Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD800 Vs Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2903-20 (Gen 4)

Dewalt DCD800 Angle 5

Dewalt DCD800

Quick take

While the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD800 and Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2903-20 are two of the top cordless drills, the Milwaukee edges out the Dewalt in the categories that count the most. The 2903-20 boasts best-in-class drilling speed and torque. Both drills are on the heavy side; however, the DCD800 is slightly more compact. The 2903-20 offers better safety features, including an auxiliary arm and kickback control technology.

Brand Dewalt
Platform 20V Max XR
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs Not advertised
BPM N/A
Clutch settings 15
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as DCD800B
Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18 Fuel
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 1400.0
BPM N/A
Clutch settings 16
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as M18 gen 4 drill

Editorial opinion

Rating

3.91 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Exceptional drilling and driving speed
  • Advanced worklight features
  • Short length
  • Long warranty
  • All-metal chuck design

Cons

  • No hammer drill
  • Moderately heavy
  • No auxiliary arm included

Rating

4.30 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Fast drilling and driving speeds
  • Kickback control technology
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy
  • No hammer drill functionality

Global rankings

18 models tested

TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)11.64
Driving speed (sec.)6.51
Torque (in-lbs)Not advertisedNot ranked
RPM2,046.03
Bare weight (lbs)2.8411
Drilling Noise (dBA)81.94
TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)10.01
Driving speed (sec.)7.75
Torque (in-lbs)1400.01
RPM2,059.01
Bare weight (lbs)3.1615
Drilling Noise (dBA)83.25

Recommended configuration

DCD800E2

Includes (2) Max Powerstack 20V 1.7Ah battery

Lab results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 11.6
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.3
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 DCD800 drills incredibly fast when under heavy load. It averaged 2.3 seconds per 1/2-inch hole bored in our drilling speed tests designed to explore each drill’s upper range. Critically for a contractor-grade drill, it sustains high RPMs throughout the hole depth and blasts out chips to avoid bogging down.

The DCD800 also chewed through other drilling tasks we threw at it, including boring narrower and wider holes with various spade and forstner bits. We needed to drop a gear for additional torque in a few instances.

But consider that the DCD800 isn’t ideal for the average homeowner who rarely pushes any power tool to its limits and could risk injury if not used correctly. There are more compact, powerful options that are more user-friendly, such as the Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill.

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Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 10.0
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.0
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 2903-20 is incredibly fast, boring small and wide holes alike. It sustained high RPMs throughout the depth of the hole in our test of drilling a 1/2-inch drill bit through three stacked 2x6s. Never did it think of bogging down, primarily due to the high speed that impressively launches chips out of the hole.

The 2903-20 may not be the ideal drill for homeowners since it is overpowered and overkill for most jobs around the home.

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Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 6.5
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.3
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.0
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.2

The DCD800 is blazingly fast when driving structural screws. It took the podium position for driving speed in our Summer 2023 test fleet, averaging 1.3 seconds per fastener, not accounting for downtime between finishing each GRK RSS fastener.

We also tested driving several wider gauge and longer lag bolts into stacked dimensional 2x6s. The DCD800 similarly breezed through each scenario without dropping to the low setting for additional torque.

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Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 7.7
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.5
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.6
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.3

Unsurprisingly, the 2903-20 also drives big structural screws fast, tallying one of the best results in our driving speed tests. It blazed through driving five GRK RSS screws in 7.7 seconds.

While it didn’t take the podium position in our driving speed tests – that goes to the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD800 and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill – context is essential. The total driving time difference between the top drills in our test fleet is just over a second, which isn’t too discernible in practice.

We also tested the 2903-20 using several different gauge and length lag bolts and three-inch decking screws. We don’t measure the performance for these data points. Still, the 2903-20 impressed with whatever driving task we threw at it.

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RPM

Dewalt DCD800 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 2,046.0
Max RPM speed 1: 648.0

When testing the RPM output on a contact tachometer, we found that the DCD800 matches Dewalt’s lofty advertised claims. The DCD800 generated 2,046.0 RPMs in our lab on the high setting and 648.0 RPMs on the low setting. As our drilling and driving tests demonstrated, the DCD800 is powerful enough to sustain high RPMs under load.

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RPM

Milwaukee 2903-20 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 2,059.0
Max RPM speed 1: 468.0

One reason the 2903-20 shined in our performance tests is its high RPM output. Importantly, it has enough power to sustain high RPMs under load. Some drills advertise high RPMs but aren’t fast in practice since they’re underpowered and meaningfully slow down at the top of their range.

