Milwaukee Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt Flexvolt Joist Drill

By Jim Nadeau on Remodeling

 

Milwaukee Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt Flexvolt Joist Drill

Milwaukee Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt Flexvolt Joist Drill

I am asked almost every time I’m seen using the DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Joist Drill or the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg which one I prefer and how I would compare the two tools. As a side note, Milwaukee also has a larger version more geared toward Plumbers but I am not a Plumber, I am an Electrician. The Milwaukee Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt Flexvolt Joist Drill debate intrigued me so I decided to test the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Joist Drill and see how they paired up. Both tools have their pro’s and cons and I will quickly tell you about them without getting too deep into the specifications. (Take a look at our other articles for more specific information about the individual tools)

DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Stud and Joist Drill

With the 60volt Flex line, DeWalt seems to be aiming to give you tools that are as powerful as their corded competition. The DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Stud and Joist Drill is no different.  The drill is a better, more powerful tool then it’s corded brother. The down side is that the Battery does not last as long as you may think it should based on its large size. You must have two batteries to be able to work with this tool all day. For example, on my first test, I was able to drill 168 1” holes through some double and triple but most single 2x’s on a new construction project using only one battery. With a second battery, I would be able to drill out all of the holes needed in a 2500 sq foot new construction house.

Milwaukee Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt Flexvolt Joist Drill

DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Stud and Joist Drill Performance

Using a 1” augur bit I have found there is no stopping DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Stud and Joist Drill.  It’s toughest test for me came when I was drilling through about 12” of both 2x’s and a beam when I hit a nail. In high speed, the drill came to a stop, I switched to low, and powered through at a steady pace. With a 4” hole saw I have had very little difficulty drilling, but haven’t had to drill more then an a couple inches to set a box.

New DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Platform

DeWalt leaving their 20v platform to change to the new 60v line may upset a few DeWalt users.  I for one have at least eight 20v batteries already and with only one 60v battery right now.  The 60v flex volt battery will work in your 20v tools which is nice in a pinch. The 60v battery is heavy and although that may be ok with reciprocating saw or circular saw, you certainly wouldn’t want to use it long in your impact gun due to the excess weight. I have trouble saying anything negative about the shorter battery run time because there has to be balance between power and battery life and I really enjoy the power output on this tool.

There is no doubt that the drill is heavy at 12.9 lbs without battery.  It can be difficult to hold in awkward positions due to it’s weight.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg

Milwaukee Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt Flexvolt Joist Drill

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg [designed for electricians] can not completely replace its corded brother but it does an outstanding job complimenting it on a job site. This drill is lightweight, relatively small, and fast and it is able to take an auger bit and drill most holes. This drill works off the existing 18volt battery line which is a huge plus.

First Impression

I do have to admit, my first impression was that this drill may not be powerful enough to be used enough to justify the cost. With a 1” augur bit, I’ve only had a couple of times where the power wasn’t enough to finish the hole. In older homes that have original 2x’s in them (as opposed to the lightweight pine 2x’s that we see in new homes) there were a couple of times on double and triple 2x’s for which I needed to use the corded drill.  The other time I came across an issue was with a difficult angle drill where I had multiple types of wood and had to use just about all of my 18” long 1” augur bit. That being said, I have found that with 95% of the holes I need to drill, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg is not only more capable but it’s lightweight, and the size makes it easy to use in awkward positions.

Milwaukee Hole Hawg Vs DeWalt Flexvolt Joist Drill

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg has only one speed and it’s fast.  I am not sure if this was done to keep the cost and weight of the tool down or not but having a low speed would make a huge improvement on this tool.  I found with the DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Joist Drill that there were occasions when high speed would struggle through the tougher holes, but once switched into low speed, the drill would just plow through.  I could be completely wrong, but I worry about the longevity of the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg.  On difficult drilling applications, it feels like I am using 100% of the tool.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg – Existing Battery Platform

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg uses it’s existing 18v line of batteries which is a huge plus.  I highly recommend getting this drill with the 9ah battery.  Disappointingly, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg with a 9ah battery did not outlast the DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Joist Drill .  In my test, two items were slightly different though. I was using a different brand 1” auger bit but both were brand new and I had been using the 9ah battery for about a month were the DeWalt was almost brand new.  On an exact same new construction house drilling through 2x’s just like the DeWalt I was only able to drill 149 holes with the Milwaukee, as opposed to the DeWalts 168holes.

Both Tools Need Improvement on Clutch

Something that has been on my wish list that neither DeWalt or Milwaukee have is a variable clutch.  When you are using a tool with as much power as these two drills, you want to be able to gear it down real low if you are on a ladder, but when you are on the ground in a good position you should be able to just turn the clutch off.

Summary

Both Milwaukee’s hole hawg and DeWalt’s Joist drill are outstanding products.  Milwaukee is designed to be a lightweight drill that can out perform most corded right angle drills in lightweight applications.  DeWalt’s joist drill is as fast and powerful if not more then it’s corded competition. It is however, a heavy drill and you will find yourself constantly charging batteries.

I have had a very difficult time picking a clear winner between the two drills. With the DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Joist Drill you are able to go 100% cord free on all your job sites as long as you have additional batteries. There is no doubt that the drill is heavy at 12.9 lbs without battery.  It can be difficult to hold in awkward positions due to it’s weight.  On the ground in a stable position the weight is not an issue but on a ladder or in an awkward position it gets a bit tiresome.

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hole Hawg is the drill I find myself using more often, as its weight makes it easier to use. I especially like and being able to use the existing 18v battery platform for this tool.  However, with the DeWalt 60v Flexvolt Joist Drill I am able to 100% go away from using a corded drill on all my job sites and that goes a long way.

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About the author

Jim Nadeau

Jim Nadeau is a Master Electrician and owns and runs Nadeau Electric LLC established 2007. Nadeau Electric specializes in older homes and light commercial projects. Jim Nadeau uses his 15 years of electrical experience to review the latest electrical tools and advise on any electrical concerns that may arise for the Concord Carpenter Crew.

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