Makita 18V LXT XPH12Z Hammer Drill Vs Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill (Gen 4)

Makita XPH12Z Angle 5

Makita XPH12Z

Quick take

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill and Makita 18V LXT XPH12Z Hammer Drill are designed for different users. The Milwaukee 2904-20 is a perfect fit for use on the jobsite with its exceptionally fast speed and impressive torque output, even though it is heavy. The Milwaukee 2904-20 also includes kickback control technology and an auxiliary arm in the box. The main benefit of the Makita XPH12Z is that it’s considerably lighter, though not as powerful.

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 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

4.15 / 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

4.67 / 5 stars

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.)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.)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

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.): 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.): 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.

Compare driving speed test results

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

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 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.

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.

Compare drill torque

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

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 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.

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.

Compare drill motors

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.

Compare drill motors

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 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.

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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.

Compare drill charging test results

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

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 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 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 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.

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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.): 8.625
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.

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

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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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