Over the past few months, we’ve been surveying our audience to see who makes the best tools. The answer, of course, is it depends. The best ratchet is likely made by a different brand than the best drill. You can break it down into trades, tool classes, power sources and so much more. Despite the complexity, we wanted to know what the general perceptions are out there. So here’s how our audience answers the question, “Who Makes the Best Tools?”
Several of you correctly pointed out that these results are highly subjective. There were folks that offered some suspect choices and there’s clearly brand loyalty as well. So take it with a grain of salt, but it was a lot of fun for us to see what you guys and gals think!
Who is the Best Tool Brand Overall?
With 1700 total votes, Milwaukee finished with a dominating lead over every other brand, earning 53% of the vote. DeWalt was a distant second at 18% with Makita right on its heels at 17%. Bosch finished 4th with 4% of the vote. 8% went to other brands. Here are how the votes in the comments shook out:
Flex (6), Metabo (3), Metabo HPT (3), Hilti (2), Ridgid (2), Craftsman (1), Fein (1), Klein (1), Kobalt (1), Ryobi (1), Worx (1)
Note: the number in parenthesis is the total number of votes for that brand.
It’s no surprise to see Milwaukee in the lead, though the gap between it and DeWalt is much larger than we expected. If the comments on our website, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channels are any indication, the reality is that they’re much closer competitors.
In the write-in votes, Flex should draw some encouragement from leading several well-known and popular brands. As it continues to gain market share with its impressive performance and thoughtful innovations, its price point typically makes it a very compelling option.
Who Makes the Best Cordless Power Tools?
Asking specifically about cordless tools, Milwaukee once again took home the top position with 53% of the 1100 votes cast. DeWalt gained slightly from the previous category with 19% of the vote, Makita earned 16%, and Hilti registered 3%. A total of 8% went to other brands and here’s how the write-ins voted:
Flex (4), Bosch (2), Craftsman (2), Metabo HPT (2), Chervon (1), HART (1), Metabo (1), Ryobi (1)
Statistically, it was odd to see Milwaukee have the exact same percentage of the votes as the previous category despite 600 fewer total votes. But enough geekology. DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee are unofficially known as the Big 3 in the power tool industry, and it has a lot to do with the incredible breadth of cordless tools each brand offers. One thing that set Milwaukee apart from the other two is its focus on trade-specific tools in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP). You’ll find Milwaukee tools designed to provide a solution that its closest competitors don’t offer.
Flex can once again take it as a positive that it led the write-in vote. We also saw the first vote for a brand group: Chervon. They’re responsible for manufacturing EGO, Flex, Skil, and Kobalt and each of those brands is certainly a quality choice in their respective classes.
Who Makes the Best Pneumatic Tools?
Turning to air power, DeWalt takes home the prize with 26% of the 609 votes we received. Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) earned 20% of the votes, Senco pulled in 12%, and Ridgid got 11%. However, a whopping 32% of the votes went to other brands, most notably Ingersoll-Rand.
Ingersoll Rand (10), Aircat Tools (2), Astro Pneumatic (2), Quincy Compressors (2), Snap-On (2), Chicago Pneumatic (1), Craftsman (1), Earthquake (1), Kobalt (1), Milwaukee (1), Porter-Cable (1)
With its brand loyalty, we weren’t surprised to see DeWalt in the lead for pneumatics and Metabo HPT is clearly still doing well despite the rebranding from Hitachi. That’s deserved considering they’re the exact same high-quality nailers and compressors as before—it was literally just a name change. The argument here is how Ingersoll Rand would have done as one of the main four choices instead of being a write-in. While we can address that in the next voting session, it’s clear that they maintain a very high (and well-deserved) reputation in the industry.
Who Makes the Best Hand Tools?
The general hand tool category is huge and includes every single trade. Knipex dominated the vote, pulling in 48% of the 1200 votes cast. Klein performed well with 27% of the votes while Wera lagged behind at 11% and Wiha earned 5%. In this category, 9% went to other brands.
Snap-On (3), Harbor Freight (2), Benchtop (1), Channellock (1), DeWalt (1), Gearwrench (1), Gedore (1), Irwin (1), Milwaukee (1)
This result took us by surprise a little bit. We know Knipex makes great hand tools, but we didn’t expect such a large margin of victory. Klein did well as we expected with its massive popularity among electricians. Wera’s and Wiha’s numbers were a little low, but maybe that’s just because more of you need to give them a shot. ;-)
Who Makes the Best Concrete Tools?
The concrete industry is massive and no other brand came close to earning as many votes as Hilti. With 1000 votes coming in, Hilti earned 49% of them. Makita was back in second with 15% while Bosch and DeWalt tied at 14%. 10% voted for other brands.
