Corded Saw Reviews

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review


Our search for the best corded reciprocating saw led us to two very distinct categories and one that sits between them. Often called by Milwaukee’s proprietary name, Sawzalls, these demolition tools represent a sector that still has a very strong corded presence.

Reciprocating saws with 10 to 12-amp motors are high on value and trade off performance for a lighter design. They’re a good choice for light-duty demolition and when you have to cut overhead.

13-amp reciprocating saws sit in the gap between light-duty and heavy-duty models. They’re distinctly more powerful and heavier than their 10 to 12-amp counterparts and less powerful and lower weight than their 14 to 15-amp brethren. For some brands, this is the most powerful saw they make and not every brand plays in this field. They’re a good compromise between the performance and size of the upper and lower classes.

14 and 15-amp are where the heavyweights duke it out. It’s tempting to think these saws are raw muscle, but they’re quite a bit more than that. We see the best vibration control and features sets here, often making them the best choice overall even though they’re heavier.

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For the purposes of this review, here’s how we’re referring to each group:

  • 15-amp class: 14 and 15-amp saws
  • 13-amp class: 13-amp saws
  • 12-amp class: 10 to 12-amp saws

There are some corded reciprocating saws that use motors under 10 amps, but we generally find they don’t have the performance to keep up with professional expectations and are better off as occasional or DIY options.

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw: 15-Amp Class

Skilsaw 15-Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Technology SPT44-10

In a tight 3-way battle for the best corded reciprocating saw crown, Skilsaw’s 15-amp Buzzkill model edges out Makita and Milwaukee thanks to superior cutting speed and a higher value score. Don’t be fooled by the final rankings, though. All three of these tools are demolition beasts!

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw: 13-Amp Class

Kobalt 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw K13RS-03

Kobalt takes a close win over Milwaukee in the 13-amp class with better cutting speed, a more comprehensive feature set, and higher value. Milwaukee is no slouch, though. It has an advantage in overall size with better vibration control.

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw: 12-Amp Class

Metabo HPT CR13VST

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw Shootout 03

Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) tops the smaller class, beating out Makita by less than a point in a close finish for the 10 – 12 amp class. Metabo HPT’s better feature set and razor-thin cutting speed advantages proved to be the difference-makers over Makita’s slightly better vibration control and lower weight.

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw Cutting Speed

15-Amp Class: Skilsaw 15-Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Technology

Skilsaw Buzzkill 15-Amp Reciprocating Saw SPT44-10 Review

In test after test, Skilsaw’s 15-amp Buzzkill model cut faster than anyone else in the 15-amp class. It’s the only saw we tested that led its class in every speed test.

13-Amp Class: Kobalt 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw - Kobalt 13-Amp

Kobalt’s faster metal cutting speeds in EMT and rebar proved to be enough to beat out Milwaukee’s faster wood cutting speeds.

12-Amp Class: Metabo HPT 11-Amp Reciprocating Saw

In a photo finish, Metabo HPT’s CR13VST beat out Makita in a back-and-forth series of tests. Metabo HPT gained a big advantage in wood cutting but lost ground in EMT and rebar cutting. In the end, it did enough to eke out the win by just 0.1 points.

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw Vibration Control

15-Amp Class: Makita 15-Amp Recipro Saw

Makita’s AVT design proved to swing our testers to award it the best vibration control in a close decision against Skilsaw’s Buzzkill technology.

13-Amp Class: Skilsaw 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Technology

Skilsaw’s Buzzkill technology was not to be denied across the board. In the 13-amp class, it smoothed out its path to the win in a close contest with Milwaukee.

12-Amp Class: Makita 11-Amp Recipro Saw

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw Shootout 01

Makita earns its second win for vibration control in the 12-amp class. This time, it had close competition from both Metabo HPT and Milwaukee but did just enough to set itself apart.

Most Compact Corded Reciprocating Saw

15-Amp Class: Bosch Vibration Control Reciprocating Saw

While no one is going to accuse the 15-amp class of being compact, Bosch has the smallest footprint and weight in this class. Tied with Milwaukee for the lightest at 9.6 pounds, it has a slightly smaller footprint, earning it the win.

13-Amp Class: Milwaukee 13-Amp Orbital Super Sawzall

 

Milwaukee’s 13-amp Super Sawzall finds the right balance with the lightest weight and the second smallest length by just 0.1″ to make it the most compact in this class.

12-Amp Class: Ridgid Fuego 10-Amp Orbital Reciprocating Saw

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw Shootout

In the most compact class, Ridgid sets itself up well as the lightest by 0.5 pounds and keeping its design tight, though DeWalt’s DWE305 is an inch shorter.

