When we are thinking about reciprocating saws, there’s a few names that any woodworker or metalworker that should be familiar with: Milwaukee, Sawzall, and Hackzall.
Milwaukee makes some of the best cordless sawzalls products on the market and the Sawzall and Hackzall are right up there. While these two power tools look the same, there are many differences between them.
The main difference between sawzall vs hackzall is the design. The sawzall is a two-handed saw that comes with a lot of power. While the hackzall is a one-handed saw that comes with less power, but does a great job for tight spaces.
But which one should you buy? Before you know that, we have to compare the prices, strengths, and weaknesses of each product. Then you can make an informed decision about which reciprocating saw is best for your line of work or hobby.
Jump To Page Contents:
What is a Sawzall?
The Sawzall is a powerful, two-handed saw which is front weighted for additional power on vertical cuts. Its heavy-duty motor and solid design mean that it is one of the very best reciprocating saws on the market today.
There are multiple versions of the Sawzall available, right up to the new Fuel Sawzall. Despite the name, the Fuel Sawzall and all other Sawzalls are battery-powered and easily transportable.
The saw works with bi-directional movement, pushing and pulling the blade over the material that you want to cut.
What is a Hackzall?
The Hackzall is very similar to the Sawzall but different in one key way – it is a one-handed reciprocating saw. This is perfect for the workmen and women who need to get their reciprocating saws into tight places to make straight cuts, such as plumbers working in small bathrooms.
The Hackzall isn’t as powerful as the Sawzall, generally. The Fuel Hackzall is about the same power as the original Sawzall, so there isn’t a great deal of difference between them. However, it wins out in being able to go where the Sawzall can’t.
The saw works in the same way as the Sawzall. The blade is pushed and pulled by the internal gear engine over the material that needs to be cut.
What’s So Good About the Hackzall?
The Hackzall is a powerful piece of kit, there’s no doubt about that. The functional design allows for all the power of other brands of reciprocating saws in a smaller handheld package.
The greatest strength of the device is that it can power through pretty much anything while requiring only a small amount of effort from the user.
The Double Gear
The best part of the Hackzall is the double gear motor that powers the blade. Much like a flywheel in a car, this keeps the motor spinning even if one gear fails.
You don’t want to be cutting through a large sheet of metal only for the motor to fail and the machine to stall.
Even when you are cutting through difficult materials that would cause most reciprocating saws to lock up, the double gear design of the Hackzall means that it resists stalling and won’t let you down when you need it.
This is especially useful for those that are cutting through metal – hitting a snag is no longer an issue and you can just power through it and continue the job.
The main benefit of the hackzall is that it is one-handed. Not only does it only need one hand to use, but it is perfectly balanced at the top of the handle.
This means that you don’t need to worry about feeding the saw through a material, losing control of the blade, and finding it swinging towards your legs. Safety is always important and the hackzall’s lightweight design can really protect the user.
Water-resistant; seals on the shaft and drain holes on the body
The entire body of the hackzall is waterproof and designed to flush water out. This is another feature perfect for plumbers or those that have to work in wet conditions.
The shaft is sealed tightly so that water can’t enter the motor from the front. Additionally, for anything that does manage to get in, the body has drain holes along the side for water to exit. This is another feature that might seem minor but it is really helpful when you need it.
Perfect for Tight Spaces
The main strength of the hackzall. If you are ever working in a tight space and only have a large, two-handed Sawzall, you will struggle to use it and curse the day you decided not to buy the hackzall.
The handheld design means you can get the saw into any nook or cranny, make a safe cut without pulling the blade closer to your body than you need to, and then get the machine easily out of difficult to maneuver areas.
Using the Hackzall
There is no real limit to the kind of jobs hackzall can handle. If a reciprocating blade can do it, the hackzall can do it. A couple of professions that could benefit from a hackzall include are tree surgeons and plumbers.
For the tree surgeon, the powerful motor can power the blade to cut through bushes and trees. I have even seen someone chop down a tree with one!
