Makita 18V LXT XFD14Z Vs Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill (Gen 4)

Makita XFD14Z Angle 5

Makita XFD14Z

Quick take

The Makita 18V LXT XFD14Z and Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill are fantastic flagship drills that are fast under load and built for demanding jobs. The Milwaukee 2904-20 may be better since it includes a hammer drill, whereas the Makita XFD14Z doesn’t. Buy the Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill if you want a powerful flagship drill with hammering functionality. The Milwaukee 2904-20 also includes kickback control technology to reduce the risk of injury.

Brand Makita
Platform 18V LXT
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 1250.0
BPM N/A
Clutch settings 21
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as XFD14
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

Editorial opinion

Rating

4.01 / 5 ⭐️’s

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Brushless motor
  • Fast drilling and driving speed
  • Long battery life
  • Includes an auxiliary arm
  • Build quality
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • No hammer drill mode
  • Heavy

Rating

4.67 / 5 ⭐️’s

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Powerful and fast drilling and driving
  • Kickback control technology
  • Long warranty
  • Hammer drill functionality
  • Solid build quality

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy

Global rankings

18 models tested

TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)14.36
Driving speed (sec.)8.46
Torque (in-lbs)1250.03
RPM1,958.05
Bare weight (lbs)3.5717
Drilling Noise (dBA)77.22
TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)10.83
Driving speed (sec.)7.63
Torque (in-lbs)1400.01
RPM2,055.02
Bare weight (lbs)3.2616
Drilling Noise (dBA)95.016

Kit and bare tool options

XFD14T

Includes (2) 18V 5Ah 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 XFD14Z has a slightly forward-leaning handle and upward-angled head that ensures the drill is in the proper flat orientation when held in a driving position. The added rubber grip overmold provides good shock absorption and gripping power.

An all-metal belt hook included in the box is also mountable on either side of the base. There is no dedicated onboard bit holder or magnetic plate to hold fasteners, though both can be bought from third parties and attached to the XFD14Z.

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 2904-20 has a forward-leaning handle and a slight upward-pointing head that properly position the drill in the correct plane when exerting forward pressure when drilling.

While an all-metal belt hook in the box is mountable on either side of the base, no onboard bit holder or magnetic plate to store screws is included. Both can be purchased in the after-market from third parties.

Weight

Makita XFD14Z On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 3.57
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 4.41
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.96

One downside of the XFD14Z is it’s a heavy drill at 3.57 lbs in its bare form. The robust weight led to more arm and hand fatigue during our testing than other models in our test fleet, especially noticeable during our driving and drilling speed tests.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare weight. We recommend combining the XFD14Z with Makita’s 18V LXT 2Ah battery for as lightweight a setup as possible without restricting performance.

Or pair the XFD14Z with Makita’s 18V LXT 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 2904-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 3.26
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 4.20
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.87

We look forward to when power tool technology advances to the point where the most powerful drills are compact and light. Unfortunately, that day has yet to come, including with the 2904-20, which is heavy and bulky feeling in hand. This drill is one of the heavier hammer drills in our test fleet and one of the heavier options on the market.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the 2904-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery for the lightest setup we’d suggest that is still powerful with an acceptable battery life.

Or pair the 2904-20 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

Makita XFD14Z Footprint1
Makita XFD14Z Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.500
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 7.000
Base length (in.): 4.500
Base width (in.): 3.125

The XFD14Z has a large footprint, like most flagship drills from competing brands. There’s no way with current technologies to achieve such powerful performance in a highly compact footprint.

Interestingly, the XFD14Z feels bulkier in hand than many models we’ve tested. But the bulky feel in hand has more to do with the weight and design than its dimensions. This drill has one of the shorter tip-to-tail lengths of the 18V models in our test fleet, helping it squeeze into tight areas and corners moderately well.

Compare drill footprint test results

Footprint

Milwaukee 2904-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2904-20 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.500
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 7.000
Base length (in.): 4.625
Base width (in.): 3.125

The 2904-20 is bulky when measured in different orientations. While it is tall with a battery attached, the tip-to-tail length is reasonably short compared to the competition. As a result, it fits better through narrow openings and tight spaces than other high-end hammer drills.

Compare drill footprint test results

Motor & BPM

Makita XFD14Z 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

The XFD14Z is a flagship, though basic drill, evidenced partly by its motor features. There is only a single drill mode setting. You’ll need to jump to the Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill or Makita 18V LXT XPH12Z Hammer Drill for improved drilling speed, especially important when drilling into cement or boring wide and deep holes.

Outside of the limited action modes, Makita made the obvious and correct call to include a brushless motor at this price point, improving its efficiency and longevity over brushed motors.

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Motor & BPM

Milwaukee 2904-20 Drill Modes
Milwaukee 2904-20 Over Rotations Closeup

Motor type: Brushless
Action modes: Drill, hammer
Advertised blows per min. (speed 2): 33,000.0
Advertised blows per min. (speed 1): Not advertised
Variable speed trigger: Yes
Kickback control technology: Yes
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.375

The 2904-20 includes Milwaukee’s Powerstate-branded brushless motor, which offers better efficiency and longevity than brushed motors.

