When it comes to saws with versatility, reciprocating saws have always been at the top of the heap. But to increase their go-anywhere, cut-anything prowess, they’re available in battery-powered, cordless models. There’s not much these saws can’t do.
Whether it’s a construction project, a bit of yard cleanup, or just breaking down a pallet after a delivery, the best cordless reciprocating saw will be up to the task. Outfitted with the correct blades (which are quite easy to change), these saws are incredibly versatile, capable, and easy to use. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the best cordless reciprocating saw and see some top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: DEWALT 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw
- RUNNER-UP: Makita XRJ05Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: SKIL PWR CORE 20 Compact Reciprocating Saw
- UPGRADE PICK: Makita XRJ06PT 18V x2 LXT Lithium-Ion (36V)
- BEST ONE-HAND: BOSCH GSA18V-083B 18 V Compact Reciprocating Saw
- BEST COMPACT: DEWALT 20V MAX XR Reciprocating Saw, Tool Only
- BEST SUBCOMPACT: Makita XRJ07ZB 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Sub-Compact
Before You Buy a Cordless Reciprocating Saw
If there’s one area in which a cordless reciprocating saw does not excel, it’s precision. These saws have a lot of power, but the blades are long, relatively thin strips of metal that attach to the saw on just one end. As the saw pushes the blade back and forth, it will bow and bend similarly to a hand saw but at great speeds.
For this reason, it can be challenging to achieve consistent or square cuts on a stack of lumber, for example. Users might be able to get each piece within ¼ inch of each other, but the deviation between pieces will likely make them unusable for building. The cut end will rarely be square.
For those who need an accurate saw, it’s best to go with a circular or miter saw because their designs allow them to make consistent, repeatable cuts at specified angles. But for all those other jobs—even when on the go—it’s tough to beat can’t beat the power, versatility, and small profile of a reciprocating saw.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw
The best cordless reciprocating saw can be an indispensable tool, as it can cut materials in a few seconds that otherwise take a few minutes to get through (or not be possible to cut at all). But there are a few factors to consider when shopping for these tools, and this section will point them out.
Standard vs. Compact/One-Handed
When cordless reciprocating saws first hit the market, they only came in large, dual-handed versions. Since then, manufacturers realized that there’s a market for compact or one-handed models, and many more options await DIYers.
- Standard cordless reciprocating saws feature two-handed designs with lots of power. They’re often almost 2 feet long, and they can weigh 10 pounds or more. Although they can be a bit of a handful, they provide excellent control.
- Compact and one-handed designs, as the names suggest, are smaller and easier to manipulate. They can be ideal for light-duty jobs since they often weigh less than 6 pounds. Compact models can produce just as much power as standard models, but they still require two hands to control safely. One-handed models aren’t as powerful, but users can easily manipulate them with one hand only.
Some of the earliest corded reciprocating saws had two modes: on or off. There weren’t any methods for controlling their speeds. Not only is this dangerous, but it can also make it harder to control the cut and will wear blades out faster. Luckily, today’s cordless models benefit from variable speeds.
Almost universally, cordless reciprocating saws have variable-speed triggers that allow the user to throttle the speed of the blade from just a few strokes per minute to full speed, which might be more than 2,500 strokes per minute. This variable speed allows the user to start the blade as accurately as possible and get the most life out of a blade or battery.
Most reciprocating saws use a back-and-forth stroke to gnaw through a material. The backward stroke cuts through the material, while the forward stroke resets the blade. This is usually more than sufficient, but when it comes to cutting through softer materials such as construction lumber, there’s a better way: orbital action.
Reciprocating saws with orbital action use a more circular blade path while cutting. On the blade’s backstroke, the blade also travels downward. On the forward stroke, the blade travels upward. This circular motion allows the blade to cut faster through softer materials like pine, cedar, and redwood, but it doesn’t do much else other than cause quite a chatter when cutting metal. Orbital action can be a feature on a cordless reciprocating saw but is not a common one.
Blade Type and Stroke
All reciprocating saws (corded or cordless) use interchangeable blades, and each type has a purpose for which it’s most suitable.
- Wood blades have large, aggressive teeth that rip through wood very quickly. They’re excellent for cutting through wood that’s free from nails or even for yard cleanup.