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw Value

15-Amp Class: Skilsaw 15-Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Technology

Skilsaw isn’t the least expensive saw in this 15-amp class (that would go to Bosch), but its performance and design attributes make up the cost difference when you’re looking for the best bang for your buck.

13-Amp Class: Skilsaw 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Technology

Thanks to a price dropping under $90, Skilsaw also takes the best value in the 13-amp class over Kobalt.

12-Amp Class: Metabo HPT 11-Amp Reciprocating Saw and Ryobi 12-Amp Reciprocating Saw

In a rare tie for value, Metabo HPT and Ryobi share the crown. Metabo HPT is your choice for better performance while you can get your hands on Ryobi’s model for less than $65. Metabo HPT is just $14 more, and its performance may well justify spending a little more if you use your smaller saw frequently.

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw: How We Tested and Full Results

Cutting Speed

We designed 4 separate tests for each corded reciprocating saw to prove itself in. However, not every class is useful in the toughest tests, so not every saw did all of them.

Nail-Embedded Wood: All Models

This is our baseline test for every reciprocating saw we test. We timed how long it takes to cut through 2 x 10 PT pine with five 16D galvanized nail embedded in it and average each saw’s results. We strap a 5-pound weight to each saw to ensure they have an equal amount of downforce applied.

For this test, we use Lenox Demolition CT Carbide Tipped Blades. 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.

2″ EMT: All Models

To test metal cutting speed, we take the average time it takes to cut through 2″ EMT. Like the wood cutting test, we use a 5-pound weight for equal downforce.

In this test, we turn to Lenox Lazer 18 TPI medium metal bi-metal blades for 1/16″ – 1/4″ cutting. Their 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.

#5 Rebar: All Models

For thick metal cutting speed, we test how long it takes to cut through #5 rebar (5/8″). Again, we’re using a 5-pound weight for downforce consistency.

In this brutal test, we switch the blades out to 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.

Roofing Sandwich: 15-Amp Class

Only the toughest saws compete in our toughest test. With a sandwich of 2 x 10 PT, flashing, tar paper, asphalt shingles, and five 16D galvanized nails, we found the average time it takes for the 15-amp class to cut through.

We didn’t use a weight this time, though. You don’t have the luxury of using the weight of the saw to help you when you’re cutting apart a roof, so we cut freehand. To make sure we got consistent results, both Tom Gaige and I switched off making cuts.

We’re back to the Lenox Demolition CT Carbide Tipped Blades for this test.

15-Amp Class

For the nail-embedded wood baseline test, Skilsaw comes away as the only model to break a 6-second average. In fact, it’s the fastest model we tested, corded or cordless. Milwaukee is within sight, less than a 1/2 second behind.

Moving to 2″ EMT, Skilsaw maintains its first-place ranking, though Milwaukee’s Super Sawzall is closing the gap with both flying through their cuts.

In our rebar cutting test, Skilsaw continues to impress, this time with a dominating performance. It’s nearly 2 seconds faster than anyone else in the 15-amp class.

The 15-amp class is the only one to participate in our roofing sandwich test and it exposed the difference between the haves and the have nots. Skilsaw again takes the win with Milwaukee less than a 1/2 second behind. From there, it’s a decent gap to Makita in 3rd and Bosch way back in 4th.

13-Amp Class

Milwaukee gets off to a great start in the 13-amp testing, walking away with a big win in our nail-embedded wood test.

Kobalt starts to show off its metal-friendly design in 2″ EMT. Its 1.26-second advantage over Milwaukee is pretty significant.

Moving onto thick metal, Kobalt maintains a lead of 1.36 seconds.

The key takeaway here is that Milwaukee’s design is optimized for wood-cutting while Kobalt cuts faster in metal. If you’re primarily cutting one of the other, that’s a valuable nugget of information for this class.

12-Amp Class

The much larger group of 12-amp saws gets off to an interesting start as Metabo HPT runs away from the pack in nail-embedded wood. It’s the only saw to break 20 seconds in this class and it finished with an average of 12.86 seconds.

Things flip in the EMT cutting test, where Milwaukee vaults to the top after coming in last for wood cutting. Makita makes a good run here as well.

Makita continues to show off its metal cutting prowess in rebar as it takes the top spot for thick metal cutting. Bosch makes a go of it as well, joining Makita as the only saws to finish under 10 seconds in this test.

Vibration

With all of our test materials available, we sent Tom Gaige, Clint DeBoer, and myself out at a time to cut to our heart’s content. Each of us had to rank each corded reciprocating saw on a 1–4 scale. Once we had all of the results without influencing each other, we tallied them up and averaged them out.

Please note that we’re giving each saw a vibration control rating. The higher the number, the better the vibration control.

15-Amp Class

For the big boys, all three of us agreed on the model with the best vibration control, and it surprisingly didn’t go to Skilsaw’s Buzzkill design. It goes to Makita with its AVT technology. Something about that design seems to dampen vibration better when we cut.

