Many tools accomplish their work with finesse and precision. In fact, that’s often why we choose to use them. Every once in a while, however, we need a tool that gets the job done with brute force. We need the big, mean, junkyard dog kind of tool. That’s the hawg—specifically, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg 1/2-inch Right Angle Drill (2809-20 or 2811-20).
Every guy has things that make him feel more manly. Maybe it’s chopping some wood, perhaps eating a rare steak bare-handed, or crushing an empty beer can on his forehead. Hey, different strokes, right?
But let me suggest another way: drilling some holes with the Super Hawg. It just might put some hair on your chest or cause you to start grunting like the Tim the Toolman Taylor himself.
Milwaukee 2809-22 First Impressions
I’ve reviewed quite a few excellent Milwaukee plumbing tools recently, but not one that I was quite as excited about as the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg. The Hawg’s purpose is making holes in wood large enough to accommodate pipes (or conduit for electricians), which is most helpful for plumbers and HVAC guys. It’s powered by a Milwaukee M18 RedLithium battery pack. The kit I reviewed (2809-22) included two XC6.0 amp-hour High Output batteries as well as a charger. Milwaukee also offers a Hawg with a Quik-Lok chuck (2811-22), but I reviewed the standard chuck version.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL Super Hawg Performance
The Super Hawg is a beast. At 14 pounds it feels substantial, but don’t let that dissuade you. Anyone who’s ever done the work that the Super Hawg is meant to do knows that the weight is an advantage. It’s normally used in an attic or other tight spaces where you can’t gain the leverage on it to push through the hole – it’s heavy so gravity can help do the work for you. Generally, we want our tools to get smaller and lighter, but just as Daniel Elms recently wrote, a hefty tool is sometimes the best tool.
The Super Hawg can make holes up to 6-1/4 inches in diameter, but standard hole size for most work is 2-9/16 inches. Milwaukee claims that the 6.0 batteries can make 100 or more of them on a single charge! It boasts a brushless motor (that’s given away by the “Fuel” designation if you’re a Milwaukee rookie), Milwaukee’s RedLink Plus electronic communication system, low speeds of 0-500 RPM, high speeds of 0-1,550 RPM, a metal keyed chuck, a heavy-duty front handle, and a bright work light for dark attics and corners.
Re-piping with the Milwaukee Cordless Super Hawg
Although I plumb new construction, remodels, and retrofits, I find myself most often repiping a home. In fact, I average about 2 re-pipes a month with Curry and Co Plumbing. Of course, it feels like we predominately work on re-pipes during the blistering Florida summers. This makes attic temperatures downright infernal! We welcome any tool that can speed up the job.
I’ve been using a corded Milwaukee right angle drill for years, so it’s easy to imagine how the cordless Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg would be a huge improvement. Dragging a cord through an attic and having it snag 10 feet behind you on a truss isn’t a lot of fun. What’s more, metal trusses can cut through a cord and expose you to electrical shock. Cordless is definitely the way to go.
Milwaukee 2809-20 Power
This tool simply blasts through the wood. I used Milwaukee’s 2-9/16 inch SwitchBlade self-feed bit (not to be confused with a Forstner bit), and the studs and caps didn’t have a chance. The Super Hawg feels well-built, heavy-duty, and awesomely powerful. More importantly, it’s faster and more convenient than any other right angle drill I’ve ever used – including corded models. The weight does the work for you and helps control against twist injuries in a bind-up situation.
The Super Hawg not only has an easily-adjusted high and low setting but also a variable speed trigger. Some right-angle drills I’ve had were “binary”. They either went at full bore or nothing—making them very “torquey”. That’s bad news if you hit a nail or otherwise bind the bit because the whole tool can kick dangerously.
Such wrenching has even caused a plumber or two to get hit in the face with the drill. It’s much easier to start and safer to complete a hole with the variable speed trigger. I typically use low in an attic. High speed is great for mixing concrete—stick a paddle mixer in the Super Hawg and mix away.
Two safety features stand out to help you control that massive power aside from the weight. First, you can install the auxiliary handle on either side by screwing it in place. That’s in addition to the top handle that I end up using most frequently.
Internally, a mechanical clutch auto-engages in a bind-up situation—but only in Low speed. This is almost critical to saving your wrists and elbows when calling on all the torque the drill has to offer.
Sometimes the LED light on a cordless tool is more of an afterthought. That’s not the case on the Super Hawg. Milwaukee placed it perfectly to light up the immediate work area.
The 6.0 amp hour RedLithium battery is exemplary. One charge usually lasts me through 2 re-pipes and many of those holes are double and triple caps. I just use a Milwaukee quick extension bit and pull the trigger.
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot of weight here at 14 pounds (12.5 pounds bare). That’s still a little lighter than the corded model. The weight works for you at times, considering gravity helps bore your holes—unless you’re working overhead or vertically. Because of the size and length, it’s not as easy for the torque of the tool to wrench your wrists and elbows. Don’t get me wrong though, I’ll happily take a lighter tool if they can maintain the safety and power of this model.
Run time with the included 6.0 amp hour batteries is outstanding. Cycling between the two of them should never leave you waiting for a charge. You get excellent runtime from the kit version which includes two XC6.0 amp-hour High Output batteries.
Milwaukee Super Hawg Pricing
I heartily recommend the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg to other professionals. At about $399 bare and $699 for the kit I reviewed, it’s not a small amount of money. But I guarantee you that as you move cordlessly through an attic or around a jobsite to blast through headers, you won’t have any regrets. If you exclusively use 7/16-inch hex flat or groove shank bits, take a look at the Quik-Lok models. There’s no premium on the price to go with that easy-to-use chuck.
- Milwaukee 2809-20 (bare) – $399
- Milwaukee 2809-22 (kit) – $699
- 2811-20 (Quik-Lok bare) – $399
- 2811-22 (Quik-Lok kit) – $699
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg 1/2-inch Right Angle Drill Key Features
- PowerState Brushless Motor provides constant power under load to power through 6-inch Holes
- RedLink Plus Intelligence Ensures optimal performance and overload protection to prevent damage to the tool or battery during heavy applications
- Over 75 2-9/16-inch holes per charge with a RedLithium XC5.0 battery
- Up to 100 2-9/16 in. holes per charge with an XC6.0 battery
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg 1/2-Inch Right Angle Drill Specifications
- Power: Milwaukee 18V RedLithium battery pack
- Length: 22 in.
- Weight: 14 lbs.
- Chuck: 1/2-inch metal keyed
- Speed: 0-500 / 0-1,550 RPM
- Wood drilling capacity: Up to 6-1/4″ inches (hole saw)
- Warranty: 5 years (3-year battery)