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May 7, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Framing Nailer Review

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Framing Nailer
PTR Review
  • Pro Rating 9.6

Given the power, firing rate, zero firing delay, and optional extended magazine, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless framing nailer is the best cordless framing nailer currently available. The only thing left is to figure out a way to shave some weight.

Overall Score 9.6 (out of 10)

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless framing nailers (2744-21 and 2745-21) hit store shelves back in June 2020. They put out both 21-degree and 30-degree models that work identically save for the nails used. We only wish it would have been here in time for our best framing nailer shootout.


Pros

  • Zero delay, even in bump fire mode
  • Sinks nails on every single shot, including when you’re rapid firing in bump mode
  • Optional extended magazine holds 2 full sticks of nails
  • Depth adjustment knob is conveniently located and easy to adjust
  • Worked well in our testing with both paper and wire collated strips
  • Fires full head offset and clipped head nails
  • Simple electronic switch to change from sequential to bump firing
  • Folding rafter hook and separate belt clip included

Cons

  • Heavy—11.3 pounds with stock magazine and 5.0Ah battery
  • Slightly bulkier than pneumatic framing nailers
  • More plastic used in construction and no metal rear strike plate

Recommendation

Because there are no issues with driving power and nailing speed, the only question is how often you want to reach for your Milwaukee cordless framing nailer. Its weight is its major limitation and we know there are some contractors out there making the adjustment to use it as a primary framing nailer.

From our perspective, it does its best work for remodeling contractors, repair, and punch list jobs. When you’re stopping by for a quick job or moving around a lot, the lack of a compressor and hose saves time and really frees you up while you work.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Framing Nailer

First Impressions

We initially got our hands on the Milwaukee battery-powered nailers at NPS 2019 and went to town driving 3-inch nails into laminated engineered lumber. They can fire up to 3 nails per second—which feels close to what we ask of our pneumatic framing nailers.

Milwaukee cordless framing nailer extended magazine

As fast as we could pull the trigger, it shot nails into our workpiece. There’s absolutely no delay in these nailers. It’s very much like using a pneumatic tool.

Raising the Roof

Once we got our hands on a model we could hang onto longer, we put it to use on a roofing project. We needed to completely replace it down to the plywood and found several areas that needed new wood, too.

Milwaukee cordless framing nailers

With code-approved pattern and fasteners, we need to lay down our plywood with 2 3/8-inch ring shank nails. Initially, the nails were a little proud, but a quick depth adjustment took care of that.

Positioned on top, the metal knurled knob is super-smooth compared to many of the other framing nailers we’ve used. It turns easily from one position to the next and works just as well with or without gloves.

With the size nails and materials we were fastening, we didn’t expect any issues with power or drive consistency. The nailer performed beautifully on this job with zero jams or misfires.

Milwaukee Cordless Framing Nailer Freedom

Our roofing project really highlighted the cordless freedom this nailer offers. Once the bad wood was identified and removed, we were able to quickly get started and move around with no compressor to set up or hose to drag around.

Since the Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless framing nailer functions completely off the M18 battery platform, you don’t need to use gas cartridges. This results in all-day usability since you can swap out a pack as another one charges. You never have to run to the store to get a cartridge.

Milwaukee cordless framing nailer toenailing

We also like the compactness of this nailer. At 14.1 inches across the head, it easily fits between studs for close-quarters nailing. While the extended magazine adds some bulk and length, it’s no worse than a compact pneumatic nailer. Without the hose dragging behind, you can quickly move from one section of studs to another and not worry about getting tangled up.

Milwaukee 2744-21 and 2745-21 Extended Capacity Magazines

Milwaukee added an optional extended capacity magazine to address the need for more nails. No one else does this to our knowledge—most battery-powered nailers use short mags.

It represents a real advantage for these nailers. By swapping out magazines, there’s enough capacity in both the 21-degree and 30-degree models to hold two strips of nails.

The cost for this optional component is $69, but given the ergonomics and the speed with which this tool works, we’d opt for it right out of the gate. On the 21-degree framing nailer, the standard magazine holds up to 45 nails and the 30-degree holds 51.

With the extended magazine, the Milwaukee 2744-21 21° nailer and 2745-21 30° nailer can each hold up to 83 nails—two full strips. This lets you send more nails home before having to reload than any other cordless nailer on the market.

It’s worth noting that the magazines aren’t interchangeable between angles. The driver system is specific to each style. Make sure you buy the one that matches the angle of your nailer.

Battery Life

In terms of battery life, both the Milwaukee 2744-21 and 2745-21 can sink anywhere from 500-700 nails on a single 5.0Ah battery. While that varies based on the size nails you’re using and the material you’re fastening, it’s enough to cycle a couple of batteries and make through your day without interruption.

Weight

There’s no getting around that this is a heavy tool for a framing nailer. With a 5.0Ah battery and stock magazine, it weighed 11.3 pounds on our scale.

It’s something you’re going to notice, especially when you’re nailing overhead. The upside is that the weight is balanced pretty well.

Other Milwaukee Cordless Framing Nailer Field Notes

Power Up and Mode Changes

There’s a separate electronic power button on the back of the tool. You need to hold it down for a second to turn the tool on, so an accidental bump in your truck box isn’t going to power it up.

