DeWalt vs. Milwaukee: Who Wins…
For the woodworkers, craftsmen, and DIYers that prefer the traditional American power tool brands, in most instances, it means having to choose between DeWalt and Milwaukee.
Both power tool companies have staunch loyalists that would never use a tool from any other brand whether it is a simple work light or large power saw.
But, the debate on which is the best among the two is the kind that will not be settled any time soon, and it will probably not go away soon either.
However, if you are caught between the two and are unable to decide, we will help make things a little easier for you.
And we do this with a brief overview of their history, by highlighting some of the key features in most of their tools, and also with an in-depth review of the tool in some of their top-rated and most popular combo kits.
Table of Contents
- History of 2 Great Brands
- Key Product Features Comparison
- DeWalt DCK590L2 vs. Milwaukee 2696-26 Combo Kit
- #1. Hammer Drills
- #2. Impact Drivers
- #3. Reciprocating Saws
- #4. Circular Saws
- #5. Work Lights
- #6. Angle Grinders
History of 2 Great Brands
DeWalt was started by Raymond DeWalt who it is named after, and its story starts in 1922 when he perfected the first woodworking machine to help increase productivity at Seabrook Farms where he was working as superintendent.
Raymond DeWalt went on to establish DeWalt Products Company in 1924 with a manufacturing plant and office in Leola, Pennsylvania. And at the time of establishment, their product was the "Wonder Worker", a universal woodworking machine.
By the 1940’s DeWalt was a well-established company. It is in this period that they got their big breakthrough when they started working on government contracts during the Second World War, and this saw them experience significant growth.
Growth and Expansion
DeWalt’s expansion and growth started in 1947 when it was re-incorporated under DeWalt Inc and then acquired by American Machine Foundry in 1949.
The new owners then expanded its operations to Canada but later on also sold the business to Black & Decker in 1960 which owns the brand to date.
Under Black & Decker, DeWalt experienced a period of stability and expansion into new markets throughout Northern America.
And in 1992, they launched their first line of portable electric power tools and accessories aimed for the residential contractor and professional woodworker market.
1994 also marked an important milestone for the company as they made a huge impact on the market with 30 new cordless tools and their accessories. These tools included their 14.4V cordless driver/drill that was the most powerful in its class then.
By 2001, the company had more than 200 cordless power tools and 800 accessories on the market, and in 2010 they launched 12V max lithium-ion line of tools. And the following year they expanded them by introducing the current 20V max system.
DeWalt now makes a variety of power tools from drills to nailers in several manufacturing plants in the USA, Canada, and a few other countries.
As the First World War was coming to a close in 1918, Henry Ford approached a young Wisconsin manufacturer, A.H Petersen to produce a compact, lightweight and portable version of the then common 1/4-inch power drill.
Petersen agreed to help Ford and he developed the Hole-Shooter which was a 5-pound revolutionary industrial drill that was lightweight enough to be operated by one hand.
A few years later Petersen was joined by his friend A. F Siebert and together they former A.H Petersen Company but tragedy struck soon as a fire burnt down their manufacturing plant.
The financial setback caused the company to close down, but it would get another lifeline in 1924 when Siebert bought it from his friend at an auction.
Growth and Expansion
Siebert renamed the company Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, and his main aim was to realize the sales potential of the Hole-Shooter.
In their early days in the 1920's the company relied mostly on tool repair as a source of business. But because they received first-hand information from customers that brought tools for repairs, they were able to use this information to perfect the design and performance of the Hole-Shooter.
And by 1935, they had developed a lighter 3/4-inch electric hammer-drill designed to drill and sink anchors into concrete surfaces. In the late 1930's, they also developed a single horsepower sander/grinder weighing 15 pounds only and designed to withstand regular abuse.
The addition of a clutch system to their sanders/grinder in 1949 to provide a smoother operation helped to take them to the next level. And this was followed soon by the introduction of their first 1/2-inch right angle drill in the same year.
In 1951 Milwaukee introduced their revolutionary Sawzall reciprocating saw that still defines their tools to date. The 60's, 70's and 90's were also characterized by rapid growth, launching of new tools and the opening of new branches and manufacturing plants across the USA.
It was in the 1990's that Milwaukee expanded their 18V contractor cordless tools line and developed a new miter saw line. And in 2005, they were the first company to use lithium-ion battery technology.
From its inception, the company has always focused on making heavy-duty tools for professional users, and this is still its policy to date.
