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October 18, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Makita Drill Rough-in Challenge Video

We love testing drills on the PTR Test Track, but we’re ready to start pushing them a little harder. Today, we decided to run a rough-in challenge with drills from DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee Tool to see what they can do.


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Full Transcript

Our DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Makita rough-in drill challenge is simple. To simulate a couple of typical rough-in scenarios, we’re going to give our 3 drills a chance to make 1-½” and 2-9/16” holes in 2 x 4 stud using self-feed bits. 

For DeWalt, we have the DCD998. That’s the 20V Max Power Detect hammer drill. With 3 speeds to choose from, that middle speed might just give it the boost it needs to take the win. More importantly, the Power Detect function senses when you switch from a standard 20V Max battery to an 8.0Ah or FlexVolt pack. According to them, you get up to 29% more power than the DCD996 with a 5.0Ah pack. 

Makita steps up to the plate with their brand-new XPH14. Similar to the XPH07 in speed, this model is nearly an inch shorter and its 1250 in-lbs of torque are 160 in-lbs higher than the previous model. There’s no major boost by using a different battery, but we’re excited to see how this model performs while we wait for the 40V XGT hammer drill

Milwaukee enters with the 2804. The most compact tool of the group is the 3rd generation M18 Fuel hammer drill. Nearly an inch shorter than the Gen 2 model, it boasts the same speed and a 1200 in-lb max torque rating. 

To start, we’re going to see how fast each drill can tackle 5 holes with each size bit in the highest gear possible. We’re also going to start with 5.0Ah batteries across the board. 

Alright, let’s take a look at those numbers. All of the drills were able to stay in high gear for the 1-½” bit. DeWalt started things off with a fast time of 2.51 seconds and an average of 2.92. 

Makita was up next, driving through the smaller bit in 2.33 seconds at its quickest and 2.73 on average. 

Milwaukee matched Makita’s 2.33-second fastest time and came in a touch faster with a 2.48-second average. 

Switching out for the larger 2-9/16” bit, things got more interesting. DeWalt couldn’t stay in high, but it was able to finish in 2nd gear, notching a fast mark of 3.30 seconds and an average of 3.90.

Makita had to drop into low gear, and while it was smooth, that hurt its time. It had the fastest time of 5.27 seconds and an average of 5.51.

Milwaukee was the only drill to maintain high speed, and that made all the difference. Its fastest time was 2.85 seconds and it averaged just 2.97 seconds per hole. 

Clearly, Milwaukee has an advantage in speed and came out ahead with both size bits. But what happens when you give Power Detect its best chance using an 8.0Ah battery?

We ran the test again. This time, we gave DeWalt the 8.0Ah battery it craves and gave Milwaukee an 8.0Ah High Output battery to match it. Makita doesn’t have an 8.0, but they do have a 6.0Ah that we switched over to. 

Back to the 1-½” self-feed bit, DeWalt saw a huge improvement. Its fastest effort was 1.69 seconds and its average was 1.86. In what was already a quick test, it shaved 36% off its time. 

Makita showed some improvement as well. With the 6.0Ah battery, it had a fast time of 1.89 and its average of 1.94 seconds was 29% faster. 

Milwaukee’s best effort with an 8.0Ah High Output battery was 1.87 seconds. It was exactly ½ a second quicker with a 1.98-second average that was 20% faster. 

What’s interesting in this set of results is that they’re the inverse of the first test. While they all improved their times, DeWalt finished as the fastest and Milwaukee the slowest…if you can call those kinds of times slow. 

Over to the larger bit, and we see DeWalt had an interesting time. It was able to finish its first two holes in high but then had to drop into second gear to continue. That’s most likely due to coming off its 20V Max charge and settling into its 18-volt nominal state. Its fastest time was 2.37 seconds and its average was 2.81. However, if you’re only looking at the nominal state results, that’s a 3.09-second average. Based on all 5 tests, DeWalt showed a 28% improvement. 

Makita’s results were a hair slower with this bit. Its fastest time was 5.60 seconds with an average of 5.77. That was about 5% slower. 


It was no surprise to find Milwaukee keeping itself in high gear again with the 8.0Ah battery, wrapping up the fastest time of the day at 2.11 seconds and an average of 2.30 seconds. For its efforts, the High Output battery helped Milwaukee pick up a 22% gain. 

Let’s talk takeaways for a second. First of all, that Power Detect boost with an 8.0Ah battery is legit. I wasn’t disappointed in the drill’s performance using the 5.0Ah pack, but the 8.0Ah made it like a whole new tool. Having that middle-speed mode was also really helpful. 

Some of you might be wondering why we didn’t use FlexVolt Advantage instead—and that’s a valid question. Power Detect was actually faster on our Test Track, so we gave it the nod for this video. But don’t worry, we’ll be running FlexVolt Advantage through the same tests and sharing those results with you.

Makita did a great job with the design on their drill, even though it wasn’t as fast as the others with the larger bit. I really enjoyed the compact size compared to the XPH07, and it drills more smoothly compared to DeWalt and Milwaukee. Also, keep in mind that this rough-in application takes place in soft 2 x 4 studs. Once you get to wood that’s even marginally harder, the other drills will join Makita and make it a low-speed competition. 

If you’re thinking that rough-in performance in studs is exactly what you’re looking for, then Milwaukee is clearly your winner. Even with a standard 5.0Ah battery, they geared this drill just right in high speed to handle the entire range of diameters for residential electrical and plumbing. 

Who’s your winner in theDeWalt, Milwaukee, and Makita rough-in drill challenge? Let us know what you think in the comments below and as always, thanks for watching!

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