Makita vs. DeWalt: Which Brand is Better for You?

Makita vs. DeWalt: Who Wins…

DeWalt vs Makita

If you are going to buy a power tool combo kit, you should not just walk into your local hardware store or go online and pick the cheapest or what you think you like.

Instead, you should first decide on the best brand for you. But this is easier said than done as there are many good brands out there. And one of the most common dilemmas that many power tool users will find themselves in is deciding whether to go for Makita or DeWalt.

Both are highly reputable companies that make all kinds of power tools, and millions of hobbyists, DIYers and professional contractors across the globe use their products.

Although the best brand for you among the two will ultimately depend on your preferences, there are some circumstances and situations where one is better than the other.

In this piece, we will highlight different aspects of both brands starting from their history. And also review some of their most popular power tool combo kits to help make your buying decision more informed.

Makita

The Early Days

Makita has been in business for slightly over a century now as it began operation in 1915 which makes it one of the oldest power tool manufacturers.

The company started as an electric motor repair and sales company in Aichi, Japan, and it was founded by Mosaburo Makita which explains where it gets its name from.

By 1935 Makita was making and exporting electric motors and generators to the former Soviet Union, and in 1958 it became the first company in Japan to make and sell the portable electric planers.

Growth and Expansion

Makita prides in being one of the first companies to develop cordless power drills with their 6500D battery-powered drill that came out in 1969. They are also one of the oldest air tool manufacturers as they have been making pneumatic tools from as early as 1981.

Other notable milestones in their long history include the development of the model 6213D rechargeable driver-drill in 1996, 40mm rotary hammer with anti vibrations technology in 2005, and the cordless impact driver with a brushless motor that came out in 2010.

Today, Makita boasts of having more than 100 cordless tools in the market that run on their highly efficient 18V lithium-ion battery technology.

And they now make everything from woodworking and metalworking power tools to concrete works and vacuuming tools.

The company has also been expanding rapidly over the years by opening branches in various countries from Brazil to the United States.

But, one thing that never seems to change is their desire to incorporate the latest technologies and innovations in the making of their tools to make them more useful, sturdier and highly durable.

About DeWalt

DeWalt logo

The Early Days

Although DeWalt was formed in 1924, its story starts in 1922 when its founder Raymond DeWalt perfected the first woodworking machine with the aim of improving productivity and increasing versatility.

Raymond DeWalt then went ahead and formed a company with his surname as its name, and it was based in Leola, Pennsylvania. 

In its early days, DeWalt focused in the production of their “Wonder Worker” machine which was an electric universal machine that could be configured in 9 different ways. But, the company also produced a dedicated mortiser and jointer.

In the early 1940’s DeWalt began a period of rapid expansion that saw it get into government contracts where it was making tools to meet the national defense and wartime machinery requirements.

Growth and Expansion

DeWalt continued with the rapid expansions and in 1949 it was acquired by American Machine Foundry which then expanded its operation to Canada in 1953 before reselling it to the current owners Black & Decker in 1960.

The 1990’s saw DeWalt venture into a new market by introducing their first line of portable electric power tools and their accessories in 1992 with their target market being contractors, remodelers, and professional woodworkers.

And in 1994 the company revolutionized the power tool industry with 30 new cordless power tools including the 14.4V cordless drill/driver that was the most powerful in the market at that time.

By 2001 DeWalt had more than 200 power tools and more than 800 accessories in the market, and since then they have been bringing more tools and accessories into the market almost annually.

Through constant research and working with highly skilled and experienced professionals, DeWalt is always improving their power tools by incorporating modern and more advanced technologies.

And they now make a variety of power tools from nailers and drills to saws and air compressors, and they are always venturing into the manufacture of different power tools.

Also, the company has been opening manufacturing branches across the USA and a few other countries, and by 2015 they had a total of seven operational branches in the USA alone.

