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What is the Best Reciprocating Saw? Sawzall, Makita, Bosch?

Reciprocating saws, (commonly shortened to recip saws) are a type of power tool that is getting ever more popular. in this buyers guide I use all my experience as a professional joiner to help you make the perfect buying decision, so read on to find the best reciprocating saw for you.

My Best Reciprocating Saw

For those of you who don’t want to read the full article, it is long in fairness, and just want to cut straight to the chase I will include my recommended reciprocating saw below.

To find out why I chose this saw and what to look for when buying a reciprocating saw then make sure you keep reading.

What is a Reciprocating Saw?

A reciprocating saw or recip saw has a protruding blade that sticks out of the front, allowing you to cut straight through objects in front of you,  think of it like Jigsaw on steroids, but one that cuts out of the front rather than downwards.

The reciprocating part is just telling you exactly what this saw does. The blade is always reciprocating in and out of the saw. This means it works like a regular hand saw, just powered. That is all that reciprocating means, moving forwards and backwards.

They are a very flexible cutting tool that has many uses, finesse, however, is not one of them. These saws feature a straight blade that will cut through most materials and will do it with speed. However, don’t do expecting clean, precise cuts.

Cutting a PVC pipe with a reciprocating saw
Cutting a PVC pipe with a Bosch Reciprocating Saw

Corded V Cordless Recip Saws

As almost all tools do these days, reciprocating saws come in two distinct flavours, corded and cordless. As the name implies a cordless reciprocating saw will leave you without an attached tether. However, corded tools don’t have the issue of running out of juice, and they also provide a bit more power as they don’t have to rely on 18v batteries.

A good cordless tool can go anywhere. You don’t have to be near a plug socket or run an extension cable to get power. They are super mobile and a lot more versatile than their corded cousins. Note that I say “good” cordless tools as poor options can have useless batteries that make the saw almost unusable.

The decision between corded or cordless comes down to you, the buyer. Is the lack of mobility that much of an issue for you? Or do you need that extra freedom? If you already have some 18v batteries from a drill for example, then we would recommend going with the cordless variety of that brand.

Best Reciprocating Saws

So let’s jump into my favourite reciprocating saws. I have broken this down by giving you a corded option as well as a few cordless options. I have also included a budget pick for those of you on a tighter budget.

Best Corded Reciprocating Saw

The Bosch PSA 700E features a robust 710W motor meaning it has speed and power and will cut through pretty much anything given the correct blade. This saw provides powerful corded reciprocating, allowing you to chomp through anything you put in front of it.

One feature we really like about this saw is the tool-less blade clamp. You can pop the old blade out and get a new one attached in just a matter of seconds. Meaning more time cutting.

Technical Details

Cutting Depth in Wood150 mm
Cutting Depth in Steel10 mm
Strokes Per MinuteNot Given
Stroke Length20 mm
NoiseNot Given
Bosch Recip Saw Technical Data

Bosch provides a wide range of blades for this reciprocating saw, including wood blades, metal blades, plastic blades and even flexible mixed-use blades. One thing to note about this is that we have always found Bosch to be an excellent manufacturer of accessories, although we use Makita tools here such as the cordless drills we always use Bosch drill bits.

Another cool feature of the Bosch power saw is its electronic speed control which automatically varies your cutting speed for you ensuring a constant, smooth cut.

Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw

My Choice!
Makita DJR186Z Reciprocating Saw
5.0
£91.95

The DJR186Z is a powerful cordless Reciprocating Saw from a top brand. You can never go far wrong with Makita.

Pros:
  • Top Rated Brand
  • Large Stroke Length
  • Large Cutting Capacity
  • Cheaper Than The DeWALT
Cons:
  • The DeWALT Has A Larger Cutting Capacity in Wood
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08/11/2022 01:08 pm GMT

Makita Reciprocating Saw

We use Makita as our tool platform of choice here so it’s no surprise we recommend the Makita DJR186Z as our cordless power saw of choice. Again like the Bosch, the Makita features a quick and easy tool-less blade changing system. Making getting blades in and out a cinch.

