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July 29, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench | The Definitive Guide

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench | The Definitive Guide

With 3 Models to Choose From, Each Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench Serves a Different Purpose

Making the jump from a pneumatic impact wrench to a cordless model is something most Pros agree is beneficial. There’s no hose to trip over, there’s less maintenance to worry about, they’re not as loud, and there’s no compressor to buy to make it all work. But that’s only helpful if the tool has the performance to get the job done. With three Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-inch impact wrench models to choose from, choosing the right one for the job is critical.


We got on the horn with Milwaukee’s cordless fastening guru, Zafir Farooque, to learn more about these tools and how they’re designed to meet specific needs.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench: Pistol Grip

Milwaukee’s first cordless 1-inch impact wrench was the 2867. It boasts 1500 ft-lbs of fastening torque and 1800 ft-lbs of breakaway torque. It’s One-Key enabled and the kit comes with two M18 8.0Ah High Output batteries and a rapid charger.

In addition to the standard inventory management and tracking that One-Key provides, there’s also a very handy Precision Mode. Here, blow counting technology lets you determine how much force you want to put on the fastener before the tool automatically stops.

Because each bolt size and hardness is different, you select a 1 – 20 scale rather than a specific number of blows or torque level. Getting it right is a matter of working your way up until you find the right setting. Dial it in over several bolts to leave you a little short of your target torque, then use your torque wrench to finish it off. Once you know the best setting, you can save it and name it to make future fastening quicker.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench

You can customize the 4 selectable modes on the tool as well. We set a pretty typical 4 increasing levels of power in forward. In reverse, we like to set it to return to low speed once the bolt is loose so there’s more control and it doesn’t drop to the ground or roll away.

Target User Needs

As the smallest in the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-inch impact wrench line, this model prioritizes a more compact size and lighter weight for working in tight spaces and overhead. In fact, it’s much lighter than corded and pneumatic models in the same power class.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench

The trade-off is less power than the other two models. The 2867 is designed to fasten and loosen bolts up to 1 3/4 inches.

Common Trades

  • Power Utility
  • Iron Workers
  • Mechanical
  • Rail

Full Feature Set

  • One-Key enabled
  • 4 customizable speeds
  • 1-inch friction ring drive with through-hole
  • 270º tool-free handle rotation
  • Integrated lanyard loop pre-installed
  • LED light
  • Premium rubber overmold

One-Key Feature Highlights

  • Customizable max speed settings
  • Customizable bolt removal speed (once the bolt breaks free)
  • Precision Mode (limit torque to avoid over-tightening before setting with a torque wrench)
  • Custom setting lockout (prevents changes to custom settings without a code)
  • Trigger ramp up speed
  • Inventory management
  • Tracking

Specifications

  • Model: Milwaukee 2867
  • Recommended Battery: M18 8.0Ah High Output
  • Max Fastening Torque: 1500 ft-lbs
  • Max Breakaway Torque: 1800 ft-lbs
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 2400 IPM
  • No-Load Speed: 0 – 1800 RPM
  • Length: 10.9 inches
  • Weight: 10.5 pounds with battery
  • Price: $699 bare, $999 kit with two 8.0Ah batteries and rapid charger
  • Warranty: 5 years

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench: Standard Anvil D-Handle

Milwaukee raised the bar they’d already set with the introduction of the 2868 D-handle impact wrench. This high-torque beast moves up to 1900 ft-lbs of fastening torque with 2000 ft-lbs of loosening torque. It uses the largest brushless motor Milwaukee has ever put in an impact wrench and includes an upgraded electronics package to work with the 12.0Ah High Output battery and One-Key.

To get the best performance and runtime, Milwaukee packs this model with two 12.0Ah High Output batteries and a rapid charger when you buy the kit.

Also One-Key enabled, this Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-inch impact wrench has essentially the same settings options as the smaller 2867.

Target User Needs

This model reverses the pistol grip’s targets, prioritizing power over size and weight. While it’s not light at 24.4 pounds (with the battery), it’s roughly the same weight as similar pneumatic models.

You gain 400 ft-lbs of fastening torque with this model and that makes a huge difference. For those jobs that include bolts over 2 inches, this is the cordless impact wrench you need.