- Metal blades have small, fine teeth that remove small chunks of metal with each stroke. They’re best for cutting metal pipes, angle iron, and similar materials.
- Demolition/construction/combination blades can cut a mix of wood and metal. These blades’ primary purpose is to cut through wood but also slice through any embedded nails they might come across in the process.
Choosing the right blade allows the saw to cut most efficiently and ensures the blade and battery will last as long as possible.
It’s also worth noting that reciprocating saws have different stroke lengths. This refers to the back-and-forth distance that the blade travels. Compact models might have strokes under an inch, while larger models can easily exceed 1⅛ inches. The longer the stroke, the more teeth will pass over the material with each pass. But longer strokes can be a challenge in tighter locations, so keep that in mind.
Pro tip: Most reciprocating sawing occurs while cutting downward, but in some cases, upward pressure might be more efficient. In those cases, removing the blade and reinstalling it upside down allows the user to hold the saw comfortably while applying upward pressure.
In recent years, manufacturers have started designing both corded and cordless reciprocating saws with an eye toward ergonomics. While the original models work quite well, there are days when a pro or DIYer might spend several hours using a reciprocating saw, and the traditional grips and designs will show their shortcomings.
The ergonomic models have specially designed handles that allow the user to hold the saw at different positions depending on the angle at which they’re sawing. This adjustable handle allows users to find a comfortable position for their body instead of using a preset position or a compromised grip.
Also, vibration control via rubber grips is becoming more popular in these saws. The grips absorb some of the vibration associated with high-speed sawing, lessening the fatigue on the user’s hands, arms, shoulders, back, and neck.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about battery life when it comes to reciprocating saws. But know that the larger the amp-hour rating of the battery, the longer it will work for a particular saw. How long it will work depends on too many factors to nail down, including:
- Sawing speed
- Blade used
- Battery amp-hour rating
Cordless reciprocating saws with brushless motors will get more life out of a battery than the same model with a brushed motor, all other things being equal. If battery life is a priority, a brushless model is definitely the way to go. Remember to buy additional batteries for every model.
Our Top Picks
Adding the best cordless reciprocating saw to a tool chest might seem like a no-brainer, but choosing from among all the models on the market can be a challenge. The following list is a collection of some of the best cordless reciprocating saws available with many of these key considerations in mind.
When it comes to cordless reciprocating saws, this DEWALT model is a versatile and speedy choice. The 20V MAX reciprocating saw has a variable-speed trigger and runs at a top speed of 3,000 strokes per minute. With a stroke length of 1⅛ inches, it can handle almost any job. And, the rubber over-molded foregrip and handle combined with its 6-pound weight make this DEWALT reciprocating saw comfortable and provides maximum control.
This cordless reciprocating saw has more than just speed to offer. It uses the same 20V MAX system batteries (though it does not come with one) as DeWalt’s other power tools to offer more runtime and power than its 18V competitors. It also features a toolless, four-position blade clamp so users can install the blade in the most useful orientation for a particular cut.
- Size: Standard
- Cutting Speed: 3,000 SPM
- Stroke Length: 1 ⅛ inch
- High maximum speed at 3,000 SPMs
- Uses the popular DeWalt 20V Max battery lineup
- Comfortable grip and lightweight for long days
- Does not come with a battery
Get the DeWalt 20V Max Reciprocating Saw at Amazon, Lowe’s (with battery), or The Home Depot.
Makita’s XRJ05Z 18V is worth checking out for anyone hunting for a long blade stroke and plenty of speed control in a reciprocating saw. This tool features a two-speed transmission and a variable trigger that allow the user to choose speeds between 0 and 2,300 (low) and 0 and 3,000 (high) strokes per minute. It also features a brushless motor for making the most of a battery.
It’s not just the strokes per minute and brushless motor that allow this saw to cut quickly. This model also features a 1¼-inch blade stroke, which provides several more cutting teeth per stroke than shorter blades. The saw is 17¼ inches long and weighs only 5.7 pounds (8.2 pounds with a battery, which is not included). When it’s time to switch out a blade, the XRJ05Z offers tool-less blade changes.
