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Hercules 20V Reciprocating Saw Hands-On Review: Stupid-Good for the Money

Hercules proves yet again it's cordless tools offer serious bang for the buck.
Hank O'Hop Avatar
Hercules 20V Reciprocating Saw Hands-On Review

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A reciprocating saw isn’t among the first tools I pick up when something needs cutting. Grinders, hand saws, table saws, miter saws, and pretty much anything else with teeth comes to mind first. In fact, I’ve never even purchased one. The reciprocating saw I did use when I lived at home was my Dad’s old Milwaukee corded model. That thing had been in service long before I started turning wrenches. It’s been years since I used one. I didn’t even know where to start when Harbor Freight sent me its Hercules 20V brushless reciprocating saw for review. But when I finally did start using it, I suddenly realized why they get so much love. 

I generally don’t use reciprocating saws because there’s always a better tool for the job. I see them as demolition tools that do a lot of things well but not any one thing best. At least not when it comes to automotive work. And with my experiences with an old, corded model that uses a threaded fastener to tighten the chuck, I just see them as more trouble than they’re worth. I grew away from them with time. 

Hercules 20V reciprocating saw hands-on review
Hank O’Hop

I suspected this Hercules 20V reciprocating saw to be more of the same, especially since the bare tool sells for just $74.99. Then I used it to absolutely maul some steel tubing and threaded rod ends. It impressed the crap out of me. For the money, it’s tough to beat what you’ve got to work with here. 

Hercule’s 20V Reciprocating Saw Specs 

It’s a reciprocating saw. It’s all business with lots of teeth. I won’t build it up to be anymore glamorous than that. I will still talk you through the specs of Hercules’ 20V biter, though.

For starters, It’s can operate at speeds of 3,000 strokes per minute. You’ve got total control with a variable speed trigger and a pivoting adjustable shoe. It also comes with a Hercules 6-inch 14-tpi blade, which may be the real hero here. 

The body is built with a nice hard plastic paired with an anti-vibration design to keep your fillings in place. Inside the housing, metal gearing keeps the saw from eating itself alive. The rubberized grip and decent balance make it something you can use all day without a hitch. A built-in LED light, keyless chuck, and foldable rafter hook all positively add to the user experience. 

Reciprocating saw keyless chuck
Hank O’Hop

The Hercules 20V reciprocating saw is compatible with Hercules 20V batteries, which makes it a member of a pretty solid line of cordless tools for the DIYer. There is a catch, though. The tool tells you that you should use at least a 5Ah battery with it. That’s not a huge problem because the battery is still only $74.99 without the charger, but it’s still something to keep in mind as you might not seamlessly integrate it into your existing collection. 

Unleashing the Chomper

Working on cars presents all sorts of opportunities to cut things. Heck. If you’re doing any kind of custom work, it’s just part of the process. I’ve been deep into swapping a Heidts Pro-G IFS onto my ’69 Charger. A ton of things need chopping and reworking to make it all fit. Testing the Hercules 20V reciprocating saw in my shop consisted of throwing it at those problems and seeing how it held up. 

Everything that needs to be cut was made of metal. 3/4-inch steering shafts, steel pipe, and threaded rod ends are all on the menu. These aren’t the most extreme materials to try and cut through, but they are realistic examples of what this is up against in any garage. I think you can tell by the intro the saw basically annihilates anything I’m cutting during this project. 

Reciprocating Saw Hands-On Review
Hank O’Hop

I tested this saw as-is right out of the box. As a general rule, I almost never buy bits, grinding discs, or blades for power tools from Harbor Freight. While I have no problems using the tools, experience tells me always to go with something higher on the food chain when it comes to items of the likes. Still I think part of an honest review is to go with what they give you first, then making improvements if necessary. 

I expected the blade to fall on its face. My plan was to see how it did, then replace it with something better when it inevitably struggled. But when I turned it loose on that first threaded rod end and it tore through it like a knife threw butter, I abandoned that plan altogether. I’m sure a Diablo blade would make the saw even better yet, but given the cost of the Hercules blades and how well they work, I’m in no rush to head out and buy the higher models. Not to mention, it still shows no signs of slowing after cutting through a good amount of metal.

The saw itself is awesome, too. The variable speed and 3000 SPM capability really help this thing perform. These features don’t separate it from respectable reciprocating saws, but it’s still worth highlighting, as I found it easy to slowly tip into the cut and then tear through whatever I’m cutting with ease once I had an established path. 

Reciprocating Saw LED
Hank O’Hop

The two features I really like most are the keyless chuck and the folding hook. Being able to just pop blades in and out is a big step up from the antique saw I’m used to. I know a lot of you are probably holding onto an old saw because DIY mechanic-types use them so little and the old ones get it done, but that feature alone makes it worthwhile to upgrade. The hook is also awesome as I can quickly set the saw down between cuts by hanging it off the side of my workbench or welding table, without sacrificing a ton of working area to it. 

The saw is well-balanced and relatively comfortable to use. The rubberized handle is certainly to thank for reducing fatigue. It’s definitely not going to rattle your brain but it is still a reciprocating saw. So, don’t get your hopes too high about the anti-vibration features. Still, it’s a solid performer that you will be happy with in a DIY setting. 

Hercule’s 20V Reciprocating Saw is Tough to Beat

I’m not saying this is the greatest reciprocating saw money could buy. I’m also not saying it’s the only one you should invest in because the performance for the price is so good. There are still a lot of reasons to buy other reciprocating saws. Obviously, if you’re a professional who uses these things all day or you already have an existing power tool ecosystem, things are a little different.

What I am saying is that, as a DIYer, there’s no reason you should look past the Hercules 20V reciprocating saw. It’s got a lot of great features, it runs well, and it’s comfortable to use. It checks all the boxes, and the Hercules blades being as good as they are is a huge bonus.

Hercules 20V Brushless Reciprocating Saw

The only potential drawback I see is that it forces you to use 5Ah batteries. Unless you already have one in your collection, it doubles the price of the tool. At that point, the proposition of saving a little more from something from a bigger brand to bolster that ecosystem starts to make more sense in many cases. Though, my experience is that the Hercules line is more than up to the task as the primary collection in any home garage.