Almost all tradespersons rely on reciprocating saws daily to get their work done. I use them  quite a bit in remodeling and restoration.  Back when I was starting out I was called Sawzall Paul by our framing crew.  It was our go to tool for erasing mistakes.  

The Dewalt Atomic sub compact comes into the category with some great features. 

The first thing that struck me was how small it actually is.  In the 18v category there is nothing I have used that is more compact.  It is very light and well balanced as well. 

The second thing that stands out to me is the smoothness of the tool. I have to say that to my knowledge there is nothing on the market with a smoother stroke.  Corded saws have long had counter rotating masses to cut vibration  but cordless saws have not been fitted with the same accoutrements. 

The new DeWalt is as refined as it gets corded or cordless. This means more comfort in the cut. Even on longer cuts the vibration never gets to me.   Vibration is no laughing matter. The effects of white finger disease can be debilitating.  It is so good to see great companies like DeWalt stepping up to the plate and delivering home runs like this Atomic saw. 


Of course as with all tools there are limitations.  Bering compact in size means less room for a huge brushless motor.  The Atomic saw has a lot of power but it runs at a somewhat lower speed than other saws.  Most are around 3,000 SPM. The Atomic runs at 2,800 SPM. This means slightly slower cuts.  It’s not the tool you want to grab for cutting 6×6 treated posts.  However in its element it really shines.  

Where does it work best?

I really like the Atomic saw in tight spots. Between joists, under subfloors, up on a ladder, scaffold or lift between pipe and conduit runs.  I used to love the old Bosch inline jigsaw.  It was really slow but nimble.   It fit where no other reciprocating saw could.  This cordless offering easily replaces that tool in my remodels. 

  • Fits those tight spots
  • Has more power and speed
  • Has a better blade clamp
  • Uses stronger blades
  • The vibration is better controlled 

How does it stack up?

Compared to other compact saws in the category the Atomic is my top pick. Let’s talk about the other saws.  The most popular saw in the class Milwaukee fuel is my second pick by a hair. The Fuel is very smooth as well but not as smooth. It runs at a faster RPM.  The cuts are slightly faster but the saw is larger  and heavier.  The Makita is somewhat awkward by comparison and does have more vibration. It does have the benefit of two different grips with different switches.  The Bosch is larger heavier and slightly faster but  has more vibration.  The Metabo is very compact and comfortable. I also uses jigsaw blades.  As with all the other saws it has more vibration and cuts slower. 

Who needs it?

I see this as a great addition to your full size reciprocating saw.  It’s all about application.  As a one handed saw it is super handy for smaller cuts in smaller spaces. With its brushless motor it will do a lot but not everything.  The slower speed is actually good for metal.  Slower blade speeds create less heat to  save the cutting edge resulting in  more cuts per blade. It does well on PVC, ABS, threaded rod, rebar, small angle iron, 2×4’s smaller branches, etc.  On large pipe you will want a full size saw or better yet a band saw or dry cut saw.  On lumber cuts larger than a couple of 2×4’s you are going to feel more stress on your wrist with this saw. 

We have to use discernment when matching tools to the task at hand.  Overloading a tool  is always a temptation. If you are like me you will  try to push it harder to get done faster. The saw has the power to take it however you really wont be cutting any faster. You will just be adding stress to your joints and ligaments.  As with many tools it is better to let the tool do the work. 

Pretty much any person in any trade can benefit from this saw.  Electricians, plumbers, HVAC installers and carpenters all need reciprocating saws. The Atomic is not the end all be all reciprocating saw but it sure is handy on smaller stuff. The power is there. The smoothness is unmatched and it fits where most saws can’t.

Almost all these saws are available at