A couple of months ago Milwaukee kicked off the brushless tool race with their new generation of M18 Fuel tools. The initial line included a heavy duty drill and hammer drill, was recently expanded with an impact driver and impact wrenches.
Milwaukee is again expanding their Fuel lineup of brushless tools, this time right into their M12 lineup. While we predicted that Milwaukee would be the first to come out with brushless 12-volt drills and drivers, we had not anticipated that it would be so soon.
ToolGuyd primer on brushless tools.
Redesigned Handles and Improved Balance!
At a recent new product media event, Milwaukee engineers touted how the the new M12 Fuel drills and drivers were so much more powerful and longer-running that current and competing models. What they didn’t – and should have – emphasized was how much better the new tools feel in-hand.
Due to the M12 battery packs’ form factors, current M12 drills and drivers have somewhat bulky handles. There’s also the fact that most if not all of the current drill/drivers are first-generation 12-volt tools.
It seems that Milwaukee engineers worked diligently to redesign and optimize the M12 handles and drill/driver geometries. While not quite as svelte as Dewalt’s 12V handles, the new M12 Fuel handles feel far more comfortable than prior M12 pistol-grip tools. It’s wondrous how a few angular tweaks here and there can make a difference.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Drill 2403-22
The new drill/driver strongly resembles the 2410 model, which is not too surprising. It is slightly more compact and tightened-up, but not drastically so.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Hammer Drill/Driver 2404-22
Milwaukee’s M12 hammer drill is only 2-years old, but since they’re already upgrading the drill/driver, why not come out with a new brushless hammer drill/driver as well. Not that the brushed hammer drill could use any more power, but extra runtime is always appreciated. For heavier-duty usage Milwaukee’s new 12-volt rotary hammer will probably be more effective and comfortable to use.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Screwdriver 2402-22
It’s about time! Milwaukee’s brushed screwdriver is very well liked, but its design and specs are dated. Heavier users will probably strongly consider upgrading to the new more compact design.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel Impact Driver 2453-22
Since only a prototype was on-hand, we’re not sure what the final impact driver will look like. But as-is, the new impact was very comfortable to hold and powerful to use. A shift in gearbox and anvil design means that the new Fuel 12-volt brushless model is more compact and low-profile than the original brushed driver.
At the top of the tool is a new electronic speed and torque-control switch.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel 1/4″ and 3/8″ Impact Wrenches 2452-22 and 2454-22
There were so many new Fuel drill/drivers to check out that we didn’t even peek at the 1/4″ and 3/8″ impacts. Even so, automotive users especially will be glad to see that Milwaukee will include impact wrenches with the initial M12 Fuel launch.
2X More Runtime, 20% More Power
Official specs for the new M12 brushless tools have not yet been released, but we know that Milwaukee intends to power them with new RedLithium 2.0Ah battery packs. These packs are said to offer up to 2X more runtime, 20% more speed, and 20% more torque. They can endure twice the number of recharges and have been designed to operate below 0°F (-18°C).
As of now, the new M12 Fuel drills and drivers are due out this winter.
Should You Upgrade?
It was difficult to get a good feel for the tools in the 5-minutes we had to demo them at the media event, but they felt very well balanced. Compared to the brushed-motor M12 tools, the motor and gearbox assembly are shifted slightly more rearward.
We will need to test the new drills and drivers first-hand on our own terms to be sure that the tools are as comfortable as we initially felt, but we doubt our final impression will be too different from our first.
The new M12 brushless drills and impact drivers will definitely be worthy upgrades based on their improved ergonomics and Milwaukee’s runtime claims. They are also expected to be more powerful than the current-generation of 12V drills and drivers as well, making them quite future-proof.
We don’t know what other brands are planning, but suspect that they are working on next-generation high capacity batteries of their own. Will Bosch, Dewalt, or Makita release 12V brushless drills and drivers of their own? Possibly, but we’re guessing that they’re at least 6-months to a year or more behind Milwaukee, meaning a mid-to-late 2013 launch at the earliest.
(Please note that all of the M12 Fuel tools shown above are pre-production prototypes. The final versions might have subtly different textures and appearances.)
Merry Christmas to me.
Those handles look a lot like the Bosch handle alignment for some of their tools…maybe they won’t be the only ones releasing brushless 12volt tools soon? At least the technology for the tools is still improving which is great for all of us!
What’s the dimension of the new screwdriver? Doesn’t look like it’ll be as short as the Bosch PS21…
I don’t think they’re as short as Bosch’s PS21/31/41 drills and drivers either. The impact *might* be, but official dimensions aren’t available yet to check.
Thanks! Do you know if this chuck will take insert bit, or just power bit?
The last time I asked I was told the screwdriver takes insert bits and the impact driver power bits or insert bits with use of a standard (impact-rated?) bit holder.
When’s the last time I had to worry about my motor in a 12V? umm never.
I am curious about runtime though, if hear of a big increase then it will be worth picking up one of these to add to my line up.