For plumbers, tight spaces can mean that getting good cuts is difficult. Using the Hackzall, it is easier to get into those tight spaces and make the cuts fast. The powerful motor can power through pipes and sheets of metal or wood without any issues.
Basically, the Hackzall is useful to anyone who needs to make powerful, straight cuts in difficult positions. The size of the saw makes it preferable to the Sawzall for a lot of professions. It can even easily cut through a car’s chassis without stalling!
What’s good about the Sawzall?
The Sawzall is an impressive, ferocious cutting machine that will make short work of anything that needs to be chopped in half.
If you need to cut through a thick piece of wood or metal, your Sawzall is your best friend. All it can depend on the model and the blade you are using, the stroke length is very large.
This allows for large cuts without trying to figure out which tool is the best for the job – you can just use your Sawzall reciprocating saw and be done with it in seconds.
There is simply no greater benefit to using the Sawzall other than it’s monumental power. There is practically nothing that this blade will not cut through.
Wood? Sawzall. Metal? Sawzall. Old support beam full of nails? Sawzall. You don’t even need to think about it as the Sawzall is designed to get straight, rough cuts through anything.
Obviously, the power causes some issues, though. As it is designed to be front weighted (aiding with downward straight cuts) and the blade is designed to rip through anything, you need to be careful when finishing a cut. Failing to pay attention could mean the blade falls through and straight towards your body.
Are the Hackzall and the Sawzall similar?
Yes, there are a lot of similarities. In fact, they are designed to be similar.
Milwaukee blades fit both the Sawzall and the Hackzall. This means that if you have both products, you won’t have to carry around any more than 4 or 5 blades to cut through any material. Blades aren’t heavy, but carrying more than is necessary can lead to organizational headaches.
Both saws also have the same easy to use, quick release blade lock. The system only needs one turn and the blades you need can be slid straight into the slot. If you learn how to use one, you’ve learned to use them all.
Cordless and Replaceable Power Packs
Both saws are cordless, meaning that there is no risk of you falling over a trailing cable while making a cut. They are powered only by a battery pack which easily plugs into the bottom of the saw.
Additionally, the battery packs are compatible with both saws (and any Milwaukee product). This means that you can use one battery pack for both saws, allowing for quick switching between the products. Very handy for the workmen or woman on the go.
This isn’t available on all models, but most Hackzalls and Sawzalls come with an LED light belong the blade. This helps to get the best cut possible as it will light up your lines. A small feature in the grand scheme of things, but it saves on holding a torch if you really need a light to work.
A useful feature for those that are used to working with difficult surfaces. The shoe on both saws is adjustable, meaning that you can set the saw up for different angles of cuts without much issue.
This is definitely useful for the Hackzall – you are likely to be approaching many different surfaces with the saw, so being properly prepared always helps.
Which is better – Sawzall vs Hackzall?
Despite our review having more strengths for the Hackzall, it’s not possible to say that it is better than the Sawzall. It really depends on your needs and what you plan to use the saws for.
For Hackzall, you will find a use for this powerful tool. It can be used pretty much anywhere, is marginally safer (but by no means completing safe), and will stand up to most challenges that the Sawzall all can handle. If you can only afford one and are used to working in a small area with tight working conditions, this might be better for you.
But sometimes we just need raw power. The Sawzall can give you everything you need for brute-forcing your way through any material fast and as clean as a reciprocating saw can do. If you often work with difficult material (especially thick materials), the Sawzall may be the saw for you.
These two saws are really fantastic pieces of equipment, but choosing only one of them puts a lot of people in a difficult position. They’re not cheap tools, but they will last you a long time and give consistent, powerful results.
If you can, experiment with them. The versatility of the tool will give you excellent results in pretty much any area, but understanding which type of tool you like to use will give the best results.
Neither tool is obviously better than the other (despite the versatility of the Hackzall), so finding one that you want before you simply like it more may be the best way to approach buying one.
If you can’t experiment before buying, think about the kinds of material you are usually working with. If you’re a plumber working in tight spaces most days, the Sawzall might be a misguided investment.
If you have any questions about sawzall vs hackzall then make sure to comment down below and we will answer.