Key Product Features Comparison
DeWalt is famous for producing high-performing and very reliable power tools, but there are some key features that make their tools this good. And they include:
- Tool Connect. Probably the most advanced and impressive feature on recent DeWalt power tools, and its purpose is to allow users that use the Bluetooth-enabled batteries to track and monitor their tools from anywhere by getting real-time updates.
- 20V Max XR Line. A line of brushless power tools with a brushless motor and high-capacity lithium-ion battery to improve overall tool performance, runtime, and efficiency.
- Shocks-Active Vibration Control. Currently a common feature in most of their rotary hammers and a few other tools, and it is designed to help reduce vibrations by up to an impressive 50%.
- Flexvolt. A more recent innovation from DeWalt, and it is a special type of battery that changes the voltage automatically when you move it from one tool to the other to help increase power and provide a longer run time.
Milwaukee makes their power tools with professional users in mind, and they make use of some amazing features to help with this. These features include:
- Redlink Intelligence. A unique feature designed to ensure total and efficient system communication between the power tools and its battery and charger to provide optimized performance and overload protection.
- Powerstate Brushless Motor. More efficient motor design that ensures high and consistent power supply to the tool, and with minimal heating for a long life.
- Redlithium Battery Technology. This special battery is designed to provide longer runtime and more power and speed than regular lithium-ion batteries. And it achieves this with a superior pack construction and electronics.
- Professional Grade Tool. From its early days in business, Milwaukee has always focused on making tools for professional contractors, woodworkers, and other experts. And so their tools are built to be heavy-duty, rugged and durable enough to withstand the regular abuse that is characteristic of professional applications.
Whether you are going to buy your power tools from DeWalt or are a professional that prefers Milwaukee, it is always a great idea to buy a combo kit.
From the obvious cost-saving benefits to the fact that you get tools that use the same battery, there are many benefits that come with combo kits.
For the two brands, DeWalt DCK590L2 and Milwaukee 2696-26 are some of their best combo kits in the market. DeWalt's kit is a 5-piece one with a hammer drill, impact driver, reciprocating saw, circular saw and work light.
Milwaukee 2696-26, on the other hand, is a 6-piece kit that has everything that you get on the DeWalt DCK590L2 but also includes an angle grinder.
Because the two combo kits are quite similar, we will review each tool individually and compare it with what the other brand has to offer.
And because DeWalts kit does not have an angle grinder/cut-off, we will recommend one and also compare it to Milwaukee's grinder.
#1. Hammer Drills
0-600, 0-1,250 and 0-2,000 RPM
10.19 x 2.94 x 10.19 in
0-400 and 0-1,900 RPM
2.18 x 7.66 x 7.18 in
With a maximum power output of 535 UWO (units watts out), the motor on the DeWalt DCD985B is slightly more powerful and efficient than the brushless motor on the Milwaukee 2607-20.
Also, this hammer drill offers 3-speed range options which are 0-600, 0-1,250 and 0-2,000 RPM which is also more than what you get from Milwaukee's hammer drill and hence making it more versatile.
This hammer drill also uses a 1/2-inch metal ratcheting chuck but with carbide inserts to provide superior bit gripping strength.
The 20V lithium battery offers this hammer drill a longer runtime and enhanced durability. And it also has a 360-degree side handle and a convenient LED light with a 20-second delay.
Although there are many things that make the Milwaukee 2607-20 a great power tool, most users will love the multiple drilling modes. It allows you to switch between drilling, driving and hammer drilling depending on the task and hence making it quite versatile.
This hammer drill uses Milwaukee's highly efficient brushless motor that delivers 500 in.lbs of maximum torque that is just slightly less than what DeWalts’ tool offer but still quite high.
It is also a variable speed hammer drill with 0-400 and 0-1,900 RPM speed ranges, and with an all metal gear case and 1/2-inch chuck to make it highly durable.
The lightweight and compact size also make it quite convenient to use even in tight spaces, and it also has an LED light to help keep the work area illuminated.
You can also carry it on your belt as it comes with an ambidextrous belt clip that you can screw into either side of the tool.
While DeWalt seems to slightly outperform Milwaukee when it comes to power and speed but the Milwaukee 2607-20 comes out on top when it comes to the weight and size as it is lightweight and compact. And so here it is a draw.
