I just took delivery of the beauty pictured below. I'm not a professional, I'm just a tool-obsessed DIYer.
I have only used one other reciprocating saw -a Craftsman 2-speed unit. This Sawzall is, to say the least, a world apart from the Craftsman. First of all, some things I really like about it:
1. SMOOTH. The counterbalance on this thing is amazing. There is very little vibration when it's running free. In orbital mode you can feel a slight vibration owing to the fact that the vertical component of motion is not counterbalanced. Nevertheless, even in orbital mode this saw transmits less vibration into my hands than my truck does at 65 MPH on the highway.
2. The "Cord Lock" feature. I didn't really think this would be worth much, but it turns out its quite convenient. You insert and remove the cord by twisting it to lock/unlock it. Plus it comes with a 10' cord; much longer than most power tools.
3. 13 amps of destruction. That's a ton of power. Note that Makita makes a 15-amp model now, so it's only a matter of time before Milwaukee upgrades to 15 amp (probably about a month after I've had the one I just bought :rolleyes.
4. Clutch protection for the drivetrain. If you suddenly lock up the blade the clutch protects the innards from grenading.
Things I don't like (so far):
1. The plastic shoe adjustment lock (noted in the second picture). This is very thin plastic. Fortunately it's also very flexible, so it's not brittle at all. But I feel this part would be better in aluminum. I've written Milwaukee to suggest this.
Things I'm neutral about:
1. Extensive use of plastic. This thing only weighs about 10 lb, which is great. Unfortunately this weight savings is achieved mostly using plastic. The entire rotating handle is plastic. Don't get me wrong, this tool is metal in the most important parts (motor and gear case), but I'd like to see a nice aluminum or magnesium handle. I don't fault Milwaukee for this, because everyone's making their tools this way now. I don't think there are any all-metal tools left on the market.
2. The 360 degree rotating handle. This thing has the potential to be really convenient, but I haven't used the saw enough yet to form a worthwhile opinion on whether this feature is worth the additional cost (about $10 extra).
I'd like to note that when I first took it out the orbital selector was very difficult to operate. So difficult, in fact, I thought it was defective. It wouldn't be so bad if there was more than just a tiny nub to grab onto. After using the saw for a bit, it did loosen up and it's much easier to slide now.
Also, the saw is built very "tight" from the factory, and the speed variation through the trigger was a little "clunky" for the first 25% of trigger pull. I'm happy to report after using it for a bit that it breaks in nicely and things operate smoother now. It makes sense that it needs to be broken in; I don't think they run them very long at the factory.
Nowhere on this tool is it indicated where it's made. I did finally locate, in small text at the bottom of the cardboard packaging, a line that read "Made in USA". I discovered that Milwaukee was recently (2005) bought by a Chinese company, TTI (Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd.) This brought on intense fear that my beloved Milwaukee might be [gulp] Made in China! I called Milwaukee and asked and they assured me the tool was made in Jackson, MI. It's amazing how rare it is for a power tool to be made in the US anymore.
Cutting performance is, as expected, stellar. Vibration level is very low. I tried the saw out by cutting up an old water heater. Sliced around the circumference with no effort. Then I cut vertically down the entire length of the heater in 2 places. "The Torch" blade that was included was dull 25% through the second vertical run, which really slowed progress. When those Milwaukee blades are sharp, though, look out!
I can't adequately describe how awesome it is to work with such a quality tool. I'm sure the offerings from Makita, Bosch, Dewalt, and Porter-Cable are also great saws, but there's a certain satisfaction in owning one made by the company that invented it.