The 11 Best Reciprocating Saws for Any Project

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel SAWZALL makes quick work of your DIY projects

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The Spruce / Amelia Manley

A reciprocating saw is a handheld electric saw with a blade that moves in a backward/forward cutting motion. This useful tool makes demolition work easier thanks to its ability to slice through wood, metal, drywall, piping, or nails. 

We evaluated reciprocating saws based on power, features, and reliability. Our top choice, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel SAWZALL, has the high performance you'd expect from a tool whose very name is synonymous with reciprocating saws.

Below, our picks for the best reciprocating saws.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Milwaukee 2720-21 M18 Fuel SAWZALL Reciprocating Saw Kit

4.5
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Sawzall Recip Saw Kit

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Long battery run time

  • Protection from overheating or overloading

  • Includes plastic carrying case, battery, and charger

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat heavy

Who else recommends it? Popular Mechanics and Reviewed both picked the Milwaukee M18 Fuel SAWZALL Reciprocating Saw Kit.

What do buyers say? 200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above. 

If you’re looking to purchase a reciprocating tool that's durable and long-lasting, and with plenty of power to boot, we recommend the Milwaukee M18 Fuel SAWZALL Kit. With the name that has become synonymous with all reciprocating saws on the job site, the SAWZALL lives up to the hype as a reliable and strong-cutting machine. This kit includes an M18 battery, a battery rapid charger, a contractor carrying case, and an M18 Fuel SAWZALL reciprocating saw, along with one general-purpose blade. Like other SAWZALL saws, this one is designed to reduce vibration to your hands and arms.

The SAWZALL's 18-volt lithium-ion battery fuels up to 150 cuts per charge and delivers the power of a 15-amp corded saw, thanks to its POWERSTATE brushless motor. Its state-of-the-art design protects the tool from damage due to overheating or overloading, even when working under rigorous conditions. You have variable speed options up to a maximum of 3,000 strokes per minute (spm) and a stroke length of 1 1/8 inches. The keyless blade clamp and adjustable shoe make it a snap to change blades; you can use any standard reciprocating blade with this saw, including those for cutting wood, metal, and other materials. An incorporated LED light makes it easy to clearly see your cut line.

All in all, it's hard to beat this tool's combination of power, speed, durability, battery life, and value when you consider that unlike most reciprocating saws, this one includes the battery and charger. It's a great choice for demolition work, construction jobs, metal work, and similar heavy-duty tasks.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 3,000 | Stroke Length: 1 1/8 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 8.9 pounds

Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER BDCR20C Reciprocating Saw

BLACK+DECKER BDCR20C Reciprocating Saw

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Excellent for pruning tree branches

What We Don't Like
  • Short stroke length

If you only expect to use it on occasion, you probably don’t need to spend hundreds on a reciprocating saw. The BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw is a compact, cordless, affordable tool that you can use around the house for countless tasks, including cutting through wood, metal, tree branches, drywall, and plastics. While it's not going to carry out heavy-duty demolition jobs, it's more than up to the challenges of your typical DIY projects.

Don't assume that the low price means low quality or a lack of features. In fact, this reciprocating saw offers many features you find on more expensive tools, including a variable speed trigger, pivoting shoe, tool-free blade changes, and an electric brake. The blade speed runs anywhere between 0 and 3,000 strokes per minute, with a stroke length of nearly 1 inch. This budget-friendly reciprocating saw comes with a general-purpose blade, battery, and charger—rare in most sets.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 3,000 | Stroke Length: 7/8 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 4.9 pounds

Best Corded: DEWALT DWE305 12-Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw

DEWALT DWE305 12-Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • No worries about battery running out

  • 4-position blade clamp

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat heavy

  • Doesn't include any blades

Don’t worry about having your batteries charged or ensuring you have the right one on hand—use a simple and powerful corded reciprocating saw for your demolition needs. The DEWALT DWE305 is an excellent saw at a reasonable price. Use it to cut through wood—even wood studded with nails—as well as metal, plastics, rubber, drywall, fiberglass, and composite materials. Note that blades are not included with this saw, so you'll need to pick them up separately if you don't already own any.

This DEWALT corded saw sports a 12-amp motor with a 1 1/8-inch stroke length and a 0 to 2,900 spm variable speed. The entire saw is 17.5 inches long and uses a variable speed trigger for absolute control. You get a 4-position blade clamp for versatility and a keyless lever-action blade clamp for easy blade changes when necessary Like most reciprocating saws, you can use this one with any standard reciprocating blade, not just DEWALT's. On the downside, its fixed shoe makes it a little less nimble than some similar saws, but that's not likely to be an issue if you plan to use it for basic demo or construction jobs.

