As you probably already know, Dewalt recently rolled out their new 20V Max cordless power tool lineup. Last month reader mnoswad1, let’s call him M1, left a comment in an August 20V Max giveaway post, telling us that something looked strange about the reciprocating and circular saws he saw at a Lowe’s store in Ohio.
More specifically, M1 said that he found a Dewalt 20V Max combo kit on the clearance shelf, and that the circular saw had a stamped baseplate instead of cast magnesium, and the reciprocating saw lacked an adjustable foot.
Having handled pre-production models over at a Dewalt product launch and with demo units on our review test bench, I thought that something was amiss. Looking at photos and the tool samples, the circular saw definitely has a magnesium shoe, and the reciprocating saw an adjustable foot. But then M1 went back to the store and sent us photos…
The photos M1 sent us showed that he was absolutely right. Looking deeper into things, we discovered that the saws included in Dewalt’s 20V Max 4-tool (DCK490L2 and DCK491L2) and 5-tool (DCK590L2) combo kits ARE different than those in standalone tool kits. From what we can tell, the drill/drivers have the same model numbers and are completely unchanged.
Dewalt 20V Max Circular Saw Differences
As you can see, the combo kit edition of the 20V Max saw has a stamped shoe. I don’t know how much of a difference this makes in durability and performance, but the cast magnesium shoe will be more rigid and possibly lighter and more durable as well.
Dewalt 20V Max Reciprocating Saw Differences
The differences here are a bit more subtle. First, the combo-kit version does not have an adjustable/extendable shoe. Second, it has a one-directional blade clamp whereas the standalone saw has a 4-direction blade clamp.
Stroke length for the standalone saw is 1-1/8″, and according to the product description for the combo kit reciprocating saw on Home Depot’s website, that version has a 1″ stroke length.
At this point, we’re not really sure what to recommend. We have been testing the standalone kit versions of these saws, and have a lot of good things to say about them. But to get these fully-featured versions, it looks like you have no choice but to purchase the individual saw kits separately. It is worth noting that the better reciprocating saw is available as part of a 2-tool combo (DCK292L2) as well. At the moment bare-tool versions are not available.
The 4-tool and 5-tool combo kits are priced at about $500 and $550 respectively (check prices via Amazon). In my opinion, it would have been better if Dewalt included the fully-featured saws in the combo kits and instead maintained the pricepoints by bundling them with one 1.5Ah and one 3.0Ah battery instead of two 3.0Ah batteries. If that wasn’t enough to control the prices, then perhaps they could have done away with the LED flashlights instead.
At the very least, if it is absolutely necessary for Dewalt to bundle the larger combo kits with lower-featured saws, they should at least have labeled the standalone fully-featured models as premium so as to better differentiate between the individual and combo kit models.
Despite this disappointing news, we still feel that Dewalt’s new 20V cordless tools are definitely great tools that are worth recommending. But if you are strongly considering one of the 4-tool or 5-tool combo kits, just be sure that you know what you’re getting.
A huge thank you to mnoswad1 for helping bring all this to our attention!
All of this was clearly stated in Dewalt’s press-release. Thanks for bringing extra light to the subject.
but theyre not making it known any other way, and when it comes down to it theyre taking advantage of us. i understand y theyre trying to keep this quite, so ppl wouldnt bitch when theyre spending 4 500 on a kit n just because they bought it in a kit their tools are subpar to its twin, thats bullshit, dewalt did that just to save a few pennies, its not the type of person that buys the kits arent going to use them as hard. it just seems sneaky thats all, n dont take this wrong i dont spend money on anything but dewalt for the most part
these tools dont just have different shoes or a mag plate instead of sheet metal.. the kit version of the 381 series sawzall has a different stroke then its non kit version n its pretty significant not just a few centimeters
Not sure if you are aware, but alot of people read reviews when contemplating bigger purchases. I was thinking about picking up a 20v combo kit this black Friday and I had no clue the tools were different.
If you already knew all this information, why stick around and read the article and comment?
