Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill Review

Milwaukee 3404-20 Angle 5

Quick take

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill offers unmatched performance in its class. It drives and drills quickly at the top end of its range and is highly compact and light. Milwaukee also offers a best-in-class tool warranty to back up its build quality and durability. The primary downside is it can’t match the power and speed of beefier 18V drills, and the hammer drill functionality isn’t highly effective. However, it is perfect for homeowners since it can breeze through any everyday task DIYers could throw at it. The 3404-20 is also ideal for woodworking and as a dedicated light-duty drill for professionals.

Brand Milwaukee
Platform M12 Fuel
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 400.0
BPM 25,500.0
Clutch settings 13
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as M12 gen 3 hammer drill

Global rankings

18 models tested

TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)27.616
Driving speed (sec.)14.812
Torque (in-lbs)400.010
RPM1,432.017
Bare weight (lbs)2.154
Drilling Noise (dBA)90.212

Editorial opinion

Methodology used: Light duty

Editorial rating

4.45 / 5 stars

Pros

  • Exceptionally compact and lightweight
  • Fast drilling and driving performance in its class
  • Solid build quality
  • Long warranty
  • Brushless motor

Cons

  • Hammer drill functionality isn’t highly effective

Recommended configuration

3404-22

Includes (1) M12 Red Lithium XC 4Ah, (1) M12 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery

Series lineup

Model #PlatformAction ModesMax Torque (in-lbs)Review
Milwaukee 3403-20 (Gen 3)M12 FuelDrill only400.0Full review
Milwaukee 3404-20 (Gen 3)M12 FuelDrill, hammer400.0Full review

Lab results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 27.6
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 5.5
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): 24.6
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): 4.9
Hammer mode speed improvement: 10.9%

The 3404-20 shined in our drilling speed tests, far outpacing competing models in the 12V class. Milwaukee geared the 3404-20 to speed through tasks at the upper end of its range, which is what our drilling speed tests are designed to achieve.

We also tested a range of spade and forstner bits in different sizes to understand further the 3404-20’s capabilities in various drilling scenarios. The 3404-20 didn’t bind up when boring 1/2-inch and narrower holes. With some larger holes with bit types, we had to drop into the low setting for added torque to finish the job, which is expected in this voltage class.

The overall drilling performance highlights why the 3404-20 is perfect for around the home, for woodworking, and as a dedicated light-duty drill for professionals. Homeowners won’t push it to the limits, and it’ll do many of the jobs of a more powerful 18V drill in a pinch.

While the hammering functionality improves drilling speed and is recommended for drilling masonry and thick lumber, it doesn’t vastly improve the speed. In our test, the hammer drill improved speeds by 10.9%. A higher BPM would improve this result, putting it closer to the most effective hammer drills, which will improve speeds by upwards of 20.0%.

Compare drilling speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 14.8
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 3.0
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 10.1
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 2.0

The 3404-20 turned in some of the fastest driving times of 12V models in our test fleet.

Diving deeper into our driving speed results further highlights how far ahead of the pack the 3404-20 is regarding its driving performance. The next closest 12V competitor took approximately ten more seconds to complete the driving speed test. In the 18V category, the difference was only a few seconds when comparing flagship models to mid-tier competitors. This comparison further proves that the 3404-20 is in a class of its own.

Compare driving speed test results

RPM

Milwaukee 3404-20 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 1,432.0
Max RPM speed 1: 429.0

There are always performance tradeoffs with power tools. In the case of the 3404-20, it has reasonably low RPMs in both its speed settings. But you may wonder how it crushed the competition in our drilling and driving speed tests.

Like most Fuel-branded Milwaukee tools, the 3404-20 is designed to be the fastest in demanding tasks under load. The 3404-20 will give up some speed to competing drills in lighter-duty jobs.

Arguably, speed only matters at the top end of a drill’s range since there’s not much of an advantage to finishing one-inch screws the fastest.

This inverse speed and power relationship underlies how RPM and torque work and explains why the 3404-20 has a low RPM output but is still fast when it matters most.

Compare drill RPM test results

Torque

Advertised max torque (in-lbs): 400.0
Advertised max torque (ft-lbs): 33.3

While 400.0 in-lbs of torque isn’t high compared to all drills in our test fleet, it is high for a 12V drill, which shouldn’t be surprising since the 3404-20 sits within Milwaukee’s flagship Fuel-branded lineup.

However, we don’t consider torque a critical factor when purchasing a 12V drill. Firstly, impact drivers are the preferred tool for driving tasks that rely on torque to power through a job with lots of twisting force. Next in line is an 18V drill, which is needed for heavy-duty drilling applications.