- Size: Standard
- Cutting Speed: 3,000 SPMs
- Stroke Length: 1 ¼ inch
- Lightweight at just 5.7 pounds without battery
- Longer stroke than most of its competition (1 ¼-inches)
- Brushless motor for extended battery life
- Bare tool purchase (no batteries)
Get the Makita XRJ05Z on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Those looking for an affordable option for projects around the house might be interested in the SKIL PWR CORE 20 Compact Reciprocating Saw. This kit comes with a compact saw, a 2.0 Ah 20V lithium-ion battery, one blade, and a charger, allowing users to get to work straight away.
This compact reciprocating saw from Skil weighs just about 8 pounds with the battery attached. This model also features a variable trigger and a max speed of 3,000 strokes per minute. The stroke length is 1 inch, which isn’t aggressive but is typically more than enough for DIY projects. With toolless blade-change capability, switching between projects is easy. And should jobs occur in dark corners or dimly lit areas, the saw’s onboard LED work light helps.
- Size: Compact
- Cutting Speed: 3,000 SPMs
- Stroke Length: 1-inch
- Affordable price point
- High top speed
- Onboard LED work light
Get the Skil PWR Core 20 Compact Reciprocating Saw on Amazon.
Purchasing a complete kit is often the best way to go, and Makita’s XRJ06PT is a prime example of the value an upgrade can bring. This full kit includes the cordless reciprocating saw, the saw blade, two 5.0 Ah batteries for plenty of run time, the charger, and a bag to stow it all in for quick work and easy transport. It uses both of the batteries at the same time for more power and extended run time.
This standard-size cordless reciprocating saw features a variable-speed trigger that can throttle between 0 and 3,000 strokes per minute. That speed, toolless blade changes, and its 1¼-inch stroke length combine to help this saw cut through most materials quickly. And while it measures about 18 inches long, the tool weighs just 10.2 pounds with both batteries clipped in. The rubberized foregrip and handle add a bit of ergonomic comfort to the mix, while the refined crank mechanism reduces vibration. The downside is all of this brawn does come at a hefty price tag.
- Size: Standard
- Cutting Speed: 3,000 SPMs
- Stroke Length: 1 ¼-inch
- Uses two batteries at once for more power
- Full kit includes batteries, charger, saw, and carrying bag
- Reduced overall vibration due to crank design
Get the Makita XRJ06PT on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Pros and DIYers looking for a one-handed cordless reciprocating saw should take a look at Bosch’s GSA18V-083B 18 V Compact model. This model features a unique design that allows users to control it comfortably with one hand, and, given it weighs just under 4½ pounds, it’s easy to handle. This Bosch saw measures just 15¾ inches long, allowing it to fit in some tight spaces when necessary.
Since it’s designed to work in those close quarters, the saw has a reduced blade stroke length of just over ¾ inch. While the reduced blade stroke is ¼ inch shorter than many models, the variable-speed trigger allows users to choose between 0 and 3,050 strokes per minute to make up for it. It also features tool-less blade changes, allowing users to swap out dull blades in seconds. This is a bare tool, requiring a separate battery purchase.
- Size: Sub-compact
- Cutting Speed: Up to 3,050 SPMs
- Stroke Length: ¾-inch
- Lightweight design at just 4.5 pounds
- Compact, one-hand design
- Higher top speed than most reciprocating saws
Get the BOSCH GSA18V-083B on Amazon or at Lowe’s.
The balance between size and capability is often a tough one to strike, but DEWALT’s 20V MAX XR Reciprocating Saw does it. This cordless reciprocating saw features a brushless motor and a compact design that measures just 14½ inches long. That combination allows it to fit between floor joists and wall studs while still providing up to 2,900 strokes per minute via a variable-speed trigger.
There’s a lot more to know about this saw, like its minimal weight (just 5 pounds sans battery) and four-position blade clamp. This reciprocating saw also features a 1⅛-inch stroke length, and an onboard LED work light illuminates dark work spaces while cutting. Just beware that this is a tool-only purchase, but batteries are available separately.
- Size: Compact
- Cutting Speed: Up to 2,900 SPMs
- Stroke Length: 1 ⅛-inch
- Long stroke length despite the compact size
- Fits between joists and studs
- Lightweight design
Get the DeWalt 20V MAX XR at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.
