Milwaukee 0300 20 1/2 In. Magnum Drill, 0 850 Rpm (MW030020) Reviews

Milwaukee 0300 20 1/2 In. Magnum Drill, 0 850 Rpm (MW030020)

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Not all its cracked up to be

May 6, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Lightweight for a 1/2" drill, very ergonomic grip, Milwaukee reputation

Cons:Very poor variable speed control, grease leakage, flimsy side handle

The Bottom Line: Another disappointment from Milwaukee


After owning my B&D Industrial 1/2 inch Holgun drill for 14 years, I considered purchasing one of the new generation of 1/2" pistol grip drills with all their apparent improvements. The newest generation 1/2 inch drills offer improved ergonomics with rubber grips, slimmer gearcases, and reduced weight. I compared all the professional brands and found myself leaning toward the Milwaukee 0300-20. I do own other Milwaukee tools and have always seriously considered Milwaukee when shopping for tools in the past, but have often walked away from them because of their 1960's like ergonomic design. If a tool doesn't feel good in your hands or is awkward to use, you will be less likely to use that tool as good as it otherwise may be. Their new Magnum drills are greatly improved ergonomically, and I fell in love with the feel of the Milwaukee 0300-20. This drill fit like a glove, felt as light as a 3/8", and had a powerful 8 Amp motor to boot. Advertised as the highest power to weight ratio drills around, and boasting the Milwaukee reputation for quality and durability, I was sold. I purchased the Milwaukee, and was looking forward to a long happy relationship with it, as I have shared with my old Holgun.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the grease leakage from the gearcase. The oily residue was on the side of the motor housing and all along the gearcase gasket joint and as I kept unpacking the new tool, I pulled out the instruction manual, which was saturated in the oily leakage. Ok, I’m somewhat unimpressed at this point. It’s been years since I’ve seen grease leakage like this in a new tool, with all the new high tech synthetic lubricants on the market, that don’t separate or leak, this was a disappointment in a “high end” tool. Oh well, I could clean that up. Then I pulled out the side handle and bracket. The bracket was nice, made out of Magnesium, but the side handle, which was red on all the display models, was black on mine (not a problem), and made out of a very cheap and brittle feeling plastic, not what I recall seeing in the stores or what I’m used to. As I tightened the handle, it felt like it was going to snap off. Now maybe it’s a very strong material, but it doesn’t lend itself to a feeling of high quality.
Then I went to try the drill, anticipating silky smooth transition to full speed as I slowly pulled the trigger. Nope, the drill immediately spun up to, what I estimate to be, 200-300 rpm and no slower. If I backed off, the drill turned off, this was as slow as the drill could go. The 0300-20 is a geared down (850 rpm) 1/2” drill, not a 4000 rpm 1/4” screamer, this thing should be able to go slow.
Before I ran back to exchange the unit, I thought I’d see if there was a simple problem like a sticky brush in the holder, so I removed the cover and was again disappointed by the build quality of the unit. I am quite familiar with the internals of power tools as I do routine servicing such as brush replacement and re-lubrication. While I could see a definite internal resemblance in design to Dewalt drills and screwguns, the brush holder assembly was much weaker looking, with the torsion spring wound around a tiny, thin plastic post no bigger than a pencil lead. I can’t say how this would last in service, but I’m used to much more rugged looking, metal pieces. At this point, the Milwaukee was not shining very bright, compared to my old Holgun, which is built like a tank and has awesome low speed control. Other than that, the drill did run smoothly, as I would expect, or even demand, from a Milwaukee, although my B&D Holgun seemed even a bit smoother, side by side. This may be due to the extra mass the Holgun possesses with its triple reduction gearing as opposed to the double in the Milwaukee. One additional point I noticed about the Milwaukee, is that it’s very loud when run in reverse, the motor actually howls.
I took the Milwaukee back to exchange it for another one assuming the trigger speed control was faulty and not sure about the motor howl in reverse, and I made sure to unpack and run the new one at the store first. Upon opening the new box, the grease leakage was there as well. The new one had no better low speed capability, and that motor howl was also there in reverse. I asked for my money back.
I have been buying industrial grade power tools for many, many years, and I know what I like, and what works for me. Unfortunately this Milwaukee did not make the cut.
Would I recommend the 0300-20? That depends. If you are doing rough work with auger bits and such, the unit is comfortable to hold and has adequate power. The 5 year warranty should cover any problems, should they arise, with the seemingly weak side handle or brush spring system.
For fine woodworking and metalwork, however, the low speed control is lacking, and dripping grease on fine woodwork is undesirable.
In all, the Milwaukee 0300-20 was a bit let down. There seems to be a lot of hype that a Milwaukee is the best tool you can buy. I certainly can’t agree. This is the closest I’ve come to owning a Milwaukee drill and I still feel there are better products out there.


Recommend this product? No

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