Common Trades and Applications

  • Power Utility: substation assembly; lattice tower and monopole installation; wind turbine anchor bolts
  • Iron Workers: joining I-beams; anchor bolts
  • Mechanical: mechanical pipe flanges; oil/gas pipeline and pumps
  • Rail: rail joint bars, rail spikes, locomotive maintenance

In each of these scenarios, bolt sizes often reach beyond the 1 3/4-inch capacity of what the pistol grip model is designed for, making the more powerful D-handle a better tool for those larger fasteners.

Notice the target trades here are similar here even though the power difference is significant. It’s very likely that a crew can use both tools—the smaller, lighter pistol grip on smaller bolts and the D-handle for larger ones. It’s also worth pointing out that neither of these tools has been specifically targeting diesel technicians.

Specifications

  • Model: Milwaukee 2868
  • Recommended Battery: M18 12.0Ah High Output
  • Max Fastening Torque: 1900 ft-lbs
  • Max Breakaway Torque: 2000 ft-lbs
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 1440 IPM
  • No-Load Speed: 0 – 1200 RPM
  • Length: 17.9 inches
  • Weight: 24.4 pounds
  • Price: $799 bare, $1299 kit with two 12.0Ah and rapid charger
  • Warranty: 2 years

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench: Extended Anvil D-Handle

The 2869 is essentially an extended anvil version of the 2868. The most noticeable difference is the extended anvil and that’s where it fills the need for a cordless 1-inch D-handle impact wrench that suits diesel, agriculture, and heavy equipment technicians.

There’s another significant difference: Lug Nut Mode inside One-Key. This mode uses the same blow count technology as the Precision Mode (also found on this model along with the 4 customizable modes), but specifically for tightening lug nuts.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench

It sets them to 350 – 450 ft-lbs so it’s short of the typical 475 ft-lbs that many of these large lugs call for but close enough that you don’t need to turn your torque wrench all that much. Like Precision Mode, it sets to a range because each nut size will set to a different torque with the same number of blows.

One minor difference is that the tether ring isn’t pre-installed. Milwaukee’s product team found that most techs don’t use it. It comes in the package if you want it, though.

Target User Needs

The extended anvil is all about reaching into large wheel wells to access lug nuts where the standard anvil size can’t reach. At this power level, it’s the go-to cordless impact wrench for lug nuts on commercial vehicles and equipment.

Common Trades and Applications

  • Over the Road: commercial lug nuts
  • Mass Transit: commercial lug nuts; rail and locomotive maintenance
  • Off the Road (OTR): heavy equipment maintenance
  • Farm and Agriculture: heavy equipment maintenance

Secondarily, the same trades that are primary for the standard anvil can absolutely make use of the extended anvil. It just makes the most sense when reach is a concern.

Specifications

  • Model: Milwaukee 2869
  • Recommended Battery: M18 12.0Ah High Output
  • Max Fastening Torque: 1900 ft-lbs
  • Max Breakaway Torque: 2000 ft-lbs
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 1440 IPM
  • No-Load Speed: 0 – 1200 RPM
  • Length: 23.2 inches
  • Weight: 26.7 pounds
  • Price: $799 bare, $1299 kit with two 12.0Ah and rapid charger
  • Warranty: 2 years

Two New Features for the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench D-Handle Models

There are a couple of new features that come on the D-handle models. The first is a shift to Tri-LED light around the drive. Like we saw on the compact and mid-torque M18 Fuel impact wrenches, these do a much better job of eliminating when you need the light.

There’s a new Battery Isolator as well. With so much power and impact force, and with the weight of the 12.0Ah High Output battery there’s a very real risk of cell damage due to vibration. The Battery Isolator absorbs much of the vibration while ensuring there’s a constant connection between the tool and battery.

Full D-Handle Feature Set

  • One-Key enabled
  • 4 customizable modes
  • Battery Isolator
  • 1-inch friction ring drive with through-hole
  • 360º rotating, pivoting side handle with tool-free adjustments
  • Integrated lanyard hook (pre-installed on the standard anvil, in the box for the extended anvil)
  • Top-mounted forward/reverse switch (easier reach on the fly than other placements on pneumatic models)
  • Premium rubber overmold
  • Premium rubber boot
  • Recommended for use with 12.0Ah High Output batteries (2 come in the kit with a rapid charger)

One-Key Feature Highlights

  • Customizable max speed settings
  • Customizable bolt removal speed (once the bolt breaks free)
  • Precision Mode (limit torque to avoid over-tightening before setting with a torque wrench)
  • Custom setting lockout (prevents changes to custom settings without a code)
  • Lug Nut Mode (extended anvil model only)
  • Trigger ramp up speed
  • Inventory management
  • Tracking

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-Inch Impact Wrench Vs Pneumatic D-Handle

Performance

Let’s look at the possibility of legitimately replacing your pneumatic impact with a Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1-inch impact wrench.

