Powerful, long run time, solid Milwaukee quality
There are a few brands I am biased to, and Milwaukee is one of them. I've never had a Milwaukee tool fail me in the 2 decades or so since I got my first one, and I've rarely found anything to complain about in their build quality. This drill/driver falls nicely within my expectations: I like it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. It comes with a 5 year warranty on the tool. All that said, however, all tool choices involve some trade offs (like size & weight), so read on to see if this is the
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tool for you.
If you are looking at this drill, the one thing I would suggest you also seriously look at is the hammer drill/driver version of this. As of this writing, the hammer-drill version costs $20 more than this drill/driver, is about 1/4" longer at the chuck, and weighs 1.2 oz more (3 lbs. 7 oz. for this tool without battery vs. 3 lbs. 8.2 oz. for the hammer drill/driver). So unless the slight size/weight/cost differences are important to you, if you think you will ever need a hammer-drill, I'd consider the hammer drill/driver version.
Let's start with some key features of the drill itself. Milwaukee advertises this to have more torque, have a faster drilling speed, and be more compact that their competitors. Compared to other brands of 18V Li-ion tools I have used, this seems to be true. For example, the speeds of this drill are 0-550 RPM (low) and 0-2000 RPM high, compared with 0-400 and 0-1500 on a different brand 1/2 drill I own.
A couple of other nice design features stood out to me:
1) Changing between drilling and driving screws is on a separate ring from the torque. Thus if you need to change from drilling to driving a low-torque screw, that change is just one click of a ring. On other tools I have used where these are on the same ring, you'd have to spin a ring nearly 360 degrees through 20+ clicks to achieve this.
2) There are no vent holes on the back of the drill. This is significant because I usually push on that spot when driving large screws. On other drills that have vents there, this compromises the cooling, which ultimately can impact tool life. With this drill I don't have to worry about that.
In actual use with driving screws, I have found this drill very easy to control precisely for slow or fast driving. I also appreciate that the built-in LED light stays on for 10 seconds after you release the lever (unlike some tool where the light is only on while operating). My only small negative with this drill is that the forward/off/back direction button is slightly farther back than on my other tools, which makes it hard to push on with my index finger while holding the tool. This does make it harder to accidentally turn it on, but I have noticed this extra difficulty multiple times when using the tool without a second hand free.
This drill does come with a support arm that can be attached for extra support when doing high-torque drilling or driving, and it easily attaches with a nice clamp (although in one of my few knocks on this drill, the instructions didn't say how to attach this, and it took me a little while to figure out how it works).
All the power and run time of this drill does come at a cost. Compared with my other 18V Li-ion drill, this one is noticeably louder (I think something in the gears). Outdoors I don't notice the noise, but when used in a small bathroom I was quite aware that it is louder. This drill also is not light: on my scale it tips in at 3 lb 7 oz for the bare drill, and that jumps to 5 lb 1 oz with a battery. For comparison, my other 18V Li-ion drill comes in at 2 lb 14 oz for the bare tool, and 3 lb 15 oz with the battery (which is only 27 Wh). If you've ever worked over your head or in awkward places, you know how tiring a heavy tool can get. So as much as I love this drill, I do find that for tasks that don't require its power, I end up going to my smaller and lighter M12 tools (which are adequate for most of my small jobs).
So in summary, I really like this tool, I think it's really well built, and the only reasons I'd suggest looking elsewhere is if a lighter-weight tool without this size and power would fit your needs better (like Milwaukee's M12 line of tools), or look at the hammer drill/driver version if you think you'll ever want hammer capability.
Seeds Program Review
Another quality Milwaukee tool
Milwaukee says that this M18 FUEL Drill / Driver is the Most Powerful 18-Volt cordless drill on the market. At only 7 1/2 in. in length, it is the Most Compact drill in its class. I have no reason to doubt this claim. You need only to pickup this tool to feel the quality.
