Last Updated on May 2, 2023 by Barry Gray
If you plan on potentially purchasing a new power tool, chances are you will find yourself coming across several options from both Milwaukee and DeWalt. I admit that both brands are fantastic in their own right, but that then opens up a question about which one is best.
I admit that this in itself is not an easy question to answer. Sure they produce the same types of tools and usually with the same features or capabilities, so is comparing them even a possibility?
Well, that is what I’m going to attempt to do here. I’m not only going to tell you everything I feel you should know about these two giant companies, but also give you my opinion on them.
I feel well placed to give my opinion on this because I’ve been using power tools for over 20 years. Through that time, I’ve owned several tools by both Milwaukee and DeWalt, so I have direct experience of what both brands can offer.
I believe that this experience puts me in the position of being capable of offering some sense of an opinion about the two brands. So, let’s get on and see what conclusions I can draw when comparing Milwaukee and DeWalt.
Neither brand is new to this game of power tools, with both having been launched way back in the early 1900s, and I feel that’s important. It means both companies have had to constantly update tools according to technology changes, which often leads to better tools in the end.
Their experience built up over a century also means they should be fully aware of what people want in a power tool. So, in this respect, both Milwaukee and DeWalt are pretty much identical, but that’s not bad.
Now, I could go into the background of each company in more detail, but if we are honest, you are here because of your love for tools. So, that’s what we will focus on.
Place of Manufacture
So first, both companies have a different approach to where their tools are manufactured. Some people may feel this makes a difference when it comes to making a decision as to which one to buy.
Milwaukee goes big on the fact they only allow their tools to be manufactured in the United States. DeWalt, on the other hand, takes a different approach.
DeWalt accepts that some aspects of their tools can be manufactured in different parts of the world. China, Brazil, the UK, Mexico, and Italy are just several examples. That is why some tools from DeWalt will state that they use global parts or words along those lines.
However, since 2015, they have produced more parts in various plants across the United States. But if you want to only purchase a quality power tool that is wholly manufactured in the United States, then it’s Milwaukee that you will need to look at.
Companies Behind the Names
So you may think that Milwaukee and DeWalt are big names in their own right, and they certainly are, but they are not just one company. Instead, both names are owned by parent companies, where the Milwaukee and DeWalt names are merely one of a list.
Milwaukee is owned by a Hong Kong company called TTI, which stands for Techtonic Industries. This massive company is also responsible for several other brands you may be familiar with.
Names such as AEG, Dirt Devil, VAX, and also licensed for Ryobi are just a few. However, it gives you an idea of the scale of the company behind Milwaukee tools.
DeWalt is also owned by a big brand, and it’s one you will have heard of as it’s Stanley Black & Decker. Of course, they produce their own brand names, but the company behind DeWalt is also responsible for other names you may even own.
Brand names include the likes of Stanley, Black & Decker, Craftsman and Porter-Cable are just a few. However, the list of brands they own is pretty extensive.
But why do I feel this is important?
Well, it’s because these companies can put so much money and effort into developing the perfect tools. That should lead to more robust tools that perform exactly as you want.
Range of Tools
But if we move on to more interesting information, we can start by looking at the range of tools available under both brands.
At this point, I want to make it easier for you to grasp the sheer scale of tools available under both names. So, keep in mind that Milwaukee and DeWalt have some product lines under which so many tools will be listed.
Take the Milwaukee M18 line as an example. The M18 line has more than 200 tools available that come with an 18V battery. But that’s not all.
Milwaukee also has an M12 line, and you can count over 100 tools under that line as well.
But it doesn’t even end there.
You also have their newer MX FUEL line with new tools being added.
Basically, you are looking at Milwaukee having hundreds of tools available to you. Plus, you need to consider the number of accessories accompanying the tools. Milwaukee has more than 3,500 accessories, and that’s just a vast number. You can see how it would be very easy to get confused about where to even begin when selecting a Milwaukee tool.
And then there’s DeWalt.
Their 20V MAX line has over 200 tools for you to choose from, and that’s just as impressive as the Milwaukee M18 line. Add in a vast number of corded products since the 20V MAX is cordless, along with close to 50 tools in their new FlexVolt line, and you also have hundreds of possibilities.