#2. Impact Drivers
0-2,800 RPM and 0-3,200 IPM
5.5 x 9.4 x 3.9 in
0-2,750 RPM and 0-3,450 IPM
2.93 x 5.69 x 7.85 in
By delivering a maximum torque of 1,400 in.lbs and variable speeds of 0-2,800 RPM and 0-3,200 IPM, there is almost no impact driving task that the DeWalt DCF885B cannot perform.
It is a relatively more lightweight and compact power tool when compared to the Milwaukee 2656-20, and so it will be very handy for use in tight spaces.
This impact driver also features a convenient one-handed loading 1/4-inch chuck that will accept and hold 1-inch bits for convenient fastening.
Also, it has an ergonomic and comfortable slim handle that will fit easily into the user's hand. And to make it even more convenient, it comes with an all-metal hook that you can attach on either side of the tool.
Milwaukee uses their robust 4-pole frameless motor on their model 2656-20 impact driver. And so you can be confident of a longer motor life, more power, and impressive tool runtimes.
This motor delivers an impressive 1,500 in.lbs peak torque which is more than what you get from the DeWalt DCF885B, and so it will be more suitable for heavy-duty impact driving applications.
And it also has a uniquely optimized impact mechanism that delivers maximum power and speed to help ensure greater on the job efficiency.
Although it is a little heavier when you compare it to DeWalt’s impact driver, it is still quite a compact power tool that will be great for use in tight spaces.
There is also a convenient all-metal and reversible belt clip on this tool that will be very useful for temporary on the job storage.
#3. Reciprocating Saws
16 x 6 x 6 in
2.13 x 5.3 x 17 in
The 1-1/8-inch stroke length which is similar to what you get on the Milwaukee 2621-20 SAWZALL is one of the key highlights of this DeWalt reciprocating saw. And this is because it offers a faster cutting speed.
Also, it as a variable speed trigger that delivers 0-3,000 SPM for increased blade control and also for faster cutting speed. Also, this 2-position blade saw is designed to allow tool-free blade changes for faster and easy blade changes with minimal downtimes.
This reciprocating saw also has a pivoting adjustable shoe that will allow for depth control and help to extend blade life.
With its rubber over molded comfort grip, you can also be sure of optimal comfort and better control.
Because Milwaukee focuses more on making power tools for professionals, their model 2621-20 reciprocating saw features an all-metal gearing and case to protect it against job site abuse and ensure maximum durability.
Besides being a more rugged and heavy-duty saw, its 1-1/8-inch stroke length and 0-3,000 SPM speed are similar to what you get on DeWalts reciprocating saw.
However, at a total weight of 7.4 pounds, this saw is heavier and it is also slightly longer. But, it has a unique slim front end design that helps to improve ergonomics for maximum user comfort and better control.
The unique counterbalance mechanism is also a great addition to the tool as it helps to reduce vibration to improve control and minimize hand fatigue.
Milwaukee uses lever action Quik-Lok blade clamp on this reciprocating saw, another of their impressive features that helps to make blade changing fast and easy.
Because the stroke lengths and speeds are the same for these reciprocating saws, it is hard to call a winner but the slightly compact size and lighter weight give the DeWalt DCS381B the win.
#4. Circular Saws
The powerful motor and higher RPM (0-3,700) combine to give the DeWalt DCS393B ability to make tough cuts and do it fast and easily.
Like the Milwaukee 2630-20, it uses a 6-1/2-inch blade and it has a bevel capacity of 0-50 degrees to make it ideal for a variety of applications.
It is also a relatively lighter saw (weighs just 7.63 pounds) and more compact than Milwaukee’s circular saw for a more comfortable operation. But, its great balance and easy control come from its optimized over-molded grip.
This circular saw also uses a high-strength and lightweight magnesium shoe, and you can cut two times the material at both 90 and 45 degrees.
Like most other Milwaukee power tools, the model 2630-20 circular saw is a heavy-duty and highly durable tool that is designed to handle almost any job site condition.
And it comes with heavy-duty magnesium guards for maximum durability as they help to protect the saw from bumps and accidental drops.
Although the 3,500 RPM speed is less than what the DeWalt DCS393B delivers, it is still higher than most other circular saws in its class. And its 0-45 degrees bevel capacity should also be good enough for most applications.
The circular saw uses a more efficient electronic brake system to ensure that you never have to waste time waiting for your blade to slow down as it stops it fast.
There is also a more comfortable soft grip handle on the saw to maximize comfort and for easier control. And it uses an aircraft grade aluminum shoe to provide greater accuracy.
The higher RPM means that DeWalt DCS393B cuts relatively faster, and it is also a lighter circular saw and so it gets the win.
