Dewalt Vs Milwaukee Drill: Which Should You Buy?

Dewalt Vs Milwaukee Drill Featured Image

To say that Dewalt and Milwaukee have fierce brand allegiances would be an understatement. So, it’s unsurprising that the decision to buy a Dewalt vs Milwaukee drill is highly debated. If you want proof, check out the comments sections within online forums or on your favorite tool influencer’s social media posts. There, you’ll find power tool fans throwing jabs at each other, advocating for why their choice is the only option.

But we don’t believe the loudest voice in the comments section reveals much about the best cordless drills within the Dewalt or Milwaukee drill lineups. Instead, comparing drills across critical specifications, features, and standardized tests that put all brands on the same playing field is a more reliable approach.

Below, we compare a selection of Milwaukee and Dewalt drills head-to-head across several price and performance tiers. This comparison of Dewalt vs Milwaukee drills tells a clear story of which drills are best for different users and budgets.

Pro tip

Our full drill reviews include in-depth commentary, pictures, videos, additional specifications, and test results worth considering when buying a new drill. Our global drill rankings are a helpful resource for comparing essential factors across all drills in our test fleet.

Platforms

Dewalt and Milwaukee both offer 12V and 18V drills. While Dewalt advertises its drills as 20V Max, 20V Max XR, and 20V Atomic models, they are no more powerful voltage-wise than a Milwaukee M18 drill. The difference is marketing.

Dewalt chooses to market the maximum voltage possible in ideal scenarios, whereas other manufacturers list the more frequent voltage you’ll achieve with practical use. 18V and 20V Max are the same.

Dewalt brands 12V drills with 12V Xtreme branding and 20V drills with 20V Max, 20V Max XR, and 20V Atomic branding. Max XR drills include brushless motors, and Atomic drills are Dewalt’s most compact 20V models.

Milwaukee brands its 12V drills with M12 branding and 18V drills with M18 branding. Within each voltage platform, you’ll find Fuel and non-Fuel-branded models. Milwaukee’s Fuel-branded drills comprise its highest-performing flagship models that include brushless motors. Non-fuel drills include mostly brushless motors, though some older models include brushed motors and are available at lower prices.

Battery technologies

One area where Dewalt differentiates itself is with its 60V Max Flexvolt platform, which is most useful for prosumers and professionals on the jobsite. Flexvolt batteries are compatible with Dewalt’s 20V drills. Dewalt’s Flexvolt technology automatically switches between voltages to increase power for demanding tasks. Milwaukee doesn’t offer an equivalent battery technology.

Dewalt Flexvolt Battery
DeWalt Flexvolt batteries are bulky but provide extended run time or more power, depending on the tool. Plus, Flexvolt batteries are interchangeable with tools on DeWalt’s 20V and 60V platforms.

Dewalt and Milwaukee mirror each other more closely regarding the battery cell technologies offered. Most of Dewalt’s 12V Xtreme and 20V Max and 20V Max XR platforms use standard lithium-cell designs found in most power tool batteries.

Dewalt uses modern technologies, such as pouch cell batteries, in its Powerstack battery lineup. Dewalt’s Powerstack batteries offer improved run time and more charging cycles than lithium-cell batteries commonly used throughout its 12V and 20V lineup.

Milwaukee includes equally impressive pouch cell batteries in its Forge lineup, which promises the same power as Milwaukee’s M18 12.0Ah High Output battery but in a smaller and lighter Forge 6.0Ah capacity.

Footprints

Beyond battery technologies, Dewalt and Milwaukee offer an array of compact drills. Milwaukee has several highly compact drills in its coveted M12 ecosystem and has several compact options in the M18 lineup.

However, Milwaukee doesn’t clearly market its compact 18V drills as Dewalt does.

Dewalt markets its compact 20V offerings with the Atomic branding, a lineup designed to be more compact than Dewalt’s 20V Max and 20V Max XR offerings.

Series lineups

Dewalt and Milwaukee offer a dizzying array of cordless drills that can be compared. We’ve selected several drills in our test fleet across various prices and performance levels to include in this Dewalt vs Milwaukee drill guide. This approach helps to narrow the options and provide useful head-to-head insights for homeowners and professional consumers.

