Best Reciprocating Saw; Bringing you the Sawzall Review!

We’ve trawled through hundreds of reviews and compared countless products to come up with our three recommended reciprocating saws, or sawzalls. They all have loads of positive comments and very few negative ones.  We're convinced that whatever you decide, any of these sawzalls will do the job for you!

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Since the Milwaukee Tool Company introduced their first portable power hacksaw back in 1951 under the name 'Sawzall’ they have become one of the most popular tools in use across the home improvement and construction industry.

If you don’t know what a Sawzall is, I’m referring of course to the more elaborately named 'reciprocating saw' that is now available from a whole host of manufacturers as well as Milwaukee.

You have probably arrived here looking for a reciprocating saw review and comparison of the best Sawzall you can lay your hands on and you will be glad to know you will not be disappointed!

Sawzall Reviews

Milwaukee

6519-31

$$

No Sawzall review would be complete without the Milwaukee.  A great saw that can handle almost anything you throw at it!

Pros

  • Patented Quick-Lok blade release mechanism
  • Clutch mechanism prevents kick-back

Cons

  • No Blades Provided
  • Shoe pivot doesn't adjust for depth

See Full Review

DeWalt

DCS387P1

$$$

No corners cut (get it?) on quality, this is a DeWalt after all.  The only cordless sawzall in this review, seperates it on mobility from the rest

Pros

  • Cordless without compromising on power
  • Multi-position blade clamp

Cons

  • Some Vibration reported
  • No blades provided

See Full Review

Makita

JR3070CT AVT

$$$

A real powerhouse of a saw, the Makita sawzall is the one to go for if you need something that will cope with the most demanding cutting applications.

Pros

  • Orbital action cutting motion increases cutting speed
  • ​2 spare blades and strong metal carry case

Cons

  • Just the 1 Year warranty
  • Perhaps too powerful for the novice

See Full Review

MILWAUKEE 6519-31

How could we have a Sawzall review without including a true one from Milwaukee tools!

Well to be honest, if it didn’t make the grade it wouldn’t be here. Luckily this beast really does the job and ticks all the boxes.​

Power and Performance

Boasting a powerful 12 Amp motor and speeds of 0-3000SPM (strokes per minute) this Milwaukee Sawzall can cut through almost anything!

The stroke length on this model is 1 and 1/8 of an inch which delivers a faster cutting speed than shorter stroke models.

Customers report using it on 1/2 inch thick steel pipe, 6-inch thick trees, and all manner of metal sheeting without missing a beat. It will also cut through bricks, concrete, and many other materials.

This is a corded model operating on AC 120V that comes with a rugged 8-foot long cord. The cord is positioned so that it comes out of the corner of the handle at an angle which makes a lot of sense. It means that wherever you’re using it the cord is not bent over too much so less stress at the critical point.​

I used it to cut cast iron pipes, sections of roofing 4 inches thick, and everything from 2x4's up to a box sill 8 inches thick. It handled everything I could throw at it and some stuff the saw was probably not designed for.

Joseph Dobbs
Springfield, IL

Just make sure you use a good quality blade made for the job and it will cut through most things like they were butter.

Variable Speed Control

The Milwaukee 6519-31 is equipped with variable speed control so you can adjust the speed to match the material you’re cutting.

Like most reciprocating saws this is done through the trigger.

The more you squeeze it, the faster it goes!

Pivot Shoe and Blade Clamp

The pivot shoe on this Sawzall (this is the shield at the front of the saw that the blade passes through) pivots, as you might expect! Unfortunately, on this model, it does not adjust backward and forwards.

That’s a shame as it means you can’t set it up to help you with cutting just small depths like when cutting floor boards for example. Sometimes you just don’t want to cut too deep and take out a pipe or something just underneath it!

Need to change that blade quickly mid-task? The patented Quick-Lok mechanism allows you to do just that without any tools or hassle. You can even install the blade upside down if you need to.

It’s as simple as twisting the metal collar where the blade goes in, pulling out the old blade and pushing in the new one. Release the collar and you’re done.

