Milwaukee M18 2850-20 Vs Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF845

Milwaukee 2850-20 Angle 5

Milwaukee 2850-20

Quick take

The Milwaukee M18 2850-20 offers exceptional speed under load and has a robust torque profile. However, it only has a single drive mode, reducing its versatility. On the other hand, the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF845 is far faster but doesn’t push out as much torque. It also has three drive modes to fine-tune the torque to the task at hand. Both are reasonably compact with the same tip-to-tail lengths.

Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 850.2
IPM 4,200.0
Drive modes 1
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as -
Brand Dewalt
Platform 20V Max XR
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 612.6
IPM 4,200.0
Drive modes 3
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as DCF845B

Editorial opinion

Rating

3.79 / 5 ⭐️’s

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

  • Brushless motor
  • Great driving speed
  • High impacts per minute
  • Long tool and battery warranty

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Single drive mode
  • Requires two hands to change bits

Rating

4.40 / 5 ⭐️’s

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Pros

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

Cons

  • Long collet to back length
  • Not ideal for light-duty tasks

Global rankings

21 models tested

TestResultRank
Driving speed (sec.)14.75
Torque (in-lbs)850.23
Battery run time (min.)38.014
RPM3,240.06
Bare weight (lbs)2.018
Impacting noise (dBA)96.810
TestResultRank
Driving speed (sec.)12.82
Torque (in-lbs)612.610
Battery run time (min.)49.05
RPM3,214.07
Bare weight (lbs)2.0311
Impacting noise (dBA)97.412

Kit and bare tool options

2850-21P

Includes (1) M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery

2850-22CT

Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery

2850-20

Bare tool

Lab results

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

The 2850-20 has no bit holder or magnetic fastener holder for convenience. Those are rare but nice-to-have convenience features that most impact drivers forego. Ryobi impact drivers more commonly include a bit holder and/or magnetic fastener built into their tools instead of requiring you to buy aftermarket holders.

Otherwise, the grip is wrapped in a rubber overmold that reduces shock and vibration. The forward-leaning handle angle is also one of the more aggressive stances, giving you more reach in specific scenarios.

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.): 80.0
Head angle (deg.): 90.0

The DCF845’s ergonomic shape curves well to your hand, and the rubber overgrip covers a large surface area, great for gripping power and shock absorption. The forward-leaning handle angle is also reasonably aggressive, providing extended driving reach.

Otherwise, the DCF845 includes a standard belt hook but no bit holder or magnetic fastener plate. Several Ryobi impact drivers have a bit holder and magnetic fastener plate onboard without buying a third-party add-on.

Weight

Milwaukee 2850-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.01
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 2.96
Weight w/ 2.5Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 3.62

The bare tool weight is moderately light for an 18V impact driver. It isn’t as lightweight as other drivers with a battery when adding Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery, which is a slightly heavier 2Ah battery than several different manufacturers.

The working weight can differ significantly depending on the battery run in your setup. To keep it lightweight, we recommend combining the 2850-20 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 2850-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved driving performance.

Compare weight test results

Weight

Dewalt DCF845 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.03
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 2.83
Weight w/ 2.5Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 3.43

The DCF845 isn’t lightweight in its heavy-duty driving class, instead, middle of the pack. The Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z sheds some weight and is a better option if you covet a light, equally powerful setup.

The working weight can differ significantly depending on the battery run in your setup. To keep it as lightweight as possible, We recommend combining the DCF845 with Dewalt’s new 20V Powerstack 1.7Ah battery, which weighs less, has a smaller footprint, and performs better 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 DCF845 with Dewalt’s 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved driving performance. Moreover, this setup is one of the lightest 5Ah kits we’ve come across.

Compare weight test results

Footprint

Milwaukee 2850-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2850-20 Footprint2

Max height (bare tool, in.): 7.625
Max width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Collet to back length (in.): 5.125
Base length (bare tool, in.): 3.125
Base width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Trigger circumference (in.): 6.500
Handle circumference (in.): 5.125

The 2850-20 has a middle-of-the-road compact design that makes it versatile for tasks around the home. One of the more essential measurements, the collet-to-back length, isn’t too long, giving you solid clearance in tight spaces.