I’m glad they finally announced this. Now let’s get them in stock and get some sale prices for the existing M12 tools so I can start converting. Anyone wanting to dump their ‘old’ M12 tools on me cheap would be fine too.
We like most of our current M12 tools quite a lot (maybe their tubing cutter is an exception) – so ours are not likely to get swapped out until they are ready for dust bin.
Any note on cases with the new tools? The only thing keeping me back from purchasing current M12 Drill / Impact sets is the flimsy bag that the set comes with. For any power tool designed to last for years the manufacturers should design a case to protect it that long as well.
Not yet. I expect them to bundled with soft cases, except maybe the heavier duty tools. Unless my memory fails me, the current M12 hammer came with a hard case.
Soft cases are more compact and save on costs, allowing brands to price their tools more competitively. Or at least that’s why I think most have switched to tool bags vs. tool cases.
Bosch and Dewalt are probably going to push their respective L-Boxx and Tstak tool box systems for those who want more protection than a soft case provides.
Milwaukee has shown no signs that they will develop a new interlocking storage system of their own, but perhaps they’ll side with another brand and cooperate to make custom inserts available.
The nylon cases are fine with me. We put most of our smaller power tools into compartmentalized job boxes with the semi-customizedplywood interiors providing the needed prtection, added organization and visibility to spot what’s missing at the end of the work day.
So the new handles are actually longer than the original versions?
I always though that the Milwaukee 12 volt handles were more comfortable than the Bosch 12 volt anyways. Don’t want the extra handle length at all.
Any idea of prices compared to current ones?
No idea on pricing yet. I would imagine that they’d be within 20% of current models, but that’s just a guess.
I won’t be able to justify replacing my existing M12 tools, but I’m excited for these! I like the seemingly minor addition of a pocket/belt clip. I really wish the first generation had that feature. I’m still hoping for a M12 trim circular saw!
No trim saw yet. There wasn’t one announced at the June media event, suggesting that even if one is in the works right now we won’t see it until mid-2013 at the earliest.
Still, 2.0Ah and a new 4.0Ah XC battery might make that a reality. The 4.0Ah battery should enable higher power tools. It’s the XC battery that helped make the M12 band saw and new rotary hammer possible.
sounds exciting but i’m looking for tools made in the usa. are these ?
No, they will be made in their home country – China. Milwaukee is part of TTI which is a Chinese company. Once I heard that (maybe it was here, and double checked by myself) that was the end of my relationship with their tools.
That’s right, TTi started shutting down Milwaukee’s US factories immediately after they took ownership. I too have a bunch of their US-era tools, but no more Milwaukee for me. I usually by Bosch now, not all made in US, but not made in China either.
Milwaukee still currently makes all there Sawzalls and blades in a US facility in Mississippi. No powertool brand makes all their tools in the US.
The fact that it’s a Chinese company with their brand named after a US city is like a slap in the face to me. I know and accept that most if not all companies make their tools off shore. When I buy DeWALT or Craftsmen at least I know the profits are coming back to the US and those companies still employ a lot of people here. you could even say the same for cheepo house brands like Husky and Kobalt but not Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Tool was a US company based in Milwaukee before TTI bought them in 2005. Their HQ is still in the USA in Wisconsin.
It’s not like they picked a USA city name out of a hat.
I like the belt clip, wonder how well it works.
I clipped the prototype to my belt and it felt reasonably well balanced. If it turns out that it’s not as comfortable as I first felt, it can still be removed via a single machine screw.
I can appreciate the desire to support manufacturing jobs in the USA – but the reality seems to be that small electronics and most handheld power tools are being made in Asia, We had bought into the Milwaukee M12 and Makita 18V LXT lineups quite heavily – and much of both come from China. Some recent Bosch routers we’ve purchased hail from Mexico -and if I took a closer look I’m sure that other Bosch Tools come from China too.
What I look for is a quailty tool – with a manufacturer that will stand behind it and has given some thought to doing a decent QA job. If I can buy American I will – but yhis option seems to be diminidhing for some if not most classes of tools.
Will the current XC batteries work with these newer brushless tools?
They appear the same and I bought a few more XC 12 volt batteries from amazon for around $30(Really good deal).
I’d be disappointed if I had to get rid of my current set-up.
I’d use these 12 volt Milwaukee’s over some of the 18v tools on the market today.
The XC batteries are much better, I can use the Oscillator with the XC. My co-workers Bosch Oscillator only lasts around 5 minutes of run time, lol.
Keep up the great work Milwaukee!
I don’t see why they wouldn’t. You won’t squeeze maximum performance out of the tools, but they should be perfectly backwards compatible with all M12 and M12 RedLithium batteries.
I’m surprised no one has noticed that since TTi took over Milwaukee they are just churning tools out one after the other. They have come out with more tools in the past 2 years than any other manufacturer. We say, great more tools, but what quality and how great are the tools? TTi makes Ridgid, Ryobi, Milwaukee, and Hoover vacuums. That doesn’t make me feel like Milwaukee is focused on quality tools, like they were.
