DeWalt vs Milwaukee: Who Sits on the Power Throne?

[Cover] DeWalt vs Milwaukee

DeWalt vs Milwaukee… An ever-growing debate between two power tool giants. Can we solve it once and for all?

Ask any handyman about their favorite brand, and you’ll get several answers.

Some would swear on the quality of Stanley.

Others would scream “I’ve never gotten anything that doesn’t have a Craftsman logo on it inside my toolbox”.

But, to be honest, most people will choose either DeWalt or Milwaukee.

The DeWalt vs Milwaukee debate has been going on for years, and for good reason. After all, each of these manufacturers has been known for creating high-end power tools using the market’s latest state-of-the-art technologies, which makes choosing a favorite among them quite the hard task.

So, which power tool brand is better? DeWalt vs Milwaukee; who’s the king of the power tool realm? That’s what I’m here to answer.

Joking. I can’t actually do that. Why? Because some arguments aren’t meant to be won, especially when it comes to such a close encounter between two of the industry’s most reputable, high-quality brands.

Despite that, you may come across some professionals who’d swear by their decision that a certain brand is better than the other. Some may stand by DeWalt; others won’t work with anything that doesn’t have the Milwaukee label on it.

For a newbie or a professional in the craftsmanship world, a pick between Milwaukee and DeWalt saws should be an excellent start to accessorizing your man cave.

So, instead of picking a brand for you, we’re going to break down the main differences and similarities between the two beasts. That way, you’ll be able to choose what works for you without getting influenced by others’ opinions.

Furthermore, we’ll be reviewing the best Cordless Tool Set from each brand, as we believe that’s a solid comparison for the DeWalt vs Milwaukee debate.

Now, you may be asking; why cordless combo kits?

Well, it’s simple; cordless combo kits are among the most popular toolkits and comparing the best model from each of the above brands seems like the best way to give a clearer idea and facilitate the decision-making process for you. That’s the least we can do for you. Besides, a specialized tool, such as a Sliding Compound Miter Saw, Tile Saw, Table Saw, Chainsaw Mill, Chainsaw Chaps, wouldn’t be fair to use as not all woodworkers use those machines.

So, enough with introductions, right? Let’s get right to the DeWalt vs Milwaukee comparison.

DeWalt vs Milwaukee: Who Was There First?

Let’s start by a brief history of each of these brands.

Believe it or not, the two rivals have similar origin stories. Both of them date back to the twenties, when they started on the right feet by revolutionizing the tools industry through then-modern technologies, excellent engineering, superb designs, and quality craftsmanship, all under the hood of smart, targeted marketing. Talk about a good start, huh?

Not only did they start the same way, but they also had the same fate, as they were sold to big multimillionaire corporations that further expanded the reputation and quality.

So, what’s the story of each one of them?

DeWalt: When the Wonders Get Invented

[BG] Dewalt-When-the-Wonders-Get-Invented

If you’ve been in the craftsmanship world long enough, you should know some of the marvels that DeWalt has been creating.

It all started back in 1924, when Raymond DeWalt, a Pennsylvanian inventor and entrepreneur, created, patented, and sold the first in a series of wonderful inventions: the almighty radial arm saw, known as the DeWalt Wonder-Worker, which met a huge success and marked the beginning of a new era, as it allowed lumberjacks to cross-cut raw lumber with an unusual level of speed and precision.

That was how DeWalt started, all within the territory of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Seeing the huge success that the Wonder-Worker met, it was only natural for big corporations to spot the opportunity and jump on it before missing the train, which is why DeWalt was sold in 1948 to the AMF, or American Machine Foundry, that held the brand under its wing for eleven years before passing it to Black and Decker in 1960. Understanding the potential that the brand had, B&D is still the owner of DeWalt to this date.

DeWalt witnessed its second peak during the nineties, when it revolutionized the cordless power tool industry by producing several amazing lines of cordless drills and drivers, wrenches, electric saws, and screwdrivers.

To this day, DeWalt is still making highly-efficient tools that turn any garage into a factory and allow every man and woman out there to make their own crafts with ease.

Quite the fruitful past, right?

Milwaukee: From a Tool Repair Shop to an International Brand

[BG] Milwaukee-From-a-Tool-Repair-Shop-to-an-International-Brand

Let’s go on another trip down the memory lane with Milwaukee.

Milwaukee started back in 1924 as well, but the origin story is a bit different, as the first sparkle for the power and hand tool empire was ignited when A.F. Seibert, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, bought the production rights for the ‘Hole-Shooter’, a compact power drill that was designed by A.H. Petersen for the American captain of industry Henry Ford.

Soon after that purchase was made, the Hole-Shooter become the cornerstone tool in Seibert’s new business, which was called the Milwaukee Electric Tool Company.