Technical Details

Max Wood Cutting Diameter255mm
Max Mild Steel Pipe Diameter130mm
Strokes Per Minute0 – 2800 spm
Stroke Length32mm
Noise95 dB(A)
Makita Recip Saw Technical Data

The Makita cordless reciprocating saw has also been redesigned with tons of great features, one such exciting new feature is a brand new crank mechanism that has translated to lower vibration and also reduced blade deflection.

It also features XPT(eXtreme Protection Technology) which is a salesman’s way of saying you can use this saw outdoors and not worry about it getting dusty or wet.

This epic saw has enough power for cutting through branches, beams and more depending on the blade you use. It really does pack a punch for quite a small form factor. With one of these in your arsenal, you really will be a lot more versatile.

Please bear in mind this saw does come without a battery like most cordless tools these days. So if you don’t already own a Makita battery and charger, you will have to add the cost to your purchase price. However, you do get a blade included.

The Makita also features a variable speed trigger, allowing you to easily control the speed of the tool.

Runner up cordless Reciprocating Saw

So, you have seen my favourite cordless reciprocating saw, but what comes in second place. Well, take a gander down below.

DeWaltXR DCS382N-XJ Reciprocating Saw

The DeWalt is one of the best cordless reciprocating saws available and as such is a really good tool, don’t get me wrong. The reason we have placed it as our runner up is simply cost. At over £60 more expensive than the Makita at the time of testing it really is hard to recommend.

Again like the Makita, this saw comes without a battery or charger. So you will need to add those to your total price. Batteries are expensive too it does add quite a chunk to the final price.

The DeWalt XR is a great tool, and much like the Makita will cut anything you throw at it, no matter the length, but it doesn’t do enough extra when compared with the Makita to justify that additional cost.

Technical Details

Max Cutting Capacity Wood300 mm
Max Cutting Capacity Steel Section and Pipes130 mm
Strokes Per Minute0-2950 spm
Stroke Length28.6 mm
Noise99 dB(A)
DeWALT Recip Saw Technical Data

Included with this saw is a powerful & Highly efficient Dewalt PM47 fan-cooled motor with replaceable brushes. It delivers fast cutting action up to 3000 strokes per minute maximising user productivity. The DeWalt reciprocating mechanism and magnesium gearcase offer the user an optimised power to weight ratio.

Again like the Makita, this saw features a variable speed trigger, allowing for a bit more finesse when sawing.

Reciprocating saw cutting through wood
Reciprocating saw cutting through wood

Best Budget Reciprocating Saw

So if budget is much more of an issue for you then I offer you the Stanley Fatmax Reciprocating saw. If you are not familiar with the Fatmax brand then maybe read some of my other reviews like Stanley Fatmax Cordless Oscillating multi-tool Review and Stanley FATMAX Brushless Drill Review.

Stanley Fatmax tools are affordable but still high quality and don’t forget they are owned by the same company that owns DeWALT, so they have a lot of experience in the power tool game.

This saw is perfect for a best budget pick, it still packs a punch but can be picked up for a good price with batteries and a charger.

So if you are after a budget reciprocating saw then you can’t go far wrong here. Note that a lot of the Fatmax range is not available on Amazon. Toolstation and Homebase are some of the bigger retailers who stock this range.

Best Budget Pick
Stanley Fatmax V20 Reciprocating Saw
Around £180
Pros:
  • Battery & Charger Included
  • Comes With Hard Carry Case
  • Variable Speed Trigger
  • 3000 Strokes Per Minute!
Cons:
  • Max Cutting Depths Not Provided
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Like all the other saws this one from Stanley will cut through wood, metal and plastic. All reciprocating saws also make excellent branch cutting tools for those bigger trees.

We’ve talked about it a lot in our other Fatmax tool reviews but the battery included with these tools is great. The battery features Samsung cells and provides a lot of life and power.

Because of the cells used in this battery you know it will also last for a long time which is a really important factor to consider when buying any cordless power tool.

