Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887 vs Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 (Gen 4)

Dewalt DCF887 Angle 5

Dewalt DCF887

Quick take

The Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887 and Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 are both flagship impact drivers with exceptional build quality and long warranties. If you’re not already tied to a brand ecosystem, the 2953-20 is a better fit for most people since it is far shorter from tip to tail and is modestly faster under load. Both models pack in a hefty torque punch, though the 2953-20 is best-in-class in this regard. Both shine in demanding applications, so you can’t go wrong with either pick. Ultimately, choosing between the two may come down to whether you’re a team yellow or team red fan.

Brand Dewalt
Platform 20V Max XR
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 880.2
IPM 3,600.0
Drive modes 3
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as DCF887B
Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18 Fuel
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 1,236.0
IPM 4,400.0
Drive modes 4
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as M18 gen 4

Editorial opinion

Rating

4.47 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Excellent torque and driving speed
  • Brushless motor
  • Versatile drive modes
  • Long tool and battery warranty
  • One-handed bit changes

Cons

  • Battery run time
  • Long collet-to-back length
  • Inconsistent accuracy finishing screws

Rating

4.72 / 5 stars

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Best-in-class driving performance
  • Versatile drive modes improve accuracy
  • Compact footprint fits into tight spaces
  • Brushless motor improves efficiency and durability
  • Long tool and battery warranty

Cons

  • Poor battery run time

Global rankings

21 models tested

TestResultRank
Driving speed (sec.)14.75
Torque (in-lbs)880.22
Battery run time (min.)39.013
RPM3,155.08
Bare weight (lbs)2.0913
Impacting noise (dBA)100.620
TestResultRank
Driving speed (sec.)11.21
Torque (in-lbs)1,236.01
Battery run time (min.)26.018
RPM3,788.01
Bare weight (lbs)2.2017
Impacting noise (dBA)95.25

Recommended configuration

DCF887D2

Includes (2) Max XR 20V 2Ah battery

Lab results

Torque

Dewalt DCF887 Torquemeter
Dewalt DCF888 Torque Charts

Max torque drive mode 1 (in-lbs): 880.2
Max torque drive mode 2 (in-lbs): 639.0
Max torque drive mode 3 (in-lbs): N/A
Max torque drive mode 4 (in-lbs): N/A

The DCF887 is exceptionally powerful, with some of the highest torque output we’ve tested in the lab. The DCF887 took a podium position for its robust torque output within our Summer ’23 test fleet. Only the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 pushed out higher torque readings on our torque meter.

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Torque

Milwaukee 2953-20 Torquemeter
Milwaukee 2953-20 Torque Charts

Max torque drive mode 1 (in-lbs): 1,236.0
Max torque drive mode 2 (in-lbs): 857.4
Max torque drive mode 3 (in-lbs): 390.6
Max torque drive mode 4 (in-lbs): N/A

The 2953-20 is a torque beast, generating the highest torque output we measured among the best impact drivers in our test fleet. It did so by a long shot as well, which is impressive in such a compact and agile footprint.

The torque output isn’t surprising since this is Milwaukee’s flagship gen-4 impact driver that’s designed for brute force over all else. The performance is even more impressive knowing the robust torque profile doesn’t come at the expense of slow driving performance. The 2953-20 shines at both, partly explaining its high price tag and why many pros carry it in their tool belt.

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RPM

Dewalt DCF887 RPM Charts

Max RPM drive mode 1 (fwd.): 3,155.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (fwd.): 2,956.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (fwd.): 2,547.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (fwd.): 961.0
Max RPM drive mode 1 (rev.): 3,169.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (rev.): 2,857.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (rev.): 2,809.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (rev.): 1,067.0

One reason the DCF887 is solidly versatile is its balanced RPM profile. Our RPM tests demonstrate rotations across its drive modes that are moderately fast. While a higher max RPM could drive screws faster in some scenarios, it would be overkill for most uses.

Instead, the muted RPM profile helps reduce the potential for cam-out and stripped screws in the highest speed settings.

There is no meaningful difference in RPM for each drive mode in forward or reverse. Some impact drivers ramp up RPM in the reverse direction to assist in removing stubborn screws or bolts, but the DCF887 has more than enough twisting force and torque for these tasks.