Gear Protecting Clutch

This model of Sawzall features a built-in clutch mechanism that kicks in when the blade gets stuck. It stops the gears from shredding and the motor burning out when you hit that tough piece at high speed, really useful.

It also stops the saw from bucking like a bronco, a great help when you’re 10 foot up a tree!

Vibrations and Handling

.......or to put it another way – will this thing shake my arm off?!

Luckily Milwaukee Tools have thought this out very carefully. The Sawzall is fitted with a counter weighted mechanism that helps dampen vibrations. By doing this the saw provides a really smooth cutting experience.

It also has a well-designed handle with a great front grip so you can hold this in place as comfortably as possible. That's important considering the type of work you will be doing.

As with all or most Milwaukee tools this one is a great tool, it has all the power needed to do the job and feels good in your hand.

Kilo
South Carolina

What’s in the Box?

  • There are no blades provided with this reciprocating saw but it does come with a hard carry case.
  • Weighing in at 7.1 lbs this model is not overly heavy and at 19 inches long you can get this into some fairly tight spaces.
  • ​Some reviewers have pointed out the case is on the small side so it basically just fits the saw in it with no room for any spare blades etc.
  • ​Make sure you when you buy this you get the Milwaukee 6519-31 model as the very similar 6519-30 is the exact same saw but without a case!
  • It also comes with a 5-year manufacturers warranty for peace of mind.

Who is it for?

This is a powerful saw and can handle most jobs.

We recommend it for:

  • DIY and home improvement enthusiasts
  • Roofing and general building contractors
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians and plumbers

So, what are you waiting for??

  • The Milwaukee 6519-31 12 Amp Sawzall is a great reciprocating saw. No doubt about it.
  • The lack of an adjustable pivot shoe is the only thing we can find lacking. Although quite a useful feature most people will not find that a problem in real use.
  • ​It can handle most things you throw at it with ease and is a well-balanced, comfortable saw to use.
  • ​Overall we think if you get this Sawzall, you will not regret it.

.........Oh, and of course it’s made in the USA!

DeWALT DWE7480XA

The Dewalt DCS387P1 is the only saw in our review that is a cordless model.

Sometimes cordless models lack a bit in the performance areas but not so the Dewalt.

Rugged and capable, it has one or two tricks up its sleeve that earns it a rightful place as one of our recommended buys.

Power and Performance

Being a battery operated reciprocating saw there is no motor power rating for this, but it can manage a speed range 0-2900SPM. Pretty good in anyone’s book.

Customers who have both this saw and similar corded models have reported it works just as well, with little difference in power.

Quite an achievement!!!!

The stroke length is 1 and 1/8 inch, the same as the Sawzall and delivers the same improved cutting speed because of it.

There’s no officially quoted cutting capability but it has been tested on the usual 4-6 inch trees branches, 1/2 inch steel pipe, and various sheet materials. It manages all these with ease.

I LOVE this saw. I didn't have to do any type of tweaking to it when it arrived, the blade was secure, the fence went on smoothly, as did all the guards. The instructions were basic, but with my novice skills/knowledge they still were helpful 

Virginia Malone
Hondo, TX

Variable Speed Control

The Dewalt has variable speed control provided through the trigger as with most other models of reciprocating saw.

To adjust the speed of the blade just change the pressure you are putting on the trigger.

The trigger control also has a 'Lock-Off’ safety feature to prevent accidental starting. A good thing that may save a few fingers when getting it out of the bag with the battery attached!

Pivot Shoe and Blade Clamp

The pivot shoe on the DCS387P1 has a pivoting action and isn’t fixed, which is the minimum we expect these days.

Like the Sawzall though, it doesn’t have any forward and backward adjustment which is a shame, but it does make up for it in the blade clamp mechanism!

This is the only saw in our review where you can clamp the blade in 4 different positions. This means if you want to make a sideways cut, instead of having to turn the saw to a funny angle, you can reposition the blade and hold it normally!