Milwaukee didn’t stop with power drills, obviously. Besides that power tool, they also invented, produced, and marketed a fine series of electric sanders (including different Random Orbital Sander models), hammer drills, and hand grinders during their early days. Each of those tools was powered by one of the company’s renowned electric motors.

Years later, Milwaukee got into a series of buying and selling, as it was sold to Amstar Corporation in ‘75, purchased by Merrill Lynch in ‘86, Sold to Atlas Copco in ‘95, to finally land in the hands of Techtronic, which is the current parent corporations, back in 2005.

As you can see, both DeWalt and Milwaukee had quite the eventful histories, and they both got bought and sold several times.

The question is, how does that affect you as the customer, consumer, and lover of power tools?

It depends on your preferences, to be honest.

Although both companies started as American brands, they’re currently outsourcing most of the production to countries outside the U.S., mainly China.

Now, we’re, by no mean, judging anyone nor pointing fingers here. After all, most companies resort to outsourcing these days, aren’t they?

Despite that, it’s worth mentioning that DeWalt has been making serious efforts to increase the production of their power tools within the American soil. In 2013, they announced the “Tools of the Brave” initiative, which resulted in seven new facilities being opened across the eastern and Midwest parts of the country.

Besides, Stanley Black and Decker, the current parent corporation of DeWalt, is a renowned American brand that’s older than DeWalt itself, and it’s based out of Towson Maryland.

Techtronic, on the other hand, is a multinational company that’s based out of Hong Kong. Keep In mind that Milwaukee’s headquarters are based in Wisconsin, which means that it didn’t abandon its American roots completely.

So, it’s all laid out now. Take that however you may.

DeWalt Vs Milwaukee: Who Offers the Best Cordless Combo Kit?

Now, what’s better to compare the two power tool kings that comparing two of their best products side by the side? That’s right, nothing.

While to each his own when it comes to essential power tools that everyone must have, there’s no sense denying the fact that combo kits are among the top choices for those looking to stack up their workbenches.

Getting every tool separately can be a real pain in the neck, costing you not only an arm and a leg, but also cash that’s better off put elsewhere. That’s why combo kits are popular. And honestly, why wouldn’t they be, considering that they are cheap, portable, and versatile?

So, who has the best cordless combo kit up their sleeve, Milwaukee or DeWalt?

DeWalt DCK590L2 MAX 20-Volt 3.0 5-Tool Combo Kit – Review

DEWALT 20V MAX Power Tool Combo Kit, Cordless Power Tool Set, 5-Tool (DCK590L2)
  • DCD985 20V MAX* hammerdrill with patented 3-speed, all-metal transmission and 1/2" all metal ratcheting chuck delivers...
  • DCS381 20V MAX* reciprocating saw with keyless blade clamp in drill/ impact driver combo kit allows for quick blade...
  • DCF885 20V MAX* 1/4-inch Impact Driver as a part of DEWALT cordless tools featrues 3 LED light ring with 20 second delay...

The first thing that would catch your eye when checking this combo kit is the price tag. Granted, it is cheap, but do not let that fool you into thinking that it’s of low quality.

The kit contains five tools; a ½” Hammer Drill, Reciprocating saw, ¼”, 6 ½” circular saw with a Circular Saw Blade, and an LED work light, along with some accessories that include two 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion 3.0 batteries, a battery charger, a belt hook, and a heavy-duty contractor bag. Quite the complete pack, huh?

Taking each tool separately, here is what we have to say about each one of them in a few words:

The Hammer drill: An absolute gem. This tool is fantastic, efficient, and exceptionally comfortable to grip even for long periods. A bit lighter than the 18v version, for those who have used it, but it offers the same performance while keeping the same size. No overheating nor unwanted vibration, you won’t even notice that it’s a cordless tool.

The reciprocating saw: It’s good. No 4-way adjustable blade, unfortunately, but who uses that feature anyway? (Just kidding). No overheating or wanted vibration in this tool either, and it can be used even for treated lumber.

The circular saw: It offers the same performance as that of its 18v cousin, making it excellent for quick cuts in construction lumber, but shouldn’t be used for extended period of time or pressure-treated lumber.

The impact driver: This is our favorite tool out of the bunch. It offers the same performance of the 18v cousin, with a similar size and a lighter weight. No matter what task you need to be done, from driving 3-inch deck screws to taking the oil pan off your truck, this impact driver can take care of the job efficiently.

The LED work light: Efficient rotating head, but the snake head design of the 18v counterpart seems more convenient. It’s still a decent flashlight that works great and stands on its own though, so no complaints here.

Overall, this is a durable and versatile combo kit that can prove useful for a wide spectrum of projects and uses. If you need the best cordless combo kit without having to go hard on your wallet, the DeWalt DCK590L2 is a solid choice to consider.

