Let’s cut to the point – I am all but convinced that Milwaukee Tool will be coming out with a new M18 subcompact cordless drill later on in 2021.
This is just a prediction/theory, but hear me out and then let me know if you think I’m wrong or wrong.
And, if there will be a new Milwaukee M18 SubCompact cordless drill, there will likely be other tools as well, such as a new impact driver at the least.
Reason #1: Milwaukee Needs a SubCompact Cordless Drill
It can be argued that Milwaukee’s M12 cordless power tool system is their subcompact cordless power tool system.
But, as popular as the M12 cordless system might be, a lot of users still prefer 18V/20V Max-class cordless power tools.
If there’s an M12 brushless drill kit for $99 and a Dewalt 20V Max brushless drill kit next to it, also priced at $99, which do you think will sell better?
As compact as Milwaukee’s M12 cordless drills might be, competing 18V systems have become much more competitive.
Milwaukee now has quite a few stubby impact drivers, and so they understand the importance of size.
Reason #2: Milwaukee SubCompact Cordless Tools Would Follow the Trend
Yes, I know – Milwaukee Tool prefers to be disruptive and innovative. But, there’s no reason why they cannot follow a trend in their own way.
Right now, we’re seeing a push towards smaller and lighter tools.
Consider the new Ryobi 18V HP brushless cordless power tool lineup. These tools are smaller and lighter than other Ryobi offerings.
While brands are still competing to see who can make the most powerful cordless power tools, they’re also starting to compete on the other side of things. Who can provide for the most comfortable and user-friendly experience?
Ridgid is also coming out with new compact brushless power tools.
Makita has a limited selection of SubCompact 18V cordless tools, and Dewalt has a growing selection of 20V Max Atomic tools.
Reason #3: It’s Almost Time for a Refresh
Milwaukee’s 2701 compact cordless drill came out in early 2015, and their 2801 compact cordless drill came out in late 2018. We’re not quite due for an updated model, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if one came early.
There’s nothing wrong with the M18 compact brushless drill/driver, and it’s actually a very good model, but its biggest selling point is that it’s a great bargain during the holiday shopping seasons.
(There’s no comparable brushless impact driver, and there’s definitely room for one.)
I feel bad putting it this way, given the risk my stance could be misinterpreted, but the current M18 compact brushless drill/driver is unremarkable.
If a tool is unremarkable, especially when compared to competing options, it’s going to be a strong candidate for a redesign.
Reason #4: Brushless Motor Tech Advanced in Recent Years
It has only been 2-1/2 years since Milwaukee’s most recent compact brushless drill came out, but brushless motor tech has advanced since then.
When Father’s Day rolls around in a couple of months, every single power tool brand is going to have compact brushless 18V drill kits on sale for the season. The same situation will be repeated next winter.
Why buy the Milwaukee over the competition? Well, maybe it will be bundled with a Packout tool box. The 2.0Ah compact battery is always a nice touch, given that some competing kits will instead come with 1.5Ah (or worse 1.3Ah) battery packs.
Even if current brushless motor tech isn’t very different from what Milwaukee has already been using in their compact drills, the price point has dropped enough to where there’s competition at every turn.
Milwaukee has recently come out with new M18 compact impact wrenches, and they’re incredibly compact. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that they can they now make an even more compact brushless drill.
Would You Buy One?
Would you buy a more compact M18 brushless drill from Milwaukee?
If enough of you answer positively, well, this could be reason number 5.
Do You Agree?
I’m of the belief that Milwaukee can build a more compact brushless drill than they currently offer, and that it could potentially drop later this year.
Do you agree? Or am I off-base and Milwaukee doesn’t need any more M18 drill/drivers?
What Does SubCompact Actually Mean?
Frankly, subcompact is just a marketing term brands use to describe their most compact and lightest weight cordless drills and other power tools.
Subcompact cordless power tools are simply scaled down, with respect to power, performance, size, and weight.
What if Milwaukee’s subcompact cordless drill is an M12 or M12 Fuel model?
Given the competitive landscape these days, it seems possible for Milwaukee to finally retire their brushed motor M12 and M18 cordless drills, replacing them with subcompact brushless models.