Key Product Features

Makita Product Features

Makita power tools are made to have an edge over many others. And some of the key features that help them achieve this include:

  • LXT Lithium-Ion Battery Technology. Besides being up to 50% longer lasting, the LXT lithium-ion battery can also be switched between different Makita cordless power tools.
  • LXT Brushless Motors. Most Makita power tools will use the more efficient LXT brushless motors. These motors are also available in different sizes to suit the needs of different tools. For example, the 44 mm for impact drivers and the larger 52 mm for power saws.
  • Star Protection Technology. This technology is one of the most recent Makita innovations that can be found in most of their latest power tools. It is an advanced communication system that will allow the tools and batteries to do real-time data exchange. The aim of this is to ensure real-time monitoring which helps prevent overloading, over-discharging and overheating.
  • Affordable Brand. Makita power tools are not only relatively more affordable than similar ones from DeWalt but for such a reputable brand their tools are generally quite affordable.

DeWalt Product Features

DeWalt takes pride in making some of the most popular and best-selling power tools globally. Some of the features that make their products popular include:

  • 20V Max XR Line. A line of brushless power tools and they include brushless motors and higher capacity 20V lithium-ion batteries for improved efficiency and performance.
  • Tool Connect. A more recent introduction to DeWalt power tools and it allows users that have the Bluetooth-enabled batteries on their power tools to connect, and also track the tools from anywhere by getting real-time updates.
  • Flexvolt. Although it has only been around for a couple of years, Flexvolt is quite a popular feature. It is a unique battery by DeWalt that is designed to change voltage when the user moves it from one tool to another. By doing this it offers both increased power and longer runtimes.
  • Shocks-Active Vibration Control. This feature is designed to reduce vibration by up to 50% to make the power tool more comfortable to operate, and it is commonplace in many DeWalt's rotary hammers.
  • Breakaway Blades. If you have a DeWalt reciprocating saw from 2017 onwards you will love their new Breakaway Blade. It is an innovative blade design that will allow the user to break away the used section of the blade and reinsert the unused section for a longer blade life.
Makita vs. DeWalt - Combo

Buying a combo kit is always a more economical option and it is also a great way to ensure that you have all the tools you need in one package.

Makita XT505 and DeWalt DCK590L2 are two great combo kits from highly reputable brands, and if you are thinking of buying from Makita or DeWalt, you are likely to have to make a choice between the two.

Both are 5-piece combo kits that will consist of a hammer drill, impact driver, reciprocating saw, circular saw and a work light.

Because both combo kits come from reputable brands, every tool in the set is high-quality and will perform well.

But if you are going to choose between Makita XT505 and DeWalt DCK590L2, it is important to understand what each individual tool has to offer and both its pros and cons.

#1. Hammer Drills

Makita vs. DeWalt

Product Name

Speed

Chuck Size

Weight

Dimensions

0-600 and 0-1,900 RPM

1/2 in

3.4 lbs

3.7 x 8.7 x 8.75 in

0-600, 0-1,250, 0-2,000 RPM

1/2 in

4.35 lbs

10.19 x 2.94 x 10.19 in

Makita XPH10Z is built to combine speed and high torque in a compact tool to deliver an impressive performance and ensure user convenience.

The hammer drill runs on Makita's four-pole motor that is designed to deliver up to 480 in.lbs maximum torque, and it also runs on their 18V lithium-ion batteries.

For increased versatility, it will work as both a driver-drill and hammer driver-drill, and it is also a dual-speed tool that can operate at 0-600 or 0-1,900 RPM.

Its lightweight and ergonomic design provides increased user comfort and also helps to minimize hand fatigue when using it for extended projects.

Also, this hammer drill will come with dual LED lights that are very handy when working in low light conditions as they help to keep the work area illuminated.

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Ergonomic design for comfortable operation
  • Increased water and dust protection
  • Dual LED lights

Cons:

  • Fewer speed range options

DeWalt DC985B Hammer Drill

With a more efficient motor and a 3-speed all-metal transmission, you can be confident that the DeWalt DC985B will perform beyond your expectations and be very useful for a variety of applications.

The three speeds are 0-600, 0-1,250 and 0-2,000 RPM, and this is more than what Makita's XPH10Z hammer drill can offer.

When it comes to the battery, it also seems to have an edge. The hammer drill uses DeWalt’s 20V lithium-ion batteries that are designed to provide up to 35% longer runtimes than the 18V ones and are also more durable.

It uses a 1/2-inch metal ratcheting chuck that accepts various bit types and sizes and also has carbide inserts that will help to prevent bit slippage.

The design of the DeWalt DC985B will also incorporate a soft and slim handle that helps to ensure maximum user comfort when working on long jobs. But, the brushed motor makes it a little heavier than Makita XPH10Z.

Also, this hammer drill will come with a built-in LED light that has a 20-second delay to help improve visibility in low light spaces.

Pros:

  • Highly efficient motor
  • More durable batteries with longer runtimes
  • Side handle included
  • 3-speed metal transmission

Cons:

  • The brushed motor makes it a little heavy

The Verdict

You cannot go wrong with both of the hammer drills but DeWalt DC985B is the clear winner here as it is more powerful, heavy-duty and also offers more speed settings.

#2. Impact Drivers

3. Makita vs. DeWalt - Impact Driver

Product Name

Max Torque

Speed

Hex Chuck

Weight

Dimensions

1,460 in.lbs

0-2,900 RPM, 0-3,500 IPM

1/4 in

2.8 lbs

3.5 x 5.4 x 8.25 in

1,400 in.lbs

0-2,800 RPM, 0-3,200 IPM

1/4 in

2.8 lbs

5.5 x 9.4 x 3.9 in

The Makita XDT11Z is designed to be a versatile impact driver that will be highly useful for a variety of applications, and it is a variable speed tool with 0-2,900 RPM and 0-3,500 IPM speed rating.

It also has quite a powerful impact driver with a maximum torque of 1,460 in.lbs thanks to Makita's unique 4-pole motor, and with such amount of power, no fastening task is too big for this driver.

At a total weight of just 2.8 pounds which is the same as the DeWalt DCF885B, it is also quite a lightweight tool. And if you also factor in its compact and ergonomic design, you have a comfortable tool that you can use for long periods with minimal hand fatigue.

With the convenient 1/4-inch hex chuck on this impact driver, bit changes should be fast and easy to ensure that you never waste any precious time when using it.

You can also use this impact driver in dark and low light spaces as it comes with a built-in LED light that helps illuminate the work area.

Pros:

  • Higher maximum torque
  • Relatively higher speeds
  • Compact and ergonomic design

Cons:

  • Does not seem as sturdy as DeWalt’s impact driver

DeWalt DCF885B Impact Driver

The compact and lightweight DeWalt DCF885B is a well-built impact driver that will never disappoint you and like with most other DeWalt power tools that use 20V lithium-ion batteries, you can be sure of longer run times and more durable batteries.

Like the Makita XDT11Z, it also uses a 1/4-inch hex chuck that makes one-handed bit changing possible to help speed up your projects by minimizing downtimes when you have to change bits.

And although the 1,400 in.lbs maximum torque that it produces is lower than what Makita's impact driver will produce, it is still quite high and more than enough for most projects.

Also, this is a variable speed impact driver that will deliver 0-2,800 RPM and 0-3,200 IPM which also makes it ideal for a variety of applications.

With the 3 built-in LED lights with 20 seconds delay on this tool, you can also use it in low light conditions as they are bright enough to keep the work area well-illuminated.

Pros:

  • Longer runtimes
  • Also quite compact and lightweight
  • Heavy-duty and rugged construction

Cons:

  • Relatively lower max torque

The Verdict

This is almost a draw because the two impact drivers weigh the same and have almost similar features but the higher maximum torque and speeds mean Makita XD11Z has a slight edge and so it is the winner.

#3. Reciprocating Saws

2. Makita vs. DeWalt - Reciprocating Saw

Product Name

Stroke Length

Speed

Weight

Dimensions

1-1/4 in

0-2,800 SPM

8.3 lbs

5.5 x 19-1/8 x 8 in

1-1/8 in

0-3,000 SPM

3.5 lbs

16 x 6 x 6 in

The Makita XRJ04Z reciprocating saw is all about providing faster and more efficient cutting, and it also runs on the fast charging 18V slide-style lithium-ion batteries.

This reciprocating saw has a 1-1/4-inch stroke length that not only increases the cutting speed but also makes it more efficient.

