Milwaukee is launching a new M18 cordless angle grinder, model 2686.
Described as a cut-off grinder, the new tool features a brushless motor, 4-1/2″ and 5″ wheel compatibility, electronic clutch for kickback protection, and tool-free adjustable guard.
The M18 brushless grinder has a paddle switch and operates at 11,000 RPM.
The angle grinder is described as being fully compatible with the most common grinder accessories in the market. It has a 5/8-11 spindle and works with 4-1/2″ wheels out of the box.
Milwaukee ships the grinder with a Type 27 guard, and clip-on Type 1 guard attachment. They say this eliminates the need for an additional guard swap.
Type 27 guards are standard, and I have found it nearly impossible to find Type 1 guards for grinders if they’re not already included with the tool.
Having both Type 27 and Type 1 guards is best, and I don’t mind the changeout, which should be done when you’re changing from a grinding wheel to a cut-off disc.
A clip-on Type 1 guard that modifies a Type 27 guard for added protection seems like an acceptable budget-minded option.
The grinder also has a 2-position side handle and built-in dust screen.
It measures 12.25″ long and weighs 4.6 lbs (tool-only).
Milwaukee says the grinder can make up to 80 cuts in 1/2″ rebar when paired with an M18 XC 5Ah battery.
The grinder is compatible with Milwaukee’s 5″ cordless angle grinder guards and dust shrouds, which are not included.
- Brushless motor
- 4-1/2″/5″ accessory compatible
- 4-1/2″ Guard included, 5″ sold separately
- 5/8-11 arbor
- 11,000 RPM
- 2-position auxiliary handle
- Paddle switch
- Tool-free guard adjustment
- 12.25″ length
- Weighs 4.6 lbs
At this time, there is only a tool-only option (2686-20).
Price: $149 (tool-only)
ETA: April 2023
Compared to Milwaukee M18 Fuel Grinders
You might have noticed that the new cordless “cut-off grinder” is an M18 brushless tool.
Around 10 years ago, in the age of brushed motors and lower capacity batteries, cordless angle grinders were described as cut-off tools. When I asked a brand manager about this, they plainly said this was because power and runtime were not yet up to snuff yet.
Milwaukee recommends the new M18 brushless tool, 2686, for cutting and light grinding applications.
The M18 Fuel grinder, 2880, is recommended for cutting and heavy grinding applications. Compared to the new 2686, the 2880 and others in its family features a removable dust screen, anti-vibration handle, and RapidStop wheel brake.
Note: The M18 Fuel braking grinder is available in several styles – 2880 has a paddle switch, 2881 has a slide switch, 2882 has a paddle switch and One-Key, and 2883 has a slide switch and One-Key.
The M18 Fuel variable speed braking grinder, 2888, is recommended for cutting, grinding, and heavy material removal.
Basically, the 2686 seems to be the new “good” grinder, where 2880 and its family are “better,” and 2888 is “best.”
The anti-vibration handle and wheel brake might be reasons to step up from the new 2686 to one of the M18 Fuel models.
The M18 Fuel 2880 is $199 at Acme Tools, and the M18 Fuel 2888 is $249 at Acme Tools. This puts the “good, better, and best” tool-only options at $149, $199, and $249 respectively.
The 2686 is an upgrade compared to the M18 2680 brushed motor model ($129 at Home Depot), with respect to speed (11K RPM vs 9K RPM), weight (4.6 lbs vs 5.9 lbs), and undoubtedly efficiency (due to brushless vs brushed).
Here’s to hoping it’s not a total performance disappointment like virtually every single cordless angle grinder I’ve tried. Same with the die grinders.
I haven’t been involved with professional use of grinders for some time. Ten to 12 years ago we were still using corded angle grinders in out remodeling business as were our tile sub-contractors and masons. In our metal fabrication business – it was mostly pneumatics like Dotco. I recall the field guys disparaging the cordless Makita angle grinders that we tried – even for touch-up jobs – but that was before brushless. Like with production sanding – industrial-scale grinding may still not be the best application for cordless tools – brushless or otherwise. But for the applications shown – a few cuts of rebar or tile – cordless may be convenient.
Oh for sure it is useful in niche applications. Roofing for example cutting in for step flashing on a chimney or brick wall would be useful for example to avoid dragging an extension cord onto a roof and having a new snag/trip/fall hazard to deal with.
Have you tried a DeWalt Flexvolt grinder? With over 2300 unit watts out, those shouldn’t disappoint in the power department.
