Ryobi vs. Milwaukee Cordless Drills: What Are Their Differences?

Ryobi vs. Milwaukee

Are you in the market for a new cordless drill and trying to decide between Ryobi and Milwaukee?

In this article, I provide a thorough breakdown of the differences and similarities between Ryobi and Milwaukee’s 12V and 18V cordless drills. By the end, you’ll know exactly how they compare in terms of power, speed, torque, features, common complaints, warranty, and price.

If you’re just looking to quickly compare the price of Ryobi and Milwaukee drills, both are available on Amazon at these links: Ryobi 12V Drill/Driver Kit, Milwaukee M12 Drill/Driver Kit, Ryobi 18V One+ Drill/Driver Kit, Milwaukee M18 Drill/Driver Kit.

DEAL ALERT: Amazon Prime Day Is TODAY (July 15th & 16th)! Check Out the Deals Before They’re Gone!

Click the links below to navigate this article.

30-Second Summary of Ryobi vs. Milwaukee

Ryobi and Milwaukee are both owned by Hong Kong based manufacturing company Techtronic Industries. Although they share the same parent company, Ryobi and Milwaukee are not the same, in fact, their positioning in the market is very different.

Ryobi is known for making professional grade tools that are high-quality yet affordable. Their target market is homeowners and professionals looking for a lower cost option without sacrificing performance. Ryobi drills are reliable and high-performing but come with fewer features which allows them to keep their prices low.

Milwaukee builds its products primarily for professional users while keeping homeowners in mind. Milwaukee drills come with extra features, more speed, and longer runtimes in order to fulfill the needs of professional and extreme DIYers, however, those extras come with a higher price tag.

Bottom line—if you’re on a budget and you need a drill to do small jobs around the house, Ryobi is your best option. If you’re planning to use your drill for more than just the occasional household project, spending a little more for Milwaukee’s extra features are worth it.

Both Ryobi and Milwaukee drills are available at most home improvement stores or on Amazon at the links below:

Now that you have some background on Ryobi and Milwaukee, let’s dive into the detailed comparison of their 12V and 18V drills.

Ryobi vs. Milwaukee: 12V and 18V Drill/Drivers Compared

If you’re looking for a drill that’s small, compact, and easy to handle but also packs enough power for most household projects, Ryobi’s 12V Compact Drill/Driver (model HJP004)  and Milwaukee’s M12 Drill/Driver (model 2407-22) are two excellent options.

Ryobi vs. Milwaukee 12V drills
Milwaukee M12 (left) and Ryobi 12V (right)

If you’re an aspiring handyman or plan to use your drill for major DIY projects, I’d recommend going with a more powerful 18-volt (18V) drill. Ryobi and Milwaukee’s 18V drills are more expensive than their 12V drills, but their 18V drills have significantly more power, speed, and come with extra features.

The most popular 18V drills from each brand are Ryobi’s 18V One+ Compact Drill/Driver (model P1811) vs. Milwaukee’s M18 Compact Drill Driver (model 2606-22CT).

Ryobi vs. Milwaukee
Milwaukee M18 (left) and Ryobi 18V One+ (right)

In the following sections, learn how Ryobi’s 12V and 18V drills compare to Milwaukee’s 12V and 18V drills in terms of power, speed, torque, features, common complaints, warranty, and price.

Quick Comparison Chart

Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of Ryobi and Milwaukee’s 12-volt drills.

  Ryobi 12V Compact Drill/DriverMilwaukee M12 Drill/Driver
What's Included?Drill, one lithium-ion battery, charger, double-ended bit.Drill, two lithium-ion batteries, charger, carrying case.
Power12 volts12 volts
Battery Charge Time45 minutes30 minutes
Runtime1.3 amp-hours1.5 amp-hours
Number of Speed Settings12
Maximum Speed600 RPM1500 RPM
Torque Control22-position clutch (more control)18-position clutch (less control)
FeaturesBuilt-in LED light, bit holder.Battery fuel gauge, built-in LED light, metal ratcheting chuck.
Length7.1 inches7.4 inches
Weight3.5 pounds2.5 pounds
Common ComplaintsPoor battery life. Chuck becomes loose and bit falls out.Poor battery life. Chuck is warped.
Warranty3-year limited warranty 5-year limited warranty on drill, 2-year limited warranty on battery.
PriceSignificantly less expensive than Milwaukee. Check current price on Amazon. Significantly more expensive than Ryobi. Check current price on Amazon.

