Best Milwaukee Drills

Best Milwaukee Drill

Milwaukee has carved out an enviable position in the power tool market by offering premium, performance-oriented drills capable of tackling the most demanding tasks. Their mid-tier drill lineup is equally impressive when considering performance for the price. So, the question when looking for the best cordless drill isn’t so much is Milwaukee better than other brands? The better question is what’s the best Milwaukee drill within the current lineup?

Our in-depth buying guide below answers that question. After running each Milwaukee drill through a standardized set of tests that simplify comparing performance and features across brands, we landed on our shortlist of picks.

We include additional detailed commentary in each drill review and on our global drill rankings page, two resources we recommend all readers check out.

Best Milwaukee drill

Ratings methodology
18 models tested

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20

Milwaukee 2904-20 Angle 5
TestRank
Drilling speed3
Driving speed3
Torque1
RPM2
Bare weight16
Drilling Noise16
Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18 Fuel
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 1400.0
BPM 33,000.0
Clutch settings 16
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as M18 gen 4 hammer drill

Rating

4.67 / 5 ⭐️’s

Recommended configuration

2904-22

Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 is the best Milwaukee hammer drill for several reasons.

Firstly, it is incredibly powerful. The 2904-20 finished among the top performers in our drill fleet in drilling and driving speed tests. These tests are designed to understand how drills perform under heavy loads. Impressively, the 2904-20 sustained high RPMs in the drilling speed test, blasting chips out of the hole bored to avoid bogging down.

The 2904-20’s hammer drill is equally spectacular with its high 33,000.0 blow per minute (BPM). The high BPM improved drilling speed by 25.9% in our tests, easily passing the 20.0% bar we aim for to consider a drill’s hammering functionality highly effective.

But all of the performance is for naught in the flagship drill category if its build quality can’t keep up. The 2904-20 uses premium materials throughout, including its frustration-free all-metal chuck. A best-in-class five-year tool warranty removes any concern about longevity with rugged use.

Such powerful drills should also include user-safety features for when binding up. The 2904-20 doesn’t disappoint. It includes an auxiliary handle in the box and has integrated Autostop technology. This kickback control technology stops the drill when binding to avoid wrist injuries.

However, it’s not without downsides. This drill isn’t the one to comfortably hang off your jeans pocket. The 2904-20 is heavy and has a modestly large footprint, although that’s the case with all competing hammer drills.

Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20

Milwaukee 3404-20 Angle 5
TestRank
Drilling speed16
Driving speed12
Torque10
RPM17
Bare weight4
Drilling Noise12
Brand Milwaukee
Platform M12 Fuel
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 400.0
BPM 25,500.0
Clutch settings 13
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as M12 gen 3 hammer drill

Rating

4.45 / 5 ⭐️’s

Recommended configuration

3404-22

Includes (1) M12 Red Lithium XC 4Ah, (1) M12 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill is unmatched in its 12V class. 12V drills are frequently plagued with underpowered internals that relegate them almost entirely to light-duty jobs around the home.

The 3404-20 breaks that mold, making it perfect for all-around use around the home, for woodworkers, and as a dedicated lightweight drill for carpenters.

Milwaukee 3404-20 On Scale
The exceptionally low weight makes the Milwaukee 3404-20 easy to use and agile. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Of course, a small Milwaukee drill won’t take the speed crown from more powerful 18V drills. But the 3404-20 impressed in our drilling and driving speed tests. Importantly in this category, the 3404-20 completed the tests without needing to drop to the low setting for more torque, which many 12V drills require.

The speed under load is all the more impressive when considering the 3404-20’s compact footprint and weight. The 3404-20 is built with the same popular design as Milwaukee’s impact drivers. The compact footprint easily reaches into tight corners and drills close to the top edge under shelves.

The primary downside is that the 3404-20 isn’t powerful enough to finish demanding tasks, though it can do so in a pinch in the low setting when your more powerful 18V drill or impact driver isn’t in reach.

Interestingly, the 3404-20 isn’t expensive, unlike many tools in Milwaukee’s Fuel lineup. We rarely recommend a flagship tool for homeowners or even beginners. But the 3404-20’s price is competitive enough that you won’t break the bank to get into Milwaukee’s coveted Fuel ecosystem, which promises longevity.

Milwaukee M18 2607-20

Milwaukee 2607-20 Angle 5
TestRank
Drilling speed9
Driving speed11
Torque8
RPM10
Bare weight14
Drilling Noise18
Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 500.0
BPM 28,800.0
Clutch settings 18
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as N/A

Rating

4.21 / 5 ⭐️’s

Recommended configuration

2607-22

Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium XC 3Ah battery

Consider the Milwaukee M18 2607-20 Hammer Drill for all-around versatility in the home. It is better if you need more power than the 3404-20 offers.

We were impressed with the performance across our series of tests, shining most in drilling speed tests. The torque output is high enough to quickly bore wide holes in the high setting without bogging down. Many competing drills aren’t strong enough to sustain similarly high RPMs under load.

It even offers a hammer drill to improve speed when drilling cement, which is great for one-drill versatility.

