Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Cordless Saw Reviews

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review


18V cordless reciprocating saws (AKA Sawzalls) make up the bulk of the cordless models out there. Of the 44 reciprocating saws we tested, 10 are in this 18V/20V Max class, making it the largest set.

With performance designed to match or exceed what we see in 10A – 12A corded models, some of these saws actually give the 15A class a run for its money. Wherever they fall, these are direct corded replacements, designed to cut the cord permanently as primary demolition tools.

There are 18V compact saws as well and we have the results of their tests in a different article. Click here to see how they did.

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Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Makita 18V LXT Brushless Recipro Saw XRJ05

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Makita takes the win in a super-close race with Bosch and Milwaukee. In fact, the difference from 1st place to 3rd was less than two points. Makita’s advantage comes in cutting speed, size, and value. Check the results closely, though. These three 18V reciprocating saws go back and forth a lot.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Cutting Speed

Makita 18V LXT Brushless Recipro Saw

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Cutting Speed

Makita gets the overall win in cutting speed by having the fastest average cut speed in wood and high averages in metal. Both Milwaukee and Kobalt earn top rankings in separate metal cutting tests, though.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Vibration Control

Bosch 18V Brushless Reciprocating Saw GSA18V-125

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Vibration Control

Some brands spend more design effort reining in vibration than others. In our testing, Bosch comes away with the best vibration control in the 18V/20V max group, followed closely by Milwaukee and Skil.

Most Compact 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw

DeWalt 20V Max Reciprocating Saw DCS380

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Size

DeWalt’s DCS380 is the lightest of the group by nearly a pound (with a battery) over every other saw in the group. It’s also the shortest, leading by 0.5″ over its closest competitor and nearly 3″ shorter than the longest.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Value

Skil PWRCore 20 Brushless Reciprocating Saw

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Value

Skil earns the win for the best value in the 18V/20V Max class. It’s the least expensive kit available with the performance and features to give you the best bang for your buck. Ridgid and Makita also score high for value.

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Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw: How We Tested and Full Results

Cutting Speed

The best 18V cordless reciprocating saw should be a do-everything kind of saw. Well, almost everything. They don’t necessarily have the power to go after the toughest demo, but they’ll handle 90% or more of what you have. You should be able to cut through wood, metal, and PVC without thinking twice.

For all of our tests, we used a 5-pound weight strung around each saw to make sure they all got equal downforce.

Nail-Embedded Wood

First up, we cut nail-embedded wood. We set five 16D nails in 2 x 10 PT and timed each saw multiple times to get an average. Each saw received a new Lenox Demolition CT Carbide Tipped Blade. These 6 TPI blades last up to 6x longer than standard Lenox bi-metal blades in nail-embedded wood and their thick profile helps stabilize the cut. You can pick them in 6″, 9″, or 12″ lengths from your favorite Lenox retailer.

 

Four saws managed to break the 10-second barrier and set themselves apart from the crowd. Makita was the fastest at 9.09 seconds with Hilti just 0.09 seconds behind. Bosch and Kobalt wrap up this elite group. This is a test where having orbital action proves to be a big advantage.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Wood Cutting

EMT Cutting

Next up was medium metal cutting. We used 2″ EMT along with Lenox Lazer 18 TPI medium metal bi-metal blades for 1/16″ – 1/4″ cutting. The blades’ taller cutting profiles make more stable cuts and Power Blast design increases the overall life of the blade by increasing its strength. They’re available in 6″, 9″, or 12″ lengths.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw EMT Cutting

Milwaukee proved to be the most capable here, averaging 3.75 seconds. It joins Makita (3.97 seconds) as the only 18V cordless reciprocating saws to break 4 seconds. Bosch puts in a solid effort at 4.31 seconds and Hilti wraps up the sub-5-second group at 4.51.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw EMT Cutting

Thick Metal Cutting

For thick metal cutting, we turned to #5 rebar (5/8″) and Lenox Lazer CT carbide blades for thick metal. Head-to-head against Milwaukee and Diablo, we made more cuts in rebar before teeth started coming off by a wide margin. Cut-for-cut, they’re the best thick metal blades we’ve ever tested. You can pick them up in 4″, 6″, and 9″ lengths.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw

In this tough test, Kobalt’s 24V reciprocating saw comes away with the fastest average, hitting 7.59 seconds. Makita (7.75 seconds) and Ridgid (7.84 seconds) were right on its heels.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Rebar Cutting

Vibration

To find the differences in vibration, Tom Gaige, Clint DeBoer, and I independently spent some quality time with each reciprocating saw. We cut in all of our test materials and rated each model on a 1 – 4 scale. From there, we averaged the scores out to determine which saw has the best vibration control.