Power Source: Corded | Max Strokes Per Minute: 2,900 | Stroke Length: 1 1/8 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 9.2 pounds

Best Cordless: Makita XRJ04Z 18-Volt LXT Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Makita XJR04Z Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Long stroke length

  • Soft-grip handle reduces vibration

What We Don't Like
  • Some complaints of shorter-than-expected battery life

Many of the best reciprocating saws are cordless now. Just insert the batteries, and you can work on any project without worrying about how long the cord will stretch. If you're looking for something convenient and powerful, check out the Makita 18-Volt LXT Reciprocating Saw, which has a rubberized soft-grip handle to make even long work sessions more comfortable and enough oomph to get the job done easily.

Using an 18-volt LXT lithium-ion battery, this saw has a variable speed motor that delivers up to 2,800 spm. Combine that with a 1 1/4-inch stroke length, and you'll appreciate how quickly you can saw through wood, metal, and other materials, including pipes up to a 5-1/8-inch diameter. The saw is water- and dust-resistant with vibration reduction and specific attributes to prevent overheating and overloading. It includes one general-purpose blade but can use any standard reciprocating saw blade. The battery and charger are sold separately.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 2,800 | Stroke Length: 1 1/4 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 8.3 pounds

Best With Blade Set: DEWALT DCS367B Max XR Brushless Reciprocating Saw

DEWALT DCS367B Max XR Brushless Reciprocating Saw

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Reasonably lightweight

  • 4-position blade clamp

What We Don't Like
  • A few complaints about blade quality

Buy one of the best reciprocating saws and get a full set of blades at the same time. The DEWALT DCS367B 20V Max XR Compact Reciprocating Saw comes with six blades, including ⅝-, 6-, 10-, 14-, 18-, and 24-teeth-per-inch options allowing you to slice through metal, wood, and wood with nails in a breeze. This set of durable, long-lasting blades is ideal for most basic jobs. Considering that most reciprocating saws only come with one blade—some don't include one at all—this is a great way to get your blade collection started.

In addition to the blades, this set includes an excellent saw. The cordless DEWALT reciprocating saw uses a 20-volt battery to power its brushless motor for variable speed cutting between 0 and 2,900 strokes per minute. You get a 1 1/8-inch stroke length, tool-free blade replacement, lever-action 4-position blade options, and an LED light for dark cutting. This saw also stands out from the crowded field for its lightweight feel, which contributes to its maneuverability.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 2,900 | Stroke Length: 1 1/8 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 5.4 pounds

Best for Cutting Wood: Ryobi P519 ONE+ 18-Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saw

P519 Reciprocating Saw

Ryobi

What We Like
  • Very reasonably priced

  • High strokes per minute

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat short stroke length

Depending on the scope of the project and what material you're working with (wood, metal, drywall, piping, or nails), you might need to change your blades. For cutting through wood, using a blade with large teeth spaced apart will work better than small teeth close together. You'll also need a strong motor to power the blades. For the perfect combination of wide teeth and a powerful motor, we recommend the Ryobi P519 Reciprocating Saw, which includes a blade specifically designed for cutting through wood.

This cordless reciprocating saw does not include a battery, but is compatible with any Ryobi 18-volt battery you already own. This lightweight tool has an efficient motor that can run up to 3,400 spm with a variable speed trigger. The blade moves with a 1-inch stroke length, so you'll chew through wood quickly. The Ryobi P519 has a molded, comfortable grip handle, tool-less blade replacement, and a great pivoting shoe for any surface. This reciprocating saw includes a 6-inch wood-cutting blade, but of course you can swap it out for whatever other blade you might need.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 3,400 | Stroke Length: 1 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 5 pounds

Best Compact: Milwaukee 2420-20 M12 12-Volt HACKZALL Reciprocating Saw

 M12 12-Volt Lithium-Ion HACKZALL Cordless Reciprocating Saw

Courtesy of Home Depot

What We Like
  • Compact enough for tight spaces

  • Very lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Short stroke length

Sometimes big jobs require small saws. The Milwaukee HACKZALL Cordless Reciprocating Saw is the little brother of the better-known SAWZALL and the perfect option for effective cutting in small spaces. This compact tool uses a 12-volt battery to power the 3,000-strokes-per-minute variable-speed motor as it slices through PVC, drywall, wood, metal, and more. The stroke length is 1/2 inch, which is short, but it gets the job done. The compact design lets you work with just one hand holding the tool.