12V drills

Before diving into comparing Milwaukee and Dewalt’s 12V offerings, let’s quickly review key advertised specifications and test results for several comparable drills, including the Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCD706 Hammer Drill and Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill.

Dewalt DCD706 Angle 5
Side angle of the Dewalt DCD706 Hammer Drill
Milwaukee 3404-20 Angle 5
Side angle of the Milwaukee 3404-20 Hammer Drill
Specs/Test ResultsDewalt DCD706Milwaukee 3404-20
Platform12V XtremeM12 Fuel
Drill typeHammer drillHammer drill
Drilling speed test results (sec.)25.627.6
Driving speed test results (sec.)25.314.8
Advertised torque (in-lbs)Not advertised400.0
Max RPM tested1,475.01,432.0
Bare weight (lbs)2.042.15
Chuck-to-back length (in.)6.6256.000
Motor typeBrushlessBrushless
Max BPM25,500.025,500.0
Clutch settings1513
Speed settings22
Price at publishing$81$109

Key specifications

Importantly, the Dewalt DCD706 and Milwaukee 3404-20 include brushless motors, improving their efficiency and performance over brushed motors commonly found in budget power tools.

The two drills are similarly matched when reviewing key specifications, including their bare weights, BPMs, and maximum no-load RPM.

Drilling and driving speed

The Dewalt DCD706 is slightly faster in some applications, including outpacing the Milwaukee 3404-20 in our speed test drilling a 1/2-inch hole with a Spyder twist bit in stacked 2x6s.

Outside of this standardized speed test, the two 12V drills similarly drill a range of width holes using twist, forstner, and spade bits. In a few select scenarios, the 3404-20 powered through tasks at the upper end of its range with less bogging down and binding.

However, the performance gap widens when considering their driving speeds, with the 3404-20 offering better performance driving lag bolts and structural screws. While no 12V drill finishes these tasks easily, the 3404-20 had a clear edge in our testing.

Pro tip

Check out our full reviews to see videos demonstrating how each drill performed in our drilling and driving speed tests. Find the reviews by clicking on the product names listed in this guide.

Weight and footprint

The Dewalt DCD706 is modestly lighter in its bare form but loses the weight edge once kitted with a battery. The Dewalt DCD706 and Milwaukee 3404-20 weigh 2.53 lbs and 2.54 lbs, respectively, with a 2Ah battery.

The Milwaukee 3404-20 is better if you covet a highly compact drill. It is compact from tip to tail, making it far more agile than the Dewalt DCD706 and helping it squeeze more easily through narrow openings and into tight spaces.

If you want to dive deeper, check out the following side-by-side comparison of each drill:

Mid-range drills

The Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill, Milwaukee M18 2607-20 Hammer Drill, and Milwaukee M18 2801-20 are comparable mid-range drills. The Dewalt DCD799 and Milwaukee 2801-20 both have compact footprints with short chuck-to-back lengths.

Dewalt DCD799 Angle 5
Dewalt DCD799 Hammer Drill
Milwaukee 2607-20 Angle 5
Milwaukee 2607-20 Hammer Drill
Milwaukee 2801-20 Angle 5
Milwaukee 2801-20
Specs/Test ResultsDewalt DCD799Milwaukee 2607-20Milwaukee 2801-20
Platform20V AtomicM18M18
Drill typeHammer drillHammer drillDrill driver
Drilling speed test results (sec.)17.216.019.0
Driving speed test results (sec.)12.713.110.6
Advertised torque (in-lbs)Not advertised500.0500.0
Max RPM tested1,635.01,686.01,601.0
Bare weight (lbs)2.543.032.40
Chuck-to-back length (in.)6.5007.7502.40
Motor typeBrushlessBrushlessBrushless
Max BPM28,050.028,800.0N/A
Clutch settings151818
Speed settings222
Price at publishing$120$129$135

Key specifications

All three Dewalt and Milwaukee models listed here include brushless motors, which are table stakes at this price point and higher.

Only the Dewalt DCD799 and Milwaukee 2607-20 are hammer drills, which offer improved speed drilling thick lumber and masonry. Otherwise, the three models have similar tested RPM profiles and include a range of clutch settings to fine-tune the torque for a wide range of precision driving needs.