Many users found this feature to be a real plus and we can see why.

The blade release mechanism itself is a nice and simple affair needing no tools. Just pull the release lever up, change the blade and push the lever down. That’s the kind of simplicity we like.

Gear Protecting Clutch

There is no clutch mechanism in the Dewalt, possibly because it's battery powered and does not need one as much as a mains powered one does.

There are no reports of this causing much of a problem though in use so is not something to be too worried about.

Just the tool for tight spots. Very happy with its performance

MOAVBILLY 
Katy, TX

Vibrations and Handling

As with many cordless models, the Dewalt DCS387P1 does experience some vibration feedback in use. You may want to factor that in if you are going to be using for long periods.

Some reviewers have reported that the vibration dampens down quite a bit once you are cutting into the material at hand. So it might just need an adjustment in how you handle it to make this work for you.

Where the DeWalt really comes into its own though is in its versatility!

At only 14 and 3/4 inches long with the battery attached, it’s short enough to fit in many spaces where you just wouldn’t even consider using a reciprocating saw normally.

It’s also pretty light at 7lbs which means you can use this one handed in a pinch.

One extra thing Dewalt have added is a handy LED light near the blade. At last, you can see what you’re cutting when in a dark corner.

The handle and grip are well designed and the saw is comfortable to hold so all in all, this is a very handy piece of kit.

What’s in the Box?

  • This cordless saw comes with a battery and fast charger as we noted earlier.
  • ​There are no blades included but it does come with a handy soft nylon carry bag.
  • ​There’s plenty of room in there for all your accessories too.
  • It comes with a 90-day money back guarantee, 1-year free servicing and also a 3-year limited warranty. That covers all the bases!

Who's it for?

The DeWalt is a lighter duty saw than some others so we recommend it for:

  • DIY and home improvement enthusiast
  • Anyone who needs to work in tight spaces
  • General tradesman who only use a reciprocating saw occasionally

So, what are you waiting for??

  • This is a pretty amazing saw and will handle most jobs amazingly well
  • Goodbye wires!  Its cordless, so take it anywhere!!
  • ​The sheer versatility of it and that short length mean some people will have the Dewalt DCS387P1 on hand even if they have a corded one available.
  • Overall we think it’s a great reciprocating saw that you will turn to for all sorts of jobs.

MAKITA JR3070CT

With high power and some unique features, the Makita JR3070CT is a force to be reckoned with.

There’s no doubt it can handle almost anything you throw at it which is why it’s one of our recommended models for big jobs.

Let’s take a closer look at it.

Power and Performance

The Makita has a powerful 15 Amp motor and speeds of 0-2800SPM. With those sort of specs, you would expect it to handle some pretty tough jobs.

That it certainly does, with manufacturer claims of cutting through 10-inch wood and 5-inch pipe. Many customer reviews also confirm that it can easily handle anything like this with the right blade.

In fact, some have reported it as being too powerful sometimes. This saw is a beast!

It's my special forces sawzall, and it's so satisfying to have a difficult piece of work, then just say, "get the beast" and watch that tough piece of work get dealt with, quickly

willPS
MD US

This saw has a stroke length of 1 and 1/4 inches, so slightly shorter than our other two featured saws. In reality, this doesn’t make a lot of difference.

A major plus with this model is that it has a selectable orbital action. This means that the saw blade moves up and down, and back and forth at the same time. This increases the cutting speed significantly.

Operating on AC 120V this is a corded model that comes with a rugged 7-foot long cord. The cord is positioned nicely at the bottom corner of the handle so that it doesn’t bend too much in use at the entry point.

Variable Speed Control

The JR3070CT has the usual variable speed control through the two fingered trigger but also comes with another useful feature.

At the bottom of the handle is a small dial with 6 settings that control the maximum speed of the blade. Using this you get a level of control not available in many other models.

Check the manual for which setting to use as it depends on the material you are cutting.

The trigger also has a 'Lock-On’ feature. Useful for when you’re making long or difficult cuts but needs caution when using it!