The 2903-20 also dishes out moderately high RPMs in the low setting, as we measured using a contact tachometer. In practice, this means this drill will be faster than other drills in the same low setting when gearing down for extra 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.

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Torque

Advertised max torque (in-lbs): 1400.0
Advertised max torque (ft-lbs): 116.7

The 2903-20 advertises the highest torque of any drill in our Summer ‘23 test fleet with 1,400.0 in-lbs. This level closely matches the performance of some of the best impact drivers, which are safer and more user-friendly options when driving lags and big fasteners.

Throughout testing, there were several instances where the combined RPM and torque profile led to binding in heavy-duty applications. In those scenarios, Milwaukee’s Autostop kickback control technology shined, helping to avoid wrist injury by instantly stopping the motor.

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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Chuck

Dewalt DCD800 Chuck Closeup

Chuck size: 1/2″
Chuck sleeve material: Knurled metal

The all-metal ratcheting chuck offers better durability and build quality than drills with hybrid metal and plastic chucks. The metal knurled chuck sleeve is perfectly machined to provide the right amount of friction when locking in drill bits with your hand. We didn’t encounter issues with the three jaws loosening throughout our testing, making it completely frustration-free.

Chuck

Milwaukee 2903-20 Chuck Closeup

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

The 2903-20 has an exceptional all-metal chuck that feels and looks more premium than most drills. The sleeve has a knurled metal design that helps tighten the chuck with enough friction on your hand for grip.

We were impressed throughout testing with how well the three-jaw chuck holds bits. The ratcheting jaws lock tightly onto a bit when tightening, and we didn’t run into any scenarios where the chuck inadvertently loosened during use.

Motor & BPM

Dewalt DCD800 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.): 0.250

There is only a single action mode on the DCD800. The drill mode disengages the clutch to offer unfettered torque output for boring wide holes and driving big fasteners. Unlike the sister Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill, there is no hammer functionality.

One feature Dewalt should consider adding is kickback control technology, which some of the best Milwaukee drills include. The DCD800 is exceptionally powerful, increasing the risk of wrist injuries when the drill bit binds up.

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Motor & BPM

Milwaukee 2903-20 Drill Modes
Milwaukee 2903-20 Over Rotations Closeup

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: Yes
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.375

As should be expected at this price point, the 2903-20 includes Milwaukee’s Powerstate-branded brushless motor, which offers better efficiency and longevity than brushed motors.

There is only a single drill mode setting that is positioned on the same set ring as the clutch settings.

One standout feature is that the 2903-20 features kickback control technology, which helps reduce the risk of wrist injuries when binding up. Near the light in the base, there is a small Autostop light that flashes when the kickback mechanism is triggered.

We tested the kickback control using several large spade and forstner bits and found that it worked as advertised and immediately stopped drilling to avoid over-rotating when the bit binds up. But we don’t run standardized tests to understand if Milwaukee’s technology works better than any competing kickback control technology.

There is no hammer drill functionality, which the sister Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill includes.

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Clutch & speed settings

Dewalt DCD800 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 15

The two-speed transmission can run the DCD800 in the high or low setting in the single action mode and any of the 15 clutch settings. As with all drills, setting the drill to the low setting in the drill mode generates the maximum torque output.

While 15 clutch settings are fewer than some drills, it is enough to precisely tune the torque output to avoid stripping screws and finishing with the proper recess.

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Clutch & speed settings

Milwaukee 2903-20 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 16

The two-speed gearbox determines the RPM output and can be used in drill mode when the clutch is disengaged or when a clutch setting is selected.

While 16 clutch settings isn’t the highest number available, it’s more than most people will need in practice. Including more clutch settings would only allow you to finely tune the torque to a given driving task. Still, the 2903-20 is precise when the proper clutch setting is engaged.

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Charging time

Dewalt DCD800 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 DCB115 charger included in many Dewalt kits charges batteries slowly compared to standard chargers from other brands. The charger charges at a rate of 28.7 minutes per Ah, which doesn’t compete with other brands that charge at a rate of less than 20.0 minutes per Ah.

However, one savior is that the DCB115 charges batteries on the 12V and 20V Dewalt platforms, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several tools in the Dewalt ecosystem.

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Charging time

Milwaukee 2903-20 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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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

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

Weight

Dewalt DCD800 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.84
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.64
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.26

The DCD800 is moderately heavy for an 18V drill, weighing in at 2.84 lbs in its bare form. The bulky weight does lead to muscle fatigue, as we experienced at several points running repetitive tests.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the DCD800 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.

