Milwaukee Tool is the first to invest the time and resources needed to bring 12V brushless tools to the market. The idea being if they could get enough power into these small tools they could actual compete with and outperform many of the compact 18V tools already out there. The Milwaukee M12 platform also allows for the most compact size, has a very competitive price point, and is a platform that continues to develop more professional tools. In this test we really wanted to see how far we could push the limits of these small tools and if they could really handle some of the 18V tool jobs.
Can Milwaukee M12 Fuel Compete with Compact 18V Tools?
Milwaukee’s previous strategy along with the current strategy of Dewalt, Makita, Bosch and others has been to create 3 different sizes of drilling tools to address customers’ needs. First a large 18V heavy duty tool with the most power possible, then a compact 18V with lower price point, less torque but that will maximize runtime. Finally a sub-compact 12V tool that addresses the desire for a more compact size with an even lower price point but less emphasis on power. With the Milwaukee M12 Fuel launch Milwaukee is really looking to take the 3 tool option down to just 2 options with the M12 tools doing many of the jobs we have commonly thought as needing at least a compact 18V drill to do. With this in mind we wanted to really do some tough testing with these tools so we went with the 1” spade bits through wood and ½” holes into concrete, both tests we would have never tried with a 12V tools before now. Of course Milwaukee also has their heavy duty M18 Fuel Drills for all the mid-high torque applications, making them the first to get a full brushless offering on the table.
Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill – 1” Spade Bit
Typically you would use a drill for making holes and impact drivers for driving fasteners however the higher torque rating and lack of twist on the handle make impact tools good for drilling larger rough holes as well. We have been curious for sometime if given 2 very similar tasks which would be more “energy efficient”, our thought was that the impact action might use more energy so we took this opportunity to test it out. As it turns out these two tools were very similar in performance with the Hammer Drill 2404-22 ($189) at 55 holes and the Impact Driver 2453-22 ($169) at 53 holes. It does appear the impact driver is slightly less efficient however with no torque twisting on the handle we would probably grab the impact if we had to do this again. Impacts are obviously not the best option for fine precision drilling but for rough hole drilling they can really do very good.
The M12 impact driver produces a very impressive 1,200 in lbs torque with 2 speed settings to allow for low torque fastening applications. The multiple speed setting option has only been available on the premium 18V tools up until now and at a much higher price point. The 18V impact drivers are rated between 1,420 – 1,600 in lbs so while this tool does have enough power behind it to drill 1” spade bits with ease, it will not replace your 18V if you do have higher torque needs.
½” Holes in Concrete with M12 Hammer Drill
We really wanted to push the limits of this drill and what better way than the same test we compared all the Full Size 18V Hammer Drills last May? We used the same carbide hammer bits in the same slab of concrete, so if anything the concrete just got harder. This would of course never be the tool we would recommend for drilling 26 x ½” holes (1.5″-2″ depth) in a row but our thought is the small drill needs to prove it is capable of doing this type of work if needed. Good news is with its small but powerful 350 in lbs motor it can do it! Partnered with the M12 4.0Ah battery it even outlasted some of the 18V tools using 3.0Ah batteries, probably wouldn’t have beaten any in a speed contests but certainly could still get the job done.
FREE Battery Promo April & May 2013
For the next month or while supplies last you can get a FREE M12 Battery, either 2.0Ah 48-11-2420 ($59) or 4.0Ah 48-11-2440 ($79) depending on model, instantly with purchase of any FUEL tool. Check out the Milwaukee M12 Tool page and click on each model for more details on which battery comes with which tool. Good on many of the other M12 tools as well not just the FUEL.
Overall Milwaukee M12 FUEL Tools
It’s our thought Milwaukee has really hit a home run with these compact tools. The cost/performance of these tools is excellent and stacks up well head to head with many of the compact 18V tools. We really like that they included one 2.0Ah and one 4.0Ah batteries with the drills to provide the most versatility in size and performance. Our thought here is Milwaukee’s biggest hurdle will be convincing folks these little drills have as much performance as we’ve seen in our testing.