The primary downside is the tip-to-tail length is very long, limiting the spaces it can fit into and biasing the weight in front of the handle, which occasionally causes hand fatigue.

The hammer’s BPM is also moderately low, so the 2801-20 isn’t drastically faster in certain drilling applications. The 2801-20 will drill holes in cement effectively, just not as quickly as drills with more muscle and a higher BPM.

Combine all the pros and cons, and homeowners will be hard-pressed to find an equally powered cheap Milwaukee drill.

Honorable mentions

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2903-20 is the same as our 2904-20 pick, yet it doesn’t include a hammer drill. It is negligibly lighter, though not shorter, as a result. We recommend opting for a hammer drill for a heavy-duty Milwaukee drill.

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3403-20 is the same as our 3404-20 pick. However, it doesn’t include a hammer drill and costs similarly. The hammer drill version is better for added versatility in the same small Milwaukee drill footprint.

The Milwaukee M18 2801-20 doesn’t include a hammer drill and is more expensive than other Milwaukee drills with better performance. The main selling points are the “compact” size, which is still reasonably large compared to other 18V compact drills in the market, and the low weight.

Milwaukee drill comparison

We rigorously test Milwaukee power drills in a standardized manner to ensure all angles our readers may care about are covered and to simplify comparing drills across brands. But not every test we run holds the same weight.

For most people, speed, weight, and durability are critical factors. We include results from several tests below to help compare Milwaukee drills in these essential areas.

Drilling speed

Our individual drill reviews include the advertised maximum torque for each Milwaukee drill. However, we prefer to rely upon real-life tests to find the drills that perform best in common scenarios.

The table below displays results from our drilling speed test, which consists of boring five 1/2-inch holes in stacked 2x6s, along with the performance rank across our test fleet.

DrillDrilling Speed Total Time (sec.)Drilling Speed Avg. Time (sec.)Global Rank*
Milwaukee 2904-2010.82.23
Milwaukee 3404-2027.65.516
Milwaukee 2607-2016.03.29

*18 models tested

The results under load aren’t unexpected when considering the advertised maximum torque for these drills. The 2904-20, 3404-20, and 2607-20 advertise 1400.0, 400.0, and 500.0 in-lbs of torque, respectively.

Our drilling speed test results page includes more speed data for each drill and all models in our test fleet. We also have a handy guide to the best drill bits to ensure you have the right drill bit for the job.

Driving speed

The best Milwaukee drills also offer exceptional speed compared to the competition when driving structural screws and lag bolts. We include below results from our driving speed test, which consists of driving five GRK RSS fasteners into stacked 2x6s.

DrillDriving Speed Total Time (sec.)Driving Speed Avg. Time (sec.)Global Rank*
Milwaukee 2904-207.61.53
Milwaukee 3404-2014.83.012
Milwaukee 2607-2013.12.611

*18 models tested

Combining the results of our speed tests provides a clear picture of where each Milwaukee drill shines based on how much muscle you need.

The 2904-20 is incredibly powerful, with some of the fastest results of any drill we’ve tested. To be expected, dropping down in price brings with it slower performance, as you get with the 2607-20.

Our drill driving speed test results page includes additional performance data and results for other drill brands.

Weight

A drill and impact driver combo is popular since both tools excel in areas the other may be lacking. In the case of weight, impact drivers are considerably lighter. This relationship explains why drill weight is essential when reviewing a class of tools that is already heavy overall.

We recommend opting for the lightest drill with sufficient power to complete the most frequent tasks you’ll use it for. This way, you have a well-balanced drill that isn’t over or underpowered.

We measure each drill’s weight in the bare form and with popular Ah-capacity batteries attached, mostly 2Ah and 5Ah versions. Some data points are included in the table below, but all weight-related details can be compared on the drill weight test results page.

DrillBare Weight (lbs)Global Rank*
Milwaukee 2904-203.2616
Milwaukee 3404-202.154
Milwaukee 2607-203.0314

*18 models tested

Unfortunately with current technology, there is no flagship-powered drill that is also lightweight, as is the case with the 2904-20. High-powered drills from all brands are heavy, leading to frequent hand and arm fatigue, even in routine tasks below the top of their ranges.

However, generational improvements are reducing the size while also increasing torque. So, the future looks bright as technology advances.

The easiest way to shave off some weight is to opt for a less-powerful drill, such as mid-range 18V and 12V models, like the 2607-20 and 3404-20.

Warranty

We’ve not come across a drill manufacturer offering a warranty that competes with Milwaukee’s five-year tool warranty. Milwaukee’s battery warranties are in line with its frequent adversaries, Dewalt and Makita, ranging in length from two to three years, depending on the model.

The drill warranty is a critical deciding factor that we rely upon to understand longevity. While we don’t estimate a drill’s useful life through our lab tests, you can quickly understand the quality of a drill based on its warranty.

DrillTool Warranty (years)Battery Warranty (years)
Milwaukee 2904-2052-3 (depends on model)
Milwaukee 3404-2052-3 (depends on model)
Milwaukee 2607-2052-3 (depends on model)

No tool manufacturer will underbuild a tool with low-quality parts and offer a best-in-class warranty. Otherwise, they risk frequently replacing tools on their dime during the warranty period.

