Both Makita from Japan and Milwaukee from the United States are very popular power tool brands. They have built their reputation over the years by providing a wide variety of tools that are priced reasonably and are of great quality.
Because of their similarities, it can be difficult to pick which brand to go with. If you are finding yourself in such a situation, continue reading to get some of my thoughts about the two brands.
A Brief History of Makita and Milwaukee
Both brands started their history in the early 20th century. Makita started in 1915 and Milwaukee started in 1918. Makita opened its doors in Japan where most of the company’s manufacturing still takes place to this day. Milwaukee started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Makita started out as a company that repaired electric motors before moving into the power tools market. Milwaukee made power drills since the birth of the company before adding other tools to its portfolio well. It made portable power tools and became known by selling the tools to soldiers during World War II.
From there, both companies rapidly expanded. Now they are both household names and found in various machine shops and tool sheds around the world.
Makita vs. Milwaukee: Which Offers Better Quality?
Both brands offer good quality. Makita is a company that aims to serve the mid-level user, and Milwaukee is a brand that makes tools for mid- to high-level users. With this distinction in mind, it doesn’t seem so fair to compare the brands’ product quality.
Of course, Japanese-made Makita tools offer very good quality. But you have to remember that they’re generally selling their products in a lower price bracket than the more-expensive Milwaukee brand.
Due to this major point, it is natural that Milwaukee makes what could be said are higher quality tools. Then again, though, they are both very good brands.
Which Offers a Better Warranty?
Milwaukee’s warranty policy is more conditional. Depending on the tool that you get, the warranty can range from one year to a lifetime limited warranty. Beyond that, Milwaukee’s warranty for defectively manufactured parts lasts a lifetime.
Makita offers a three-year limited warranty standard on all of their power tools, batteries, and accessories, but nothing beyond that.
For this reason, Milwaukee offers a better warranty. The fact that there are lifetime limited warranties offered for their tools makes them the clear winner.
Makita vs. Milwaukee: Which Has a Better Product Portfolio?
There’s a lot to look at when you start looking at either of the companies’ product portfolio. These are both massive names in the tool world, after all.
In the early years, Makita was focused on construction tools, but things changed. Makita now offers products like drills, impact drivers, 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.
Milwaukee has been consistently adding to its product portfolio as well.
Their current offerings include all the usual tools like drills, impact drivers, drain augers, septic cleaning tools, electrical tools and accessories, plumbing tools and accessories, grinders, sanders, cutters, nibblers, shears, jigsaws, nailers, staplers, circular saws, vacuums, and fans. It also includes trade-specific tools and accessories in their MX FUEL collection, lighting, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, clamps, inspection and detection tools, measurement tools, laser distance measurers, storage units, jobsite safety and temperature gear and clothing, and digital equipment tracking and tool management systems.
Both brands have a wide variety of products offered. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that Milwaukee offers more breadth in their product portfolio. They have a lot more trade-specific offerings and instruments than Makita. As such, it can be said that Milwaukee has the more varied product portfolio of the two.
Which of the Two Brands Should You Choose?
The million-dollar question: which brand should you choose? I will probably disappoint you by saying that even though there are big differences between the brands, ultimately you can’t go wrong with either one.
Makita is a brand that tailors to mid-level users. This could be hobbyists, DIYers, and semi-pros. The brand is also found in some machine shops.
Milwaukee, on the other hand, is almost exclusively used by professionals. Specifically, it’s used by professionals that care a lot about the quality of their job, the accuracy of their tools, and how long their tools will last them.
If you are looking to keep cost low, Makita or even its lower-cost rival Ryobi is the right brand for you. As established earlier, Milwaukee is almost always more expensive in the matchup between the two brands. Sometimes close to double the price for the same type of tool.
If you need a very high-quality tool for your collection, you should consider Milwaukee. They are made with quality as the paramount factor.
If you find yourself in an application where you need a tool with more features, more power, or higher speeds, you should turn to Milwaukee. Looking at comparisons between the two tool brands, Milwaukee almost always offers the more powerful and faster tools.
Additionally, and this is mostly due to their higher price-point, Milwaukee tools will oftentimes have more technologies and features that Makita tools are lacking. Though not always a game-changer, it’s worth thinking about.
If you need a tool that will last you a lifetime, Milwaukee is the brand for you. Not only do they have a lifetime limited warranty on their tools, but their tools have a proven track record. It’s the brand that is better recognized to be dependable, durable, and long-lasting.
That is not to say that Makita is not a quality tool brand, though.
Both Makita and Milwaukee are excellent power tool brands. They offer similar cost-performance and are especially popular among mid-level users. That said, Milwaukee is a slightly higher-end brand compared to Makita.
As such, if you are a professional that does a lot of heavy-duty work, you might be better off going with Milwaukee.