Drilling and driving speed

The Milwaukee 2607-20 shined most in our drilling speed tests, but the results lineup differs when reviewing their driving speeds. The Milwaukee 2801-20 blazed through our driving speed test that consists of driving GRK structural screws in stacked 2x6s.

While the speed results tell a different story based on the chosen test, clearer trends are revealed when considering a range of tasks. The Milwaukee 2607-20 has a slight performance edge across drilling and driving scenarios since it doesn’t sacrifice power for size. It will drill wider holes modestly faster and bog down less frequently.

The Dewalt DCD799 and Milwaukee 2801-20 have far more compact footprints, making them more agile. But that design choice comes at the expense of performance in some tasks.

All said, the Dewalt DCD799 and Milwaukee 2801-20 are better options for most homeowners who prefer ease of use and a compact size over high-end performance. Carpenters and woodworkers may also enjoy using these two drills for precision tasks in tight spaces and scenarios where a flagship-quality drill is overpowered.

Weight and footprint

Most people are better off buying the Dewalt DCD799 or Milwaukee 2801-20 based on their more balanced designs and performance. Both drills are compact from tip to tail, weigh similarly in their bare forms and with a 2Ah or 5Ah battery, and offer enough power for most tasks around the home.

But consider that the Dewalt DCD799 offers the additional versatility of including a hammer drill mechanism, whereas the Milwaukee 2801-20 doesn’t. If you want one of the best hammer drills from Milwaukee, upgrade to Milwaukee’s Fuel lineup or opt for the Milwaukee 2607-20 to save money.

If you want to dive deeper, check out the following side-by-side comparison of each drill:

Flagship drills

The Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill and Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill are flagship-grade cordless models ideal for prosumers and on the jobsite. Before diving into the spicy performance details, let’s review their key specifications and test results.

Dewalt DCD805 Hammer Drill
Dewalt DCD805 Hammer Drill
Milwaukee 2904-20 Angle 5
Milwaukee 2904-20 Hammer Drill
Specs/Test ResultsDewalt DCD805Milwaukee 2904-20
Platform20V Max XRM18 Fuel
Drill typeHammer drillHammer drill
Drilling speed test results (sec.)10.110.8
Driving speed test results (sec.)7.17.6
Advertised torque (in-lbs)Not advertised1400.0
Max RPM tested2,038.02,055.0
Bare weight (lbs)3.003.26
Chuck-to-back length (in.)7.0007.000
Motor typeBrushlessBrushless
Max BPM34,000.033,000.0
Clutch settings1516
Speed settings22
Price at publishing$152$143

Key specifications

The Dewalt DCD805 and Milwaukee 2904-20 perform similarly in no-load RPM tests, and both models include similar clutch settings to fine-tune the torque output for a range of driving tasks.

The Dewalt DCD805’s BPM jumps off the specs sheet and slightly edges out the Milwaukee 2904-20. It hammers at 34,000.0 blows per minute in hammer mode, compared to 33,000.0 for the Milwaukee 2904-20. While offering a higher BPM, the performance difference is negligible in hammer mode in practice. More than anything, it’s worth knowing that both drills offer exceptionally high BPMs for cordless drills.

Unfortunately, Dewalt doesn’t advertise the torque of its drills; instead, Dewalts chooses Unit Watts Out as its preferred performance metric. Since Unit Watts Out metrics aren’t directly comparable to how Milwaukee advertises drill torque in in-lbs, we need to dive into testing to understand which is more powerful in practice.

Drilling and driving speed

Now, let’s dive into the test results that matter most in the flagship class: drilling and driving speed. The Dewalt DCD805 and Milwaukee 2904-20 are incredibly fast under load and have sufficient power to avoid binding up during tasks at the top of their ranges. These drills turned in some of the speediest results across models in our test fleet.

When splitting hairs, the Dewalt DCD805 outpaces the Milwaukee 2904-20 at drilling 1/2-inch holes and when driving lags and structural screws. However, we’re talking fractions of a second. In short, there are no noticeable speed advantages under load for either drill at the bottom or top of their ranges.

