Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review
Wrapping up our series on reciprocating saws, we come to the kings of the cordless class—cordless Super Saws! While the term “best cordless reciprocating saw” might lead you to consider everything that’s cordless, these are the absolute best of the best from a select group of manufacturers.
We’re not going to leave you hanging, though. Click on the links below to see the winners in our other cordless categories.
What sets these saws apart from the rest of the cordless reciprocating saws? Some run on higher voltages, such as 36V or 60V (54V max). Others use advanced battery technology to pull more power without leaving the 18V/20V max system. However they get there, these saws promise higher performance with some competing with the cutting speeds we see in 15-amp corded reciprocating saws.
Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Sawzall
Milwaukee takes the top overall spot for cordless reciprocating saws with cutting speed that leaves its cordless competitors in the dust. As the inventors of the original Sawzall, Milwaukee builds on their heritage and cutting-edge cordless development to walk away with a well-deserved win.
Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw Cutting Speed
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Sawzall
Milwaukee crushed its competition in cutting speed. It cruised to wins in our nail-embedded wood and roofing demo tests with a close win in rebar. The only chink in its armor came in medium metal cutting, where both Metabo HPT and Hilti found an advantage.
Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw Vibration Control
Metabo HPT 36V MultiVolt Reciprocating Saw
Metabo HPT put together a design for their MultiVolt reciprocating saw that has a clear advantage in vibration control over its competition, making for a more comfortable demolition experience.
Most Compact Cordless Reciprocating Saw
DeWalt 60V Max FlexVolt Brushless Reciprocating Saw
When you’re talking about the heavyweight division, size might not matter as much as it does for the compact saws. Then again, you probably don’t want to use a 25-pound reciprocating saw all day, even if it is the fastest.
DeWalt and Makita set themselves apart as the only two saws to weigh less than 10 pounds with batteries in the Super Saw class. With a 0.1-lb lighter weight (battery included) and a 0.1″ shorter length than Makita, DeWalt is slightly more compact overall.
Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw Value
Makita 18V X2 Brushless Recipro Saw
4 of the 5 saws in the Super Saw class earn solid value scores, but none can eclipse Makita for the best value. It’s the least expensive kit in the group with high enough scores in our tested categories to give you the best bang for your buck.
Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw: How We Tested and Full Results
As the highest performance cordless reciprocating saws we tested, these are capable of the biggest, baddest demo jobs. At the same time, you wouldn’t use them for some of the lightest demo tasks. The tests we set up for them reflect this concept.
For all of our tests, we used a 5-pound weight strung around each saw to make sure they all got equal downforce.
We fired five 16D nails in 2 x 10 PT and timed each saw multiple times to get an average cutting speed in nail-embedded wood. We put a new Lenox Demolition CT Carbide Tipped Blade in each one. 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 up in 6″, 9″, or 12″ lengths.
For the saws that have orbital action, we made sure to use it in wood cutting tests.
Milwaukee and Metabo HPT blew the rest of the field out of the water with cutting speeds that can compete in the 15-amp corded class.
While DeWalt, Hilti, and Makita certainly weren’t slow, their average times were beaten by four saws in the standard 18V class (Bosch, Hilti, Kobalt, and Makita).
We made a cocktail of 2 x 10 PT, flashing, tar paper, asphalt shingles, and five 16D galvanized nails to find out how long it takes to cut through a much tougher mess.
We didn’t use the weight this time. Rather, we set our rig at a standard roof angle and cut by hand the same way you’d have to on a real-world job. To make sure the technique didn’t affect the results, both Tom Gaige and I switched off making cuts.
We stayed with Lenox Demolition CT Carbide Tipped Blades for this test.
Milwaukee continues its class-leading speed with a healthy lead over Metabo HPT in second. This tough test reveals some of the differences between corded and cordless, with the 15-amp class leaders cutting some 25% faster.
In our medium metal cutting test, we cut through 2″ EMT with Lenox Lazer 18 TPI medium metal bi-metal blades. These bi-metal blades have taller cutting profiles that make more stable cuts and a Power Blast design that increases the overall life of the blade by increasing its strength. They’re available in 6″, 9″, or 12″ lengths.
Metabo HPT takes over the first-place position with Hilti hot on its heels. None of the others made it under the 4-second mark.
Looking back to the 18V class, Milwaukee’s 2721 and Makita’s XRJ05 had fast enough averages in the same test to beat out DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee from this one.
We grabbed some #5 rebar (5/8″) and Lenox Lazer CT carbide blades for our thick metal testing. Head-to-head against Milwaukee and Diablo, these Lenox blades 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.
Milwaukee returns to the top of the charts in this test with Hilti not far behind.
Similar to the trend we’ve been seeing, a handful of saws from the 18V class cut fast enough to compete with the DeWalt, Makita, and Metabo HPT’s averages.
With the number of standard 18V saws that kept up with our Super Saws in these tests, it’s natural to wonder whether the premium is worth it for the best. Like we saw in the roofing sandwich test, these saws really begin to separate themselves when the cuts get tougher. As you start trying to cut 4x material or thicker, the standard 18V models really slow down.
So sure, use the smaller saws where you can—who wants to use a heavier reciprocating saw if you don’t have to? But the Super Saws are where you want to turn for the toughest, thickest cuts and still be free of a cord.
Ranking vibration took a team effort. Tom Gaige, Clint DeBoer, and I independently spent some quality time with each Super Saw, cutting in all of our test materials and rating them on a 1 – 4 scale. We averaged the scores at the end to get our final ratings.
Keep in mind these are vibration control ratings so higher ratings are better.