#5. Work Lights
DeWalt makes their DCL040 work light to make job site illumination cheaper and easier. It uses a unique visual LED graph to indicate the presence of voltage, and the higher it is the brighter the LED lights up.
This work light has a light output of 110 lumens and it produces a smooth white light that makes it easy to differentiate colors, and without the heat that comes with traditional xenon lights.
The ergonomic and compact design with a soft rubberized grip makes it more comfortable to hold even for extended periods. And if you do not feel like holding it or cannot do it, the light has an integrated hook for convenient hands-free operation.
Because this work light also uses the 20V max lithium-ion batteries, it will deliver a longer runtime than the Milwaukee 2735-20 as it can illuminate your job site for up to 25 hours.
If you are looking for a super bright work light to illuminate your job site when working in darker and tighter spaces, the Milwaukee 2735-20 is a great buy. With a light output of 160 lumens, this light should be bright enough for most users.
And like most Milwaukee tools, it is made with a tough impact and weather resistant body to ensure it can withstand the occasional drop and bumps.
Focusing your light is also much easier with this work light because it has a 135-degree rotating head. And like DeWalt’s DCL040, it also has an integrated hook to allow for hands-free use.
This work light is also relatively lightweight when you compare it to what DeWalt’s combo kit has to offer, and it will provide a runtime of up to 12 hours.
The higher light output gives Milwaukee 2735-20 the win here, and it is also a relatively more lightweight work light which makes it more comfortable for holding for extended periods.
#6. Angle Grinders
7.3 x 16.8 x 4.8 in
DeWalt DCG412B Angle Grinder (not included in the kit)
Like with most other power tools on DeWalts 20V lithium-ion battery series, you can be confident that the DCG412B will not disappoint. Although it is not part of the combo kit, it is worth spending a few extra dollars on it to complete your kit.
The angle grinder uses a 4-1/2 inches diameter wheel to make it ideal for a variety of cutting and grinding tasks, and it can deliver up to 8,000 RPM.
This DeWalt grinder is relatively lightweight when you compare it to the Milwaukee 2680-20, and with a more ergonomic design that also includes a rubberized grip.
It also has a large 2-finger trigger with lock-off button for safety, quick-change wheel release for tool-free wheel changing and tool-free adjustable cutting guard.
Whether you want a tool to help cut metal and PVC or for grinding, the Milwaukee 2680-20 has all it takes to do the job faster and more efficiently.
It is a 4-1/2 inches cut-off/grinder just like the DeWalt tool we recommended above but is relatively more powerful and faster as it runs on a 4-pole motor that delivers up to 10,000 RPM.
This grinder is also one of the few cordless models that use a paddle switch design to help make tool activation easier.
And it makes use of unique L-shape vents that help to prevent debris from damaging internal components of the tool to increase its service life.
Adjusting the guard is also a fast, easy and tool-free process, and there is also a 3-position side handle for versatility and to provide optimal control.
The facts that DeWalt’s combo kit does not include a grinder and that Milwaukee's grinder provides higher speeds for fast and more efficient grinding makes Milwaukee the winner here.
- Hammer Drills: Each drill seems to outweigh the other in certain aspects and so they draw here.
- Impact Drivers: Milwaukee wins thanks to the higher peak torque.
- Reciprocating Saws: Compact and lightweight design give DeWalt a slight edge of Milwaukee and hence it wins.
- Circular Saws: Higher RPM and a lightweight construction give DeWalt the win.
- Work Lights: A higher light output gives Milwaukee the win.
- Angle Grinder: Milwaukee wins because its angle grinder is faster and more powerful and because DeWalts kit does not include one.
While all the tools in both combo kits seem to perform well, Milwaukee 2696-26 wins the showdown with 3 wins and a draw out of a possible 6.
Also, the fact that it is 6-piece combo kit which is one tool more than the DeWalt DCK590L2 has and its 5-year warranty is two years longer than DeWalt’s warranty give it an edge.
But, both are still top-notch brands, and you will not regret buying from either of them.
Buying a combo kit is always a good way to save some money, but buying one from reputable brands like DeWalt or Milwaukee is even more important as it ensures you get high-quality power tools.
Our combo kits comparison above sheds more light on what both brands have to offer, and while Milwaukee seems to have an edge over DeWalt, both are still great companies.
You are still free to go for the brand that you prefer most among the two, and it is also worth noting that both still have many other great combo kits in the market.
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