Also, they have over 800 accessories. It may be a smaller number than Milwaukee, but it does still mean you will often have no problem finding the perfect accessory for your own individual needs.
Basically, I’m saying both brands have you well covered when it comes to tool options. Also, each range has every type of tool you can imagine, so it’s tough to state that one brand is better than the other in this area.
Durability of Tools
You will see as you go through this article that I mention on several occasions how Milwaukee focuses on producing heavy-duty tools, which should mean their tools are pretty durable and robust.
Well, that is one claim they can rightfully make. Their tools are often viewed as the best regarding reliability, which is why so many professionals stand by them.
It turns out that Milwaukee tools work exceptionally well. This is partly due to them coming with a fantastic battery designed to produce an even amount of power even when the battery runs out of energy. Also, their motors are generally brushless, leading to less wear and a need to repair them.
But DeWalt also has a strong reputation when it comes to durability. However, one thing that stands out when it comes to DeWalt is that their tools tend to be lighter. I feel they are easier to use when it comes to tight situations, and I love that about them.
Milwaukee tools can often come across as slightly larger, which fits their approach to creating more heavy-duty tools.
Ease of Use
This part may not surprise me, but I feel DeWalt tools are often easier to use than Milwaukee. However, that is due to the specific markets both names tend to focus on.
DeWalt tends to make things slightly more straightforward thanks to the market they deal with, and I love that about them.
But one thing I appreciate about DeWalt is the way they manage to incorporate new technologies into their tools but still make them easy to use. You see, it’s because their technology will focus on getting better power or making a specific process much easier. Those things will not increase the difficulty associated with the tool.
Yet if you are a very serious DIY’er or a professional, you won’t find too much difficulty using a Milwaukee tool.
Milwaukee has that robust feel, but DeWalt has the lighter tools in their range. This is thanks to the materials they use when manufacturing the tool, so you can see why people looking for that heavy-duty tool will lean more toward Milwaukee.
I feel that DeWalt tools fit nicer in hand, and they come across as more comfortable. However, I do get that more robust tools focus on other areas rather than just comfort. In that sense, the handling aspect from an ergonomic perspective may not prove to be too important to you.
But that’s not all when it comes to too handling.
I also feel that DeWalt tools tend to come across as more compact in size. I think they can be better suited to getting into those awkward spots, even though they may have slightly less power than their Milwaukee counterpart.
That is certainly something I would stress you need to consider when deciding between these two particular brands.
Both DeWalt and Milwaukee offer brushless motors in their tools, and I have always loved tools that come with this type of motor. Both brands produce quality motors, but Milwaukee was the first to do so, and they have certainly been responsible for many technological innovations.
However, I think that both Milwaukee and DeWalt produce high-quality motors and are indeed on par with one another.
Comparing Tools – Drills
To try to help you with your decision, let’s compare drills.
First, you will often see that DeWalt drills come with a bit lower torque, and for the average DIY’er, that will not be a problem. I feel it gives the more inexperienced individual better control over things, and that’s fantastic.
However, Milwaukee drills do come with better technology for more high-speed drilling. I find that translates into them working better with tougher materials, so that’s something to keep in mind.
With both size and weight, there’s not much difference, so I see it as coming down more to what you plan on doing rather than anything else.
Comparing Tools – Impact Drivers
For impact drivers, I feel that Milwaukee wins, and it’s for a couple of very obvious reasons. With these tools, they tend to have better torque and speed, which will make a difference in the outcome.
I think that Milwaukee drivers work better in more challenging conditions, and even though the speed difference may be slight, it is often more than enough for you to get the kind of end results you were looking for.
When size and weight are similar, you need to look into other areas to determine which option is best, and that’s why I checked out both speed and torque in this instance.
But this issue of comparing similar products between these two brands will tend to come down to those slight differences. That is why I implore you to read every aspect of the specifications to determine which is best for your needs.
Thankfully, both brands produce high-quality tools, so you aren’t making a big mistake no matter which one you purchase.
Who Buys Milwaukee Products?
So with both brands having a vast number of tools available, who tends to buy which brand?
Milwaukee is certainly aimed more at the professional rather than a beginner. This becomes readily apparent when you check out the tools and examine them in more detail.
