Sawzall vs Reciprocating Saw — How do They Differ

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Sawzall vs reciprocating saw, which provides better cutting performance and versatility?

Reciprocating saws go by many different names, such as sabre saws, recipro saws, and even the Milwaukee Power Tools brand name, Sawzall.

As the word reciprocate indicates, a reciprocating saw operates in a piston-like motion by thrusting a saw blade forward and backward in a sawing motion.

It is the unique sawing motion that makes this tool the ideal choice for cutting different types of wood, metal, plastic, Masonite, and drywall. 

Having said that, my biggest concern today is to find out whether or not the Milwaukee line of reciprocating saws (Sawzall) is a better option compared to other brands of reciprocating saws.

Our top Sawzall saws pick is the Milwaukee 2720-20 M18. It provides the best cordless cutting performance, overloading protection, and versatility.
Our top reciprocating saws pick is the Makita JR3050T. This model combines a powerful motor and versatile features for a wide range of applications.

Sawzall vs Reciprocating Saws of Other Brands: Reviews

ProductDetails
1. Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 Sawzall

  • Battery powered
  • Powerstate brushless motor
  • Redlink plus intelligence
  • Patented gear protecting clutch
  • Onboard LED
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2. Milwaukee 6519-30 12A Sawzall

  • Powerful 12-amp motor
  • Variable speed trigger
  • QUIK-LOK blade clamp system
  • Rubber boot
  • Gear protection system
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3. Milwaukee 6538-21 15A Sawzal

  • 15-amp motor
  • Constant power technology
  • Patented gear protecting clutch
  • Dial speed control and variable speed trigger
  • QUIK-LOK blade clamp
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4. Makita JR3050T Reciprocating Saw

  • Powerful 11-amp motor
  • Long stroke length of 1-1/8 inches
  • Tool-free blade and shoe changes
  • Anti-vibration technology
  • Variable speed trigger
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5. Black+Decker BDCR20C Reciprocating Saw

  • Powered by a 20V max Li-ion battery
  • Powerful 3000 SPM motor
  • Variable speed control
  • Tool-free blade changes
  • Adjustable pivoting shoe
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6. Dewalt DCS388B Reciprocating Saw

  • Powerful 3000 SPM motor
  • Long 1-1/8-inch stroke length
  • Variable speed trigger
  • Keyless blade clamp system
  • Pivoting shoe
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1. Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 Sawzall — Overall Best

The Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 boasts a great deal of power and speed for such a small model. It comes with a powerstate brushless motor and patented gear protecting clutch.

Specs

  • Battery powered
  • Powerstate brushless motor
  • Redlink plus intelligence
  • Patented gear protecting clutch
  • Onboard LED

This model has a powerstate brushless motor, which is an amazing feature because it generates superior power for different cutting applications.

Another good feature that comes with this model is the adjustable shoe, which allows you to have better life on the blade.

But you should know that the saw blade can’t be turned sideways, and this particular model doesn’t come with a case.

Pros

  • Efficient and cool running motor
  • Delivers superior cutting speed than corded saws
  • Adjustable shoe improves blade’s life
  • Onboard LED lights the cutting space
  • Has overload protection

Cons

  • Battery pack is not included
  • Doesn’t come with a case

Conclusion

This is a great Sawzall that offers you cordless convenience, excellent cutting power, and long-lasting blade life.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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2. Milwaukee 6519-30 12A Sawzall — Best Corded Design

From a respected name in power tools, the Milwaukee 6519-30 12A Sawzall is engineered for extreme cutting power, boasting a strong 1-1/8-inch stroke.

Specs

  • Powerful 12-amp motor
  • Variable speed trigger
  • QUIK-LOK blade clamp system
  • Rubber boot
  • Gear protection system

This saw comes equipped with a powerful 12-amp motor, which is great because it produces superior cutting power that boasts a stroke length of 1-1/8 inches.

