Milwaukee M18 2801-20 Vs Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD800

Milwaukee 2801-20 Angle 5

Milwaukee 2801-20

Quick take

While both the Milwaukee M18 2801-20 and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD800 are formidable drill/drivers, the DCD800 outclasses the 2801-20 in performance. Dewalt’s drill performs better in both drilling and driving. The DCD800 is wider and weighs more than the 2801-20 but can fit into tighter spots as it’s shorter from tip to tail. It also comes equipped with multiple work light modes.

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
Brand Dewalt
Platform 20V Max XR
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs Not advertised
BPM N/A
Clutch settings 15
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as DCD800B

Editorial opinion

Rating

3.90 / 5 ⭐️’s

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

Rating

3.91 / 5 ⭐️’s

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Exceptional drilling and driving speed
  • Advanced worklight features
  • Short length
  • Long warranty
  • All-metal chuck design

Cons

  • No hammer drill
  • Moderately heavy
  • No auxiliary arm included

Global rankings

18 models tested

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
TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)11.64
Driving speed (sec.)6.51
Torque (in-lbs)Not advertisedNot ranked
RPM2,046.03
Bare weight (lbs)2.8411
Drilling Noise (dBA)81.94

Kit and bare tool options

2801-21P

Includes (1) M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery

2801-22CT

Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery

2801-20

Bare tool

Lab 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

The 2801-20 has a slightly forward-leaning handle that levels the drill in the proper position when drilling. However, the head is flat, unlike some models in our test fleet that are angled upwards with a more aggressive stance. This design requires you to roll your wrist forward slightly when aggressively drilling.

While it includes an all-metal belt hook in the box that is mountable on both sides of the base, there is no onboard bit holder or magnetic plate to hold fasteners. Third parties offer both that you can add onto the 2801-20 for convenience.

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

The DCD800’s handle leans slightly forward to orient the drill in a flat plane when drilling. The handle’s lean and head’s flat angle aren’t as aggressive as other drills, which remain flat when rolling your wrist forward and exerting additional pressure with your arm in line with the head.

A metal belt hook is included and can be mounted on either side of the base in one of the available slots, which can also be used for a third-party bit holder.

Otherwise, a rubber overmold strategically surrounds the grip for shock absorption and grip.

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

Weight

Dewalt DCD800 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.84
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.64
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.26

The DCD800 is moderately heavy for an 18V drill, weighing in at 2.84 lbs in its bare form. The bulky weight does lead to muscle fatigue, as we experienced at several points running repetitive tests.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare tool weight. We recommend combining the DCD800 with Dewalt’s 20V Powerstack 1.7Ah battery, which weighs less, has a smaller footprint, and runs longer than Dewalt’s 20V Max 2Ah battery, a solid alternative for a svelte setup.

Pair the DCD800 with Dewalt’s 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved drilling performance if weight is less of a concern.

Compare drill weight 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.

Compare drill footprint test results

Footprint

Dewalt DCD800 Footprint1
Dewalt DCD800 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.375
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.375
Base length (in.): 4.500
Base width (in.): 3.125

The DCD800’s footprint is a tale of two stories, but it is compact in the areas that matter most. It is one of the shortest 18V drills in our test fleet from tip to tail and shorter than some less powerful and supposedly “compact” 12V drills. The tip-to-tail length is essential since it determines how easily it squeezes into tight areas, as we test below in our clearance tests.

However, the DCD800 is tall, and the head size casts a wide shadow.

Compare drill footprint test results

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.

Compare drill motors

Motor & BPM

Dewalt DCD800 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.): 0.250

There is only a single action mode on the DCD800. The drill mode disengages the clutch to offer unfettered torque output for boring wide holes and driving big fasteners. Unlike the sister Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill, there is no hammer functionality.

One feature Dewalt should consider adding is kickback control technology, which some of the best Milwaukee drills include. The DCD800 is exceptionally powerful, increasing the risk of wrist injuries when the drill bit binds up.

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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.

Compare drill clutch and speed settings

Clutch & speed settings

Dewalt DCD800 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 15

The two-speed transmission can run the DCD800 in the high or low setting in the single action mode and any of the 15 clutch settings. As with all drills, setting the drill to the low setting in the drill mode generates the maximum torque output.

While 15 clutch settings are fewer than some drills, it is enough to precisely tune the torque output to avoid stripping screws and finishing with the proper recess.

Compare drill clutch and speed settings

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.

Chuck

Dewalt DCD800 Chuck Closeup

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

The all-metal ratcheting chuck offers better durability and build quality than drills with hybrid metal and plastic chucks. The metal knurled chuck sleeve is perfectly machined to provide the right amount of friction when locking in drill bits with your hand. We didn’t encounter issues with the three jaws loosening throughout our testing, making it completely frustration-free.

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.

Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The DCD800 does not include an auxiliary handle, which is a letdown for such a powerful drill. The Milwaukee M18 2904-20 Hammer Drill and Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill include auxiliary arms and are powerful.

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

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 11.6
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.3
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 DCD800 drills incredibly fast when under heavy load. It averaged 2.3 seconds per 1/2-inch hole bored in our drilling speed tests designed to explore each drill’s upper range. Critically for a contractor-grade drill, it sustains high RPMs throughout the hole depth and blasts out chips to avoid bogging down.

The DCD800 also chewed through other drilling tasks we threw at it, including boring narrower and wider holes with various spade and forstner bits. We needed to drop a gear for additional torque in a few instances.