For example, Milwaukee tools tend to be extremely robust and designed more for heavy-duty use. They can contend with a lot of punishment without letting you down, which is a great thing.
Who Buys DeWalt Products?
While Milwaukee does tend to focus primarily on professionals and heavy-duty users, DeWalt looks to cover a broader spectrum of potential customers. Yes, they still target that professional market, but they also look at tempting hobbyists to purchase their tools and accessories.
Also, DeWalt goes big on innovation and uses that to draw people into their tools. They will often be the first to come out with something new on their power tools, which certainly attracts people to the brand.
But I feel that while DeWalt products are indeed suitable for heavy-duty use, they do turn things down a bit and manage to make their products seem more attractive to that weekend DIY’er.
Their General Reputation
So what’s the general reputation of each company, and how are they perceived by others? Honestly, both have a strong reputation within the industry, and they are often held in high regard. People tend to view them as brands that produce high-quality and reliable tools.
But that hasn’t always been the case.
If you go back in time by around 15 years, you would see a different story. At that point, DeWalt did rule and had the biggest and best reputation. You saw their tools everywhere, thanks to their distinctive coloring.
Milwaukee couldn’t cope, even though they were still big names. However, Milwaukee changed things up by introducing their brand-new Lithium-ion 18V battery. At that point, they could produce more tools at better prices opening up their market.
It reached the stage where Milwaukee overtook DeWalt as the pro tool of choice. Considering DeWalt views themselves as the leaders in innovation, it’s kind of strange that they then allowed themselves to fall behind in this way. However, if you look at the figures, it seems DeWalt has regained the top spot from a reputation perspective.
Clearly, neither Milwaukee nor DeWalt are what I would refer to as budget brands. However, I must state that they do not always come out as the most expensive either.
But this is what I have found when comparing both Milwaukee and DeWalt tools.
Both brands tend to charge around the same price for pretty much the same tool. Take the Milwaukee M18 hammer drill kit and the DeWalt 20V Max XR hammer drill kit. In this instance, the DeWalt tool is only $20 more, and there’s little difference in the way both tools operate.
That’s a picture that does repeat itself over and over.
But overall, even though that example sort of goes against this, I find the Milwaukee versions generally come out slightly more expensive than DeWalt. However, I think I have an explanation for this.
Remember that Milwaukee tools are almost entirely aimed at professionals and heavy users. That can mean that some specifications may be slightly different and designed for that heavy use.
That is why Milwaukee will tend to charge a bit more for a similar tool. Their focus is on providing a high-quality tool, which tends to come with a higher price.
Warranty is where I see a real difference between both brands, and it actually surprised me that they have different approaches to something so important.
For me, Milwaukee has the better approach regarding its warranty. You will find that their warranty lasts for at least five years, while some hand tools or their RedStick line actually come with a lifetime warranty. However, cordless Milwaukee tools typically have a three-year warranty.
But DeWalt is different.
With DeWalt, you have a limited three-year extended warranty with a 90-day money-back guarantee. Also, they will give you a service contract covering the first year. They just won’t go beyond that three-year mark, and I’m not sure what to make of that.
The only difference is with DeWalt Mechanics Tools. You have a lifetime warranty with that range, and the cool part is they won’t even ask for any proof of purchase before replacing it.
However, for the average hobbyist, the best you can hope for is a three-year warranty, no matter the price you pay for your new DeWalt power tool.
I love Milwaukee and DeWalt, so this has been an interesting article to write and compare the two names. Can I then go ahead and choose one that stands out?
It’s still tough. Both can be better than the other option at different times. However, I do still have a conclusion.
If you are planning on carrying out some heavy-duty projects regularly, I would push more to the Milwaukee tool range rather than DeWalt. I feel they can cope with a little bit more pressure and work than DeWalt.
Now that’s not me saying DeWalt is lacking when it comes to robust tools. They are still superior to so many brands out there. However, DeWalt is just slightly lacking in that department when lined up against Milwaukee.
But if your budget is more of an issue, then it would push you to DeWalt. Their general price tag comes in slightly lower than Milwaukee, yet you still get a fantastic tool.
For me, the key is to think about how often you will use the tools and what you will use them for. That may help you decide between two excellent brands that are really on a par with one another.