Two types of saws that are often confused for being the same type are the Hackzall and Sawzall. Both are reciprocating saws, but there are important differences between each one. Knowing the differences will help you make the best-informed choice of which one to use on your project.
What Is a Hackzall?
Hackzall is a reciprocating saw with a pistol-grip designed for cutting wood, plywood, plastic, metal, etc. The emphasis is on one-handed operation and hence the tool is lightweight and well balanced.
The Hackzall is superficially similar to the Sawzall, but in truth, you may have never seen a tool quite like this one. The Hackzall tends to be short and can be operated by one hand. A Hackzall is built to be used to cut small material quickly and easily.
The Hackzall features a standard pistol-grip, but the blade stretches out from on top of the device and not the side as you would expect from most devices. With most of the weight in the center above the pistol grip, the Hackzall can be used one-handed and without additional support.
Many of the latest models include anti-vibration technology which makes it less stressful to use for jobs that take time. You can find the Hackzall in both corded and battery-operated models.
Following are some of the major advantages of Hackzall compared to Sawzall.
- Small and lightweight.
- Ability to work in tight spaces and hard-to-reach spots
- Allows you to hold the workpiece with one hand and use the saw with the other hand.
- A versatile tool that works best for everyday tasks.
- Relatively shorter cutting stoke length.
- It may take more time to cut tough metals and bar stocks.
What is a Sawzall?
Sawzall® is a trademark name for the D-handle reciprocating saws produced by Milwaukee tools. However, in practice, the term Sawzall is commonly used to describe reciprocating saws from any brand, although technically only the saws produced by Milwaukee tools can be called Sawzall.
When you first look at a Sawzall, you may see another reciprocating saw. But there is more to a Sawzall than first meets the eye. The Sawzall focuses the support of the blade on the rear area with a trigger in the back. This allows you to stand behind the saw for maximum safety while allowing you to cut through the material with precision.
The long body and support point on the front will allow you to hold the Sawzall much like a rifle. You can find the Sawzall in both corded and battery-powered models with the latter being preferred because of its ease of use.
Advances in the Sawzall over the years have been considerable. Some of the latest models allow you to wirelessly connect to the device with your smartphone. This allows you to track the battery life and performance of the Sawzall.
- A heavy-duty tool that cuts a wide range of objects.
- Two-handed operation gives better control over the tool.
- Cuts faster. The weight of the tool applies added force on cutting.
- Excellent for tearing-up and demolition work.
- Bulk and weight.
- It may not be suitable in tight spaces.
When it comes to sheer cutting power, the Sawzall wins hands down. However, most people found that they tend to use the hackzall way more than a Sawzall unless their main work is demolition and remodeling.
Are Hackzall and Sawzall blades interchangeable?
Although the hackzall comes with a thin kerf blade, you can interchange the saw blades between these tools. You can use any of these tools to cut trees, plastic, wood, 4×4 fence posts, metal, etc. with the right reciprocating saw blade.
Hackzall vs. Sawzall Comparison
The main difference between a hackzall and a Sawzall is that the hackzall is a lightweight tool designed for one-handed operation whereas the Sawzall is a heavy-duty reciprocating saw that requires two hands to operate safely.
|Design||One-handed operation||Operate with both hands|
|Stroke Length||Shorter||Longer strokes|
|Uses||General purpose saw. |
Best for cutting thickness up to 1″
|Heavy-duty tool. |
Best for demolition jobs.
DEWALT 20V Max
There are definite similarities between the two devices. Both tools are reciprocating saws that work on a similar principle.
It may be easy to think of a Hackzall as simply a smaller version of the Sawzall. But there are some significant differences which means you will have to know them to find the right one for the job you need.
The most obvious difference is the shape and form of the Hackzall compared to the Sawzall. The Hackzall is considerable smaller and only requires one hand to use. The Sawzall is noticeably longer and requires both hands to use.
While both devices have pistol-type triggers that start and stop the motor, the form of the Hackzall does not include a trigger guard as often found on the Sawzall.
If there is one area where the Hackzall clearly has the advantage, it is in the number of situations in which the device can be used. Being smaller and one-handed in operation, you can carry the Hackzall on your tool belt and use it for many jobs that require precision and speed.
Meanwhile, the Sawzall is better suited for larger cuts that require less precision. Being a larger device also makes it less suitable to be carried around like the Hackzall.
One-Handed vs Two-Handed Saw
The Hackzall is designed to be operated by one hand. In fact, there is no safe or practical place to put your other hand on the device. Doing so not only exposes your hand to possible danger but also upsets the balance of the Hackzall itself.
The Sawzall requires two hands for operation. One hand on the trigger and the second hand on the guard over the blade to provide balance and stability. The differences are akin to a pistol and a rifle, given their unique features with similar overall uses.
While it is possible to use some of the reciprocating saws with one hand, it is not well balanced for single-hand operations. Much like a chainsaw, the Sawzall is a cutting tool designed to operate with both hands.
The Sawzall tends to be more powerful and designed to take on thicker material compared to the Hackzall. The reciprocating nature of the Sawzall allows it to cut metal, PVC, and wood with ease thanks in large part to the power of the device itself.
A Hackzall is not quite as powerful, making it less versatile especially with demolition work. The material you cut will need to be thinner compared to what the Sawzall can do.
Although the Sawzall is noticeably bigger, it tends to be cheaper compared to the Hackzall. The one that you choose should be based on the types of jobs that need to be performed. That is why many have both devices since they specialize in different projects.