Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill Vs Milwaukee M18 2801-20

Dewalt DCD799 Angle 5

Dewalt DCD799

Quick take

The Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill and Milwaukee M18 2801-20 directly compete in the compact drill category with similar speed and power under load. The Milwaukee 2801-20 is slightly shorter from tip to tail, lighter, and includes an all-metal chuck design. However, there is no hammer drilling mode. The Dewalt DCD799 includes a hammer mode, improving its efficiency when drilling cement.

Brand Dewalt
Platform 20V Atomic
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs Not advertised
BPM 28,050.0
Clutch settings 15
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as DCD799B
Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 500.0
BPM N/A
Clutch settings 18
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as N/A

Editorial opinion

Rating

4.02 / 5 ⭐️’s

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Exceptionally lightweight and compact
  • Includes a hammer drill functionality
  • Brushless motor
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Plastic chuck sleeve isn’t as durable as metal

Rating

3.90 / 5 ⭐️’s

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Reasonably lightweight with a narrow footprint
  • Great driving speed
  • Brushless motor
  • Long warranty
  • All-metal chuck

Cons

  • No hammer drill feature
  • Low max RPM slows performance in some tasks

Global rankings

18 models tested

TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)17.211
Driving speed (sec.)12.710
Torque (in-lbs)Not advertisedNot ranked
RPM1,635.011
Bare weight (lbs)2.548
Drilling Noise (dBA)88.29
TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)19.012
Driving speed (sec.)10.67
Torque (in-lbs)500.08
RPM1,601.014
Bare weight (lbs)2.406
Drilling Noise (dBA)85.37

Kit and bare tool options

DCD799L1

Includes (2) Max 12V 3Ah battery

Lab results

Design & ergonomics

Stands upright (no battery): Yes
Stands upright (w/ battery): Yes
Grip material: Rubber overgrip
Magnetic holder: No
Bit holder: No
Belt hook: Yes
Lanyard compatible: Yes

The DCD799’s handle leans slightly forward to orient the drill on the correct plane when drilling. However, the combination of the angle for the handle and the head isn’t as aggressive as some heavier-duty drills. A more aggressive stance ensures the drill remains flat when rolling your wrist forward and applying extra pressure with your arm lined up behind the drill.

A rubber overmold around the grip provides the necessary friction for added grip and shock absorption under load.

There is no bit holder or magnetic plate to hold fasteners onboard, but both features can be purchased separately from third parties.

Lastly, an all-metal belt hook is included in the box and can be mounted on either side of the base in one of the available mounting slots.

Design & ergonomics

Stands upright (no battery): Yes
Stands upright (w/ battery): Yes
Grip material: Rubber overgrip
Magnetic holder: No
Bit holder: No
Belt hook: Yes
Lanyard compatible: Yes

The 2801-20 has a slightly forward-leaning handle that levels the drill in the proper position when drilling. However, the head is flat, unlike some models in our test fleet that are angled upwards with a more aggressive stance. This design requires you to roll your wrist forward slightly when aggressively drilling.

While it includes an all-metal belt hook in the box that is mountable on both sides of the base, there is no onboard bit holder or magnetic plate to hold fasteners. Third parties offer both that you can add onto the 2801-20 for convenience.

Weight

Dewalt DCD799 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.54
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.34
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 3.96

One standout feature is the weight for a hammer drill. It weighs 2.54 lbs in its bare form and retains a lightweight status compared to other hammer drills in our test fleet with a battery attached.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the DCD799 with Dewalt’s 20V Powerstack 1.7Ah battery, which weighs less, has a smaller footprint, and runs longer than Dewalt’s 20V Max 2Ah battery, a solid alternative for a svelte setup.

Or pair the DCD799 with Dewalt’s 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved drilling performance if weight is less of a concern.

Compare drill weight test results

Weight

Milwaukee 2801-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.40
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.34
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.01

The 2801-20 is light for an 18V drill, weighing in at 2.40 lbs in its bare form. Fitted with a battery, this drill retains its lightweight status, perfect for reducing arm, wrist, and hand fatigue with prolonged use.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the 2801-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery for a good balance of drilling performance and weight in a lightweight setup.

