Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2903-20 (Gen 4) Vs Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill

Milwaukee 2903-20 Angle 5

Milwaukee 2903-20

Quick take

The Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill and Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2903-20 are comparable flagship drills that are exceptionally fast under load and rarely bog down in demanding tasks. The Dewalt DCD805 is a better option for most since it includes a hammer mode for drilling cement efficiently. It also has a more versatile work light, but that’s not a key deciding factor for many people. The primary advantages of the Milwaukee 2903-20 are a slightly shorter tip-to-tail length, an auxiliary arm included in the box, and kickback control technology. However, it lacks a hammer drill mode. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 is the 2903-20’s twin with a hammer drill.

Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18 Fuel
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs 1400.0
BPM N/A
Clutch settings 16
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as M18 gen 4 drill
Brand Dewalt
Platform 20V Max XR
Motor Brushless
Speeds 2
Torque in-lbs Not advertised
BPM 34,000.0
Clutch settings 15
Chuck size 1/2"
Same as DCD805B

Editorial opinion

Rating

4.30 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Fast drilling and driving speeds
  • Kickback control technology
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy
  • No hammer drill functionality

Rating

4.25 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Impressive drilling and driving speed
  • Solid build quality
  • Versatile and configurable worklight
  • Includes a hammer drill mode
  • Brushless motor
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Loud noise output
  • No auxiliary arm included
  • No kickback control technology

Global rankings

18 models tested

TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)10.01
Driving speed (sec.)7.75
Torque (in-lbs)1400.01
RPM2,059.01
Bare weight (lbs)3.1615
Drilling Noise (dBA)83.25
TestResultRank
Drilling speed (sec.)10.12
Driving speed (sec.)7.12
Torque (in-lbs)Not advertisedNot ranked
RPM2,038.04
Bare weight (lbs)3.0013
Drilling Noise (dBA)96.117

Recommended configuration

2903-22

Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery

Lab results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 10.0
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.0
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 2903-20 is incredibly fast, boring small and wide holes alike. It sustained high RPMs throughout the depth of the hole in our test of drilling a 1/2-inch drill bit through three stacked 2x6s. Never did it think of bogging down, primarily due to the high speed that impressively launches chips out of the hole.

The 2903-20 may not be the ideal drill for homeowners since it is overpowered and overkill for most jobs around the home.

Compare drilling speed test results

Drilling speed

Drilling speed total time (drill mode, sec.): 10.1
Drilling speed average time (drill mode, sec.): 2.0
Drilling speed total time (hammer mode, sec.): 7.2
Drilling speed average time (hammer mode, sec.): 1.4
Hammer mode speed improvement: 28.7%

The DCD805 is an impressively fast drill that sustains high RPMs under demanding drilling loads. The DCD805 completed our drilling speed test blazingly fast in 10.1 seconds in the standard drill mode.

The results are even rosier in the hammer drill mode, which brought the time down to 7.2 seconds to bore five 1/2-inch holes. That’s a speed improvement of 28.7%, which is high compared to other hammer drills in our test fleet.

We further tested drilling wider and narrower gauge holes using a mix of forstner and spade bits. The DCD805 finished most of these tests without needing to downshift a gear for additional torque, which is rare for models we’ve tested.

While the power output is impressive and fun to experience, the DCD805 is arguably overpowered for most homeowners, who don’t push tools to their limits and may be more prone to wrist injuries when not using it appropriately. Consider the Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill if you want a more user-friendly drill for around the home.

Compare drilling speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 7.7
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.5
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.6
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.3

Unsurprisingly, the 2903-20 also drives big structural screws fast, tallying one of the best results in our driving speed tests. It blazed through driving five GRK RSS screws in 7.7 seconds.

While it didn’t take the podium position in our driving speed tests – that goes to the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD800 and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill – context is essential. The total driving time difference between the top drills in our test fleet is just over a second, which isn’t too discernible in practice.

We also tested the 2903-20 using several different gauge and length lag bolts and three-inch decking screws. We don’t measure the performance for these data points. Still, the 2903-20 impressed with whatever driving task we threw at it.

Compare driving speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 7.1
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 1.4
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 6.1
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.2

Unsurprisingly, the DCD805 is also incredibly fast driving big fasteners. It delivered one of the swiftest results in our Summer 2023 drill test fleet, finishing five GRK RSS 5 1/8-inch fasteners in only 7.1 seconds, not counting down time between each screw.

We further tested the DCD805 by driving several longer and wider gauge lag bolts into stacked 2x6s. We didn’t run into a scenario where we needed to drop to the low setting for added torque to finish the job, rare for most drills.