Focusing on size, weight, and RPM performance under load are more important since 12V drills are mostly used as dedicated light-duty tools for professionals or for homeowners who don’t need brute force power.

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

Milwaukee 3404-20 Chuck Closeup

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

The all-metal chuck is well-designed and feels more premium than most chucks, partly due to the metal knurling on the chuck sleeve.

Throughout testing, we were also impressed with how well the three-jaw chuck locks bits. We didn’t encounter situations where the chuck inadvertently loosened.

Motor & BPM

Milwaukee 3404-20 Drill Modes

Motor type: Brushless
Action modes: Drill, hammer
Advertised blows per min. (speed 2): 25,500.0
Advertised blows per min. (speed 1): Not advertised
Variable speed trigger: Yes
Kickback control technology: No
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.375

The Powerstate brushless motor powers two action modes. Like all drills, the drill mode disengages the clutch and delivers the highest torque output in the low setting. Setting the drill to hammer drill mode achieves the same, but layers in 25,500.0 blows per minute (BPM) to improve speed when drilling masonry and thick lumber.

The advertised BPM isn’t high, which explains why we experienced only a minimal increase in speed in our tests when selecting the hammer drill mode.

No kickback control technology is included with the 3043-20, expected in the 12V category.

Compare drill motors

Clutch & speed settings

Milwaukee 3404-20 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 13

The 3404-20 has a two-speed gearbox with 13 clutch settings. All the clutch options and drill action modes can be run in the high or low-speed setting, helping fine-tune the drilling and driving profile to the task.

Compare drill clutch and speed settings

Charging time

Milwaukee 3404-20 Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Milwaukee M12 & M18 Multi-Volt (48-59-1812)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 38.0
Charging time 4Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 5Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time per Ah (min.): 19.0
Fuel gauge: Onboard tool

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 38 minutes to charge an M12 2Ah battery, equivalent to 19 minutes per amp-hour.

Many Milwaukee drills come in kits with chargers that charge multiple voltage batteries 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): No
Stands upright (w/ battery): Yes
Grip material: Rubber overgrip
Magnetic holder: No
Bit holder: No
Belt hook: Yes
Lanyard compatible: No

The 3404-20 uses the same design language as the M12 Fuel Milwaukee impact drivers. The handle leans forward, and the head is upwardly sloped, orienting the drill in the correct plane when exerting forward pressure.

There is also a rubber overmold surrounding the grip, which improves shock absorption and gripping power.

An all-metal belt hook is included in the box and is mountable on either side of the head just behind and above the trigger. There is no onboard bit holder or magnetic fastener plate to hold screws.

Weight

Milwaukee 3404-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.15
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 2.54
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): Not tested

The 3404-20 is incredibly lightweight in its bare form and with a battery, creating an agile feel in hand. Unlike many other models in our test fleet, we didn’t experience hand and arm fatigue throughout our testing.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the 3404-20 with Milwaukee’s M12 Red Lithium CP 2Ah Ah battery for a good balance of drilling performance and weight in a lightweight setup.

If weight is less of a concern, Milwaukee offers several higher Ah-capacity M12 batteries in its lineup. But you lose the seamless in-handle design for a slightly bulkier base footprint and higher weight.

Compare drill weight test results

Footprint

Milwaukee 3404-20 Footprint1

Max height (in.): 8.250
Max width (in.): 2.250
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.000
Base length (in.): 2.000
Base width (in.): 2.250

There aren’t many 12V drills that are highly compact and powerful simultaneously, highlighting why the 3404-20 impresses. The 3404-20 is short with a battery, casts a reasonably thin shadow when viewed from the front and back, and is short from tip to tail. The compact size helps it squeeze into tight areas well, improving its versatility.

Compare drill footprint test results

Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.750
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.250
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.000

Thanks to its compact footprint, the 3404-20 shined in our clearance tests. The 3404-20 is a fantastic hammer drill to use when access is limited, including when drilling under shelves and in tight corners.

Compare drilling clearance test results

Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The 3404-20 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 3404-20 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.

Noise

Milwaukee 3404-20 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 84.0
Max drilling noise (dBA): 90.2

The 3404-20 is moderately loud under load, primarily resulting from its hammer impacting 25,5000.0 times per minute. Setting it to the drill mode reduces the noise output, which aligns with other drills in their non-hammering drill mode.

Compare drill noise test results

Light

Milwaukee 3404-20 Light Wall
Milwaukee 3404-20 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 above the trigger brightly illuminates the drilling surface in front of the head. Unlike some Dewalt drills, there are no extra light features, such as a spotlight mode or the ability to turn off the light when pressing the trigger.

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 3404-20 has a five-year warranty, which is among the longest offered by any manufacturer. Milwaukee’s M12 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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