2300 watts out is more than what any 15 amp 120 volt grinder can provide.
Now, as far as other factors like runtime, then I’m sure that any cordless will disappoint with regard to corded.
Yes I’m speaking specifically to run time. Even with a thicc boi battery the run time sucks.
The only way this could read more like an advertisement is if you included the part number.
Jokes aside, motor and battery tech has been improving year after year. Even if you’re disappointed with the performance now, it can only get better.
15A 120V grinders will peak over 2300W easily. And deliver the work of 10 flexvolt 9AH batteries an hour. For stuff like heavy pipe grinding or concrete floor grinding, corded is still the best choice. I definitely use my M18 for rebar cutting all day though. A couple batteries would do a whole house foundation for me.
Dewalt 60v 6 or 7 inch grinders /20v grinders and with 9 amph batteries along with multiple fast chargers can do plenty of work with plenty of power. Milwaukee m18 requires more management of heat on the batteries… and stay away from the 9 inch grinder by Milwaukee. Sometimes a corded one is required. It depends on what are unique requirements are.
For more than 30 minutes of grinding you will still want the cord. I had to grind down pipe fence to remove the top layer of smutz and used my flexvolt grinder which has plenty of power, but I had to have five 6-9ah batteries in constant charging rotation to keep working.
The prices seem decent – especially since M18 tool discount deals (in the 10 to 15% off) range are common.
I recently gifted two Metabo specialty tools based on their cordless grinder – and both were in the $400 range as bare tools. The Metabo cordless grinder upon which these tools are base sells for about $230 on Amazon
Christmas time, I had been thinking of getting a cordless grinder to complement my corded Hitachi (well made – cost $40 with case 7 years ago). I couldn’t rationalize $200 for a grinder and I didn’t want to buy the brushed one, even though it would probably be fine. Don’t want buyers regret. There was a $199 sale for 2 batteries and charger and get free tool. And on the receipt it says ” can return either the battery kit or the free tool and get $99 back. Returned the unopened battery kit and got the 2880-20 for $100. I probably would have bought this new one if it was available at the $149 price.
By the way, please don’t tell my girlfriend, but I think I’m in love with my m18 track saw. Set it up yesterday for the first time. Sprang for the Milwaukee tracks (rather than the more affordable powertec) because it locks into the base when doing bevel cuts. I’d probably have been happy with the Makita or Festool, but being on the red battery platform I got this, and it is better than expected. I’m weather dependant, not having a shop, and I can’t wait for it to clear up (and my back to ease up) so I can practise with it. I don’t know why, but this tool makes me want to build things because of the pleasure of handling such a well made, balanced (to me) tool. Plus, it is so much safer than most other cutting tools.
Seems like a great price. As for the utility, a cordless angle grinder (for me) is probably one of the handiest cordless options as it seems like more than half the stuff I need to cut or grind isn’t within reach of an outlet. I’ve had the 2880 for a couple of years and it’s one of those that doesn’t get used often, but it’s a life-saver when you need it.
11,000 RPM on a 4.5/5″ grinder is super high. Most 4.5/5″ grinders are in the 7000 to 9000 rpm range.
I can’t help but wonder if 11k rpm on this bad boy just means it’s severely lacking in torque.
11k rpm is standard for corded/air 4 1/2″ angle grinders. It’s also what 4 1/2″ discs are rated for. I’m a fabricator so I haven’t used cordless ones which might be slower.
Yep, cordless 4.5/5″ grinders are nearly all slower.
I remember when the cordless Flex 5″ grinder came out and I was amazed at its claimed 10,000 RPM. I was too used to seeing numbers like 8500 RPM for the size class.
My catalytic converters are nervous!
“Cut off tool” feels like a retro term. Like before we had “cordless angle grinders” we had to make do with angle-grinder-shaped “cut off tools” – so designated because they were too wimpy for real use as grinders.
In that context, applying that name to this new tool immediately made me think it must be kind of weak (e.g. they named it a cut-off tool so I wouldn’t expect too much). That seems like it might be unfair, however.
My old brushed Porter Cable cordless “angle grinder” is very wimpy and only spins at 8500rpm. While RPM doesn’t seem like enough data to evaluate how the tools would compare, I bet the new brushless M18 would stomp my PC and do a fairly decent impression of a budget corded model.
I suppose Milwaukee is using that name to temper expectations and differentiate it from the “FUEL” model, but it just seems weird to me.
