From this week’s mailbag came a question I’ve been dreading for so long. It essentially comes down to this: Which is the Best Cordless Power Tool Brand?
Steven wrote in:
Firstly, your site is excellent! Very informative, just what a tradie needs! My question is, if you had to stick to one brand for most of your tools which would it be? Taking into consideration tool reliability, power, ergonomics, batteries and number of cordless tools. Milwaukee seem to get rave reviews for power and reliability, Makita seem to have the largest variety with 70+ tools but with Dewalt offering gasless 1st nail gun and Bosch’s massive strides with large capacity batteries/wireless charging and gasless 2nd fix nail gun I wonder what would sway your decision?
I am a carpenter to trade. Appreciate any feedback!
Each major brand is special in their own way, with their unique innovations, expertise, and advantages.
Short answer: Bosch is my favorite cordless brand, and I would have to say that Milwaukee is the best.
The major contenders would be Bosch, Dewalt, Makita, and Milwaukee. There are also other brands, such as Ridgid, Ryobi, Metabo, Hilti, Panasonic, and Festool. But generally, the greatest competition is between blue, yellow, teal, and red brands.
Off the top of my head, here are some of the things that stand out about each of the brands:
Benefits: Solid performance and reliability, decent product selection in 12V and 18V lineups, occasional innovations, a great overall brand, stellar 12V offerings.
Downsides: 12V and 18V lineups not as vast as other brands’, some core tools aren’t “best in class” in notable categories.
Benefits: Known for superb durability (a lot of 18V tools keep on ticking), expanding 20V Max product line, with a couple of fantastic innovations (such as the 2-speed brushless nailer), okay 12V product selection. 20V Max pistol grips are super-ergonomic.
Downsides: 20V Max expansion has been slow, answers to competitors’ advancements have been slow.
Benefits: Very large 18V selection, fast charger with best-in-class charging times, surprising innovations, often solid performance and jobsite durability, 18V X2 lineup allows for bigger and beefier 36V tools to be powered by 18V batteries.
Downsides: Very limited and long-in-the-tooth 12V lineup, slow to bring certain tools and battery pack sizes to the USA.
Benefits: Vast M18 and M12 tool selection, including largest brushless tool selection in both battery sizes. Often a leader, with innovations that break the mold, such as an M12 rotary hammer, brushless tools with corded-like performance. Many more specialty tools than competing brands.
Downsides: Certain tools are especially pricey. First to market means competitors have time to answer with slight improvements to tool size, weight, power, or features.
I’ve said it before, but Bosch is my favorite power tool brand. They might not have the fan loyalty as Dewalt, or vast product catalogs as Makita and Milwaukee, but their core cordless tools are very good.
If I had to recommend just one cordless brand, it would be Milwaukee. They have made phenomenal strides in recent years, and make some excellent tools. A lot of their focus has been to create solutions to many specific problems and user frustrations. Dewalt and Makita also have excellent offerings, but don’t quite reach Milwaukee’s WOW factor. Makita’s 18V lineup might be largest, but there is also a lot of redundancy, especially in the drill and driver categories.
So Bosch is my favorite power tool brand (corded and cordless), but I would consider Milwaukee to the best cordless brand.
Dewalt would be a very close second choice, especially if they hurry up and come out with a brushless circular saw and a brushless reciprocating saw.
I’m the kind of guy that would pick and choose from among the best tools of each brand. In an ideal world, there would be a smattering of Bosch, Dewalt, Makita, AND Milwaukee tools, as well as other brands’.
For my personal tools, I bought into Bosch’s 12V and 18V lineups. If I didn’t have access to more power tools than I know what to do with, I would stick with Bosch for additional personal purchases.
But I’m also not a carpenter, electrician, plumber, contractor, or tradesman of any kind. If I were, I would probably stick with Milwaukee. For professional users, it’s best to stick with one or two brands, as multiple brands often means multiple batteries and chargers to juggle and keep track of.
From where I’m sitting, it looks like Bosch and Dewalt are the brands to choose for general construction work, Milwaukee is the better brand for specific trades, and Makita is the better brand when you have very specific needs that can be met by their products.
Here are additional discussions that might provide for more reading:
Which would you say is the best brand? Is that the same as your favorite?