It can be daunting when you’re doing a heavy-duty reciprocating saw shootout. This week I just had the Kobalt 24V brushless reciprocating saw and a couple other competing products on-hand. Not as stressful, and nearly as much fun. It gave me a chance to get a feel for this saw apart from the excitement of the NASCAR Kobalt 400 race where I had my calloused hands on the entire lineup of Kobalt 24V Max brushless tools.
The big deal with the new Kobalt 24V recip saw is that it uses a brushless motor. There aren’t a lot of reciprocating saws on the market right now that use brushless motor technology. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel reciprocating saw and the pending Makita 18V brushless reciprocating saw seen at the 2016 World of Concrete come to mind, and that’s about it.
Brushless motors run more efficiently, and Kobalt positioned themselves to be one of only a few manufacturers offering this kind of technology to consumers at this price point. Once you realize that and take it into consideration, the value proposition of this new 24V brushless tools begins to look better and better. We’ll just have to see if consumers will have the buy-in to make it a success.
Editor’s Note: This review originally published in August 2016. It has been updated with results from our head-to-head review.
- Fastest rebar-cutting saw in its class
- Excellent wood-cutting speed
- Good vibration control
- One of the more compact designs in its class
- Good price for a brushless reciprocating saw
- Basic feature set
- No kit option
Kobalt 24V Recip Saw Features
The new Kobalt Tools 24V reciprocating saw runs at a brisk 3100 SPM (strokes per minute), a tad faster than most cordless tools which top out anywhere from 2,800 to 3,000. The tool has a stroke length of 1-1/8 inch, geared more for demo when coupled with the speed. A handy lever on the Kobalt 24V brushless recip saw gives you access to the adjustable shoe. While not a big deal, this tool-free Pro feature really does extend the life of your blades. Finally, a quick release lever allows you to remove the blade easily, but it doesn’t auto-eject it. I personally prefer auto-eject blade systems as they keep you from burning your hands when you’ve just done a lot of work and need to change a hot blade.
The front of the Kobalt 24V brushless reciprocating saw has an LED light that stays on with the trigger. There’s no orbital mode on this saw. We thought this was a surprising place to hold back on a feature, but Kobalt weighed how the tool would most likely be used and felt the trade-off was worth it to maintain the price point.
The lithium-ion battery packs on these new Kobalt 24V tools can handle temperatures from -4 to 140 degrees F. Kobalt wanted this new line of tools to last a long time and also not break open if they were dropped. Consequently, they did a lot of impact and weather testing while under load. The motor in the reciprocating saw (and every Kobalt brushless tool for that matter) is spec’d to last for 400 hours of life, but Kobalt tests them for 10x that duration.
Using the Kobalt 24V Brushless Reciprocating Saw
The Kobalt 24V brushless reciprocating saw feels comfortable when cutting. You can feel some vibration, but not nearly as much as with the 20V Max or 18V Kobalt recip saws. Interestingly enough, there’s no flywheel or mechanical separation for the handle. Most of the vibration reduction comes from the use of the tool’s brushless motor. The decoupling of the stator and rotor reduces vibration, and you can really feel the result.
I first used the Kobalt Tools 24V brushless recip saw to cut through 2×4 studs on a mockup wall Lowe’s had constructed for that purpose. Both vertical and horizontal cuts proved to be smooth and quick. This saw loves to demo, and with a nice blade, I sliced through both nails and studs easily.
When all of the “demo” testing came to a close I went back and picked up the reciprocating saw. I could have reused any of the new Kobalt 24V brushless tools, but the reciprocating saw was easily the most interesting and fun to use. With it, I began to horizontally cut through the rest of the Kobalt Tools testing structure. They were only going to tear it down anyway, so I figured why not?
I had cut through some metal, wood, nails, and PVC before—but not in a row. This time I didn’t let up and ran the tool like I had no choice but to tear through everything. Everything cut very easily with this saw. Even though I jumped quickly from wood to PVC and then to copper pipe (I switched blades a couple times as needed), the vibration stayed low and manageable.
I flipped back and forth between the new Kobalt 24V brushless reciprocating saw and the older Kobalt 20V max recip saw to feel the difference. The vibration on the older saw was much more pronounced, but it also cut more slowly. Vibration reduction seems to translate into better cutting efficiency because this saw has the same stroke length and speed of their 20V model.
Kobalt Tools 24V Brushless Reciprocating Saw Specs
- Stroke length: 1-1/18″
- Speed: 0-3,100 SPM
- Tool-free blade change
- Adjustable shoe (tool-free)
- LED work light
- Motor: 24V brushless
This is a solid tool that cuts quickly and has reduced vibration for more long term comfort. I think that if Pros can get their hands on it for a demo they might be surprised. There’s no rafter hook, but not many other issues. In terms of pricing, the Kobalt 24V brushless reciprocating saw comes in around $129 for the bare tool. That’s about $10 more than either Bosch, Ridgid, Makita or DeWalt and the same price as a Milwaukee M18 SawZall. Of those tools, however, ONLY the Kobalt saw uses a brushless motor. Whether consumers care to make a distinction will be the big question.