Pair the DCD800 with Dewalt’s 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved drilling performance if weight is less of a concern.

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Weight

Milwaukee 2903-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 3.16
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 4.10
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.77

No powerful drill is lightweight, including the 2903-20, one of our test fleet’s heavier drills. Most users will experience hand and arm muscle fatigue when operating the 2903-20 over prolonged periods, as we experienced in several tests.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare weight. We recommend combining the 2903-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery for as lightweight a setup as possible while still retaining acceptable performance for a high-powered drill.

Pair the 2903-20 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.

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Footprint

Dewalt DCD800 Footprint1
Dewalt DCD800 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.375
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.375
Base length (in.): 4.500
Base width (in.): 3.125

The DCD800’s footprint is a tale of two stories, but it is compact in the areas that matter most. It is one of the shortest 18V drills in our test fleet from tip to tail and shorter than some less powerful and supposedly “compact” 12V drills. The tip-to-tail length is essential since it determines how easily it squeezes into tight areas, as we test below in our clearance tests.

However, the DCD800 is tall, and the head size casts a wide shadow.

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Footprint

Milwaukee 2903-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2903-20 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.500
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.875
Base length (in.): 4.625
Base width (in.): 3.125

The 2903-20 is bulky when measured in a variety of orientations. Notably, it is tall with a battery attached, and the head is somewhat wide. The tip-to-tail length is surprisingly compact for such a powerful drill, helping it fit into some tight areas better than other high-end models in our test fleet.

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Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.825
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.500
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.500

We noted in the Footprint section that the DCD800’s size is a tale of two stories. Let’s focus first on where the size positively impacts its performance in obstructed areas. Since the tip-to-tail length is short, the DCD800 sandwiches well between two vertical obstructions and squeezes into tight corners at an angle.

However, since the head is moderately bulky, the DCD800 doesn’t perform well in our top edge clearance test, designed to understand how easily a drill fits under shelves and in other situations when obstructed from above.

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Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.625
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.375
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.875

Since it is bulky, we weren’t surprised that the 2903-20 didn’t beat our test fleet with its driving clearances. This drill is designed more for brute force unobstructed drilling power than for squeezing through narrow spaces and into tight corners.

In the three clearance tests we conducted, it performed best with its interior width clearance. It fits moderately well between two vertical boards, primarily thanks to its tip-to-tail footprint.

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Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The DCD800 does not include an auxiliary handle, which is a letdown for such a powerful drill. The Milwaukee M18 2904-20 Hammer Drill and Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill include auxiliary arms and are powerful.

Auxiliary arm

Milwaukee 2903-20 Auxiliary Arm

Auxiliary arm: Yes

The 2903-20 includes an auxiliary handle to control recoil and enhance stability during heavy-duty drilling tasks, improving user safety. The 2903-20 is a powerful drill, so it makes sense that an auxiliary arm is included.

The handle is easy to attach and remove just behind the chuck and is mountable on either the right or left side.

Noise

Dewalt DCD800 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 83.5
Max drilling noise (dBA): 81.9

The DCD800 is quieter under load than other drills in our test fleet, especially when compared to the maximum noise output of a hammer drill. Still, 81.9 dBA under load is loud enough to cause damage with prolonged exposure.

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Noise

Milwaukee 2903-20 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 85.7
Max drilling noise (dBA): 83.2

The 2903-20’s maximum drilling noise under load is far quieter than most models in our test fleet, including much louder hammer drills that rival the noise output of many impact drivers.

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Light

Dewalt DCD800 Light Wall
Dewalt DCD800 Light Closeup
Dewalt DCD800 Light Customization

Light: Yes
Light location: In base
Light positions: 3
Customizable light settings: Off, On, Spotlight
Light count: Single LED
Light active time (sec.): 20.0

The DCD800 is one of the few drills we’ve tested that goes all out on its worklight features. The in-base light is bright and is configurable in three different positions.

There are also other advanced features. The light can be turned off entirely or act as a spotlight. In Spotlight mode, the light remains on for 20 minutes after pulling the trigger, and the brightness increases to an advertised 70 lumens.

Light

Milwaukee 2903-20 Light Wall
Milwaukee 2903-20 Light Closeup

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

The work light located in the base is effective and bright and no-frills at the same time. Several competing high-end Dewalt drills include a three-position light that has a spotlight mode or can be disabled. These premium features enhance the versatility, which is an area for improvement with the 2903-20.

Warranty

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

Dewalt stands behind the durability of its drills with exceptionally long warranties. The DCD800 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 DCD800.

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 2903-20 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.

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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