Update: Milwaukee has officially announced their new M4 line of cordless power tools, with the first M4 product being a pivoting-handle screwdriver. Following is the original discussion and predictions that we posted four months prior to the M4 announcements.
We have seen reasonably credible evidence that Milwaukee might be working on a line of M4 4-volt lithium ion power tools and accessories.
Craftsman released a line of 4-volt tools late last year, and it was a major flop. Home Depot carries a line of Ryobi 4-volt Tek4 tools, and every time we see them in store they’re covered in dust. So why would Milwaukee look to jump into such a market?
From what we’ve seen, it is suggested that Milwaukee is mainly focusing on M4 screwdrivers, a flashlight, and the battery system. With Milwaukee under the same TTI umbrella as Ryobi, there should be some valuable market data that could help Milwaukee ride into the fray without training wheels, but they would undoubtedly move slowly with an M4 line. It is logical that, if they are indeed working on an M4 line, they would kick it off with few tools to minimize the financial risk.
The way we see things, a compact 4-volt battery system might give Milwaukee engineers greater design freedoms when it comes to lighter duty tools that don’t really need the power output M12 batteries are capable of delivering. M12 tools are almost as compact and lightweight as can be, but there are inherent size, weight, and cost considerations that might have forced Milwaukee designers to back-burner certain new tool designs.
If the M4 line is ever realized, the tools would almost definitely be marketed as complimentary products. That is, there is no way Milwaukee would ever market them as 12-volt replacements. Instead of conventional tools, like drills and saws, we would most likely see new accessories and equipment in a similar spirit as with the M12 line (e.g. the M12 heated jacket). (We would totally go for some M4 heated gloves.)
While many power tool users might scoff at the idea of professional-grade 4-volt power tools, there’s definitely the potential for great success if Milwaukee does things right. We know Milwaukee is into developing game-changers, and so hopefully they’re working on the unconfirmed M4 line with a similar approach. And remember, many seasoned 18V users laughed at the “gimmicky” 12V “toys” that hit the market in recent years, until using them for the first time.
We know that some of you might not share our hopefully optimism about what we believe to be pending M4 developments. And maybe we’ll never see such tools because Milwaukee finds the risk too high and reward too low. But right now we’re keeping an open mind.
There was no mention of anything M4-related at Milwaukee’s recent new product media event, so a 2012 launch is definitely out of the question. Perhaps we’ll see something in 2013, at the earliest.
Right now, it would be best to treat all this is as unconfirmed speculation. We trust our sources, insight, and judgements, and our predictions come true more often than not, but we really don’t have many strong details to go by. We tried to choose our words carefully to reflect this. Now that we know there’s an M4 power tool line in the works – or at least on the drawing boards – we’ll be hunting for more information.
I’m holding out for the 4V rotary hammer… :-p
Actually, as a cabinet installer and finish carpenter, 4v tools would be extremely useful. I have a few of the ryobi tek4 drivers because the low torque minimizes the risk of turn out, over-torquing, and stripping fasteners. Having a more professional-grade choice would be nice, especially if they are as good as the M12 series is.
I’d totally go for an M4 screwdriver.
First I’ve heard of this it sounds really interesting, milwaukee have such a good track record I’d love to see what they could do with the M4.
I totally agree. There is something to be said for a lower torque tool when needed. There is also however, a big case for less weight and more portability whenever possible. There is a dying breed of tool user out there. They were the guys who never wore ear protection, (real men didn’t, don’t ya know?,) never used anything smaller than a 28 oz hammer, and always needed an 18 volt hammer drill to hang a picture in their den.
We’re seeing more guys who realize that if you don’t need the weight or performance, why carry it? If the truth be known, men have traditionally carried tools that were more for outward appearance. They weren’t as much about actually making a case for them. Now they’re older and dealing with medical issues from swinging a hammer that was a lot heavier than they needed for the past 30 years.
The more I’m exposed to compact and portable, the more I’m hyped about it. This could be a great line.
I have the Skil 3.6V and the Ryobi Tek4 screwdrivers (and I Tek4 laser thermometer). I wouldn’t have bought either except I got them real cheap, one as a closeout and the other a refurb at outlet stores. They are perfect for low-torque jobs, such as dryer vent and downspout screws, especially when up on a ladder. They fit in your pocket and are not a burden like an 18V drill/driver.
Both have the endearing quality of all LiOn tools, that they don’t have a dead battery when you grab them. The Skil is useless for drilling and the Tek4 just adequate, but often adequate is enough. Of course both need drill bits in 1/4″ holders.
I think the big problem with the Tek4 set is not the technology but the branding and pricing- if it said “Milwaukee” it might sell at those high prices, since it says Ryobi the retail price should be about half what it is.
Will the Milwaukee M4 line sell? I don’t know. If it’s Tek4 compatible I will certainly check it out.
M4 Hackzall using jigsaw blades? 🙂
I don’t think I’ll regret investing in 12v tools instead of 18v (for my needs, anyway). I say give it a shot, Milwaukee! Well, after you make an M12 circular saw.
I had a few of the B&D VPX (7v?) tools for a while. They were very handy for small, light-duty tasks. Right tool for the right job sorta thing.
I have a few M12 tools and a 18v Li-Ion. I am disabled and could use a screwdriver with clutch settings for the computers when I build them. It would also need to be able to pivot in angles like pistol grip, straight and in between, locking in each. The clutch of 20 posistions and 3 LED lights switable on/off. I would like to beta test them on PC’s and house repairs from a Handicapped persons view.
This would make some sense for all their measuring tools such a multimeters and laser temp guns that probably don’t need M12 runtime but could be a little smaller. Bosch has a 4V screw driver as well that works great and my favorite part is the charge actually charges 4v and 12v batteries, very smart.
Tools in Action just posted a shot of the M4 driver on their twitter feed. Have any more info Stuart? https://twitter.com/ToolsInAction/status/266184991136948224/photo/1
Details and specs are here: https://toolguyd.com/milwaukee-m4-screwdriver/
I know this post is sort of dated, but:
My old man and I have used the M4 screwdriver for years. Let me tell you, the target for this little thing is: electronics. Not precision stuff like iPhones, but for photocopy repairs, computer tower builds, electronics on appliances, etc.. This little tool is so nice to have. Others always ask “what type of Milwaukee is that?” Very nice complements for a very nice tool. Just misunderstood at times..