I really like the gear protecting clutch system on this saw, considering how impressive it is at absorbing high impact forces.

What’s disappointing about this saw is that it is sold without any blades. You also don’t get a storage case.

Pros

  • Superior stroke that cuts faster
  • Gear clutch absorbs high impact forces
  • Easy to change blades with QUIK-LOK clamp
  • Redesigned front grip is more comfortable
  • Variable speed trigger adds versatility

Cons

  • Saw blades are not included
  • Doesn’t come with a storage case

Conclusion

The Milwaukee 6519-30 12A delivers the ideal power, speed, and stroke length for all your applications. Not to mention that it offers great user comfort.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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3. Milwaukee 6538-21 15A Sawzall — Best Constant Power

The Milwaukee 6538-21 is one of the industry’s most powerful and durable Sawzall, which features the best constant power technology.

Specs

  • 15-amp motor
  • Constant power technology
  • Patented gear protecting clutch
  • Dial speed control and variable speed trigger
  • QUIK-LOK blade clamp

This Sawzall has constant power technology, which is great because it maintains constant speed and power under load for unparalleled cutting performance.

The 15-amp motor and the 1-1/4-inch stroke length generate maximum cutting power for the most demanding applications.

But the thing is, the shoe release lever is plastic, which means it flexes easily and the pin holding the guard can easily fall out.

Pros

  • Delivers constant speed and power
  • Strong motor and stroke boast superior cutting
  • Absorbs impact forces to extend motor and gear life
  • Minimum vibration allows for smooth running
  • QUIK-LOK blade clamp provides easy and fast blade changes

Cons

  • Plastic parts appear flimsy
  • Pin holding the guard in place may fall out

Conclusion

The Milwaukee 6538-21 provides exceptional power, control, and versatility with minimal design flaws to deal with.

Overall Rating – 4.6

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4. Makita JR3050T Reciprocating Saw — Overall Best

If you’re looking for a simple saw that’s capable of delivering superior cutting power, look no further than the Makita JR3050T Reciprocating Saw.

Specs

  • Powerful 11-amp motor
  • Long stroke length of 1-1/8 inches
  • Tool-free blade and shoe changes
  • Anti-vibration technology
  • Variable speed trigger

This great tool has a 15-amp motor, which is great because it is engineered with electronic speed control that helps to maintain constant speed during use.

I really like Makita’s exclusive anti-vibration technology, considering how the internal counterbalance system reduces vibration.

But the thing is, the Makita JR3050T and its case may arrive with small scratches and blemishes. This is disappointing given that you’re paying for a new product.

Pros

  • Powerful motor can deliver up to 2800 SPM
  • Has a long stroke length for superior cutting
  • Variable speed control matches
  • Integrated dust blower ensures the cut line is clear
  • Ergonomic handle and soft grip increase comfort

Cons

  • Can arrive with scratches and blemishes
  • May not be the best choice for cutting steel

Conclusion

The Makita JR3050T isn’t just engineered for superior performance, but also for versatility and durability.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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5. Black+Decker BDCR20C Reciprocating Saw — Easiest Tool-Free Blade Change

The Black+Decker BDCR20C Reciprocating Saw combines a powerful motor and superior stroke length for everyday use and improved performance.

Specs

  • Powered by a 20V max Li-ion battery
  • Powerful 3000 SPM motor
  • Variable speed control
  • Tool-free blade changes
  • Adjustable pivoting shoe

This saw features a powerful 3000 SPM motor that is accompanied by a long stroke length, which is a great combination for superior cutting.

Another great feature is the tool-free operation, which is great because it allows for quick and easy blade change and shoe adjustment.

What is a little bit disappointing about this saw is a little bit of play you will experience when you install a long blade.

