May 15, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review | 44 Saws Tested!

Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review

As we wipe the sweat and sawdust away from testing 44 reciprocating saws, we have the final numbers crunched and results ready to share. Finding the best reciprocating saw depends on a lot of different factors, but none so important as the application.

After all, the best reciprocating saw for demoing a house is very different from the best one for an irrigation specialist or electrician.

To help sort it all out, we break these saws down into 8 distinct categories to help you find the right saw for your next job. Before we dive into each winner, here are links to the reviews for each category. There, you can see the results for all of our contestants and deeper details of how we tested.

Best 12V Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Best 18V Compact Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Best 18V Cordless Reciprocating Saw (includes 20V Max, 22V, and 24V Max)

Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw: Super Saws

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw

Best Reciprocating Saw Final Results

Best Reciprocating Saw: 12V Cordless

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hackzall

12V cordless reciprocating saws are your go-to tool for thin metal, PVC, and possibly thin wood cutting when size is more important than performance. In this class, Milwaukee had no weak points in its armor, but it did have some stiff competition from Hilti, just 1 point behind. Those two saws left a significant gap to the rest of the field.

Get it at Acme Tools!

Also Highly Rated:

Best Reciprocating Saw: 18V One-Hand Compact

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hackzall

One-hand reciprocating saws are the most useful when you need to hold or support material in one hand and cut with the other. Their cutting speeds tend to be slower than their two-handed compact cousins, but many of the Pros on our team are willing to trade-off some speed for their ergonomics and convenience.

Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Hackzall takes the win in a close contest with Kobalt’s 24V one-handed model. Milwaukee gets the nod with better vibration control, while Kobalt has a more compact frame and scores better in value.

Get it at Acme Tools!

Also Highly Rated:

  • Kobalt 24V Max One-Hand Brushless Reciprocating Saw (Get it at Lowe’s)

Best Reciprocating Saw: 18V Two-Hand Compact

Makita 18V LXT Sub-Compact Brushless Recipro Saw

Best Reciprocating Saw

Cordless two-handed reciprocating saws are essentially squashed versions of their standard cousins. They cut faster than one-handed versions and are much better options for wood cutting. While they don’t have the performance of a full-size cordless reciprocating saw, their ability to get into tighter spaces puts them on a lot of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and remodeling trucks.

Makita’s Sub-Compact reciprocating saw put its competition way back in its rear-view mirror. Even though DeWalt’s compact model cuts a little faster, Makita gets a big boost in vibration control and overall size.

Get it on Amazon!

Best Reciprocating Saw: 18V Cordless

Makita XRJ05 18V LXT Brushless Recipro Saw

Standard 18V reciprocating saws compare well against 10 – 12-amp corded models and some approach 15-amp cutting performance. Though runtime can be a concern, these are direct primary replacements to corded models.

Best Reciprocating Saw

Makita wins in one of the tightest competitions we saw with Bosch and Milwaukee nipping at its heels. With less than two points separating the three saws, Makita’s advantage is in cutting speed, size, and value. This is a category you want to check closely as the top contenders go back and forth with each other the entire way.

Get it on Amazon!

Also Highly Rated:

Best Reciprocating Saw: Cordless Super Saws

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Sawzall

When you want to tackle the toughest demo without managing a cord, a handful of saws break away from the 18V class. We see one model stay on the 18V platform with the others moving to 36V and 60V Max. If you’re looking for a cordless saw to replace a 14- or 15-amp model, these are the ones to consider.

Best Reciprocating Saw | Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw | MIlwaukee M18 Fuel Super Sawzall

Milwaukee takes the win in our Super Saw class with cutting speed that leaves the rest of the field in the dust in all but one test. Metabo HPT proves itself as a worthy contender in second place thanks to very good cutting performance and top-rated vibration control.

Get it at Acme Tools!

Also Highly Rated:

  • Metabo HPT MultiVolt 36V Brushless Reciprocating Saw (Get it at Acme Tools)

Best Reciprocating Saw: 10-Amp – 12-Amp

Metabo HPT CR13VST 11-Amp Reciprocating Saw

Corded reciprocating saws in the 10 – 12-amp class are very budget-friendly, lighter weight options that usually supplement larger models when you have light or overhead demo to work on.

Best Reciprocating Saw

No one does it better than Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi), beating out an excellent Makita model by less than a point. Metabo HPT’s better feature set and slim cutting speed advantages were enough to push it to the top over Makita’s slightly better vibration control and lower weight.

Get it on Amazon!

Also Highly Rated:

  • Makita JR3050T 11-Amp Recipro Saw (Get it on Amazon)

Best Reciprocating Saw: 13-Amp

Kobalt K13RS-03 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw

In the 13-amp class, you find a middle ground between the distinct differences in size and performance of 10 – 12-amp saws and 14 – 15-amp models. These are capable of doing just about any demo job for you, but you’ll notice a performance drop in some of the heaviest cutting.

Kobalt has a slight advantage over Milwaukee thanks to better overall cutting speed, a more comprehensive feature set, and a better value rating. Milwaukee is no slouch, though. It boasts a more compact overall size with better vibration control.

Get it at Lowe’s!

