The DeWalt name is one of the most recognizable in power tools - whether you’re a fan of them or you hate them, you’ve at least heard of them.
Hitachi is another big name, but some people will be more familiar with the brand for their TV’s and electronics than for their power tools. This probably leaves a lot of intrigued DIY’ers wondering - are Hitachi tools any good?
In this article, we’ll take a head to head look at DeWalt vs. Hitachi; we’ll consider price points, performance, reliability, and overall value for a few of each brand’s most popular tools. Class-wise and price-wise, the two brands are pretty similar, so maybe this article can help clear a few things up for those of you who may be torn on deciding between one or the other.
Brief histories: DeWalt vs. Hitachi
The Hitachi brand has a long history in Japan dating back to the early 1900’s. It was founded by a young Japanese engineer who rose to prominence in the industry when he introduced the country’s first electric induction motor.
Over the decades, the company has remained headquartered in Tokyo and has grown into the massive international conglomerate that it is today - employing well over 300,000 people and rivaling some of the biggest electronics names on the planet (Sony, Mitsubishi, etc).
DeWalt, on the other hand, started out in a small Pennsylvania town when Raymond DeWalt invented and introduced the radial arm saw back in the 20’s. Back in the early 90’s, the brand was one of the pioneers of the DIY market, and its first generation of cordless power tools was an absolute game changer.
Nowadays, DeWalt (currently owned by Stanley Black and Decker) may not be regarded as the most prestigious name in the industry, but they still make some reliable, fine-quality tools at reasonable prices.
Tools: Performance, reliability, and overall value
Hitachi used to make some of the best-pro-quality framing tools out there; their 13V circular saws were second to none, and you’d see a lot of contracting teams using Hitachi nailers and miter saws on the job site.
Nowadays, in the past six or eight years it seems that the brand has fallen off a bit, with Milwaukee especially seeing a rise in popularity. In terms of the absolute best-performing tools out there, Hitachi isn’t really regarded anymore as being cream of the crop (then again, neither is DeWalt).
However, they can be a much better value price-wise if you aren’t looking for - or don’t need - the absolute best of the best.
In our head-to-head comparisons, we’ll primarily look at each company’s line of cordless tools; drills, impact drivers, circular saws and reciprocating saws, and come to an overall conclusion on which one we think comes out on top.
Review: Hitachi and DeWalt cordless tool combo kits
This kit includes a sawzall (reciprocating saw), 6 ½” circular saw, ½” drill, and a lantern/LED light, as well as two 4.0 amp batteries, a charger, and a carrying case.
At a little over $200, the price represents a pretty nice value, and the tools perform decently enough. Again, though, it’s tough to say how they’ll work for you - it all depends on your needs and expectations.
In our opinion, we’d say for standard, relatively light work, or for an entry-level set, it’s a good option. For heavier jobs, though (framing, deck building), they fall short. The circular saw is underpowered and eats up battery with the voraciousness of a bear in spring, and the drill is insufficient for all but the most standard use.
Moreover, the tools are a bit bulky in the hand, and aesthetically they’re pretty much ugly as sin.
For roughly the same price (just a hair more expensive) as the 4-tool Hitachi kit, the tools in this combo are of better quality, in our opinion.
However, instead of a circular saw - the 4-tool DeWalt kit has a ¼” impact driver. The impact is a great tool and an awesome addition to any cordless arsenal, but if you’re after a value-priced kit like these, you’ll get way more use out of a circular saw than you would an impact driver.
For this reason, we’d recommend going with the Hitachi set if it were between these two.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more money, DeWalt’s 5-tool kit includes a hammer drill, impact driver, reciprocating saw, circular saw, and LED light - pretty much everything you need. At over $400 though, it’s a substantially larger investment than the Hitachi kit, even if the tools are better. We actually really like the DeWalt circular saw that comes in this combo, and the impact driver/hammer drill combo is fantastic - great power, and good battery life.
If you’re only looking for a drill or drill/impact driver combo, DeWalt’s 20V Li-Ion combo with two 1.5 amp slim-pack batteries is a fantastic value at around $150.
Hitachi’s 18V drill/impact combo is a very similar option, and is slightly less expensive. However, in our opinion we’d be more than happy to spend the extra 20 or 30 bucks on the DeWalt kit, as both the drill and impact driver function and feel better in the hand (the Hitachi’s are a bit heavy/bulky and awkward to use).
One other major thing to consider is warranty - Hitachi has probably the best power tool warranty in the industry (limited lifetime on tools, 5-year on batteries), and is far superior to DeWalt’s 3-year limited. So value wise, it’s really hard to ignore Hitachi; lower prices than DeWalt, and better warranty.
Hitachi vs. DeWalt: Brushless
One last thing we’ll consider, since they’re becoming so popular, is a couple brushless models from each brand. Brushless motors allow for a significant increase in efficiency, performance, and battery life (for a detailed explanation why, check out this article), but are also significantly more expensive than ‘regular’ cordless tools.
Between Hitachi and DeWalt, we didn’t really see a massive difference in performance between their brushless drills and impact drivers - DeWalt’s 20V performs maybe a little better and has slightly better battery life and charge times than Hitachi’s 18V, but not enough to warrant a $50 price jump, in our opinion.
Hitachi’s brushless drill/impact driver combo is probably one of the best values on the market; drill, driver, and two 3.0 amp batteries for less than $200?
That’s hard to beat.
The tools in DeWalt’s 20V MAX XR brushless drill/impact driver combo are great, don’t get us wrong, but the kit is about $50 more, and it comes with the slim 1.5 amp batteries instead of the 3.0 amp ‘fat packs’ - a significant difference as the bigger batteries will give you about twice as much run time.
Alright, so the bottom line. This is honestly a tough one.
If price wasn’t a factor, the decision would be easy - we’d go DeWalt hands down. In our opinion, the tools are of better quality, they’re superior ergonomically/aesthetically, and they perform slightly better than Hitachi’s cordless options.
However, here in reality, price is a factor, and it’s incredibly hard to ignore Hitachi’s super-impressive price tags and industry-leading warranty. If we were backed to a wall and forced to make a decision between the two, we’d have to choose Hitachi - there’s just not that much of a discrepancy in performance to merit the higher price of DeWalt’s tools.