Chevy vs Ford, Lowes vs Home Depot and Boeing vs Airbus are all good examples of rivals. Well we took two of the biggest tool brand rivals and put their latest 20V and 18V drills to the test. Don't be fooled by the 20V MAX you don't get an extra 2 volts, the M18 is also a 20V MAX. Basically fully charged under a no load condition both batteries have 20V. DeWALT decided to market it as a 20V which other manufacturers are also doing now. We used Milwaukee's “Drill Killer” 1″ auger bit, which earned this name after it smoked out another brands drill. The bit is a self feeding auger and really requires a lot of torque and battery power to run, it was perfect for our tests. The main test is between the 2 brands flagship hammer drills, the Milwaukee FUEL 2603-22 with 4.0 Ah and the 4.0 Ah DeWALT DCD985M2. Since the FUEL is brushless we also added DeWALT's Brushless DCD790 Compact 20V drill with a 4.0 Ah battery. We tried to stay with 4.0 to keep the comparison fair, think of Ah as gas tank sizes. All the drills have good torque, but since DeWALT uses its own rating in which no other has adopted we decided to skip the exact torque calculations. I don't exactly know why they use UWO. It really alienates them from the rest of the industry and confuses the consumer.
Milwaukee Fuel Brushless 2603-22 – 63 holes
Milwaukee has the run time market cornered thanks to Redlink. A system that communicates with the battery and the motor to keep constant torque and superior run time. Milwaukee's claim of 33% more run time is well validated here. The 2 speed drill weighs in at 5 lbs and has a max speed of 1,850 rpm. It produces 31,450 BPM in hammer mode. Overall the 2603 is a great all around drill, you cannot go wrong with it. A 5 year warranty is the icing on the cake. Buy it from Amazon
DeWALT Brushless DCD790 – 58 holes
Dewalt's compact entry weighing in at 3.5 lbs really impressed us. It can accomplish a lot for its size, drilling only 5 less holes than Milwaukee's full size hammer drill. This compact 2 speed drill can produce some serious torque and hold its own with the big boys. A 3 year warranty covers this tool. As of this writing it comes with 2.0 Ah batteries and not the 4.0 that we used. 2000 rpm is what this bad boy puts out on speed 2. Buy it from Amazon.
DeWALT DCD985M2 – 46 Holes
Think of the 985 as a HD truck with a big block v8 in it. It has a ton of raw horsepower, but sucks a lot of fuel to sustain it. At 5.3lbs it is the biggest, heaviest drill here and drilled the least amount of holes. It is a brushed drill! If the DCD985 can't do it you better move up to a 36V because nothing in the 18/20V class will. Even though it was the last in the pack for run time it has an option that the others do not, 3 Speeds. The 985 is a work horse. The chuck grips better than any other chuck out there and has zero wobble. Buy it from Amazon
So to wrap it up, any of these drills are a fine choice. It really all boils down to what platform you already own. If you don't have a platform yet, look at what tools you are going to need in the future and base it on that. If you are a plumber or electrician you might want to take advantage of Milwaukee's M18 line, they offer things like propex, caulk and crimping tools. If you demand the highest run time go Milwaukee. On the other hand, if you are a carpenter or need just an all around great tool the 20V Max is a good choice. It has the most comfortable grip in the industry and is tough “DeWALT tough”. DeWALT stands up to job site abuse well. Eric and I both use a DeWALT DCD790 as our main drill.