If Milwaukee replaced their M18 brushed cordless drill with a “subcompact” model, they would maintain their logical tiered drill/driver lineup. Or perhaps the compact brushless might replace the entry-priced brushed drill, with the subcompact model taking its place.
Predicting the launch of a subcompact drill is one thing, understanding its positioning within Milwaukee’s lineup is a bit more difficult.
Handy Milwaukee M18 Cordless Drill/Driver Comparison Chart (2021)
Lets see….you just attended the Milwaukee NPS tool show…now you are “predicting” a sub-compact 18v drill. Maybe signed a non-disclosure form at some point? Maybe peeked around a curtain you were not supposed to? Or, maybe Bob from R and D had one to many and let something slip??
I did not talk to anyone, at Milwaukee Tool or elsewhere, for this post.
I was thinking about how far behind Makita and Bosch are compared to Dewalt and Milwaukee, and then I shifted to thinking about what we might see this year regarding cordless drill/driver tech from the red team.
As far as “Bob from R&D” – they are a pleasure to talk to, and I can comfortably ask anything because they are incredibly disciplined and won’t share any details or insights they wouldn’t be inclined to talk about when sober. But, I probably won’t talk to “Bob” again when either of us are impaired, because “John” made a comment last time and I don’t want my intent to be misinterpreted again.
Speaking with “Bob” and “John” are highlights of NPS, but there was no NPS last year and there won’t be one this year.
I always do a TON of peeking when at Milwaukee’s media events and especially at their headquarters! Last time I asked and was allowed to walk around the [redacted] room during the [redacted] presentation. It was glorious!
Thank you for your service to the community, I am unimpressed that Gene has questioned your integrity. You are a resource to the world and I appreciate your devotion (moreso than Gene)
As a milwaukee user I am appreciative of your time and knowledge. I enjoy my fuel tools and support milwaukee fully. I buy bosch as needed, but find they are indeed 5 or more years behind. For example; my jigsaw is phenomenal- but comes with a one year warranty.
Thank you, I appreciate it!
I may be in the market for one in the future, but one drill does well for me right now. I am wondering, though, when they’ll release a new impact driver that can retain bits a little better than their current M18 Fuel driver. I’d probably get a second, normal driver for lags (I run a Surge right now), but I’m waiting for an update to address this issue. I know they released a Gen 3.5, but it’s difficult for me to track down. Just my two cents.
They have updated the gen 3 fuel impact for bit retention. VCG did a video about it maybe a month or 2 ago and I think jokingly called it the gen 3.5 fuel
I do hope they update their 2801 to a fuel version that has similar size/weight but better build quality and maybe more power/speed. I’d buy it right away. I don’t think it’ll be 12v though. If anything, in their 12v lineup, I’m hoping they’ll update their 2402 fuel screwdriver to be more compact and light, yet still powerful. Much like the bosch GSR12V-300HX or dewalt’s DCF601.
From the February 2021 Forbes Asia edition.
HD is TTI’s largest customer:
As the pandemic unfolded, the news was grim from both TTI’s biggest customer, Home Depot, and its biggest factory in Dongguan, China. The factory was shut for ten days in February due to the pandemic. A month later, Home Depot had cut its stores’ operating hours and put a limit on customers allowed inside at one time—and the year before the U.S. DIY chain had contributed nearly half of TTI’s sales.
Release updated tools every:
“For Milwaukee’s brushless drill, for example, we launch a new generation version—smaller, more powerful—every two years. There’s no limit. You are going to see more breakthroughs throughout the next ten years,” says Galli.
“When I was at Black & Decker, developing a new product took 20 to 28 months. At TTI, the time is nine months,” says Galli, “Horst is an entrepreneur. There’s no bureaucracy; The approval process doesn’t need nine signatures.”
I support Stuart’s theory of new sub compact M18 sub/compact drill at some point in 2021 or 2022.
9 months compared to 20 months this is why dewalt gets it right the first time and Milwaukee doesn’t get it right
Neither company gets everything perfect the first time.
You also can’t apply exec interview commentary with brand-specific business practices.
Galli left Black & Decker 22 years ago, with one story I read saying he had a “falling out” with them after 19 years. Stanley Black & Decker is currently TTI’s top North American competitor.