Compare RPM test results

RPM

Milwaukee 2953-20 RPM Charts

Max RPM drive mode 1 (fwd.): 3,788.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (fwd.): 2,874.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (fwd.): 1,427.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (fwd.): 3,334.0
Max RPM drive mode 1 (rev.): 3,735.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (rev.): 2,905.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (rev.): 1,560.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (rev.): 3,177.0

The 2953-20’s impressive driving performance is also a result of its RPM profile. The max RPM confidently drives screws and lag bolts quickly, albeit risking cam-out in the highest speed setting.

There is no meaningful RPM difference in forward or reverse. Some impact drivers increase RPM in the reverse direction for specialty drive modes to power through loosening stubborn nuts and deeply embedded screws.

Compare RPM test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 14.7
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.9
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 10.1
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 2.0

The DCF887 confidently drives big, long structural screws and lag bolts into dense material, as evidenced in our driving speed tests. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 improves upon the DCF887’s driving speed if brute force is essential to you.

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Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 11.2
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.2
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 8.7
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.7

Milwaukee generated impressive driving speed performance in our heavy-duty tests. The 2953-20 powerfully drives big screws and lag bolts, resulting in one of the fastest results driving GRK screws in our speed test. The 2953-20 is among the few impact drivers to buy if brute force driving power is essential.

Also consider the Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF845 for impressive driving performance.

While the 2953-20 offers solid accuracy and driving versatility in its class, we don’t recommend it as an all-around impact driver around the home. It is overpowered for many DIY tasks.

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Drive modes

Dewalt DCF887 Drive Modes

Drive modes: 3
Drive mode 1:  High speed 
Drive mode 2:  Medium speed 
Drive mode 3:  Low speed 
Drive mode 4:  N/A 
Variable speed trigger: Yes

The DCF887 includes the essential drive modes. There’s a high, medium, and low-speed impact mode.

The high-speed mode is ideal for driving big structural screws, lag bolts, and common-sized screws into dimensional lumber, but it lacks precision for a good finish.

The medium-speed mode best suits finishing screws at a consistent depth in all material densities. We found it most helpful in driving smaller screws accurately into dimensional lumber and hardwoods, plus driving longer screws into MDF and drywall studs.

We found ourselves not using the low-speed setting in favor of the medium-speed setting for the extra power offered with similar precision. The low-speed setting includes a precision drive hesitation feature, which helps drive soft screws and for some woodworking tasks. In this mode, the motor rotates on a delay after stopping, giving some additional driving force and precision.

Users desiring more driving versatility should look to a Makita impact driver. The Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z and Makita 40V XGT GDT01Z include similar drive modes as the DCF887 but layer in additional assist modes, including self-tapping and bolt-specific settings.

Drive modes

Milwaukee 2953-20 Drive Modes

Drive modes: 4
Drive mode 1:  High speed 
Drive mode 2:  Medium speed 
Drive mode 3:  Low speed 
Drive mode 4:  Self-tapping 
Variable speed trigger: Yes

Four driving modes on the 2953-20 improve driving versatility over single-mode models. Drive modes we label as 1, 2, 3, and 4 correspond to high speed, medium speed, low speed, and self-tapping screw modes. The advertised impacts per minute for the speed modes are 4300.0, 3400.0, and 1200.0, respectively.

Drive mode 1 is ideal for heavy-duty tasks, such as driving lag bolts, decking screws, and structural screws. This mode doesn’t offer a clean and accurate screw finish with such high torque and speed.

However, drive mode 2 offers better accuracy while retaining solid torque. This driving mode has sufficient power to drive screws into dimensional lumber, treated lumber, plywood, and hard and softwood.

Drive mode 3 is ideal for the most accurate and consistent screw finish in most materials, including harder woods and dimensional lumber.

The 2953-20 is more powerful across each drive mode than competing models set to equivalent high, medium, and low-speed modes. This powerful performance profile explains why we suggest using the low-speed mode to finish screws. In contrast, we typically prefer using the medium-speed mode to accurately recess screws with other, less powerful impact drivers.

In the self-tapping mode, the collet spins until impacting and stops shortly after. Milwaukee has optimized this setting for driving #8, #10, and #12 self-tapping screws between 1/2-inch to 1-inch in 18-22 gauge sheet metal.

Collet

Dewalt DCF887 Collet Closeup

Collet size: 1/4-inch hex
Quick-change collet: Yes
Bit-eject collet: Yes
Easy-insert collet: Yes

The DCF887 is excellent for one-handed bit changes. There is an easy-insert feature that doesn’t require sliding the collet forward to accept a bit. A bit-eject feature also lightly ejects the bit when sliding the collet forward.

