DeWalt FlexVolt Reciprocating Saw Boosts Performance in Second Generation
The original DeWalt FlexVolt reciprocating saw was one of the first truly advanced models we saw, taking advantage of upgrades to the motor, battery, and electronics package. However, that saw hasn’t kept up as well with other brands developing their own. We wanted to know if the second-generation model, the DeWalt DCS389, can put Yellow and Black back at the top.
- Performance boost from the previous model
- Much better woodcutting speeds
- Still compact and lightweight for its class
- Lever action blade release
- No orbital action, advanced vibration control, rafter hook, adjustable shoe, or variable speed dial
- Low metal cutting speeds for its class
DeWalt FlexVolt Reciprocating Saw Testing Results
Compared to the other advanced models, the original DCS388 was the slowest cutting in almost all of our tests. In fact, several standard cordless models outperformed it.
The upgraded DeWalt FlexVolt reciprocating saw boasts 19% better performance based on its 1874 unit watts out. However, it still has the same 3000 SPM speed and 1 1/8-inch stroke length.
So does the improved motor power translate into faster cutting speeds?
In our nail-embedded wood test, we saw a big improvement. Dropping from 11.90 seconds to 6.86 seconds, it moved from last place to second! Of course, there’s was also a big improvement in cutting clean wood.
For our roofing sandwich, the DeWalt FlexVolt reciprocating saw was a touch slower, averaging 17.15 seconds. Its overall ranking doesn’t change, though, still finishing in the middle of the pack.
Metal cutting also showed some improvement, but it wasn’t as dramatic. Its average cutting speed in 2-inch EMT was 5.29 seconds (down from 6.19) and its 5/8-inch rebar speed dropped from 11.87 seconds to 9.98 seconds.
Both scores rank in the bottom half of the advanced Super Saw class (reciprocating saws with advanced batteries and upgraded motors).
Key Performance Takeaways
There’s clearly a performance boost for the Gen 2 version of DeWalt’s FlexVolt reciprocating saw. Its cutting speed is so good in wood that we wish the product team would have put a selectable orbital action on it.
With it, DeWalt would have a real shot to overtake Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Super Sawzall in wood cutting.
Your metal cutting speeds are still going to be on the slower side compared to the top contenders, but better than they were and certainly not painfully slow.
Overall, the trend is very positive and we’ll take it.
DeWalt traditionally hasn’t had great vibration control in their reciprocating saws. Both the DCS388 and the DCS380 scored at the bottom of their respective cordless groups.
Relatively speaking, our testing team felt this model didn’t have as much vibration as the previous model despite no obvious claims of more refined vibration control.
Size and Weight
The bright spot for the original DeWalt FlexVolt reciprocating saw is that it is the most compact and lightest of the advanced group. The updated model loses a little bit of ground, but it’s still one of the most compact Super Saws.
Weighing in at 7.6 pounds bare and 10.4 pounds with its 3.0/9.0Ah battery, the updated DCS389 is nearly 2 pounds lighter than Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Super Sawzall. It’s nearly identical in bare weight to the original model, and you can stick with the 2.0/6.0Ah batteries to keep its weight lower.
At 17.8 inches long, it’s less than 0.1 inches longer on our caliper than the previous model and only behind the DCS388 as the most compact in its class.
- Blade release lever is easier to use than twist locks
- Pivoting shoe
- LED light
- Smart controls (only found on Milwaukee’s One-Key)
- Orbital action
- Variable speed dial
- Adjustable shoe
- Rafter hook
- Spring blade ejection
Considering this is essentially just a new motor in the original housing, it’s no surprise the feature set is the same as the original model. The lack of orbital action and advanced vibration control are still sore spots compared to other flagship reciprocating saws.
You can pick up the upgraded DeWalt FlexVolt reciprocating saw for $299 with a 9.0/3.0Ah battery and charger. It’s $229 if you don’t need a battery and $449 to get it with two batteries.
The DCS388 currently runs $179 as a bare tool, and an extra $20 seems like money well-spent for the performance upgrade to the DCS389.
The DCS889 kits come with 3.0/9.0Ah batteries, while the DCS388 comes with 2.0/6.0Ah packs. Looking at the pricing structure, the 1-battery kit on the updated model is the sweet spot for value. It’s the exact same price as the previous model, giving you both a tool and battery upgrade for no additional cost.
Gen 1 Vs Gen 2 Comparison Chart
|Gen 1 FlexVolt||Gen 2 FlexVolt|
|Nail-Embedded Wood||11.90 seconds||6.86 seconds|
|Roofing Sandwich||16.52 seconds||17.15 seconds|
|2-Inch EMT||6.19 seconds||5.29 seconds|
|#5 Rebar||11.87 seconds||9.98 seconds|
|Weight||7.58 pounds||9.83 pounds*|
|Length||7.59 pounds||10.43 pounds*|
|Bare Tool Price||$179||$229|
|1-Battery Kit Price*||$299||$299|
|2-Battery Kit Price*||$379||$449|
The Bottom Line
The second-generation DeWalt FlexVolt reciprocating saw picks up some cutting speed, but that’s about it. Other than changing out the motor, the rest of the design seems to be the same.
There’s not a big premium over the original model, and we’ll happily take the improved performance. However, we’ll have to wait for Gen 3 to see if we get orbital action and a variable speed dial.
Want more FlexVolt? Check out these reviews!
- Gen 2 FlexVolt Angle Grinder Review
- Gen 2 FlexVolt Circular Saw Review
- FlexVolt Table Saw Review
- FlexVolt Miter Saw Review
DeWalt FlexVolt Reciprocating Saw Gen 2 Specs
- Model: DeWalt DCS389
- Motor: Brushless
- Stroke Length: 1-1/8″
- Strokes per Minute: 0-3,000 SPM
- Adjustable Shoe: Pivoting
- Height x Length: 6.8 x 17.725 in.
- Weight: 7.56 lbs.
- Variable Speed Trigger: Yes
- Warranty: 3-year limited
- Price: $229 (bare tool) $299 (kit with 1 battery), $449 (kit with 2 batteries)