Cordless tool development back then is different than it is now.
You can’t judge a brand by what a competitor exec says about them, especially where there could be bad blood.
:medal post by Stewart, JG left B & D when he was passed over for the CEO position with success of DW (Nolan A???? got the job).
This must be a joke if you think “Dewalt gets it right the first time”…
nobody’s getting it right the first time on every model they produce. Not Milwaukee, not Makita, not Dewalt.
ex: Dewalt released yet another brushless reciprocating saw between the Gen 2 Flexvolt, Flexvolt Advantage and Power Detect. And not one of them has an adjustable shoe or rafter hook.
Stuart, a bit off topic but any chance you would consider doing a review of your Nova Voyager drill press for a future article? I value your opinion and would appreciate your thoughts on it before I spend $$$ on this particular piece of equipment for my burgeoning maker space. I want a drill press that can handle all sorts materials (wood, plastics, metal etc). I’m open to any suggestions and may consider their new floor model edition of the Viking but it does not seem to have all the features of the Voyager.
I would even take a quick go/no-go purchase recommendation if you are limited on time.
Thanks in advance
I really like my Nova Voyager, but sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off with a different brand. I would buy the features all over again, but I can’t shake my initial experiences.
It took some sorting out, but the rack was defective and after talking to Nova a bit, the replacement they sent me was completely different. The product info and motor spec stickers were all peeling with plastic wrap stuck to them. They sent me replacement stickers, and they all fell off within a day, it was weird.
The main benefit to me is the electronically controlled motor. Some of the advanced features I could take them or leave them, but the speed changes are incredibly convenient with no belts to move.
Updating the firmware was a pain, I had to drag a desktop computer to the garage. This was back when the Viking first came out and they added a feature to the drill press to help with tightening the keyless chuck I installed to it. I don’t think they’ve done anything with the firmware in a while.
I bought it for its material flexibility, and in that regard it hasn’t disappointed me yet. Overall I think it was worth the slight frustrations in dealing with Nova. By now they should have any issues long-ironed out.
Maybe initially I was connecting with the wrong people, but it seemed like they were disconnected from the product’s design. After trying to blame me for damage to the rack, they owned up to it, but didn’t outright accept that it was a factory defect. At the time the Voyager was still fairly new, so that could have played into things as well. The user manual could have been better, but the same is true for a lot of machinery brands.
I’d say YES/GO, but with hesitation towards Nova, not the drill press itself.
I’m not familiar with the Viking, but it weighs 154 lbs, which isn’t very portable and would require its own custom-made base.
They also had the Vulcan, but it seems to have been quickly discontinued.
I wouldn’t say your prediction is wrong, in fact if you had to make a prediction this is the safest bet! It will be interesting to see if they do, and what the firm function ends up being. Now a bigger win would be a Lawn Mower! C’mon Milwaukee get us a lawn mower already!
The market sure seems want it but honestly the M12 fuel is so good, it’s more consumer ignorance or lack of believe/education than actual need. In my opinion, the real need here is for a M18 to M12 adapter/transformer than would allow you to use bigger M18 battery packs for M12 tools to connect the two line ups so you can truly operate the M12’s as a sub-compact extension of the M18.
Would they do it? Probably not but I think they should. You’ll probably sell fewer M12 batteries but I would think you’d sell a few more M18 packs and lot more M12 tools.
Many M12 tools really aren’t all that “subcompact”
The grips are also fat/oversized compared to M18 which lots of people don’t care for on core tools like drivers, drills and impacts. There’s really no point in making a battery with an integrated transformer either. You’re just going to end up with a clunky and awkward tool that will weigh more than a subcompact M18 tool with a 2.0 CP battery.
The M12 hammer drill body is the size of an 18v drill, and its grip is fatter. The only thing that is smaller is the battery. So are they going to make an 18v drill smaller than their 12v drill? Doesn’t make sense.
Makita’s product line makes much more sense. Their sub-compact 18v is smaller than the M12 hammer drill and the same size as their brushless 12v CXT drill.
Milwaukee should follow this model. What they should make is an 18v multi chuck installation drill like the 18v Bosch Flexiclic with a compact body like the Fuel M12 installation drill, which would be the smallest format M18 drill.
