Kobalt 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw Stuns Powerhouse Brands in Head-to-Head Win
Pro-level corded reciprocating saws filter into two main classes (10 – 12-amp and 14 – 15-amp) with a smaller third group (13-amp) sitting between them. The Kobalt 13-amp reciprocating saw is part of that middle class and is the only full-size corded model they make. If you have to put all of your eggs in one basket, you better do it well, and that’s exactly what Kobalt’s design team did.
- Best overall reciprocating saw in the 13-amp class
- Best overall cutting speed in its class
- Most comprehensive feature set
- Excellent value
- Lowest vibration control score in its class
- Heavier than competitors
Buy it if you’re looking for the best 13-amp reciprocating saw available or a more budget-friendly option than 15-amp saws. Pass if you’re looking for the lowest vibration, lower weight, or need the full performance of a 15-amp model.
How Fast Does the Kobalt 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw Cut?
We put our 13-amp reciprocating saw through three types of speed testing: wood, thin metal, and thick metal. You can check out the details of each test method on our reciprocating saw head-to-head review main page.
In our nail-embedded wood test, Kobalt finished with a 12.48-second average. Milwaukee really owned this test, needing just 8.30 seconds to cut through. Looking both up and down a class, Kobalt’s result is slower than the 15-amp saws and quite a bit faster than the 12-amp class. That’s right where we expect it to be and its addition of an orbital action mechanism clearly helps.
Moving onto metal cutting, Kobalt dominated the results. On 2″ EMT, its 4.23-second average was more than a full second ahead of Milwaukee (5.49 seconds) and more than two seconds faster than Skilsaw (6.46 seconds).
The trend continued in #5 rebar where Kobalt’s 5.81-second average easily bested Skilsaw (7.17 seconds) and Milwaukee (8.27 seconds).
Looking at the results broadly, Kobalt earns the top score for overall cutting speed. It’s clearly the go-to model if you’re looking for a 13-amp saw primarily for metal cutting and it’s highly competent in wood cutting as well.
How Much Vibration Does it Have?
The results flip for the Kobalt 13-amp reciprocating saw in vibration control. Skilsaw’s Buzzkill technology (100 points) took the top score here with Milwaukee (92 points) not far behind. There’s a double-wobble bearing to help and Kobalt’s score of 75 is okay, but you’ll definitely feel more vibration than in the other two.
How Big is it?
13-amp reciprocating saws typically have performance between the 12-amp and 15-amp classes but with a size that’s closer to the 15-amp class. That’s the case here and while Kobalt is the shortest of the 13-amp saws at 19.8″, it’s right in line with the heavier-duty 15-amp class.
Weight is a little different story. At 11 pounds, Kobalt is the heaviest by a pound and a half compared to Milwaukee (9.4 pounds) and Skilsaw (9.5 pounds). It’s even heavier than three of the four models in the 15-amp class. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking at 13-amp saws as a way to shave a little weight.
Are There Any Other Features Worth Pointing Out?
Kobalt has the most comprehensive feature set of the group. It doesn’t really go after anything unique, but it does include several options that other brands leave off. Even the features Kobalt leaves off are also missing on its competitors. Here’s what you can expect.
- Pivoting, tool-free adjustable shoe
- Rafter hook
- LED light
- Blade ejection
- Variable speed dial
- Lever blade release
How Much Does it Cost?
You can pick up the Kobalt 13-amp reciprocating saw for $139 at Lowe’s. It’s in the middle for this class between Skilsaw’s $89 price tag and Milwaukee’s $189. It’s a good price and value for the performance you get. Looking up to the 15-amp class, you definitely pay less than the high performers there.
The Bottom Line
When we tallied the final scores, Kobalt took the win by 2 points over Milwaukee’s model with a significant gap over Skilsaw. Its cutting performance is the big highlight and you get a better feature set than you do with its competitors. Despite its higher weight and vibration, it’s an excellent overall reciprocating saw that’s a particularly good fit for budget-minded Pros.
Buy it if you’re looking for the best 13-amp reciprocating saw available or a more budget-friendly option than 15-amp saws. Pass if you’re looking for the lowest vibration, lower weight, or need the performance of a 15-amp model.
Kobalt 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw Specs
- Model Number: K13RS-03
- Strokes Per Minute: 2800
- Blade Stroke Length: 1.25″
- Keyed/Keyless: Keyless
- Variable Speed: Yes
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Adjustable Shoe: Yes
- Orbital Action: Yes
- Price: $139 at Lowe’s