13-Amp Class

Skilsaw redeemed itself in a big way with the vibration control win in the 13-amp class. It was a tight race with Milwaukee, though.

12-Amp Class

For the 12-amp reciprocating saws, Makita walks away with a second award for vibration control. That makes them 2-for-2 in the corded classes. It kinda makes you wonder what would happen if they made a 13-amp saw.

Feature Set

Generally speaking, corded tools don’t have as many bells and whistles as their cordless counterparts. There are still some important design features to consider, though. Here’s what we look for across the board and which models have them:

Orbital Action

  • 15-Amp Class
    • All models have orbital action
  • 13-Amp Class
    • Kobalt K13RD-03
    • Milwaukee 6536-21
  • 12-Amp Class
    • Bosch RS325
    • Metabo HPT CR13VST
    • Ridgid R3002

Variable Speed Dial

  • 15-Amp Class
    • Makita JR3070CTZ
    • Milwaukee 6538-21
    • Skilsaw SPT44-10
  • 13-Amp Class
    • None
  • 12-Amp Class
    • Metabo HPT CR13VST

Pivoting, Tool-Free Adjustable Shoe

  • 15-Amp Class
    • All models have tool-free adjustable lengths and pivoting shoes
  • 13-Amp Class
    • Kobalt K13RD-03: Tool-free adjustable length and pivoting action
    • Milwaukee 6536-21: Tool-free adjustable length and pivoting action
    • Skilsaw SPT44A-00: Pivoting action only
  • 12-Amp Class
    • Bosch RS325: Pivoting action only
    • DeWalt DWE305: No adjustable length or pivoting action
    • Makita JR3050T: Tool-free adjustable length and pivoting action
    • Metabo HPT CR13VST: Tool-free adjustable length and pivoting action
    • Milwaukee 6519-31: Pivoting action only
    • Ridgid R3002: Tool-free adjustable length and pivoting action
    • Ryobi RJ1861V: Pivoting action only

Lever Blade Release (Not a Shaft Twist Lock)

  • 15-Amp Class
    • None
  • 13-Amp Class
    • None
  • 12-Amp Class
    • DeWalt DWE305
    • Metabo HPT CR13VST
    • Ryobi RJ1861V

Rafter Hook/Belt Hook

  • 15-Amp Class
    • None
  • 13-Amp Class
    • Kobalt K13RS-03
  • 12-Amp Class
    • Metabo HPT CR13VST

LED Light

  • 15-Amp Class
    • None
  • 13-Amp Class
    • Kobalt K13RS-03
  • 12-Amp Class
    • None

Spring Blade Ejection

  • 15-Amp Class
    • Makita JR3070CTZ
  • 13-Amp Class
    • Kobalt K13RS-03
  • 12-Amp Class
    • None

Additional Design Notes

Bosch RS325 and RS428: Constant Orbital Action

Bosch RS325 and RS428: Constant Orbital Action

Both Bosch saws have constant orbital action. That’s great for cutting wood, but you can’t turn it off for metal cutting. You can still cut metal, it’s just going to be a more jittery experience than other saws.

DeWalt DCS388: Multi-Directional Blade Install and a Funky Shoe

DeWalt DCS388: Multi-Directional Blade Install and a Funky Shoe

We love the 4-position blade installation feature on DeWalt’s 12-amp saw. Most reciprocating saws let you install the blade teeth down or up, but few give you side options. When you need to cut right or left, it’s convenient to keep your natural grip without turning your wrists to make it work.

The shoe, well, that’s another story. It blocks your line of sight when accuracy counts and it’s not as nice as a pivoting shoe on longer vertical cuts.

Makita JR3050T: 3 Orbital Action Levels

Makita JR3050T: 3 Orbital Action Levels

A few saws have more than just orbital on and off. Makita gives you three different orbital levels to work with (plus off) to match the material in front of you.

Milwaukee 6536-21 and 6538-21: 8 Orbital Action Levels

Milwaukee 6536-21 and 6538-21: 8 Orbital Action Levels

Milwaukee takes orbital action levels even further. As you slide the switch from off to on, there are 8 different stops along the way.

Size and Weight

When you’re using a tool that’s as aggressive as a reciprocating saw, the vibration and weight work against you as the day goes on. While each class moves up in weight with stronger motors, picking the best corded reciprocating saw for you might include some strong influence in the weight category.

Length isn’t as big of a consideration as it is in the cordless compact sector where you’re trying to get into really tight spots. However, if you’re a plumber, electrician, or working in another trade that forces you into some awkward spaces, it’s helpful to know how compact each saw is.

