Milwaukee Sawzalls

Posted by on October 2, 2006

One item Milwaukee Tools is best known for is the Sawzall. While that’s a trademarked term, other manufacturers also make them (going by the name recip saws, which is short for reciprocating saws). But what is really interesting to me is the number of models that Milwaukee makes of this type of tool. But what is the reason for making so many unique SKUs of sawzall? I’ll examine the top selling models a little closer today to show what the main differences are.

Saws of interest

The models I’ll be looking at today are the 6536-21 13 amp Super Sawzall, 6523-21 360° Rotating Handle Super Sawzall, 6519-22 10 amp Sawzall, 6509-22 10 amp Sawzall, and the 6509-20 10 amp sawzall.

First things first – Amps

The first thing that people usually look at with a Sawzall is the amp rating. Of these, 3 are 10 amp and 2 are 13 amp. But what does that mean? Most people think that the amp rating states how much power the tool has, but that’s not necessarily the case. Matt already wrote about this, so I’ll just quote his blog entry on the topic.

You know that amp rating that so many consumers use to determine how much {insert manly growl} power a tool has? It really means very little. The rating process is kind of silly. The testing labs get a tool from a manufacturer and are told “We would like to be rated for 12.0 amps”. The testing lab then puts heat sensors in certain areas of the tool, and then apply the requested current to the tool… as long as the sensors do not get above a set temperature in a set amount of time, then the lab says “Hey this is a 12.0 amp tool!”

Thanks, Matt. So now that we know that amps aren’t that much of a difference, what should we look at now?


Price seems like something that most people would be at least somewhat interested in. Arranging these by price, we get a range from about $109 to $189. That order looks like 6509-20, 6509-22, 6519-22, 6536-21 and 6523-21 is the highest. But that doesn’t really tell us what the differences are yet, now does it?


One thing that can be noticed by looking at the “Standard Equipment” on each of these tools is that the 6536-21, 6523-21, and the 6509-22 all come with a carrying case. The 6519-22 and the 6509-20 do not. In fact, the only difference between the 6509-20 and the 6509-22 is the case. For $10, it seems that many people don’t want the case. Choose wisely.

Stroke Length

One of the actual differences is the stroke length. The 6509 models are 3/4″ stroke, the 6519 is 1-1/8″, and the 6536 and 6523 are 1-1/4″ stroke lengths. What that means is the in-and-out motion is 3/4″ to 1-1/4″ depending on model, which leads to the ability to cut smaller / larger materials easier. For most jobs, the longer stroke length is actually a plus. If you’re cutting into a wall and don’t want to poke out the other side or cut hidden wires, you may want the shorter stroke. That’s just something you’ll need to decide.

Orbital Action

If you’ve used a sawzall much at all, you’ll quickly find out if it has orbital action or not. When cutting wood, orbital movement allows for the cutting motion to move a bit front-to-back, which allows the sawdust to fall from the material being cut. This speeds up cutting and adds to the life of the blade. The 6509′s and 6519 don’t have orbital action, while the 6536 and the 6523 include this feature.

Cord Type

On the 6509 and 6536, Milwaukee uses a fixed cord. Most people prefer the Quik-lok cord available on the 6519 and 6523 models. This makes it possible to replace a cut / frayed cord without opening the tool – even at the jobsite. As with any saw, the cord can easily be cut by accident, so this is a nice feature if you’ll be using the saw quite a bit.

Keyless Blade Clamps and Shoes

All of these models have a keyless blade clamp. All of the models except the 6509 also include a keyless shoe adjustment. Since most people don’t even know what the shoe is for, that probably doesn’t make much of a difference. If you’re one of the people that understands it (hint: it allows you to use other segments of the blade), then the keyless is a nice feature to look for.

Rotating Handle

The 6523-21, while it has all of the nice features listed above, also goes one step further. It also includes a rotating handle. This is designed to make the sawzall even more versatile by allowing the handle to rotate and lock at 45° increments. It can even rotate all the way around without going back to the starting position. That’s just dandy, but why would you want that? Simple – flexibility. If you’re cutting and want to go right-to-left instead of top-to-bottom, rotating the handle makes that much more comfortable. It also helps keep that pesky cord out of the way when cutting in cramped areas.

V28 Cordless

While these are all electric, It’d be silly not to point out that Milwaukee also offers their V28 Cordless Sawzall for those that just can’t cope with a cord all the time. I personally prefer the idea of cordless, but it’s a much higher pricepoint if you’re not going to be using it very often. For a couple hundred dollars less, that 6523-21 looks awfully nice to me.

4 Responses to Milwaukee Sawzalls

  1. KMS Chris

    funny comment about the amp rating.

    the dewalt DW368 circ saw used to be a 13amp machine. Dewalt got it retested for 15amps, which it passed, so now its a 15 amp machine. They didnt change a single thing to it, but no people think its a better machine because of the higher amp rating.
    would be nice if they had output power rating on the machines aswell

  2. Anonymous

    Milwaukee’s Super Sawz All is only half as fast as a Makita JR3070CT Reciprocating Saw! That is a fact! Don’t believe me the go get 2 identical blades and 4 x 4 or a pipe and start cutting! No one can beat Makita in this catagory!

  3. Brian Mark

    Which of Milwaukee’s are you comparing? Speed isn’t everything. Some of their saws are made for comfort or for smooth cuts. Speed isn’t always the goal.

  4. Anonymous

    You forgot to mention that some of the saws offered by Milwaukee, Makita, and Hitachi offer counterbalances/Vibration controls. I would not buy a saw without it.