Both Makita and DeWalt belong among the best-known power tool brands in the world. While one of them is Japanese and the other is American, they both produce similar types of tools and target similar users.
Because of that, trying to pick one or the other can be challenging. This article will help you make that decision by looking closely at each of the two brands.
A Brief History of Makita and DeWalt
These giants in the tool industry, Makita and DeWalt, both share an interesting past with deep roots.
Both companies were founded in the early 1900s – Makita opened its doors in 1915 and DeWalt in 1924. Makita opened shop in Japan, where many of its tools are manufactured to this day. DeWalt, of course, is an American brand. It was started in Leola, Pennsylvania.
Makita started their business as a repair company for electric motors before moving into manufacturing portable electric planers and other power tools. DeWalt, on the other hand, was always a machine and tool manufacturing company. DeWalt started out with woodworking machinery before eventually moving into other power tools as wee.
Over the next decades, both Makita and DeWalt shared a common goal. They wanted to manufacture tools for the world and expand their companies. Early in their expansion, Makita focused their energy on power tools for construction while DeWalt took a broader approach.
Makita vs. DeWalt: Which Offers Better Quality?
Of course, quality is the leading factor when comparing two tools – brands are usually pretty consistent when it comes to that. In this matchup, it’s more similar than you’d think. Japanese Makita and American DeWalt share a lot of the same principals.
They both tailor to a similar customer-base – the mid-level user.
For that reason, it’s hard to declare one brand the winner over the other. It is a tie, both brands make tools with comparable quality.
Which Offers a Better Warranty?
DeWalt offers a three-year limited warranty and one-year free service. This means if your tool breaks within three years due to faulty workmanship they will replace the tool. Any tool inside of one year of initial purchase is subject to free service.
Makita offers the same three-year limited warranty with the same stipulation. However, they do not offer a one-year free service on their tools.
For this minor difference, it’s safe to say that DeWalt offers the better warranty.
Makita vs. DeWalt: Which Has a Better Product Portfolio?
This is where things get a bit tricky since both brands make comparable tools. Let’s take a look at some direct comparisons and see who wins.
Comparing their 6.5-inch circular saws you’ll find that every spec is nearly identical. Safety features, motor power, handle, runtime, speed, capacity, and weight are about the same. A tie.
Next, their cordless 1-1/4-inch reciprocating saws. For nearly the same price, you get nearly the same features. The stroke, speed, grip, and runtime are nearly identical. The only difference here is the weight. Another tie.
Finally, their impact drivers. Both brands have about the same speed, torque, weight, battery life, and quality of products for their drivers. Again, a tie.
Let’s zoom out and take a look at their general product portfolio.
Makita started by focusing on construction tools, but things changed. Makita now offers products like drills, nailers, rotary hammers, nibblers, shears, vacuum cleaners, saws, grinders, multitools, rebar cutters, heat guns, toolbelts, caulk guns, electric bicycles, planers, trimmers, radios, coffee machines, compressors, cold-temp clothing, and protective gear.
DeWalt, on the other hand, is a brand geared for more general semi-pro use. Their power tools include drills, grinders, nailers, staplers, routers, planers, sanders, oscillating multi-tools, impact drivers, screw guns, polishers, rotary and demo hammers, and saws. They also have offerings in outdoor power tools, anchors, miscellaneous bits and tool accessories, hand tools, lawn and garden items, and contractor gear and equipment.
It’s the same story as their direct product comparisons. While there are some differences in their portfolios, it’s more or less a tie.
Which of the Two Brands Should You Choose?
This is a tough question because it’s not as clear-cut as you’d hope. Both tool brands have similar ideals when it comes to their brand’s goals. Their tools have comparable quality which tailors to mid-level users.
DeWalt offers a slightly better warranty with its one-year free service, though they both have the same three-year limited warranty offering.
Looking at their product matchup more closely, you have to get nit-picky if you want to differentiate between the two brands. The prices are usually about the same, the specs are usually about the same, and their quality is about the same. You might find that one of their tools has slightly higher speed or power, or a slightly lower cost, but that’s it.
Both Makita and DeWalt create tools that can be used for general workmen in a semi-pro or professional setting. You might find more Makita’s on the toolboxes in a machine shop, but that’s not to say that the brand is any different than DeWalt. It ultimately comes down to brand loyalty.
Historically, Makita made better products but in the past decade or so DeWalt has refocused and became more competitive. So you might find more users who prefer Makita for this reason
They are good brands if you don’t want to overpay for a tool, but you need a tool that’s more reliable than the cheap brands. In other words, they’re the good middle-of-the-road brand.
Which of the two brands should you choose? Fundamentally, there’s no difference. It’s up to your brand loyalty, or nit-picking the minutia of the tool’s spec. Ultimately, both Makita and DeWalt are good options for what they make.
The only thing to keep in mind is that if you go with cordless tools, you should think into the future. You will want to stay loyal to one brand rather than spread your tools across multiple brands to take advantage of battery- and charger-commonality.
Both Makita and DeWalt are excellent brands targetting mid-tier users. With both of their product portfolios being very similar and their quality and prices being comparable as well, there is no clear winner.
Instead, choosing one brand or the other will mainly be up to your preferences. Personally, though, I would recommend Makita. But then again, that is just because that’s the brand that I have more experience with.