Barrel Grip vs. Top Handle Jigsaw

In the case of woodworking, when there is a need to make irregular cuts and curves, the jigsaw is the go-to tool for everybody.

In addition to this, it can also perform other tasks, like a jigsaw for coping can be used. But here, our major topic of discussion is not jigsaw uses, but its two main types depending on the handle design.

Barrel grip vs. Top handle jigsaw is a topic that has been discussed for a long time. But when it comes to the differences, there are actually almost none, and the final decision is always based on personal choices. It is all about comfort and control, and both of these vary from person to person.

The barrel grip jigsaw provides the grip on the motor housing, and in the top handle jigsaw, there is a separate handle. The barrel grip gives you better control as you can look at the blade clearly. In the case of the top handle, it has better ergonomics and does not exhaust you while working for a longer duration.

Since you have the basic idea of both types, let’s discuss their differences and similarities.

What is a D-Handle Jigsaw

The conventional type of jigsaw that most hobbyist and DIYers uses is the Top Handle which is also known as the D-Handle jigsaw. It has a handle that extends up from the main body of the jigsaw that houses the motor. By doing so, it makes the shape of the letter D; hence it is named the D-handle jigsaw. Since the handle is on the top of the body, it also goes by the name of Top handle jigsaw.

Most people prefer using a D-handle jigsaw as it helps cut thicker wood and is easy to hold.

What is Barrel Grip Jigsaw

With time, the companies tried to bring innovation into the tools, and in the case of the jigsaw, they came up with removing the separate handle as they considered it redundant. The barrel grip jigsaw uses the motor housing, with some material applied as the handle.

A barrel grip is used by those who want a clear look at the blade while making the cuts, as the handle does not come in the way of the sight.

Similarities Between Top Handle and Barrel Grip Jigsaw

Though they both might differ in some things, they still have similarities as they are both jigsaws. Here we have discussed some similarities between the top handle and battle grip jigsaw.

Same Functionality

They both have almost the same features, like having a changeable blade and the same horsepower of the motor for reciprocating these blades. Since they have the same features, they also perform the same function of cutting curves in the wood or floor tiles or metal sheets, or even pumpkins, depending on the blade you use.

Corded or Cordless

Both can have one of these power sources; battery-powered or corded electric. Hence, both can be corded or cordless.


Both types are designed by keeping the user’s comfort in mind. The concept of comfort may be different for everyone, but on the whole, both are comfortable.

Since we have looked at some similarities between these two, let’s get to our major topic, which is the differences between these two types of jigsaws.

Differences between Top Handle vs. Barrel Grip Jigsaw

Following are the major things based on which these two differ.

Precise Cuts

The barrel grip jigsaw has the upper hand in case of precise cuts as motor housing is used as the handle, so it has a closer grip. The closer the grip is, the better control it provides, allowing you to make precise cuts even in the toughest situations.

On the other hand, the top handle jigsaw also makes precise cuts, but you don’t get as much control as you get in a barrel grip jigsaw.

Compact and Lightweight

Since barrel grip jigsaw does not have a separate handle which cuts down a lot of weight and makes the jigsaw compact, it becomes much easier to operate. On the contrary, the top handle jigsaw weighs more because of its extended handle.

Line of Sight

The handle on the top, in the case of the top handle jigsaw, hinders the eyesight and does not allow clear sight while making the cuts. It makes you vulnerable to making imprecise cuts.

Conversely, a barrel grip jigsaw does not obstruct the eyesight and lets you make precise cuts by seeing the cut line.

Lower profile

Working in tighter places with the top handle jigsaw can be frustrating. That’s when barrel grip jigsaw comes into play because of its lower profile and compactness. This lower profile means you will make cuts more conveniently in tight spaces.

Heat Buildup

When we talk about the barrel grip jigsaw, working for a long time heats the motor, and eventually, it becomes difficult to handle the jigsaw as the motor housing is used to hold the jigsaw.
While a top handle jigsaw does not have this drawback as it has a separate handle that is not affected by the motor heat buildup.

Thus if you are planning to work for a long time, a barrel grip jigsaw may not be the best option, even if it is more precise

Even after reading all this, you are not clear in your head and still unable to decide which one to buy we can give you expert advice to make things easier for you.

We recommend you to go for barrel grip jigsaw as it is more precise, lets you see the cutline, lightweight and compact, and can work in tighter spaces thanks to its lower profile. Though the motor heats up, most people don’t work for that long, and if you do, you can sacrifice your comfort a little bit for performance.

Other Option – What is Convertible Grip Jigsaw

Some manufacturers are getting innovative, and recently we saw a new type of jigsaw on the basis of handle design. This one, a convertible grip jigsaw, comes with a detachable handle that you can remove and use it as a barrel grip jigsaw; otherwise, it is just a top handle jigsaw.

So if you have a problem with the motor heating up in the barrel grip jigsaw but still want more precise results, you can get a convertible grip jigsaw that can be used as both the top handle and a barrel grip jigsaw.


Now that you are aware of the features of both types, it should settle the debate on barrel grip vs. top handle jigsaw. If you want something compact and precise, a barrel grip jigsaw should be your go-to option without any second thoughts.

But if you want comfort, have small hands, or have work that can last longer, you should opt for a top handle jigsaw.

If you are not tight on the budget and have some money to shed, you should go for the convertible grip jigsaw as it comes with the comfort of the top handle jigsaw and the performance of the barrel grip jigsaw

Bahram Shahab
Bahram here! A certified Electrical Engineer who knows his way around using power tools like a professional. My journey of using these robust tools started back when I graduated. Since then, I have finished almost a dozen DIY woodworking jobs. Apart from that, I have developed this habit of jotting down my personal experience about using a specific tool. So, I write on them to help the community in the best possible way.