If you’re in the market for a reciprocating saw, you may have seen two proprietary names come up: the Sawzall and the Hackzall. Both are reciprocating saws and both are sometimes thought as the same thing, but there are some key differentiating factors between the two.
Sawzall vs Hackzall compared
What is a Sawzall?
Sawzall is a specific type of tool manufactured by the Milwaukee company. Sawzall’s have D-handles which is their distinguishing feature.
Milwaukee has kind of run into the Xerox problem with the Sawzall, as most reciprocating saws are now called Sawzalls, even though the Milwaukee one is the “real” Sawzall.
The Sawzall is a little different from your typical reciprocating saw. The blade is supported by the rear of the saw and has a trigger positioned at the very back. This allows you to stand completely behind the saw as you work with it, allowing for the best possible safety while still maintaining precision in cutting.
The body of the Sawzall is elongated and you’ll end up holding it as you would hold a rifle. Sawzalls are available both as corded and cordless battery-powered models. The newer M18 FUEL Sawzalls are very powerful and have decent battery life thanks to Milwaukee’s REDLithium battery system.
The newest Sawzalls have extra features to help you monitor the health of your saw by connecting it to your app and seeing all the relevant data.
Pros of Sawzalls
- Can cut through almost any material quickly
- Is designed to be used with both hands for extra support and control
- It’s heavily built, which helps with the cut
- A must-have for demolition
Cons of Sawzalls
- Very bulky and heavy
- Not easy to maneuver in small areas
What is a Hackzall?
Like the Sawzall, the Hackzall is a reciprocating saw. Instead of having a rifle grip designed for two-handed operation, the Hackzall has a pistol grip handle and is meant for single handed operation. It’s very lightweight and easy to maneuver, and is ideal for cutting small bits of material very quickly.
You can actually think of the Hackzall as a miniature, cuter version of the Sawzall.
Newer Hackzall models have anti-vibration technology that makes them much easier to use. When you cut into tough materials, there’s a lot of feedback that goes into your arms which can tire you out very quickly.
The anti-vibration system helps prevent that.
The blade comes out from the top of the saw and most of the weight is concnetrated in the middle, letting you easily grip and operate the saw with one hand.
Like the Sawzall, the Hackzall is also available as both corded and battery-operated cordless models.
Pros of Hackzalls
- Very compact and light
- Can easily work at hard-to-reach places
- One-handed operation
- Great for small home improvement projects
Cons of Hackzalls
- Smaller cutting stroke
- Takes longer to cut through tougher, bigger materials
Can you use Hackzall and Sawzall blades interchangeably?
You can use Hackzall and Sawzall bladed interchangeably. The Hackzall’s stock blade is a small kerf blade, but you can certainly take a blade out of the Sawzall and put it in the Hackzall, or vice versa.
Hackzall vs Sawzall: More comparisons
When you lay the two tools side-by-side, you’ll see that the difference that sticks out to you most is the size and form factor.
The Sawzall looks more like typical reciprocating saws, whereas the Hackzall is a much more lightweight tool.
You need to use two hands to work the Sawzall as it’s much longer than the Hackzall.
Both the Hackzall and Sawzall have a trigger to operate the saw, but the Sawzall has a safety which is missing on some Hackzall models.
While both the Sawzall and Hackzall hold their own, the Hackzall is much more versatile since you can work it into small areas and make comparatively more accurate cuts.
Thanks to its size and standard pistol grip, the Milwaukee Hackzall is the more versatile tool for DIYers and causal users.
The small size also means you can easily take it around wherever you go.
The Sawzall, on the other hand, is a heavy duty tool meant for large demolition jobs.
One-handed vs two-handed operation
The Hackzall is a one-handed power tool, and the Sawzall is a two-handed power tool. The form factor of the Hackzall is such that there’s no place to to put your other hand on the tool without risking getting cut.
The Sawzall needs two hands to work. You put one hand on the trigger and your other hand on the blade guard to guide the tool where you need it to cut.
There are some bigger reciprocating saws out there that are designed for one handed operation, but the Sawzall is not one of them.
Raw cutting power
There’s no doubt that the Sawzall is the more power tool when you consider the Hackzall vs Sawzall debate. You can use a Sawzall saw blades to cut through nearly anything: wood, metal, and PVC are just eaten up by the saw.
The Hackzall can still cut through those materials, but only if they’re thinner and lighter. This is simply because the Hackzall is not such a powerful tool as the Sawzall models.
Interestingly enough, the Hackzall is more expensive than the Sawzall! However, don’t let price determine which one you’ll get: the right saw is the one that suits your needs.
Final Verdict: Milwaukee Sawzall vs Hackzall
Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of both of these reciprocating saws, you’re probably waiting for that final push to steer you towards which model you should buy.
Ask yourself this:
“Am I looking for something that’s light and maneuverable, or do I need raw cutting power?”
If maneuverability is the need of the hour, the Hackzall is reciprocating saw to get. The one-handed use, the battery life, and the light weight makes it great for at-home projects. However, the shorter stroke length means it does not do as good of a job in cutting tough metals or large pieces of wood.
If cutting power is what you need, the Sawzall is the Milwaukee reciprocating saw for you. Even though you’ll need two hands to support it and it won’t get into nooks and crannies very easily, when you need to cut tough, thick materials, any other tool won’t cut it.