The HACKZALL might be compact, but it has plenty of features found on bigger Milwaukee saws, including Quik-Lok tool-less blade changing, an LED light, and a battery level gauge. This tool can use any Milwaukee M12 battery, sold separately if you don't already own one. The saw accepts all standard reciprocating saw blades, but comes with two—one for cutting wood and one for cutting metal—to get you started. At only 11 inches in length and 2.6 pounds, this compact saw is easy to store in any work bag, toolbox, or truck cab.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 3,000 | Stroke Length: 1/2 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 2.6 pounds

Best With Battery Included: DEWALT DCS387P1 20-Volt Reciprocating Saw Kit

DEWALT DCS387P1 Saw Kit

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • 4-position blade clamp

  • Includes carrying bag

What We Don't Like
  • Does not include any blades

Many of the best cordless reciprocating saws are sold as tool-only. When you buy the saw, you’re only buying the tool—the battery, charger, and blades are sold separately. This allows you to save money if you already own batteries from the manufacturer. However, the DEWALT DCS387P1 20V MAX Cordless Compact Reciprocating Saw Kit is a powerful option that includes a great reciprocating saw, as well as a 20-volt, 5-amp-hour battery, a charger, and a carrying bag. That's everything you need to get started. The tool works with DEWALT 20V batteries if you already own other "yellow-and-black" tools.

The compact and lightweight saw has a variable speed trigger that reaches top speeds of 2,900 spm. The stroke length is 1 1/8 inch, and the 4-position blade clamp lets you position the blade just how you need it, as well as providing tool-less blade changes. It has a pivoting shoe for more maneuverability while cutting and a bright LED work light so you can easily see your cut lines. It does not come with any blades, however.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 2,900 | Stroke Length: 1 1/8 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 5.4 pounds

Best Two-in-One Saw: Worx WX550L Power Share Axis Cordless Reciprocating & Jigsaw

Power Share Axis Reciprocating & Jigsaw

Worx

What We Like
  • Combines reciprocating saw and jigsaw in one tool

  • Orbital mode

  • Includes blades

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat short stroke length

  • Best for light-to-medium tasks only

Why choose between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw, or have to take up room storing both, when you can purchase just one tool that switches between the two types of saws with the push of a button? That's what you get with the ingenious Worx Power Share Axis 20-Volt Cordless Reciprocating & Jigsaw, which runs off a Worx 20-volt battery. The tool is lightweight, has a comfortable, vibration-absorbing handle, requires no tools to swap blades, and runs at a maximum of 3,000 spm with a 3/4-inch stroke length. Push the button, and it converts from a horizontal reciprocating saw to a vertical jigsaw.

With the right blades, this powerful tool can chew through wood, metal, plastic, and tile. It includes orbital motion for even more efficient cutting. A built-in work light helps illuminate your cut line, and an efficient blower prevents sawdust from blocking your view. Unlike many other tools, the 20-volt battery and charger are included, as well as a metal-cutting jigsaw blade, aluminum-cutting jigsaw blade, and wood-cutting reciprocating saw blade. However, you can use any standard reciprocating saw blade and any T-shank jigsaw blade with the tool.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 3,000 | Stroke Length: 3/4 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: Yes | Saw Weight: 4.2 pounds

Best for Metal: Ingersoll Rand 429 Air Reciprocating Saw

Air Reciprocating Saw

Ingersoll Rand

What We Like
  • Good for accurate curved or straight cuts

  • Includes blades

  • Very high strokes per minute

What We Don't Like
  • Requires use of an air compressor

  • Short stroke length

Pneumatic, or air-powered, tools are often found in auto repair shops or other professional hands-on workplaces, but if you want a reciprocating saw that slices through metal, plastics, fiberglass, composite materials, and more, then it's well worth owning an air compressor to power this tool from Ingersoll Rand. Designed for easy use even in confined spaces, you'll love the way this saw cuts flat or curved surfaces equally well, allowing you to cut accurately even when making intricate cuts. It has a top speed of a whooping 10,000 spm and a unique safety feature that prevents accidental operation. The stroke length is 3/8 inch.

The 429 has a comfortable, reduced-vibration handle. It's equipped with an adjustable blade guide and positive blade retainer. The saw comes with six high-speed steel cutting blades and two hex keys. Note that you'll need an air compressor capable of delivering up to 8 cfm at 90 psi to run this tool.