Two drill options are located on the same set ring as the clutch settings. The standard drill mode disengages the clutch, and the hammer drill mode does the same but layers in 33,000.0 blows per minute (BPM) to improve drilling speeds.

The hammering rate is high, explaining why the hammer drill mode effectively increased drilling speeds in our tests.

One standout feature is that the 2904-20 features kickback control technology to reduce the risk of wrist injuries. Near the light in the base, there is a small Autostop light that flashes when the kickback mechanism is triggered when binding up.

We tested the kickback control using several large spade and forstner bits and found that it worked as advertised. But we don’t run standardized tests to understand if Milwaukee’s technology works better than any competing kickback control technology.

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Clutch & speed settings

Makita XFD14Z Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 21

The XFD14Z has a two-position gearbox and 21 clutch settings, which outnumbers the total clutch options available with most drills. Admittedly, 21 options is more than most people will need. Also, more clutch options don’t necessarily mean better. The XFD14Z’s torque can be more finely tuned for a given driving scenario than a drill with fewer clutch settings.

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Clutch & speed settings

Milwaukee 2904-20 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 16

The two-speed gearbox determines the RPM output and can be used in drill and hammer 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 2904-20 is precise when the proper clutch setting is engaged.

Compare drill clutch and speed settings

Chuck

Makita XFD14Z Chuck Closeup

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

The XFD14Z has a fantastic all-metal ratcheting chuck that feels more premium than other drills. Some of the impressive build quality results from the knurled all-metal sleeve, making it a breeze to tighten and loosen the chuck.

Throughout our testing, we appreciated how well the XFD14Z ratchet mechanism and three jaws held onto bits without loosening inadvertently. This chuck is one of the best-designed, frustration-free chucks we’ve tested.

Chuck

Milwaukee 2904-20 Chuck Closeup

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

The 2904-20 has an exceptional all-metal chuck that is more premium than most drills, especially the knurled metal sleeve that tightens the chuck with the right amount of friction on your hand for grip.

The three-jaw chuck also holds bits well since the ratcheting mechanism locks tightly onto a bit when tightening. We didn’t run into any scenarios where the chuck inadvertently loosened during use.

Auxiliary arm

Makita XFD14Z Auxiliary Arm

Auxiliary arm: Yes

The XFD14Z includes an auxiliary handle to control recoil and enhance stability during heavy-duty drilling tasks, improving user safety. The XFD14Z 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. There is also a depth stop included in the box that attaches to the auxiliary arm.

Auxiliary arm

Milwaukee 2904-20 Auxiliary Arm

Auxiliary arm: Yes

The 2904-20 includes an auxiliary handle to control recoil and enhance stability during heavy-duty drilling tasks, improving user safety. The 2904-20 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.

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 14.3
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.9
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 XFD14Z shined in our drilling speed tests, snappily drilling through stacked lumber. Drilling in the high setting is particularly impressive. The XFD14Z has enough muscle to sustain high RPMs under load, quickly clearing chips from the hole to avoid binding up.

While not officially a data point we display on site, we tested the XFD14Z with several large spade and forstner bits to understand when dropping a gear to the low setting is needed for added torque. We found that the XFD14Z has a similarly powerful drilling profile as other flagships from Dewalt and Milwaukee.

Including a hammer drill mode would improve drilling speed in specific scenarios, such as rough-ins and drilling masonry.

Compare drilling speed test results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 10.8
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.2
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): 8.0
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): 1.6
Hammer mode speed improvement: 25.9%

The 2904-20 rapidly bores small and wide holes alike. Importantly for a performance-focused high-end hammer drill, it sustained high RPMs throughout the depth of the holes bored in our drilling speed tests. The 2904-20 was never close to binding up, and it easily cleared chips from the hole.

We also tested the 2904-20 in various drilling applications, including drilling a range of width holes using spade and forstner drill bits. We didn’t encounter a task where the 2904-20 didn’t either match or outperform other flagship hammer drills.

Consider that the 2904-20 may be overkill for most homeowners. Few tasks around the home are likely to push it to the limits, and there are some cheaper and still powerful drills if you aren’t a prosumer and prefer to save some money.

Compare drilling speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 8.4
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.7
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.8
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.4

The XFD14Z performed similarly well in our driving speed tests, designed to understand how well a drill performs at the top of its range. The XFD14Z’s torque and RPM profile combination generated impressive driving speed. It rapidly finished five large GRK RSS screws in under the 10-seconds, matching the impressive performance of other high-end models.

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Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 7.6
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.5
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.0
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.2

The 2904-20 also performed exceptionally well in our driving speed tests, breezing through driving and removing five GRK RSS screws from 2×6 stacked lumber.

We also tested driving various common length and size shorter screws and different gauge lag bolts and decking screws to understand how the 2904-20 performs across a range of tasks. In each test, it finished fasteners rapidly with power.