After taking another closer look, the PR for the circular saw actually does mention that a steel-shoed version (DCS393) will be offered in a variety of combo kit options, in the middle of the 6th paragraph. Either I completely missed that part before or it just didn’t register as strongly as the product photo did.
However, I cannot find any mention of the DCS381 combo-version reciprocating saw or of the DCS380 vs DCS381 differences in any of the product literature anywhere. While a different circular saw shoe won’t have much of an effect on performance, the reciprocating saw differences are more significant and will affect usage.
Ignoring for a moment that all of this was not quite clearly stated in the press releases, how many potential customers read press releases? It is very plausible that a potential 20V combo kit buyer will look for product details and reviews of the individual tools as part of their decision-making process.
It took a considerable amount of research, but I was (finally) able to ascertain that Dewalt does offer a ‘Premium’ 5-piece kit which contains the cast foot for the circular saw and the adjustable foot & 4-way blade chuck for the reciprocating saw. The ‘premium ‘ set is $100.00 msrp more than the std set. The drill, impact, & light are the same in both kits. Also the same is the really cheap contractor’s bag which I am ashamed to let anyone see because they will roast me. For the money, I would think that Dewalt would use a better quality bag with the ‘Premium’ set. I will purchase a bag that is actually useful before I leave the house with these tools. I wish that Dewalt would make a gate mouth bag with separate, padded compartments for the tools and plenty of external and/or internal pockets for accessories.
This is common among all tool manufacturers, not just Dewalt.
Can you take apart the recip saws and look at the mechanisms? Maybe they are different?
It’s for one reason, and one reason only. Keep the premium drill in combo kit’s, and lower the features on the other tools. Makita offers the lower quality drill in their common LXT407 4pc kit found at the Orange box. They put in the compact hammerdrill/driver LXFD01 instead of the heavy duty BHP454. Milwaukee lowers the quality of the drill in their 4pc 2696-24 at the Orange box. They cheapen the kit up with the 2602-20 instead of the heavy duty 2611-24. Instead Dewalt offers a premium hammerdrill/driver DCD985, and a lower end Recip saw DCS381. Personally I’d rather have the better drill. I use the drill 10x more often than any cutting tool. I think a majority of people would agree with me there. Pick your poison, almost everyone does it… I just don’t think most consumers really know that they are getting a cheaper drill in almost everyone else’s kit.
I have used the Milwaukee Compact Hammer Drill and it has just as much power as the Premium DeWALT 20v max. All that is premium about the 20v max is the metal gear housing and 3rd gear. Milwaukee offers metal gear housings on both compact and high performance hammer drills and drill/drivers. Compact Milwaukee hammer drill spins at 1,700rpm in second gear while the DeWALT 20v max spins at 2,000rpm in third. I will sacrifice 300rpm and keep using the Milwaukee as the REDLITHIUM batteries last forever.
Now may not the best time to buy a new Milwaukee 18V drill or hammer drill since new “Fuel” models are due to be released in a few months.
Is it really that big of a diffrence?
try to make a flush cut with that recip saw and you have problems. I think it does make a difference. I would personally get the 5 piece kit sell the recip saw and buy that separate.
The “kits” are always highly suspect IMO – it’s a shame that we can’t trust corporations to give it to us straight -but we can’t. There’s never a free lunch and there’s never a “deal”. If the price of the kit is lower than the individual pieces – or even if it isn’t – you can bet there will be _something_ different lurking inside that nice canvas bag. Maybe it’s a saw with a cheap bendable stamped shoe… maybe it’s some batteries that aren’t quite as good or chargers that aren’t quite as fast.. or some plastic gears when the real tool is all metal…but there’s bound to be something. Bottom line trust no-one. Every work day in every muilti-story business park in the USA there are meeting rooms full of corporate wonks thinking up ways to screw consumers in order to make a couple extra bucks for their shareholders. They confuse “value” and “profit”. These same idiots then rise through the ranks to director –> VP –> Division Prez –> COO–> you get the idea. The only justice is that the system will chew up and spit out quite a few of them before they can do too much damage.
