like I said, the tougher the job is, the greater amps you need. So, a 15 amp reciprocating saw will pack all the muscle you need around the job site. But don’t be afraid choose the 12 and 13 amp ones either.
As for cordless reciprocating saws, the ratings that you will see on it is voltage. You’ll see 18 Volts and 20 Volts Max tools.
Now, you may think that the 20 volts tools are more powerful than the 18 volts tools. Wrong. When it comes to battery powered tools, they’re not. Rather, they are the same.
If you check the 20 Volts cordless tools, you’ll notice that it is labelled 20 Volts Max. That means 20 volts is just the voltage of the battery when fully charged. When it begins to discharge, it will likely settle to 18 volts, which is the nominal voltage of the tool, making it equal with the other 18 volts tools.
So take note of this, and provided all other factors are considered, feel free to buy any cordless reciprocating saw, or any other cordless tool, whether it’s labeled 18 volts or 20 Volts Max.
Some reciprocating saws come with a variable speed trigger that allows you to control the speed or strokes per minute SPM of the saw depending on how far back you pull the trigger. While others have a variable speed dial that also allows you to vary the speed of the saw with just the turn of the dial.
Having this feature is very important because sometimes, in order for your reciprocating saw to be effective, you need to vary the speed to match the type of material you are cutting.
Not all materials require the same speed to cut through them effectively. For instance, when cutting through metal, you want to cut with a slower speed, because it is denser and stronger. So going full throttle may break the blade or something worse. Though you may gradually increase your speed as the cut progresses.
On the other hand, when cutting through wood, you need to go fast in order to cut through quickly and effectively.
So, when choosing a reciprocating saw, it is important that you get one that allows you to adjust the speed to suit the work you have at hand.
Changing your blades is inevitable when working on your project. There are several reasons why you may need to change your reciprocating saw blade.
You may need to change it when it gets dull, or you may need to change it if you intend to cut another material that requires a different type of reciprocating saw blade.
Hence it is important that swapping the blades of your reciprocating saw is not only simple, but quick as well, to reduce tool downtime.
Most reciprocating saws are equipped with a tool-less blade change mechanism which consist of a simple lever by the side of the saw, which you can simply pull-up with your finger to swap out the blade. Put another blade and push it down to secure the blade firmly in position to continue cutting with your saw.
So, make sure the reciprocating saw you choose has this feature. Never purchase a reciprocating saw that requires a tool for you to change the blade. We’re no longer living in the Stone Age.
Also, for safety reasons, always unplug the saw or remove the battery if you’re using a cordless reciprocating saw before attempting to change the blade. Always think about safety first when handling power tools. A lost finger is lost forever.
Size / Tool Length
What do Dewalt’s DC387B, Bosch’s GSA and Ridgid’s Feugo reciprocating saws have in common? They are all compact reciprocating saws.
These reciprocating saws are smaller in size than the usual reciprocating saws. Hence, they are able to fit into tight spaces like in between studs, or when you’re working under a car.
With a compact reciprocating saw, you can access tight spaces which you can’t normally access with the other reciprocating saws because of their size.
Also, truth be told, you may not really need those reciprocating saws if all you need to do is do some tree pruning in your garden. A compact one like the ones I mentioned above might just be what you need.
A plumber will also find these very useful, because of the compact size, able to fit into tight spaces for cutting pipes. These compact reciprocating saws are not only small in size, but are also lightweight as well.
So, depending on where you want to use your reciprocating saw, you might consider looking at the compact ones like the Dewalt DC387B or the Bosch GSA compact reciprocating saws to know if they suit your needs.
Reciprocating saws are all about the to and fro motion of the saw blade. The mechanism inside the saw causing this motion can also cause a lot of vibration from the saw as you handle it.
Because of this, some manufacturers include vibration stabilizers in their saw to help reduce this vibration.
A good example of a saw with vibration control is the SKILSAW SPT44A which is equipped with Skilsaw’s Buzkill technology to help suppress the vibration produced when the saw is in use.
Milwaukee also equipped the Milwaukee 6519-31 reciprocating saw with an internal counterweight mechanism that helps to reduce vibration from the saw.
A vibration controlling mechanism is not actually a necessary feature in a reciprocating saw, and no anti-vibe control will remove all the vibration from a reciprocating saw.
Nonetheless, the vibration control included in the saws mentioned above is important, and helps make the saw a little bit more comfortable to use.
So, if you dig the vibration control feature, you might well note it down, and take it into consideration when choosing your reciprocating saw.
Stroke Speed and Stroke Length
The speed of the reciprocating saw expressed in strokes per minute and the stroke length are two factors that directly affect how fast the saw is going to cut through a material
The stroke is not the length of the blade but how far the saw pushes the blade forward or backward after it has pushed it forward.
With all other factors being equal, a reciprocating saw with a greater stroke length will cut faster than another saw with a lesser stroke length. Like I said, all other factors need to be equal between the two saws for this to be true.
So, the greater the stroke length, the faster the saw will cut through the material.
Stroke length of reciprocating saws normally range from 1 to 1-1/4, but the most common stroke lengths you’ll come across is 1-1/8.
When it comes to compact reciprocating saws, you may find some with stroke length up to 1-1/8 like the Dewalt DCS387B while other compact ones may have lower stroke length.
In this case, it really does not matter because they are not really meant to have the greatest stroke length, but instead to fit into tight spaces, and they do cut fast as well as long as they have a good stroke speed.
Talking about stroke speed, the maximum stroke speed for reciprocating saws usually range from 2700 to 3000 strokes per minute SPM.
A reciprocating saw with a stroke speed of 2900 and above is just fine.
Conclusively, how fast a reciprocating saw will cut a material depends on both the stroke speed and the stroke length. Not just one of them.
So, take both of them into consideration when shopping for your reciprocating saw.
If you’re getting a cordless reciprocating saw, then the kind of battery you choose to power it will determine how much run time you get from the tool.
The most common cordless reciprocating saws you’ll see are the ones with 18 volts and 20 volts Max voltage ratings.
Like I mentioned earlier, the two voltage ratings are mostly the same. So, you can power them with your 20 Volts batteries.
To get a longer run time from your cordless saw, you can opt purchase the Dewalt 20/60V Flexvolt batteries.
Though, the battery is rated 60 volts, it changes automatically to 20 volts once you connect it to any 20 volt power tool. With a battery like this, you can get to use your cordless tool for a longer time with just one charge.
The overall design of a reciprocating saw should also be considered. You may not have the chance to hold the saw before purchasing it, expecially if you are purchasing it online.
However, if you’re are using a local store, then you should definitely hold the saw in your hands and get a feel of how it is.
A saw with a rubberized handle will definitely feel more comfortable in your hands. So, check out for features like that when purchasing online.