Compare footprint test results

Footprint

Dewalt DCF845 Footprint1
Dewalt DCF845 Footprint2

Max height (bare tool, in.): 7.375
Max width (bare tool, in.): 3.000
Collet to back length (in.): 5.125
Base length (bare tool, in.): 3.500
Base width (bare tool, in.): 3.000
Trigger circumference (in.): 6.750
Handle circumference (in.): 5.125

The DCF845 has a narrow profile but isn’t highly compact like the Dewalt 20V Atomic DCF850, which has a far shorter collet-to-back length. Held in hand, the DCF845 still feels nimble compared to some of its competition.

Compare footprint test results

Motor

Motor: Brushless
Impacts per minute: 4,200.0

The 2850-20’s advertised 4,200 impacts per minute is high for an impact driver. Our in-house driving speed tests demonstrated that the elevated number of blows results in exceptional driving performance at this price point.

The 2850-20 also Includes a brushless motor, which helps with battery life, smoothes out driving performance, and should improve long-term durability. However, we haven’t tested the multi-year durability to confirm its shelf life.

Motor

Motor: Brushless
Impacts per minute: 4,200.0

As should be expected at this price point, the DCF845 includes a brushless motor, which improves longevity, battery efficiency, and driving performance compared to a brushed motor. This motor choice explains some of the impressive battery run time and driving speed performance.

The high advertised 4200.0 impacts per minute also explain the capable driving performance.

Drive modes

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

One critical missing factor is that 2850-20 includes only one drive mode, though the variable speed trigger helps in scenarios where a lighter driving force is needed. Additional drive modes would improve the driving versatility, albeit increasing the price tag.

The Makita 18V LXT XDT14Z and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887 are good alternatives with more driving versatility.

Drive modes

Dewalt DCF845 Drive Modes

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

The DCF845 includes the essential drive modes that most users need. There’s a high and low speed impacting mode and a precision driving mode.

The precision mode works well for light-duty tasks, such as general woodworking or driving soft screws in a pinch when your cordless drill is out of reach. But we found ourselves using drive mode 2 more frequently when precision was paramount, such as accurately recessing screws into MDF and drywall studs. The increased driving power is more versatile than what’s offered with the precision drive mode while retaining most of the same accuracy.

Users desiring best-in-class 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 DCF845 but layer in additional assist modes, including self-tapping and bolt-specific settings.

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 14.7
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.9
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 11.0
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 2.2

In our driving speed tests, few impact drivers we’ve tested broke the threshold of averaging less than three seconds per screw. The 2850-20’s high impacts per minute undoubtedly explain some of the performance, particularly when finishing the last leg of driving long lag bolts and structural screws.

Higher-end models, such as the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20, Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z, and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF845, beat out the 2850-20 with impressive driving speed performance.

Compare driving speed test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 12.8
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.6
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 9.0
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 1.8

The DCF845 yielded some of the fastest results in our GRK driving speed tests. Dewalt designed the DCF845 with the right balance of features for excellent driving performance without the downsides, such as short battery life, that plague some high-end impact drivers.

The DCF845 is equally capable of driving more than just long GRK screws. We tested driving lag bolts, structural screws, drywall screws, and other standard sizes and lengths. This impact driver handled all with ease for nearly unmatched driving versatility.

Compare driving speed test results

Torque

Milwaukee 2850-20 Torquemeter
Milwaukee 2850-20 Torque Charts

Max torque drive mode 1 (in-lbs): 850.2
Max torque drive mode 2 (in-lbs): N/A
Max torque drive mode 3 (in-lbs): N/A
Max torque drive mode 4 (in-lbs): N/A

Torque output is one of the calling card features of the 2850-20, as evidenced in our testing. The 2850-20 generated some of the highest torque output we’ve seen in the 18V class, impressive for such a modestly-priced impact driver.

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 offers considerably more torque and better handles demanding applications, should you be looking for best-in-class performance.

Compare torque test results

Torque

Dewalt DCF845 Torquemeter
Dewalt DCF845 Torque Charts

Max torque drive mode 1 (in-lbs): 612.6
Max torque drive mode 2 (in-lbs): 396.6
Max torque drive mode 3 (in-lbs): N/A
Max torque drive mode 4 (in-lbs): N/A

While the DCF845 sped through heavy-duty driving jobs in our tests, the torque output doesn’t explain most of the driving performance. The DCF845 is moderately powerful compared to impact drivers in the Dewalt lineup and outside of it. It is sufficiently powerful to handle demanding tasks, but the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887 has a far higher torque output for models in the Dewalt ecosystem.