Here’s a quick glance at how Ryobi and Milwaukee’s 18-volt drills compare.

 Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Drill/DriverMilwaukee M18 Compact 1/2" Drill Driver
What's Included?Drill, two lithium-ion batteries, charger, tool bag, screwdriver bit. Drill, two lithium-ion batteries, charger, carrying case.
Power18 volts18 volts
Battery Charge Time1 hour30 minutes
Runtime1.3 amp-hours1.5 amp-hours
Number of Speed Settings22
Maximum RPM1600 RPM1800 RPM
Torque Control24-position clutch (more control)16-position clutch (less control)
FeaturesGripZone handle, magnetic holder for screws, mounted bubble level, LED light. Battery fuel gauge, Redlink Intelligence technology, belt clip.
Length7.1 inches7.25 inches
Weight5.2 pounds4 pounds
Common ComplaintsPoor battery life. Chuck becomes loose and bit falls out.Poor battery life. Chuck becomes loose and bit falls out.
Warranty3-year limited warranty 5-year limited warranty on drill, 2-year limited warranty on battery.
PriceSignificantly less expensive than Milwaukee. Check current price on Amazon.Significantly more expensive than Ryobi. Check current price on Amazon.

Power

When determining which drill to buy, one of the first things you should look at is power. You want to make sure whichever drill you buy packs enough punch to get the job done.

The power of a drill is determined by the voltage of its battery. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the drill.

Ryobi’s 12V drill and Milwaukee’s M12 drill both have 12-volt batteries which means their power is exactly the same.

Ryobi’s 18V One+ and Milwaukee’s M18 drills have 18-volt batteries, again, packing the same exact power.

For work around the house like hanging blinds and assembling furniture, 12 volts is more than enough power. For drilling into hard materials or taking on a large scale project, you’ll benefit from the extra power that the 18-volt drills provide.

Besides voltage, the other key attribute to look at is amp-hours. Amp-hours refers to the runtime of a battery. In general, batteries with more amp-hours last longer than batteries with fewer amp-hours.

Ryobi’s 12V drill comes with one battery that has 1.3 amp-hours of runtime and takes about 45 minutes to completely charge. Milwaukee’s M12 drill comes with two batteries that have a 15% longer runtime than Ryobi’s with 1.5 amp-hours. Theirs take only 30 minutes to charge (15 minutes faster than Ryobi).

Ryobi’s 18V One+ drill comes with two batteries that have 1.3 amp-hours of runtime each and take about an hour to charge. Milwaukee’s M18 drill also comes with two batteries but theirs have longer runtime than Ryobi’s with 1.5 amp-hours each. The batteries that come with Milwaukee’s M18 drill take only 30 minutes to completely charge.

Speed

After power and runtime, the next attribute you should consider when evaluating drills is speed. The speed of a drill refers to how fast it can spin a drill bit or screw.

For drills, speed is measured in rotations per minute or RPM. High RPM makes it easy to drill into dense materials but lower RPM is better for driving into soft materials because it minimizes the risk of overdriving or stripping a screw head.

Drills often have multiple speed-settings so you can hold down the trigger completely and not worry about exceeding certain RPM levels.

Milwaukee M18 Compact Drill Driver Speed Settings
Milwaukee M18 Compact Drill Driver Speed-Settings

Ryobi’s 12V drill has only one speed-setting that goes up to 600 RPM. Milwaukee’s M12 drill not only gives you more control over the speed with two settings, but its max RPM is more than double Ryobi’s. Their low setting goes from 0 to 400 RPM and their high setting goes all the way up to 1500 RPM.

The speed of Ryobi and Milwaukee’s 18-volt drills are more even than their 12-volt drills. Ryobi’s 18V One+ drill has two speed-settings. Its low setting goes from 0 to 440 RPM and its high setting goes from 0 to 1600 RPM. Milwaukee’s M18 drill also has two speed-settings that go from 0 to 400 RPM and 0 to 1800 RPM.

Torque Control

In drilling, torque is the force that is produced to spin the drill bit, in other words, the twisting power.

When it comes to drilling holes and driving screws, having control over torque is extremely important. If the torque is too weak, you won’t be able to drill into dense materials. If the torque is too strong, you risk overdriving or stripping screws.

Ryobi 12V Drill Clutch
Ryobi 12V Drill Clutch

The clutch of a drill which located right behind the chuck (the nose of the drill that holds the bit) has several different positions that you can adjust to control the level of torque. The more positions available on the clutch, the more control you have over the torque.

