Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hammer Drill/Driver - Review
We've been holding on to this review for a while. We've had the new Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hammer Drill/Driver for months and months and we kept thinking we'd find its breaking point, but no such luck. We've tried hard to bust it up, wear it down, and simply burn it out. But we can't, it's a champ. A real heavyweight. Maybe the most powerful 18 volt drill we've used. There is no stopping it.
To form the guts of the tool, Milwaukee has combined the sauce of their new PowerState Brushless Motor, their Red Lithium battery, and something called RedLink Plus (the electronics system that holds it all together). So aside from being good at coming up with funky space-age names for all of their components, Milwaukee has also created a monster of a drill. It's big, it's bulky, and it's powerful.
If you're unfamiliar with brushless drills, I'll direct you to this Popular Mechanics article to get an overview (written by me of all people). If you don't have the energy to click over, here is the Cliff's Notes version: more efficient motor.
When it comes to actually working on site, I don't really care about RedStatePowerLinkLithiumRedRed. I'll just take their word for it. But whatever it is that makes this drill go, it's pretty aggressive. It's got power up the wazoo and like I said, we never found anything to really slow it down. In the course of putting down a sleeper system over a concrete slap, we used the drill to install over 100 3-1/4" tapcons through PT 2x4s. Lugging around the big corded rotary hammer is a drag once you realize you don't have to do it. This also became the go-to drill for mixing thinset and Durabond. It's like it has all of the power of corded drill.
It's big and heavy though. I'm overloaded with drills, so when it came to smaller tasks like installing door hardware or drilling small holes for a cabinet install, I left the Milwaukee in the truck. But when it came time for strength to take a front seat, this was the drill to use.
It's also really durable. I didn't do any specific durability tests, but during it's time in the field, it was knocked, dropped, tipped, and kicked. The accent paint is coming off here and there, the rubber bumpers are a little rubbed down and the body has a few scuffs, but nothing that has come even close to affecting the way the tool performs.
Other than the weight, the only drawback we could find in the tool is that the outside of the chuck has close to zero gripping power. It's made of metal and there are these vague, sorta lines etched into it, but they're barely there. So if you're tightening up on a bit with an un-gloved hand the chuck is going to lock in and there's a high chance that you'll be on the receiving end of a palm burn that you're going to feel for hours.
The tool comes with a cool dual charger that can take Milwaukee's 12-volt batteries as well the the 18s. It's a nice feature and if you haven't gotten into Milwaukee's massive 12-volt catalog, it's time to take a look.
Milwaukee has also decided (finally) to do something about their cases. The Fuel comes in a blow-molded case, but it has more open space than their standard cases which drive us completely bonkers. This time around, the charger cord doesn't have to be set perfectly into the 'cord space' for the case to close. You can toss the items in there and shut the case. Its nice at the end of the day.
So this drill is a freak. It's like Lou Ferigno in drill form, or like Jesse Ventura from Predator (early Jesse, not bizarre political Jesse). We've got a few drills on site and whenever things got ugly, this is the one that the guys would go for.
Because of the brushless technology and the electronics, this is a pricey drill. Amazon has it for about $350. It's a lot to lay down, but if you do make the purchase, you probably be pretty happy with yourself. This thing's a badass and it can take a beating.
Read More in: All Reviews | Cordless | Lithium-Ion
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at May 1, 2013 7:48 AM