Several Milwaukee Tool cordless impact driver special buys have returned, each at the $99 price point. I first posted this roundup for Father’s Day 2021, and the same deals have appeared for the start of the 2021 holiday shopping season.
These three options are very different from each other, and so I’m wondering – which would you pick if you needed a good cordless impact driver at $100 budget?
Milwaukee M18 Compact Brushless Impact Driver
First up is this M18 compact brushless impact driver special buy, model 2850-21P. It comes with a standard M18/M12 charger, a 2.0Ah battery, and tool bag.
What’s notable about this – and Milwaukee’s other cordless special buys – is that this is their everyday compact brushless impact, with belt clip and 2.0Ah battery. Another brand might have left out the belt clip or downgraded the battery, but this is something Milwaukee hasn’t taken any interest in doing.
The impact delivers 1600 in-lbs of max torque and is said to have the fastest speed in its class with 3200 RPM. I haven’t checked to see if this is still true.
Overall, this is a very capable 18V-class brushless impact kit that is very attractively priced.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Brushless Impact Driver
The M12 Fuel impact driver kit, model 2553-21, is another interesting option, providing for a more compact and lightweight user experience.
This impact delivers up to 1300 in-lbs and also has a 4-mode drive control setting so that can dial down the speed and torque if needed.
The kit comes with an M12 charger, 2.0Ah battery, and carrying case.
Milwaukee M12 Compact Drill and Impact Driver Combo
Lastly, there’s the M12 cordless drill and impact driver combo kit, model 2494-22. The impact delivers up to 1000 in-lbs of max torque, and it’s accompanied by an M12 cordless drill. You get 2x 1.5Ah batteries in the kit, as well as a charger and tool bag.
Which Option Would You Choose?
At first glance, the M18 compact brushless kit seems to deliver the most bang for the buck, with respect to both value and power performance. Get it? BANG for the buck? Because these are impact drivers…
That would be my choice without taking a deeper look.
But, the M12 Fuel impact driver has the 4-mode drive control, which I think comes in handy. You get 3 speed/torque settings and a fourth self-tapping screw mode.
So if looking at the first two options, do you pick the more powerful 18V-class tool, or the more featured 12V-class tool? 1300 in-lbs is still a lot of torque, and it wasn’t very long ago that this was around average for 18V-class performance.
Plus, the M12 Fuel has benefits in being a more compact tool as well.
Then there’s the drill and impact driver combo kit, which is also a regular holiday season special buy. I suppose that would be my last choice, but it also does offer more versatility since you get a drill/driver and a second battery albeit with 1.5Ah vs. 2.0Ah charge capacity.
At the $99 price point, you can’t have everything.
Power, Features, or Value?
Which of these Milwaukee cordless impact driver kits would you buy?
In case anyone says “what about the M12 or M18 SURGE?” There are bound to be some promos on those options later in the season, such as in an online deal of the day or similar.
The M18, like you said, is the best tool for the money and what I would buy if I were in the market for a new main impact driver. If you’re building a deck, fence, house etc. this is the tool.
What I would actually buy? The M12. That’s such an interesting tool lineup to be part of and I think there are huge advantages to tiny tools (ha).
I’m thinking of all the times I throw tools in a bag to go work on a project – you can almost fit twice as many if they’re M12. The specs are still respectable. It’s lighter, more compact, easier to carry… It could be someone’s only impact driver, especially if you’re not typically engaged in all-day construction projects.
Koko The Talking Ape
If I had an all-day job, that’d be MORE reason to reach for the M12, just to save the wear and tear on my arm and wrist, as you say. It would be worth the slight difference in speed. If it didn’t drive all the screws all the way, then I’d figure something else out (like using the M18 on the few screws left proud.)
Touche. I’d go M12 too.
I was just thinking that if you’re building a deck, for example, you’d probably benefit from the extra speed and power. It’s also less work to have the tool do the job faster.
It all depends on the purpose and what tools a person has already. For someone envisioning any construction projects the m18, for a homeowner with fewcor no power tools the m12 kit. For a tech to carry in their bag or someone who has a drill or needs a bigger drill the m12 fuel.
Personally id pick the m12 fuel but the only one on my list is the m12 surge.
I’ve got a first gen m18 surge and lots of m12 tools. I also have an m18 (maybe fuel) impact i never use, i actually forget about it.
Milwauke has been the best little drill purchase I’ve ever made!
Having too many M12 batteries and chargers already, I chose the 2553-20 deal from HD for $60 shipped. It was on SlickDeals, need to order after choosing a certain HD store number. I’ve bought severa M12 items that way.
As an owner of both systems, I would recommend spending a little more and getting the M18 or M12 surge impact drivers. The ability to use an impact driver without hearing protection is phenomenal, and let’s me get things done around the house after bedtime without waking up the kids or annoying the neighbors.
I agree – the surge is the way to go for an all-around tool.
But among these I’d go with the M12 Fuel if aiming for an impact or with the two tool kit as a “first power tool” setup.
The M12 fuel if I didn’t already have it. Works well remove and replacing screws used on alot of Cat equipment
I have the M12 surge, M12 fuel impact, M18 brushless impact (not fuel, 3 speed version) and M18 gen 3 fuel impact. I generally never use the speed controls; I keep them on high speed/torque and use trigger control.
So my choice for $99 would be the M18 brushless. Assuming I could only choose one, it will be able to handle some things the M12 can’t. But as others have mentioned, the surge is an amazing driver.
After owning a oil filled impact. i couldn’t go back. I’d have to get the m12 or m18 oil impact
The M12 Fuel. I own three of them. Perfect size, perfect power.
Always buy a drill 1st for your tool kit.
