Cordless Drill Reviews & Impact Drivers

Cordless Impact Wrenches

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More compact and more powerful. That's the Gen 3 Milwaukee M18 Fuel compact impact wrench in a nutshell. With the addition of new tri-beam LEDs and auto modes, there's really no downside unless you're holding out for a One-Key version.

Overall Score 4.7 Pro Review

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact Impact Wrench Review


Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact Impact Wrench Drops Size, Increases Muscle

We got our hands on the Milwaukee M18 Fuel compact impact wrench early as part of the new Pipeline kick-off to help you get an immediate idea of what’s new. If you missed the first episode, be sure to register for the next one and join in the excitement!

Pros

  • 250 ft-lbs of breakaway torque (20% increase)
  • Broke 400 ft-lbs in our testing
  • 4.9 inches long (0.9-inch decrease)
  • New auto modes
  • New tri-beam LEDs
  • Increased lanyard hole size
  • 3 drive styles available

Cons

  • No One-Key option (yet)

Recommendation

More compact and more powerful. That’s the Gen 3 Milwaukee M18 Fuel compact impact wrench in a nutshell. With the addition of new tri-beam LEDs and auto modes, there’s really no downside unless you’re holding out for One-Key versions.

No matter what trade you’re in, this impact wrench is a big win for bringing solid performance into tight spaces.

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Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact Impact Wrench

Power

With the update to the compact impact wrenches, we’re seeing a boost in power. According to the specs, we see a move from 200 ft-lbs to 250 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque. For fastening, the updated model has 200 ft-lbs of torque.

We’ll take 25% more power any day of the week, but our testing results were even more impressive. Using 7/8-inch, grade 8 hardened steel nuts and bolts, we set them to specific intervals with our digital torque wrench and 6x torque multiplier.

With the power bump, new tri-beam LEDs, and Auto modes, we can’t find a downside to these new Milwaukee compact impact wrenches…

Kenny Koehler

We start small and work our way up to see if an impact tool can actually break what the manufacturer claims. This one did and much more. In fact, the next-gen Milwaukee M18 Fuel compact impact wrench hit much higher, consistently breaking 400 ft-lbs on our rig!

Taking it to automotive applications, there’s plenty of power. We rotated the tires on a couple of our work trucks and were able to take all the lugs off with no problem. One of the trucks had exposed lugs that hadn’t been off in more than two years and we still didn’t have to reach for our mid-torque.

Size and Weight

In addition to gaining some muscle, Milwaukee’s compact impact wrench also slimmed down. We measured the previous model at 5.8 inches. This one drops nearly an inch off of the head length to 4.9 inches. That’s almost as small as the 2857 M18 Fuel impact driver!

The weight drops slightly as well. Now 0.1 lbs lighter, it weighs in at 2.4 lbs bare and 3.7 lbs with the 3.0Ah High Output battery we tested with. Using a 5.0Ah battery might be more common, putting its weight right at 4.0 lbs.

Either way you want to power it, this is a compact workhorse that’s ready to get into the tight spaces your mid-torque or high-torque impact wrench won’t fit.

New Features

Auto Modes

Several new features show up with this update. The most useful is the auto mode. While it’s just one setting, it has different functions in forward and reverse.

In forward, it automatically shuts off to prevent over-tightening. The basic idea is to let the tool secure your bolt, then switch to your torque wrench to set it to the proper torque.

When it comes to working on aluminum rims or other torque-sensitive materials, we love really love this mode.

Switching to reverse, it’s a bolt removal assist. Here, the impacts start light and slow before increasing until the bolt loosens. Once it does, it continues removing the bolt at the low-speed rate.

LED Tri-Beam

We absolutely LOVE tri-beam LEDs on our drilling and fastening tools and Milwaukee has brought it to their compact impact wrench!

3 LEDs surround the drive, nearly eliminating shadows and lighting up your work area much better than any foot-mounted LED can.

Lanyard Hole

One of the more minor updates is an increase in the lanyard hole size. It’s not something most of us will notice working on the ground, but it’s easier to attach your lanyard for construction workers at height.

Additional Features

  • Brushless motor
  • Standard 3-speed electronic controls (plus the auto modes, 4 modes total)
  • Reversible belt hook
  • Variable speed trigger

Versions

You can get your Milwaukee compact impact wrench in 3 flavors:

  • 3/8-inch friction ring (Milwaukee 2854)
  • 1/2-inch friction ring (Milwaukee 2855)
  • 1/2-inch pin detent (Milwaukee 2855P)

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What About One-Key?

There’s no One-Key version of these tools yet. However, Milwaukee did add a One-Key option to the last generation, so there’s hope we might see them down the road a little way.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact Impact Wrench Comparison Chart

Previous GenNext Gen
Max Torque220 ft-lbs250 ft-lbs
Speeds0 – 900/1600/2500 RPM0 – 900/1650/2400 RPM
Impact Rate0 – 3200 IPM0 – 3500 IPM
Auto ModesNoneAuto Shut-Off/Bolt Removal
One-Key OptionYesNot Yet
Head Length5.9 in4.9 in
Weight2.5 lbs2.4 lbs
LEDSingleTri-LED
Lanyard HoleSmallLarger
Based on 1/2″ Friction Ring Models

Price

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel compact impact wrench updated models are due out November 2, 2020, with preordering coming around late September. Expect to pay $199 for the bare tool for each version. That’s just $10 more than what the current models run.

Here’s a breakdown of your kit options:

-20 (bare)-22CT-22
3/8-Inch Friction Ring (2854)$199$299$369
1/2-Inch Friction Ring (2855)$199N/A$369
1/2-Inch Pin Detent (2855P)$199N/A$369
-22CT includes two 2.0Ah batteries. -22 kits include two 5.0Ah batteries.

The Bottom Line

More compact and more powerful. That’s the Gen 3 Milwaukee M18 Fuel compact impact wrench in a nutshell. With the power bump, new tri-beam LEDs, and Auto modes, we can’t find a downside to these new Milwaukee compact impact wrenches unless you’re holding out for a One-Key version.

No matter what trade you’re in, this impact wrench is a big win for bringing solid performance into tight spaces.

What do you think? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

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Alex Burkhardt

Didn’t see mention of the current M12 Stubby tools as a consideration. Sort of surprised that they went dead even on that 250 ft-lb spec. I suppose it comes down to whether you’re more into M18 or M12, but considering that this is going to be heavily used in automotive – the RA impact and ratchets are all 12v already, not to mention the M12 stubby is already a pretty compact tool.

ada.

Nut busting is BS, they are just accounting for the mechanical advantages of loosening..

Chris Spargo

Your math is off