Or pair the 2801-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved drilling performance if weight is less of a concern.

Compare drill weight test results

Footprint

Dewalt DCD799 Footprint1
Dewalt DCD799 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.125
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.500
Base length (in.): 4.500
Base width (in.): 3.125

The DCD799 is incredibly compact compared to other hammer drills, a class of drills that is almost always bulky since a hammering mechanism must be designed into the head. Notably, the tip-to-tail length is far shorter than competing 18V models and improves upon the footprint of prior-generation Atomic hammer drills.

Compare drill footprint test results

Footprint

Milwaukee 2801-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2801-20 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.125
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.625
Base length (in.): 4.625
Base width (in.): 3.125

The 2801-20 casts a reasonably thin shadow from behind and isn’t overly large in any of its dimensions, giving it a svelte feel in hand. Many other drills that have come through our lab are bulkier and less agile.

The appearance and feel are primarily a result of its moderately short tip-to-tail length and narrower-than-average head.

Compare drill footprint test results

Motor & BPM

Dewalt DCD799 Drill Modes

Motor type: Brushless
Action modes: Drill, hammer
Advertised blows per min. (speed 2): 28,050.0
Advertised blows per min. (speed 1): Not advertised
Variable speed trigger: Yes
Kickback control technology: No
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.375

Dewalt designed the DCD799 with a brushless motor, improving its longevity and efficiency over brushed motors, commonly found in cheap power tools.

There are two action modes. The drill mode disengages the clutch for unrestrained torque output. The hammer drill mode also disengages the clutch but layers in a hammering mechanism that impacts at a rate of 28,050.0 blows per minute (BPM).

You can review our drilling speed tests below, where we measure the speed improvement offered using the hammer drill mode.

There is no kickback control technology, which is a minor letdown. The DCD799 is right on the cusp of being a highly powerful drill. Wrist injuries can occur at this power tier, highlighting why kickback control could be valuable. Some of the best Milwaukee drills included kickback control technology.

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Motor & BPM

Milwaukee 2801-20 Drill Modes

Motor type: Brushless
Action modes: Drill only
Advertised blows per min. (speed 2): N/A
Advertised blows per min. (speed 1): N/A
Variable speed trigger: Yes
Kickback control technology: No
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.375

The 2801-20 is not a hammer drill, so its drilling features are naturally limited to only a drill mode that disengages the chuck for unfettered torque.

Including a brushless motor was the right call at this price point, even knowing brushless motors are mostly table stakes in anything but the cheapest drills. While we haven’t tested the motor’s long-term durability, brushless motors offer better efficiency and durability than their brushed counterparts.

No kickback technology is included with the 2801-20, which is expected at this price point. You’ll need to upgrade to a flagship Milwaukee drill to get features that reduce the risk of wrist injuries when the drill binds.

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Clutch & speed settings

Dewalt DCD799 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 15

The DCD799 includes a standard two-speed transmission that runs the drill in the low or high setting in all drill modes and clutch settings. Setting the drill to the drill mode in the low setting generates the maximum torque output.

There are 15 total clutch options to tune the torque output for a wide range of tasks. 15 options are fewer than some hammer drills offer. Still, 15 is more than most people will need in practice.

Driving without stripping threads or avoiding cam-out rarely requires precisely finding the single correct clutch setting. Hitting close to the correct torque output works most of the time, and there are no improvements in achieving that outcome with more clutch settings than are needed.

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Clutch & speed settings

Milwaukee 2801-20 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 18

The 2801-20 has a two–speed transmission and 18 total clutch options to fine-tune the torque output for precision driving. Two-speed drills are standard, allowing you to operate the 2801-20 in the low or high-speed setting in any clutch setting and drilling mode.

Compare drill clutch and speed settings

Chuck

Dewalt DCD799 Chuck Closeup

Chuck size: 1/2″
Chuck sleeve material: Plastic

While an all-metal chuck is more durable, the DCD799’s ratcheting chuck works well with its plastic chuck sleeve and metal three-jaw design. Critically, we didn’t experience any instances of the chuck loosening throughout testing.