Ultimately, deciding between the two impressive drills shouldn’t come down to speed, as they are equals.

Weight and footprint

Where the Dewalt DCD805 starts to outshine the Milwaukee 2904-20 is the weight. The DCD805 is considerably lighter in its bare form and, when kitted with equivalent 2Ah and 5Ah batteries from each manufacturer.

Otherwise, the two drills have comparable footprints. Both are reasonably bulky drills, as is expected in the flagship category, and have the same tip-to-tail length.

Additional features

The Milwaukee 2904-20 offers more valuable safety features. It includes an auxiliary arm in the box and has Milwaukee’s Autostop kickback control technology, which instantly stops the drill when binding to prevent over-rotation. Kickback control features should be standard for such powerful drills, and it’s a head-scratcher that it isn’t included with the Dewalt DCD805.

Milwaukee 2904-20 Auxiliary Arm
The Milwaukee 2904-20’s auxiliary arm helps to prevent injuries.

However, one differentiating feature the Dewalt DCD805 includes is a more versatile work light. The light can be adjusted to three different positions. You can also turn off the work light or set it to Spotlight mode, which increases the brightness to an advertised 70 lumens for 20 minutes.

Dewalt DCD805 Light Customization
The Dewalt DCD805’s work light is vastly more customizable.

If you want to dive deeper, check out the following side-by-side comparison of each drill:

Price

We include below a chart comparing the price of each bare drill and our editorial rating for all Dewalt and Milwaukee drills discussed in this guide. This visual reference helps determine which models offer the best value.

Warranty

Dewalt and Milwaukee drills include outstanding tool and battery warranties, among some of the longest offered across brands. However, Milwaukee’s tool warranty is considerably longer.

Drill ManufacturerTool WarrantyBattery WarrantyFree Servicing
Dewalt3 years3 years1 year
Milwaukee5 years2 to 3 years, depends on modelNo

Dewalt drills also include a one-year service contract that covers free servicing and maintenance when purchased directly from Dewalt or through an authorized dealer.

Dewalt vs Milwaukee drill final takeaway

The overall decision of buying a Milwaukee or Dewalt drill is nuanced and depends on usage. Dewalt and Milwaukee are incredibly popular with professionals, homeowners, and DIYers due to their build quality, deep lineups, and performance. So, it’s hard to go wrong with either manufacturer. But we know that’s not highly actionable advice, so let’s provide some general guidance.

Prosumers and professionals rightly covet Milwaukee Fuel drills for the build quality, durability, and performance offered. If you’ve got the money, there’s little reason not to buy Milwaukee, especially if you’re eyeing the Fuel lineup.

The primary advantage Dewalt offers is a similar performance with its competing flagship drills but at a lower price. This price advantage theme is why Dewalt has such widespread popularity with homeowners, who are more price-conscious than professionals.

This theme holds in Dewalt’s 12V, budget, and mid-range cordless drill lineups, which are more competitively priced than Milwaukee’s.

FAQ

  • Are Milwaukee or Dewalt drills more powerful?

    The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill are flagship cordless drills performing similarly. Both are exceptionally fast under load, push out lots of torque, and their hammering mechanisms hammer at high rates. Throughout our testing, we found that the 2904-20 has a slight edge in the most demanding tasks, such as boring wide holes with forstner and spade bits and not bogging down. Their performance is otherwise very similar.

  • What drills does Dewalt offer?

    Dewalt’s drill lineup is deeper than that of most brands. Dewalt manufactures drills compatible with its 12V Xtreme, 20V Max, and 60V Max Flexvolt batteries. The 20V Max lineup includes standard cordless and corded drills, right-angle drills, hammer drills, rotary hammer drills, magnetic drill presses, stud and joist drills, and several more specialty offerings.

  • What drills does Milwaukee offer?

    Milwaukee has one of the deepest lineups of drills. Its voltage platforms include highly compact 12V and high-performing 18V models, which Milwaukee refers to as its M12 and M18 lineups. The M18 lineup comprises cordless drills, hammer drills, rotary hammer drills, right-angle drills, handle drills, electromagnetic drills, pistol grip drills, and more.

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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