Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review | 44 Saws Tested

Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review: 44 Saws Tested!

By: David Houghton

In the last few years there have been many new cordless power tools introduced into the market. There are some great ones out there but I think it’s fair to say that none of them have really taken off like their corded cousins did ten or fifteen years ago.

I’m not talking about the big brand name brands either; I mean some of these new models are just not up to scratch when it comes to performance. They’re just too expensive, don’t offer enough features or they’re simply inferior in one way or another. And while all of those things may be true, I’d argue that what’s really holding back cordless from being truly competitive with its corded cousins is something else entirely – price.

Cordless saws are generally much cheaper than their corded counterparts and that makes them appealing to people who want a tool that doesn’t require any maintenance, but at the same time isn’t going to break the bank. But if you’ve ever wanted to get rid of your old saw, then this is probably not the right tool for you. You’ll need something better than a cheap $100 saw.

So without further ado, here is my cordless saw buying guide. I hope it helps you find the right model for you and your project.

Cordless Saw or Corded Saw?

One of the first things you’ll have to consider before even looking at the different cordless saws on the market is whether or not you need a cordless saw at all. While cordless saws have come a long way since their humble beginnings, they still have some drawbacks that may or may not be a problem for you.

First of all, cordless saws are still around double the price of their corded cousins. While this might not seem like much, it can quickly add up. If you’re a professional who uses power tools on a daily basis, then you’ll get your money’s worth out of them and more.

But if you’re a hobbyist or someone who only uses their saw a few times a year, then you may want to stick with corded models as you’ll get more life out of them.

Another thing to think about is the battery life on your cordless saw. As battery technology has improved so has that of cordless power tools, but they can still run out of juice faster than you might expect. This can be frustrating especially if you’re cutting through something tough like cast iron or you’re using your saw for a big project.

Some of the more powerful saws can also overheat if used for extended periods of time which will then require time to “cool down”. Always keep this in mind when using your saw.

Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review | 44 Saws Tested - Picture

Size and Weight

Cordless reciprocating saws come in all shapes and sizes. While most of them are designed to be held in one hand, there are some that have a two-handed grip as well. The smaller versions are obviously easier to control but sometimes you need the extra power of a heavier saw. It just depends on what you plan on cutting and how much of it.

Generally speaking, most of the smaller saws can cut up to 2″ wood while the bigger ones can cut up to 4″. Some of the bigger versions can even cut tree branches.

Battery Power

As I mentioned earlier, cordless saws can develop a bit of a reputation for not having enough power or even worse – losing power quickly. While this does happen with some models, there are some things you can do to help prevent this from happening.

The first thing you can do is buy the biggest battery that fits into your budget. They generally don’t cost that much more and it will help the motor on your saw run at maximum power.

Second of all, always keep your battery charged and store it properly. If it’s not charged or dead, your saw isn’t going to work at all. So make sure you keep it charged up the night before and store it in a dry place.

Budget Cordless Saws

This first group consists of the cheaper saws on the market. Most of them are designed for smaller tasks and you get what you pay for in most cases. There are a few that might surprise you though.

Black & Decker CS10

Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review | 44 Saws Tested |

The Black & Decker is one of the most popular cordless saws out there mainly because it’s fairly cheap and still has enough power to complete most average tasks. It uses the popular “4-1” battery system which means you can interchange the battery with over 30 different Black & Decker tools.

The CS10 has a pivoting shoe and adjustable blade guard for better cut accuracy and safety. It also comes with a built-in storage compartment for the blade and wrench.


DeWalt is another very popular name in power tools and for good reason, they’re high quality products. The DCS380B is a good cordless saw for those in the construction industry who need something to use on a regular basis. It also comes at a fairly decent price.

The motor delivers 380 us watts of power and it has a variable speed trigger for dialing the exact speed you need. The shoe is rigid and has great visibility which is really handy. It also has a built-in LED light for working in dark places.

Makita XSS01Z

Makita is another brand that some people swear by and they also have a good cordless reciprocating saw. The XSS01Z is a straight cuts only saw but it’s designed for the professional who needs something dependable. It has a 4-pole motor which delivers the power and a built-in LED light just like the DeWalt model.

The shoe has three positions; top, middle and bottom for better visibility and control when making your cut. It also has a built-in blade wrench for quick changes.

Bosch CS5

The Bosch brand is usually known for their quality products and the cordless saws are no exception to this rule. The CS5 is designed for all types of cuts from straight to angle and it’s small and powerful enough to use for both. It uses a Lithium-Ion battery which gives it more power than the standard Nicad.

The shoe is very durable and has three pivot points. The built-in LED light comes in handy when working in tight places and it has a blade wrench stored right in the shoe for quick blade changes.

Makita XSAW

Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review | 44 Saws Tested - Image

This is the largest and most powerful cordless saw that we’re going to look at. It’s definitely for the professional who needs the extra power for those tough jobs. It uses the same 4-pole motor as the XSS01Z and delivers up to 3,000 rpm for quick cuts. A built-in LED light again comes in handy when working in tight, dark spots.

The shoe is designed to be durable and has 5 separate pivot points for added flexibility and control. An adjustable guard keeps the blade away from the top of the shoe for better visibility. The shoe also has a built-in blade wrench for quick blade changes.

These are only a few examples of the many cordless reciprocating saws available. If you’re a professional, one of the two most powerful models would probably be the best choice for you. If you’re just doing this as a hobby or on the side, any of them would be fine.

Remember though, if you buy a cordless saw it doesn’t mean you’re going to get out of learning how to use a standard corded one. There are still going to be times that a cord is just going to be more convenient.

The nice thing about these saws is they’re much lighter and easier to handle than their corded counterparts. Just don’t forget, just because they’re called “cordless” doesn’t mean you’re not going to be tied to that battery while you work!

Cordless Drills

Cordless drills are by far the most popular of the cordless tools. There are many different types and sizes of drills available. Basically you can break them down into two categories; drilling and driving. The drilling models are used for drilling holes.

This would include decking, stair building, etc.

The driving models are used for screwdriving and other fastening applications. Depending on the make and model you can also use them for drilling.

Cordless drills are measured by voltage and amperage. Normally the higher the voltage and amperage, the more power the tool will have. More power requires more energy which will ultimately lead to a shorter battery life. If you’re going to be using your drill mainly for DIY (do it yourself) projects around the house, you’ll probably want to get a drill in the 12 volt range.

Best Reciprocating Saw Head-to-Head Review | 44 Saws Tested |

These are relatively lightweight and have a decent amount of power.

If you’re a professional who uses their drill for hours every day, you’ll want to get a drill in the 18 volt range. The heavier duty motors will handle the constant use without as much strain.

Drills also come with various types of chuck designs. The most common ones are keyed and keyless. The newer keyless chuc ks are much easier and quicker to change bits. They also cost more money though.

The standard chuck design is the most popular because it’s the least expensive to manufacture. It can be a pain in the neck sometimes when the bit binds while trying to remove it. This can damage the chuck and sometimes the bit as well. If you plan on using your drill a lot, I’d highly recommend spending a few extra bucks on a keyless model.

Sources & references used in this article: