Milwaukee vs. Makita: Which is the Better Brand for You?
Power tools are the engine that drives any workshop, and whether you are a DIYer or a professional, you are likely going to need a lot of them. And it is vital to make sure that you buy from a highly reputable brand.
When it comes to choosing a power tool brand, you are likely to find yourself in the typical dilemma of whether to go for Milwaukee or Makita.
Milwaukee and Makita are both power tool powerhouses and heavyweights, and thousands of DIYers, woodworkers, and contractors across the world use their tools every other day.
While you should still be okay regardless of what you choose between the two, it is always a good idea to know what each has to offer.
In this piece, we provide an overview of their histories and also review some top-rated combo kits from each brand to help make your choice a more informed one.
Table of Contents
- History of 2 Top Brands
- Key Product Features Comparison
- Milwaukee 2896-26 vs. Makita XT610 Combo Kits
- #1. Hammer Drills
- #2. Impact Drivers
- #3. Reciprocating Saws
- #4. Circular Saws
- #5. Angle Grinders
- #6. Work Lights
History of 2 Top Brands
The Early Days
The story of Milwaukee starts in 1918 as the Second World War was coming to an end, and the famous American automobile brand Ford was expanding rapidly.
The reason why Ford features in their story is the fact that it was Henry Ford who led to the development of what is considered Milwaukee's first power tool.
Henry Ford approached a young Wisconsin manufacturer, A.H Petersen to make a compact and lightweight version of the 1/4-inch power drill.
Petersen agreed and was commissioned to make what came to be referred to as the Hole-Shooter, a revolutionary power tool that weighed 5 pounds only.
Petersen and his friend Albert F. Siebert continued making and perfecting the Hole-Shooter until 1924 when tragedy struck and the company’s manufacturing facility was destroyed. Siebert later bought the company from his friend and renamed it Makita Electrical Tool Corporation.
Growth and Expansion
Although Siebert's aim was just to perfect the design of the Hole-Shooter and realize its sales potential, the story of Milwaukee did not end there.
In the early1930's, the company started focusing more on manufacturing. They developed tools like the 3/4-inch electric hammer drill that met great market success and a single-horsepower sander/grinder in the late 1930’s.
In 1949, they developed their first 1/2-inch right angle drill and took their sanders/grinder to a more advanced level by adding a spring clutch to create a smoother running power tool.
The unveiling of their Sawzall reciprocating saw in 1951 that still defines their power tools to date was also a great milestone.
Other important milestones in the Milwaukee story include the development of 18-volt contractor cordless power tool, and a miter saws line in the 1990’s.
In 2005, they became the first company to use lithium-ion battery technology and introduced the M12 and M18 line of tools in 2008 that make use of this battery technology.
Milwaukee now prides in having a product line with more than 500 tools and 3,500 accessories which are mostly designed for professional use. And they now have a global presence and several manufacturing plants in the USA alone.
The Early Days
Makita is one of the few power tool manufacturers that did not start in the USA but are still household names and very popular in the USA.
The company was started in Nagoya, Japan by Masaburo Makita as a store for selling and repairing electric motors, lighting equipment, and transformers.
Although the company focused more on repairs in their early days, they got into manufacturing as they started to grow the business. And in September 1935, Makita exported their first electric motors and generators to the Soviets Union.
Also, in December 1938 they incorporated the proprietorship’s business form which led to the establishment of Makita Electric Works, Inc.
Growth and Expansion
Makita now produces new tools and different models almost every year but it was not always that way as there are some important milestones that have marked its growth and expansion journey.
They start in 1958 when they made and started marketing their model 1000 electric hand planer which was the first to be made in Japan.
And in 1978, they launched their model 6010D 10mm rechargeable drill which was their first nickel-cadmium battery tool.
Makita continued to improve on their growing catalog of power tools and expanding their reach to other countries. And in February 1981, they launched the AN5000 pneumatic nailer and AC6001 air compressor which were their first air tools.
The 1980’s was a good decade for Makita as they also launched three power tools which were a grinder, drill and a circular saw that came into the market in 1989.
The 1990’s was mostly about expansion as they opened branches in several countries including China, New Zeland, Mexico, and Poland. And in 1997, they showcased their 6213D rechargeable driver-drill at the Chicago Hardware Show which was their first nickel hydride battery tool.
Other important milestones in Makita's century-long history include the launch of their TD130 drill that was their first lithium-ion battery-powered tool in 2005 and the 2010 launch of the model TD133D cordless impact driver, their first brushless motor tool.
Makita is always expanding their power tool portfolio, and they now have more than 100 cordless power tools that run on their 18V lithium-ion batteries and hundreds of accessories.
Key Product Features Comparison
Like with any other brand, there are certain features that seem to define Milwaukee products. And they include the following.
- Powerstate Brushless Motor. A highly efficient motor that is designed to supply constant power to the tool for high and consistent performance and also minimizes heating for an extended life.
- Redlithium Battery Technology. Besides providing a longer run time per charge, this unique battery also ensures a relatively long battery life to reduce the frequency of battery replacement
- Redlink Plus Intelligence. This intelligent system provides total system communication between tool, battery, and charger for optimized performance and overload protection.
- 4 Mode Drive Control. Also, a common feature of the more recent power tools from Milwaukee, and its main purpose is to provide greater control over tool power and output speed.
- Professional Grade Construction. Milwaukee focuses on making power tools for professional use, and so all their tools are heavy-duty and high-quality to handle the regular abuse and challenges that come with professional jobs.
There are many things that make Makita a great power tool brand but the impressive tool features are one of the keys ones. And some of their best features include:
- Star Protection Technology. One of the highlight features of modern Makita power tools. It is an advanced communication system that helps prevent overloading, overheating and over-discharging by allowing the tool and battery to share real-time data for easy monitoring.
- LXT Brushless Motor. Makita makes most their tools with the more powerful, more efficient and longer lasting brushless motors which are available in various sizes from the smaller 38 mm ones for drills to the large 52 mm motors on their saws.
- LXT Lithium-Ion Battery Technology. Their more efficient lithium-ion batteries provide up to 50% longer runtimes, and you can also switch them from one tool to the other.
- Affordable Prices. Despite the impressive quality and features, Makita tools are still quite affordable. In most cases, they will cost significantly less than similar power and performance tools from other reputable brands.
If you are a professional contractor or even and hobbyist or DIYer that uses power tools a lot, you should know that buying a combo kit saves you a lot of money.
With a combo kit, you also get different tools that use the same battery type and size which is also quite convenient.
Both are 6-piece combo kits that have a hammer drill, impact driver, circular saw, reciprocating saw, angle grinder and a work light.
You can be sure that you will still have a great combo kit regardless of what you choose. However, to make your choice easier we review and compare individual tools on these amazing combo kits.
#1. Hammer Drills
0-550 and 0-2,000 RPM
3.61 x 9.75 x 7.66 in
0-600 and 0-1,900 RPM
3.7 x 8.7 x 8.75 in
This Milwaukee 2704-20 hammer drill is one of the most powerful in its class out there. Its 1,200 in.lbs maximum torque is more than double of want the Makita XPH10Z can deliver.
The brushless motor on this hammer drill also delivers variable speeds which are 0-550 and 0-2,000 RPM. And it also seems to beat Makita's hammer drill here by providing both lower and higher speeds.
Its heavy-duty and highly durable construction is characteristic of the Milwaukee brand, and it ensures that the hammer drill has what it takes to handle regular job site abuse.
This hammer drill is also relatively compact for use in tight spaces, and it features an all-metal ratcheting locking chuck that helps to provide maximum grip and bit retention while also ensuring durability.
The removable handle and rubberized grip are also a great addition to the hammer drill as they make it more comfortable, convenient and easier to operate
Makita is famous for making affordable power tools but their Makita XPH10Z proves that they also have some of the best performing tools.
It uses their fast-charging 18V lithium-ion batteries, and so you can be confident that most of your time will be spent working and not charging the hammer drill.
This hammer drill is also compact and ergonomically designed with a rubberized handle to minimize hand fatigue when using it for extended periods.
Although its 480 in.lbs maximum torque is only a fraction of what you get on the Milwaukee 2704-20, it is still powerful enough for most drill/drive applications. And its 0-600 and 0-1,900 RPM speeds should also be more than enough.
Like most other Makita power tools, it uses star protection technology to ensure high resistance to water and dust for a long tool life. And it also has a dual LED light with an afterglow to help keep the work site well illuminated.
#2. Impact Drivers
0-850, 0-2,100 and 0-3,000 RPM
3.53 x 8.17 x 5.81 in
0-2,900 RPM and 0-3,500 IPM
3.5 x 5.4 x 8.25 in
With its 1,800 in.lbs maximum torque, the Milwaukee 2753-20 not only provides more driving force than the Makita XDT11Z but also most other models and brands in its class.
This impact driver not only provides faster driving but also ensures users get more control over the power output and speed. And this is thanks to the unique 4-mode drive control that delivers 3-speed modes which are-850, 0-2,100 and 0-3,000 RPM.
Milwaukee 2753-20 is also relatively more lightweight and compact when compared to Makita's impact driver as it only weighs 2.1 pounds. This translates to less hand fatigue when using it for long jobs and convenient use in tight spaces.
Another unique and impressive feature that many users will love about this 1/4-inch hex impact driver is the self-tapping screw mode. And this is because it will help reduce overdriving and other screws issues like breaking and stripping.
Makita XDT11Z might deliver a significantly lower maximum torque when compared to Milwaukee's driver, but the 1,460 in.lbs maximum torque is still quite a lot. And it is also higher than what many other impact drivers in the same class from other brands can deliver.
It is also a variable speed impact driver with speeds of 0-2,900 RPM and 0-3,500 IPM which makes it a great tool for a variety of applications.
And at just 5-3/8 inches long it is also quite a compact power tool that is convenient to use in tight spaces. If you combine the compact size with the soft and comfortable rubberized grip, you can be sure of maximum user comfort and minimal hand fatigue.
Makita also uses a convenient one-touch 1/4-inch hex chuck on this impact driver for quick and easy bit changes which helps to minimize job site downtimes.
Read More: 5 Best Makita Impact Drivers
#3. Reciprocating Saws
5.75 x 17 x 3 in
5.5 x 19-1/8 x 8 in
Milwaukee 2720-20 is designed to deliver a faster cutting speed than many corded reciprocating saws as it delivers a maximum of 3,000 strokes per minute.
This reciprocating saw uses Milwaukee’s highly efficient brushless motor that provides the same cutting power that you get from corded saws. And you can also be confident of longer runtimes as it also uses their efficient and long-lasting Redlithium battery.
At a total weight of 7.4 pounds, this saw is lighter than Makita’s model XRJ04Z, and it is also quite compact to make it more comfortable and easier to handle.
Its 1-1/8 stroke length is relatively shorter than what Makita’s saw has to offer but it should still be good enough. This reciprocating saw also comes with an adjustable shoe, an integrated LED light and a hook for convenient storage.
Although Makita XRJ04Z is a relatively larger and heavier reciprocating saw when compared to the Milwaukee 2720-20, it is still quite an ergonomic comfortable power tool to operate.
Its longer 1-1/4 stroke length makes all the difference as it ensures that you always get faster and more efficient cutting.
This reciprocating saw also uses a tool-less blade change system that will allow for faster blade installation and removal for increased productivity. And it uses a larger two-finger grip to provide more operator convenience.
Like many other Makita power tools, it also uses the extreme protection technology to improve dust and water resistance. The saw is also quite comfortable to operate thanks to the rubberized soft grip
#4. Circular Saws
Max Bevel Capacity
6.48 x 12.97 x 7.46 in
13 x 10 x 9 in
There are many circular saw models out there, but once you use the Milwaukee 2730-20 you will probably never want to use any other.
This 6-1/2-inch circular saw is one of the fastest out there as its powerful and highly efficient brushless motor will deliver up to 5,000 RPM to ensure fast cutting. And this speed is 1,300 RPM more than what you get with the Makita XSS02Z.
Also, it is a rugged and heavy-duty circular saw that is designed to serve you for many years and provide longer runtimes than similar circular saws from other brands.
At a total weight of 6.8 pounds, it is also lighter than Makita's circular saw. And if you also factor in the relatively more compact size, you have a very convenient and easy to handle power tool for extended use.
The cast magnesium saw guards and shoe provide a highly durable and lightweight saw base. This circular saw also has an integrated LED light and a handy rafter hook to provide convenient on the job storage.
The high-torque Makita-built motor on the XSS02Z will deliver up to 3,700 RPM which might be significantly lower than what you get from Milwaukee’s 2730-20 but it is still quite high. And so you can also be confident of fast cutting when using this circular saw.
Like the Milwaukee 2730-20, it also has a maximum bevel capacity of 50 degrees and is designed to cut 2X material at 45 degrees.
The circular saw weighs 7.3 pounds which is a little heavier than Milwaukee's saw, but it is still quite a compact saws and with a soft rubberized grip to make it comfortable to use with minimal hand fatigue.
And it also uses Makita’s star protection computer controls to help prevent overheating, overloading and over-discharging.
With the heavy precision-machined base on this circular saw, you can be confident of getting smooth and accurate cutting and long tool life.
#5. Angle Grinders
2.3 x 12.9 x 7.6 in
Milwaukee makes their model 2780-20 using most of their advanced power tool features. And they include the more efficient Powerstate brushless motor that delivers maximum and consistent power and a longer motor life.
Also, the 4-1/2-inch angle grinder uses Redlink Plus Intelligence to provide optimized performance and prevent common power tool problems like overheating.
This angle grinder delivers speeds of up to 8,500 RPM which is similar to what you get from the Makita XAG03Z to ensure fast and efficient grinding.
It is also equipped with an anti-vibration side handle, and an easy to use and comfortable paddle style switch.
The angle grinder will offer 100% tool-free guard adjustment and accessory changes to help increase productivity.
Any angle grinder with a brushless motor like Makita’s XAG03Z is always more efficient, and you can be confident of getting a reliable and consistent performance.
The motor delivers an impressive 8,500 RPM to ensure faster grinding and it also has a soft start feature for smooth starting and a longer gear life.
With the automatic speed change technology on this angle grinder, you can always be confident of optimum performance even under heavy load as it helps with speed and torque adjustments when grinding.
Makita’s XAG03Z is also equipped with star protection technology and extreme protection technology to prevent overheating and overloading and for improved dust and water resistance.
This grinder uses slide-switch with lock-on and a rubberized soft grip for operator convenience and comfort. And it also has a 3-stage LED gauge that indicates battery charge level.
Everything from the size of the cutting wheel to the speed is almost the same for these two grinders, and so it is hard to see where any of them has an edge over the other. Hence, here it is a draw.
#6. Work Lights
Milwaukee 2735-20 is designed to outshine and outlast the traditional incandescent work lights, and it uses LED bulbs to produce up to 160 lumens. And so you can always be sure of getting a bright and smooth white beam.
Although it is still not as bright as the Makita’s xenon work light, it makes up for this with a long runtime as you can use it for up to 12 hours on a single charge.
This light is also lightweight and relatively more compact, and it is built with a durable aluminum head that is both impact and weather-resistant and with an equally tough lens.
The head also rotates up to 135 degrees to provide flexible and focused illumination, and there is also an integrated hook to allow for hands-free use.
If you are on the hunt for a super bright work light, the Makita DML185 will be a great buy thanks to its 4,500 Lux/180 lumens bulb.
Besides being super bright, this work light is also well made with a rugged and heavy duty body to withstand regular job site abuse, and with a more comfortable rubberized soft grip.
The head can be set to 4 positions to allow for versatile use, and it will also come with a replacement bulb and shoulder strap for more convenience.
Although the 4-hour runtime is just a fraction of what the Milwaukee 2735-20 delivers, it still more than enough for most users.
While Milwaukee's LED light provides long runtimes and is more lightweight and compact, the brighter Makita xenon work light is still the winner here as more users are often more concerned with the light output.
- Hammer Drills: Milwaukee wins due to the higher torque and wider speed range.
- Impact Drivers: Higher torque, compact and lightweight construction and greater control over speed and power output give Milwaukee the win.
- Reciprocating Saws: Makita wins due to the longer stroke length that provides fast cutting.
- Circular Saws: The higher RPM and lightweight and more compact design give Milwaukee the win
- Angle Grinders: Everything from grinding capacity to speed is almost the same, and this is the reason for the draw here.
- Work Lights: The brighter xenon bulb gives Makita the win.
Milwaukee 2896-26 is the clear winner here with 3 wins and a draw out of six. And to make it an even better combo kit, it is backed by a 5-year limited warranty which is two years longer than what Makita offers.
But, both are still great combo kits, and if budget or price is a key concern, Makita XT610 might still be a good choice as it costs almost half of what you pay for Milwaukee’s 2896-26 combo kit.
All in all, both are highly reputable brands and you will not regret buying any of their products
Milwaukee and Makita are two power tool powerhouses, and they not only have a wide range of products but few other brands in the market can match their quality.
Both brands also have many other combo kits in the market if these ones do not impress you. And so what you choose between the two should always depend on your particular needs and preferences.
Last Updated on August 29, 2021 by Tom Bradly