Compact tools are incredibly powerful and compact, and Milwaukee Tools has beefed up their M12 line with some pretty cool goodies like the 2491-24 four tool combo kit. Two of the included cordless tools that drew us in were the Milwaukee 850 in-lb impact driver and a small sized reciprocating saw. Many times, form follows function (or visa versa), but from what we could tell, it seems like the Milwaukee M12 Cordless 4-tool Combo Kit might have gotten its balance right with four excellent tools in the 2491-24 package.
Milwaukee M12 Cordless 4-tool Combo Kit Overview
Our combo kit arrived in a large cardboard box with all the tools individually packaged and wrapped inside. Contained within was a cordless screwdriver, impact driver, mini reciprocating saw, rotating head flashlight, 30 minute quick charger, two 12V batteries, tool storage bag, two bits, two saw blades and the instruction manuals for each tool. One of the most obvious things we noticed was how compact the tools were. Our initial examination of the tools showed that “compact” does not equate cheap or light duty when it comes to the M12 line. All the tools are constructed of red ABS plastic with tons of black rubber overmold. Because of their small size and the abundant rubber grip surfaces, these tools fit well in the hand and were comfortable to hold. The included charger takes only 30 minutes and has indicator lights to give the status of the battery. All of the tools (except for the flashlight) have built-in LED battery level meters that light up when you initially pull the trigger to give you an idea of how much power is in reserve. It is the small details like this that helps set Milwaukee apart from other manufactures of power tools. They keep a good focus on the ultimate end user and what their needs are. We’ve had this kit for a few months now and it has been with one of our favorite local contractors to help put it through its paces. Based on their comments and on-the-job insight, we compiled this snapshot of what we think of each of the tools in the 2491-24 Combo set.
Milwaukee M12 Screwdriver
- Model: 2401-20
- Torque: 150 in-lbs.
- Clutch: 15 position
- RPM: 0-500
- Length: 7 in.
- Weight: 2.0 lbs.
Out of all the tools in the set, this one had us scratching our heads the most. Let’s think about this – the set includes a variable speed impact driver with 1/4″ hex chuck that is great for screwing screws. Given this, wouldn’t you want to have a small size drill to compliment it? Well the folks that put this kit together thought differently. Since this set did not come with a chucked drill, we went out and picked up a 1/4″ hex drive bit set that included drill bits. When our team was installing cabinets and needed to screw the cabinet faces together; they put an 1/8″ drill bit into the screwdriver’s 1/4″ hex chuck and tried to drill. Because the screwdriver only spins at a maximum of 500 RPM, it made for some slow drilling into the oak faces. Needless to say, they swapped out and used a more powerful drill to finish the job. Perhaps we were not being fair so we decided to use the screwdriver as a screwdriver and found that it works great for small tasks like installing cabinet door hinges and securing screws in electrical installations. When we tried to use it to drive larger screws in to wood, it was underpowered. In the end, we wished we had the M12 Drill rather than the M12 Screwdriver in the kit; especially since the kit already gives us the almost unlimited screwdriving abilities of the impact driver. If Milwaukee added a new SKU with the three-times-as-fast 2410-20 drill, it would likely make this a much easier combo kit to sell. The 2401-20 Screwdriver has a built-in LED work light and the trigger provides variable speed control, but after the initial use of the screwdriver, it became one of the least used tools in the set. Our final conclusion on the Model 2401-20 M12 Screwdriver was that it is underpowered and slow.
Milwaukee M12 1/4″Hex Impact Driver
- Model: 2450-20
- Torque: 850 in-lbs.
- RPM: 0-2000
- Weight: 2.3 lbs.
Among our favorite tools in the combo kit was the Model 2450-20 M12 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver. This tool was small enough to comfortably fit in a tool pouch and also provided enough power to drive many large size screws and fasteners. Since the set was lacking in a small size chucked drill, the impact driver also doubled as a drill in many instances when we needed to do one or two holes. Thanks to the popularity of 1/4″ drive tools, many manufacturers have come out with crazy bit and attachment assortments for 1/4″ drive tools that can almost turn any 1/4″ drive tool into a do-it-all tool. After almost daily use for the last few months, the only real complaint about the Model 2450-20 M12 1/4″Hex Impact Driver was that it did not have the battery reserve of its larger 18V brothers. Make sure to have a spare battery always on the charger when you know you have to drive a lot of screws.
Milwaukee M12 Hackzall Reciprocating Saw
- Model: 2420-20
- SPM: 0-3000 (strokes per minute)
- Stroke: 1/2″
- Length: 11 in.
- Weight: 2.6 lbs
The Model 2420-20 M12 Hackzall Reciprocating Saw was the second most popular tool in this set. The initial response to the shape of the saw was more on par with “What the heck is that thing?” However, after just a few minutes of using it, we started to understand the tool. The shape is what makes it so compact, and actually gives the user a very pleasant and comfortable grip on the tool that puts your hand in line with the blade. The Hackzall was used in crawlspaces to cut piping and conduit and also cutting wire rack shelving. In most cases, it became a replacement for a traditional hacksaw. On a few occasions it was also used to make some straight cuts in trim and wood thresholds rather then looking for a jig saw or miter saw. Given that standard reciprocating saw blades fit into the Quick-Lok blade clamp, you have the ability to cut almost any material. This saw is best suited for small projects or cuts, since it lacks a more aggressive orbital cutting mode and it has a relatively short stroke length of only 1/2″.
Milwaukee M12 Work Light
- Model: 49-24-0145
- 90-degree rotating head
- Bulb: Xenon
- Work life: 7 hours of light on a single charge
As with most combo kits that we look at, the flashlight is the “give away” in the set. It is not to say that this flashlight did not come with some features; it is just that the combo kit flashlights are just not up to the performance of the rest of the tools in the set. Some of the handy things this flashlight does have are its 90 degree rotating head and a strong magnet located on the back side that allows you to attach it to metal surfaces. We were disappointed that this flashlight uses a Xenon bulb. With all the talk of LED lights: how bright they are, how long they last, and how energy conserving they are, then why the heck would they put in a cheesy Xenon bulb flashlight in what is billed as a premium combo tool set? We have to ask, because we have seen and used the LED version of the same light that is included in the set; not only is it brighter, it’s actually better made. In the interest of selling kits, we really wonder if it costs that much more to include the LED version. It seems to us that it would encourage more purchases.
The Milwaukee M12 Lithium Ion Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit definitely has some heavy duty, yet small, tools. With small enough sizes to fit in most tool pouches, and power that is on par with some full size tools, Milwaukee is showing us that sometimes smaller is better. While we wish we could change a few things in the set like swap out the screwdriver for a chucked drill and an LED work light instead of Xenon, all in all this combo kit has been able to take the beating of almost daily job site use for the last few months. For our Performance rating we gave this set a 7/10 since the impact driver and Hackzall really outdid our expectations (but the slightly lesser performance of the screwdriver and flashlight dragged the score down a little). For our Value rating we gave the set a 6/10 since we are talking about higher quality tools, we expect them all to have better features and some of the tools did not deliver.