Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray
One thing I love is not only comparing power tools in general but also comparing the companies behind the tools. I feel it gives you new insight into what they produce and can also influence your decision regarding the brand you may then buy.
In this instance, I’m going to spend time comparing two names you may already be familiar with, Ridgid and Milwaukee. Both brands have their own specific market in mind, but I still believe this will be a worthwhile exercise.
However, I have a lot of ground to cover to get to the bottom of the best brand.
Which Would I Choose?
Our of both Rigid and Milwaukee, I admit that I would go for Milwaukee tools if at all possible. However, I know that I’m guilty of using power tools regularly, so it would make sense for me to opt for something that can take more punishment.
But that’s the key right there. I can tell you which one I would choose, but it all depends on your experience level and the projects you wish to do with the tool. So, let me briefly explain how I came to my decision.
I get involved in large projects where some added power or torque can make a huge difference. That’s an essential point in my opinion, and it’s something I would suggest you think strongly about.
Also, I can sometimes work in tough conditions. I need my tools to be ultra-reliable and know they won’t simply give in on me. Once again, that’s why I went for Milwaukee.
Comparing Ridgid and Milwaukee Tools
But let’s be honest here, I know the main thing you are interested in is how the two brands compare regarding the tools. So, I have a few important points to make regarding that.
First, you must remember that both brands have their particular market. Of course, they will sell their tools to anybody who wants them, but they have specific markets in mind regarding design and development.
Ridgid started focusing on the plumbing industry, which is still a big deal to them today. On the other hand, Milwaukee has always focused on professionals and delivering the best tools possible for the most demanding conditions. Once again, that’s still their primary focus.
Clearly, there’s some overlap when it comes to their market, but they are also both distinct in their own right.
Quality of Tools
The quality of tools is another key component that I always feel you should consider before buying any tool. Here, there’s a slight difference between the two brands.
Both make excellent tools, but Milwaukee manufactures tools for heavy-duty use, which means they tend to be more rugged than Ridgid tools. Also, I feel the battery that comes with Milwaukee tools will often perform better than with Ridgid.
This difference with the battery comes down to how the battery delivers power to the tool. Milwaukee has developed a system that provides this constant power until the last moment. I find this an excellent idea as it means you can work the tool hard, knowing it’s not going to slowly die on you.
But overall, I feel you can really manhandle Milwaukee tools, and nothing will happen to them. Ridgid tools can put up with a lot of punishment, but the build quality of Milwaukee just comes across as being better.
The cost has always been a contributing factor when deciding on the tools you wish to buy. In this instance, you will notice a difference in price between Ridgid and Milwaukee, with Ridgid coming in cheaper than Milwaukee.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise with everything I’ve been saying about Milwaukee aiming at professionals and having more power and torque. It’s clear that you would be effectively forced into paying more to get that bigger and bolder tool, which is undoubtedly the case for Milwaukee tools.
But don’t think for a second that Ridgid tools are vastly inferior simply because they cost less. All that has happened is they don’t quite have the same power or range of accessories as you will get with Milwaukee. Those are some excellent reasons why they should then cost less.
So if you want to buy a quality tool without breaking the bank, Ridgid would be a fantastic choice. However, if you want to go for the best tools out there, then prepare to pay that bit extra for Milwaukee.
Another area I always focus on is the warranty you get with a tool. I’m not saying something will go wrong with either brand, but knowing you have this type of cover should some strange thing happen is cool.
Now, with Ridgid, you may grab a lifetime warranty on some of their tools. However, I must stress that this is not something universal across their range. Instead, other tools in their range will come with a 3-year warranty, and I see that as perfectly adequate.
Milwaukee offers two types of warranty depending on whether you have purchased a corded or cordless tool. If you buy a corded tool, you receive a 5-year warranty. However, that drops to a 3-year warranty if you purchase a cordless tool.
Once again, I see this as perfectly adequate for a power tool. But then, it does mean there’s little between both brands if it’s a cordless power tool you purchase.
If I look at the reputation of both brands and the tools they offer, I see that both are usually viewed positively. However, I could argue that Milwaukee is the more universally known brand and is held in high regard by a broader scope of people.
But I feel both brands have a certain vibe about them, and it’s all thanks to their reputation. For example, if you want a tool that will be by your side as you hammer through a project, then Milwaukee would undoubtedly be the one that stands out.
I think that if Ridgid pushed into more markets and became more well-known even with new DIY’ers, people would certainly see them in a better light. Right now, they are usually viewed as producing quality tools but on a middle-range level rather than at the top of their game.
However, Ridgid is more than capable of producing fantastic tools to help you get the job done.
The History of Ridgid
Ridgid was launched back in 1923, but its primary focus at that point was a pipe wrench. That solitary pipe wrench then provided the company with a fantastic platform to become established in the plumbing industry, and it’s an industry they still excel in today.
Located in Ohio, they then went on to focus their attention on what they referred to as work-saving tools. Their continual success then led to them being taken over in 1966 by Emerson Electrical. This takeover resulted in them being opened up to a broader market, and further success was experienced.
But that’s not the complete history of the company. Ridgid tools are produced by another company by the name of Techtonic Industries. This vast company has several brand names, all under one umbrella.
Basically, it means Ridgid has the backing of a huge company that can throw a large budget at developing the market. Also, it turns out that the company behind them just happens to be the same company that is the parent of Milwaukee.
The History of Milwaukee
Milwaukee also has an extensive history, and they were initially launched as a company in 1922. However, a fire stopped them in their tracks, with a new company reborn in 1924. So, they pretty much have the same length of history as Ridgid.
But that’s where the similarities kind of stop regarding both companies and their history.
Milwaukee became heavily invested in developing power tools straight from its launch. Even the initial company created in 1922 had already developed a power drill, and they then sought to carry on this development in their early years.