15-Amp Class

Bosch and Milwaukee tie as the lightest saws in the 15-amp class. They’re nearly a pound lighter than Makita while Skilsaw is clearly the beefiest of the group.

In overall length, Bosch has a slight lead over Makita and a full inch of advantage over Milwaukee. Skilsaw again is out on its own as the largest model.

13-Amp Class

Milwaukee again takes the lightweight crown and doesn’t have to share it this time. Skilsaw is close, though, while Kobalt is another 1.5 pounds heavier.

Kobalt makes up for its weight somewhat with the shortest design, just 0.1″ shorter than Milwaukee. Skilsaw’s 13-Amp Buzzkill has the same length as its 15-amp brother.

12-Amp Class

You won’t find a lighter corded reciprocating saw in the 12-amp class than Ridgid. In fact, you won’t find another model in that class under 7 pounds. Brand cousin Ryobi comes in as the second lightest with DeWalt just a couple of tenths heavier.

DeWalt pairs its reasonable weight with the shortest design in this class at 17.5″. Makita is the only other model to break 18″.

Value

We take many things into consideration when we calculate value. It’s more than just the price—it’s what you get for what you pay. In other words, who gives you the most bang for your buck?

15-Amp Class

Even though it doesn’t have the lowest price, Skilsaw’s 15-amp Buzzkill reciprocating saw has the best value in the 15-amp class. Its first-place cutting speed and mid-range pricing give you an outstanding value proposition.

13-Amp Class

Skilsaw earns the top value in the 13-amp class as well. This time, it is the least expensive saw in the class and has high enough performance in each category to overcome a strong charge by Kobalt.

12-Amp Class

There are several excellent values in the 12-amp class, led by Metabo HPT and Ryobi. Ridgid is no slouch with a value rating of 87 and Makita does really well, earning an 86-point score.

Price List

15-Amp Class

13-Amp Class

12-Amp Class

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Best Compact Cordless Reciprocating Saw Final Rankings and Recommendations

15-Amp Class

  1. Skilsaw SPT44-10Outstanding cutting speed in all materials, excellent feature set, and top value rating. Heavy and longer than others in this class.
  2. Makita JR3070CTZ: Best vibration control in the class with excellent wood cutting speed and feature set.
  3. Milwaukee 6538-21: Excellent wood cutting and thinner metal cutting speeds, tied for lightest in the class and has a smaller footprint.
  4. Bosch RS428: Tied for lightest with the smallest footprint. Struggles in vibration control and had the slowest cutting speeds in all materials.

13-Amp Class

  1. Kobalt K13RD-03: Fastest in metal cutting with good wood cutting speed. Top feature set, shortest length, and highest value rating. Heavier than others in the class and needs some help with vibration control.
  2. Milwaukee 6536-21: Best wood cutting speed in the class with excellent vibration control, lightest weight, and smaller size. Good value rating.
  3. Skilsaw SPT44A-00Top value rating in the class and best vibration control with lighter weight and good thick metal cutting speed. Has the most basic feature set and the longest length. Struggled in wood and thinner metal cutting.

12-Amp Class

  1. Metabo HPT CR13VST: Excellent vibration control with outstanding wood cutting and very good metal cutting speeds. Top value rating and feature set. Heaviest in the class.
  2. Makita JR3050T: Top vibration control with excellent metal cutting speeds and high value rating.
  3. Ryobi RJ1861V: Top value rating with good metal cutting speeds and lighter weight. Basic feature set.
  4. Milwaukee 6519-31: Top thinner metal cutting speeds with excellent vibration control. More basic feature set.
  5. Ridgid R3002: Lightest in the class and among the smallest with a very good feature set. Struggled to keep up in all material cutting speeds and needs help with vibration control.
  6. DeWalt DWE305: Among the lighter saws in the class and the shortest. Struggled in vibration control.
  7. Bosch RS325: Excellent metal cutting speeds. Lowest vibration control rating and struggled to keep up in wood cutting.

Why Corded Reciprocating Saws?

Despite an onslaught of cordless options, corded reciprocating saws continue to be a relevant sector. They’re far less expensive than their cordless counterparts, don’t have runtime issues (unless someone jacks your power supply), and they can take a beating.

For the time being, we see better vibration control development in corded tools as well. Makita’s AVT is very refined in their cordless saws and Skilsaw’s Buzzkill technology isn’t available on any cordless models.

Between the two, cordless saws are catching and sometimes exceeding the cutting speeds of corded. Most standard 18V reciprocating saws are much faster than the 10 – 12-amp class for corded. Cordless models are even lighter weight in many cases.

Still, the benefits of lower cost and near-unlimited runtime continue to make the corded classes relevant on many jobsites.

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James

The Bosch RS428 in your shootout in 2014 gave drastically different results. Was. It a change in testing methods or did they degrade the tool?