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 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 our 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, while Milwaukee started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Milwaukee has made power drills since the birth of the company before adding other tools to its portfolio. The brand made portable power tools and benefitted from the manufacturing boom caused by World War II, in which the company supplied tools to the U.S. Navy. The brand went on to develop more tools and even released the world’s first portable reciprocating saw.
Makita, on the other hand, was started in 1915 by Mosaburo Makita, and the company actually got its start making and repairing transformers, motors, and lighting.
It wasn’t until 1958 that the company unveiled its first power tool, a portable electric planer, which marked the beginning of its transition to a power tool company.
From there, both companies rapidly expanded. Now they are both household names and are 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 considered higher-quality tools. Then again, though, they are both very good in this regard.
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 its power tools, batteries, and accessories, but nothing beyond that.
For this reason, Milwaukee comes out on top in this category. The fact that there are lifetime limited warranties offered for their tools makes them the clear winner.
Which Brand Has Better Customer Service?
In terms of customer service, people tend to be pretty happy with both brands. The general online consensus is that both manufacturers are pretty good about swiftly resolving issues and honoring warranties.
However, it seems as though people are a bit more pleased with Milwaukee, as customers have ranked them as having some of the best customer service out there, while some Makita customers were unsatisfied with how their problems were addressed.
It’s worth noting, however, that customer service can vary greatly depending on the representative, so it’s expected to see some variation in quality.
Which Brand Has Better Design?
In terms of design, both brands are pretty similar, with the main difference coming down to color choice.
Both manufacturers produce tools that feature sharp lines and rough exteriors, giving them a tough and capable look that is pretty standard in the industry. However, Makita’s tools feature a very unique shade of blue that isn’t seen much in the industry, so it gives them a very recognizable appearance.
Milwaukee, on the hand, uses red and black colorways on its tools, which can be a bit bland and may make them blend in with other competitors, such as Craftsman.
Which Offers Better Prices?
In order to get a good sense of the difference in pricing between brands in the industry, our team assembled the Handyman’s World Power Tool Brand Price Index, which takes three basic tools – a cordless drill, angle grinder, and circular saw – and indexes their costs against the average of what we consider to be the top 15 power tool manufacturers.
As you can see in the 2023 version of our index, Makita scored 0.82, while Milwaukee came in at 0.86. This means that Milwaukee is, on average, slightly more expensive than Makita, however, both brands are above the average in terms of affordability.
Makita vs. Milwaukee: Which Has a Better Product Portfolio?
There’s a lot to consider when you start looking at either of the companies’ product portfolios. These are both massive names in the tool world, after all.
In the early years, Makita was focused on construction tools, but things have since 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, job site 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 its 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.
If you’re a professional looking to upgrade your power tool selection, we’d recommend checking out the Milwaukee M18 18-Volt 9-Tool Tool Kit, which comes with batteries included, as well as a charger and tool bag.
However, if you’re just an average homeowner or DIYer who still wants something of high quality, you may be interested in the Makita 18V LXT 8-pc Combo Kit.
Which Has a Better Selection of Drills?
In terms of drills, both of these manufacturers have incredibly massive selections, with various kits, accessories, and tool types available. However, if we had to pick one, we’d say that Milwaukee has the better selection.
This isn’t to say that Makita is bad, and in fact, their selection is surely more than enough for the average consumer. However, Milwaukee has a lot of options that are very trade-specific, meaning that they have a lot more niche offerings for a variety of fields.
Which Brand Offers a Better Selection of Angle Grinders?
Once again, when it comes to angle grinders, it’s quite difficult to say that one’s better than the other, especially since they’re catering to different demographics. Makita has a huge selection of grinders with a variety of accessories and purchasing options, and this selection is far larger than a lot of brands marketed to average homeowners.
However, Milwaukee takes it a step further, as again, they offer a lot of trade-specific tools that Makita just doesn’t. Although, one thing to note is that Makita does actually have a larger selection of kits available, so if you’re looking to purchase your tool with some accessories included, Makita may be the better choice for you.
Which Brand Has a Better Selection of Circular Saws?
When it comes to circular saws, it seems as though Makita actually has a slightly larger selection than Milwaukee. As has been the pattern, both brands offer a great selection to choose from, but in this case, Makita has just a few more options.
As was true for angle grinders, it appears that Makita also offers a better selection of kits and purchasing options with their circular saws, making them the better choice for anyone looking to get some accessories included in their purchase.
Which Brand Offers a Better Selection of Lawn and Garden Tools?
As far as lawn and garden tools are concerned, it seems as though once again Makita actually has the advantage. As is expected, both companies have great selections of outdoor power tools, but Makita simply offers more.
This is especially true in the way of lawnmowers, as Makita simply offers more models, as well as more accessories and kits. Of course, this isn’t to say that Milwaukee’s selection is bad, it’s just not quite as big as Makita’s.
This can also be said about the manufacturers’ chainsaw selections, as Makita’s selection is much larger than Milwaukee’s. While both brands do offer great options, if you’re looking for more choices, Makita wins.
Which Brand Offers the Better Smart Technology?
As technology advances at an exponential rate, it’s only natural that manufacturers in the industry are starting to expand into smart technology, utilizing Bluetooth systems to create more connected tools.
In terms of these two manufacturers, Milwaukee is beginning to implement there ONE-KEY system, which allows for more organized digital management of tools. This technology allows customers to track their tools’ locations, as well as track any servicing required by specific tools.
Additionally, this technology allows users to change tool settings from their smartphones and provides cloud storage for tool and warranty documentation.
Makita, on the other hand, is a bit less advanced but still has some really interesting smart technology developments nonetheless. This brand offers its Auto Start Wireless system, which allows tools to be connected via Bluetooth to dust extraction systems.
This makes it so that when a user powers on their tool, their dust extraction system will automatically start, allowing the entire construction and cleanup process to become much more streamlined.
While both brands have some really interesting technologies, Milwaukee is much more advanced, as it’s geared toward the needs of professionals. However, Makita’s Auto Start Wireless system is something that could be really handy for the average consumer.
Makita vs. Milwakee: Latest Developments
In order to stay up to date on all of the latest developments in the industry, we wanted to take a look at what these brands have been up to as of 2023.
Makita started off the year by expanding its selection of outdoor tools, releasing the new ConnectX Backpack Blower and 40V XGT 21″ Lawn Mower, as well as a plethora of other outdoor tools. Additionally, the manufacturer released a whole new line of concrete tools, further expanding their customer base.
This brand’s most recent release in the world of concrete is its 18V LXT Brushless Deep Capacity Rebar Tying Tool.
Milwaukee also expanded its outdoor tool selection, releasing a new M18 FUEL Brush Cutter. They also unveiled new M18 FUEL Top Handle Chainsaws, as well as more trade-specific products like the new M-Spector Inspection Cameras.
The manufacturer also released a new M18 FUEL 5 CFM Vacuum Pump, as well as new job site lighting solutions and protective earmuffs.
Makita vs. Milwaukee: Which Is Better?
The million-dollar question: which brand should you choose? We 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 costs 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.