Power tools are an important investment, but there are so many brands it’s hard to know which is best.
We don’t want to waste money on unused performance or end up with junk that breaks down on the job.
The first step is to narrow the range of possibilities by deciding what you really need: an occasional DIY helper or a hard-working professional tool.
Many people make the process easier by choosing a manufacturer and sticking with their products. It’s important to do upfront research. Here we’ll look at three of the largest quality tool makers: DeWALT vs Milwaukee vs Makita.
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What Kind Of Buyer Are You?
To begin, ask yourself what you need: the highest quality tool, or the best quality at a reasonable price? Don’t buy less than you need, but look for a purchase that matches your goals.
You cannot assume the same performance exists for a DeWALT vs Milwaukee vs Makita impact driver.
All buyers want quality, but the average do-it-yourselfer may not need or want premium tools. Consider how often you will use the tool, and in what conditions.
Do you need a specific tool for an exacting trade, or would you prefer to compromise on performance to save money?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer; you just need to know it.
Related: Porter Cable vs Milwaukee
DeWALT vs Milwaukee vs Makita
These long-standing manufacturers together dominate the global tool market. Each has each been known for quality and innovation in their history.
Some owners of a particular brand are staunch loyalists formed by the branding “wars” of the past century. Over their history, too, each of these toolmakers has sacrificed quality in the pursuit of overseas outsourcing.
Although you can still get a worthwhile product, be aware these are not the same companies your father grew up with.
DeWALT is a quality mid-tier manufacturer that was acquired by Black and Decker in 1960. The line deteriorated and was relaunched to compete against Makita in the 1990s, and has grown into a full line of over 200 power tools and 800 accessories.
The company makes it easy to stay loyal: they make a solidly performing tool that delivers reliable service.
DeWALT straddles the road with its huge selection, relying on retail availability, pricing and advertising dollars to make up any performance gap. You may not get the very highest performance with DeWALT, but their tools are well made and offer plenty of power for most people.
Milwaukee Electric Tools makes and markets heavy-duty, portable electric power tools. The company is owned by Techtronic Industries, which also owns Ryobi, Hoover, and Dirt Devil.
The company recently recommitted to its original focus on professional tradesmen. Milwaukee’s president Steve Richman explains:
“Passionate do-it-yourselfers may want a product that performs, but we design products for those professionals and those professional trades.”
Milwaukee has the best quality of the group and comes with a solid warranty that shows confidence in its products.
The company was plagued with battery issues a few years back, and recently introduced its current M18 model with battery capacity higher than the competition.
A Milwaukee Tool Safety Notice was issued in 2017 for the M18 9.0 battery pack, but it was a warning and not a recall.
The advantage of Milwaukee batteries is that they fit all their tools. Just be aware their charger has been problematic—and the charger’s warranty is shorter than the tool itself.
Makita Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of power tools founded in 1915. The company has a special history of innovation over the past half-century.
In the early 1990s, Makita was at the top of the game, having taken over half of the $400 million U.S. tool market.
Black & Decker (B&D) went on to relaunch the DeWALT line for professional trades, so the two brands have always been close competitors.
In general, Makita’s tools tend to be lighter and easier to handle than Milwaukee’s.
They are less powerful than either DeWALT or Milwaukee tools, but Makita’s high-quality motors are equipped with new Star Protection Controls™ to minimize overloads, excess discharge or overheating.
Though Makita tools generally have less power than the other two brands, this can be an advantage for home use. The company has a sizeable tool lineup, with emphasis on cordless tools that deliver a “quick and efficient workflow.”
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Factors to Consider
Appropriate safety features are included by each of the manufacturers, but there are some differences between each tool line.
Milwaukee is the most rugged and high-quality brand listed here.
The company’s attention to the needs of professional tradesmen shows in its products’ durability and longevity. Makita and DeWALT are well made but of lighter design.
Milwaukee offers the most power, and its tools are considered excellent for serious construction work. Makita has the least muscle of the three brands, but not by much, and too much power may be overkill for a light home project.
Both Makita and DeWALT tools can handle most jobs.
Related: Makita vs DeWalt
Batteries & Chargers
Battery issues with power tools have settled down in recent years, but they have been a problem historically. Milwaukee has made recent efforts to upgrade its battery performance.
Although the company issued an M18 safety alert last year, the problem was quickly addressed.
Makita makes a well-designed battery and charger, and DeWALT is acceptable but has different battery platforms that perform to their own specs.
There are variations in each tool line, so do some research on your specific tool. Also, check out battery replacement costs.
Ease of Use
Makita has the advantage of lightweight usability. Their battery is fast charging and overall weight balance is excellent. DeWALT has average handling and is lighter than the high powered Milwaukee.
• Milwaulkee has the best warranty, with 5-years on its tools, and a 2-year warranty on its battery charger.
• DeWALT has a 3 year warranty for faults or defects, subject to “fair wear and tear” testing for the 3rd year.
• Makita has a 3-year tool warranty, but a separate 1-year warranty for chargers.
There isn’t a simple answer to which brand is best. Make a DeWALT vs Makita vs Milwaukee drill test for comparison, and you will get three different results.
Milwaukee is generally a more durable high-end tool, with more power and a better warranty. DeWALT has the widest selection and accessories, and Makita is the easiest to use.
All are made overseas and have a dedicated fan base.
Working with these tools contributes to work output and quality— it’s worth your time to research the offerings. If you are a weekend user, each of these brands will be a nice step up from bargain models.
The choice ultimately comes to which feels better and matches your budget.
Remember that variations exist within each brand, so make sure to research individual tools before final purchase.
Finally, there is one universal recommendation: when you bring your new tools back home, carefully bag any loose parts … and remember where you put the charger!