Reciprocating Saw vs Jigsaw: Which Should You Buy?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

If you are planning on buying the next handheld power saw for your workshop, you better grab the right one. For most carpenters and DIY persons, it could come down to a reciprocating saw vs a jigsaw.

But deciding which one to buy is always a tough call because they are quite similar. Indeed, they use the same reciprocating blade motion, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

The core difference between a jigsaw and reciprocating saw is in their purpose. This was difficult for us to conceptualize as new carpenters, and we made a huge mistake when buying the first model.

But we are here to solve the puzzle of reciprocating saw vs jigsaw. Join us as we dig deeper into the design of the two tools to help you pick the perfect piece. No need for guesses anymore!

In the reciprocating category, the Milwaukee 6538-21 Super Sawzall is our top choice. It is another monster designed with features that make cutting the toughest workpiece easy, fast, and fun.

Our Top Reciprocating Saws Are:

ProductDetails
1. Milwaukee 6538-21 Super Sawzall

  • 13.6 pounds
  • 22.6 x 11 x 5.3 inches
  • Corded-electric
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2. DEWALT DWE305 12 Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw

  • 8.1 pounds
  • 19.2 x 9.4 x 4 inches
  • Corded-electric
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3. Makita JR3050T Reciprocating Saw

  • 10 pounds
  • 17.8 x 3.8 x 6.7 inches
  • Corded electric
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1. Milwaukee 6538-21 Super Sawzall — First Choice

Our first pick in the reciprocating saw category is this Milwaukee 6538-21 Super Sawzall, which is designed to make the toughest cutting jobs simple and fun. It is a 15 AMP corded demolition master that knows no bounds when it comes to cutting. The saw also features an overload protection system that helps to protect the motor from failure and burn up, especially when working on tough tasks.

When dealing with power tools, especially those with very powerful motors, one of the common problems is vibration. But this reciprocating saw is different. Milwaukee used its patented counter-balanced mechanism that helps to dampen vibrations and make the saw very smooth.

This reciprocating saw is one of the most durable options you will get on the market. It is sturdily constructed and also uses a gear protection clutch, which helps to protect the motor and extend its lifespan. If you buy this reciprocating saw, you can expect to enjoy it for many years to come.

Specs

  • 13.6 pounds
  • 22.6 x 11 x 5.3 inches
  • Corded-electric

Pros

  • Ideal even for the toughest jobs
  • Designed to last
  • Sold with a carrying case
  • Long warranty of five years

Cons

  • You need to be close to your power source

Rating – 4.5/5.0 stars

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2. DEWALT DWE305 12 Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw

Coming close to the first pick is this amazing DEWALT DWE305 12 Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw. It is quite rugged and match with the first pick in every sense, except the fact that it uses a slightly less powerful motor of 13 AMP. No matter the cutting task for your upcoming project, this reciprocating saw will complete it fast.

With its powerful 12 AMP motor, the power tool delivers a maximum of 2,900 strokes per minute. This works well with its 1-1/8” stroke length to rip every material you throw at it. Furthermore, the saw has a keyless and lever-action 4-position blade clamp that allows you to work with fingers off the switch, which helps to prevent fatigue on your fingers.

To make your operations seamless, DeWalt also incorporated a simplified blade clamp that allows you to change the blade easily. We were able to change the blade in less than 30 seconds — making the downtime negligible.

Specs

  • 8.1 pounds
  • 19.2 x 9.4 x 4 inches
  • Corded-electric

Pros

  • Compact and light
  • Balanced for easy operations
  • Durable
  • Ergonomic design

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a case

Rating – 4.7/5.0

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3. Makita JR3050T Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating saws are supposed to be rugged, powerful, and mostly, suited for tough demolition tasks. But this Makita JR3050T Reciprocating Saw went against the grain, because it is powerful and rugged, but works well even on light-duty tasks. Therefore, we found it ideal for both commercial workshops and DIY projects.

