Milwaukee Vs Hercules Hammer Drill Head-to-Head Review

If you follow Harbor Freight, you likely noticed that the newest Hercules brushless hammer drill is making some bold claims about its performance compared to Milwaukee. We decided to put the two brands up against each other in a Milwaukee vs Hercules hammer drill head-to-head review and see just how well this bargain brand can keep up with the best Team Red has to offer.

Want to see which drills we rank at the top? Check out our best cordless drill recommendations for the year!

Starting with Milwaukee, it’s the 2906 M18 Fuel Hammer Drill, the newest and 4th generation in the line. Compared to the previous model, there are upgrades in both performance and features. These upgrades earned it our top overall recommendation in our 2023 Best Cordless Drill buying guide.

For Hercules, it’s the newest 20V brushless hammer drill. As the line has continued its development, Hercules has targeted improvements in both performance and quality, gaining the attention of DIYers and value-minded Pros.

Hercules 20V Brushless Hammer Drill

Performance is certainly the biggest consideration for drills competing for professional attention, and we set up four tests for these drills to strut their stuff. However, performance isn’t everything, and we can’t ignore other characteristics of our competitors. We’ll take a look at size, weight, features, and price as well. Once you have all of those numbers in front of you, you can decide for yourself whether Milwaukee or Hercules deserves the win, and more importantly, your purchase.

Interested in impact drivers? Check out our best cordless impact driver recommendations!

Is This Really the Right Matchup?

When we first heard the Harbor Freight challenge to compare Hercules with Milwaukee, we thought they might be referencing an earlier generation. Nope. The website is clear that the comparison is Hercules’ $79.99 price tag to Milwaukee’s 2904 at $199.

We’re using the 2906 for this test. It’s the identical to the 2904 aside from the One-Key upgrade. To keep the test apples-to-apples, we left all the settings in their default configuration, ensuring that it performs exactly like the 2904.

Here’s the disclaimer about exactly what Harbor Freight means when they encourage you to compare the two:


At Harbor Freight Tools, unless otherwise specified, the “Compare Similar” or “Compare” price means that the same item or a similar functioning item was advertised for sale at or above the “Compare Similar” or “Compare” price by another retailer in the U.S. within the past 90 days. Prices advertised by others may vary by location. The comparison price may not reflect the prevailing market price or the average retail price. No other meaning of “Compare Similar” or “Compare” should be implied.”

Harbor Freight website

With that in mind, Harbor Freight isn’t claiming that Hercules beats Milwaukee in a head-to-head performance test. They’re pointing out that their “similar functioning item” is significantly lower in price than the comparison model. On our end, we want to know just how close Hercules can get to Milwaukee’s actual performance.

Milwaukee vs Hercules Hammer Drill Specifications

Before we jump into the performance tests, here’s how these two drill line up on paper.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel
Hercules 20V Brushless
Top Speeds 500/2100 RPM 550/2000 RPM
Max Torque 1400 in-lbs 1200 in-lbs
Max Hammer Rate 33,000 RPM 32,000 BPM
Head Length 6.9 in 7.2 in
Bare Weight 3.3 lbs 3.3 lbs
Weight w/Tested Battery 4.9 lbs (5.0Ah battery) 4.8 lbs (5.0Ah battery)

Milwaukee Vs Hercules Hammer Drill Test Results

To make sure the playing field is even, both tool started each test with a fully charged 5.0Ah battery.

Soft Torque

Milwaukee Vs Hercules Hammer Drill Soft Torque

To test the soft torque, we used an inline torque meter and drove a thick lag screw as far as we could into stacked OSB subfloor. This gives us an idea of how much torque each drill is able to put into wood fastening, but it’s not perfect.