Metabo HPT earns the highest vibration control score with Hilti, Makita, and Milwaukee locked in a 3-way tie for second.
As the highest performing cordless reciprocating saws available, we expect to see the deepest feature sets to go along with them. Here’s what we look for and which models have it:
- All models have a brushless motor
- Metabo HPT CR36DA
- Milwaukee 2722
Variable Speed Selection
- Hilti SR 30-A36 (2-speed mechanical switch)
- Makita XRJ06 (2-speed mechanical switch)
- Metabo HPT CR36DA (4-speed electronic control)
- Milwaukee 2722 (5-speed dial)
- DeWalt DCS388: Non-adjustable pivoting shoe
- Hilti SR 30-A36: Tool-free adjustable pivoting shoe
- Makita XRJ06: Non-adjustable pivoting shoe
- Metabo HPT CR36DA: Tool-free adjustable pivoting shoe
- Milwaukee 2722: Tool-free adjustable pivoting shoe
Lever Blade Release (Not a Shaft Twist Lock)
- DeWalt DCS388
- Hilti SR 30-A36
- Hilti SR 30-A36 (plastic)
- Makita XRJ06
- Metabo HPT CR36DA
- Milwaukee 2722
- All models have an LED light
Spring Blade Ejection
- Makita XRJ06 (also, it locks in the open position and automatically closes when you insert a new blade)
Additional Design Notes
DeWalt’s FlexVolt battery platform runs at 60V max (54V) on this saw and other FlexVolt tools. It’s also backward compatible and can automatically switch to 20V max (18V) when you connect it to DeWalt 20V Max tools.
Hilti SR 30-A36
Hilti is the only manufacturer we’ve seen develop a dust port attachment to help contain your demolition dust. Simply install the optional attachment on the front and connect it to your dust extractor.
This saw includes Hilti’s AVR—active vibration reduction—to help reduce the vibration that makes it to your arm. It also has a slimmer front handle that’s easier to grip.
Makita uses a slimmer front handle that’s easier to grip than other saws.
Metabo HPT CR36DA
As a member of Metabo HPT’s MultiVolt system, their reciprocating saw has the unique ability to run on a MultiVolt battery or AC adapter. The battery is backward compatible with other Metabo HPT and Hitachi 18V tools.
Metabo HPT’s UVP (user vibration protection) uses upper and lower counterweights to balance out the forces inherent in a reciprocating saw to reduce the amount of vibration you feel.
Size and Weight
If you’re looking for the lightest, most compact reciprocating saw you can get your hands on, you’re looking in the wrong place. That doesn’t mean this group is completely unwieldy, though.
Two saws stand out as being pretty compact for this class: DeWalt and Makita. All of the others are more than 18″ long and Milwaukee reaches out beyond 19″.
Looking at bare tools, Makita has the lightest design available. But it needs two 18V batteries to operate and DeWalt takes over as the lightest with its 2.0Ah/6.0Ah battery. Makita could be lighter if you go with 2.0Ah batteries, but that’s not a common way to go for this saw.
*Note: we used the battery kitted or recommended by each manufacturer.
At Pro Tool Reviews, value is more than just a list of prices. We take a comprehensive look at what you get for your money and run a long list of things through our algorithm.
Makita comes away with the highest value. Its kit price is lower than the rest and is enough to overcome slower cutting performance. Milwaukee, Metabo HPT, and DeWalt all score well for value as well.
- DeWalt DCS388: $159 bare, $329 with two 2.0Ah/6.0Ah batteries and charger (get it on Amazon)
- Hilti SR 30-A36: $299 bare, $667 with one 9.0Ah battery and charger (get it from Hilti)
- Makita XRJ06: $175 bare, $299 kit with two 5.0Ah batteries and rapid charger (get it on Amazon)
- Metabo HPT CR36DA: $249 bare (get it at Acme Tools)
- Milwaukee 2722: $249 bare, $449 kit with one 12.0Ah battery and rapid charger (get it at Acme Tools)
Note: prices are at the time of writing and may vary.
Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw Final Rankings and Recommendations
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Sawzall: Fastest overall cutting speed with good vibration control and value. Heaviest and longest in the Super Saw class.
- Metabo HPT 36V MultiVolt Reciprocating Saw: Fastest cutting speed in medium metal and excellent wood cutting speed with top vibration control and good value.
- Hilti SR 30-A36 Reciprocating Saw: Excellent metal cutting speeds but struggles in roofing test. Good vibration control. Tied for heaviest with battery installed and has the lowest value score.
- Makita 18V X2 LXT Brushless Recipro Saw: Struggled in cutting speed tests but performed well in medium metal cutting. Good vibration control with lightweight and compact design for this class. Top value score in the class.
- DeWalt 60V Max FlexVolt Brushless Reciprocating Saw: Struggled with cutting speed in all materials but gained ground in roofing test. Struggles in vibration control. Lightest and most compact in the class.
Why Cordless Reciprocating Saws?
The best cordless reciprocating saw competes well against models in the 15-amp class and even beats some of them in cutting performance. Without the cord to trip you up, they can be much more convenient tools to use for demolition work.
Not all of the saws in this class compete on as high a level, though. Some of the models in the 18V class exceed the performance we saw in our testing and might be a real consideration with their lighter weights.
These Super Saws fall in line with the weight range we see in the 15-amp class, making them a reasonable choice as a primary replacement for corded models.
The big gap is still in the price—the most expensive 15-amp model is still far less than the least expensive cordless Super Saw kit and we don’t expect the price gap to change much in the near future.
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