Compare driving speed test results

Torque

Advertised max torque (in-lbs): 1250.0
Advertised max torque (ft-lbs): 104.2

The XFD14Z generates an impressive amount of torque and powerfully finishes demanding drilling and driving tasks. Combined with its speed, the XFD14Z is strong enough to cause wrist injuries when binding and not properly bracing the drill. This performance explains why the XFD14Z includes an auxiliary arm in the box to reduce the likelihood of injury.

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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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.

Compare drill torque

Battery lineup

Makita 18V LXT Battery Lineup

Makita offers 2Ah, 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, and 6Ah batteries on the 18V LXT platform. Upgrading to the higher Ah-capacity options increases battery run time and improves drilling performance, though we’ve not tested all of these batteries to understand the cost tradeoffs.

That said, buying at least two batteries is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend buying a Makita 18V LXT 2Ah and a Makita 18V LXT 5Ah battery for most LXT drill setups for a good balance of performance, price, and size.

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

Makita XFD14Z Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Makita LXT Rapid Optimum (DC18RC)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 24.0
Charging time 4Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 5Ah battery (min.): 51.0
Charging time per Ah (min.): 11.1
Fuel gauge: On battery

The Rapid Optimum charger (DC18RC) included in most Makita kits charges batteries incredibly fast. Our tests found that this charger tops off 5Ah batteries in less time than it takes to charge smaller-capacity 2Ah batteries from other brands using their standard kit chargers.

Makita’s DC18RC charger only charges a single battery voltage. You’ll need a dedicated charger for your 12V and 18V Makita tools. Many Milwaukee drills and Dewalt drills come in kits with chargers that charge multiple voltage batteries in one, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several tools on those platforms.

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Charging time

Milwaukee 2904-20 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.

Compare drill charging test results

RPM

Makita XFD14Z RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 1,958.0
Max RPM speed 1: 503.0

One product design feature explaining the XFD14Z’s exceptional performance is its high RPM output, as measured in our testing. The RPMs ramp quickly to rapidly set screws and explain the snappy performance we experienced in demanding driving scenarios.

Dropping down a gear obviously limits the RPM output, which is comparatively higher than many 18V drills in our test fleet. Expect the high RPM in the low setting to finish more screw sizes and lengths faster and with more torque than lesser-equipped drills in the same low setting.

Compare drill RPM test results

RPM

Milwaukee 2904-20 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 2,055.0
Max RPM speed 1: 467.0

The 2904-20 shined in our drilling and driving speed tests due to the high RPM output sustained under load. We tested the RPM output with a contact tachometer, and the 2904-20 is among the fastest in our test fleet.

The 2904-20 also has a moderately high RPM in the low setting, meaning it’ll drill faster than other lesser drills when gearing down for extra torque.

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Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.625
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.500
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.875

While the XFD14Z feels bulky in hand, this feeling isn’t a result of its dimensions and is more a result of the weight and relatively wide head, which don’t significantly determine how well it can fit into narrow spaces and tight corners.

The XFD14Z performed solidly for a powerful 18V drill in our clearance tests, partly due to its tip-to-tail footprint. The XFD14Z is 1/8 inch shorter than its hammer drill cousin, the XPH14Z.

The one test where the XFD14Z didn’t shine was our interior top-edge clearance test, primarily due to its bulky head. In practice, the XFD14Z can’t easily drill or drive under shelves, and in other scenarios where the top of the head is obstructed and you need to drill as close to the top edge as possible.

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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

The 2904-20 isn’t the ideal drill for fitting through narrow spaces and into tight corners. While it is admirably compact compared to other hammer drills in its class, it is still bulk overall.

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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Noise

Makita XFD14Z Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 78.0
Max drilling noise (dBA): 77.2

The XFD14Z is one of the quietest 18V models we tested with a decibel meter under load, primarily a result of it not including a hammer drill mode. We test the max drilling noise under load. In this case, we measured the noise output in the drill mode, whereas in other models, we measured drilling noise in the hammer mode setting.

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Noise

Milwaukee 2904-20 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 84.7
Max drilling noise (dBA): 95.0

No power tool is a wallflower, but the 2904-20 is one of the loudest drills in our test fleet. We measured 95.0 dBA of noise output in the hammer drilling mode. This result is loud for a hammer drill and rivals the sound profile of an impact driver, which can cause damage with prolonged noise exposure.

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Light

Makita XFD14Z Light Wall
Makita XFD14Z Light Closeup

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

There are no bells and whistles with the light and its features, only a dual LED array positioned above the trigger. Some flagship Dewalt drills include more versatile work lights with features such as spotlight modes and the ability to turn off the light when pulling the trigger.

Light

Milwaukee 2904-20 Light Wall
Milwaukee 2904-20 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, an area for improvement with the 2904-20.

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. Milwaukee utilizes the same approach with its One Key lineup, which offers similar app features and is only available in flagship tools.

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. However, you can buy the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2906-20 Hammer Drill, which is the same drill but includes Milwaukee’s One Key Bluetooth app integration technology.

Warranty

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

Makita stands behind the durability of its drills with exceptionally long warranties. The XFD14Z has a three-year warranty. Makita 18V LXT batteries include a three-year warranty.

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 2904-20 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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