Ryobi’s 12V drill gives you more control with a 22-position clutch compared to Milwaukee’s M12 drill which only has 18-positions.

Ryobi’s 18V One+ drill also has the advantage in terms of torque control with a 24-position clutch compared to Milwaukee’s M18 drill which has a 16-position clutch.

Features

When comparing drills it’s important to understand all the bells and whistles they come with so you can determine which of those extras, if any, are valuable to you.

Ryobi 12V Drill Bit Holder and LED light
Ryobi 12V – Bit Holder and LED light

Ryobi’s 12V drill has pretty basic features. It comes with one 12V lithium-ion battery and a battery charger. It has a built-in LED light located at the base of the handle, a build it bit holder, and an ergonomic handle.

Milwaukee’s M12 drill comes with two 12V lithium-ion batteries, a battery charger, a belt clip, and a contractor bag. Milwaukee’s batteries have a fuel gauge that displays the level of charge remaining. In my opinion, this is a very underrated feature. There’s nothing worse than having to put a project on hold when your battery dies unexpectedly.

Like Ryobi, Milwaukee’s M12 drill also has a built-in LED light that turns on when you squeeze the trigger but theirs is located right above the trigger and beneath the clutch. Lastly, Milwaukee’s M12 drill has a metal ratcheting chuck that makes it easy to tighten the grip on drill and driver bits.

Ryobi’s 18V One+ drill comes with two 18V lithium-ion batteries, a battery charger with an indicator light that shows you when it’s done charging, and a canvas tool bag. It has a newly designed GripZone handle, a Magtray magnetic holder for bits and screws, a bit holder, and a top-mounted bubble level to make sure you’re drilling or driving straight. Like Ryobi’s 12V drill, their 18V drill also has a built-in LED light located at the base of the handle.

Milwaukee M18 Compact Drill LED Light
Milwaukee M18 Compact Drill LED Light

Milwaukee’s M18 drill comes with two 18V lithium-ion batteries, a battery charger, a belt clip, and a hard plastic carrying case. Their 18V batteries, like all Milwaukee batteries, have a fuel gauge.

Milwaukee RedLithium Fuel Gauge
Milwaukee RedLithium Fuel Gauge

The key feature that Milwaukee’s M18 drill has that neither of the Ryobi drills have is Redlink Intelligence technology. This proprietary technology enables communication between the drill, battery, and charger to optimize performance and prevent overheating. This technology is especially beneficial when you’re using the drill for extended periods of time.

Size/Weight

Most of the time that you’re using your drill you’ll be on a ladder, on your back, or in some other awkward position so it’s important to pick a drill that you can easily maneuver. Fortunately, all four of these drills are compact, lightweight, and easy to handle with one hand.

Ryobi’s 12V drill is 7.1 inches long and weighs 3.5 pounds including the battery. Milwaukee’s M12 drill is slightly smaller at 7.4 inches long weighing only 2.5 pounds.

One of the things I like most about Milwaukee’s 12M drill is how the battery slides into the handle, unlike most drills which have bulky battery packs at the end of their handles.

Milwaukee M12 handle and battery
Milwaukee M12 handle and battery

This design not only makes the handle ultra slim, but it also reduces the weight of the drill and makes it easier to maneuver in tight spaces.

Ryobi’s 18V One+ drill is 7.1 inches long and weighs 5.2 pounds including the battery. Milwaukee’s M18 drill is 7.25 inches long and weighs only 4 pounds.

Common Complaints

The most common complaints across all four of these drills are: the battery doesn’t last long enough during use, it won’t hold a charge, and/or it won’t take a charge.

It’s no surprise that battery life is the most common complaint across both brands. If you do a quick search of any cordless power tool, the number one complaint you’ll see, regardless of brand, is about battery life.

There are many factors that impact battery life. If you’re interested in learning about how you can get the most out of your battery and avoid some of these issues, check out these tips on How to Care for Rechargeable Cordless Tool Batteries.

Besides battery life, Ryobi customers complain that the chuck becomes loose and causes drill bits to fall out during use.

Milwaukee’s second most common complaint is also related to their chuck, but instead of problems with it becoming loose, Milwaukee customers complain that the chuck on the M12 drill is misaligned and potentially warped. If you notice this on your drill, contact Milwaukee because this type of issue is covered under their generous warranty.

Speaking of warranties….

