DeWalt Reciprocating Saw Review 20 vs 60 volt


To see if the DeWalt Flexvolt 60 volt reciprocating saw is worth the extra weight over the standard 20 volt max and 20 volt compact I tested them against each other. I also included my 11 amp corded Makita to see if the 60 volt really has the corded power DeWalt claims. The results were surprising.

Models Tested

  • Flexvolt 60V model DCS388 – brushless, led light
  • 20V MAX model DCS380 – brushed, no light
  • 20V MAX Compact model DCS367 – brushless, led light

Power and Speed

Three DeWalt and one Makita  reciprocating saws cutting through wood.

Using new Diablo blades and fully charged 9 amp hr batteries on each DeWalt reciprocating saw, I made two cuts through a 4×12 parallam. Both 20 volts stalled a few times but still cut faster than the corded Makita, which was a huge surprise to me. The compact beat the standard 20 volt, and the Flexvolt blew them all away in terms of speed and comfort.

Standard 20 volt vs Compact 20 volt

The standard 20 volt has an adjustable shoe, in or out, where the compact’s shoe only pivots. Otherwise, the compact has everything the standard 20 volt does, including a four position blade change and at least the same amount of power. On top of that the compact adds a work light, a brushless motor, is a pound lighter, and can fit in between wall studs.


Weight without battery.

The Flexvolt is 2-3 lbs heavier than the 20 volts. For the extra weight you get much less vibration and way more power. It also has a more robust build. Everything from the shoe, to the rubber sleeve, to the chuck release spring is better on the Flexvolt. Like the compact, the Flexvolt’s shoe pivots but is not adjustable in and out. Not something I miss as I rarely, if ever, used the adjustable shoe on my corded Makita.


They all have variable speed triggers, a 1-1/8” stroke length, and a tool-less blade change. The 60 volt can hold blades vertically right side up or upsides down. The 20 volts can do that, as well as hold blades horizontally left or right.

Where’s the Hook

I’m hoping we’ll see a lightweight, brushless, rafter hooked, update for the 20 volt max DCS380 in 2020 to compete with Makita’s 18 volt brushless model XRJ05Z. The 18 volt Makita, in my opinion, being the best all around recip on the market.

Bottom Line

Man using DeWalt Flexvolt reciprocating saw to cut wood framing.

I’ve been using the 60 volt for a few years now, no problems, no stalls. The weight can be tiring when doing overhead work. And it can be battery hungry. Using it to demo wood framing I can easily burn through four 6 amp hour batteries by lunch.

That said, the Flexvolt makes the 20 volts seem like home owner grade tools, despite the fact that tradesmen make a living with them.

I’d say the 60 volt is worth the extra weight over the 20 volts for carpenters and framers. For plumbers, electricians, etc., already on Dewalt’s battery platform, the compact might be the way to go.

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Check out this video to see the saws in action.



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