Dewalt’s collet design is better executed than other brands offering similar features. The easy-insert mechanism is smooth for simple operation, and the bit-eject feature doesn’t jettison the bit too hard to potentially miss catching the bit.

Collet

Milwaukee 2953-20 Collet Closeup

Collet size: 1/4-inch hex
Quick-change collet: Yes
Bit-eject collet: No
Easy-insert collet: Yes

Milwaukee rarely includes a bit-eject feature on its impact drivers, but some models have an incredibly smooth easy-insert design, both of which are true with the 2953-20.

Many Dewalt impact drivers include easy-insert and bit-eject collets that are smooth with the best collet design we’ve come across.

Motor

Motor: Brushless
Impacts per minute: 3,600.0

Dewalt included a brushless motor with the DCF887. Brushless motors have become table stakes for anything other than budget impact drivers, primarily due to the improved efficiency that translates to better battery performance, longevity, and driving power.

While the advertised 3600.0 impacts per minute is low, the DCF887 performed well in our driving speed tests.

Motor

Motor: Brushless
Impacts per minute: 4,400.0

The 2953-20 includes Milwaukee’s Powerstate brushless motor, which improves driving efficiency, battery performance, and durability over comparable brushed motors.

The high advertised impacts per minute, combined with its torque and RPM profile, explain why the 2953-20 so capably breezes through heavy-duty tasks, as demonstrated in our driving tests.

Battery run time

Power type: Cordless
Battery run time (min.): 39.0
Battery tested: 20V Max 2Ah (DCB203)
Voltage: 20

The primary letdown of the DCF887 is its battery run-time performance in our tests. The Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF845, Makita 18V LXT XDT14Z, and Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z are better options if you want better battery performance.

We tested battery run time with the 2Ah battery version. With a 20V Max XR 5Ah battery, the battery run time will continue underperforming competing models running the same Ah setup.

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Battery run time

Power type: Cordless
Battery run time (min.): 26.0
Battery tested: 18V Red Lithium CP 2Ah (48-11-1820)
Voltage: 18

The 2953-20 had underwhelming no-load run time performance in our test, the primary letdown we came across.We tested battery run time with the 2Ah battery version. With a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery, expect the battery run time to continue underperforming competing models running the same Ah setup. However, run time is significantly improved over the 2Ah battery.

At the same time, we recognize the limitations of our run-time tests that don’t currently test battery performance under load. Once testing the battery performance under load, we’ll update this review.

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Charging time

Dewalt 20V Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Dewalt 20V Max (DCB115)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 59.0
Charging time 2.5Ah battery (min.): Not tested
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.

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Charging time

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Milwaukee M12 & M18 Multi-Volt (48-59-1812)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 41.0
Charging time 2.5Ah battery (min.): Not tested
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 w/o battery: Yes
Stands upright w/ battery: Yes
Grip material: Rubber overgrip
Magnetic holder: No
Bit holder: No
Belt hook: Yes
Handle angle (deg.): 83.0
Head angle (deg.): 90.0

Design & ergonomics

Stands upright w/o battery: Yes
Stands upright w/ battery: Yes
Grip material: Rubber overgrip
Magnetic holder: No
Bit holder: No
Belt hook: Yes
Handle angle (deg.): 75.0
Head angle (deg.): 90.0

Weight

Dewalt DCF887 Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.09
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 2.89
Weight w/ 2.5Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 3.49

The DCF887 is considerably heavy in its bare tool form. However, the working weight with one of Dewalt’s 2Ah or 5Ah 20V Max XR batteries beats many competing models.

To keep it as lightweight as possible, We recommend combining the DCF887 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, which is a solid alternative for a svelte setup.

If weight is less of a concern, pair the DCF887 with Dewalt’s 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved driving performance. Dewalt also offers a 20V Powerstack 5Ah battery that reduces the overall size meaningfully.

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Weight

Milwaukee 2953-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.20
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.15
Weight w/ 2.5Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 3.81

The 2853-20 is designed for brute performance, not reducing weight. In its bare tool form and with a battery, it’s a reasonably heavy impact driver.

The working weight can differ significantly depending on the battery run in your setup, which is why we tested the weight in different configurations. To keep it lightweight, we recommend combining the 2953-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery for a good balance of performance and weight.

If weight is less of a concern, pair the 2953-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved driving performance.