I’d be onboard for one if for no other reason than the 2804 has been a real low spot in my Big Red collection. The hammer function is handy but if you look at it sideways it overheats. For that reason I grab my M12 drill/drivers most of the time. If they released a D/D that had a form factor closer to M12 with M18 power, count me in.
Milwaukee is all about innovation, right? I think they’d be following a trend with an m18 subcompact. Instead, I’m hoping to see a truly compact m12 drill. The existing ones aren’t all that much smaller vs their m18 counterparts. When you compare m12 to say Bosch 12v the m12 looks pretty chubby (IIRC it’s been a while since I compared them). I’d be fine with a less-powerful m12 drill than their base model if it’s much more compact (provided it’s not so weak it’s useless).
The Surge covers 90% of my needs — and the remaining 10% either mean I’m going up to the SDS Max or the HoleHawg or using the M18 full size drill.
I don’t see a need for a subcompact for me but maybe for others it’d be nice.
I also have a Surge, and I think your right. My hope is the next surge has much more tightening torque, however there is not much it doesn’t do already. It’s a blast to use because it is so precise and predictable.
IMHO all the brushed tools should be going the way of the dodo. The advantages of brushless are too significant.
not significant enough to push them out of the DIY/Homeowner price bracket. If brushed tools are always cheaper to produce then they’ll always have a place in the product stack.
There’s also plenty of tools that really don’t stand to benefit much from a brushless motor and they sure as hell don’t need to cost anymore than they already do. Take the M18 grease gun for example, you don’t need a BL motor to drive a tool that generally operates around ~54W continuous discharge. And the thing just passed $200 MSRP thanks to the tariffs. When it used to be $170.
Probably not. Even if it costs the same they’ll use them as entry tools.
Brushless doesn’t handle constant stopping and reversing as well as brushed…
This could be solved through engineering but simply using a “dumb” brushed tool is a lot cheaper.
I would say maybe they don’t need to follow the trend. maybe the come out with a compact brushless drill replacement that is slightly more compact than the current one – straddle the naming convention.
I don’t see the other sub compact devices selling that well. take the dewalt Atomic – it’s not the game changer and I often tell people to look at other products. The makita sub is probably one of the best of the arena but again here – even if I was in makita system I wouldn’t buy one. MOstly because I don’t like the fit of any of the sub compact devices.
On the other hand is there a sub compact 18V device sitting in the other TTI family of tools?
I don’t want a milwaukee again. Have the gen2 and gen3. Gen2 runs great, gen 3 I get the occasional cut off where it just stops operating. Pull the battery and replace then works. I really like the size though vs.gen2
I bought the makita combo in November and love the impact but drill is a big beast.
Then they came out with the newest combo with the xdt16 and xph14. Very nice combo, the drill is much lighter and smaller than the 07. Bought both of the 18v x2 circular saws and love them.
Still love my m12’s but only m18 I use now is the hackzall one handed saw, just love feel and balance of it.
Makita has won me over in some areas but milwaukee in others.
I don’t really see the point of a “small and light” M18. The M18 Fuel drill is not significantly heavier than the M12 Fuel drill. I know, because I own both and regularly run a 4ah on the M12 and the massive 9ah on the M18. I only really use the M18 when I need a lot of power or torque.
I *would* like to see a drill that can do ~5000rpm for “aircraft” applications where you want the high rpm for drilling in aluminum.
Probably not, between offering massive batteries and already compact drills I don’t think it’s in the cards.
Gen 3 m18 and gen 2 m12 fuel drills are basically the same size.
I switched from 18v Dewalt (when they switched to slide pack” 20v” ),to m18 in 2014.
2015 I added m12 and they have become my daily use for everything except cutting/grinding/lights,4 years fencing and the rest cabinets.
The gen 1 fuel bandsaw, the gen 2 fuel hackzall,and the fuel sds ,gen 2 fuel omt,right angle grinder are fantastic for smaller tasks.
However the rest of the cutting tools don’t have the oomph for a circular saw,or heavy demanding work.
I will first grab the m12 surge,impact,drill,sds,omt,hackzall,greasgun, bandsaw,before any 18v tool of any brand.
However Joe homeowner will probably prefer the 18v lineup, since compacts sell very well.