Chuck

Milwaukee 2801-20 Chuck Closeup

Chuck size: 1/2″
Chuck sleeve material: Metal

The all-metal chuck is an excellent feature of the 2801-20 that is certain to improve durability with extended use compared to models that use plastic for the chuck sleeve.

We were also impressed that the three-jaw chuck locked onto bits tightly and didn’t loosen inadvertently throughout testing. Lesser drill chucks need frequent re-tightening as they loosen up when drilling and driving repeatedly.

Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The DCD799 doesn’t include an auxiliary handle to control recoil and enhance stability during heavy-duty drilling tasks. The DCD799’s power profile is on the verge of being powerful enough that including an auxiliary arm would be helpful to avoid wrist injuries.

Understandably, Dewalt wouldn’t include one in the box, but we’ll side with consumers and say that not including an auxiliary arm is a slight letdown.

Check out the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill or Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill if you want a more powerful drill with an auxiliary arm.

Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The 2801-20 doesn’t include an auxiliary handle to control recoil and enhance stability during heavy-duty drilling tasks. But we don’t see this as a downside. The 2801-20 isn’t designed to tackle the heaviest-duty drilling tasks, such as drilling wide and deep holes in masonry or wood, where an auxiliary handle is helpful.

Check out the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill, Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2903-20, or Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill if you want a powerful drill with an auxiliary arm.

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 17.2
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 3.4
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): 13.9
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): 2.8
Hammer mode speed improvement: 19.2%

The DCD799 impresses when considering the drilling speed for the size. No compact hammer drill can compete on speed with bulkier and more powerful flagship models. However, the DCD799 is one of our test fleet’s fastest compact hammer drills.

Importantly, it sustained high RPMs throughout the hole depth to clear chips and avoid bogging down.

The hammering functionality performed reasonably well at improving drilling speeds in stacked lumber. On average, we expect 20.0% or better speed improvement when using the hammer drill over the standard drill mode.

We also tested the DCD799 using a range of forstner, spade, and auger bits. We started to feel the DCD799 was underpowered once boring holes 3/4 inch and wider with the forstner and spade bits. It wasn’t underpowered in that it couldn’t complete each task. Instead, we had to drop to the low setting for additional torque to finish the job.

Compare drilling speed test results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 19.0
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 3.8
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): N/A
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): N/A
Hammer mode speed improvement: N/A

The 2801-20 isn’t powerful enough to take the drilling speed crown in demanding tasks. But it is more than capable of finishing any job we threw at it without bogging down.

Our drilling speed test is designed to understand the upper limits of a drill’s capabilities, including learning when to drop down a gear for more torque and the speed when boring wide holes.

We didn’t need to drop down to the low setting to finish drilling a 1/2-inch hole in three stacked 2x6s, and it sustained high enough RPMs throughout the drilling depth to sufficiently clear chips.

The primary advantage you get moving from the mid-tier of power to a higher tier is improved speed throughout the depth of the hole bored, not so much being able to complete a task a mid-tier drill couldn’t handle in a pinch.

But consider that the 2801-20 doesn’t include a hammer drilling feature, which is helpful when drilling masonry efficiently and speeding up drilling deep and wide holes in lumber. Upgrade to the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill if you anticipate using a drill frequently for these tasks.

Compare drilling speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 12.7
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.5
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 9.9
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 2.0

The DCD799 is powerful enough to drive structural screws and lag bolts quickly. Again, it isn’t as performant as drills designed for use on the job site. But context is essential when reviewing the driving speed results and determining how much speed matters.

The DCD799 finished 5 1/8 inch GRK RSS fasteners with an average time of 2.4 seconds per screw. The top-performing hammer drills in our test fleet finished with an average of 1.3 to 1.5 seconds per screw. We’ll let our readers determine if the speed difference is worth the higher cost of moving to a faster drill.

Compare driving speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 10.6
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.1
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 8.8
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.8

The 2801-20’s drilling speed is more impressive than its drilling performance in our tests. We found that it capably and powerfully finishes big lag bolts and other structural screws, such as the GRK RSS screws used in our driving speed tests. The 2801-20 delivered results that were right up there with far pricier flagship models.