Milwaukee 2696-26 M18 Cordless 6-Tool Combo Kit – Review

Milwaukee 2696-26 M18 Cordless LITHIUM-ION 6-Tool Combo Kit
  • M18 Combo Hd/1/4 Hex Imp Dr/Circle/Swizel/Grindr/Length/2 Bat
  • The product is easy to use and easy to handle
  • The product is highly durable
Steep price, isn’t it?

Milwaukee’s best cordless combo kit is more expensive than DeWalt’s for a reason though, as it comes with an extra tool that’s more often than not ignored by handymen, which is the 4 ½” Angle grinder/cut-off.

The other tools in the kit are pretty much the same as those included in DeWalt’s combo, which are a 0.5-inch Hammer Drill, Reciprocating saw, 6.5-inch Cordless Circular Saw, 0.25-inch Impact driver, and an M18 light, along with some accessories: an M18 REDLITHIUM XC 18-volt battery, a Battery Charger, and a Heavy-duty contractor bag. They offer practically the same performance as well.

Each of these tools feels solid and well-balanced in hand, which is something we really dig, and the battery packs come with power indicators for you to know how much power you have left all the time. Pretty convenient if you ask me.

So, is the Angle grinder worth the additional bucks you’re shelling out? It depends. On what, you may ask? On whether you use that tool or not, of course.

In my opinion, angle grinders are some of the most undervalued tools in the craftsmanship world, despite the fact that they can be used for anything from cutting catalytic converters to preparing boat hulls for new gel coat. It’s truly a tool that’ll give more bang for your buck.

Before deciding whether this tool is worth the extra cash or not, make sure to try one out. You cannot solely depend on what WE think and believe now, can you?

There are other differences between the two cordless combo kits. The DeWalt kit is a bit more powerful than the Milwaukee counterpart, with MAX 20-volt vs M18 18-volt batteries. Not that big of a difference, to be honest, and we’re yet to find ourselves in a situation where a 20-volt tool can perform a task batter than a 18-volt machine.

Another essential difference to consider is the fact that the DeWalt kit comes with a couple of batteries, while the Milwaukee only has one. One battery can only give so much power, and when you have a reserve one, you can simply switch batteries, plug the empty one in the charger, and use the full one. Rinse and repeat until the job is done. You don’t want to run out of juice while you’re cutting through your lumber now, would you?

Again, this is no big of an issue as you can simply get as many batteries as you need separately, but doing so may defeat the whole purpose of obtaining an all-in-one best cordless combo kit — your call.

The final difference between the combo kits is the warranty. DeWalt offers a 3-year limited warranty, meaning that if a tool fails due to manufacturer defect, you can get it repaired or replaced free of charge. With Milwaukee, you get the same terms, but for a 5-year period. If you’re a paranoid handyman, the warranty is a critical aspect to consider.

Final Round: Who Wins the DeWalt vs Milwaukee Debate?

To sum it up, here are the main differences between the two kits:

  • The DeWalt cordless combo kit is significantly cheaper
  • The DeWalt kit is a tad more powerful and comes with two batteries
  • The Milwaukee cordless combo kit comes with an extra angle grinder
  • DeWalt offers a 3-year limited warranty, while Milwaukee offers a 5-year one.

We can’t stress this enough; the choice is entirely yours to make, but if we had to choose, we’d pick the DeWalt combo kit. It just makes more sense, especially considering that we’d be saving a good amount of money that can be better off used elsewhere in our workbench. Nevertheless, both kits are good, and you won’t be disappointed no matter what you choose.

So, are you ready to pick the best cordless combo kit?

Get the DeWalt Cordless Combo Kit

DEWALT 20V MAX Power Tool Combo Kit, Cordless Power Tool Set, 5-Tool (DCK590L2)
  • DCD985 20V MAX* hammerdrill with patented 3-speed, all-metal transmission and 1/2" all metal ratcheting chuck delivers...
  • DCS381 20V MAX* reciprocating saw with keyless blade clamp in drill/ impact driver combo kit allows for quick blade...
  • DCF885 20V MAX* 1/4-inch Impact Driver as a part of DEWALT cordless tools featrues 3 LED light ring with 20 second delay...

Get the Milwaukee Cordless Combo Kit

Milwaukee 2696-26 M18 Cordless LITHIUM-ION 6-Tool Combo Kit
  • M18 Combo Hd/1/4 Hex Imp Dr/Circle/Swizel/Grindr/Length/2 Bat
  • The product is easy to use and easy to handle
  • The product is highly durable

Verdict: Milwaukee vs DeWalt: Who Wins?

No one. There you have it. Harsh, but true.

All there is to compare the two brands is stated above, and as you can see, there is no clear winner here. Each brand has its own perks and drawbacks and picking one boils down to your personal preferences, practices, and needs.

Which brand do you personally prefer in the DeWalt Vs Milwaukee encounter? And why?


Jeffrey Alfaro

Jeffrey is a craftsman and writer who specializes in testing tools and covering the tool industry for construction and woodworking professionals.

View all posts by Jeffrey Alfaro →

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