Compare driving speed test results

RPM

Milwaukee 2903-20 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 2,059.0
Max RPM speed 1: 468.0

One reason the 2903-20 shined in our performance tests is its high RPM output. Importantly, it has enough power to sustain high RPMs under load. Some drills advertise high RPMs but aren’t fast in practice since they’re underpowered and meaningfully slow down at the top of their range.

The 2903-20 also dishes out moderately high RPMs in the low setting, as we measured using a contact tachometer. In practice, this means this drill will be faster than other drills in the same low setting when gearing down for extra torque.

Compare drill RPM test results

RPM

Dewalt DCD805 RPM Chart

Max RPM speed 2: 2,038.0
Max RPM speed 1: 649.0

The DCD805’s drilling and driving speed performance directly relates to the high RPM output. In all the action modes and transmission settings, we tested the RPM performance with a contact tachometer in a no-load scenario.

While no-load RPM output doesn’t tell the whole story of how a drill performs under load, our speed testing results confirm that the DCD805 has the muscle to sustain RPMs at a higher rate than many hammer drills under load.

Compare drill RPM test results

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

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

Chuck

Milwaukee 2903-20 Chuck Closeup

Chuck size: 1/2″
Chuck sleeve material: Metal

The 2903-20 has an exceptional all-metal chuck that feels and looks more premium than most drills. The sleeve has a knurled metal design that helps tighten the chuck with enough friction on your hand for grip.

We were impressed throughout testing with how well the three-jaw chuck holds bits. The ratcheting jaws lock tightly onto a bit when tightening, and we didn’t run into any scenarios where the chuck inadvertently loosened during use.

Chuck

Dewalt DCD805 Chuck Closeup

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

The DCD805 is a flagship hammer drill, so we expected it to have a premium chuck. It did not disappoint. The all-metal chuck locked onto bits and didn’t inadvertently loosen at any point throughout our lab tests. The metal knurling on the chuck sleeve also provides the right amount of friction when ratcheting the chuck by hand, which is helpful for quickly and confidently inserting drill bits.

Motor & BPM

Milwaukee 2903-20 Drill Modes
Milwaukee 2903-20 Over Rotations Closeup

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: Yes
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.375

As should be expected at this price point, the 2903-20 includes Milwaukee’s Powerstate-branded brushless motor, which offers better efficiency and longevity than brushed motors.

There is only a single drill mode setting that is positioned on the same set ring as the clutch settings.

One standout feature is that the 2903-20 features kickback control technology, which helps reduce the risk of wrist injuries when binding up. Near the light in the base, there is a small Autostop light that flashes when the kickback mechanism is triggered.

We tested the kickback control using several large spade and forstner bits and found that it worked as advertised and immediately stopped drilling to avoid over-rotating when the bit binds up. But we don’t run standardized tests to understand if Milwaukee’s technology works better than any competing kickback control technology.

There is no hammer drill functionality, which the sister Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill includes.

Compare drill motors

Motor & BPM

Dewalt DCD805 Drill Modes

Motor type: Brushless
Action modes: Drill, hammer
Advertised blows per min. (speed 2): 34,000.0
Advertised blows per min. (speed 1): Not advertised
Variable speed trigger: Yes
Kickback control technology: No
Trigger draw length (in.): 0.250

There are two drilling action modes. The drill mode disengages the chuck for the highest torque output, which is ideal for boring big holes and driving lag bolts and structural fasteners.

The hammer drill mode operates in the same manner but adds in a hammer that impacts at a rate of 34,000.00 blows per minute, which is among the highest in our test fleet. We tested the hammer’s effectiveness in our drilling speed test below to understand the speed improvements offered.

One area for improvement is including some kickback control technology to enhance safety when since an auxiliary arm isn’t included. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill includes kickback control technology.

Compare drill motors

Clutch & speed settings

Milwaukee 2903-20 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 16

The two-speed gearbox determines the RPM output and can be used in 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 2903-20 is precise when the proper clutch setting is engaged.

Compare drill clutch and speed settings

Clutch & speed settings

Dewalt DCD805 Clutch & Speed

Speed settings: 2
Clutch settings: 15

There is a standard two-speed gearbox and 15 clutch settings. The high and low settings can be run in any action mode and clutch setting. The DCD805 generates the maximum torque output in either of the drill modes in the low setting.

Compare drill clutch and speed settings

Charging time

Milwaukee 2903-20 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 DCD805 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

One letdown is that the standard charger included in most Dewalt kits (model DCB115) charges batteries slowly compared to other manufacturers. In our testing, the DCB115 charged at a rate of 28.7 minutes per Ah. Several other brands charge at a rate of 20 minutes per Ah or lower.