There’s compact, and then there’s subcompact, the latter of which describes Makita’s XRJ07ZB 18V LXT Lithium-Ion cordless reciprocating saw. This saw’s focus is punching above its weight class, offering 3,000 strokes per minute while measuring just 12½ inches long and weighing only 5.7 pounds with a battery attached (though this is a tool-only purchase).
The XRJ07ZB features a brushless motor that’s offers more power and efficiency than brushed alternatives. This unit has a purposely reduced stroke length of 13/16-inch. The rubberized soft-grip handle makes using the subcompact saw comfortable, even if it’s an all-day job. There is also an onboard LED work light to prevent dark, tight places from slowing the project down.
- Size: Subcompact
- Cutting Speed: 3,000 SPMs
- Stroke Length: 13/16-inch
- Compact design with plenty of power
- Weighs just 5.7 pounds with a battery attached
- Rubberized handle for plenty of grip and comfort
Get the Makita XRJ07ZB on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
For those who need a great overall reciprocating saw, it’s hard to beat the reliability and durability of the DEWALT 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw. But, DIYers looking for an upgrade will enjoy the Makita XRJ06PT 18V x2 LXT Lithium-Ion (36V)’s dual battery setup and complete kit.
How We Chose the Best Cordless Reciprocating Saws
Putting together a list of the best cordless reciprocating saws was tough work. We had to draw upon our experiences during time spent contracting and DIY projects to pick out the features we feel were need-to-haves and those we could do without.
After coming up with a baseline of features to work with, we performed extensive product research to compile a list of cordless reciprocating saws from some of the best tool brands in the business. We then compared these models’ features, speeds, and prices to ensure we were suggesting reciprocating saws with a high return on investment. Once we threw out the models that didn’t meet our standards, we gave awards to the remaining products based on their strengths.
For folks who don’t want to invest a ton of money into a tool they might not use that often, there is always the secondary market. The used marketplace is often full of tools that DIYers purchased and have since moved on from, and they’re willing to sell some of the best reciprocating saws for a serious discount.
Shoppers should check sites like Amazon Renew, eBay Refurbished, and Walmart Refurbished for reciprocating saws. These sites commonly carry the most popular power tools and sell them for significantly less than a shopper might pay for a new version.
If purchasing directly from a private seller off of a classified site, there are a few things to consider:
- Check that the saw actually runs by snapping the battery in and pulling the trigger (in a safe manner, of course). Listen for any strange noises or clunking.
- Check that the blade chuck works correctly.
- Shake the tool and listen for any rattling inside the saw.
- Plan on replacing the battery relatively soon (so don’t pay top dollar).
Even with this extensive background on the best cordless reciprocating saws, you might have some additional questions. This section aims to answer them, as it’s a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about cordless reciprocating saws.
Q: What is a reciprocating saw good for?
There are a lot of excellent uses for a reciprocating saw, and some examples include:
- Construction and demolition
- Cutting metal pipes
- Breaking down shipping pallets
- Yardwork (such as pruning large branches)
Q: Are reciprocating saws dangerous?
Reciprocating saws don’t have any safeties or guards in place that will keep them from cutting someone, so they can be very dangerous if used unsafely.
Q: Are reciprocating saw blades universal?
Some reciprocating saw blades have specific uses. Wood and metal blades are for cutting their respective materials, but construction or demolition blades offer a combination of both.
Q: Can I use a reciprocating saw to cut tree branches?
Yes, a cordless reciprocating saw fitted with a wood blade is an excellent tool for cutting tree branches.
Q: How do you use a reciprocating saw?
To use a reciprocating saw:
- Don your safety gear (gloves, safety glasses, and eye protection).
- With the battery disconnected, open the blade clamp and insert the appropriate blade.
- Connect a battery.
- Assuming a stable position, put one hand on the foregrip and one on the handle (for one-handed models, this might not be possible).
- Place the blade on the material you’re preparing to cut.
- Slowly squeeze the trigger, and allow it to cut a groove into the material.
- Slowly increase the speed.
- Release the trigger when you’ve cut through the material.
Q: How long will my reciprocating saw last?
Older corded reciprocating saws have been known to last for decades, but professionals can get several years out of cordless reciprocating saws.