Pros

  • Super easy to change blades without tools
  • Adjustable shoe helps prolong blade life
  • Easy to attach and detach the battery
  • Long stroke length allows for superior cutting
  • Variable speed control allows for optimized performance

Cons

  • Long blade may play or wobble
  • Battery pack and charger sold separately

Conclusion

The Black+Decker BDCR20C is well-equipped with tool-free blade change, great stroke capacity, and variable speed.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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6. Dewalt DCS388B Reciprocating Saw — Best Brushless Motor

If you’re looking for a cordless reciprocating saw that delivers the power of a corded tool, look no further than the Dewalt DCS388B.

Specs

  • Powerful 3000 SPM motor
  • Long 1-1/8-inch stroke length
  • Variable speed trigger
  • Keyless blade clamp system
  • Pivoting shoe

This saw has a unique 60-volt brushless motor, which is a good feature because it is capable of maintaining optimum speed for efficient performance.

I really like the two-position tool-free lever action blade, bearing in mind how easy and quick it is to change blades for different applications.

The saw; however, doesn’t come with a four-way blade holder, and the battery and charger are sold separately. 

Pros

  • Brushless motor maintains efficient performance
  • Variable speed allows for optimum cutting
  • Long stroke length adds versatility during use
  • Integrated LED keeps the workpiece illuminated
  • Ergonomic handle and grip improves comfort

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a four-way blade holder
  • Charger and battery sold separately

Conclusion

Not only is the Dewalt DCS388B more powerful than 18-volt tools, it delivers three times more cutting power.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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How To Pick The Right Tool

It’s quite simple, really! Just consider the following:

Corded vs Cordless

Cordless models are powered by a li-ion battery pack, while the corded designs are directly connected to a power source. The main benefit of a corded reciprocating or sawzall saw is the consistent and uninterrupted power it provides.

Also, a corded model allows you to work on a wide range of applications. Battery-powered saws; on the other hand, offer cordless convenience and portability. That’s why they’re so popular among homeowners and DIYs.

Short or Long Stroke Length

This is the depth of cut of a reciprocating or sawzall saw, such as 3/4-inch, 1-1/4-inch, or 1-1/8-inch. A longer stroke length is better for demolition, while a shorter stroke length is ideal for getting into tighter spots.

Also, a shorter stroke length gives you more control, but a longer one offers more aggressive cutting capacity. So, head-to-head a longer stroke length allows you to use it for a wide range of applications.

 

Reciprocating Saw Vs Sawzall — Which Is The Better Option?

Sawzall vs reciprocating saw, are there any differences between them? Let’s find out.

What Is In The Name?

A reciprocating saw, as I mentioned earlier is a tool with a blade that moves back and forth to make a cut rather than using a rotating blade. Electricians normally refer to this saw type as a “Sawzall”.

The name Sawzall is a trademark of the Milwaukee Power Tools Corporation. This brand has a variety of Sawzall reciprocating saws in the market that compete with other brands of reciprocating saws.

What About The Designs?

There are two unique features that differentiate Sawzall saws from conventional reciprocating saws: QUIK-LOK and REDLINK PLUS technology.

When comparing blade changing mechanisms, Sawzall saws have superior mechanisms (quik-lok). With the quik-lok attachment system, you have the capability to switch between blades much easier and complete a wide range of applications.

Other reciprocating saw brands don’t provide redlink plus technology, but Sawzall does. This advanced technology enables communication between battery, charger and motor.

This unique communication helps optimize performance in cordless Sawzall saws. 

Final Thoughts

Sawzall saws are high performing, and versatile reciprocating saws, and are very well equipped for cutting most construction materials. They allow for easy, quick blade changes for a wide range of applications.

However, there are other reciprocating saws by other manufacturers that provide you with longer stroke length models for aggressive cutting applications, such as demolition.

The Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 Sawzall is the best option when it comes to design and versatility. The battery powered design has a more convenient blade changing system and overload protection.

However, the longer stroke length and tool-less shoe adjustment and blade change of the Makita JR3050T Reciprocating Saw make it a winner in terms of performance and efficiency.

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