Compare torque test results

Battery run time

Power type: Cordless
Battery run time (min.): 38.0
Battery tested: 18V Red Lithium CP 2Ah (48-11-1820)
Voltage: 18

One letdown of the 2850-20 is the run time performance in our battery tests. The brushless motor significantly improves run time over comparable brushed motors. But 38 minutes of no-load battery run time isn’t much to write home about, especially considering that some cheaper impact drivers have a longer battery run time, more driving mode versatility, and higher torque.

Expect running with any of Milwaukee’s higher Ah 18V batteries to increase run time, but still lag behind other impact drivers running a similar Ah setup.

The Ryobi 18V One+ P237 is an excellent alternative budget option with better run time and several drive modes. The Makita 18V LXT XDT13Z is a better pick than the 2850-20 due to the Makita’s exceptional battery performance at a comparative price point.

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Battery run time

Power type: Cordless
Battery run time (min.): 49.0
Battery tested: 20V Max 2Ah (DCB203)
Voltage: 20

The DCF845 is among the best-performing heavy-duty impact drivers we’ve tested, with 49.0 minutes of no-load run time. Adding a 5Ah battery should result in outstanding run time, though we didn’t test the run time with this setup.

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

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Battery lineup

Milwaukee M18 Battery Lineup

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

Having at least two batteries in your setup 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 impact driver setups for a good performance, price, and size balance.

Many Milwaukee impact drivers come in kits with a hybrid 12V and 18V charger in one, which conveniently saves space in your shop if you have multiple tools in the ecosystem.

Battery lineup

Dewalt 20V Max Battery Lineup

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

Having at least two batteries in your setup is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend buying a Dewalt 20V Max 2Ah and a Dewalt 20V Max XR 5Ah battery for most Dewalt 20V impact driver setups for a good performance, price, and size balance.

Dewalt’s new Powerstack batteries may be a smart buying choice for some users. Dewalt advertises improved driving performance, battery run time, and more battery cycles out of its 1.7Ah and 5Ah batteries which are incredibly compact compared to equivalent Max XR models. We plan on testing the performance differences to understand if the jump in price is worth it for most people.

Many Dewalt impact drivers come in kits with a hybrid 12V and 20V charger in one, which conveniently saves space in your shop if you have multiple tools in the ecosystem.

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.

Compare charging test results

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 Dewalt charger that is standard in most kits (model DCB115) isn’t as fast as chargers from other brands. In our tests, it took 59.0 minutes to top off a Max 2Ah battery and 139.0 minutes to charge a Max XR 5Ah battery. Expect that this charger will charge batteries at approximately 28.7 minutes per Ah. Faster chargers charge batteries at 20.0 or fewer minutes per Ah.

Nicely, the DCD112 works with Dewalt’s 12V and 20V platform batteries, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several tools in the Dewalt ecosystem.

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RPM

Milwaukee 2850-20 RPM Charts

Max RPM drive mode 1 (fwd.): 3,240.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (fwd.): N/A
Max RPM drive mode 3 (fwd.): N/A
Max RPM drive mode 4 (fwd.): N/A
Max RPM drive mode 1 (rev.): 3,139.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (rev.):  N/A 
Max RPM drive mode 3 (rev.):  N/A 
Max RPM drive mode 4 (rev.):  N/A 

The 2850-20 achieved solid results in our RPM tests. The high RPM performance is a con, especially with only one drive mode, but it can be a helpful feature in certain situations. The high RPM sets fasteners quickly into your workpiece.

But such a high RPM too frequently results in cam-out. The cam-out potential is exacerbated by the fact that there’s a single drive mode, leaving the cam-out possibility to how delicately or not you feather the variable speed trigger.

There is no significant RPM difference between forward and reverse driving, unlike some impact drivers that increase the reverse RPM to remove stubborn screws more easily.

Compare RPM test results

RPM

Dewalt DCF845 RPM Charts

Max RPM drive mode 1 (fwd.): 3,214.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (fwd.): 2,711.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (fwd.): 1,437.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (fwd.): N/A
Max RPM drive mode 1 (rev.): 3,290.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (rev.): 2,555.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (rev.): 1,465.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (rev.): N/A

We appreciate that Dewalt didn’t design the DCF845 with an absurdly high RPM just to impress users with its on-paper performance. RPM does help drive screws fast, but torque does more to explain overall driving performance. An impact driver that ramps immediately to a high RPM results in frequent cam-out and stripping screws.

