As we set our radar on an epic update to our 18V Hammer Drill Shootout from a couple of years ago, we’re beginning to take a look at some of the most powerful drill drivers and combos the cordless world has to offer. This time, we got our hands on the new Milwaukee 2897-22 M18 Fuel 2-Tool Combo Kit. It features a compact hammer drill with anything but compact power. Paired with it is an equally impressive impact driver.
The drill/impact driver combo has become a staple of retail store sales. The combination allows users to drill and bore with one tool while fastening with the other without swapping bits. The time saved is even sweeter thanks to the money saved over buying the tools and batteries individually.
In the past year, hammer drills have been replacing drills in these kits. Allowing for masonry work up to 1/2″ or so, the power and efficiency of brushless motors along with extreme battery run time has driven demand. This is a great thing for us consumers who don’t want to shell out for a rotary hammer just to cover the 3 times a year we’re installing Tapcons.
Milwaukee 2897-22 Combo Kit: Compact Package, Full Size Power
As usual, the Milwaukee 2897-22 kit isn’t just a “let’s do this because everyone else is” combo. The second generation of M18 Fuel tools is getting slimmer and more powerful. The hammer drill on its own can be found as Milwaukee 2704-20. It’s packing 1200 inch pounds of maximum torque in a 7.75″ long housing. That’s the highest torque we’ve found in any cordless drill.
The Milwaukee 2753-20 impact driver that’s paired with it boasts 1800 inch pounds of torque. The impact driver is so light that it’s only about a 1/2 pound heavier than the 5.0 amp hour battery packed with it.
Milwaukee 2897-22 Build Quality and Features
Build quality is generally not an issue for Milwaukee and these tools are no exception. Milwaukee’s typical overmold placement is the same around the grip and back of each tool. The 1/2″ chuck and 1/4″ hex collet are metal construction and suggest confidence in the components beneath the surface.
Most of the improvements for the M18 Fuel’s second generation are found under the housing. Improved electronics along with more robust components combine to handle the additional power. I suspect that Milwaukee has made some proprietary battery improvements as well. Speaking of batteries, the Milwaukee 2897-22 kit ships with a pair of 5.0 RedLithium batteries.
The hammer drill features a 2-speed motor. With 1200 inch pounds of torque available, a 3-speed motor would have been nice for more control. Perhaps we’ll see that next year. Drive/Drill/Hammer adjustments are made on the collar next to the clutch. This is an increasingly popular feature among PTR reviewers. Having the switch where your eyes already are to adjust the clutch also gives you an opportunity to ensure you’re in driving mode before starting.
The Milwaukee 2753-20 impact driver features a 3-speed motor with 4 driving settings. The 4th mode rounds out Milwaukee’s new Drive Control with a self tapping screw mode. This setting specifically controls the starting of a self tapping screw to reduce walking, over driving, breaking, and head damage.
One improvement I like isn’t going to be a huge topic of discussion around the water cooler. The bit holder has been moved to the side of the tool rather than the back. It’s pretty robust considering its fairly mundane job description. Having it on the side puts the bit in a little bit easier position for quick changes.
Milwaukee 2897-22 Performance
We put the Milwaukee 2897-22 combo to work and boy did we make a mess! A mess that we neglected to clean up on Friday and I heard about on Monday. Hey, I went gator hunting Thursday night so I was a little out of it on Friday. Anyway, since it boasted 1200 inch pounds of torque, I wanted to put the hammer drill through some work first.
I bored out some 1″ and 1-1/2″ holes in 2x pressure treated lumber with a threaded spade bit first. I knew the drill should be able to handle the 1″ bit in high speed, so I went at it. While it drilled with sufficient confidence, there was more vibration than I expected. As I worked around, this was a consistent part of the experience. Moving up to the 1-1/2″ spade bit and down to low speed, I found less vibration and greater control.
Moving onward and upward, I installed a 4-1/4″ hole saw designed for wood boring. The hammer drill courageously chewed through the cut, though it did bind up a couple of times. Even though it has a powerful torque rating, you’re probably going to want to keep your holes saws under 4″. It’s not as optimized for those kind of applications as the M18 Fuel Super Hawg is. Compared to other drills that we’ve used, there’s a noticeable amount of vibration here as well.
The Milwaukee 2753-20 impact driver is simply a joy to use. It’s very lightweight and installing the 5.0 amp hour battery creates a well-balanced tool. Users that do a lot of fastening will definitely appreciate the compact, lightweight design. There’s plenty of power here as well. Driving 3-1/2″ screws really wasn’t an issue. While there’s vibration transferred thanks to the impact mechanism, I found the impact driver to consistently delivery smooth, powerful fastening results.
I didn’t have any self tapping screws to play with or actual work that needed to be done with them. However, using the Self Tapping Screw Mode earlier this year in Milwaukee left me with the impression that it’s very capable. 1800 inch pounds (150 foot pounds) of torque is more than enough to handle your lag bolt applications. That power is also enough to extend your work before having to switch to an impact wrench like Milwaukee’s 2762-22.
When it comes to rating the Milwaukee 2789-22 as a combo, it’s definitely a pro-level choice. There are a couple of quirks though. Build quality is outstanding like we expected. Ergonomics in the hand are excellent as well, but the score suffers a little bit under load because of the vibration that makes its way to your hand on the hammer drill when it’s not in hammer drilling mode.
Power is unquestionably great for the hammer drill as it leads the class and the impact driver is well above standard. The way the power is channeled makes me want a third speed on the hammer drill. As a combo though, that desire is satisfied by the four mode impact driver. 5.0 amp hour batteries take the run time to a level that’s nearly impractical to test using methods that fall under the most used applications.
The gap is closing between Milwaukee’s pricing and others that are bringing brushless kits forward with more performance. When you look at a competitor’s kit and realize that it’s only a $25 or $20 premium to jump up 20% or more in performance, the value proposition of Milwaukee’s kit becomes even more attractive.
Milwaukee 2897-22 Hammer Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit Specifications
Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2″ Hammer Drill/Driver (Bare Tool) 2704-20
- Power Source: 18V RedLithium Battery
- Length: 7.75″
- Weight: 3.5 lbs
- No Load Speed: 0-550/0-2,000 RPM
- Max Torque: 1,200 in-lbs
- Beats: 32,000 BPM
- Chuck Type: 1/2″ Keyless
- Warranty: 5 Years
Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver (Bare Tool) 2753-20
- Power Source: 18V RedLithium Battery
- Length: 5.25″
- Weight: 2.1 lbs
- No Load Speed: 0-3,000 RPM
- impacts: 0-3,700 IPM
- Max Torque: 1,800 in-lbs
- Warranty: 5 Years
Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2-Tool Combo Kit 2897-22 Includes
- (1) M18 FUEL 1/2″ Hammer Drill/Driver (Bare Tool) (2704-20)
- (1) M18 FUEL 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver (Bare Tool) (2753-20)
- (2) M18 REDLITHIUM XC5.0 Extended Capacity Battery Pack (48-11-1850)
- (1) M18 and M12 Multi-Voltage Charger (48-59-1812)
- (2) Belt Clip
- (2) Bit Holder
- (1) Side Handle
- (1) Carrying Case
- 2897-22 Combo Kit Priced at $399.00
- 2704-20 Bare Tool Priced at $149.00
- 2753-20 Bare Tool Priced at $129.00