In an internal test against Ingersoll-Rand’s 285B (1475 ft-lbs fastening torque, 700 BPM, 5250 no-load speed, 90 PSI recommended pressure), Milwaukee posts higher breakaway torque by about 150 ft-lbs.

It’s not unusual for technicians to boost that pressure to get more power, so they also tested at 140 PSI. With that pressure level, the 285B has a higher breakaway force by roughly 250 ft-lbs.

The caveat here is that even though you get more power by using higher pressure, you reduce the life of the tool. As parts wear more quickly, you’ll also see a drop in performance at the same PSI. You also need larger compressors to work at that higher pressure consistently or you risk more downtime.

Weight

While the pistol grip 1-inch impact wrench is significantly lighter than its corded and pneumatic counterparts, the D-handle models are pretty close to each other.

Using the extended anvil M18 Fuel 2869 and the IR 285B-6 as our example models, Milwaukee weighs 26.7 pounds with its 12.0Ah battery and IR weighs 27.8 pounds minus the hose.

The takeaway is that unlike most smaller construction tools, you’re not having to trade-off a big weight gain for the convenience of going cordless. In fact, there’s a little weight loss.

Price and Value

Both D-handle models retail for $799 bare and $1299 with two 12.0Ah batteries and a rapid charger. The rapid charger is significant because it charges the packs in 2 hours, giving you enough work time to cycle between them all day without interruption.

Depending on where you shop, the IR 285B averages about $500 and we’ve seen it as low as $400.

Obviously, the pneumatic option is less expensive. Unless you add the cost of a compressor. And don’t forget about the maintenance costs and potential downtime for service.

With Milwaukee’s cordless models, there’s no compressor to buy and no regular maintenance other than wiping the tool down at the end of the day.

Milwaukee designed their M18 Fuel 1-inch impact wrenches to last the full 2-year warranty period in commercial environments. In many large shops and garages, pneumatic models are replaced every 3 to 6 months and typically only carry a 1-year warranty.

So even with a conservative estimate that you’re replacing your pneumatics every 6 months, you’re going through 4 tools at the same time you go replace just 1 Milwaukee.

Initial CostReplacement Cyle2-Year Total Cost
Milwaukee $12992 years$1299
Ingersoll-Rand$5006 months$2000
Ingersoll-Rand$5003 months$4000

That’s just the comparison for one tool. If you’re a large shop running, say, 80 impact wrenches, the 2-year replacement cost savings are between $56,000 and $112,000 by going cordless!


Those figures don’t include the significant costs of a full compressor setup, hoses, additional electricity, and maintenance. If you’re just getting started, that’s a lot more upfront cost. Even if you have everything already, the maintenance, replacement hoses, and electricity costs add to the difference.

It’s Not Curtains for Pneumatics Just Yet

Even though we think Milwaukee makes a compelling case for ditching your hoses, there’s still the fact that you can get more nut-busting power out of a pneumatic impact wrench. You can take care of roughly 95% of the nuts and bolts using the M18 Fuel D-handle models and that still leaves room for at access to at least one pneumatic wrench in your shop.

When it comes to properly set and maintained bolts, Milwaukee has you completely covered. When rust and corrosion set in or you’re dealing with stripped and stretched threads, M18 Fuel still handles most of it. However, there are some cases bad enough that a pneumatic has just enough of a power bump to break loose what these cordless models can’t.

It’s no guarantee, though. There’s only a relatively small gap between Milwaukee’s performance and needing to reach for a torch that pneumatics have their advantage. So keep one or two on hand for the 5% of the time you need air power and let your crews enjoy cordless freedom the rest of the time.

The Bottom Line

Being able to leave your pneumatic impacts on the sideline is a matter of confidence that the battery-powered tool in your hand is going to get the job done as well as or better than air power. With a pistol grip model for tight spaces and overhead work, a higher-torque option that gives you 2000 ft-lbs of breakaway torque, and an extended anvil version with the same power, Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel lineup now has the right 1-inch high-torque impact wrench for nearly every job.

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