Note these are vibration control ratings—the higher the value the better it is.

Bosch walks away with a well-deserved win here. It’s not a landslide, though, with Milwaukee and Skil not far behind.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Vibration Control

Feature Set

Moving into the full-size 18V cordless reciprocating saw class puts you in a place where you see more refined features. Brushless motors are nearly standard, orbital action becomes more prominent, and we see the introduction of smart controls.

Brushless Motor

  • Bosch GSA18V-125
  • Hilti SR 6-A22
  • Kobalt KRS 1824B-03
  • Makita XRJ05
  • Metabo HPT CR18DBL
  • Milwaukee 2721
  • Ridgid R8643
  • Ryobi P517
  • Skil RS5884-1A

Orbital Action

  • Bosch GSA18V-125
  • Ridgid R8643
  • Ryobi P517
  • Skil RS5884-1A

Variable Speed Selection

  • Bosch GSA18V-125 (dial)
  • Makita XRJ05 (2-speed selection switch)
  • Metabo HPT CR18DBL (3-speed electronic selection button with auto mode)
  • Milwaukee 2721 (4-speed electronic selection button and One-Key custom controls)

Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe

  • Bosch GSA18V-125: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • DeWalt DCS380: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Hilti SR 6-A22: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Kobalt KRS 1824B-03: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Makita XRJ05: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Metabo HPT CR18DBL: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Milwaukee 2721: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Ridgid R8643: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Ryobi P517: Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe
  • Skil RS5884-1A: Pivoting, Adjustable Shoe (Tool Required)

Lever Blade Release (Not a Shaft Twist Lock)

  • Bosch GSA18V-125
  • DeWalt DCS380
  • Hilti SR 6-A22
  • Kobalt KRS 1824B-03
  • Metabo HPT CR18DBL
  • Milwaukee 2721
  • Ryobi P517

Rafter Hook

  • Bosch GSA18V-125
  • Hilti SR 6-A22
  • Makita XRJ05
  • Metabo HPT CR18DBL
  • Milwaukee 2721

LED Light

  • Bosch GSA18V-125
  • Hilti SR 6-A22
  • Kobalt KRS 1824B-03
  • Makita XRJ05
  • Metabo HPT CR18DBL
  • Milwaukee 2721
  • Ridgid R8643
  • Ryobi P517
  • Skil RS5884-1A

Spring Blade Ejection

  • Makita XRJ05

Smart Controls

  • Milwaukee 2721

Additional Design Notes

Bosch GSA18V-125

Bosch has a new take on the traditional reciprocating saw design that has a curved look. We call it a “hawkbill” shape. It has a three-finger trigger with a push-forward safety toward the front that’s really easy to manipulate while you’re using it. There are also 2 orbital modes to work with along with orbital off.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Bosch Trigger

DeWalt DCS380

DeWalt has the only 18V cordless reciprocating saw in this class to forgo an LED light. However, it’s also the only one to let you install the blade in 4 different directions to get the most natural grip while you change your angle of attack.

Hilti SR 6-A22

Hilti uses its AVR technology (active vibration reduction) to bring the vibration down. It also has an optional dust port attachment that installs on the side—something we haven’t seen from anyone else.

Hilti 22V Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Metabo HPT CR18DBL

Metabo HPT goes with a thinner front handle design that’s much more comfortable to hold compared to the other saws in this class. It uses a separated handle to help reduce vibration to your trigger hand and extends rubber overmold over the lock-off switch to protect it.

The control system that Metabo HPT uses includes an auto mode. This mode starts in low speed and ramps up to high as it senses the load increase.

Metabo HPT 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Milwaukee 2721

Milwaukee’s One-Key is arguably the most refined on their M18 Fuel Sawzall. Beyond basic custom controls, you can tell it what material you’re cutting and what blade you’re using to let the system pick the perfect blade speed and maximize your efficiency.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Sawzall with One-Key

Ryobi P517

Ryobi has a very unique orbital switch. You need to pull it away from the tool body, twist it, and put it back. It’s interesting, but they could have made it simpler. This model also has a separated handle to help reduce vibration.

Ryobi 18V One+ Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Size and Weight

If you’re trying to keep things compact, no other 18V cordless reciprocating saw beats DeWalt’s 16.6″ length. All but two other models are under 18″, though, and Kobalt, Makita, and Metabo HPT are just 0.5″ longer than DeWalt.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Length

DeWalt also leads the weight category. Its 5.2-pound bare weight is the lightest by 0.6 pounds. When you add the recommended and/or kitted batteries, DeWalt is still the lightest by nearly a full pound.

