High quality combo kit, but only time will tell
I finally made the switch to lith-ion after my 6-7 year-old Dewalt drill started smoking one day. I was really weighing my options between my 2 preferred brands: Makita and Milwaukee. Both a which have long track records of making professional grade power tools for decades. I ended up going with Milwaukee based on their superior performance ratings in just about every review match-up I came across. Makita has clearly used the improvements in efficiency to make their offerings more lightweight
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and compact, which is a totally valid approach, but I admit I was wooed by Milwaukee's superior power. That being said, I found the milwaukee set to feel very well balanced and comfortable to hold, something that shouldn't be underestimated. Milwaukee has gotten all the details right with this set. The drill/driver has an all metal racheting chuck, with a separate mode dial to switch from drilling and driving, this allows you to keep your preferred torque setting instead of having to turn the whole torque ring like a rotary phone to toggle between drilling and driving at a low torque number, like with dewalt models. 2 speed settings allow you to shift gearing to get higher rpms or more low-end torque, depending on your application. I have yet to really test the power of this drill. I am a furniture maker, carpenter, artist and art installer, so my usage isn't as power intensive as those in the trades. That being said, this drill is really surprisingly powerful for its compact size and relatively light weight. My old, heavy-duty dewalt xrp hammer-drill weighed a ton and put out somewhere between 400-450 in-lbs of torque, this compact drill can deliver 650! That's pretty impressive. It's really a testament to Milwaukee's depth of experience with developing lithium-ion technology in concert with their latest efforts with brushless motors, together, these deliver serious power, runtime and and tool longevity.
The impact driver is equally impressive, the lightweight and compact housing of this model might mislead you, but this is a very powerful driver. 3 speed settings on the tool essentially allow you to dial down the torque. I experienced this when installing a gate latch, I was driving screws at the highest setting and snapped the heads right off! I then switched to mode number 2 and had better results. The quick change chuck on the impact driver is very nice. With no need pull back the lock ring, you simply insert a bit and it locks. that's a really simple thing that makes such a difference when it comes to changing bits one handed. especially if you're on a ladder or holding something up with your other hand.
Both tools have an led light to shine on your work area, and thoughtfully, Milwaukee has set the lights to stay on for a full 10 seconds. In dark areas, you can lightly press the trigger to illuminate the area and then have plenty of time to grab a screw or bolt and insert it before the light goes out on you. One of my favorite features of this set is the battery gage. Far from being a filler-feature, this can make a big improvement to battery life and work flow. In the old days, with ni-cad, I would curse a blue-streak when I'd be working on a project late at night, go to grab my spare battery, which I hadn't used in months only to find it totally dead. Since ni-cad batteries can discharge over time, I developed this paranoia about running out of batteries. I would always throw my battery on the charger, "just to make sure". The practice ends up recharging batteries that are already full and eroding battery life with unnecessary charges. Now, I can just press a button and know how much charge I have left and plan accordingly.
This kit comes with a case, which is great to carry to a job site and protects your investment from drops and inclement weather. One minor criticism is that the kit comes with only one belt clip, so you'd have to swap them out if you wanted to switch between tools. A minor quibble, I know, but for just a little piece of metal, it wouldn't have killed Millwuakee to incude 2 in the set, especially since other manufacturers do.
Overall, I'd say that the power of this set is ideally suited for contractors and builders, but the compact batteries make this a bit lighter for those of us who won't really need the extra long runtime.
The combination of lithium-ion and brushless is potent mix of power, runtime, and tool longevity housed within a more compact tool. These days, all the major tool companies (Milwaukee, Makita, Dewalt, Bosch, Hitachi, Festool, Hilti, Panasonic) are making great tools that are a vast improvement of old nicad offerings. But, I believe Milwaukee is leading the pack with this technology and it seems like they have taken its 2 premium brushless tools and paired them in this set. Some other manufacturers have better performing tools that aren't available in a combo kit format, so I think the value here is significant.
I've only had this set for a few weeks, but my first impression is very good. My main interested in spending the extra dough on brushless was tied more to tool life than performance. Time will tell how this combo kit holds up, but I fully expect to get many years of use out of it.