I can’t imagine a world where a welding fab shop ,nor floor finisher grinding concrete all day will be fully cordless.
The batteries would be to heavy for nearly constant use.
But for the other 60% of small jobs cordless is definitely worth it.
But I would wait for the fuel to go on sale if you want m18.
Grinders and circular saws,and other rotating tools with blades contacting a large surface area…….in a production environment, use a lot of power.
I am a huge fan of m12…..however batteries didn’t have enough capacity for lighting, nor the power to run even the small 5 3/8 circular saw.
My frustration with M18 batteries paired with their OPE – is that they seem to quickly overheat and cut out. The auto cut out is a good thing in that it saves you from other potentially worse consequences. But I think Milwaukee has to work harder on this issue. Otherwise, their steadfast position to not move up in voltage may ultimately do them in.
I’m curious what Milwaukee’s 10 year plan is, exactly, as Milwaukee, despite the best efforts of their marketing department, can’t rewrite the laws of physics.
Like you said, 18 volts is a little low, especially with higher voltage, single battery, handheld power tools platforms available from nearly every tool brand apart from Milwaukee.
More volts = fewer amps for equivalent wattage. Fewer amps = less heat. Period.
How exactly Milwaukee plans to stay relevant in high demand handheld tools like lawn mowers is an open question, to me.
MX Fuel looks like the eventual “solution”, I guess.
M18x2 also looks to be something of a “solution”, too.
I guess lithium pouch cells will also buy M18 more time, as pouch cells can generally discharge more amps than cylindrical calls without heating up as much.
All that being said, I do wonder what the 10-15 year outlook on M18 will be. Not that it really matters, practically, but it is an interesting question, at least to me.
They might argue that the MX battery would work for mowers and maybe earth augers as some tools might even benefit from some extra weight. But it is too heavy IMO for a string trimmer, leaf blower or hedge trimmer.
Milwaukee is far from being backed into a corner. 18V is still the sweet spot for most handheld cordless power tools.
Tools outpaced battery tech, and battery tech is now catching up with Li-ion pouch cells.
And, as you mentioned, M18 x2 is always an option for more power-hungry tools.
Been a certified welder and a fabricator for the past 7 years and I absolutely love my Milwaukee cordless grinders. I have two of the 4 1/2”/5” FUEL braking angle grinders. One of them is recent, and the other I’ve had for 5 years now. Definitely will outrun your charger if you’re grinding non stop but I seldom find myself needing to do that much grinding. I keep my $50 Makita angle grinder I got for welding school around for those rare cases. It’s much handier to be able to ditch the extension cord working on the large parts I do. The m12 die grinder is pretty awesome as well, but it stalls way too easy with anything larger than a 2” disc.
CUTTING tools like those wicked little air grinders are 11k. Grinders are 7-9k. You would have wear and plugging problems with grinding wheels never mind wire brushes at 11k. As an example in Dewalts corded lineup the cheapest “grinder” on the shelf has a higher speed and it’s light but seriously underpowered. I would easily put it up against any cordless M18 Milwaukee grinder for any grinding task. It might win a cutting speed contest after stalling several times. The much bigger/heavier “grinders” for beveling steel and flattening welds easily put the M18s to shame both in torque and run time if you have the time to set up a cord, bench, etc.
When I bought my first M18 grinder I was skeptical at first but hopeful because I had just retired tge compressor tge year before and I was down to just 3 corded tools left.That was 5 or 6 years ago.
Do NOT just grab your 20k little screaming banshee metal cutting air tool and expect identical performance. Also don’t take a high torque corded grinder and exodus f similar torque, never mind run time. It is close enough. Cordless grinders are for small jobs and going places the corded stuff can’t or would take much longer setting up. If your idea of a work site is dropping your tow behind Bobcat diesel welder and air compressor and spending an hour setting up your welding work site, cordless grinders are not for you. If as someone mentioned you’re trimming flashing on a roof or in some dark hole in some industrial plant where you need it for 10 minutes such as cutting out an opening in sheet metal or working off a pier doing rebar, the fact that it’s not the most powerful grinder won’t matter
I bought it and simply tried using it on the job. The more I used it the more I liked it. I have a corded grinder. If the job calls for it I’ll dig it out. Im
Not a construction welder though so I don’t often dig it out.
That’s with the “heavy duty grinding” grinders. I suspect this one is going to be more specialized (cutting rebar only).