The tool also has a refined crank mechanism design to minimize blade deflection while also reducing vibrations. And like most other Makita power tools, it uses the XPT (extreme protection technology) for improved dust and water protection to make it ideal for use in harsh conditions.

Operating it is also easy, convenient and comfortable thanks to the large 2-finger trigger and the rubberized soft grip that provides user comfort and helps to minimize hand fatigue

The variable speed motor delivers 0-2,800 strokes per minute which is slightly lower than what you get from DeWalt DCS381B but it is still good enough.

Pros:

  • Longer stroke length
  • Tool-less blade change
  • Extreme protection technology
  • Rubberized soft grip
  • Large 2-finger trigger

Cons:

  • A little heavy

DeWalt DCS381B Reciprocating Saw

DeWalt DCS381B weighs around half of the total weight of Makita XRJO4Z, and so if weight is your main concern, this would probably be your best option.

Besides being lightweight, it is also a fast cutting saw with 1-1/8 stroke length and 0-3,000 SPM. And it also delivers longer runtimes as it uses the 20V lithium-ion batteries.

Like Makita's reciprocating saw, it also allows for tool-less blade change. It also has a pivoting adjustable shoe that helps to extend blade life and makes it easy to control cut depth.

The overmold grip on the handle makes this reciprocating saw comfortable to hold and easy to control even when using it for extended periods. And there is also a double oil sealed shaft that helps to prevent contamination and ensure longer tool life

Pros:

  • Compact and ergonomic design
  • Longer runtime
  • Faster cutting speed
  • Tool-free blade change

Cons:

  • Relatively shorter stroke length

The Verdict

Although the DeWalt DCS381B provides a relatively faster-cutting speed and is also lighter, the Makita XRJO4Z still wins here as it is a more efficient saw with a longer stroke length.

#4. Circular Saws

4. Makita vs. DeWalt - Circular Saw

Product Name

Blade Size

Speed

Max Cut Capacity

Bevel Capacity

Weight

6.5 in

3,700 RPM

2-1/4 in

0-50°

7.3 lbs

6.5 in

3,700 RPM

2-1/4 in

0-50°

7.1 lbs

Makita XSS02Z runs on a high torque motor that delivers up to 3,700 RPM to ensure that you always get fast cuts and rip through wood easily.

Because it is also part of Makita's 18V lithium-ion cordless tools, you can be sure that you will spend more time using the tool, and not waiting for it to recharge as these batteries are some of the fastest charging.

The circular saw uses a 6.5-inch blade with a maximum cut capacity of 2-1/4 inches and bevel capacity of 0 to 50 degree which is similar to what you get from the DeWalt DCS393.

This powerful circular saw also features a heavy gauge precision machined base that is designed to ensure that users always get smooth and accurate cutting, and also provides added durability when working in harsh conditions.

Handling the saw is also easy and comfortable thanks to the rubberized soft grip. And it will also feature Makita's star protection computer controls to help prevent overheating, overloading and over-discharging.

Pros:

  • High-torque motor
  • Rubberized soft grip handle
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Smooth and accurate cutting
  • Star protection computer controls

Cons:

  • Blade seems to dull quickly

DeWalt DCS393 Circular Saw

The features and performance of the DeWalt DCS393 make it an almost replica of the Makita XSS02Z. And even their weight is almost the same meaning you will still have a great circular saw no matter what you pick between the two.

DeWalt DCS393 runs on a powerful motor with a 460 Watts max output that also generates up to 3,700 RPM for fast cutting.

This circular saw also has a maximum cut capacity of 2-1/4 inches, and with bevel capacity of 0 to 50 degrees and can cut completely through a couple of 2x4's at a 45-degree bevel.

The 6.5-inch carbide tooth blade is sharp enough when you get it to make the tool ready for immediate use, and it maintains the sharp edge for long enough.

Its ergonomic profile that includes a lightweight magnesium shoe and optimized handle also make this circular saw comfortable to use and easy to control with minimum hand fatigue.