Pivot Shoe and Blade Clamp

The Makita 15 Amp Recipro Saw is one of the few that not only have a pivoting shoe but one that can be adjusted forward and backward too.

Really useful for restricting the depth of cut, it can also be utilized to make it easier to use different parts of the blade. This means you can get more life out them as you just keep moving the shoe out as the part of the blade nearest to it gets worn.

The blade clamp is quick and easy to use. No tools required. Just twist the collar to release the old blade. Push in the new one and release the collar to lock.

Gear Protecting Clutch

This model features a built-in clutch to protect the gears and motor should the blade bind or snag on anything.

Given the power of the saw, it’s just as well!

The orbital action can also help to stop the blade getting caught up.

With the two features working together there is very little chance of the saw getting jerked out of your hands.

Vibrations and Handling

You might expect a saw this powerful would suffer from some serious vibration problems.

You would be wrong. Makita has fitted the JR3070CT with AVT, which stands for Anti-Vibration Technology. This uses an internal counterbalance system to reduce vibration.

Checking through the reviews it’s clear this is extremely effective.

This saw has the most advanced anti-vibration system of any saw. it's powerful, yet it purrs. Most recip saws jerk like crazy in your hands; this one hardly moves at all.

PhotoJenic
Santa Fe, NM

Handling wise this is a big saw and weighing in at 9.7lbs and 19 1/8 inches long you definitely need two hands to use it.

But with the superb AVT, rubber hand grips, and well-balanced body, it’s actually very comfortable to hold.

What’s in the Box?

  • Makita has very kindly included 2 spare blades in the box, a 6-inch general use one and a 6-inch metal cutting one.
  • ​It's supplied with a strong metal carry case.
  • The case is roomy enough to fit in the saw plus various accessories so is a great addition.
  • Makita provides a 1-year warranty for peace of mind.

What’s in the Box?

As you might guess from our review, this saw is best used by experienced tradesmen.

We recommend it for use by:

  • Demolition workers
  • General builders
  • Experienced DIY and home improvement enthusiasts
  • Experienced tradesmen

So, what are you waiting for??

  • A real powerhouse of a reciprocating saw, the Makita JR3070CT AVT is the one to go for if you need something that will cope with the most demanding cutting applications.
  • In the right hands, it will make light work of any job, big or small. It might be too much to handle for the average guy or gal though so think carefully before buying that it’s the right tool for your needs.
  • Overall it has everything you need so is highly recommended.

What is a Sawzall used for?

You may have never heard of a Sawzall, but probably know it as the more generic reciprocating saw’ in popular use across the home improvement and construction industries.

So why do some people call them a Sawzall? Well, that goes back to 1951 when the Milwaukee Tool Company patented the first portable power hacksaw under the name "Sawzall’.

Since then many other companies such a Makita, Dewalt, Bosch etc. have all created their own version of reciprocating saw under various brand names.

How does a reciprocating saw or Sawzall work?

As we know, the Sawzall is a power tool, using either mains or battery power.

It uses a motor to move the blade in a pull and push motion and at very high speeds meaning it can cut through all sorts of materials.

This has been one of the greatest inventions known to man, well for anyone working in or around the construction industry anyway!

Its design means it can get it into all sorts of places you wouldn’t be able to get a traditional saw into and it can cut through floor boards without even having to make a hole first.

So this truly remarkable do-it-all tool has simply loads of uses for both the amateur and professional alike.

We’ll take a look at just a few of these in this article and you may be so impressed, you might even have to go out and buy one!

What is a Sawzall used for?

As always, note that safety is very important especially when using a reciprocating power saw. Please make sure you follow the manufacturer safety guidelines before attempting any work.

1. Cutting Through Various Materials

I guess this is a bit of an obvious one, but still has to be included. A reciprocating saw can cut through pretty much anything with the right blade fitted. Wood, plastic, metal, even brick and concrete!

