Who Makes the Best Tools

We’ve been surveying our audience to see who makes the best tools. The answer, of course, is it depends. The best stud finder is likely made by a different brand than the best cordless drill. You can break it down into trades, tool classes, power sources and so much more. Despite the complexity, we wanted to know what the general perceptions are out there. So, here’s how our audience answers the question, “Who Makes the Best Tools?”

If you think these results are highly subjective, you’re right. There were folks that offered some suspect votes and there’s clearly brand loyalty as well. So, take it with a grain of salt, but it was a lot of fun for us to see what you guys and gals think!

Before we jump in, we gathered a few interesting statistics as we analyzed the data. For starters, the following brands had at least one vote in every category:

There was a total of 75 different brands that received at least one vote.

33 brands received just one vote in one category.

Best Hand Tools was the category with the highest number of brands represented (29).

Milwaukee had the highest percentage of all votes cast across all categories (26.6%). DeWalt was the next closest at 10.8%.

Milwaukee Tool

There were no surprises in the category for best tools overall, with the Big 3 brands taking the top three spots. Milwaukee finished with a dominating lead over every other brand, earning 41% of the vote. DeWalt was a distant second at 21% with Makita trailing farther behind at 9%. Here are how the votes in the comments shook out:

Festool (6), Klein (5), Flex (4), Metabo HPT (4), Knipex (3), Bosch (2), Ryobi (2), Gearwrench (1), Grizzly (1), Hilti (1), Metabo (1), Skil (1), Snap-On (1)

Note: the number in parenthesis is the total number of votes for that brand.

It’s no surprise to see Milwaukee in the lead, though the gap between it and DeWalt is larger than we expected. If the comments on our Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channels are any indication, the reality is that they’re much closer competitors.

Milwaukee Tool

milwaukee m18 fuel 18-gauge brad nailer 2746-21ct

Asking specifically about cordless tools, Milwaukee once again took home the top position with 46% of the votes cast. DeWalt lost a little ground from the previous category with 19% of the vote, while Makita gained some ground at 14%. Flex also made an appearance, earning 7% of the total votes. Here’s how the rest stacked up:

Bosch (3), Ridgid (3), Festool (2), Hilti (2), Ryobi (2), Bauer (1), Metabo HPT (1), Skil (1)

Statistically, we weren’t surprised to see Milwaukee have a dominant lead as the best cordless tool brand after the results of the first category. Nor were we surprised that DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee continued to hold the top three spots. A lot of it has a lot to do with the incredible breadth of cordless tools each brand offers. One thing that set Milwaukee apart from the other two is its focus on trade-specific tools in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP). You’ll find Milwaukee tools designed to provide a solution that its closest competitors don’t offer.

However, note that Flex is gaining momentum. Based on our testing, they make quality Pro-focused cordless tools. Plus, that lifetime warranty adds a ton of value if you’re looking to jump into a new system.

Ingersoll Rand

Ingersoll Rand 5151-6-HL Orbital Sander

Turning to air power, Ingersoll Rand takes home the prize with 23% of the votes to earn the best pneumatic tools title. Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) earned 19% of the votes and DeWalt pulled in 9%. As for the rest of the field, it’s spread out.

Bostitch (4), Ridgid (4), Harbor Freight (3), Snap-On (3), Paslode (2), Porter Cable (2), Senco (2), 3M (1), Astro (1), Chicago Pneumatic (1), Desoutter (1), Everwin (1), Festool. (1), Hilti (1) Makita (1), Matco (1), Milwaukee (1), Nuair (1)

Ingersoll Rand is no surprise in the lead for pneumatics with an outstanding range of automotive and metalworking air tools. Metabo HPT is clearly still doing well after the rebranding from Hitachi and its well-deserved reputation for quality nailers.

This is always an interesting category to analyze once the results are in because of how many different brands compete in the space. Not only that, but there are so many different areas of focus considering mechanics, fabricators, and contractors among others. That said, there are few suspect votes here and we’ll leave you to chew on the validity of some of them.

Knipex

Knipex TwinGrip Pliers Flat Material | Who Makes the Best Hand Tools

The general hand tool category is huge and includes every single trade. Knipex took the win, pulling in 20% of the votes. Milwaukee performed well with 14% of the votes while Klein was right on its heels at 13%. Snap-On and Wera each picked up 5%. From there, we had a heck of a lot of other brands represented.

Craftsman (4), Gearwrench (4), Proto (4), Mac Tools (3), Crescent (2), Channellock (2), Irwin (2), Stanley (2), Stiletto (2), Tekton (2), DeWalt (1), Estwing (1), Facom (1), Festool (1), Goodyear (1), Hazet (1), Husky (1), Lee Valley (1), Makita (1), SK Hand Tools (1), Stahlwille (1), Wiha (1)

This year’s vote was quite a bit closer than last year’s. We know Knipex makes great hand tools and Klein did well as we expected with its massive popularity among electricians. After a lackluster year in the best hand tools category last year, Milwaukee responded by leaping into the second position. The surprise for us was the sheer number of brands that showed up, with the automotive brands making a strong showing as well as a couple of value brands and several well-known names.

Who Makes the Best Concrete Tools?

