Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01 Level Reviews, Measuring & Squares

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review


Pro Tool Reviews

Durability
Accuracy
Visibilty
Feature Set
Value
Final Thoughts

With accuracy matching the high end standard along with durability and visibility that compete for the top spot, the only thing you may wish for is a lower price for the Milwaukee Redstick Level.

Overall Score 4.6 Pro Review
Readers Rating
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3.4

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You wouldn’t think that it would be terribly complicated to review a level. After all, as long as it’s level is good to go. But not so fast. Coming into it I already knew that the Milwaukee Redstick Level has some innovative features designed into it. After spending a lot more time comparing many of the top box levels in the industry, I began to notice a lot of the same claims being made.

A lot of Pros are typically a mid-range level kinda guys. You have go-to levels made by brands like Empire Level, which offer a really good balance between build quality and price point with outstanding accuracy. Those same guys tend to shy away from the high end market – not because the levels found there aren’t phenomenal, but because they’re just more expensive. After all, jobsites tend to be hard on precision instruments and many of us just plan on replacing certain tools from time to time.

So what makes high end levels like the Milwaukee Redstick Level stand out above the rest of the crowd?

Accuracy

Accuracy tolerance is based on the kind of work you’re doing and you’ll find a variety of options available. The high end of the market seems to have settled in at .029 degrees as the standard benchmark. Levels like the Milwaukee Redstick Level and competitors like Stabila and Sola match this mark. On the jobsite, this tolerance means you have an acceptable error of .0005 inches per inch. In other words, a total of .024 inches over the length of a 48-inch level or .048 inches on a 96-inch level.

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Although this is the benchmark for high end levels, it’s not the most accurate nor is it exclusive to this end of the market. Johnson Level currently lays claim as having the most accurate level with roughly 40% greater accuracy. You can also find this .029 degree accuracy and mid range levels with companies like Empire Level.

So Milwaukee hits the standard for high end accuracy, but doesn’t push forward to take the highest.

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

Durability

Aluminum is often used as a material in levels due to its combination of strength and weight. Some brands have experimented with other materials including carbon fiber, wood, and fiberglass. However, aluminum is by far the dominant material at the high-end of the market.

Milwaukee starts with an aluminum frame and increases the durability with a metal Backbone that runs through the middle of the level. This gives the Milwaukee Redstick Level additional reinforcement against damage that occurs from drops or other objects striking the level. It’s exclusive to Milwaukee and is an innovation that sets them apart over other high end levels on the market.

Milwaukee RedStick level frame

The vials are made from acrylic which are then solidly reinforced into the level. These vials are set well enough that Milwaukee is willing to guarantee the accuracy of them for life – a warranty you’ll find with other manufacturers as well.

Rubberized end caps are found on both the left and right to protect against the most common strikes as well as your crew members using them as a walking stick. These are easily removable if you need to be perfectly flush against a surface. With your thumb and forefinger, simply pull out on the center of the cap (where it conveniently says “pull”) and the cap easily slides off.

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

Milwaukee matches the durability of other manufacturers when it comes to the quality of their vials and exceeds them when it comes to protecting it against frame bend.

Visibility

Most of the Milwaukee Redstick Level models have three of the new Sharpsite vials. The exception is the 16-inch model which only has two. Like you find on several other models, the Sharpsite vial features a magnified bubble. That’s an immediate improvement for people like me who have less than perfect eyesight.

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

The horizontal vial features two thick black our bands and two thin inner bands to help provide contrast against the spirit. Your plum vials have only the thin inner bands. The vial spirit is a high visibility solution. In low light and against darker backgrounds it will appear green. In well lit conditions and on lighter backgrounds it will appear yellow. Being a fan of Empire’s True Blue vial system, I wasn’t sure that I was really ready to go back to the yellow and green design. However, I find the vials easy to read in all lighting conditions I’ve used them in.

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

Visibility can be a toss up based on your how well your eyes pick up different colors, but with the spirit and magnified design, Milwaukee is at least as good the competition and for me, slightly better.