I own a few 18 volt battery operated drills from various manufacturers and this one, with the XC 4.0 Ah battery I supplied, is superior in all regards. As one would expect from a tool of this quality it has a variable speed
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trigger, a built-in LED work light, a removable side handle which is reversible right or left, a belt clip, a bit holder, two speed settings and an all-metal ratcheting locking adjustable clutch. The brushless motor delivers up to 1200 in. lbs. of peak torque and up to 2000 RPM.
My drill arrived completely assembled except for the side handle. The instructions say to, "Loosen the side handle grip until the hooks are far enough apart to fit into the slots on the gear case ring." I struggled with this for 10 minutes and couldn't get any part of the handle to budge. Finally, out of desperation, I locked it in a vise and twisted. I was either going to break it or get it to open. It opened. These parts must be machine tightened.
This fairly heavy 1/2 in. drill / driver is best suited for mid-sized jobs. I use small 12 volt drill / drivers for light-duty work and I have the Milwaukee Hole Hawg for heavy-duty work. The only real complaints you'll find online about battery operated tools in general have to do with poor battery performance. I won't buy anything that comes with NiCad batteries anymore, lithium-ion is the only way to go, they are far superior. I think the biggest problem is that users are treating their lithium-ion batteries as they were taught to care for their NiCad batteries. They're two different animals and need to be cared for differently. I found the following use and care tips on the Internet.
1: Keep your batteries at room temperature. That means between 68 and 77 degrees F. The worst thing that can happen to a lithium-ion battery is to have a full charge and be subjected to elevated temperatures. So don't leave your battery in your car if it's hot out. Heat is by far the largest factor when it comes to reducing lithium-ion battery life.
2: Avoid charging a hot battery. Whether from heavy usage or hot storage it's best to allow the battery to cool down before attempting to charge it. I normally try to cycle three batteries during the work day. One in the tool, one cooling down and one on the charger.
3: Allow partial discharges and avoid full ones (usually). We were taught to run our NiCads all the way down before giving them a full charge. With lithium-ions it's better to recharge before the battery is exhausted and partial charges are no problem since these don't have a memory.
4: Avoid completely discharging lithium-ion batteries. It's time to cool down and then recharge them when you detect the battery is providing less than optimal performance.
5: For extended storage, discharge a lithium-ion battery to about 40 - 50 percent and store it in a cool place. Storing a battery in the discharged state can push it to the point where it won't recharge, and storing a battery fully charged can shorten its life.
I have many lithium-ion powered tools and other devices and as of yet I haven't been disappointed with battery performance. I attribute this to proper care.
Milwaukee includes a 5 year limited warranty to the original purchaser. I own a number of Milwaukee tools and I couldn't be happier with their performance and durability.
Seeds Program Review
Very Powerful Drill/Driver and Compact Size
Milwaukee is a leader in the cordless power tool industry and is constantly coming up with new and innovative products. Such is the case with the introduction of the 2nd generation of brushless tools. The new Milwaukee M18 Fuel Drill/Driver (2703-20) offers more power, lighter weight and a more compact size than the previous model. After using the Milwaukee Fuel Drill/Drive for several weeks, I am very impressed with its performance.
The new Milwaukee Fuel, M18 Drill/Driver is an 18 Volt tool
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and delivers a whopping 1,200 inch-lbs. of torque, which is the highest in the industry. It weighs only 3.3 lbs., and has a chuck to back length of only 7.5 inches. The previous model provided 725 inch-lbs torque, weighed 4 lbs. and a length of 8.5 inches. The ergonomics of the drill are superb and it has the feel of a compact tool when combined with the 2.0 amp-hour batteries. It has a separate dial for setting the two modes of operation (driver and drill), along with a 2-speed transmission. It also comes with a side handle for better control.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel (2703-20) Drill/Driver is the most powerful 18 Volt drill in the industry, and its compact size and weight makes it that much better. Highly recommended!!
Seeds Program Review