Warranty

Ryobi and Milwaukee both offer generous warranties to protect you against any defects in materials or craftsmanship.

Ryobi’s 12V and 18V One+ drills are protected by their 3-year limited warranty. Within three years from the purchase date, Ryobi will repair or replace your drill if there are defects in materials or craftsmanship. The warranty does not cover issues due to misuse, abuse, or break down from normal wear.

There’s one important detail to note about Ryobi’s warranty. You’re covered for 3 years if you use your drill for personal or household use. If you’re a professional using your drill for commercial use, it’s only covered for 90 days. Check out Ryobi’s warranty to get all the details.

Milwaukee’s M12 and M18 drills are covered under a 5-year limited warranty, however, their batteries are only covered for 2 years. Like Ryobi’s warranty, Milwaukee’s warranty protects you from defective materials and craftsmanship but doesn’t cover issues due to misuse or normal wear and tear. Check out Milwaukee’s full warranty to get all the details.

Price

One of the biggest differences between Ryobi and Milwaukee is their prices.  In general, Ryobi power tools are significantly less expensive than Milwaukee’s and their 12-volt and 18-volt drills are no exception.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Ryobi’s target market are homeowners. They offer reliable products that have the necessary features to get almost every household job done, but they lack the extras required by most professionals. Limiting their features allows Ryobi to keep their costs lower and offer prices that most households can afford.

Milwaukee’s drills are built for the heavy-duty user and come with longer-lasting batteries, more speed, and Redlink Intelligence. With Milwaukee, you get more but you have to pay more.

Below are links to check out the current prices of Ryobi’s 12V and 18V One+ drills and Milwaukee’s M12 and M18 drills on Amazon.

Bottom Line: Which Drill Should You Buy, Ryobi or Milwaukee?

Ryobi and Milwaukee both make high-performing drills that are powerful, reliable, and come with unique features. So which brand should you buy?

The decision comes down to your needs and budget.

You should first decide if you need the extra power that comes with an 18-volt drill or if 12 volts is enough.

For minor household projects like hanging pictures, blinds, and assembling furniture, 12 volts is more than enough. If you plan to use your drill for remodeling, building a deck, treehouse, carpentry, or any other major household projects, I’d strongly consider investing in an 18-volt drill.

Once you decide on the voltage, the next decision is which brand to choose. Here’s a quick recap of how their drills compare:

  • In terms of power, Ryobi and Milwaukee are exactly the same.
  • Milwaukee’s batteries have longer runtime (amp-hours), charge faster, and have a fuel gauge.
  • Milwaukee’s M12 drill comes with two batteries. Ryobi’s 12V drill only comes with one battery.
  • Milwaukee’s drills have a higher maximum RPM (more speed).
  • Ryobi gives you greater torque control with more positions on their clutch.
  • Milwaukee’s 18V drill has Redlink Intelligence technology to prevent overheating.
  • Ryobi’s 18V drill has a mounted bubble level.
  • Milwaukee’s drills are smaller and lighter than Ryobi’s.
  • Ryobi’s drills are significantly less expensive.

Milwaukee’s drills are faster, easier to handle and come with helpful features to make the job easier. If you want to get the best performing drill, Milwaukee is clearly the way to go. To read more reviews and see more details, check out Milwaukee’s drills on Amazon.

The obvious advantage of Ryobi is their price. If you’re on a budget and just need a drill to get household projects done, Ryobi is the way to go. To read more reviews and see more details, check out Ryobi’s drills on Amazon.

When I was in the market several years ago and needed a drill for projects around the house, I decided to go with Ryobi’s 12V drill. Since then I’ve used it hundreds of times and I’m yet to run into an issue. Sure, the fuel gauge and Redlink Intelligence would be nice to have, but for my purposes spending less for Ryobi made more sense. For others, the speed and extra features that you get with Milwaukee are worth it.

If your leaning towards Milwaukee, you should also consider DeWalt. DeWalt, like Milwaukee, designs their drills for professionals, offers extra features, and is priced very similarly. To learn more about how they compare, check out our recent article: Milwaukee vs. DeWalt.

Now you know all the important facts to make the best decision for yourself. I’m wishing you the best of luck. Happy drilling!

Thank You for Reading Our Comparison of Ryobi vs. Milwaukee!

Have you had a different experience with Ryobi or Milwaukee drills? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Are there any other power tool brands that you think are better than these? Please let us know in the comments section or contact us directly, we would love to hear your feedback.

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