Milwaukee M18 FUEL Combo Kit Review 2997-22

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PTR Review
  • Overall Score 9.5

What we have here amounts to an upgrade that addresses some ergonomic issues alongside a needed speed bump for the impact driver. Milwaukee placed second in our best 18V impact driver shootout, jamming all that performance (and more) into a smaller package. The new tools pack quite a punch, and I can't say the hammer drill feels much different from its former self. The impact driver, however, really feels more compact. If you take a look at other tools used by Pros, Milwaukee is seriously challenging what kind of size reductions you can make to still have a top-performing product.

Overall Score 9.5 (out of 10)

Earlier this year our team got to use the new Milwaukee M18 Fuel combo kit (2997-22). This is a 2-tool kit which includes the M18 Fuel 1/2″ Hammer Drill (2804-20) and M18 Fuel impact driver (2853-20). While getting a short amount of time with these at the 2018 Milwaukee media event, taking them in-house allows us to really see how they compare to the 2015 Milwaukee 2-tool combo kit tools they replace.

For new users, we provided a brief overview of these tools. If you already know about these tools and their specs, drop down to our Hands-on Testing section.

Head to Head Comparison Results

The Milwaukee 2806-20 18V Hammer Drill competed with 50 other drills in our recent Best Cordless Drill Shootout. It showed well, with plenty of speed, a really solid feature set, and weight that won’t fatigue. It misses a bit of torque compared to some of the others we tested, but its design is so compact that it’s well worth your consideration. As an added value, it comes as part of the 2997-22 kit with Milwaukee’s 18V Impact Driver and two 5.0Ah batteries.

  • Overall 18V Heavy-Duty Hammer Drill Ranking: 4th place

Check out the full 18V Hammer Drill shootout results here!  Check out our testing procedures here!

Likewise, the 2857 One-Key Impact Driver put itself up against more than 30 competitors. Milwaukee crushes it in torque and has an impressive feature set to go along with its size and weight reduction.

Check out the results of our best 18V impact driver head-to-head as well as our best impact driver review.

  • Overall 18V Impact Driver Ranking: 2nd Place

Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2″ Hammer Drill/Driver

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2″ hammer drill (2804-20) has the same torque as the 2704-20 model we tested back in 2013 during our head-to-head hammer drill shootout. It’s still industry-leading at 1,200 in-lbs. There are a couple of contenders that could give it a run for the money. That includes the Hitachi DV18DBL2 and the new RIDGID Octane 18V drill which claims 1,300 in-lbs of torque. Presumably, the new Hitachi MultiVolt 36V hammer drill due in September will also fall into this class.

Dramatically Reduced Size

While matching the power and torque of its predecessor, the Milwaukee 2804-20 hammer drill measures 1-1/2 inches shorter in length—just 6.9 inches. Like the updated Milwaukee M12 FUEL impact driver and drill, these new models bring a much-needed size reduction to Milwaukee’s FUEL power tools. They’ve not only reduced the length of the tool, but they also took a little off the middle. The handle also feels more ergonomic—with a smaller overall circumference. Because Milwaukee redesigned the way they integrate the clutch and hammer mechanism, they also created a new benefit. The hammer drill no longer carries extra length over the drill—both measure just 6.9″.

Milwaukee FUEL hammer drill old vs new

Milwaukee 2804-20 Features

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2″ Hammer Drill continues to use their Powerstate Brushless motor and the top speed matches the 2704-20 at 2,000 RPM. If you somehow overtax the hammer drill, RedLink Plus will shut it down to protect against overloads and heating. You also get protection against over-discharging the battery pack. Finally, Milwaukee continues to ship this hammer drill with an all-metal ratcheting chuck.

The chuck is very similar to the prior model, and the ratcheting jaws retained the hardened steel with almost serrated internal teeth that bite into bits.

drill chucks CU

Milwaukee 2804-20 M18 FUEL Hammer Drill Specs

  • Voltage: 18V
  • RPM: 0-550/2,000
  • Peak torque: 1,200 in-lbs
  • BPM: 32,000
  • Clutch settings: 14
  • Chuck: 1/2″ all-metal ratcheting
  • Length: 6.9 in.
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs (tool only)
  • Warranty: 5-years

Milwaukee M18 FUEL Impact Driver 2853-20

Like the new FUEL hammer drill, the updated Milwaukee M18 FUEL impact driver sports a new compact size. Really compact. You get an extra 200 in-lbs of torque, and the new tool is just 4.59 inches long. It shaves over 5/8 of an inch off the Milwaukee 2753-20. That makes this new impact driver more compact than even the well-regarded DeWalt DCF895 (beating it by 500 in-lbs of torque as well). It’s also nearly 3/4-inch shorter than the brand new DeWalt DCF888 (and has 175 in-lbs more torque).

4-Mode Drive Control and Self-Tapping Mode

Like its predecessor, the new 2853-20 gets 4-mode Drive Control that works as follows:

  1. 0-1,900 RPM in Mode 1
  2. 0-2,800 RPM in Mode 2
  3. 0-3,600 RPM in Mode 3
  4. Self-Tapping Screw Mode

The self-tapping screw mode is designed to keep you from snapping the heads off screws or ruining your bits when coming to a hard stop. It’s perfect for setting self-tap screws in sheet metal panels or steel studs. As much as I enjoy Milwaukee One-Key, sometimes it’s nice to simply give the user a button.

Milwaukee M18 FUEL impact driver modes

Speed Up and Size Down

If you used the Milwaukee 2753-20, this new model gives a noticeable speed bump. The 2015 impact driver operates at three speeds: 850, 2100, and 3000 RPM. Milwaukee not only increased the top speed by 600 RPM, but it also bumped all three across the board. The most noticeable gains occur in Mode 3 and also Mode 1 where you would get down to that slower 850 RPM by feathering the trigger. Overall, this speed adjustment should speed up most fastening applications, regardless of the desired torque.

Like the 2753-20, the Milwaukee 2853-20 impact driver chuck lets you insert and remove bits with one hand. Personally, I prefer this as it lets me simply push a bit into the 1/4-inch hex chuck without having to pull it first.

Milwaukee FUEL impact driver old vs new

Milwaukee 2853-20 M18 FUEL Impact Driver Specs

  • Voltage: 18V
  • RPM: 0-1,900/2,800/3,600
  • Peak torque: 2,000 in-lbs
  • IPM: 0-1,200/3,400/4,300
  • 4-mode drive control
  • Chuck: 1/4″ hex
  • Single hand bit insertion
  • Belt clip
  • Length: 4.6 in.
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs (tool only)
  • Warranty: 5-years

Milwaukee M18 FUEL Combo Kit (2997-22)

Milwaukee FUEL tools old vs new
You can really see the difference in the length of the new tools (center) vs the last-generation FUEL models (outside).

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL combo Kit (2997-22) includes the M18 FUEL 1/2″ hammer drill (2804-20), M18 FUEL impact driver (2853-20), two (2) M18 RedLithium XC 5.0Ah batteries (48-11-1850), M18 & M12 multi-voltage charger (48-59-1812), carrying case, side handle, belt clips, and bit holders.

Next Up: Hands-on Testing

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