Reciprocating Saw vs Sawzall | Which One You Should Choose?

Reciprocating Saw vs Sawzall

A reciprocating saw is a versatile multi-purpose tool for large construction projects and gardening. It performs extremely well in various tasks such as metal cutting, wood cutting, trimming, pruning, etc. So, you don’t have to waste time switching between different cutting tools. We bet you, whenever you think of a reciprocating saw, the term Sawzall also pops up in your mind. Again, when you Google reciprocating saws, you will see Sawzalls too. If you are a newcomer in the cutting power tool industry, you may be left quite confused as to whether they are both the same or different. 

So, in this article, we are going to give you a detailed explanation of what reciprocating saws and Sawzalls are. We are going to discuss what sets apart a Sawzall from a reciprocating saw, the benefits of using them and share some tips as well. So, without wasting more time, let’s begin. 

What Is A Reciprocating Saw?

A reciprocating saw is a handheld saw that you can use to cut through a variety of materials. These saws typically have a blade length of 3 to 12 inches which can cut straight through wood, plastic, and even metal. This power tool is driven by either electricity (corded or cordless) or compressed air.

Generally, a reciprocating blade has a TPI (teeth per inch) of 6 to 12 and provides moderate performance. However, there are blades with higher TPI that deliver clean and smooth cuts for dense metals. On the other hand, low TPI blades are ideal for wood because they provide more aggressive cutting. You can use attachments like – filers, clams, or brushes with a reciprocating saw that makes it more versatile and valuable in fire service, gardening, DIY projects, and construction jobs. 

Among all other reciprocating saws, we prefer the DeWalt DWE305 Corded Reciprocating Saw. It has a 12 amp motor that can make 0-2900 strokes per minute with a stroke length of 1-⅛”. You can control the sawing speed using the trigger. Its aggressive shank angle enhances the contact between the saw tooth and the surface. It features a lever-based blade-changing facility. Overall it’s one of the best reciprocating saw tools. 

DEWALT DWE305 12 Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw vs Sawzall
Reciprocating Saw

What Is A Sawzall?

Sawzall is also a reciprocating saw. They were released in 1951 by the power tool manufacturing brand called Milwaukee. As the days kept going, this power tool became a brand itself. It was a great step for Milwaukee’s business because people have loved it so much since then. They have another line of reciprocal saws named – Hackzall. 

Out of the traditional reciprocating saw the lineup, Sawzall has made a big name for itself. As many call tissues Kleenex, a lot of people now refer to reciprocating saws from other brands like Dewalt or Ryobi as Sawzall. Overall you can say, all Sawzalls are reciprocating saws but not all reciprocating saws are Sawzalls. 

Well, then what’s the best Sawzall in the market? Milwaukee has a heavy-duty power tool in its arsenal that can cut through anything you throw at it – the Milwaukee Super Sawzall 2722-21HD Kit. Probably, you won’t find a better option that can be compared to its features. It has a thick rubber handle that provides a solid grip. The tool weighs around 19 lbs which is heavier than most on the market. But the handle is long enough so you can get a comfortable grip to not cause your hand fatigue. 

Milwaukee Electric Tools 2722-21HD Fuel Super Sawzall Kit

Reciprocating Saw vs Sawzall

Characteristics Of Reciprocating Saw And Sawzall

Reciprocating saws or Sawzalls are widely known for their cutting power and speed. It’s called a reciprocating saw because the blade moves back and forth in a reciprocating motion. For their characteristics, they are best suited for demolition, house renovation, backyard cleaning, and some other light and heavy-duty work. Let’s have an in-depth look into what makes a good reciprocating saw or Sawzall. 


Reciprocating saws run on both corded and cordless power systems. If you want to go for a cordless reciprocating saw, you can go for a saw with a brushless motor. Though they are expensive, they are more efficient and sustainable. Cordless reciprocating saws rely on batteries. You will find batteries with different voltages like 12V, 18V, 20V, 24V, 36V, and 60V. 