The mode switch button is just below that. Like the power button, you need to hold it down for a second, keeping accidental presses from changing modes on you.

Toe Nailing

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless framing nailer is a decent toe nailer. It fits between studs easily and getting an angle for the shot is easy enough. There’s pretty solid visibility around the nose as well.

The nose spurs aren’t very aggressive, though. That tends to let the nose slip from time to time.

Jam Clearance

If you get a jam, there’s enough access to get a pair of needle-nose pliers around the offending nail. If you still can’t quite get it, the Allen wrench stores conveniently along the right side of the nailer to remove the magazine.

Belt and Rafter Hooks

Milwaukee included a nice treat in that there are both belt and rafter hooks that come with the nailer. The belt hook may be hit or miss depending on how you use it. It recesses slightly from the magazine and we ended up using the rafter hook much more frequently.

The rafter hook is large and stout in construction, easily hanging from a joist or ladder rung. It swings out of the way when you don’t need it.


Both hooks are removable if you find you don’t want them.

LED Light

Both the Milwaukee 2744-21 and 2745-21 cordless framing nailers feature an integrated LED light positioned on the bottom which illuminates where you’re hitting. That’s not something you get with a pneumatic nailer and we don’t expect it to be a make-or-break feature, but it’s nice to have, especially on remodeling jobs.

Additional Features

  • Rubber bumpers protect the tool when you set (toss) it down.
  • Dry fire lockout
  • No-mar tip included

Pricing

No matter which nailer angle you prefer, expect to pay $349 for the bare tool. You can also get the Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless framing nailer for $449 as a kit with a 5.0Ah battery and charger.

The Bottom Line

Because there are no issues with driving power and nailing speed, the only question is how often you want to reach for your Milwaukee cordless framing nailer. Its weight is its major limitation and we know there are some contractors out there making the adjustment to use it as a primary framing nailer.

From our perspective, it does its best work for remodeling contractors, repair, and punch list jobs. When you’re stopping by for a quick job or moving around a lot, the lack of a compressor and hose saves time and really frees you up while you work.

Milwaukee Cordless Framing Nailer Specifications

Milwaukee 2744-21 21° Framing Nailer

  • Model: 2744-21 (kit), 2744-20 (tool-only)
  • Nail sizes: 2 in. – 3-1/2 in.
  • Nail diameter: 0.113 in. – 0.148 in.
  • Magazine capacity: 45 nails
  • 700 nails per charge on a RedLithium XC5.0 battery
  • Sequential and contact actuation modes
  • Dry-fire lockout, belt hook, rafter hook, & LED work light
  • Kit includes: M18 FUEL 21° framing nailer, M18 RedLithium XC5.0 battery pack, charger, and carrying case
  • Price: $349 (tool-only), $449 (kit)

M18 FUEL 21° Framing Nailer Extended Magazine

  • Model: 48-08-2744
  • Magazine capacity: 83 nails
  • Nail sizes: 2 in. – 3-1/2 in.
  • Nail diameter: 0.113 in. – 0.148 in.
  • Price: $69

Milwaukee 2745-21 30° Framing Nailer

  • Model: 2745-21 (kit), 2745-20 (tool-only)
  • Nail sizes: 2 in. – 3-1/2 in.
  • Nail diameter: 0.113 in. – 0.131 in.
  • Magazine capacity: 51 nails
  • 700 nails per charge on a RedLithium XC5.0 battery
  • Sequential and Contact Actuation Modes
  • Dry-fire lockout, belt hook, rafter hook, & LED work light
  • Kit includes: M18 FUEL 30° framing nailer, M18 RedLithium XC5.0 battery pack, charger, and carrying case
  • Price: $349 (tool-only), $449 (kit)

M18 FUEL 30° Framing Nailer Extended Magazine

  • Model: 48-08-2745
  • Magazine capacity: 105 nails
  • Nail sizes: 2 in. – 3-1/2 in.
  • Nail diameter: 0.113 in. – 0.131 in.
  • Price: $69

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Josh

The Metabo is also a lot lighter.

Josh

Metabo is far more reliable and was out before the Milwaukee gun to which Milwaukee completely copied the design of Metabo like to a T.

Jason Powell

I bought one and after only a few days it starting making a loudish “tink” sound when shooting.. This sound is intermittent. My friend looked online about it and found a guy who returned his nailer 3 times because the driver was malfunctioning and making this sound and eventually stopped shooting the nails… This worries me.. My nailer still works but I’m afraid it may quit on me soon. Other than that, I love it.

Uriah Kaufman

I think it could be helpful to note that this tool weighs equal to the metabo/hikoki
cordless framing nailer when paired with a 3.0 battery pack like the metabo.
Milwaukee cordless framer with 5.0 battery: 11.3 lbs.
Metabo cordless framer with 3.0 battery:
10.8 lbs.
Milwaukee 3.0 high output battery is .5 lbs less than their 5.0 battery giving the Milwaukee an overall weight of 10.8 lbs as well.

Craig B Rinker

how is the finish nailer for securing osb siding?

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