I agree they should have the stand alone kits marked “premium”.
Another person here stated “All of this was clearly stated in Dewalt’s press-release.”
The majority of buyers I’m sure never heard Dewalt’s press-release on the matter and will probably be a bit angry after already buying the 4 & 5 piece kits. Especially the folks buying them for commercial use.
I think this was a bad move on dewalt’s part for not stating on the 4 & 5 piece combo kits box “Preimum Circular Saw or Reciprocating Saw are in stand alone kits only”.
I forgot to add that “Preimum Circular Saw or Reciprocating Saw are in stand alone kits only” should be marked on the combo kits box in large letters, not tiny print that takes a microscope to read, or or in the paperwork found inside the box you would only see after purchase and “if” you read it.
DeWalt, please take note of this. I recently purchased a competitors product because you cheapened the saws in the package and I wasn’t about to shell out $800+ for all the kits. And I used to be a DeWalt fan!
Our demo company uses a lot of corded/cordless recips and the combo kit 20V recip is a joke. The stand alone recip is much better. Straight from the dewalt salesman’s mouth.
You mean the guy who would benefit from selling higher priced items said the other one was a joke..
Silly Rabbit, Kits are for Kids!
2 Thumbs up for the laugh
I’m pretty irritated by this. It was definitely a “sneaky” move on DeWalt’s part, and certainly intentional. I find it disheartening that a company with such a fine reputation among professionals who rely on their products would pull these types of shenanigans. I’m planning a “combo pack” purchase in the very near future and thanks to this situation I will be looking at DeWalt’s competitors.
Well it looks like someone at deWalt listens
They now offer (I’m assuming now not sure since when) 2 5 combo kits
This one with the 2 cheesy saws:
DEWALT DCK590L2 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion 3.0 Ah 5-Tool Combo Kit
And this one with the 2 better standalone kit saws:
DEWALT DCK592L2 20V MAX Premium 5-Tool Combo Kit
The one with the better saws says premium in the title.
The full featured saw has a guide slot for making straight cuts…that’s not in the stamped version and it’s the ONLY reason I need the saw.
My saw that came with my “KIT” runs backwards….this is Dam Dangers. I thought I had put the Blade in Backwords….me being the idiot…..but NO it is DeWalt. Someone will or has gotten hurt by this Saw.
Yikes, that doesn’t sound good at all! It sounds like maybe the motor was wired with cross-polarity.
In your shoes I would return the saw for a full refund. If that’s not an option, a service center might be able to repair the tool for you.
Which saw? Reciprocating saw goes back and forth. Circular saw is directional. Is the blade installed correctly? Never had this happen, nor heard about it. Hope they take care of you!
All this Bad News about DeWalt Tools and their Kits hurt their business. My 3 son in Laws were going to buy the same Kit I have……but I told all three and my son to check around and get some other companies Tools or Kit. Another Great Name down the Tubes!!!! It took GM a bankruptcy to learn.
Or you could recommend they research all the kits in all the brands. You are mistaken if you think this isn’t common practice among all the brands. There are premium kits from DeWalt. Everyone is all up in arms because DeWalt is now making cheap tools to attract DIYers and increasing profits. The info is out there. Don’t be mad at your ignorance. I just bought a kit not realizing the recip saw was different. Mad because I didn’t look at model numbers. So Lowes will likely be getting a return as I will buy a different brand that is in my price range that has a full function recip saw. Mad I rushed into a purchase not mad at DeWalt.
Absolutely blame Dewalt! Purposely withholding information and making it difficult for the customer just to make a few bucks is something we should hold all companys accountable for as per their business practices.
So you mean that we should be checking model numbers when buying these kits? Don’t you think it’s the manufacturer’s obligation to let us know (and not in small print) that we are not buying a set set of the same tools they sell individually? It’s dishonest not to bring it to our attention. If your neighbor did that to you would think him a a cheat. I expect the companies I buy products from to treat me as a neighbor – nothing more, but nothing less.