Craftsman (1), Flex (1), Hyper Tough (1), Kraft (1), Marshalltown (1), Metabo (1), Milwaukee (1)
When you put your hands on a Hilti product, the first thing you notice is the attention to ergonomics. Once you power it up, you experience the performance, vibration control, and other innovations that make them so popular. From demolition hammers to rotary lasers and cut-off saws to the latest Nuron cordless system, these tools are a pleasure to use. Plus, Hilti’s service before and after the sale is excellent.
Who Makes the Best Tools for Electricians?
Looking specifically at tools designed for electricians, Klein put a big gap on the field with 53% of the 921 votes. Milwaukee was solidly in second with 34%. Greenlee and Southwire each earned 2% while 10% cast their votes for other brands.
Knipex (6), Wera (4), Wiha (3), DeWalt (1), Flex (1), Fluke (1), Harbor Freight (1), Jokari (1), Metabo (1),
We don’t think anyone who knows the electrical industry will be shocked to see Klein at the top of this vote. After all, they’ve been making electrical tools since 1857. Milwaukee is clearly gaining ground with an impressive range of cordless electrical tools such as its compact cordless threader and dieless crimper to go with its range of other cordless hydraulic and hand tools. Looking at the write-ins, Knipex leads with Wera and Wiha also getting some love.
Who Makes the Best Tools for Plumbers?
The plumbing category had 986 total votes with 51% going to Milwaukee. Ridgid set itself apart in second with 37%. Crescent was further back with 6% of the vote and Reed earned just 1%. Only 6% felt other brands deserved their vote.
DeWalt (1), Flex (1), Pipe Vise (1), Rems (1), Tool Shop (1)
With no one earning more than a single vote in the write-ins, it’s pretty clear that Milwaukee and Ridgid have the highest reputation in the plumbing industry. Milwaukee’s domination is primarily due to cordless tools with PEX expanders, cordless threaders, plus hand tools and more to cover your needs across the board. Ridgid, of course, is well-known for its plumbing hand tools along with chain vices and many of the heavy-duty pipe threaders, chain vises, inspection systems, and other rugged tools plumbers depend on.
Who Makes the Best Mechanics Tools?
Things were a bit heated in the mechanics poll with Snap-On taking the win with 41% but a massive 31% of the 888 votes going to other brands. Craftsman came in with 18% of the vote, Mac Tools earned 7%, and Proto wrapped things up with 4%.
Milwaukee (9), Tekton (3), DeWalt (2), Gearwrench (2), Hazet (2), Kobalt (2), Makita (2), Wera (2), Cornwell (1), Flex (1), Husky (1), Hyper Tough (1), Pittsburgh (1), Ridgid (1), Ryobi (1)
Snap-On enjoys a high reputation as the most popular tool truck brand, making its stops at shops around the country. Craftsman still holds a place in many folks’ hearts (and toolboxes) as one of the best blends of quality and price available. Getting into the write-in votes, there are more brands represented than any other category we polled. That’s not surprising considering the number of brands that make mechanics tool sets and the wide range of retailers you can get them from.
Who Makes the Best Woodworking Tools?
Of the 775 votes in the woodworking category, exactly zero of us at Pro Tool Reviews thought that Festool would be anywhere but the top. Indeed it was with 39% of the votes. Makita made a very strong showing with 28% and Bosch earned a respectable 12%. Jet finished with just 3% while 17% cast their votes for other brands.
Mafell (2), Ridgid (2), DeWalt (1), Metabo HPT (1), Milwaukee (1), Tool Shop (1)
If price is no object, Festool is what most serious woodworkers want to use. From the fantastic ergonomics of its sanders to the legendary Kapex miter saw, innovative Domino, and purpose-built CT dust extractors, it’s a brand hyper-focused on high quality. Don’t discount Makita, though. It’s a premium brand with a more affordable price point that’s very deep in saw design and has a massive range of cordless tools that Festool can’t come close to.
It’s no surprise to see the top Pro brands voted on frequently. And while this isn’t an objective test to quantify who makes the best tools, it certainly gives us a great idea of what the perception in the market is.
As you can understand, even within the Pro Tool Reviews office there’s plenty of dissension in the ranks. Each of our Pros in their various trades has their favorite and go-to tools that they’d never leave behind. And their answers to these questions are just as varied as yours. Be sure to give your favorite brands a shout-out in the comments below!
Thanks to all of you who took the time to vote in this survey!
I loved Milwaukee, but they have gone downhill in the last couple of years and cost me a fortune in downtime.
I own a millwakee impact best tool I’ve ever bought hoping to move all my tools over to millwakee
You can only rank what you have used. Woodworking: Festool, cordless: Milwaukee / Makita. DeWalt didn’t hold up for me and never tried Hilti, Bosch, or Metalbo.
DeWalt beat Metabo HPT in the pneumatic category? lol mkay
All the other results seem to be credible, though.
Gotta say that of all the brands I’ve used, Milwaukee has the best quality, but Rigid is still the best value (taking into account their lifetime guarantee).