Also Highly Rated:

  • Milwaukee 13-Amp Super Sawzall (Get it at Acme Tools)

Best Reciprocating Saw: 14-amp – 15-Amp

Skilsaw 15- Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Technology

In a close race for the 15-amp reciprocating saw crown, Skilsaw’s 15-amp Buzzkill model moves ahead of Makita and Milwaukee thanks to superior cutting performance and a higher value score. Even though we had to rank them, all three of these are fantastic choices!

Get it on Amazon!

Also Highly Rated:

  • Makita 15-Amp AVT Recipro Saw (Get it on Amazon)
  • Milwaukee 15-Amp Super Sawzall (Get it at Acme Tools)

How We Tested

Cutting Speed

We test cutting speed in a variety of materials and match them with the intended purpose of each tool. With the exception of our roofing test, we use a 5-pound weight to give each saw equal downforce during the cut.

Each saw repeats the test until we get consistent results. Outliers are thrown out and the final values are the average of the valid cutting speeds.

Nail-Embedded Wood

We set five 16D galvanized nails into the side of 2 x 10 PT pine and see how fast each saw cuts through vertically. We use Lenox Demolition CT Carbide Tipped Blades for this test.

Saws Tested

  • 12V Cordless*
  • 18V One-Hand Compact*
  • 18V Two-Hand Compact
  • 18V Cordless
  • Cordless Super Saws
  • 10 – 12-Amp Corded
  • 13-Amp Corded
  • 14 – 15-Amp Corded

*We test every reciprocating saw in nail-embedded wood as a baseline, but the results are not used in the 12V cordless and 18V one-hand scoring. Most of these saws are not very effective at cutting wood that thick.

3″ PVC

It’s pretty simple—how fast can our one-handed saws cut through 3″ schedule 40 PVC pipe from the top down? For this test, we use Lenox Lazer 18 TPI medium metal bi-metal blades.

Saws Tested

  • 12V Cordless
  • 18V One-Hand Compact

3/4″ EMT

With our 12V and 18V compact saws, we see how fast they can cut from the top down in 3/4″ EMT.  Lenox Lazer 18 TPI medium metal bi-metal blades are the blade of choice for this test.

Saws Tested

  • 12V Cordless
  • 18V One-Hand Compact
  • 18V Two-Hand Compact

2″ EMT

Moving away from 12V and 18V compact, we test the rest of our reciprocating saws in a thicker 2″ EMT. We use the Lenox Lazer 18 TPI medium metal bi-metal blades to cut from the top down in this test as well.

Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review - Medium Metal Cutting

Saws Tested

  • 18V Cordless
  • Cordless Super Saws
  • 10 – 12-Amp Corded
  • 13-Amp Corded
  • 14 – 15-Amp Corded

#5 Rebar (5/8″)

Each of the corded saws along with standard and Super Saw cordless models cut through #5 rebar from the top down. We switch over to Lenox Lazer CT carbide blades for this thick metal cutting test.


Saws Tested

  • 18V Cordless
  • Cordless Super Saws
  • 10 – 12-Amp Corded
  • 13-Amp Corded
  • 14 – 15-Amp Corded

Roofing Sandwich

We made a sandwich of 2 x 10 PT, flashing, tar paper, asphalt shingles, and five 16D galvanized nails to see how well the cordless Super Saws and 14 to 15-amp corded models handle a tough multi-material cutting application.

We set our rig at a standard roof angle to mimic an actual roof demo. Tom Gaige and I switched off making cuts to make sure that one cutting technique didn’t give any saw an unfair advantage.

We move back to Lenox Demolition CT Carbide Tipped Blades for this one.

Saws Tested

  • Cordless Super Saws
  • 14 – 15-Amp Corded

Vibration Control

To rank vibration control, Clint DeBoer, Tom Gauge, and I spent time cutting with each saw in multiple materials and ranked them on a scale of 1 – 4 against their class. We did our testing independently to make sure our results didn’t influence each other.

We averaged the results and used them to rank each saw for vibration control.

Size and Weight

We measure the length of each saw using a digital caliper. For the cordless saws, we measured without the battery installed since the battery you choose can affect the length of some models.

We measured the weight of each saw on a 75-lb digital postal scale. With the cordless saws, we measure both with and without the battery that was kitted or recommended by each manufacturer. The weight of the corded models includes the weight of the cord.

Feature Set

While not every feature we look for is represented in each class, here is the list of what we look for:

  • Brushless Motor
  • Orbital Action
  • Variable Speed Dial/Switch
  • Tool-Free Shoe Length Adjustment
  • Shoe Length Adjustment (Tool Required)
  • Pivoting Shoe
  • Blade Release Lever (Not a Shaft Lock)
  • Rafter Hook/Belt Hook
  • LED Light
  • Spring Blade Ejection
  • Smart Controls
  • Unique Features (e.g. 4-Way Blade Installation, Blade Lock Hold, Jigsaw Blade Compatibility)


We create an algorithm that takes into account the results of our testing, warranties, depth of compatible cordless tools, and much more to compare against the price of each saw. The result is a value rating that is more than just a price list.

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

At Pro Tool Reviews, we have our finger on the pulse of the tool industry. We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the commercial and residential construction industry. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Additionally, our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

We consult with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.

We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.

We’ll provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers—including objective evaluations of individual tools and products.

The end result is a testing design you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.

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