On the other hand, if you have a limited budget, you can try corded reciprocating saws. They are less expensive than cordless reciprocating saws. However, as they aren’t running on battery, they will stop working only if there is a power outage. 

Reciprocating Saw vs Sawzall

Orbital Action

Orbital action was first introduced by Black & Decker Inc. in 1982. It moves the blade in an elliptical motion, which is more aggressive than standard reciprocal motion. It removes more elements from the subject and makes the cutting fast. Due to its more aggressive performance, it also generates more vibration as well. 


Reciprocating saws or Sawzalls are named this way because of their unique mechanism. The cutting action is performed by various internal components like – a crank, a scotch yoke drive, a captive cam or barrel cam, etc. Due to the same cutting mechanism, there are other saws that fall into the reciprocating saw category like – saber saw, rotary reciprocating saw, scroll saw, etc. 

Why Is Sawzall Unique From Reciprocating Saw?

Since a reciprocating saw and a Sawzall do the same job, a question might come to your mind – what is the difference between these two? Well, the famous brand Milwaukee developed sawing technology and took it to a whole new level. Milwaukee Sawzalls are lightweight and easy to handle. Sawzalls are primarily designed for demolition, so Milwaukee tools are the best at it. Apart from these, they are some other features that make a Sawzall stand out from regular reciprocating saws:

  • It has a support point mounted on the front. 
  • It has a variable speed-controlling system implemented on the trigger. 
  • Quick – Lock feature to change attachments easily.
  • To reduce vibration, Sawzalls have a linear counterbalance. 
  • Ergonomic design to provide a comfortable user experience.
  • Proper weight distribution that delivers perfect balance.

However, other manufacturers have also developed this technology over the years. So, if you have a reciprocating saw from a different brand, there is no reason to regret it. Regardless of its brand, you can buy any standard reciprocating saw that matches your cutting needs. 

Benefits Of Using A Reciprocating Saw Or A Sawzall

As they are both the same tool, you will receive similar benefits from them. 

First, they are compact and portable. Because of their small size, you can easily carry them to any place. Moreover, cordless reciprocating saws are better for working outdoors. As they run on batteries, you can work with them even if there is no electricity. And you can go as far as you want with a cordless reciprocating saw. 

Secondly, the orbital action can understand the working surface and control the speed itself. This feature is very handy when you are working on multiple surfaces at one time. Due to this feature, you’ll have a comfortable cutting experience even if you apply it on various surfaces like wood, brick, walls, etc.

Last but not the least, these devices are incredibly versatile. You can use them to cut objects both horizontally and vertically. You won’t get this feature from other cutting saws. 

Reciprocating Saw vs Sawzall

Tips & Tricks For Working With Reciprocating Saws And Sawzalls 

Regardless of the saw type, any person without proper technical knowledge can be injured while using it. Here are some safety practices that you need to keep in mind when using a reciprocating saw or Sawzall. 

  • Unplug the saw before changing the blades. If you are using a cordless reciprocating saw, make sure your finger is off the trigger. 
  • Wear safety goggles and gloves while using a saw. 
  • Don’t wear baggy clothes. 
  • Reciprocating saw blades become very hot even after slight usage. Do not touch the blade with your bare hands and don’t keep it near anything that can be burned due to heat. 
  • Examine your working surface thoroughly before performing a cut. Stay careful while cutting through walls or floors, so you don’t accidentally cut any wires or pipes. 
  • Reciprocating saws are kickback prone. So, be careful and stay sturdy when working with a reciprocating saw on a ladder. 

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see from this article, there are no noticeable differences between a reciprocating saw and a Sawzall. When first released, the Sawzall was the best among all the reciprocating saws. But, all the other power tool manufacturing companies have quickly adopted this technology and added it to their offerings. Nowadays, reciprocating saws from all brands offer some special features, but they perform almost similarly. So, next time someone asks you about the differences between a reciprocating saw and a Sawzall, you can share your knowledge with them. 

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