Pros:

  • Powerful motor
  • Lightweight magnesium shoe
  • Ergonomic optimized handle
  • Longer runtime

Cons:

  • Inconvenient safety switch location

The Verdict

Almost everything about the two circular saws is the same, and so it is hard to pick a clear winner. Hence it is a draw here, and if you were to pick between the two, it will mostly depend on the brand you like most.

#5. Work Lights

5. Makita vs. DeWalt - Flashlight

Product Name

Output

Runtime

Bulb Type

Weight

180 lm

4 hrs

Xenon

2.1 lbs

110 lm

11 hrs

LED

0.63 lb

When you want high work site illumination without having to worry about annoying cords, the Makita DML185 will be a perfect choice.

It uses a super bright xenon bulb that delivers 4,500-lux brightness which translates to about 180 lumens and hence making it significantly brighter than the DeWalt DCL040 which uses LED bulb.

You can also set the head in 4 different positions which makes this work light quite versatile as it ensures you can direct the light just where you need it.

And it is made with a comfortable rubberized soft grip to make it comfortable to hold for long periods. It also comes with a free shoulder strap that can be quite convenient and a couple of bulbs.

The fast-charging 18V lithium-ion batteries will provide up to 4 hours run time for every charge. And with the overall rugged design of this light, you can be confident of using it for a long time.

Pros:

  • Brighter xenon bulb
  • Versatile 4-position head
  • Shoulder strap and replacement bulb included
  • Comfortable rubberized grip

Cons:

  • Xenon bulb can get quite hot

For those that prefer a more compact work light, the DeWalt DCL040 will be a good choice as it is not only compact but also quite lightweight as it only weighs 0.63 pounds

It uses DeWalt's 20V lithium-ion batteries which give it a runtime of more than 11 hours, which is more than twice what you get with the Makita DML185.

Also, it has a 120-degree rotating head with 11 detent positions to make it easier to focus the light where you want it.

The LED bulbs deliver a light output of 110 lumens and unlike the xenon type on the Makita DML185, it has a low heat output.

There is also an integrated hook on this work light to make hands-free operation possible

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Long runtimes
  • 120-degree rotating head
  • Integrated hook for hands-free use
  • Low heat output bulb

Cons:

  • Relatively less bright light

The Verdict

While the DeWalt DCL040 will offer more than 11 hours of runtime on a single charge, you will hardly ever need all that, and so what is more important is the amount of brightness. Hence, with a maximum output of 180 lumens, the Makita DML185 is much brighter than DeWalt DCL040 and so it is the clear winner here.

Summary

Tools

Power Drills

-----

Win

Impact Drivers

Win

-----

Reciprocating Saws

Win

-----

Circular Saws

Draw

Draw

Work Lights

Win

-----

  • Power Drills: DeWalt is the clear winner here as their hammer drill is more powerful, heavy duty and with more speed settings.
  • Impact Drivers: Makita wins here thanks to its impact driver's higher torque and speeds.
  • Reciprocating Saws: The longer stroke length and more efficiency give Makita a slight edge.
  • Circular Saws: Draw as the two circular saws are similar in almost every aspect.
  • Work Lights: Makita wins because their xenon light is much brighter

With 3 wins and 1 draw from a possible 5, Makita is the clear winner of our power tools combo kit showdown. And to make it even better, it is also the cheaper option, and so you not only get high-performing tools but also more affordable ones.

But, both are still top notch combo kits because most of the tools have quite similar features and capabilities. Also, they are both backed by 3-year limited warranties.

In conclusion, Makita XT505 advanced features and technologies and affordable price tag give it a clear edge over DeWalt DCK590L2 but the latter is still a great combo kit and one of the best out there.​​

Conclusion

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of always buying your power tools from reputable brands as this is one of the best ways to ensure you get high-quality and high-performing tools.

But, you can almost never go wrong with DeWalt or Makita as they are industry leaders trusted by millions of DIYers, hobbyists, woodworkers and professional contractors across the world.

Buying their combo kits also saves you some money and ensures that you have all the necessary tools for your projects.

And while Makita's XT505 takes the day on our combo kit comparison, the DeWalt DCK590L2 is still a fantastic combo kit that you will not regret buying.

Also, the two brands still have many other good combo kits if the two do not impress you or do not have all the tools you are looking for.

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