In the world of power tools, there are many great manufacturers with trusted names and reputations. Customers grow fiercely loyal and swear by a particular brand as if it were their favorite sports team. In today’s cordless tool landscape, it’s important to find a brand you trust and love before investing in their cordless systems. Once invested, you’ll likely be investing in the same system repeatedly and it’s hard to switch later on down the road.
In terms of quality, the Milwaukee brand stands above the others and their tools are all backed by a five-year warranty. If you’ve decided to go with Milwaukee, you might have noticed they have a massive selection of certain tools such as impact drivers. Don’t worry, we love these little tools and had a great time testing every Milwaukee model we could get our hands on. The following seven reviews will compile all of the information to help you decide which one is right for you.
|Best Overall||Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12||
|Best Value||Milwaukee 2462-20 M12||
|Premium Choice||Milwaukee 2753-22 M18||
|Milwaukee M18 2850-20||
|Milwaukee 2853-20 M18 Hex||
Perfectly blending a compact form factor with substantial power, the MLW2552-20 M12 impact driver earns the title of best Milwaukee impact driver overall. At just 5.1 inches long, with one of the shortest bodies of any driver we tested, this tool is the right choice for squeezing into tight spaces. Unlike many other small form power tools, this one has enough power to be useful for a variety of applications. With 1,300 inch-pounds of torque available at the pull of a trigger, this 12V tool can hang with many 18V and 20V cordless offerings from other reputable power tool brands. That said, it’s not quite as strong as the drivers from Milwaukee’s own 18V lineup. What it lacks in overall torque, it makes up for in speed. With 3,300-RPM capabilities, this little tool gets the job done fast. Screws and bolts are no problem for this device. Altogether, we enjoyed using this impact driver and think it’s the most well-rounded and complete offering from Milwaukee. It’s not one of their cheaper options though, so keep that in mind.
Still in the 12V lineup but on the much more affordable side of things, the 2462-20 is our pick for best Milwaukee impact driver for the money. It’s a bit taller than the model that earned our top recommendation but other than that, they’re very similarly sized. With 1,000 inch-pounds max torque, this is the less capable of the two, although it’s certainly no slouch. That’s enough torque for a majority of work at home, but you may wish for more if using this impact driver in a professional setting.
At 1.37 pounds without the battery, this model is lighter than its more expensive counterpart, though it doesn’t feel quite as robust. At about half the price, we knew sacrifices were coming somewhere. Aside from the lower torque level, this tool also has a much lower top speed, maxing out at 2,500 RPMs. While not as impressive as the MLW2553-20 in our first position, this is still plenty of speed to make quick work of any screws and bolts.
Our premium choice pick comes from the more heavy-duty M18 lineup. The Milwaukee 2753-22 M18 fuel impact driver kit is a very stout and powerful driver that is ready for anything you throw at it. With 1,800 inch-pounds of torque behind the trigger, no bolt or nut will stand in this machine’s way, no matter how corroded. The brushless motor helps achieve a great power to weight ratio, though this is still a much heavier model than either of the M12s that we’ve reviewed so far. Battery efficiency with this model is also top-notch, thanks again to the brushless motor.
For maximum control, four speed selections are available. The variable trigger lets you have precise control within the speed you selected. Of course, all of the power comes at the cost of portability. This is a much bigger impact driver than its smaller siblings in the M12 lineup. It’s also more than twice as heavy, so bear in mind that you’re going to feel it over several hours of work. The functionality provided by this tool comes at a cost, so be prepared to shell out a bit extra for the high-end features and performance.
Coming in at a much more affordable price point, the Milwaukee M18 2850-20 doesn’t sacrifice a whole lot. It is a bit less powerful, tapping out at a maximum 1,600 inch-pounds of torque, which is still very respectable. The top speed of 3,200 RPMs is something we thought was pretty standout. For this price, the brushless motor is a great value and helps to ensure this tool sees a very long and reliable service life.
This particular model has some trigger control issues. We never seemed to get the kind of precision from this trigger that we’d like. There also seems to be an inability to work in the low torque ranges. Trying to feather the trigger to start slowly and gradually ramp up speed is a no-go with this impact driver. We prefer to gradually get up to speed for the sake of saving bits and screw heads, but it’s not a possibility with this gun.
This is one of the most compact and most powerful models we tested. The 1,800 inch-pounds of torque puts it on par with our premium choice pick. The very compact 4.59-inch overall length is shorter than the M12 models we tested. Both of these are very impressive, and they’re made possible by the brushless motor behind the trigger. At this price, we think this is a great value. It is one of the more expensive models, but it’s not near the top of the price range.
We really wanted to love the Milwaukee 2853-20 M18 hex impact driver, but there was one glaring problem that we couldn’t escape. The chuck on this model consistently seems to go bad around the 2-3-month mark. After this point, it simply stops holding onto bits. This is an awful problem that renders the tool nearly useless. If this oversight were to be fixed, the Milwaukee 2853-20 would certainly be a contender for one of our top recommendations.
