The Metabo HPT 18V brushless reciprocating saw has been out for a couple of years now. In our cordless reciprocating saw shootout from a few years back, the previous model didn’t perform as well as we’d hoped.
As Metabo HPT has launched new 18V tools and the MultiVolt line (and changed its name), we’ve seen a remarkable improvement in Metabo HPT cordless line. There’s the introduction of their 18V brushless finish and framing nailers along with their Triple Hammer impact driver that’s one of the best available.
So where does the Metabo HPT CR18DBL reciprocating saw fit in and what did the product team do to improve it?
I’m glad you asked. Or that I asked on your behalf.
Editor’s note: this review originally published in February 2018. It has been updated with results from our head-to-head review.
- Excellent cutting speed in wood
- Good cutting speed in thick metal
- Three speed selections and an auto mode
- Reasonably compact and lightweight
- Thinner front handle design is easier to grip
- Struggles with vibration control
- No orbital action
The first thing you’ll notice is the size of the case this Metabo HPT 18V brushless reciprocating saw comes in. I’ll admit that I was a little concerned about the size of the saw it contained when it arrived.
Fear not, the saw is actually one of the most compact full-size 18V reciprocating saws we’ve seen. It’s lightweight compared to the rest of its class as well – to the point that some Pros can use it with one hand.
It weighs in at a lean 6 pounds even and 7-1/2 pounds with a 6.0Ah battery pack. That’s more than 2 pounds lighter than Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel, Makita 18V X2, or DeWalt’s FlexVolt models. It shaves nearly ½ a pound off of Metabo HPT’s previous model.
The slim profile tapers down nicely to a comfortable front handle. It’s a thinner diameter than most full-size reciprocating saws and I like it.
The main handle doesn’t have the kind of contour you find on Metabo HPT’s drills and impact drivers, but it’s still comfortable. You can use one or two fingers on the trigger.
The trigger lock is just above the trigger and works with the simple press of your thumb or forefinger. An interesting design feature here is the extended overmold that protects the lock. Apparently, Metabo HPT sees a potential failure point on the jobsite that they’re proactively working against.
- Brushless motor: Keeps the runtime up and the temperature down for a longer workday and life.
- Rafter hook: It’s a must-have feature for reciprocating saws.
- Adjustable, pivoting shoe: Gets the most out of your blades and keep the shoe engaged while you cut.
- 4 mode selector: 3 speeds plus an auto mode.
- Low Vibration Handle: Creates a separation between the main housing and handle to reduce vibration.
- LED light: Comes on with a trigger pull and stays on for 10 seconds after you let go.
- Blade change lever: On the outside right of the tool so you don’t have to grab a twist lock on the shaft.
Additional Feature Notes
LVH – Low Vibration Handle – is added to the new model. It gives the handle vertical and horizontal movement to absorb vibration during use.
The mode selector is an interesting addition for the Metabo HPT 18V brushless reciprocating saw. It gives you 3 speeds to work with in addition to feathering with the variable speed trigger. However, it’s the auto mode that is most intriguing. This essentially runs the saw in mode 1 (low) and increases to mode 3 (high) as it feels the load increase.
Metabo HPT 18V Brushless Reciprocating Saw Modes
- Low: 0 – 1600 SPM
- Medium: 0 – 2300 SPM
- High: 0 – 2500 SPM
- Auto: 0 – 1600/2500 SPM
Metabo HPT nails just about everything you can want in a cordless reciprocating saw except one thing – orbital action. When it comes to cutting in wood, orbital action makes a big difference. Metabo HPT may have missed an opportunity by leaving it out.
My only other complaint is a minor one – the LED charge indicator only has two lights. It gives you a really rough estimate of how much power is remaining. Ideally, I’d like to see four bars on the battery itself. Still, it’s better than having no idea at all.
On paper, the new Metabo HPT 18V brushless reciprocating saw is a little low in the speed department (2500 SPM) but makes up for it in stroke length at 1-17/64” (just over 1-1/4″). This is identical to what Bosch did with their GSA18V-125. When you do the math, it doesn’t necessarily look like it’s enough to move to the front of the pack. However, it’s less than a second away from Makita’s XRJ05 that posted the class-leading speed in our nail-embedded wood test.
We ran it through the same test we’ve done in previous shootouts – 2 x 12 PT with five framing nails to work through using Diablo’s Demo Demon wood blade.
Last year, Metabo HPT took an average of 55.10 seconds. The new model?
More than twice as fast at 22.8 seconds.
When it’s time to cut metal, the additional speeds come in handy. On thinner pipe like EMT, I really like the control and vibration reduction that comes with low speed. Because the metal is thin, the saw melts through easily. Medium and thick metals are good at medium speed and you’ll want to kick back into low for stainless steel cutting.
Vibration control isn’t as good as some of Metabo HPT’s other models. The LVH handle reduces what reaches your arm to an extent. However, there’s less vibration in some of the other saws and Skilsaw is still way ahead of the curve with Buzzkill.
This Metabo HPT cordless reciprocating saw isn’t cheap – $199.97 for the bare tool or $299.97 for a kit with one 6.0 Ah battery and charger. While that seems a little steep, some comparison shopping shows that it’s right in line with what you’ll pay for Milwaukee or Makita and cheaper than Bosch’s updated model. Keep in mind that Hitachi warranties their lithium-ion tools for life.
The Bottom Line
The Metabo HPT 18V brushless reciprocating saw is light years ahead of its predecessor. Cutting speed improves drastically and they managed to drop the weight and improve the ergonomics some. The only thing holding Hitachi back from being at the top of the cordless list is the lack of orbital action. If they can work that into the next model, it’s going to be in the conversation as the best cordless reciprocating saw available.
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