Critically, the 2801-20 completed our heavy-duty driving speed test without dropping a gear into the low setting for increased torque.

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Torque

Advertised max torque (in-lbs): Not advertised
Advertised max torque (ft-lbs): Not advertised

Dewalt no longer advertises the torque of its drills and we currently don’t test torque on a torque meter in-house, like we do for impact drivers.

Compare drill torque

Torque

Advertised max torque (in-lbs): 500.0
Advertised max torque (ft-lbs): 41.7

Note: We don’t currently test drill torque in-house, as we do for impact drivers using a torque meter. The torque commentary discussed here relies upon both advertised torque specifications provided by manufacturers and practical insights learned from performance in our various drilling and driving tests.

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Battery lineup

Dewalt 20V Max Battery Lineup

Dewalt offers 1.5Ah, 2Ah, 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, 8Ah, 10Ah, and 12Ah batteries in its 20V Max lineup. Upgrading to the higher Ah options increases battery run time and improves drilling performance, though we’ve not tested all of these batteries to understand the cost tradeoffs.

Buying at least two batteries is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend purchasing a Dewalt 20V Max 2Ah and a Dewalt 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for most Dewalt 20V drill setups for a good balance of performance, price, and size.

Dewalt’s 20V Powerstack batteries may be a smart buying choice for some users. Dewalt advertises improved drilling performance, longer battery run time, and more battery cycles out of its 20V Powerstack 1.7Ah and 5Ah batteries than its standard 20V Max batteries. We plan on testing the performance differences to understand the cost tradeoffs.

Battery lineup

Milwaukee M18 Battery Lineup

Milwaukee offers 1.5Ah, 2Ah, 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, 6Ah, 8Ah, and 12Ah batteries on the M18 platform. Upgrading to the higher Ah options increases battery run time and improves drilling performance, though we’ve not tested all of these batteries to understand the cost tradeoffs.

Buying at least two batteries is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend buying a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah and a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for most M18 drill setups for a good performance, price, and size balance.

Charging time

Dewalt DCD799 Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Dewalt 20V Max (DCB115)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 59.0
Charging time 4Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 5Ah battery (min.): 139.0
Charging time per Ah (min.): 28.7
Fuel gauge: On battery

The Dewalt charger included with most kits (model DCB115) isn’t fast. Our tests took 59.0 minutes to top off a Max 2Ah battery and 139.0 minutes to charge a Max XR 5Ah battery. Expect that this charger will charge batteries at approximately 28.7 minutes per Ah. Faster chargers charge batteries at 20.0 or fewer minutes per Ah.

Nicely, the DCD115 works with Dewalt’s 12V and 20V platform batteries, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several tools in the Dewalt ecosystem.

Compare drill charging test results

Charging time

Milwaukee 2801-20 Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Milwaukee M12 & M18 Multi-Volt (48-59-1812)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 41.0
Charging time 4Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 5Ah battery (min.): 98.0
Charging time per Ah (min.): 20.1
Fuel gauge: On battery

The Milwaukee M12 and M18 multi-volt charger (model 48-59-1812) included in most kits is reasonably fast at charging batteries, including to beat out team red’s most frequent adversary, Dewalt. It takes 41 minutes to charge an M18 2Ah battery and 98 minutes for a 5Ah battery, or approximately 20 minutes per amp-hour.

Milwaukee’s 48-59-1812 charger charges multiple battery voltages in one, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several M12 and M18 ecosystem tools.

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RPM

Dewalt DCD799 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 1,635.0
Max RPM speed 1: 439.0

The measured RPM output for the DCD799 is comparably low, explaining some of the speed performance against faster drills in our test fleet. A higher RPM output profile throughout its transmission settings would improve the DCD799’s speed under load.

Compare drill RPM test results

RPM

Milwaukee 2801-20 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 1,601.0
Max RPM speed 1: 519.0

One letdown in specific scenarios is the 2801-20’s comparatively low RPM output in the high setting. This drill doesn’t quickly set screws into wood, leading to us occasionally fumbling a few screws. Faster drills drive a screw so it grabs onto wood easier.

