In a comment to Ben’s review, Travis asks: which one do you like better?
Uh-oh, I was hoping nobody would ask. To put it frankly – I don’t know!! Yet?
There are things I like about each. I’ve been using the Dewalt DCL043 a lot these past few months, both indoors and outside, and there are things that it does well. There are also compromises and dislikes.
True, the DCL043 offers 2 brightness settings, but what they don’t make it clear in product sell sheets is that one setting is very bright white, and the other is red. To go from white light to off you always have to go through red first. And to go from off to red, you have to go through bright white.
While it doesn’t have a perfect user interface, the DCL043 is simple to use and easy for first-time users to figure out. If I pass it to someone else to use, I don’t have to worry about them getting stuck trying to figure out different modes, brightness controls, or anything of the sort.
Some enthusiast flashlights now offer custom configurations to suit individual preferences, but I find that I have to look online if I want to relearn how to re-access secret settings and configuration processes.
The Dewalt Spot Light’s lamp head can pivot, and while I primarily use it in-hand, it’s stable when standing upright on a flat surface and also has a hanging loop.
The Milwaukee is more versatile, thank to its flood light mode, which is as uniform and pleasing to work with as Ben described in his review.
The lamp head has a greater pivoting range, allowing for more flexibility in its operation. It carries differently, and can rest vertically on its battery pack, or horizontally.
By all means, the Milwaukee is a more versatile and flexible product.
I tend to use the Dewalt more, perhaps mostly out of convenience and habit. It has sort of become my default go-to work light, because I have not yet unpacked my others and because it’s easier to find than smaller flashlights.
The Dewalt is carried with a pistol grip, which I find makes it easier to aim and control. The Milwaukee Search Light allows for pistol-grip or briefcase carry. In briefcase-carry mode, sweeping it in an arc involves different hand and arm muscles.
The Dewalt is a quicker and more comfortable grab and go worklight. The Milwaukee is more capable.
For close-up work, I have to be careful how I aim the Dewalt spot light, often having to offset the center spot to avoid too much glare or brightness. Sure, it has 2 brightness settings, but red illumination is useless to me.
There was one time I needed the red light – when I was testing my new telescope the first and only good skies night since I bought it – and having to cycle past the bright white illumination mode was unpleasant. I had to squeeze my eyes shut and aim away every time I wanted to go from off to red. Red light is good for preserving night vision, but it’ll destroy it first. Only a big deal if you go on and off more than once.
The Milwaukee Search Light, on the other hand, while bigger and bulkier, is going to be more flexible and versatile.
Resting the Search Light on a table and aiming downwards to work under a desk or in a cabinet? I’m going to try that. Working in a computer case, without unplugging everything and moving the box, can be challenging. A headlamp by itself isn’t perfect, and flashlights resting on the floor are often difficult to aim. Larger worklights get in the way.
Grab and go? I think I’ll continue to prefer the Dewalt.
For hands-free light? I think the Milwaukee will continue to see more use.
Which should you buy if you don’t have a battery brand preference?
All I can say is this – the Milwaukee can do almost everything the Dewalt can do, but the Dewalt can’t do everything the Milwaukee can do.
- More comfortable in handheld “grab and go” use
- Red light mode (but you have to always cycle past it to turn the light off)
- Hanging loop
Overall, the Dewalt 20V Max spot light is a very good product.
- Can be handheld vertically (not as comfortable as Dewalt’s) or horizontally (more comfortable)
- Can stand up vertically or lay down horizontally
- Flood light, spot light, and combination modes
- Strobe mode is hidden
- Lugs for a carrying strap (no strap included with bare tool)
Overall, Milwaukee’s Search Light is also a strong product, and while not perfect, it offers more.
Bare Tool Price: $78 to $80 for Dewalt, $99 for Milwaukee
Only Milwaukee offers a kit option.
Which do I like more? After another 6 months, I think I’ll be reaching for the Dewalt 5.1 times out of 10, and the Milwaukee 4.9 times out of 10.
I received both test samples at no cost, for review purposes. If I had to buy just one, it would probably be the Milwaukee for its greater capabilities.
For anyone who bought into Dewalt’s 20V Max platform exclusively, or Milwaukee’s M18 platform exclusively, I’d say that you can’t really go wrong with either. Neither are perfect, but they’re both very good.