Other Features Worth Noting

Handles are found on most of the Milwaukee Redstick Level models with the exception of the 16-, 24-, and 36-inch models. These handles are overmolded and wide enough to provide even the largest hands with a comfortable grip.

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

And all metal hang hook gives you a durable point to store your level vertically.

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

I went with the magnetic levels and the amplified rare earth magnets do an effective job of holding level in place on ferrous surfaces. One thing to be cautious of is that the milled measuring surface can scratch the paint on finished surfaces. While the magnetic bond isn’t overly difficult to break, you will want to be very careful if you’re sliding the level along the finished metal surface to get it perfectly placed. Of course if you want to avoid the risk completely, simply flip the level over to its nonmagnetic side which also happens to be slightly less abrasive.

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

The Bottom Line

When I was looking at the Milwaukee Redstick Level options, I decided on the 48-inch model and Jamb Set that includes a 32-inch and 78-inch pair. I also decided to go with magnets on all three.

The Milwaukee Redstick Level has everything you’re looking for in a high end level – accuracy, durability, and visibility along with a few other features that you’d expect to have on a level at this price point. But is there anything that really stands out ahead of the other competition at this level?

Milwaukee Redstick Level Review 01

It’s what’s inside that counts and the metal Backbone Milwaukee designed in the Redstick puts it on another level of durability compared to the other top names. While the advantage isn’t as clear in the visibility category compared to other high end levels, I’m extremely pleased with how well my eye picks up the bubble in Milwaukee’s Sharpsite design.

The only point of caution I have is that the milled measuring surface – particularly on the base with the magnets where it is a little more coarse – may damage finished surfaces if you slide the level across it as you make position adjustments. However, this is not uncommon or unique to Milwaukee and professionals that are used to doing that kind of finish work are typically more cautious by nature.

One of the best thing about purchasing levels is that you can go to the store and take a look at them yourself. You can even walk around and try them against various supports and shelves already installed in the store. So do yourself a favor and take a look at the Milwaukee Redstick Level to see if the Sharpsite vial works well for you. From there, you’ll need to trust that the Backbone will do its job and that the other features are on par with other levels you find this price point.

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Milwaukee Redstick Level Key Features

  • All-metal Backbone: Strongest, most durable frame. Reinforced vial retention
  • SHARPSITE Vial Technology: Best readability. Impact protected
  • Guaranteed Lifetime Accuracy: Accurate to .029° ( .0005″/in, 0,5mm/M)
  • Amplified Rare Earth Magnets: Maximum holding power
  • High Contrast Vial System is easy to clean and optimizes visibility
  • High Density, Removable End-Caps protect frame and provide access in tight spaces
  • Wide, durable handles for comfort and portability
  • Precision milled measuring surface guarantees accuracy in all working positions
  • Overmolded, Non-Slip Grips stick to the wall and prevent sliding
  • Durable, All-Metal Hang Hole for storage

Milwaukee 48″ Redstick Magnetic Box Level Specifications

  • Model: Milwaukee MLBXM48
  • Level Type: Box Beam
  • Level Accuracy: 0.0005″/in
  • Depth: 2.53″
  • Length: 49.02″
  • Width: 6.30″
  • Height: 5.91″
  • Weight: 3.18lbs
  • Color / Finish: Red
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Number of Vials: 3
  • Number of Vials Measuring Level: 1
  • Number of Vials Measuring Plumb: 2
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Price: $139

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Milwaukee 78″/32″ Redstick Magnetic Box Level Jamb Set Specifications

  • Model: Milwaukee MLBXJBM
  • Level Type: Box Beam
  • Number of Levels: 2
  • Level Accuracy: 0.0005″/in
  • Depth: 2.53″
  • Color / Finish: Red
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Number of Vials: 3
  • Number of Vials Measuring Level: 1
  • Number of Vials Measuring Plumb: 2
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Price: $279

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