The first few decades saw them working on several tools, but it was 1951 when they saw a significant breakthrough thanks to the launch of their Sawzall reciprocating saw. You probably already know all about the Sawzall as it’s a model and brand that is now synonymous with Milwaukee, and it continues to turn heads even today.
As mentioned earlier, Milwaukee is also owned by Techtonic Industries, but they only bought the company in 2005.
People like to know where their tools are manufactured, but this then creates a problem when it comes to the Ridgid brand. Technically, Ridgid themselves do not manufacture anything. Well, that’s if you refer to the brand’s owner, Emerson Electric.
Instead, they have allowed Techtonic Industries to design, test, and build Ridgid tools, which turns this into a global event.
Many factories and plants owned by Techtonic Industries are based in China. However, they also own plants in various other countries, and the United States is one of them.
But that does mean it’s difficult to know what’s going on with Ridgid or even pin down where their tools are manufactured. It may even be the case that parts are manufactured in China before the tools are put together in the United States.
However, no matter where the tools are designed and manufactured, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a quality brand that does produce robust and reliable power tools.
You are wrong if you thought that Milwaukee power tools must also follow the same lines as Ridgid when it comes to manufacturing, thanks to a shared company.
Instead, Milwaukee tools are primarily manufactured at three different plants across the United States. Sure I cannot say 100% that no parts in the tools are manufactured anywhere else, but I’m pretty confident that the finished product is put together in the US.
Considering the sheer number of tools they have at their disposal, that does mean they need large plants to handle the quantity.
What I see with the Ridgid name is a company that does not simply seek to manufacture any old power tool and push it out into the market. Instead, I see this as a company with an obvious goal.
Their primary focus remains the plumbing industry, but that does not mean that only people within that industry can use their tools. That’s certainly not the case.
Ridgid produces a wide range of power tools, and it’s best to examine what I see as the key attributes of the tools to determine if they are right for you.
Key Components of Ridgid Tools
Ridgid tools have several attributes that help them stand out in the market. You may find some of these attributes to be crucial when selecting one of their tools for your project.
Power and Torque
While Ridgid tools are not exactly lacking in power or torque, they tend to come in slightly inferior to Milwaukee. This is primarily due to Ridgid’s understanding that people using their tools won’t be carrying out so many heavy-duty projects regularly, so they can dial back on these areas.
As I said, it doesn’t mean their tools are weak. They will undoubtedly get the job done for most people, and your average DIY’er won’t generally find themselves in a position where they are struggling with their tools.
Ease of Use
I also find Ridgid tools to be straightforward to use. They don’t seek to complicate matters at all, and they focus on getting the job done.
Once again, I see this as a positive attribute. After all, not everyone wants a tool that is complicated to either set up or use. Often, we just want to fire it up and complete the task.
So, don’t view Ridgid tools as you needing a college degree to operate them. That’s not the case.
This ease of use is also linked to them having a limited number of accessories. You won’t find the same number of bits or blades to interchange with the tools. They are very specific in what they can do, and they aren’t too keen on you changing that.
Milwaukee tools, on the other hand, are entirely different. Their primary focus is on producing heavy-duty tools aimed at the professional. However, that doesn’t stop you from using one of their tools just because you do not work in the industry.
But as with Ridgid tools, you will find several important attributes related to Milwaukee that will help you with your decision.
Key Components of Milwaukee Tools
I have identified different aspects of Milwaukee tools that I believe help them stand out. Also, I think you might want to learn more about them, especially when you look at the cost. After all, you want to ensure that the tool you purchase is right for you.
Power and Torque
Milwaukee tools are all about power. They are designed to cope with any situation, no matter how challenging the project may be. I see this as the real standout aspect of this brand, and I believe you would feel the difference between the two brands if you tried the same type of tool.
I also see the Milwaukee brand’s durability as another important factor. These tools are designed to operate in any condition and feel exceptionally well made. Also, their motors are brushless, so less maintenance is required, and they will also not burn out, as you may have experienced with other brands.
Range of Tools
But for me, it’s the range of tools that is astonishing with Milwaukee. Their M18 line, which is the most popular, has more than 200 tools available.
However, that’s not their only line.
Their M12 may be smaller in power, but it still offers over 100 tools. Add in a handful of tools in their MX Fuel line, and you really do find yourself in a position where there’s too much choice.
But Milwaukee is not finished.
They also produce over 3,500 different accessories, and that’s a lot. I still feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of accessories, and I get to a point where I just don’t know where to look with them.
So if you love getting a few tools and then changing them around to perform various tasks, then Milwaukee is the brand you want to go for. They will just make life so much easier for you in that regard.
How You Should Choose Between the Brands
Finally, here is some advice on choosing between the brands.
Look at your project and what’s required. That should always be key when it comes to making this decision. You need to know what you plan to work on to see if you have the correct tools. Don’t do it the other way around, or you will limit yourself.
Also, think about your budget. I would always push to get the best tool possible but would never go above my intended budget. Yes, you may find it possible to get a slightly better tool for slightly more money, but stick within your limits and I promise you will still come out with a good tool.
I would also think about how important accessories were to me. If they play a significant role, then your decision is straightforward between Ridgid and Milwaukee.
Ultimately, you need to know your needs and what to look out for. Both brands produce quality tools, so it can come down to these fine margins at times.
So that is everything you need to know about both Ridgid and Milwaukee. I find each brand to be excellent in its own right, and you will certainly end up with a fantastic tool no matter which brand you choose.
Look beyond each name and focus more on the tool itself and how it matches your expectations and needs. In doing so, you will not only find which brand is best for you, but will then be in a position where you can push on with your projects with the minimum of fuss.