Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill (Gen 3) Vs Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCD706 Hammer Drill

Milwaukee 3404-20 Angle 5

Milwaukee 3404-20

Quick take

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill is the better overall pick for most people, especially carpenters and woodworkers wanting a highly compact, light-duty drill. The Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCD706 Hammer Drill is compact and lightweight and is ideal for homeowners wanting a versatile drill for routine jobs around the house. The main differences otherwise are that Dewalt DCD706 is slightly lighter and includes a plastic chuck. The Milwaukee 3404-20 has a better all-metal chuck and a more agile design with a seamless in-handle battery. Both drills perform similarly in various speed tests and bog down like any 12V drill when boring wider holes.

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
Brand Dewalt
Platform 12V Xtreme
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs Not advertised
BPM 25,500.0
Clutch settings 15
Chuck size 3/8"
Same as DCD706B

Editorial opinion

Rating

4.45 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Light duty

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

Rating

4.16 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Light duty

Pros

  • Exceptionally lightweight
  • Compact footprint
  • Brushless motor
  • Includes a hammer drill
  • Solid warranty

Cons

  • Slow drilling and driving speeds
  • Plastic chuck

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
TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)25.615
Driving speed (sec.)25.315
Torque (in-lbs)Not advertisedNot ranked
RPM1,475.016
Bare weight (lbs)2.042
Drilling Noise (dBA)93.715

Recommended configuration

3404-22

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

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

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 25.6
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 5.1
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): 20.9
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): 4.2
Hammer mode speed improvement: 18.4%

One potential downside is the DCD706’s drilling speed. This drill completed our heavy-duty drilling speed test in 25.6 seconds, one of our slower results. The included hammer mode speeds up the process when drilling masonry or thick lumber. However, we don’t recommend the DCD706 if you frequently bore 1/2-inch and larger holes. It can complete these tasks in a pinch, but it is underpowered for them.

Arguably, the performance in less demanding tasks should carry more weight. We further tested the DCD706’s performance in various common drilling scenarios around the home, such as drilling holes narrower than 1/2 inch into multiple materials. The DCD706 breezed through light and medium-duty jobs we threw at it, as do most comparable drills.

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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.

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Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 25.3
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 5.1
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 27.0
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 5.4

The DCD706 is similarly slow when driving structural screws and lag bolts. The DCD706 doesn’t have the power to rapidly finish heavy-duty driving tasks, although it’ll complete them in a pinch.

We needed to drop a gear to the low setting for added torque to complete our driving speed test, explaining the slow performance.

Driving speed performance isn’t an issue with shorter and more common #6, #8, and #10 screws, which we also tested driving. The DCD706 competently completed the tests driving these screws into various material densities.

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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

RPM

Dewalt DCD706 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 1,475.0
Max RPM speed 1: 432.0

We measured moderately low RPM output with the DCD706 in both speed settings, partly explaining why it didn’t shine in our driving and drilling tests. Higher RPM output would improve the drill’s speed throughout its range.

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.

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Torque

Advertised max torque (in-lbs): Not advertised
Advertised max torque (ft-lbs): Not advertised

Dewalt no longer advertises the torque of its drills and we currently don’t test torque on a torque meter in-house, like we do for impact drivers.

Instead, review the results of our drilling and driving tests to understand each drill’s torque and RPM performance in practical applications.

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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.

Chuck

Dewalt DCD706 Chuck Closeup

Chuck size: 3/8″
Chuck sleeve material: Plastic

The DCD706’s ratcheting chuck works well and locks down on bits without loosening with usage, as we discovered throughout our testing. However, the chuck sleeve is made of plastic and doesn’t match the premium feel and build quality of other models in our test fleet.

We didn’t perform any drop tests, though we presume any plastic chuck sleeve won’t be as durable as an all-metal sleeve with a direct impact.

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.

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Motor & BPM

Dewalt DCD706 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

Dewalt made the right call to include a brushless motor at this price point. Dated brushed motors are commonly found in cheaper, less durable, and less efficient drills.

There are two action modes: a standard drill mode that disengages the chuck for peak torque output and a hammer drill mode that does the same but adds 25,500.0 blows per minute (BPM). 25,500.0 BPM is comparably low, yet the hammer drilling mechanism improved drilling speeds sufficiently well in our below drilling tests.

