LED technology has absolutely changed the landscape for lighting in general and particularly in the realm of flashlights. They’ve gotten smaller and lighter while at the same time growing massively in power and throw distance. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the lights in my collection. They’re great for hiking and other outdoor activities, but they feel almost like toys compared to the Milwaukee M12 LED Metal Flashlight.
Milwaukee seems to have jumped in with both feet, so let’s take a look and see how it stacks up against some of the popular flashlights on the market today.
Many outstanding features that you find on lights from companies like LEDLenser, Fenix, and Coast show up in Milwaukee’s M12 Flashlight. As the name suggests – and you’d expect in these times – Milwaukee went with an LED light source. It’s not just any LED though, Milwaukee designed the light as part of their TrueView series that more accurately displays color.
The housing is made from 6000 series aluminum with a type II anodized finish. It is completed with seals that leave the light with an IP54 ingress rating that should keep it protected in most jobsite applications, save for submerging it underwater.
Modes, Light Output, and Throw
Milwaukee did several things over and above making this light with a simple on/off switch. Three modes can be clicked through to reach high (800 lumens), low (325 lumens), and strobe (800 lumens). The mode switch is independent of the power button and located just above it. While it’s not really a complaint, there are lights that cycle through modes by just clicking the power button multiple times.
With this class of flashlight, 800 lumens is good. You can expect to get up to 1000 lumens with some models. Going up to the top tier of performance (and WAY up in price point) could net you 3000 lumens or more. Of course, with a slightly lower output comes greater run time.
Light output is what most people go by when comparing flashlights, but throw distance is a big deal, too. The M12 Flashlight has a throw of up to 375 yards. In one of my favorite features, it’s adjustable. The head slides forward and back to create a spot or flood beam depending on what you need more. The throw distance is solid for jobsite uses, though this class of flashlight does see models with twice that amount.
Ergonomics and Design
The Milwaukee M12 LED Metal Flashlight is a large design. This may be a negative for the Pro that’s also hoping to use it for weekend outdoor adventures, but keep in mind that it’s designed for the jobsite. When it comes to that kind of use, I like knowing that it’s going to be much harder to lose and actually feels like it can survive the conditions.
If you’re using the 2.0 amp hour (or new 3.0 amp hour) compact battery, you have a more traditional round flashlight design – meaning it likes to roll on a flat surface. Milwaukee flattened out the left and right sides of the head to stop that roll.
The housing narrows down as it comes away from the head, then widens out again to make room for the battery. As someone with medium size hands, I’d like the narrow portion to extend all the way down. It’s a trade-off I’m willing to make to be on the M12 battery platform though. Ergonomically, it’s a little strange to feel have the varying diameter in your hand, but I’ve been able to get used to it.
The battery installs at the base of the light and accepts any M12 battery pack. I prefer the XC 4.0 pack for the longer run time and more solid standing base.
Other Noteworthy Features
- Dual function switch allows for momentary light with a half press.
- Knurled texture for improved grip
- Includes lanyard for security in hand or climbing
Milwaukee M12 LED Metal Flashlight Specifications
- Model: Milwaukee 2355-20/2355-22
- Power Source: M12 Battery Pack
- Light Output: 325/800 lumens
- Throw Distance: 375 yards
- Length: 9 inches (11-1/4 inches with XC battery installed)
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Warranty: 5 years
- Price: $79 (bare), $149 (kit)
Run time is pretty impressive with the Milwaukee M12 LED Metal Flashlight. In high, you can expect to get roughly 5 hours of continuous light on Milwaukee’s 4.0 amp hour battery. With the new 6.0 am hour M12, that bumps up to 7-1/2 hours. In strobe and low modes, the light should last about 7 hours on the 4.0 amp hour pack. Given those lumen ratings, these are outstanding run times compared to most of the class.
There’s a battery level indicator on the upper housing so you know where you stand. Turning the light on or simply giving it a half click will kick the indicator on for you.
One of the indicators of a flashlight designed with quality output is the beam itself. A low quality light will have a significantly off-center hot spot, asymmetrical light picture where it strikes, and artifacts that mar the image.
The Milwaukee M12 LED Metal Flashlight does pretty well for beam quality when adjusted for spot lighting. Most importantly, the hot spot is well-centered with no visible artifacts. However, the adjustable nature of the beam does lend itself to having a slightly asymmetrical light picture. This is a challenge for any adjustable flashlight and will honestly go unnoticed by anyone unless they’re really looking for it.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a modern flashlight that feels more like a tool than a toy, look no further than the Milwaukee M12 LED Metal Flashlight. It has a durable, high quality finish and feel while benefiting from being on the M12 battery system. Ergonomically, it has some room for improvement though modern features make this a trade-off easily worth making.
At $149 with a battery and charger, it’s more expensive than most flashlights you’ll find on the jobsite. However, when you start comparing the materials, run time, and output performance to other LED flashlight manufacturers, the M12’s value rating starts to climb quickly. Light output of 800 lumens won’t top the charts, but is more than adequate for jobsite use and the adjustable beam gives it a lot of versatility.