On the other hand, no drill will be overbuilt and offer class-leading longevity with a short warranty.

All said, the warranty length offered will always tend to precede the designed useful life of a tool. And since Milwaukee offers one of the longest drill warranties, you can be confident they’ll last longer than others with shorter warranties.

Recommended Milwaukee drill by usage

Home use

The best Milwaukee drill for home use is the Milwaukee M18 2607-20 Hammer Drill. It offers a solid balance of performance, size, and build quality. Notably, it is exceptionally priced for a Milwaukee tool and includes a brushless motor.

The Milwaukee M18 2801-20 is another option to consider that is more compact and offers improved speed in some applications. But the price is a bit of a head-scratcher, rivaling the cost of most flagship drills, so we don’t include it as a shortlist pick in this guide.

Professionals

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill has the power to finish heavy-duty tasks around the job site.

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill is ideal as a dedicated light-duty carpenter’s drill that complements a setup that includes a heavy-duty drill and impact driver.

Woodworking

Many compact drills are generally underpowered, particularly in the 12V category. But the Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill packs in an impressive performance punch in one of the most compact footprints available.

The size is perfect for woodworking since it can fit easily into tight areas, such as inside drawer boxes. All the better, the 3404-20 breezes through any task in the woodshop and many outside of it.

Beginners

There are several Milwaukee drill models suitable for beginners. The Milwaukee M18 2607-20 Hammer Drill and Milwaukee M18 2801-20 are user-friendly drills with excellent build quality that’ll last years. Purchase the 2607-20 if you plan to drill cement since it has the added hammer drilling versatility.

Masonry

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 is the best Milwaukee hammer drill. It sustains high RPMs under load and has a high BPM. In our tests, the combined speed and high hammering rate explain why the 2904-20’s hammer drill improved drilling speed by 25.9%.

Milwaukee drill models explained

M18 and M12

Milwaukee offers two tool voltage platforms for its drills. The M12 lineup consists of 12V drills that are compact and exceptionally lightweight. The M18 lineup consists of 18V drills designed for performance.

Most current M12 and M18 drill lineups include brushless motors for better longevity and efficiency over dated brushed motors now commonly found in budget tools.

Fuel lineup

Milwaukee’s highest-end M12 and M18 drills include Fuel branding. Fuel-branded drills offer best-in-class performance and build quality. These tools are typically some of the more expensive options in the market. The price is warranted for the quality offered.

Hammer drills

Like its colorful yellow, blue, and green competitors, Milwaukee offers most of its drills in a hammer and non-hammer versions.

We recommend purchasing the hammer drill version in most scenarios for added drilling versatility. Milwaukee hammer drills tend to have the same footprint as their non-hammering counterparts, so there’s no size advantage in choosing the basic drill version. The cost difference is also palatable, with the hammer drills typically costing $10 to $20 more.

Model numbers and kits

Milwaukee has standardized some aspects of its model numbers to simplify comparing tools across categories. All Milwaukee drills ending in “-20” represent the bare tool. Model numbers ending in “-22” or similar characters that aren’t “20” represent different drill, battery, and charger kits.

While not as intuitive, it is rather straightforward to determine the generation of a given M18 Fuel drill when knowing the most current generation model number first.

An example can best explain the naming conventions. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 is the most current generation M18 hammer drill. The Fuel 2804-20 is the prior generation flagship Milwaukee hammer drill.

One-Key

Most Fuel-branded Milwaukee power tools are available in a One-Key version, which offers Bluetooth features natively built into the tool. One-Key is most useful for fleet tracking and reviewing power tool diagnostics in the associated One-Key app. There are also theft deterrent features, such as remote locking capabilities to lock the tool when stolen.

Most powerful Milwaukee drill

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill is the strongest Milwaukee drill. It is also one of the most powerful drills we’ve tested.

The 1400.0 in-lbs of torque jumps off the specs sheet, and the 2904-20 impresses under load. This drill turned in some of the speediest results in our drilling and driving speed tests, matching or beating the performance of most models in our test fleet.

FAQ

  • What's the difference between Milwaukee drills?

    Milwaukee offers M12 and M18-branded drills in Fuel and non-Fuel versions. The M12 models are 12V drills that are highly compact and lightweight. M18 models are 18V drills that offer improved performance. Any Milwaukee drill with Fuel branding is the flagship model in its lineup.

  • Are Milwaukee drills good?

    Milwaukee offers some of the highest quality drills on the market, including the high-end Fuel lineup. Milwaukee stands behind the quality of its drills with podium-topping tool warranty lengths of five years.

Picture of Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton is the founder of DIY Gear Reviews and a recognized expert in the home and DIY space. He has over 200 bylines covering topics such as power tools, hand tools, and woodworking. Nathan is the strategic director for DIY Gear Reviews, deciding everything from the content covered to designing the testing methodologies for lab-tested reviews. He can be emailed at nhamilton@diygearreviews.com.

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