Makita 18V LXT XPH12Z Hammer Drill Vs Milwaukee M18 2801-20

Makita XPH12Z Angle 5

Makita XPH12Z

Quick take

The Makita 18V LXT XPH12Z hammer drill and Milwaukee M18 2801-20 are very similar in performance. Both offer good driving speed and rather underwhelming drilling speeds compared to other drills in their class. While the XPH12Z is the only one with hammer drill functionality, it’s bulkier and heavier than the svelte and streamlined 2801-20. An all-metal chuck also gives the Milwaukee an edge in build quality over the Makita.

Brand Makita
Platform 18V LXT
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 530.0
BPM 30,000.0
Clutch settings 21
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as XPH12
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

4.15 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Hammer drilling performance
  • Solid driving speed
  • Great battery life
  • Brushless motor

Cons

  • Slow drilling speed in heavy-duty tasks

Rating

3.90 / 5 stars

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.)25.414
Driving speed (sec.)11.28
Torque (in-lbs)530.06
RPM1,934.07
Bare weight (lbs)2.729
Drilling Noise (dBA)89.911
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

Recommended configuration

XPH12T

Includes (2) 18V 5Ah battery

Lab results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 25.4
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 5.1
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): 17.1
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): 3.4
Hammer mode speed improvement: 32.7%

The XPH12Z won’t win any drilling speed contests in the high setting and drill mode for heavy-duty jobs, though it is more than powerful enough for rough-ins and hogging out big holes in lumber. This performance was evident in our drilling speed tests, with the XPH12Z delivering moderately slow drilling speed.

The drilling speed results highlight Makita’s product managers’ design decisions when considering performance tradeoffs with the XPH12Z. The XPH12Z is designed to excel at tasks that favor torque over speed. This inverse relationship explains why the XPH12Z is best suited for heavy-duty drilling tasks where speed isn’t as critical as having enough torque to complete the job.

This performance explains why the XPH12Z has such a high hammer rate, helping to improve the drilling speed in hammer mode, which is exceptional. The XPH12Z’s hammer mode vastly improved the drilling speed by a whopping 32.7%, unmatched by most models in our test fleet.

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.): 11.2
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.2
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 8.6
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.7

While the XPH12Z didn’t outpace most of the competition in our drilling speed tests, it performed much better in our driving speed test driving GRK RSS screws. In our tests, 11.2 seconds of total driving time is moderately fast for an 18V drill.

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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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RPM

Makita XPH12Z RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 1,934.0
Max RPM speed 1: 509.0

We tested the XPH12Z’s RPM output in low and high settings and found that it finished in the middle of our 18V test fleet in the high setting. Still, the XPH12Z is fast enough to breeze through any tasks around the home and on the job site.

The XPH12Z’s RPM outpaces the competition in the low setting, which resulted in snappy and powerful driving performance when we needed to gear down to power through the heavy-duty scenarios we tested.

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.

Compare drill RPM test results

Torque

Advertised max torque (in-lbs): 530.0
Advertised max torque (ft-lbs): 44.2

One sacrifice made when moving down the Makita drill lineup is much lower torque, which aligns with similar mid-range models. The XPH12Z advertises 530.0 in-lbs of torque.

Combining the torque with the RPM profile under load, explains some of the mediocre performance throughout our driving and drilling tests.

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): 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.

Compare drill torque

Chuck

Makita LXT XPH12Z Chuck Closeup

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

One design decision that could improve the XPH1Z’s durability would be including an all-metal chuck instead of using plastic in the chuck sleeve.

Outside of the material choice, the sleeve has a good amount of texture with ridges and recesses for added gripping power, helpful when ratcheting the chuck open and closed.

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.

Motor & BPM

Makita LXT XPH12Z Drill Modes

Motor type: Brushless
Action modes: Drill, hammer
Advertised blows per min. (speed 2): 30,000.0
Advertised blows per min. (speed 1): 7,500.0
Variable speed trigger: Yes
Kickback control technology: No
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.250

There are three action modes on the XPH12Z. The mechanical clutch is only engaged when the set ring is in the driving mode. Drill mode locks out the clutch for drilling and driving, and the hammer mode improves drilling speed.

When set to the high setting in hammer drill mode, the XPH12Z impacts at a comparatively high rate of 30,000.0 blows per minute (BPM). The high BPM translates to vastly improved drilling speed when selecting the hammer mode instead of the drill mode, as evidenced in our drilling speed tests below.

One critical design feature is that the XPH12Z includes a brushless motor, improving its battery efficiency and performance over less durable brushed motors commonly found in budget drills.

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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

Makita LXT XPH12Z Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 21

The XPH12Z includes a two-speed gearbox and 21 clutch settings with differing torque levels. The highest torque output is generated in the low setting with the drill mode engaged, ideal for hogging out big holes in lumber when brute force is preferred over speed.

Some Makita drills include a dual-ring design to switch between drill and driving modes and clutch settings. While the clutch ring can be set to any number, the clutch is only engaged when the separate action mode ring is set to driving mode.

Some drills from other brands include the clutch settings and action modes on a single ring so you can continuously switch between modes and clutch settings. The XPH12Z’s design does make it easier to quickly switch from a drill mode to a low clutch setting, which otherwise requires you to rotate the ring a complete turn with other drills.

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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.

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Charging time

Makita XPH12Z 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 exceptionally 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 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.

Compare drill charging test 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

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

Makita XPH12Z On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.72
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.56
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.11

The XPH12 is one of the lighter, more powerful 18V hammer drills available, weighing in at 2.72 lbs in its bare form. It retains its moderately lightweight hammer drill status with a battery attached. But consider that no 18V hammer drill is light enough to avoid arm and hand fatigue with repeated use.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare weight. We recommend combining the XPH12Z with Makita’s 18V LXT 2Ah battery for a good balance of drilling performance and weight for a lightweight setup.

Pair the XPH12Z 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 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

Makita XPH12Z Footprint1
Makita XPH12Z Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.500
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 7.250
Base length (in.): 4.500
Base width (in.): 3.125

Makita has consistently reduced the size of most of its drills with each generational release, all while improving drilling and driving performance. However, the XPH12Z is still a modestly bulky 18V hammer drill, albeit much more svelte than other Makita drills. The size limits the tight spaces it can fit through and the corners it can fit into.

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.

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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

While the XPH12Z feels bulky in hand, it performed modestly well in our clearance tests designed to understand how well each drill drills in scenarios with limited access.

Notably, the XPH12Z performed well for an 18V drill in our interior top-edge clearance test. In practice, this means the XPH12Z squeezes well into spaces when the top of the drill is obstructed, such as when drilling holes or driving screws under a shelf.

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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.

Compare drilling clearance test results

Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The XPH12Z 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 XPH12Z 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 or Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill if you want a 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.

Noise

Makita XPH12Z Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 80.0
Max drilling noise (dBA): 89.9

The XPH12Z is relatively loud when drilling when compared to our test fleet. The elevated noise output is expected since this is a hammer drill, and we tested the max drilling noise in the hammer mode under load.

Compare drill noise test results

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

Makita XPH12Z Light Wall
Makita LXT XPH12Z 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 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.

Warranty

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

Makita stands behind the durability of its drills with exceptionally long warranties. The XPH12Z 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 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.

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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