Modern brushless motors sense the load and shut the motor off before it reaches its full power potential as a protection mechanism. That said, we get an objective, comparable number that’s representative of the soft torque in a demanding wood fastening application.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel
Hercules 20V Brushless
Max Measured Torque 539 in-lbs 395 in-lbs

Spade Bit

Milwaukee Vs Hercules Hammer Drill Spade Bit Test

For our medium-load test, we used a 1-inch spade bit with a self-feeding tip to drill through 4 inches of stacked and glued 1/2-inch OSB. The result is the average of three tests. Any outlier results were thrown out, and the run repeated.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel
Hercules 20V Brushless
Average Time 3.4 seconds 3.8 seconds

Self-Feed Bit

DeWalt Vs Milwaukee Hammer Drill Head-to-Head Self-Feed Bit Test

To get an idea of how these hammer drills perform under a heavy rough-in load, we used a 2 9/16-inch self-feed bit to drill through a 2×4 pine stud. We tried each drill in high speed first, and if it was unable to complete the test, dropped into low gear. The result is the average of three tests. Like before, we eliminated any outlier results and repeated the test if they occured.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel
Hercules 20V Brushless
Average Time 2.6 seconds 6.9 seconds

Concrete Bit

Concrete Bit Test

The final test was drilling through concrete. Using a 3/8-inch concrete twist bit, we drilled 3 inches deep in fully-cured 4000 PSI concrete. We took the average of three tests to get our results. Again, in the event of any outliers, we threw out the result and repeated the test.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel
Hercules 20V Brushless
Average Time 3.7 seconds 4.1 seconds

Milwaukee Vs Hercules Hammer Drill Build Quality

Full disclosure—no one on our team has a PhD in mechanical engineering, so we don’t have the knowledge to tear apart these tools and compare the quality of their components. But what we can do is share what we observed during our testing.

Milwaukee, along with other professional and Prosumer drills, completed our tests without an issue. Yes, some had to work in low gear during the self-feed bit test, and some didn’t display near the same amount of torque as the top contenders.

However, we ended up testing two different Hercules models. We had a failure with the first where it was stuck in hammer mode and the chuck was out of alignment after the soft torque test. The second intermittently slipped into hammer mode under load in our spade bit test, resulting in some retesting. So, while we can stand by the test results we got, there does seem to be a difference in quality.

Milwaukee Vs Hercules Hammer Drill Highlight Features

As the flagship drills for their respective platforms, both of these hammer drill bring the best features available from their brands. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major highlights:

Milwaukee 2906

  • Brushless motor
  • Kickback control
  • 2 speeds
  • One-Key customizable controls, tracking, inventory, and security (2906 model only)

Hercules HCB92B

Milwaukee Vs Hercules Hammer Drill Price

The last piece of the puzzle is price, and this is where these two drills are in completely different spheres. Hercules focuses on keeping the price for low for what you get. Milwaukee targets the highest performance, top features, and a high-quality build. As you shop, keep in mind that both tools includes a 5-year warranty.

You can get Milwaukee’s drill with or without One-Key, so we included both. Hercules is only sold as a bare tool, not as a kit or 2-tool combo, so we pieced together the individual components for comparison. Milwaukee 2906 does have a combo, but not a basic kit, so we pieced that together as well. Finally, Harbor Freight often runs sales, so it’s possible you can save some extra money compared to these numbers.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel
2906 (One-Key)
Milwaukee M18 Fuel
Hercules 20V Brushless
Bare Tool $249 $199 $79.99
Basic Kit $577
Hammer Drill ($249)
2 x 5.0Ah Battery ($249)
Basic Charger ($79)
2904 Hammer Drill
2 x 5.0Ah Battery
Hammer Drill ($79.99)
2 x 5.0Ah Battery ($74.99 each)
Basic Charger ($44.99)
2-Tool Combo $449
2906 Hammer Drill
2957 Impact Driver
2 x 5.0Ah battery
2904 Hammer Drill
2953 Impact Driver
2 x 5.0Ah Battery
Hammer Drill ($79.99)
HCB81B Impact Driver ($69.99)
2 x 5.0Ah Battery ($74.99 each)
Basic Charger ($44.99)
Hercules has a 1-battery (2.0Ah) kit available for the brushless impact driver for $97.99.

Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)