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Footprint

Dewalt DCF887 Footprint1
Dewalt DCF887 Footprint2

Max height (bare tool, in.): 7.875
Max width (bare tool, in.): 2.500
Collet to back length (in.): 5.375
Base length (bare tool, in.): 3.875
Base width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Trigger circumference (in.): 6.750
Handle circumference (in.): 5.125

As with many impact drivers in this class, the DCF887 is moderately bulky, but we’d still consider it solidly compact. The Dewalt 20V Atomic DCF850 is far more compact with a shorter collet-to-back length that squeezes into tight spaces better.

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Footprint

Milwaukee 2953-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2953-20 Footprint2

Max height (bare tool, in.): 7.875
Max width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Collet to back length (in.): 4.375
Base length (bare tool, in.): 3.250
Base width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Trigger circumference (in.): 6.500
Handle circumference (in.): 5.125

The 2953-20 has an incredibly compact stubby-like head, rivaling the collet-to-back length of many sub-compacts. However, it’s a bulky tool viewed from certain angles. The max width and height are somewhat extended.

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Driving clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 8.000
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.250
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.500

While the DCF887 casts a moderately thin shadow viewed from the front, it didn’t shine in our interior clearance tests. The primary reason is the long collet-to-back length. Otherwise, the footprint resembles many competing impact drivers with similar average results in our clearance tests.

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Driving clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.375
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.250
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 5.750

The 2953-20 performed well in our clearance tests, especially for such a powerful impact driver. It impressed most in our interior 45-degree and width tests, finishing near the top of the pack, making it a solid all-around choice to squeeze into tight spaces.

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Noise

DCF887 Impact Driver Noise Chart

Max noise no load (dBA): 83.6
Max impacting noise (dBA): 100.6

The DCF887 is one of the louder impact drivers we’ve tested, with a decibel readout that surpassed 100 dBA under impact. You can shave off several decibels with the Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z or Ryobi 18V One+ PBLID02, but these models are also harmful with prolonged exposure.

Jumping to hydraulic impact drivers like the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Surge 2551-20 and Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 2760-20 reduces the noise considerably since oil-impulse models have more subtle impacts.

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Noise

2953-20 Impact Driver Noise Chart

Max noise no load (dBA): 86.4
Max impacting noise (dBA): 95.2

No impact driver peacefully says hello when impacting. But the 2953-20 is quieter than many other models when impacting.

Jump to Milwaukee’s Fuel Surge lineup for best-in-class noise performance, albeit lower torque. The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Surge 2551-20 and Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 2760-20 are hydraulic impact drivers with quieter impacts.

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Vibration

Max head vibration no load (m/s2): 105.5
Max grip vibration no load (m/s2): 3.1

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Vibration

Max head vibration no load (m/s2): 26.4
Max grip vibration no load (m/s2): 1.9

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Light

Dewalt DCF887 Light
Dewalt DCF887 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light on/off: No
Number of lights: 3
Light time delay (sec.): 20.0

The DCF887’s work light illuminates a small surface area focused in the correct location. Oddly, the light casts a Dewalt-ish orange glow since the LEDs are inset behind orange plastic housing surrounding the lights.

One minor head-scratcher is Dewalt’s choice of a default 20-second time delay for the light, which is unnecessarily long and drains battery life. But you can change the time delay inside the ToolConnect app or disable the work light entirely.

There is no dedicated flashlight mode, one featured included with some Makita impact drivers, where the trigger acts as an on/off button to turn on the light without moving the motor.

Light

Milwaukee 2953-20 Light
Milwaukee 29530-20 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light on/off: No
Number of lights: 3
Light time delay (sec.): 9.0

The work light illuminates a moderately large work area. The work light can’t be disabled and doesn’t act as a dedicated flashlight. Several Makita impact drivers include a dedicated flashlight functionally with the forward/reverse switch set to neutral.

Warranty

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

Dewalt stands behind the durability of its impact drivers with exceptionally-long warranties. The DCF887 has a three-year warranty. Dewalt 20V Max XR batteries include a two-year warranty.

Dewalt also offers free maintenance and replacement of worn parts for one year for the DCF887 and three years for its 20V Max XR batteries.

Warranty

Tool warranty (years): 5
Battery warranty (years): 2-3 (depends on model)

Milwaukee stands behind the durability of its impact drivers with exceptionally-long warranties. The 2953-20 has a five-year warranty, which is among the longest offered by any manufacturer. Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah batteries include a two-year warranty and the M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah batteries include a three-year warranty.

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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