Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun Needs No Cords, No Butane
There are a lot of uses for heat guns and in my line of work, we use them primarily for heat shrink connectors in our communications systems. The idea of a no cord, no butane system is appealing, so we put the Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun to work over the last couple of months.
- No cord, no butane
- Great for quick jobs like heat shrink connections
- Compact design is great for working in control panels
- Quick heating makes short work of heat shrink connections
- Hang hook saves you from knocking it over
- Runtime is pretty limited—just 18-ish minutes with a 5.0Ah battery
Editorial Note: Check out our best cordless heat gun article to see our top picks.
The Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun uses a ceramic coil (“high-performance heating coil”) along with any M18 battery to produce heat. It gets up to 875º F, which is less than many AC heat guns. Milwaukee’s own corded model reaches 1000º F and there are others that can push 1300º F or more.
To get the most out of this one, you need to understand that limitation. For the heat shrink connectors I use on a daily basis, it’s plenty of heat. With the heat peaking where it does and relatively low fan speed, it’s not something you want to try and soften paint for stripping or thaw out frozen pipes with.
The upside is that it heats up fast. Milwaukee claims it’s operational in 7 seconds and that’s pretty accurate. It takes a little longer to reach its peak temperature, though.
It’s also really compact at 6.4″. Since we work inside control panels frequently, it’s a lot more convenient in those tight spaces than our corded models.
Creating heat is no easy task. I remember watching an Olympic track cyclist with oak tree size quads get his bike hooked up to power a toaster. He ended up with one medium toasted piece of bread before he could no longer sustain enough power for it.
It’s no surprise that runtime is the major limiting factor for the Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun. On a 5.0Ah battery, you’re looking at roughly 18 minutes of continuous heat and we’re seeing times that creep a little closer to 19 minutes. We’re never actually using it once continuous burst, though. Even if we’re doing a ton of connections, we’ll bring a second battery along or just give the one we’re using a charge during lunch.
Obviously, you’ll get more runtime out of high watt-hour batteries, but I wouldn’t try to sneak down to any of the compact ones. Stick with the 5.0Ah or higher. If you’re working at a workbench, you can slap an 8.0Ah, 9.0Ah, or 12.0Ah battery on there and get more done on one charge. But then again, do you really need to go cordless if you’re staying put?
At first glance, I missed having two temperature settings. But the more we used the heat gun on our connections, the more we realized we only need the one.
I LOVE the hang hook on this model! With the tight spaces we often work in, it’s easy to knock a heat gun over and accidentally melt wire insulation.
With the spaces we’re working in, we typically use the heat gun in its stock configuration. My racing drones are a different story and Milwaukee includes reducer and guarded nozzles in the kit. If you need more nozzles, Milwaukee 49-80-0300 accessory kit is compatible.
The heat gun has an LED light to help light up dark corners.
You can pick up the Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun as a bare tool for $129 or as a kit with a 5.0Ah battery, nozzles, and charger for $299.
There’s not a lot of competition for Milwaukee right now. The Ridgid cordless heat gun runs a lot longer but requires butane. Ryobi has one that specs out very similar to Milwaukee for $99 as a bare tool. We also know DeWalt has a similar model showing up in July 2019 that should run around $119 bare.
The Bottom Line
The Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun is a niche tool that thrives at making heat shrink connections. Even though there might not be a ton of applications outside of that because of the runtime, it’s so effective that I can use it on all of my fieldwork and leave the corded heat guns at home.
Milwaukee M18 Heat Gun Specifications
- Model: Milwaukee 2688-21
- Voltage 18V
- Length: 6.39″
- Width: 2.6″
- Height: 7.87″
- Weight: 1.7 lbs
- Warranty: 5 Years (Tool), 3 Years (Battery)
- Price: $129 bare, $299 kit