Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill Vs Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill (Gen 4)

Makita XPH14Z Angle 5

Makita XPH14Z

Quick take

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill and Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z are comparable flagship drills designed to power through demanding applications. Accordingly, both are fast and rarely bog down. The main advantages of the Milwaukee 2904-20 are more torque, a lighter weight, and kickback control technology to reduce injury risk.

Brand Makita
Platform 18V LXT
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 1250.0
BPM 31,500.0
Clutch settings 21
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as XPH14
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

4.38 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Fast drilling and driving speed in demanding jobs
  • Includes an auxiliary arm
  • Brushless motor
  • Excellent battery run time
  • Build quality
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Heavy and somewhat bulky

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.)11.85
Driving speed (sec.)7.63
Torque (in-lbs)1250.03
RPM1,935.06
Bare weight (lbs)3.6518
Drilling Noise (dBA)86.18
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

XPH14T

Includes (2) 18V 5Ah battery

Lab results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 11.8
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.4
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): 7.9
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): 1.6
Hammer mode speed improvement: 33.1%

The XPH14Z is one of the more powerful, contractor-ready hammer drills we’ve tested, as evidenced by our drilling speed test. The XPH14Z turned in one of the fastest times in our test fleet, drilling five holes into stacked 2x6s with a 1/2-inch drill bit.

Notably, the drill sustains a high RPM throughout the entire depth of the hole and blasts out chips to avoid binding up. There was no need in our test to remove chips from the hole by removing and re-inserting the bit.

The XHP14Z’s hammer drill function also performed exceptionally well. Rotating the set ring to the hammer drill mode and repeating the test improved the drilling speed by a whopping 33.1%.

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.): 7.6
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.5
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.2
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.2

The XPH14Z also shined in our driving speed tests, designed to test how quickly each drill can drive large fasteners. Unsurprisingly, this drill breezed through driving and removing five GRK RSS screws, delivering one of the fastest results in the flagship 18V hammer drill category.

Outside of our standardized driving test, we also tested driving several typical lengths and sizes of screws into dimensional lumber to understand how the XPH14Z performs with tasks around the home and on the job site. The drills high RPM set screws quickly in each test and had no problem finishing decking screws, small screws, and various lag bolts.

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.

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RPM

Makita XPH14Z RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 1,935.0
Max RPM speed 1: 500.0

The XPH14Z pushed out moderately high RPMs across its speed settings when tested on a contact tachometer. The high RPMs are sustained under load, explaining why the XPH14Z breezed through our driving and drilling speed tests.

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

Few drills can match the advertised torque of the XPH14Z, which impresses with 1,250.0 in-lbs of maximum torque. Not only is the torque output high overall, but it is also high compared to other flagships, which offer similar or lesser performance.

The combined speed and torque under load mostly explain the impressive performance in our drilling and driving tests. When the XPH14Z binds up, it is sufficiently strong to ramp back up to speed and finish the job efficiently. Just be sure to support the drill properly, including using the included auxiliary arm, since the rapid speed ramp and torque can cause injury when not operated correctly.

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 XPH14Z Chuck Closeup

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

The XPH14Z has a fantastic ratcheting chuck that is highly effective and has exceptional build quality. Some of this elevated 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 XPH14Z’s ratchet mechanism and three jaws held onto bits without loosening unexpectedly. This chuck is one of the best, frustration-free designs 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.

Motor & BPM

Makita XPH14Z Drill Modes

Motor type: Brushless
Action modes: Drill, hammer
Advertised blows per min. (speed 2): 31,500.0
Advertised blows per min. (speed 1): 8,250.0
Variable speed trigger: Yes
Kickback control technology: No
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.375

Makita made the correct and obvious call to include a brushless motor, vastly improving the efficiency and longevity compared to brushed motors commonly found in cheaper drills.

Beyond the motor type, the XPH14Z has two action modes: a drill mode that disengages the clutch and a hammer mode that does the same but improves drilling speed in demanding tasks, such as drilling concrete.

Throughout our testing, we were impressed with the drilling speed performance operating the XPH14Z in hammer mode. The snappy performance directly results from the high hammer rate of 31,500.0 blows per minute, among the highest in our test fleet.

Unlike some flagship models, such as the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill, the XPH14Z doesn’t include kickback control technology to reduce the risk of wrist injuries when binding up.

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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.

Compare drill motors

Clutch & speed settings

Makita XPH14Z Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 21

The XPH14Z has a familiar two-speed gearbox and 21 clutch settings offering different levels of torque to precisely finish screws and avoid cam-out or stripped threads. 21 clutch settings are higher than most competing models and provide the ability to tune the torque output to the driving task than a drill with fewer options.

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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 XPH14Z 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.

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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

Makita XPH14Z On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 3.65
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 4.49
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 5.04

While most power tools are becoming more powerful and compact, that doesn’t mean they’re becoming lightweight, including the XPH14Z. This hammer drill is one of the heaviest models in our test fleet, weighing in at over five lbs with a 5Ah battery. Throughout our testing, we frequently experienced arm and hand fatigue operating the XPH14Z in prolonged and repetitive drilling situations.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the XPH14Z with Makita’s 18V LXT 2Ah battery for a setup that’s as lightweight as possible and balances performance and battery run time.

Pair the XPH14Z 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 XPH14Z Footprint1
Makita XPH14Z Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.500
Max width (in.): 3.250
Chuck to back length (in.): 7.125
Base length (in.): 4.625
Base width (in.): 3.250

The XPH14Z has a large footprint, regardless of the dimensions measured, resulting in a bulky feel in hand. Notably, it is tall in its bare form and with a battery, has a wide head, and is long from tip to tail.

But context is important when discussing the relationship between size and power for hammer drills. We’ve not come across any job-site-ready hammer drill that is compact and lightweight.

The Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill is a solid, equally powerful alternative if you want a slightly more svelte footprint.

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.): 8.750
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.500
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 7.000

Since it is such a powerful hammer drill, the XPH14Z isn’t highly compact. The head is bulky, and the tip-to-tail length is relatively extended, partly due to fitting in the hammer drill mechanism. These dimensions explain why the XPH14Z doesn’t fit well into areas with limited access, including drilling under shelves and working between two vertical boards.

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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

Makita XPH14Z Auxiliary Arm

Auxiliary arm: Yes

The XPH14Z includes an auxiliary handle to control recoil and enhance stability during heavy-duty drilling tasks, improving user safety. The XPH14Z 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.

Noise

Makita XPH14Z Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 79.8
Max drilling noise (dBA): 86.1

Interestingly, the XPH14Z isn’t an incredibly loud hammer drill compared to the competition. We tested the max noise output in hammer mode under load, and this drill turned in the lowest result across all hammer drills tested in our Summer 2023 test fleet. Makita has done a bang-up job limiting the noise output under load when impacting.

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 XPH14Z Light Wall
Makita XPH14Z 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

The XPH14Z has few bells and whistles with its worklight design. There is 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 disable 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 XPH14Z 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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