2. Tree Pruning

If you’ve ever struggled to force a hand saw through a 6-inch branch whilst stood half way up a ladder you will appreciate this. The Sawzill makes this job an absolute breeze.

3. Cutting Through Floor Boards

Remember I mentioned being able to cut into floor boards without drilling a hole first? These saws can do that easily. It requires learning a bit of a technique but once you get the hang of it there will be no stopping you!

4. Demolition Work

Need to bring down a shed out in the yard? Using your Sawzall you can simply cut through the whole structure (working from top to bottom mind!) and reduce the whole thing to firewood. Also very good fun.

5. Demolition Work Part 2

Besides the fun shed in the yard’ exercise, a reciprocating saw is used by the professionals when they’re tearing down a bigger building, whatever it’s made of. Probably also good fun as well I expect.

6. Removing Door and Window Frames

Ever wondered how to get those nails out that are holding a window or door frame in place? Now you don’t need to. Simply insert the blade between the wall and the frame and cut through them instead!

PowerToolQuest Team

That’s just some of the uses for a Sawzall and there are loads more, in fact, we could probably go on forever about them. It’s pretty safe to say that wherever on whenever you need to cut or saw through something, you can probably use a reciprocating saw to do it!

Safety Tips

  •  Unplug the saw when you’re changing a blade. All too often we hear of people who have badly cut themselves or even worse, lost a finger because they changed blades with the thing still plugged in.
  • Check what’s behind the thing you’re cutting through. There may be an electrical cable or pipe hiding there.
  • ​Always wear safety glasses. Besides the dust and debris flying around, it's possible a blade may snap and you don’t want that in your eye!
  • Blades can get very hot. You probably know that but it’s very easy to forget when you need to replace a blade halfway through a job.
  • ​Watch out for kickback. If the Sawzall encounters something hard like a nail or a hard knot of wood it can be prone to violently kicking back. Some newer models have mechanisms to reduce this effect but they can’t stop it completely.
  • ​Make sure you don’t rest your ladder against the branch you’re sawing off. Sounds like something out of a cartoon but isn’t funny when it happens!
  • ​Beware the sticking blade. You’ve probably had this when hand sawing through a branch or piece of wood. At some stage, the saw just sticks, usually because the wood isn’t supported and it has collapsed in on itself. When you’re using a Sawzall the blade might be stuck but the saw body and you hanging onto it will still be going! Just let go of that trigger!
  • Ladders again. Make sure your ladder is positioned safely and securely and that you are not overreaching to get to what you are cutting.

Hints and Tips for Using a Sawzall

  • Use the right blade for the job. As a basic guide, when cutting through metal use a fine-tooth blade. When cutting through wood, use a coarse blade.
  • Blades are pretty tough. If you have one that’s bent, you can sometimes hammer it down flat and re-use it.
  • ​Make sure you position the shoe (that’s the guard at the front that the blade passes through) so that it’s hard up against the material you are cutting through. This really helps to stabilize the blade and reduce vibration.
  • ​When cutting into a floor board, make sure you rest the bottom of the shoe on the floor and get the blade up to speed before tipping the blade point into the floor to start cutting.
  • ​If you have an adjustable shoe, it’s a good idea to adjust it to the depth of the floorboard plus a little bit more so that there’s less chance you will cut through that water pipe just underneath it!
  • ​When cutting, try using an up and down, rocking sort of motion with the blade. It really helps to make the blade cut through faster. In fact, some reciprocal saws now mimic this action with something they call an orbital function.
  • ​Keep the pressure on! Getting the right balance between holding on to the tool and applying the necessary pressure to keep the blade going through only comes with experience, but it will reward you with a good clean cut with the minimum of vibration.
  • There are lots of YouTube videos showing you the various techniques. Quite often the instruction manual that comes with the Sawzall will give you some good advice as well. Read it.

We hope you have learned a thing or two about Sawzalls, reciprocating saws or whatever name you use for them

And if you already have one, are a little better informed on how to use it.

If you don’t have one. What are you waiting for?!


Why not check out our other reviews below!!

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