Model numbers or at least product images.
used the sawzall for plumbing s shaft broke and about 8 months.
Bought stand alone saw from Lowes but it was not the pemium saw. Leads me to beleive they are breaking up the combo kits and selling them individually. Shaft also broke in about 8 months doing plumbing work.
Why can’t they just offer high quality on all pieces/combos and stop being
penny pinching heebs?
Dewalt needs to listen! I’m thinking of switching to Milwaukee cordless tools.
FYI, there are two versions of the kit from Dewalt.
DCK590 gives the less expensive saws, DCK592 includes the upscale variety.
From the following link:
…The differences between the DCK590L2 and DCK592L2 are the included saws. The DCK590 comes with the DCS381 Reciprocating Saw and DCS393 Circular Saw. The DCK592 comes with the DCS380 Reciprocating Saw and DCS391 Circular Saw.
I just want to let you guys know about the dewalt cordless reciprocating saw DCS381. I wouldn’t recommend this thing to anyone. I’ve had mine a year now, and after about maybe 6 months from the date I purchased it. I was cutting a pipe and the thing broke on causing the blade to malfunction. Got it worked on that was covered by the warranty. Here we are again, today August 7, 2015 with the same problem again . Only difference is. The warranty does not cover it again. THANKS DEWALT!!!
Just wanted to note I am a plumber and have the 5 combo pack dewalt with the lower end saws. More particularly the sawzall DCS381 I was cutting a piece of pipe and heard a snap inside mine as a few others have said they had the same. Pulled it apart to see if I could repair and found that the internal parts are way cheaper as well with these combo pack saws. The parts breakdown shows the combo reciprocating saw has a similar part break down as the old 18v saw and the bare tool sawzall has a different, stronger looking mechanism. I can salvage the wobble ring from my old burnt out 18v this time but next round I’m looking at $45us plus shipping to replace this commonly broken part.
Shame I didn’t know this when I bought my kit I would have dumped the sawzall to someone else who doesn’t use it as hard as me and bought the stand alone model.
FYI – For the Canadians out there, it appears Lowes sells the premium kit, while HD sells the cheaper saw version….and for the $40 difference, the upgrade is a no brainer!
Interestingly enough, if you actually zoom in on the images on both retailers websites, the images of the saws are different, its not the same stock photo used for both.
Thanks for the writeup, and ensuring I am purchasing the right kit!
Unlike the other companies Dewalt gives you options not everybody needs the premium tools but the other tool companies your forced to pay more for something you really don’t need and I’ve used both circ saws from dewalt and they cut the same you couldn’t even tell the difference and beware of the other companies they use refurbished tools in a lot of their kits sometimes all the tools are refurbished
R.D. de Carle
I’m happy to have run across this forum as I am currently buying the 20v circular saw and had no idea of the differences between 391 and 393. Assumption logic dictates that the “higher number” generally means a “better” product. Not so in this case!
Does anyone know which is the better Sawzall model # after all? I’m finding more than a couple options now…
I Think the kits are great….but I’m not a professional…I can buy a dewalt or Milwaukee (homeowners) version instead of a ryobi or Porter cable or black and decker….back when I purchased mine I knew the model numbers…people need to READ the description..its still a great buy for me. I just upgraded the drill….everything else is great…..IMHO.
I do find it sad that people blame a company for their ignorance in a purchasing decision. If you don’t take the time to read the model numbers, no matter the size of print, that’s on you. Like has been mentioned already, every brand out there does this. So ditching DeWalt for someone else, you’re just remaining ignorant and getting the same treatment. Not every box should have big red letters for people too lazy to read what they are actually buying. I don’t buy any expensive equipment without reading through all its specs, but then again, I care about my equipment and what I’m building. You either pay attention to details or you don’t, and getting a lesser quality tool isn’t going to be the only thing that habit influences in your finished products. Start paying attention to fine details and your work will improve, not just your purchasing decisions. But yeah, go ahead and blame somebody else for your poor purchases and products of it makes you feel better. It won’t change how everyone else looks at you and your work.