On paper, Milwaukee’s newest M12 Fuel brushless drills are every bit as fast and powerful as the first generation models.
They’re all very capable drills, with 1/2″ chucks, 350 in-lbs max torque, and 0-450/0-1700 RPM speed settings. The differences are in the drills’ sizes and in some of their components.
I recently received a new M12 Fuel brushless hammer drill (thank you Milwaukee!), and pulled out an M12 Fuel drill/driver while sorting through older tool samples that will be donated this week.
With the batteries lined up, you can see that the new Milwaukee M12 Fuel brushless hammer drill has been completely redesigned. It’s shorter, a little in the back, and a lot in the front.
Even the new belt hook is different. Instead of capturing your belt between the hook and the tool as in the first model, the hook on the new one will hug your belt from both sides.
With the tools flat on a table, you can see that there’s a big difference in size.
The original M12 Fuel drills are great models. But you won’t see anyone complaining about this new one being quite a bit shorter.
The difference is 6.6″, compared to 7.75″, and so Milwaukee engineers managed to shave more than 1 inch off the length.
Shown here is the new hammer drill and older drill/driver/ The difference in height between new and previous hammer drills should be slightly
less more pronounced. Hammer drills are often a little bit longer than drill/drivers.
I plan on seeing if drill/driver test samples will be available for review, but this 1st-gen model will likely be donated by then.
Going back to this image, I wanted to show you the adjustable clutch and application selector feature. The original Milwaukee M12 Fuel drill, on the left, has independent “drill or screwdriving” selector setting. On the original M12 Fuel hammer drill, there’s a third hammer drill mode option.
On the new M12 Fuel hammer drill, you rotate the chuck until you get the drill setting. Turn it one more click to get to the hammer mode setting.
The application selector switch, on the 1st generation tools, allows you to quickly go from adjustable torque to full-power model for switching between drilling and driving modes. As the user manual (PDF) says, the number selected on the torque selector collar has no effect on operation of the drill in drilling mode.
With the new M12 Fuel drill and hammer drill, switching from adjustable torque screwdriving mode to full-power drilling or hammer drill mode requires a turn of the clutch dial.
There are other minor differences, such as vent placement and the exact shape and feel of the speed selector.
Pricing: $129 for the bare tool, $179 for the kit, $229 for the compact kit with impact driver. The new drill/driver, 2503, is $10 less, except for the combo kit.
Drill/Driver Pricing: $119 bare tool, $169 for the kit, $229 for the combo.
Which to buy? Home Depot and Acme Tool had crazy-good pricing on “Special Buy” M12 Fuel kits during the holiday season. Home Depot seems to have sold out, but Acme Tool is still listing the special combos as in-stock.
If the original M12 Fuel drills and impact driver are not discontinued, I would expect to see them in similar promo setups next year, and maybe even around Father’s Day too.
The new and previous tools all seem to have the same power and speed, at least on paper. I expect to do some quick testing soon.
So the difference is in the size and in how they’re used. If you want an independent adjustable torque clutch and drill/driving mode selector switch, and you don’t need a smaller tool, you might actually be better served by the first generation model, especially if or when it’s available at “special buy” pricing.
In this case, the latest and greatest might not be an automatic upgrade, depending on your preferences.
But if you want or need the smaller tool, it might be worth considering stepping up to the updated model. New cordless power tools typically also feature little changes in internal designs.
Just be sure that the change in application selector switch design, from being independent to being integrated into the torque adjustment dial, isn’t a compromise for you. If it is, the first-gen drills are still available.