Power Source: Pneumatic | Max Strokes Per Minute: 10,000 | Stroke Length: 3/8 inch | Variable Speed: No | Orbital Mode: No | Saw Weight: 1.3 pounds

Best Orbital: Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super SAWZALL Reciprocating Saw

M18 Fuel Super SAWZALL

Milwaukee

What We Like
  • Orbital mode

  • Good for heavy-duty tasks

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat expensive

This cordless reciprocating saw has all the power of a corded tool, and when you really need to lay on the muscle, it has an orbital mode for extra oomph when cutting through wood or metal. Powered by one of Milwaukee Tool's M18 18-volt batteries (sold separately), this SAWZALL reciprocating saw has a POWERSTATE brushless motor that delivers variable speeds up to 3,000 spm and has a 1 1/4-inch stroke length. A LED light illuminates your cut line, and when you want to switch the blade, that's easy as well.

This saw is designed to prevent overload damage to the motor even when working at the most demanding capacity. Plus, it has an adjustable shoe to extend blade life, has superior battery life, and can make up to 150 cuts on one charge. It even has a handy rafter hook for easy storage. The saw comes with one general-purpose blade.

Power Source: Battery | Max Strokes Per Minute: 3,000 | Stroke Length: 1 1/4 inch | Variable Speed: Yes | Orbital Mode: Yes | Saw Weight: 8.8 pounds

Final Verdict

If you want a reciprocating saw with plenty of power and a motor that just won’t quit, then you’ll appreciate the versatile and reliable Milwaukee M18 Fuel SAWZALL Kit, which even includes the battery and charger. But if budget is your main concern, you’ll find that the BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw gets the job done, and is very reasonably priced.

What to Look for When Buying a Reciprocating Saw

Corded or Cordless

Reciprocating saws come in corded and cordless versions. Cordless versions don’t have power cords to trip over or require access to electrical outlets. But they are generally heavier and more expensive than their corded counterparts and require batteries to keep them running. You'll have to pay attention to the remaining battery life while you work so you don't run out of power before you are finished.

Corded reciprocating saws mean no worries about running out of juice, but you are tethered to an outlet, so they aren't as versatile for working away from the workshop.

There are also pneumatic, or air-powered, reciprocating saws. These are mostly used in professional shops, but do have a lot of power for cutting through metal and other difficult materials.

Speed and Stroke Length

When choosing a reciprocating saw, there are two numbers to know: strokes per minute and stroke length.

Strokes per minute (spm) is the speed at which the blade slices back and forth. Most reciprocating saws have a maximum spm of around 2,500 to 3,000. The fastest speed isn't necessarily the best, however. The right speed depends to a certain extent on the material being cut and the accuracy you need. Still, a faster saw obviously gets through cuts faster.

Stroke length is the maximum distance the saw's blade can cut. This can be as little as half an inch, or as much as 1 1/2 inches, although the majority of reciprocating saws fall in between these distances. If you expect to do a lot of cutting on thick materials, a longer stroke length will get the job done faster, but for many users, this number isn't a deal-breaker one way or another. Still, it's important to pay attention to stroke length, as it's one measurement of the tool's versatility.

Size

Reciprocating saws come in various sizes, from one-handed and compact models to large, heavy-duty versions. Smaller versions are easier to use and work best on softer materials. Larger saws are more cumbersome to handle but are necessary for cutting through more heavy-duty materials. Choose the reciprocating saw that is tailored to the work you need to get done.

Orbital Action

Not all reciprocating saws come with orbital action. Designed for cutting through wood layers or hard materials, this feature adds an elliptical motion on top of the standard back and forth movement of the reciprocating saw blade. Choose a reciprocating saw with orbital action if you want to cut through wood more quickly. 

FAQ
  • What is a reciprocating saw good for?

    A reciprocating saw is a handheld electric saw with a blade that moves in a backward/forward motion. This common tool makes it easier to cut and rip out wall materials and plumbing, as well as maneuver around windows and doors during demolition work. You'll want to choose the right blade for your task; there are many different types of reciprocating saw blades made for cutting through different materials. And as with any power saw, always take safety precautions and remain alert while using the tool.

  • Are reciprocating saw blades universal?

    Generally speaking, yes. The majority of blades for reciprocating saws are universal. They use a universal shank size that fits most tools. Keep in mind that certain brands work best with corresponding blades, but you can pretty much get the job done using any blade.

  • Can a reciprocating saw cut metal?

    Yes. When working with a reciprocating saw, it’s important to use the correct type of blade depending on what material you are cutting through. A reciprocating saw fitted with a fine-tooth blade is best for cutting through metal. 

Why Trust The Spruce?

Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.

For this roundup, she considered dozens of reciprocating saws, evaluating each for power and battery life, stroke length and strokes per minute, reliability, and overall value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative.

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