None of these are issues with the DCF845 with its moderate RPM readouts. There is also no noticeable RPM difference between forward and reverse in all three drive modes. Some Makita impact drivers include specialty driving modes with different forward and reverse RPMs for a given drive setting.

Compare RPM test results

Driving clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.750
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.125
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.125

We don’t recommend the 2850-20 if you consistently drive fasteners in tight spaces. A sub-compact or smaller footprint compact impact driver can squeeze into tighter spaces, especially if they have shorter collet to back lengths.

Compare driving clearance test results

Driving clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.750
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.250
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.500

While the DCF845 casts a thin shadow viewed from the front, it didn’t shine in our interior clearance tests, which is somewhat expected for a heavier-duty impact driver. 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.

Compare driving clearance test results

Noise

2850-20 Impact Driver Noise Chart

Max noise no load (dBA): 83.7
Max impacting noise (dBA): 96.8

Our noise performance tests demonstrate that the 2850-20 is not a quiet impact driver.

If you want a comparatively quiet impact driver, consider hydraulic models, such as the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Surge 2551-20 or Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 2760-20.

The Ryobi 18V One+ P237 and Ryobi 18V One+ PBLID02 are worth considering if you want to squeeze out a few decibels of lower noise at a similar price point and with equivalent driving performance.

Compare noise test results

Noise

DCF845 Impact Driver Noise Chart

Max noise no load (dBA): 78.8
Max impacting noise (dBA): 97.4

No impact driver whispers while impacting, including the DCF845, a moderately loud impact driver that can damage your ears with prolonged exposure. You can shave off a few decibels of impact noise performance with the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20, but you’ll need to switch up impact driver classes to markedly improved noise performance.

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Surge 2551-20 and Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 2760-20 are hydraulic impact drivers with more subtle impacts, albeit lower torque.

Compare noise test results

Vibration

Max head vibration no load (m/s2): 37.6
Max grip vibration no load (m/s2): 1.9

Compare vibration test results

Vibration

Max head vibration no load (m/s2): 32.9
Max grip vibration no load (m/s2): 2.9

Compare vibration test results

Light

Milwaukee 2850-20 Light
Milwaukee 2850-20 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light on/off: No
Number of lights: 1
Light time delay (sec.): 10.0

The light on the 2850-20 does the job but is not as bright as most other models. The single LED light has a blue tint that we didn’t encounter with other models. You also don’t get the versatility of having the option to turn off the light when pressing the trigger, like many Makita impact drivers.

Light

Dewalt DCF845 Light
Dewalt DCF845 Light Closeup

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

The DCF845’s work light illuminates a moderately large and bright surface area that is focused in the correct location. One minor head-scratcher is Dewalt’s choice of a 20-second time delay for the light, which is unnecessarily long and drains battery life.

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. You also can’t disable the light.

Collet

Milwaukee 2850-20 Collet Closeup

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

It takes two hands to change bits on the 2850-20, one hand to slide the collet and the other to insert or remove the bit. The collet has no easy-insert or bit eject feature, which helps with one-handed bit changes.

Most Dewalt impact drivers are ideal for one-handed bit changes since these impact drivers include a well-designed easy-insert and bit-eject collet.

Collet

Dewalt DCF845 Collet Closeup

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

The DCF845 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.

App integration

App integration: None

There is no bluetooth app integration to review impact driver diagnostics or to customize driving profiles on your phone. Some high-end Milwaukee impact drivers come in a One-Key version which includes an app integration to track impact driver usage, displays tool diagnostics, and allows you to set custom driving profiles, such as adjusting the RPM for each drive mode.

App integration

App integration: None

There is no out-of-the-box bluetooth app integration to review impact driver diagnostics or to customize driving profiles on your phone.

Dewalt models like the high end Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF888 come in a ToolConnect version which includes an app integration to track impact driver usage, displays tool diagnostics, and allows you to set custom driving profiles, such as adjusting the RPM for each drive mode.

However, the DCF845 includes an expansion slot in the base where ToolConnect connectivity can be added when buying Dewalt’s after-market chip.

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 2850-20 has a five-year warranty, which is among the longest offered by any manufacturer. Milwaukee’s M18 batteries include a two-year warranty.

Warranty

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

Dewalt stands behind the durability of its impact drivers with exceptionally-long warranties. The DCF845 has a three-year warranty. Dewalt 20V batteries include a two-year warranty.

Dewalt also offers free maintenance and replacement of worn parts for one year for the DCF845 and three years for its 20V batteries.

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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