I just got back from Milwaukee’s 2017 new product media event, NPS17, and it was amazing. They have lots of exciting new tools and accessories coming out in the next few months, and we’re very excited about many of them.
There’s a lot of information to digest, but there are several standouts that I just couldn’t wait to talk about.
Milwaukee Packout Modular Tool Box System
By far, the most talked about new “tool” at NPS17 was the new Packout modular tool box system. In the first few minutes of seeing it, I was at a loss of words. I had all but given up on seeing something like this from the red team.
This is something that has been asked of Milwaukee very many times in the past few years.
Let me just say this – it will not disappoint.
Milwaukee Packout looks to be versatile, strong, durable, flexible, and in all respects very well designed.
It was simply amazing. And what we saw was just the tip of the iceberg.
One person I spoke to later in the evening said that “Dewalt will need to go back to the drawing board.” No. I didn’t get that sense at all.
Milwaukee and their storage product team has come out with something truly spectacular. But there’s nothing wrong with Dewalt’s ToughSystem tool box system, from what I can see. I own many, many Dewalt boxes, and they’ve been excellent.
Yes, Dewalt’s ToughSystem products are shown to be fragile, when a cinder block is dropped on top of it. Nothing is indestructible. Let me tell you – it takes a lot to break a Dewalt ToughSystem tool box.
Milwaukee Packout tool boxes are better in a lot of ways. A LOT. There’s a ton of thought put into it, but isn’t the reason obvious? They’ve had a lot of time to think about what they want to offer in a modular tool box lineup, and now they’ve made it happen.
The one big downside I see, for some if not many users, is that Milwaukee Packout products are higher priced than I would expect. You get a LOT for your money, and I’m sure any profit will be funneled back into Packout development.
The 3-piece combo shown above? It will launch at $280.
The new Milwaukee Packout tool storage system – and I say tool storage system here as there are tool bags as well – is the BEST tool storage system on the market. Milwaukee’s product team is already working on the next Packout products.
M12 Fuel Brushless Ratchets
While I don’t have strong personal needs for a cordless ratchet, or at least a very powerful brushless-motored model, I know that a lot of automotive mechanics, techs, and enthusiasts have been clamoring for them. Some of you have been asking for these tools for a long time.
Good news – Milwaukee heard your cries, and came out with 3 new M12 Fuel brushless ratchets, in 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ drive sizes.
The goal was for the cordless ratchets to be able to tackle all of the same applications as a market-leading air ratchet, and at comparable performance level.
In my short tests, I can tell you – I think they’ve met that goal.
The new M12 Fuel ratchets have all-new motors, specially designed for these tools. The 1/4” and 3/8” ratchets share a similar motor, and the 1/2” has a beefier motor.
The 1/2” ratchet runs a little slower, with respect to no-load RPMs, than the smaller models, in order to achieve the target of 60 ft-lbs peak torque.
They could have used the same motor in all 3 tools, but then the 1/2” ratchet would be compromised in regard to speed or torque. I don’t remember the exact speed specs, I’ll have to check my notes, but I had the impression that it is a very minor tradeoff for far greater benefits.
Here’s a photo of the lineup, from our Instagram feed:
New Screwdrivers with Upgraded Features & Handle Grips
I think Milwaukee’s current generation of screwdrivers are good. They’re functional, they’re pretty durable, and they satisfy Milwaukee’s motto of being “Heavy Duty.”
But I don’t personally like them very much. I’ll use them if they’re the only screwdrivers around and I want to avoid a trip into the house. Their multi-bit drivers are also priced well enough to ignore some ergonomic dislikes, especially when holiday promos come around.
These new screwdrivers are great. I can’t comment on the durability, but the handles are a lot nicer. The tri-lobular grips on the basic screwdrivers are amazing at first feel. I hate calling them “basic,” but they’re more basic compared to the others being released.
There are several different lines of new screwdrivers, and none of them are “one style fits all.”
I would describe there being a new “everyday” line of screwdrivers, a new line of “heavy duty” screwdrivers, and then there are some new demolition screwdrivers.
Milwaukee also managed to come out with an appealing-looking 11-in-1 multi-bit screwdriver, and and a more extreme demolition screwdriver that is highly functional and seemingly capable of lots of abuse.
The one thing I would have liked to see added to the line are some hollow-ground slotted screwdrivers. *Raise your hands* in the comment section if you want to see the same. Here’s a bit of good news – the Milwaukee product manager was taking notes when we mentioned this.
M12 Fuel 2nd Generation Brushless Impact Driver
While it might seem like more of an “iteration” than an “innovation,” Milwaukee’s cordless team worked wonders to come out with a new smaller M12 Fuel brushless drill, and a more compact and more featured impact driver.
I demoed the impact driver, and it had a great feel to it, sinking lag screws with ease.
As mentioned in my Milwaukee NPS17 predictions post, I thought refreshed M12 Fuel brushless drills and impact tools were coming. The first generation of tools were great, and are still great, but the size of the M12 Fuel drills somewhat rival that of compact 18V-class drills.
The new version is shorter, by a full 1-inch, and reworked by the cordless team using several added years of knowhow and experience.
The impact driver is a little shorter – and I’m embarrassed to say I’ll have to get back to you with a number – and also features 3 speed and torque selection modes plus a self-drilling screw mode, for 4 modes total.
It has a different geometry as well, with the length in front of the hand grip and trigger being dramatically shortened.
I really liked the new impact, and while it’s too soon to tell (I really need a test unit and some hands-on time in a natural setting), I think it could very well be my 12V-class impact driver of choice.
There’s no word as to whether the additional M12 Fuel impact tools will be released in 2nd generation versions, but I anticipate that they will. Perhaps Milwaukee is still working to optimize the “4th mode” for those tools.
Here’s what the new M12 Fuel hammer drill looks like:
This was a pre-production model. There were no non-hammer drills on-site. I would assume that a drill and hammer drill will be launched at the same time, but there are no guarantees.
M12 Cordless Staple Gun
What’s so special about a cordless stapler, right? How about this:
It places staples accurately. It has sequential and bump-fire modes, and you can switch back and forth easily and effortlessly, and without having to actually toggle a switch of any kind on the tool itself. It fits in a pouch designed to hold a standard manual staple gun. It drives T50 staples with 80% less effort than a manual stapler. It has incredible runtime.
I dialed down the power a bit, and it still drove the staples flush into a wood stud.
The stapler isn’t very flashy or fancy, but it does what it was designed to do, and at a great price point.
This is a great example of how a “cordless hand tool” done right.
Special Mention: Premium 46″ Tool Storage Combo
Milwaukee’s 46″ tool storage combo is real nice. It’s got great features and good quality, and priced at an almost too good to be true value.
This new premium version is built from heavier duty steel – 19 gauge for the frame and drawers. There are angle iron stabilizers built into the bottom to ensure a strong base, larger caster wheels, slightly different drawer widths, and incredibly smooth satin aluminum handle pulls.
It’s also appreciably deeper – 22″ vs. 18″.
There are 2 full-width drawers, and they glide out smoothly. A three-dimensional reinforcement bar underneath the drawer helps to ensure that drawer remains strong and sag-free.
The price point is expected to be around $1000. It offers significant upgrades for smaller-than-expected bump up in price.
As with the current 46″ combo, the top has a separate lockable drawer. The top chest and bottom cabinet locks are not keyed alike. If you buy a combo, you can swap the lock from the privacy drawer with that of the bottom cabinet. Or call Milwaukee customer service with a lock number, and they’ll send you another matching cylinder for FREE.