The reciprocating saw runs on an 11 AMP motor, which is ample for most demanding tasks in your workshop. But with its variable stroke speed system, you can vary the saw blade speed to work on different projects. If you have light duty cutting tasks at home on weekends, simply select lower speeds and enjoy working at your pace.

Weighing only 7.3 pounds, Makita made this reciprocating saw light enough so that you can work for extended periods without getting tired. You will also like the ergonomic handle and dust blower system that makes the saw easy and fun to work with.

Specs

  • 10 pounds
  • 17.8 x 3.8 x 6.7 inches
  • Corded electric

Pros

  • Comes with a tool-less blade changing system
  • Can be used on a wide range of products
  • Designed to last
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Not suitable for fine angle cuts

Rating – 4.6/5.0

Among the jigsaws, we loved the Bosch JS470E because of its unique design, top-rated features, and unmatched performance.

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Among the jigsaws, we loved the Bosch JS470E because of its unique design, top-rated features, and unmatched performance.

Our Top Jigsaws Are:

ProductDetails
1. Bosch JS470E Jigsaw

  • 5.9 pounds
  • 15.8 x 14.5 x 4.5 inches
  • Corded electric
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2. DEWALT DCS331B Jigsaw

  • 5.55 pounds
  • 11.2 x 11 x 3.9 inches
  • Corded electric
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3. Ryobi’s One+ P523 18 volt T Shank Jigsaw

  • 4.9 pounds
  • 11 x 12 x 6.5 inches
  • Battery-powered
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1. Bosch JS470E Jigsaw — First Choice

One word that can be used to describe the Bosch JS470E Jigsaw is “smooth.” When we tried this piece, it was nothing but a marvel; it did not grab, it did not jump, it simply gave a straight and smooth cut.

The low vibration level of this jigsaw makes it a perfect piece, especially when you have a lot of sawing tasks. Furthermore, it comes with a rubberized D-handle, which makes it easy to use the saw for longer without getting tired. For better control and more professional results, you can also use both hands when working with this jigsaw.

Using its 7.0 AMP motor, this jigsaw delivers a maximum of 3,100 strokes per minute (SPM), which is ample for most commercial cutting tasks. Additionally, you can lock the blade at the preferred speed to prevent your wrist suffering from fatigue. No matter what you want in a jigsaw, rest assured of getting it in this piece.

Specs

  • 5.9 pounds
  • 15.8 x 14.5 x 4.5 inches
  • Corded electric

Pros

  • Changing the saw blade is easy and fast
  • Low vibration
  • Accurate
  • Durable

Cons

  • Pricey

Rating – 4.75/5.0

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2. DEWALT DCS331B Jigsaw

If most of your tasks involve working away from the workshop, you need a powerful cordless jigsaw, such as the DEWALT DCS331B Jigsaw. It offers greater maneuverability and is easier to use compared to most corded counterparts. With its 20-volt battery, the jigsaw delivers a maximum of 3,000 strokes per minute (SPM) — enough even for the most demanding tasks.

To make it easier for you to work and get professional results, the jigsaw is super light. Weighing only 7 pounds with a battery (5.5 pounds without) it is way lighter than the corded models that go as heavy as 15 pounds. There’d be definitely less fatigue with this one.

Another feature of this jigsaw is its sturdy construction. From the motor to the frame, this jigsaw is designed to last. Additionally, DeWalt sells the jigsaw with a long warranty of three years, which means you are sure of enjoying the saw’s top-notch services for many years down the line.

Specs

  • 5.55 pounds
  • 11.2 x 11 x 3.9 inches
  • Corded electric

Pros

  • Cordless
  • Compact and easy to use
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • The dust management system is poor
  • You buy a charger and battery separately

Rating – 4.8/5.0

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3. Ryobi’s One+ P523 18 volt T Shank Jigsaw

This Ryobi’s One+ P523 is another monster, a powerful cordless jigsaw designed to rival its corded counterparts. Rocking a maximum of 3,000 strokes per minute (SPM), this jigsaw is strong enough to cut whatever material you throw at it.

