Bosch and Milwaukee both make great, reliable power tools; if you’ve narrowed a decision on a new purchase down to these two brands, you’re off to a good start.
However, narrowing a decision down to two brands doesn’t do you much good - you’ve gotta decide on one. We’re here to help with that.
Nowadays, with marketing being what it is, it’s legitimately tough to sort through all the B.S. - that is to say, all the advertising campaigns, the catchy buzzwords, and the never-ending barrage of gimmicky new features and product improvements.
In this article, we’ll do our best to sift through all the baloney and give you what you’re looking for: a no-frills, no BS, no gimmicks review that’s just about tools. Our goal - as always - is to help you make the best buy possible, and get the best tools for your needs at the best overall value.
Brief histories: Milwaukee vs. Bosch
As with all these company vs. company type articles, we’ll start out with a short look at each brand’s respective histories; where they came from, where they’re at now, and where they’re going.
Bosch is a German company by origin, and has evolved over the decades into a truly massive conglomerate that not only manufactures power tools and home appliances, but also owns and controls over three dozen companies that operate in a dizzyingly wide range of global markets; they manufacture everything from spark plugs to espresso machines to military-grade aviation radio controls.
The Milwaukee brand, on the other hand, (even though they’re owned by Techtronic Industries, an equally-massive conglomerate), at least focuses their efforts solely on the power tool market.
In reality, both companies belong to multi-billion dollar multinational corporations, so don’t feel like you’re buying ‘homegrown’ or something like that if you choose to go with Milwaukee.
Tool Reviews: Milwaukee vs. Bosch
Okay, let’s get to the meat and potatoes, and find out who makes the better tools - Milwaukee or Bosch.
Naturally, price is probably going to be your first - and biggest - consideration. Everyone wants the best tools on the market, but we surely understand that NOT everyone can afford the best tools on the market. You want the best possible stuff within your price range. Bosch and Milwaukee are actually pretty darn comparable when it comes right down to it - product for product, they run about the same price.
First, before we get into any kind of tool review, consider the following: do you own any power tools at all, or are you looking to get your first set? Are you looking for individual tools, or combo kits? Do you already have a Milwaukee or Bosch battery platform? What do you plan on working on mostly, and what’s your max price range?
If you’ve already got a battery platform to work off of, and are simply looking to add tools to your arsenal, we recommend sticking with the brand you’ve got. Both Bosch and Milwaukee make good enough products that - in our opinion - it’s not worth ditching your whole platform just to switch from one brand to the other. Generally speaking, try and stick to a single battery platform.
That being said, Milwaukee has got a larger tool selection in their cordless lineup than Bosch, and they always seem to have some exciting new product coming off their lines for their growing masses of loyal customers. If you’re getting your very first set of cordless tools, we highly recommend going Milwaukee - they’re always the ones coming out with the latest and greatest new stuff, and you’ll have more tools to choose from overall if you want to add to your collection.
Cordless combo kits: Bosch vs. Milwaukee
If you are indeed looking to get your first set of cordless tools, we recommend going with a combo kit. You’ll hear plenty of people argue against them, but they’re really a great way to get a good value on a set of tools, plus set yourself up with a single battery platform that you can build off of down the road.
If you’re willing to make a bit of an investment, we highly recommend something like this Milwaukee 2696-26 Li-Ion M18 6-tool kit. It comes with a ½” hammer drill, a ¼” impact driver, a SAWZALL/reciprocating saw, a 6 ½” circular saw, a 4 ½” angle grinder, an LED light, two M18 fatpack batteries (the 4.0 amp - not the compact 2.0 amp), and a charger.
Like we said, the M18 battery platform has become legendary, and with the two 4 amp fatpack batteries, (bigger than the compact 2 amp), you’ll be set with a top-of-the-line arsenal of cordless tools for years to come.
If you’re not yet ready to drop that kind of money, though, something like Bosch’s CLPK402-181 Li-Ion 18V 4-tool cordless kit is a good alternative. It comes with a ½” hammer drill, a reciprocating saw, a 6 ½” circular saw, an LED light, two 4-amp (18V) batteries, and a charger. At around $500, it seems a little pricey, though, considering that all you’re really getting is a good hammer drill and a reciprocating saw (cordless circular saws are notorious for draining batteries in a flash). However, it’s certainly a cheaper option than the Milwaukee kit.
Now, something else to consider all together is to make the investment and go brushless. Surely you’ve heard all the craze lately about brushless tools, and we’ve got to say it’s no gimmick - they’re far superior in performance, efficiency, and durability than standard brushed motors. (To find out why exactly, check out our article here on brushless vs brushed motors).
The only caveat, of course, is that they’re expensive.
If you’re planning on getting a ton of use out of your tools, here’s our recommendation: consider splashing the cash and making the investment in a top-of-the line brushless drill/impact driver combo. Your cordless drill is far and away the tool that you’ll get the most use out of, and it’ll certainly pay to invest in something that will give you the best combination of performance, durability, and overall bang for your buck. (The only drawback is that your friends will probably always be asking to borrow them).
Milwaukee’s new line of M18 brushless drills and impact drivers have quickly come to be regarded as, hands down, the best on the market. If they’re within your budget, don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on these insanely impressive tools.
Bosch also has a new 18V brushless drill/impact driver combo, but at a price just a tiny bit less than the Milwaukee combo, we’d definitely choose to go with Milwaukee. They’re both great tools, but like we said, nothing right now is comparable to the Milwaukee M18 brushless line.
If you do decide to invest in a brushless drill/driver, as we mentioned you can always add tools using the same battery platform. But like we said, since they’re the tools you’ll be using the most, it would be wise to get yourself the best quality drill/driver that you can afford.
If you’re not ready to drop the cash on a brushless set, both companies are still selling standard brushed tools, and they’re almost half the price.
Bosch’s 18V CLPK232A-181 Li-Ion cordless drill/impact driver combo is a fantastic set at an extremely reasonable price. At nearly the same price, though (only about $30 more), the Milwaukee 2692-22 18V combo is also attractive. The big difference between these two, though, is the Bosch kit comes with two 4.0 amp batteries, whereas the Milwaukee kit has the compact 2.0 amp batteries - you’ll notice a big difference in battery life between the two. Out of these two kits, if it were us we’d definitely go with the Bosch - it’s cheaper and it comes with the bigger, longer-lasting batteries.
The bottom line, like we said, is that both Milwaukee and Bosch are undeniably great brands - two of the best in the industry, for sure. However, for us at least, Bosch would be much more attractive if they could lower their prices just a tad. They run nearly dollar for dollar with Milwaukee, but in our experience are just a smidge less superior when it comes down to performance, durability, and overall quality. For your dollar, unless you find some Bosch stuff on a good sale or something, we’d recommend going with Milwaukee between the two.