But consider that the DCD800 isn’t ideal for the average homeowner who rarely pushes any power tool to its limits and could risk injury if not used correctly. There are more compact, powerful options that are more user-friendly, such as the Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill.

Compare drilling speed test results

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.

Compare driving speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 6.5
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.3
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.0
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.2

The DCD800 is blazingly fast when driving structural screws. It took the podium position for driving speed in our Summer 2023 test fleet, averaging 1.3 seconds per fastener, not accounting for downtime between finishing each GRK RSS fastener.

We also tested driving several wider gauge and longer lag bolts into stacked dimensional 2x6s. The DCD800 similarly breezed through each scenario without dropping to the low setting for additional torque.

Compare driving speed test results

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.

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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.

Compare drill torque

Battery lineup

Milwaukee M18 Battery Lineup

Milwaukee offers 1.5Ah, 2Ah, 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, 6Ah, 8Ah, and 12Ah batteries on the M18 platform. Upgrading to the higher Ah options increases battery run time and improves drilling performance, though we’ve not tested all of these batteries to understand the cost tradeoffs.

Buying at least two batteries is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend buying a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah and a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for most M18 drill setups for a good performance, price, and size balance.

Battery lineup

Dewalt 20V Max Battery Lineup

Dewalt offers 1.5Ah, 2Ah, 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, 8Ah, 10Ah, and 12Ah batteries in its 20V Max lineup. Upgrading to the higher Ah options increases battery run time and improves drilling performance, though we’ve not tested all of these batteries to understand the cost tradeoffs.

Buying at least two batteries is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend purchasing a Dewalt 20V Max 2Ah and a Dewalt 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for most Dewalt 20V drill setups for a good balance of performance, price, and size.

Dewalt’s 20V Powerstack batteries may be a smart buying choice for some users. Dewalt advertises improved drilling performance, longer battery run time, and more battery cycles out of its 20V Powerstack 1.7Ah and 5Ah batteries than its standard 20V Max batteries. We plan on testing the performance differences to understand the cost tradeoffs.

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

Charging time

Dewalt DCD800 Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Dewalt 20V Max (DCB115)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 59.0
Charging time 4Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 5Ah battery (min.): 139.0
Charging time per Ah (min.): 28.7
Fuel gauge: On battery

The DCB115 charger included in many Dewalt kits charges batteries slowly compared to standard chargers from other brands. The charger charges at a rate of 28.7 minutes per Ah, which doesn’t compete with other brands that charge at a rate of less than 20.0 minutes per Ah.

However, one savior is that the DCB115 charges batteries on the 12V and 20V Dewalt platforms, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several tools in the Dewalt ecosystem.

Compare drill charging 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

RPM

Dewalt DCD800 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 2,046.0
Max RPM speed 1: 648.0

When testing the RPM output on a contact tachometer, we found that the DCD800 matches Dewalt’s lofty advertised claims. The DCD800 generated 2,046.0 RPMs in our lab on the high setting and 648.0 RPMs on the low setting. As our drilling and driving tests demonstrated, the DCD800 is powerful enough to sustain high RPMs under load.

Compare drill RPM test results

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

Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.825
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.500
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.500

We noted in the Footprint section that the DCD800’s size is a tale of two stories. Let’s focus first on where the size positively impacts its performance in obstructed areas. Since the tip-to-tail length is short, the DCD800 sandwiches well between two vertical obstructions and squeezes into tight corners at an angle.

However, since the head is moderately bulky, the DCD800 doesn’t perform well in our top edge clearance test, designed to understand how easily a drill fits under shelves and in other situations when obstructed from above.

Compare drilling clearance 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.

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Noise

Dewalt DCD800 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 83.5
Max drilling noise (dBA): 81.9

The DCD800 is quieter under load than other drills in our test fleet, especially when compared to the maximum noise output of a hammer drill. Still, 81.9 dBA under load is loud enough to cause damage with prolonged exposure.

Compare drill noise test results

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.

Light

Dewalt DCD800 Light Wall
Dewalt DCD800 Light Closeup
Dewalt DCD800 Light Customization

Light: Yes
Light location: In base
Light positions: 3
Customizable light settings: Off, On, Spotlight
Light count: Single LED
Light active time (sec.): 20.0

The DCD800 is one of the few drills we’ve tested that goes all out on its worklight features. The in-base light is bright and is configurable in three different positions.

There are also other advanced features. The light can be turned off entirely or act as a spotlight. In Spotlight mode, the light remains on for 20 minutes after pulling the trigger, and the brightness increases to an advertised 70 lumens.

App integration

App integration: No

There is no Bluetooth app integration to track drill usage and location, display tool diagnostics, and allow you to set custom profiles on your phone.

Milwaukee’s One Key-branded drills include an app integration, but you’ll only find the One Key feature built natively into its flagship models. Dewalt utilizes the same approach with its ToolConnect lineup, which offers similar app features and is only available in flagship tools.

App integration

App integration: After-market add-on

There is no built-in Bluetooth app integration to track drill usage and location, display tool diagnostics, and allow you to set custom profiles on your phone. Some of Dewalt’s flagship power tools include ToolConnect natively, along with some additional features. But there is a slot in the base to add Dewalt’s after-market ToolConnect chip housing for Bluetooth connectivity.

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.

Warranty

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

Dewalt stands behind the durability of its drills with exceptionally long warranties. The DCD800 has a three-year warranty. Dewalt’s 20V Max batteries include a three-year warranty.

Dewalt also offers free maintenance and replacement of worn parts for one year for the DCD800.

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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