For years we swore by corded recip saws, notably the Makita JR3050T. Then three years ago, we were sent the Milwaukee Fuel cordless recip to try out—and we have not used a corded recip since. (By the way, locally if I say recip saw, no one knows what I’m talking about. Everyone uses the term Sawzall, even though that is Milwaukee’s label and not a tool classification.)

A few months ago Milwaukee sent me its updated cordless Fuel recip for review, and we’ve been using it for a few months.

Features. This recip saw shipped with 2 M18 XC5.0-Ah batteries and a charger (and box to store the kit). This tool also features One-Key technology. An LED light illuminates the blade and cutting area; the blade clamp is tool free (called QUICK-LOK Universal); and this tool has a nice large hook. It also has a brake on the blade. The adjustable shoe is a nice addition to sort of “set the depth.” I use it only occasionally, but it is nice when I need it.

This recip has Milwaukee’s Powerstate Brushless Motor, which, according to Milwaukee, means more torque, longer motor life, and longer run time.


Performance. I’m not going to get into how many 2x4s I could cut on a charge. For me, those numbers are always useless. I judge a tool on how it performs for me, and I listen to guys on my crew, and then include their comments in the review. Besides, how many 2x4s it cuts depends on the blade, temperature outside, material, and so on. If I don’t complain about the performance, I know the run time is good enough. Generally I never outwork a battery before it dies because I change batteries before that happens; it just fits into my workflow to go get nails or something and swap batteries while I do it.

This recip is a step up from the first M18 Fuel and is a better recip than any corded model I’ve tried. I find that this tool cuts very fast, but I have a lot of control over the cutting. We recently had a customer add five windows after we’d finished sheathing 2x6 walls. We cut all five openings in less than 30 minutes total. The cuts were so clean that if you didn’t know it was a remodel situation, you couldn’t tell.

Power and control. The latest Milwaukee M18 Fuel cuts fast, but at the same time, the user has a lot of control over the cutting. For work on a framing site, the author contends, it performs better than any corded model he’s tried.
TIM UHLER Power and control. The latest Milwaukee M18 Fuel cuts fast, but at the same time, the user has a lot of control over the cutting. For work on a framing site, the author contends, it performs better than any corded model he’s tried.

It has all the power I need as a framer/remodeler but with the added convenience of not having a cord to drag around, and it has a hook to hang it off the ladder when doing work up high. Another thing I like about this tool is that it has low vibration, which for me means less fatigue.

One-Key. This app from Milwaukee means I can inventory my Milwaukee One-Key compatible tools, track their location (with some restrictions), and even report the tool stolen. If the reported tool shows up on another jobsite where someone has the app, the tool will ping their phone, and I get an alert to its location.

The real beauty, though, of this app with this tool is that I can change cutting speed, start speed (for instance, soft start), start duration, and cutting brake. Then I can save the settings and assign them to 1-4 on the tool as profiles. For common materials/cutting, I can save the profile in the app and just hit the corresponding button on the tool. Even the work light duration can be set. I use the slow-start feature when cutting threaded rod, which allows me to not damage the threading. A separate setting allows me to cut wood fast.

I recommend this tool with no reservations. There is nothing for me to complain about, not even any nit picky things to mention. It is a solid tool that is a pleasure to use. It is fast but very controllable. Faster means we get our work done more quickly, and clean means our work looks good.

At $450 for the two 5.0 Ah or $550 for the two 9.0 Ah, both kits aren’t cheap but are good deals. We don’t have any complaints with the 5.0 Ah; the 9.0 go further but add a little weight. What this actually translates for us is fewer chargers out. Or you can buy it tool only if you have enough batteries, for $250. We have done this with quite a few cordless tools.

For our crew, we roll power out to a beam-cutting saw and one cord to either a light or the radio (sometimes both). We stay cordless 80% of the time now.

M18 FUEL™ SAWZALL® Reciprocating Saw w/ ONE-KEY™ Kit 2721-22 SPECS:
Voltage 18V
Battery M18™ REDLITHIUM™
Charger M18™ and M12™ Multi-Voltage Charger
ONE-KEY Enabled Yes
Length 18-1/2"
Weight 8.9 lbs
LED Light Yes
Stroke Length 1-1/8"
Keyless Adjustable Shoe Yes
Keyless Blade Clamp Yes (QUIK-LOK® Universal)
SPM 0 - 3,000
Rafter Hook Yes
Cut Brake Yes
Tool Warranty 5 Years
Battery Warranty 3 Years

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