Thankfully priced on the affordable end of the spectrum, the 2656-20 impact driver from Milwaukee’s M18 lineup is not one of their best efforts. We experienced some flaws with this particular tool that are usually not present with Milwaukee tools. First, this is a very low power tool for the lineup. At just 1,500 inch-pounds, it’s barely more powerful than the impact drivers in the M12 lineup. This would be excusable if it weren’t for the terrible quality control on this model.
On ours, the forward/reverse selector didn’t work at first and we had to return it. The next one started making an awful noise after just a couple of days. Either we got two bad units in a row or there’s a problem with quality control. Though it’s affordable, we suggest steering clear of this model and instead opting for a more proven winner such as one of our top three recommendations instead.
We noticed the heavy weight of the Milwaukee 2753-20 M18 hex impact driver from the moment we picked it up. At 2.6 pounds without the battery, it’s a weighty behemoth. Not a good start, though the power rating seemed to be a redeeming trait. With 1,800 inch-pounds of torque, this is one of the strongest of any of Milwaukee’s impact drivers. However, it’s very expensive, so you’re definitely paying for that power. Especially when you consider the poor longevity. In our testing, we experienced multiple problems within just a few weeks. The trigger fell apart at one point and began to leak. Right now, we don’t recommend this impact driver since other Milwaukee drivers can do better.
When testing all of the impact drivers for our reviews, we were comparing many different features and functions. If you don’t know which features and traits to compare though, you’re pretty much flying blind. That’s why we’ve written this buyer’s guide. It’s going to help you get a good basis and make sure that you’re properly informed when choosing which Milwaukee impact driver to purchase.
When using your impact driver for hours at a time, you’re going to start to feel the strain on your muscles if it’s too heavy. Moreover, you’ll often find yourself needing to squeeze your driver into very tight spaces. Larger sized tools may not be able to maneuver into these tight spaces at all. For these reasons, it’s pertinent to look for the lightest and most compact tool that has enough power to suit your needs. For Milwaukee, the 12V lineup contains the smaller tools, though they’re also less powerful.
At the end of the day, the most important trait for your impact driver to possess is enough strength to tighten or loosen whatever nuts, bolts, screws, and more that you throw at it. If your tool can’t do the function it’s designed for, then it’s not much use. Luckily, each impact driver will have a torque rating that lets you know its maximum power output. We suggest sticking to a minimum of 1,000 inch-pounds of torque. This number seems to be the baseline we’ve found for achieving a majority of uses that you’ll be putting an impact driver through. Much below this threshold and you’ll probably be disappointed in the weak abilities of your new tool. Of course, more is usually better with power, so if you need the strongest tools for the toughest jobs, look at the M18 lineup which offers impact drivers with up to 1,800 inch-pounds of torque.
Milwaukee sells two main lines of their cordless power tools. The M18 line features their 18V battery for the most powerful tools, and the M12 line features the 12V batteries for more compact tools. Just because the M12 tools are compact doesn’t mean they’re weak though. The strongest impact drivers from the M12 lineup are more powerful than 18V and 20V offerings from some of Milwaukee’s biggest competitors. If you want the smallest, lightest, most manageable tools while still getting solid performance and power, we suggest looking at the M12 lineup. If you can deal with a larger and heavier tool, then we’d recommend you take a look at tools from the M18 lineup since they have much more power than their smaller cousins in the M12.
Even within each lineup, the prices from model to model can vary significantly. Two different impact drivers from the M18 lineup can still have prices that are quite far apart. Some of the features that justify the price difference may be very important, such as a higher torque rating or higher speed capabilities. On the other hand, some of these may be more frivolous and you may be willing to sacrifice them for the lower price.
Milwaukee makes a lot of great impact drivers and we enjoyed testing each of them and putting them through their paces. After all was said and done, we agreed on a few winners that we’re confident will give you the best bang for your buck and become a valued member of your tool collection. We covered everything in-depth in our reviews, but let’s just recap briefly. Our choice for best overall was the Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12 impact driver. We felt it provided the best compromise of a light and compact form with powerful operation. To that tune, it produced 1,300 inch-pounds of torque with a top speed of 3,300 RPMs at a weight of just 1.65 pounds.
For the budget-minded consumer, the Milwaukee 2462-20 is our pick for best value. Still in the M12 family, this model is small and light like our top choice, but it’s available at half the price. The torque is just a bit reduced, but so is the weight. Finally, our premium choice was the 2753-22 M18 Fuel impact driver kit. This full-sized impact driver features a brushless motor capable of pushing an impressive 1,800 inch-pounds of torque.
Featured Image Credit By: Milwaukee 2462-20 M12, amazon
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!