Bosch

Bosch GBH18V-28DC Rotary Hammer with Dust Collector

The concrete industry is massive and this year, Bosch came away with the highest percentage of votes, earning a solid 25% of them. Milwaukee came in second with 20% and Hilti was right behind at 19%. DeWalt and Marshalltown each had a respectable showing at 8%. Here’s what the rest of the votes looked like:

Makita (4), Kraft (2), Festool (1), Anvil (1), Goldblatt (1), Hercules (1), Level 5 (1), Skil (1), Stihl (1), Sutton (1), USG (1)

Bosch makes some excellent concrete tools, competing well in the rotary hammer space. We really like their dust extractors, too. However, it was a bit of a surprise to Milwaukee edge out Hilti this year, especially considering Milwaukee earned just one vote in the best concrete tools category last year. Still, when it comes to concrete and masonry, these are three powerhouse brands.

Klein Tools

Who Makes the Best Electrical Tools

Looking specifically at tools designed for electricians, Klein put a big gap on the field with 54% of the votes. Milwaukee was solidly in second with 24% while Knipex made a good showing with 8%.

DeWalt (3), Greenlee (2), Makita (2), Wiha (2), Festool (1), Flex (1), Fluke (1), Hilti (1),

We don’t think anyone who knows the electrical industry will be shocked to see Klein at the top of this vote. After all, they’ve been making electrical tools since 1857. Milwaukee is clearly gaining ground with an impressive range of cordless electrical tools such as its compact cordless threader and dieless crimper to go with its range of other cordless hydraulic and hand tools. With Knipex being solid in the hand tools category, it’s no surprise to see them with a relevant presence in the electrical trade.

What’s interesting is that these are the same three brands in the same order as last year’s results. The percentages are a bit different, but the ranking is unchanged.

Milwaukee Tool

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Pipe Threader | Who Makes the best Plumbing Tools

Two plumbing powerhouse brands dominated the voting for the best plumbing tools this year: Milwaukee and Ridgid. Milwaukee took the win with 41% of the vote. Ridgid wasn’t too far behind, earning 38%. DeWalt was a distant third with 6% of the votes.

Makita (3), Klein (2), Lenox (2), Bosch (1), Festool (1), Flex (1), Harbor Freight (1), Hilti (1), Jet (1),

With such a dominant performance, it’s pretty clear that Milwaukee and Ridgid enjoy the highest reputation in the plumbing industry. Milwaukee’s presence is primarily due to cordless tools with PEX expanders, cordless threaders, plus an increasing range of hand tools and outstanding core tools to cover your needs across the board. Ridgid, of course, is well-known for its plumbing hand tools along with chain vices and many of the heavy-duty pipe threaders, chain vises, inspection systems, and other rugged tools plumbers depend on.


Snap-On

Things were a bit heated in the best mechanics tools poll with Snap-On taking the win with 31% of the votes. Milwaukee put some pressure on with a solid second-place effort that earned them 27%—a huge jump from last year. Gearwrench rounded out the top three spots with 10%.

DeWalt (5), Mac Tools (5), Craftsman (3), Proto (3), Bosch (2), Hazet (2), Makita (2), Tekton (2), Carlyle (1), Flex (1), Ko-ken (1), Sidechrome (1)

Snap-On enjoys a positive reputation as the most popular tool truck brand, making its stops at shops around the country. Being number one makes you a target, and Snap-On is clearly feeling the heat from Milwaukee. Milwaukee’s bigger push into the automotive industry is clearly showing, considering last year, it earned about 1% of the votes. Gearwrench made a nice improvement as well, moving into the top three for the first time with its excellent line of hand tools that are priced well under the tool truck brands.

Festool

Festool Domino Connector Range

Exactly zero of us at Pro Tool Reviews thought that Festool would be anywhere but the top in the best woodworking tools category. That’s where it finished with 26% of the votes. However, the Big 3 are pushing further into the space. DeWalt earned 19% while Makita and Milwaukee each took 12%. Lurking a little way behind, Bosch held onto 6% of the votes.

Ridgid (3), Stanley (3), Fein (2), Flex (2), Kreg (2), Powermatic (2), Delta (1), Felder (1), Freud (1), Grizzly (1), Jet (1), Lie Nielsen (1), Metabo HPT (1), Ryobi (1), Skil (1), Woodpecker (1)

If price is no object, Festool is what most serious woodworkers want to use. From the fantastic ergonomics of its sanders to the legendary Kapex miter saw, innovative Domino, and purpose-built CT dust extractors, it’s a brand hyper-focused on high quality. If your budget isn’t that high, look to the Big 3 for quality options, including many cordless woodworking tools. Don’t discount Bosch, though. Its woodworking line is solid, with some of the best miter saws and best wood routers in the game.

Final Thoughts

It’s no surprise to see the top Pro brands voted on frequently. And while this isn’t an objective test to quantify who makes the best tools, it certainly gives us a great idea of what the perception in the market is.

As you can understand, even within the Pro Tool Reviews office there’s plenty of dissension in the ranks. Each of our Pros in their various trades has their favorite and go-to tools that they’d never leave behind. And their answers to these questions are just as varied as yours.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to vote in this survey!

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