Choosing The Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw
If you are in the market for a powerful saw that can be used to destroy structures or lop the end off a busted board, a reciprocating saw is a wise choice. While powerful, they did have one drawback until the last decade or so.
That would be the cord, which is why we went on a quest for the best cordless reciprocating saw. Our experts picked through hundreds of options to find the best of the bunch. Before we get to those, we’re going to tell you the important buying areas you should consider going forward.
[table id=41 responsive=scroll /]
Considerations before buying a cordless reciprocating saw
How much power do you need?
Are you working in the construction field or just purchasing this particular tool for your home? That will help you decide how much voltage you need from a motor, and is a good starting point if you are unsure of where to turn.
Saws with more amperage have more power; it’s as simple as that. Larger motors also allow for higher SPM’s although some manufacturers can optimize smaller motors to run with the big boys.
For light-duty use, you’ll be fine with anything under 10-amps, but if you need a heavy-duty solution, the options go up to 15-amps or more.
Every saw on our list has a variable speed feature, but some pull this off better than others. This can come in the form of a dial that lets you adjust the speed, or it can also be built into the trigger.
Trigger locks help you keep the speed steady, and are a great feature to have on hand as well. We hesitate to put an “average” number on the speed however as that varies depending on the size of the motor. That said, we found that most of the best cordless reciprocating saws fall right around 2,800 SPM at the top end.
Easy Blade Change
If you have never used a reciprocating saw, here’s a quick tip when it comes to blade changes.
Never pull a blade out immediately after you’ve been using the tool for an extended period. That could be 30 seconds or a few minutes depending on the material you’re cutting. Blades are metal and heat up, which will blister your skin in seconds if you’re not wearing gloves.
This is why an easy blade change system is important as well. Saws with this feature allow you to lift a lever to unlock the blade, so you can pop it out quickly. There’s no need to hang onto the blade, and you won’t have to pry it loose. In some cases, they’ll fall right out once they are unlocked.
This is another area that affects everyone but will be more troublesome if the saw doesn’t have certain features built-in. By design, a reciprocating saw causes a considerable amount of vibration. We’re not talking jackhammer levels, but you will definitely feel it.
To combat this, manufacturers have come up with ways to fight back against vibrations. This includes adding extra padding around the grip and upper part of the saw where impacts hit you the most. Some even have technology inside the frame or handle to counteract vibrations as well.
We’re going to go back to our first point of emphasis with weight – horsepower. Saws with larger motors will weigh more, and the same can be said for larger batteries.
Cordless tools can be very light even with an 18-volt battery pack, but you should always keep weight in mind unless you’re forearms are made of steel. This type of tool can wear on you, so homeowners and consumers that don’t need a heavy-duty tool will want a lightweight one.
Battery Life & Performance
Battery life is obviously something you’ll need to focus on when choosing the best reciprocating saw to suit your needs.
With this style of tool, the bigger, the better as that gives you more cutting time. Don’t be fooled by the numbers however as the voltage is only part of the equation.
Whereas voltage tells you how much power your tool has, amperage is the runtime. In other words, if an 18-volt battery is rated at 2.0Ah, you may be better off with a 16-volt one that’s 5.0Ah if you are concerned about operating time.
The chargers make a huge difference as well. A quick charger is the only way to go, but they tend to be more expensive. You may have to buy one separately if you can’t find it included with the tool of your choice, which can further drive up the cost of the saw.
[table id=41 responsive=scroll /]
Top pick: Milwaukee 2720-21 FUEL Reciprocating Saw Kit –h3
We’ve touched on the Milwaukee 2720-21 a few times as it’s an amazing tool that seems to find its way onto plenty of “best of” lists and has been positively reviewed across the board. Well, it’s our top option for the best reciprocating saw as well and is perfect for construction workers and contractors.
This one is what we would refer to as a “top-tier” tool as the Milwaukee 2720-21 has all the company’s finest features built in. That includes REDLINK PLUS and POWERSTATE, two systems that work hand-in-hand to ensure you get optimum performance from your saw.