*Note: we used the battery kitted or recommended by each manufacturer.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Weight

Value

Saving money is great, but the cheapest saw isn’t always the best value. We consider what you get and the performance of each saw for your hard-earned money. After throwing all of the data into our value algorithm, we get the final value scores.

For this class, a couple of the lowest-priced saws are close enough in performance to the premium models that they score the best in value. Skil has the highest value in the group followed by Ridgid and Makita.

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Value

Price List

  • Bosch GSA18V-125: $220 bare, $349 with a Core18V 6.3Ah battery, or $399 with Core18V 8.0Ah battery
  • DeWalt DCS380: $79.87 bare, $199.88 with a 5.0Ah battery
  • Hilti SR 6-A22: $199 bare, $456 with two 4.0Ah advanced batteries
  • Kobalt KRS 1824B-03: $129 bare, $249 4-tool combo kit
  • Makita XRJ05: $156.95 bare, $295.96 with two 5.0Ah batteries
  • Metabo HPT CR18DBL: $309.97 kit with 6.0Ah battery
  • Milwaukee 2721: $169 bare, $469 with two 5.0Ah batteries, $599 with two 9.0Ah batteries
  • Ridgid R8643: $149 bare
  • Ryobi P517: $119 bare
  • Skil RS5884-1A: $189.99 with 4.0Ah battery and PWRJump charger (coming soon on Amazon)

Note: prices are at the time of writing.

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Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Final Rankings and Recommendations

  1. Makita 18V LXT Brushless Recipro Saw: Top cutting speed in wood and excellent speed in metal with very good vibration control.
  2. Bosch 18V Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Excellent cutting speed in wood and very good in metal. Top vibration control score. Heavier and longer than most of its competition.
  3. Milwaukee M18 Fuel Reciprocating Saw with One-Key: Extremely well-developed smart controls with very good cutting speed in all materials and top EMT cutting speed. Excellent vibration control. One of the heavier saws in this class.
  4. Skil PWRCore20 Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Excellent wood cutting speed and decent in metal with excellent vibration control. Top value rating.
  5. Kobalt 24V Max Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Top thick metal cutting speed and excellent wood cutting speed with good vibration control.
  6. Ridgid 18V Octane Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Very good wood cutting speed but struggles in vibration control. Good value rating.
  7. Metabo HPT 18V Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Unique auto-starting feature with excellent wood cutting speed but loses ground in metal cutting. Struggles in vibration control. One of the lighter and more compact models available.
  8. Hilti 22V Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Unique dust port attachment available. Outstanding wood cutting speed with excellent medium metal cutting. Struggles in thick metal cutting but has good vibration control. One of the heavier and longer saws we tested.
  9. DeWalt 20V Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Very good thick metal cutting speed but loses ground in wood and thinner metals. Struggles heavily with vibration control. Lightest and shortest model we tested and is the only model that allows 4-way blade insertion.
  10. Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Struggles with cutting speed in all materials. Reasonable size.

Why 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saws?

Reciprocating saws in the 18V/20V class like these are full replacements for corded models in the 10A – 13A range and some can even replace 14A – 15A saws (though several brands have what we call cordless “super saws” that we’ll look at in a different review). Like drills and impact drivers, these become primary tools instead of just supplementing the work in specific applications.

With the advent of advanced batteries, we’re seeing even higher cutting performance from relatively lightweight saws. Even when they don’t need the extra power, manufacturers can pack more watt-hours into a battery, extending the runtime. For example, Bosch’s Core18V slim pack is a 4.0Ah battery (72 watt-hours). It uses just five 21700 lithium-ion cells instead of the ten 18650s it used to take to get the same energy storage.

With the performance and runtime that’s now available, the only thing really holding these saws back compared to corded models is price. There’s still a premium to pay and a 2-battery kit is your best bet so one battery can charge while you’re using the other. We don’t expect that price gap to close much in the near future.

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David Yonts
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David Yonts

Why not go ahead add the Craftsman one to the group? I have that and the Milwaukee and it can keep up pretty well for what I need it to do.

Jerry Fike
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I’d like to see the Ridgid MegaMax in one of the reviews. It seems pretty heavy duty.

Bryan
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What battery were you using with the Ryobi P517?

Andrew
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Andrew

Why wasn’t the Milwaukee Super Sawzall (2722-20) included in this shootout, it’s still 18v like the rest of them?

Fee
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Fee

I predict the delineation between “compact” and not is going to disappear soon. You see this with the DCS367B XR recip and ALL THE MAKITAS basically. These companies are putting their best foot forward in the compact category, often times compact is more a benefit of brushless and other innovations than a result of a lesser model especially in these larger tool categories