However, this charger charges 12V and 20V Max platform batteries in one, conveniently saving shelf space in your shop if you have several tools in the Dewalt ecosystem.

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

Milwaukee 2903-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 3.16
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 4.10
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.77

No powerful drill is lightweight, including the 2903-20, one of our test fleet’s heavier drills. Most users will experience hand and arm muscle fatigue when operating the 2903-20 over prolonged periods, as we experienced in several tests.

We tested different battery configurations since the working weight can differ meaningfully from the bare weight. We recommend combining the 2903-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery for as lightweight a setup as possible while still retaining acceptable performance for a high-powered drill.

Pair the 2903-20 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 DCD805 Angle 7

Bare weight (lbs): 3.00
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.80
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs): Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 4.42

The DCD805 is a heavy hammer drill, weighing 3.00 lbs in its bare form. You can comfortably hang it from a sturdy work belt by the belt hook. But it’s not light enough to comfortably drop in your jeans pocket for portability.

Many professionals will use this drill with a high Ah-capacity battery. When kitting it out with a 20V Max XR 5Ah battery, the setup weighs 4.42 lbs. We ran into several instances throughout testing where hand fatigue set in, which is expected in this brute force class.

To get sufficient performance in as lightweight a setup as possible, we recommend combining the DCD805 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.

Compare drill weight test results

Footprint

Milwaukee 2903-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2903-20 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.500
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 6.875
Base length (in.): 4.625
Base width (in.): 3.125

The 2903-20 is bulky when measured in a variety of orientations. Notably, it is tall with a battery attached, and the head is somewhat wide. The tip-to-tail length is surprisingly compact for such a powerful drill, helping it fit into some tight areas better than other high-end models in our test fleet.

Compare drill footprint test results

Footprint

Dewalt DCD805 Footprint1
Dewalt DCD805 Footprint2

Max height (in.): 9.375
Max width (in.): 3.125
Chuck to back length (in.): 7.000
Base length (in.): 4.500
Base width (in.): 3.125

The DCD805 is moderately large when measured in many of its dimensions. To fit the hammering mechanism, the head is wider and longer than its non-hammer drill sister, the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD800. The increased head size also adds length from tip to tail, though it’s not an overly tall hammer drill.

Compare drill footprint test results

Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.625
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.375
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.875

Since it is bulky, we weren’t surprised that the 2903-20 didn’t beat our test fleet with its driving clearances. This drill is designed more for brute force unobstructed drilling power than for squeezing through narrow spaces and into tight corners.

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

Drilling clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.625
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.500
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.875

The DCD805’s moderately large footprint didn’t help it shine in our clearance tests, designed to understand the obstructed spaces and tight areas each drill fits into. Notably, the moderately long tip-to-tail length and bulky head limit the spaces it fits into, including scenarios such as drilling under shelves and fitting into restricted corners.

Compare drilling clearance test results

Auxiliary arm

Milwaukee 2903-20 Auxiliary Arm

Auxiliary arm: Yes

The 2903-20 includes an auxiliary handle to control recoil and enhance stability during heavy-duty drilling tasks, improving user safety. The 2903-20 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.

Auxiliary arm

Auxiliary arm: No

The DCD805 is a powerful drill that should include a detachable auxiliary arm in the box to improve user safety when the drill binds up. The Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill and Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill are powerful and include auxiliary arms.

Noise

Milwaukee 2903-20 Noise Chart

Max no-load noise (dBA): 85.7
Max drilling noise (dBA): 83.2

The 2903-20’s maximum drilling noise under load is far quieter than most models in our test fleet, including much louder hammer drills that rival the noise output of many impact drivers.

Compare drill noise test results

Noise

Dewalt DCD805

Max no-load noise (dBA): 84.7
Max drilling noise (dBA): 96.1

The DCD805 is one of our test fleet’s loudest drills under load. While the high hammering rate vastly improves drilling speed, it is also incredibly loud, generating 96.1 dBA of noise. This result rivals the noise output of powerful impact drivers, which are also harmful with prolonged exposure.

Compare drill noise test results

Light

Milwaukee 2903-20 Light Wall
Milwaukee 2903-20 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, which is an area for improvement with the 2903-20.

Light

Dewalt DCD805 Light Wall
Dewalt DCD805 Light Closeup
Dewalt DCD805 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

We’re big fans of the DCD805’s worklight. The multi-position light does the essentials well and brightly illuminates the surface directly in front of the nose of the drill, whether using a short or long drill bit.

A switch behind the light can disable the light or enable Spotlight mode, which runs the light for 20 minutes and increases the brightness to an advertised 70 lumens.

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 2903-20 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 DCD805 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 DCD805.

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.

Related

Leave a Comment