Available at Home Depot, you’ll find the Ryobi P517 One+ 18V Brushless Reciprocating Saw. That’s right, another brushless entry. Ryobi has been steadily outfitting a line of brushless tools that better serve tradesmen looking for an affordable option that still does the job reasonably well. Of course, DIYers are still a big target and these brushless models boost the performance for guys and gals that are more serious.
Editor’s note: this review originally published in November 2017. It has been updated to reflect the saw’s performance in our most recent head-to-head review.
- One of the lightest bare tools
- Least expensive brushless model tested ($119 bare)
- Space between the battery and main body acts as a rafter hook
- Clear performance improvement over the previous model
- Slower cutting speeds than mainstream Pro-level saws
- No variable speed dial or active blade ejection
- No kit option currently available
Ryobi P517 Top Features
The big talk of the town is the fact that Ryobi packs the reciprocating saw with a brushless motor. The advantages are well-documented and in today’s market, it’s pretty close to something we can demand on a Pro-level cordless reciprocating saw.
The Ryobi Brushless Reciprocating Saw features orbital action – and that’s good news. Just a few years back, only Ridgid’s Gen5X had orbital action on the cordless side, but that’s changing.
The switch itself is a little funky. You’ll notice it next to the blade lock. Just flip the tab and twist to the icon you want – orbital or straight cutting.
Speaking of blades, a new feature is the stay-open blade clamp to make blade changes easier. When you flip the lock out, a two-stage mechanism holds it open. Flip it with your thumb to lock the blade in place and you’re ready to work.
In practice, there have been a couple of times where I didn’t have the blade set quite right and the lock didn’t close completely. The good thing is that it’s really obvious when this happens, so you won’t be putting the blade to wood when it’s not properly locked (unless you’re just really not paying attention). When you release the lock, the blade simply falls away if you tip the saw down so you don’t have to risk burning yourself.
The P517 also features Ryobi’s Gripzone microtextured overmolding. It’s comfortable enough and certainly not a surprise to find. However, Ryobi’s handle is growing up and getting some curves to it. It’s noticeably more form fitting to your hand than traditional Ryobi handles.
If you’ve read many of my reviews, you know I’m always on the lookout for a rafter or belt hook for most of my power tools. The Ryobi P517 doesn’t have them in the traditional sense. The space between the battery and the motor actually sits really well on 2x material in lieu of a rafter hook. It’s something similar to what Skil has on its brushless model.
A pivoting shoe allows for adjustable depth-of-cut control.
There’s a hex key that stores in the handle that you’ll use to loosen and adjust the shoe. We definitely prefer a tool-free option there, but having it with a hex key is better than not being able to adjust the shoe at all.
With a 1-1/8″ stroke length and 3200 strokes per minute, the Ryobi brushless reciprocating saw is definitely Pro-level on paper. The proof is in the pudding, though.
We typically turn to a carbide-tipped reciprocating blade for, well, all of our cutting. However, it’s not necessarily the best choice when cutting in clean wood. An aggressive, low TPI blade is the way to go if that’s what you’re cutting with the Ryobi P517. Stick with the higher TPI carbide blade when there’s metal in the mix.
But when you need to cut nail-embedded wood or a demo cocktail mix, bi-metal just isn’t a reasonable option. It’s with a carbide nail-embedded wood blade that I really noticed the cutting is a little slower than some of the premium saws we use.
So we tested it head-to-head against other cordless reciprocating saws with a similar design (we tested advanced cordless models separately). In our nail-embedded wood test, the P517 was the slowest, needing an average of 16.16 seconds to make the 2 x 10 cut. The rest of the group averaged around 10.5 seconds, so there’s a noticeable difference.
Metal cutting was a similar story. Ryobi’s 7.00-second average was a couple of seconds off the 5.00-second average pace of the group. Shifting to #5 rebar, it’s 13.38-second effort was nearly 4 seconds off the group average.
Those numbers aren’t terribly attractive at first glance, but let’s consider some perspective. For starters, the saw didn’t have trouble making the cut or make us feel like it was in danger of overheating. It was just slower. It’s also is an improvement over Ryobi’s previous cordless model. Realistically, we don’t expect Prosumer and DIY models to keep up with Milwaukee and Makita, so there aren’t any surprises in these results.
The anti-vibration handle is a nice addition. When you can lean in against the material you’re cutting, it does a decent job of keeping you from getting jelly arms. Overall, it’s an improvement over Ryobi’s previous generation. It just doesn’t bring it to where the top players are.
One Reported Quirk
There are some reports that taller blades can cut into the housing above the shaft. We took a close look with our Lenox and Diablo blades (both 1 inch tall). In both standard and reverse positions, the blade comes close but doesn’t actually hit anything in there. However, it wouldn’t take much of a shift on the blade’s lock tab to get there. There may be some blades that it’s a legitimate issue with.
Size and Weight
The Ryobi P517 is on the smaller, lighter side of the scale. It’s just 17.5 inches long and the bare tool weighs just 5.8 pounds. We tested it with a 9.0Ah battery in our head-to-head review and that pushed it into the middle of the pack for weight.
We recommend pairing it with a 3.0Ah HP battery for punch list work or a 6.0Ah HP battery for longer durations to get the best balance of size and performance.
If you’re one of the millions of people using Ryobi One+ products, you can pick up the P517 for a pretty easy $119. That’s lower than any other bare tool we tested in this class.
There’s no kit option at the moment, though. If you need to add it, you can grab a charger and two 3.0Ah batteries for $149.
The Ryobi P517 moves further into the professional entry-level category and is a win for serious DIYers, but not to the point where we’re talking about taking on the premium cordless models.
It’s a good fit for maintenance crews and occasional users. However, demo crews that need to work with it all day will turn to a more premium option. You get a lot of Pro-level features and even though it does break the $100 mark, the brushless motor gives you an additional layer of performance and lifespan.
Ryobi P517 18V One+ Brushless Reciprocating Saw Features
- Brushless Motor
- Stay-Open Blade Clamp
- Orbital Action
- Anti-Vibe Handle
- LED Light
- Gripzone Overmold With Microtexture
- Adjustable, Pivoting Shoe
- Variable Speed Trigger
- Die-Cast Aluminum Gear Housing
- On-Board Wrench Storage
Ryobi P517 18V One+ Brushless Reciprocating Saw Specifications
- Model: Ryobi P517
- Power Source: Ryobi 18V One+ battery
- Stroke Length: 1-1/8″
- Stroke Speed: 3200 SPM
- Weight: 5 lb. 13 oz. bare (7 lb. 7 oz with 4.0Ah battery)
- Price: $119 bare tool only
- Warranty: 3 years