There is no kickback control technology in the DCD706, nor is there a need for one since it’s not powerful enough where wrist injuries are a risk.

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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.

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Clutch & speed settings

Dewalt DCD706 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 15

The DCD706 includes a standard two-speed transmission to run the hammer drill in a low or high-peed setting in any action mode or the 15 clutch settings. Setting it to drill mode in the low setting generates the maximum torque output.

15 clutch options are right in the middle of the pack. While some drills offer upwards of 20 clutch settings, 15 is more than enough to precisely fine-tune the DCD706’s torque output to avoid stripping screws and finishing with a perfect recess, regardless of the driving task.

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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.

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Charging time

Dewalt DCD706 Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Dewalt 20V Max (DCB115)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 39.0
Charging time 4Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 5Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time per Ah (min.): 19.5
Fuel gauge: On battery

The Dewalt charger that comes with most kits (model DCB115) charges 12V batteries rapidly. In our tests, the charger topped off a 12V Max 2Ah battery in 39 minutes, or 19.5 minutes per Ah.

This charger also charges Dewalt’s 20V battery platform, helping to save space in your shop if you have several tools in the Dewalt ecosystem. But consider that the DCB115 doesn’t charge 20V Max batteries as rapidly.

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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

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: Yes

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.

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Weight

Dewalt DCD706 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.04
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 2.53
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): Not tested

One of the defining features of the DCD706 is its weight. This hammer drill is one of the lightest in our test fleet, weighing in at 2.04 lbs in its bare form. During our testing, we didn’t frequently experience hand or arm fatigue operating the DCD706, which is rare for any hammer drill.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the DCD706 with Dewalt’s 12V Max 2Ah battery for good drilling performance and weight balance in a lightweight setup.

Pair the DCD706 with Dewalt’s 12V Max 5Ah battery for a longer run time if weight is less of a concern. However, upgrading to Dewalt’s 20V Max drill lineup may be more suitable as you increase the battery Ah capacity since the weight and footprint increase moving up to a 12V 5Ah battery.

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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.

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Footprint

Dewalt DCD706 Footprint1

Max height (in.): 8.500
Max width (in.): 2.500
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.625
Base length (in.): 3.500
Base width (in.): 2.500

The DCD706 is reasonably compact when measured in many of its dimensions. Notably, it casts a thin shadow from the front and behind, it isn’t tall with a battery, and the tip-to-tail length is short.

Combined with its weight, the DCD706 feels nimble in hand without the bulky heft that plagues most hammer drills, even some competing 12V models.

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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.

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Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.250
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.375
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.750

Since it is a compact hammer drill, the DCD706 drills wells in situations where there are obstructions or tight corners to reach into. Notably, it performed best in our interior width and top-edge clearance tests. In practice, the DCD706 fits easily between two vertical boards and easily reaches under shelves and when obstructed from above.

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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.

Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The DCD706 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 DCD706 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.

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Noise

Dewalt DCD706 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 79.8
Max drilling noise (dBA): 93.7

The DCD706 is moderately loud when drilling under load. We measured the maximum noise output when hammering and drilling stacked lumber. The dBA results rival the same noise the top impact drivers generate, which can be harmful with prolonged exposure.

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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.

Light

Dewalt DCD706 Light Wall
Dewalt DCD706 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light location: In base
Light positions: 1
Customizable light settings: None
Light count: Single LED
Light active time (sec.): 20.0

There is a single bulb located in the base that shines upward. It sufficiently illuminates the work surface in front of the DCD706’s nose. However, we prefer drill designs that include the light near the trigger and shine straight forward, improving the light’s versatility and ensuring the intended area is most brightly lit.

There are no advanced light features, such as a dedicated spotlight mode and the ability to turn off the light, which some of the best Dewalt drills include.

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.

Warranty

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

Dewalt stands behind the durability of its drills with exceptionally long warranties. The DCD706 has a three-year warranty. Dewalt’s 12V Max batteries include a three-year warranty.

Dewalt also offers free maintenance and replacement of worn parts for one year for the DCD706.

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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