Brushless 18V Grinders – Makita vs Milwaukee

Cordless grinders used to be a novelty: fun, but not particularly useful. They were underpowered and didn’t last long enough to get any real work done. Well the brushless grinders from Milwaukee and now Makita, combined with high capacity batteries, are a game-changer

We didn’t test runtime, so we can’t tell you which one lasts longer. But we can tell you about their power, comfort and features.

Some specs:

Makita DGA504                         – 2.5kgs, 8500RPM, 5″ M14

Milwaukee M18 CAG125XPD  – 2.4kgs, 8500RPM, 5″ M14

THE most important feature of a cordless grinder is power. We’re pleased to report that both of these units have it in spades. We had to really lean on the units very hard to get them to stall with a 5″ flap disc. Having said that, the older Milwaukee is a little harder to stop, so it wins the power category by a whisker.

They are also both super comfortable. The Makita gets points for having a nice slim handle large enough for your whole hand, but then loses them again, because that handle is a long way from the business end. What this means in reality is that you’ll reach for the side-handle more on the Makita, but I call it a draw.

The main other item of note are the paddle vs switch. The Makita comes in a switch or paddle version, as does the Milwaukee. BUT Milwaukee has only made the paddle version available in Australia, not the switch. Although the paddle versions have obvious safety benefits, we just prefer a switch. A paddle version is fine for grinding & polishing (horizontal disc), but not great for cutting (vertical disc).

Otherwise, they are both well-built, have tool-free guards and look great. Actually the Milwaukee may just be the sexiest tool in existence.

Who wins? Not Australia. We judge the Makita to be the winner because of its switch. If Milwaukee’s switch version was available, it would be our winner.


  1. glenn says

    We have a Ryobi 18v grinder and while its a decent thing, we also have the brushed Milwaukee (HD18AG125-0) and its a powerhouse. I would rate it better than some mains powered grinders I have used

    An odd fact though, it spins at 10,000rpm, 1500 rpm higher than the previous brushed version and 1500 rpm higher these brushless models.

    These two must be awesome. Personally , I don’t think run time is really an issue with cordless grinders, by the very fact that they are a high current draw tool and are battery powered, you simply have to accept that for high usage they flatten batteries fairly quickly. With this in mind and having a few batteries, I very rarely use my 240v grinder any more.

    Although I prefer the safety switch setup on the Ryobi, after a little use I have found the paddle/lock out setup on the Milwaukee comfortable and ergonomically natural to use in any position, even cutting downwards.

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