While those components keep things running smoothly, the REDLITHIUM XC system is worth mentioning as well. This is what keeps the lights, on and the Milwaukee 2720-21 kit provides you with one 18-volt M18 XC 4.0 battery out of the box.
Other perks for this saw include a multi-voltage charger which works with both M18 and M12 batteries, an LED light, and a sturdy adjustable shoe. The saw also comes with a hard case and blade although you may want to check out our list of the top reciprocating saw blades if you want something a bit better.
This saw is not for consumers that need something affordable or only plan on using their saw occasionally. There are better options if you don’t need this much power, so save yourself a few bucks.
On the other hand, if you work with tools for a living, do not pass the Milwaukee 2720-21 up. It has plenty of pop, and you’re getting a good value in this set as it has everything you need out of the box. You may not need it for years, but you will be thrilled with the warranty on this saw as well.
Runner-up: DeWalt DCS388B FLEXVOLT MAX
The DeWalt DCS388B is our runner-up, even if we hate to call it that. The saw was barely edged out by the Milwaukee, but it has more to do with the price tag than the specifications. When it comes to the latter, this saw is the clear winner between the two.
Remember when we said our top choice was ideal for “professionals” or contractors? Well, the DeWalt DCS388B is the tool many of those contractors wish they had in their toolbox. That’s due to its sheer power as this baby takes a 60-volt battery. Let that sink in for a minute…
The DeWalt DCS388B can hit speeds up to 3,000 SPM and has a 1-1/8” stroke length with a variable speed trigger. It also has a quick release blade system and an integrated LED light. That’s something you generally don’t find on tools of this size and a nice touch.
DeWalt claims this saw has more power than a 13-amp corded saw, and we would not doubt that claim. The brushless motor packs quite the punch, so pipe, wood, and almost any other materials if fair game for the DCS388B. As it uses the company’s FLEXVOLT system, you also get the advantage of buying into their 60V tool line.
You also can check our review for Dewalt DCS367B.
The only drawback to this saw is the price, and that’s because it’s a bare tool. In other words, you will need to buy a battery and charger after purchasing the DeWalt DCS388B, which bumps the price up considerably.
If you already own tools from their 60-volt lineup, this one is a no-brainer. We also feel it’s a great fit for anyone that wants to invest in that high-powered lineup considering the DCS388B is cheaper than their other cordless tools in this class. Either way you cut it, this saw is impressive and a serious tool to say the least.
Budget option: Bosch PS60-102
Technology has allowed us to make some interesting equipment in recent years including hybrid tools like the Bosch PS60-102.
This tool isn’t “hybrid” in the usual sense as it doesn’t allow you to perform different functions. It also does not “transform” into another device. Instead, you will get a reciprocating saw that looks like a drill that was bent upwards in a vice, but that’s definitely not a bad thing in our eyes.
The Bosch PS60-102 is unique in its design and how it works. It allows you to actually saw with one hand, something that’s not possible with a full-sized reciprocating saw. While you may be able to hold it with one hand, you can get any pressure behind the saw or steady it. This design alleviates both of those problems.
At 12-volts, the PS60-102 is more than powerful enough to get metal and wood. It has built-in protection against overloads or extreme temperatures as well and sports an LED light to boot. The saw comes complete with a battery, the BC330 charger and a few blades to get you started.
There are a few areas where a saw like this would be of little use, but it’s a great lightweight alternative to traditional models. It is also an amazing option for certain professions including plumbers and electricians.
On the downside, the battery is only rated at 2.0Ah, so you may want to have a backup on hand. That’s on the average for this size, but a little underwhelming if running or charging times are a concern.
Cordless saws are a dime a dozen these days, but we feel our three choices stand head and shoulders above the rest. Whether you are a weekend warrior in the garage or earn your living with tools, all are fine options.
If you are unsure of how to get the most out of your new tool, be sure to check out our handy guide and always remember to keep safety in mind with these mean machines.