Using its years of experience making power tools, Ryobi made the design of this jigsaw unique to enable users to work more without getting tired. We liked the compact design of the jigsaw that makes it easy to cut even in tight areas. Its speed and lock system allows you to work with fingers off the trigger to reduce wrist fatigue.

Another likable thing about this jigsaw is its high-efficiency dust management system. The saw blows away all dust particles away so that the cutting lines are easily visible. This is very useful, especially when making angle cuts. You cannot go wrong with this jigsaw.

Specs

  • 4.9 pounds
  • 11 x 12 x 6.5 inches
  • Battery-powered

Pros

  • A very efficient dust management system
  • Compact and light
  • Ergonomic design
  • Designed to last
  • Cordless

Cons

  • Only uses T-shank blades
  • You must change the battery when the charge runs low

Rating – 4.7/5.0

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Reciprocating Saw VS Jigsaw: Here is the Big Difference

A reciprocating saw, also known as saber saw and saws-all, is a strong handheld saw used for tough cutting tasks. It uses a powerful motor and strong & thick blades that make it perfect for cutting materials faster.

This is why it is preferred for tough tasks in construction, electrical works, and plumbing. They will easily rip through the wood, drywall, fiberglass, stone, and ceramic. Simply put, a reciprocating saw is a rough cutter, ideal for projects where precision is not a priority.

A jigsaw is technically a type of reciprocating saw. But it is generally smaller, and although it uses the same replicating motion to make cuts, it is less powerful, and has a more delicate blade ideal when you need to make precision cuts.

Some of the cuts that you can make with a jigsaw include plunge cutting, crosscutting, ripping, and beveling. This makes them very effective, especially for workshops that handle a wide array of projects.

Buying Guide

Now that you have checked our best reciprocating and jigsaw picks, we will now look  into the features that make these power tools better. This guide will help you understand what to look for and make an informed decision on which one to buy.

Power

The power of most jigsaws and reciprocating saws is rated in amperes. However, if they are battery powered, the rating is in volts. Here, you need to think about the cutting tasks that will be done with the tool and the anticipated toughness. If you have a lot of cutting tasks or tough workpieces, consider going for the more powerful models.

Weight

Because reciprocating saws and jigsaws are handheld tools, weight is another crucial factor to consider. If the tool is very heavy, there is a danger of getting fatigued and taking longer to complete your cutting tasks.

Therefore, you should look for a model that is light enough without compromising its performance.

Motor Speed

The speed of reciprocating saw speed is measured in strokes per minute (SPM). Tools with top speed are recommended for faster and smooth cuts. Well, anything above 2,000 SPM should be okay for most professional and DIY woodwork jobs.

Blade Change

When you are using a reciprocating saw or jigsaw, you will no doubt need to change the blade at some point. The best saw should allow you to change the blade as fast as possible without incurring significant downtime.

Particularly, you should look for the models that allow you to snap out the old blade and snap in the new one without using Allen keys.

Ergonomics

When selecting a handheld tool such as a reciprocating or jigsaw, you need to put a lot of focus on ergonomics. This means that the power tool should be easy to handle and use. Ergonomic features to look for include rubberized handle, press-and-lock switch, and vibration dampening system.

Final Thoughts

This reciprocating saw vs jigsaw comparison has revealed that the two models come with a number of similarities, but they are meant for different jobs. The reciprocating saws are big, strong, and work best when you need to complete tough cutting, such as demolitions, which do not require a lot of precision.

On the other hand, jigsaws are smaller, lighter, compact, and work best where precision is needed. So, you better look at the nature of the task at hand and pick the perfect tool.

The six products we have reviewed in this comparison post are unbeatable; they rock awesome features, sturdy construction, and proven performance. However, we must point out our favorites — the Milwaukee 6538-21 Super Sawzall for the recipro saws, and the Bosch JS470E among the jigsaws — both standouts in their categories.

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