Honestly, what does Milwaukee being a child company of TTI have to do with their new 12V drills and drivers?
People have noticed that under TTI Milwaukee is churning out new innovations. And that’s why sales are up, providing profits that fuel continued developments.
Businesses must keep up with the times or be left behind. Milwaukee is churning out new products, and based on first-hand experiences I fail to see a problem with that. They’re not releasing tools just for the sake of it, they’re releasing considerable upgrades and innovations.
While not a fan of some of their business strategies, I do understand them.
You don’t know nothing, dude! I do liked how well the M12 fuel hammer drill and the impact M12 impact gun it works, I do side works on cars, Fuel M12 line is great, it has the yellow dabs %%gg
Do these 12 volt tools hold up as well as the full size ones do?
In the past I have had compact tools that would overheat with hard use, and I think because of that just didn’t last like the full size ones did. However, lugging a big tool on a roof doesn’t seem nearly as appealing as these smaller ones, especially if they have a belt clip included.
While the lyric in the Mikado (“let the punishment fit the crime”) was meant as satire – a similar analogy fits for tools. We regularly carry 36V saws up onto a roof – because their wimpy 18V cousins are fine for some carpentry are not up to the jobs we throw at them up on the roof. If we need to do roof framing – then a corded Skil 77 will be carried up and so on. We like the M12 lineup very much – but use them mostly in installation and plumbing (like the, 12V drivers, hackzall and Pex expanders to name 3 we use a lot) – but our carpenters would not trade them for their 18V Makita tools
I use my drill/driver to run screws down installing steel rooves, and what you are saying kind of confirms my initial thoughts: For hard, steady use, stick with the full sized tools. While the 12V tools I used in the past, had enough power, they overheat much quicker than the 18V I currently use. I guess I was just expecting too much.
It does depend on the application.
A 12V hammer drill can drill 5/16″ and even 3/8″ holes in masonry, but you’re not going to have an easy or comfortable time drilling many holes. And you’ll have to head back to the charger more frequently. An 18V model will be more ergonomic to use for the same task, usually with a larger more balanced handle and aux handle for additional support.
12V drills and drivers have approached or even surpassed the power levels of certain 18V models, usually the low and mid-end models. They’re not substitutes for pro-grade 18V tools and probably won’t be any time soon. Still, they are excellent complementary tools.
I would rather have 12V and 18V models to choose from for certain tasks. But if I only had one or the either, say a 12V drill or 18V drill, I would very strongly prefer to have the 18V model.
You’re the only one who could answer my masonry bit size question. Thank you for the service
I don’t think the batteries running down would be an issue for my uses, as much as the tool itself overheating, and wearing/burning out prematurely, from heavy use. A buddy can toss up a new battery pretty easily, and I’d almost bet that these new high output Li-ion batteries might equal the run time of my older NiCad 18V batteries. I just can’t get myself to belive, that these new teeny little things, can work hard, and not burn up. There just doesn’t seem to be enough area for a heat sink big enough.
Dumb question, but do the brushless motors run cooler, under the same load? If they do, perhaps I may give them a try, when my current driver bites the dust.
It’s difficult to say just yet, but from what I understand brushless tools should run a little cooler given the absence of the frictional losses associated with brushed motor operation.
These drills and drivers may be tiny, but they’re definitely not puny.
I agree, the local tool store had a demonstration of the new generation of 12 volt tools, and they pack more power in a smaller size than I could believe at first. They didn’t let us run them long enough, to get a feel for how hot they get, though. I know they can’t let one guy just run screws in and out, but they kept ‘swapping’ between two drivers, which made me think they wanted time for them to cool.
I have the old if you will Milwaukee Super SawZaw, 360° handle, VS Trigger, Speed Wheel ect. that is USA made. It’s nice to hold and thinking of the americans that built it, Respect abounds, But not anymore with the new stuff. If no USA made tools of this sort can be aquired, then I look toward Germany, England, Swiss made..I can’t support a country like China knowing how they treat their people, ignore our patends ect. So i’ll start looking at Festool, Bosch (German made) and have Monte PM me or start a thread on German made cordless.
Take my money please. It is almost febubery and they are still not out.
CPO says they are shipping kits 2-7. They have fuel impact drivers in stock now, but not complete kits. I cant wait to try the new 4.0 batteries myself!
Sorry to re jump start a thread!
A “ton” of ex DeWalt folks (executives/product managers)!are now at MKE tools and if you think back to the late 90’s early 00’s you will remember how often DeWalt was releasing new tools.
I don’t like how tool companies left the US for manufacturing however, low cost labor does not always help companies out when you have to wait 4 months for stuff to ship across the pacific. DeWalt is doing limited US manufacturing and other non power tool companies are expanding into Mexico because of quicker shipping lead times. I am confident that TTI make a good quality MKE product in China…..
I used the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Drill 2403-22 to drill two 2in holes through 1 1/2 in Kevlar carbon fiber and glass composite boat hull for transducers. After my 19v craftsman went into heat protect mode. The Milwaukee is a beast.