This reciprocating saw also features a soft-grip handle complete with a variable speed trigger. This makes the handle comfortable to grip for extended periods of time and also allows for precision control over your saw.

Recip Saw Buyer’s guide

So you are obviously looking for reciprocating saws, be it DeWalt, Makita, Bosch or others, let me help you out by letting you know what you should be looking out for. We have compiled this buyer’s guide below to help you make the right purchasing decision.

Size

If you are planning on using your saw in tight spaces, then the size of the tool is essential for you. You want a stubby short-handled tool to get into all those nooks and crannies. If this is not as much of a concern for you, then you may instead want to look for comfort oversize when it comes to the handle design. Please note that size does not always equal power!

Strokes Per Minute

This is the measurement of how quickly the blade can reciprocate and how much power it has. This is what provides the cutting power, but more strokes per minute is not always a sign of a better tool. A saw the moves at a rapid speed but with a poorly designed cutting mechanism will vibrate like crazy, making clean, accurate cuts almost impossible.

Weight

This is another crucial factor to analyse when buying your next sabre saw. Weight will be more of an issue if you plan on holding the saw above your head for extended periods. So if you want to use it to cut roof joists or saw tree branches, then weight should be a significant factor on your list.

Blade

The blade is just as important as the tool. make sure you buy the correct blade for your reciprocating saw. This will save you a lot of headaches down the line. A metal cutting blade is never going to cut wood anywhere near as well wood cutting blades will.

Related Questions

What is a Sawzall?

We have a full post on this which you can find here. The short answer though is that Sawzall is a trademarked way of saying reciprocating saw, think of it like a Dyson being a trademarked vacuum cleaner. Sawzall is owned by the Milwaukee tool company. So all Sawzall saws are Milwaukee.

What is the best reciprocating saw?

For us, the best reciprocating saw has to be the Makita DJR186Z. We love the price point of this tool and also its excellent performance. This reciprocating saw has enough power for cutting through branches, beams and more. It really does pack a punch for quite a small form factor. With one of these in your arsenal, paired with a great blade, you really will be a lot more versatile.

Is a Sabre saw the same as a reciprocating saw?

Sabre saw is a term often used interchangeably with a reciprocating saw, and for most people, they are now the same tool. Some brands seem to use both terms while reciprocating saw appears to have become the dominant term, particularly here in the UK.

Whats better reciprocating saw or jigsaw?

Well, this depends entirely on the case use. For cutting out shapes and more delicate patterns a jigsaw will be a much better tool. Whereas for chopping through beams or tree branches then a reciprocating saw will be the better tool.

Why is my saw not cutting straight?

The most common reason for your reciprocating saw not cutting straight will be that your blade or blades are bent or misaligned. Bent or wonky placed blades will result in cuts that are far from straight. We would recommend checking for a bent blade as your first step.

What is the best blade for my saw?

There are so many reciprocating saw blades available it can get a little confusing, so I will try and keep this short and sweet.

We recommend Bosch blades as a great blade for any powered saw. Bosch makes great accessories and we use their screw bits and drill bits in all our tools. So get a Bosch blade for a great balance of price and performance.

You then also need to consider the blade type. Carbide blades for example are much tougher and are great for cutting metal. Then there are also pruning blades, specially designed for cutting tree branches.

What speed should I be sawing on?

This depends on a few different factors, the material you are sawing, the length of the cut you need to make, the saw blade, the power of your saw and the accuracy of the cut you are after. When it comes to speed though I always edge on the side of caution and go for a slower speed if in any doubt.

What is tpi?

Tpi stands for teeth per inch. It is a measurement for saw blades and tells you how many teeth they have.

Saw blades for cutting through wood usually have fewer, but larger teeth spaced further apart whereas blades for cutting metal will have smaller teeth but a lot more of them.

What is a Scorpion Saw?

A scorpion saw is a trademarked saw made by Black & Decker. It is fairly similar to a reciprocating saw but features a much larger blade. It is very much like an electrically powered hand saw.