Reciprocating Saw Buying Help


This is my first post on the forum! I was wondering if I could get some recommendations on reciprocating saws. Honestly, I’m looking for something like a small replacement for a chainsaw that I can use to cut some smaller logs/branches. I’m thinking probably cordless.

Would you recommend a 18v or 12v? Are there some decent brands or deals that I should look out for? Most of my power tools are Bosch, and I’d prefer to keep everything in the same brand, but I’m open to other options.

Thank you!

If you plan to use 12" pruning blades (what you’ll likely need for your projected usage), I’d go with an 18v saw. If you’re already invested in Bosch cordless tools, I’d recommend looking at the CRS180B. Lowe’s is currently running a free starter kit promo, so you can get the saw for $119, along with a 4.0Ah battery and charger ($129 value).

I recently invested in Bosch 18v but haven’t tried that saw. I have a Milwaukee M18 Fuel and a Ridgid X4 saw, either of which I’d use for small limb cutting and pruning jobs. I also have the older DeWalt 12v saw and an M12 Fuel Hackzall; the former is underpowered in my opinion while the latter would be best for pruning.

Thanks for the reply. I’m looking at the crs180b vs GSA18V-083B compact. What would be the difference between the two?

For tree trimming a one-handed type reciprocating saw is really nice for small branches and limited use.

Blade choice is also a consideration. A blade designed for cutting through dry material will gum up in wet wood. Pruning blades work better in wet wood, but have other issues.

For cutting larger branches and logs with a pruning blade you want the longest stroke length you can find. 12V and one handed recip saws tend to have short stroke lengths of under an inch. The problem is when you are cutting something 2" or thicker, you will start skating on the chips because the stroke isn’t long enough to clear the chips. You can mitigate this by manually sliding the blade back and forth in the cut to clear the chips.

So I just got the GSA18V-083B compact, and after trying it out, I had to return it - I’m looking for something that can get through some denser wood, maybe even a little wet. Would the crs180b be the better option for me?

The longer stroke length will help but check out Benjamen’s post above about blade selection. The blade choice makes a huge difference.

This is correct, the longer stroke helps but the blade choice is really what matters. You certainly want a pruning blade.
I also think it’s important to be realistic in one’s expectations. Even though you can get pruning blades which are quite long it’s honestly a hassle to use a recip saw for pruning anything larger than about 3 inches diameter or so. I often use my recip saw for pruning small stuff but if it’s bigger than 2 inches I’m going for a different tool. Benjamenjohnson explained it perfectly: the blade ends up skating on the chips because the stroke of the saw is shorter than the cut.

Another thing you might consider is a good quality manual saw. Check out Silky pruning saws. They are the go-to brand for pro arborists and they are seriously impressive.

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For a two handed saw id suggest something in bosch you have already. For one handed, the longest stroke length you can find.
I really like the silky saw suggestion. I recently cut about a 2-3" tree/branch with my camping handsaw(not as nice as a silky) which only has about a 10" blade and it was surprisingly quick. At least half as fast, maybe comparable to what my m12 fuel hackzall does.
For pruning id look at the m12 hatchet, its a 1 handed mini chainsaw, if thats your primary use, better than any recip saw.
Also for any branches about 1" or smaller id suggest a decent lopper.

Thank you all for the responses. I just bought a bosch crs180b and some diablo 12" blades, hoping that might do the trick with some larger logs. The manual saw sounds like it might be a good idea, I’ll let you know how this latest iteration works.

So I’ve been doing some reading about bosch, and it seems like it doesn’t seem to be much of a leading competitor these days as a tool brand. Namely, I don’t know if I’m going to want to invest in the 18v line any longer and might make the jump to another brand.

And so for most of the work I’m doing with this, I think I’d probably be OK with going corded (that way I don’t have to invest in bosch 18v). I’d be thinking somewhere <$150. Does anyone have a recommendation for this? Would consider buying into another cordless brand as well. Thanks!

I can speak for a few different reciprocating saws from Dewalt and Milwaukee but none of them are available for under $150 unless you happen to have either of their battery systems already and can get away with buying the bare tool only. I know it’s not what you asked for, but for a pruning application and a $150 max budget, If It were my money, I’d drop $70 on a Silky Bigboy 2000 with extra-large teeth. I’d take that over a recip saw for pruning any day, even a high-end model. For a small power saw for pruning I’d look real hard at the Milwaukee M12 Hatchet, that will outperform any recip saw, but that’s going to to be over your budget.

@MechaMan I ended up getting the silky saw per your recommendation. I figured I’m not in a huge rush and can wait for a black Friday sale or something. Thanks for the rec!

I’m sure you’ll love it if you haven’t tried it already. They’re amazing tools, the bigger ones are not all that much slower than a chainsaw.