Interestingly, we found with our contact tachometer that the 2801-20 has moderately high RPMs in the slow setting. While we didn’t test how the RPMs are sustained under a heavy-duty driving load, expect that the 2801-20 will outpace some other drills when gearing down for extra torque in select scenarios. Expect that this performance nugget also won’t be noticed by many and isn’t a game-changer.

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Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.125
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.500
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.625

Since the DCD799 sits within the Atomic lineup, we expected it to perform well in our clearance tests. Notably, the DCD799 is incredibly short for a hammer drill from tip to tail. This sizing helps it fit easily between two vertical boards and in tight corners.

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Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.125
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.375
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.675

The 2801-20 is moderately narrow and competitively short from tip to tail, explaining some of its performance in our clearance tests designed to uncover how well each drill in our test fleet fits through narrow spaces and into tight corners.

The 2801-20 performed well in our interior width and top-edge clearance tests. In practice, this means the 2801-20 fits reasonably easily between two vertical boards and when drilling close to a top edge when its head is obstructed, such as drilling under a shelf.

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Noise

Dewalt DCD799 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 79.5
Max drilling noise (dBA): 88.2

Under load with the hammer drill engaged, the DCD799 is moderately loud. We measured 88.2 dBA of noise when boring holes in lumber with the DCD799. This level rivals the noise output of the best impact drivers, which are also harmful with prolonged exposure.

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Noise

Milwaukee 2801-20 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 82.8
Max drilling noise (dBA): 85.3

Drills without a hammering functionality tend to be quieter under load than a hammer drill, which is the case with the 2801-20. It is moderately quiet when drilling compared to other models in our test fleet.

Compare drill noise test results

Light

Dewalt DCD799 Light Wall
Dewalt DCD799 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light location: In base
Light positions: 1
Customizable light settings: None
Light count: Single LED
Light active time (sec.): 20.0

The single in-base light shines upward and illuminates a sizeable area where it is focused. Still, lights near the trigger that shine directly forward are more versatile and always precisely illuminate the intended location.

There are no advanced light features, such as a spotlight mode or multi-position light, which some of the best Dewalt drills include.

Light

Milwaukee 2801-20 Light Wall
Milwaukee 2801-20 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light location: Near trigger
Light positions: 1
Customizable light settings: None
Light count: Single LED
Light active time (sec.): 15.0

A single LED work light is positioned just above the trigger, sufficient for most lighting needs when operating this drill. Some Dewalt drills include advanced features, such as a spotlight mode and the ability to turn off the work light when pulling the trigger.

App integration

App integration: No

There is no Bluetooth app integration to track drill usage and location, display tool diagnostics, and allow you to set custom profiles on your phone.

Dewalt’s ToolConnect-branded drills include an app integration, but you’ll only find the ToolConnect feature built natively into its flagship models. An after-market ToolConnect chip can’t be added to the DCD799, unlike some Dewalt drills with a slot in the base to accept the chip housing.

App integration

App integration: No

There is no Bluetooth app integration to track drill usage and location, display tool diagnostics, and allow you to set custom profiles on your phone.

Milwaukee’s One Key-branded drills include an app integration, but you’ll only find the One Key feature built natively into its flagship models. Dewalt utilizes the same approach with its ToolConnect lineup, which offers similar app features and is only available in flagship tools.

Warranty

Tool warranty (years): 3
Battery warranty (years): 3

Dewalt stands behind the durability of its drills with exceptionally long warranties. The DCD799 has a three-year warranty. Dewalt’s 20V Max batteries include a three-year warranty.

Dewalt also offers free maintenance and replacement of worn parts for one year for the DCD799.

Warranty

Tool warranty (years): 2-3 (depends on model)
Battery warranty (years): 5

Milwaukee stands behind the durability of its drills with exceptionally long warranties. The 2801-20 has a five-year warranty, which is among the longest offered by any manufacturer. Milwaukee’s M18 Li-Ion batteries have two or three-year warranties, depending on the specific model.

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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