An impact is great for women or those without a lot of upper body strength.
I know, it sounds sexist, but it’s anatomy 101.
A drill is more powerful, faster, and quieter.
I use my impacts, but typically only when I want something a little more compact. That’s really the only benefit of an impact besides helping those that don’t have the strength to handle the torque of a drill.
My 12 fuel drill/driver don’t have same power as my M12 impact driver or speed. The impact drivers have 1300 in. lb torque and 3500 RPM . The drill/drivers 350 in, lb and 1700 RPM.
I would grab my impact driver before my drill/driver 90% of the time.
The only accurate statement in your comment is “I know it sounds sexist.”
Wow, I knew there’d be a snarky comment, but not from you Stu.
Hey, we all have our faux pas. 😉
Let me elaborate:
My comment was meant to be helpful. It wasn’t derogatory. Women and thin guys like me like impacts because we don’t have much upper body sstrength and the decoupling of torque is nice. But a drill will outpace an impact driver with most standard screws that you drive.
That torque on the spec sheet only shows itself with large fasteners, but when you get to a fastener of that size it’s better to pull out the impact wrench anyways. Neither the drill nor the impact is made for them and you will burn your impact up trying to sink them.
So my original point remains valid. Unless you don’t have good upper body strength, then get a drill first. It drives screws faster, is quieter, more powerful* and can take any number of drill bits, not just 1/4″ hex.
*Berra’s theorem: Torque is the capacity to do work, while power is how quickly some strenuous task can be accomplished.
It’s more neutral to say that impacts are sometimes better for users who might not be strong enough to adequately or safely resist higher amounts of counter-rotational torque in heavy duty tasks.
Not all women are lacking in upper body strength. Although your comment isn’t malicious, it’s still sexist to make gender-based assumptions or stereotypes.
You also said that drills are faster, quieter, and more powerful. Yes, they might be quieter in most cases, but impacts are generally faster and more powerful than drills. And, the rotational torque isolation you mentioned in your second comment is indeed a big benefit as well.
In your first comment, you suggested that impacts are only useful because they’re more compact and better suited for weaker users.
Impacts are better than drills at a lot of things, which is why they’ve become so popular.
New favorite toolguyd moment
The m12 fuel impact driver!
The m12 impact driver is a great tool. Light weight and it is a little beast. Works best with a bigger battery though if you are doing lag screws and the like.
I own all of these tools, not in exactly these kits. The M12 fuel is one of my favorite tools ever and is always in my kit. The M18 brushless had good balance and feel. It is often the one I teach for when I’m at home and portability or weight aren’t factors. The M12 entry level tools are pretty meh. Big heavy and weak for M12. I actually have a few of each as loaners but wouldn’t really consider using them myself
Funny, I was planning to say basically the same thing!
Seems like i bought the M-12 drill & impact kit, plus a bonus 3/8” M-12 ratchet for $99. That was about 18 months ago I think. Things seem to be more expensive now.
I’ll have to look up price again, perhaps I did pay over $99.
The “standard” special buy is for the drill and impact driver combo at $99. On rare occasions, they’ll throw in an extra battery as part of a deal of the day or similar.
With a bonus tool such as a ratchet, the price would likely be bumped to $129 or $149.
Didn’t buy the m12 fuel for $99. 00. Lowest price I have ever seen for te drill and driver with two batteries and charger is 179.99$ Homie depot xmas time. This year they added the 3/8 ratchet. The nonfuel version for 219.99$ I believe was the cost.
A couple of months ago I picked up the m12 impact driver fuel kit on clearance at home Depot for $80. I already had the brushed drill and impact driver kit from about five years ago and they were my intro to the world of M12. I’d vote the brushed drill and impact driver set for anyone other than an avid handyman / hobbyist recipient. It’s a great intro to M12 and although their are more powerful and more feature-laden M12 options (albeit at higher cost) the brushed versions are very capable and will provide good service.
I own multiples of all of them.
Someone w nothing should get the combo kit for sure.
The brushless 18 is a very good impact and that would be my choice for a tool mainly used in a shop. But without question, if an impact’s intended use is on a job site , oftentimes up on a ladder, then the 12v impact is definitely the way to go. It fits in your hammer loop on your tool belt (nicely and easily if you have a metal loop), freeing up your hands for crawling and carrying materials, so that when you get “up” there, all you have to do is pull it out of your hammer loop and use it. This can’t be overstated- crawling up a ladder dozens of extra times a day because your hands are full and you can’t (or forget to) bring your tool up with you gets old, REALLY OLD, really quick.
Milwaukee brushless M18 driver 1600 lbs torque. The M12 1300 lbs .
The cost to get that third item with the M12 drill/driver and hex driver is $299.99. HD.
None of them. 😉
Milwaukee M18 FUEL SURGE 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/4 in. Impact Driver and Starter Kit with Two Batteries, Charger & Tool Bag 199.00 from Home Depot just ordered
I’ve been drooling over that deal. I’m not one to “hack” but might sell the batteries, charger and bag on eBay and end up with low cost Surge.
I would go with the M12 because it is so compact and light.
I’d have to start with some obligatory Milwaukee jokes, but I’d advise Joe homeowner towards the 12v drill combo, and recommend someone on my crew pick up the m18. M12 is great and more than capable for what it is, but you never know what abuse you’re going to put on a pro tool, only that you absolutely will end up abusing it at some point.
One of the things I really love about my M12 tools is that they are maneuverable enough that my wife and/or kids can use them comfortably- and impacts add to that- watching my (then) 4 year old daughter drive 3in deck screws into 4×4’s (lumber, not the neighbors rock crawler) made me a believer.