Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

Revamped Milwaukee Screwdrivers and Nut Drivers Lineup

milwaukee insulated screwdrivers 2
PTR Review
  • Features 9.0
  • Build Quality 9.0
  • Value 10.0

Overall, this is a nice addition to Milwaukee's hand tool line-up. As we've experienced in their other hand tools, these seem to address multi-purpose uses whenever possible, but not at the expense of adding features that detract from the tool's primary purpose. The inclusion of a limited lifetime warranty is also a very nice touch that should do a lot to instill confidence in a new tool line. I think electricians and mechanical contractors are going to find these most valuable, but in all honesty everyone needs a good set of drivers.And this is a good set of drivers.

Overall Score 9.3 (out of 10)

I had to do some impromptu A/C repairs on my home a few years ago. I remember it because it’s not something I like to do all that often, nor is it anything I yearn to do ever again. I remember it because I had to deal with hex head screws, Phillips screws, flat head screws, ECX-style screws and even run wiring into a hot electrical panel—which presented its own set of issues (namely, my lack of insulated screwdrivers). That’s why mechanical professionals exist. They’re good at this stuff whereas, being out of my element, I just had to plod through it. By the time I got done I had come to the conclusion that I really needed to get a good set of drivers. Not just nut drivers, not just screwdrivers—all of them. I had gone for years with a hodgepodge collection of screwdrivers that would have been better off had I ground them all down to flat heads and awls and repurposed them.

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea.

I’ve since retired most of those tools and replaced them with better-performing products. Milwaukee, however, recently announced that I could get my hands on their new hand fastening tools and start checking them out, even before they had found their way into retail outlets. I thought this might be a good chance to pass on what I’ve learned about the importance of owning a good set of hand drivers. I figure the best way to do so is to give each set the blow-by-blow and communicate my thoughts along the way.

First Up, Milwaukee Nut Drivers

Milwaukee Nut Drivers

There are four Milwaukee SAE HollowCore nut drivers with the now-popular spline socket. This socket fits hex, square, 12-point and spline bolts and serves as an almost universal socket type for both ratchet/socket systems and hand drivers like this. But where Milwaukee sealed the deal is in how they designed the tool. Their socket drivers, which come in 9/16″, 7/16″, 5/16″ and 1/4″ sizes, are forged with a 3-inch hollow shaft. This isn’t new in the industry, but it’s the right way to design a tool like this. Here’s why: First, it allows for the bolt to go well past the nut and up into the shaft, allowing you to fasten onto a bolt like a deep socket would. It also gives you a greater diameter on the shaft, which translates into a bit more torque when bearing down. Where Milwaukee did differ from what I’ve observed from other manufacturers is that they made the shaft hexagonal in shape. That means you can stick a wrench on it and torque the driver as needed—handy if you can’t get to the bolt. Seemingly to not bulk up the smaller tools, the four drivers have three different shaft diameters: 1/2″, 3/8″ and 5/16″ (shared by the smaller two sizes).

The handles on these nut drivers feature a true rubber overmold and they really fit snug in the hand. Six slightly raised ridges traverse the length of the handle to give you a nice grip. On the ends of each of these drivers are clearly-stated and color-coded markings for the size.

4PC Hollow Shaft SAE Nut Driver Set Specifications
Model: 48-22-2404
Socket: Spline
Shaft: 3 in. forged steel
Sizes: 9/16″, 7/16″, 5/16″, 1/4″
Price: $25

Milwaukee Screwdrivers

Milwaukee Screwdriver Expansion

Milwaukee has this eclectic pack of six screwdrivers that I love. It’s got four slotted Milwaukee screwdrivers and two Phillips head drivers. The two Phillips head drivers cover #2 and #1 sizes, but also include a basic 12 gauge wire stripper and a loop maker. These two drivers also utilize hex shafts that can be torqued down on with a wrench if needed. All of these drivers feature the same rubber overmolded handle as the nut drivers but there are a couple more things to point out. Of the four remaining slotted drivers, the two cabinet drivers have round shafts and are designed for getting into places where the hexagonal shape might not allow access. The other two slotted screwdrivers belong to the company’s Steel Cap Demolition line and feature a high-impact metal core that extends all the way to the back of the tool. More on that when I talk about the twin pack later. All six screwdrivers have graphical icons on the back of the tool to quickly and easily identify them when they are inserted in a tool bag. This should be mandatory on all screwdrivers, but unfortunately several manufacturers still haven’t caught on. The tips of the Milwaukee screwdrivers are hardened (the chrome plating stops just short of the tip) and look to be, for lack of a better term, very “grippy”.

I’m familiar with these integrated strippers, and they allow you to hold your thumb overtop the point of contact while rotating the tool around the wire. The wire loop hole also works well and it lets you continue working as opposed to having to stop everything to run and get a tool if you’re already working in a box.

6PC Screwdriver Set Specifications
Model: 48-22-2006
Phillips bit tips: #2, #1
Slotted bit tips: 1/4″, 5/16″, (2) 3/16″
Shaft: Forged steel hex and smooth
Shaft lengths: (2) 3 in., (2) 4 in., (2) 6 in.
Price: $35

Milwaukee Demo Screwdrivers? Why not?

milwaukee screwdriver set

One thing I love about Milwaukee is their penchant for admitting reality. You probably shouldn’t use your screwdriver as a chisel…but you’re going to anyway, aren’t you,. Yes you are. You have and you will agains, despite the fact that you keep telling yourself that’s probably not the best use of your screwdriver. Forget all that, says Milwaukee. We’ll MAKE a screwdriver you can hammer on. And with one fell swoop they’ve assuaged the guilt of an entire nation of tradesmen…or at least given us an excuse to do what we wanted to do anyway.

I received a two pack of Steel Cap Demolition Screwdrivers. Just the name alone got me excited. I immediately tested them out by chiseling the corner off some concrete block—not because I had to, mind you—just because I could. Like the two slotted screwdrivers in the 6-pack I just finished writing about (in fact one of the screwdrivers is exactly the same), the demo screwdrivers utilize a piece of forged steel that runs all the way through the handle and terminates into a blasting cap at the back of the tool. OK, it’s not a blasting cap, but if I worked for Milwaukee marketing, that’s what I’d call it. Smack it to your heart’s content and all of the energy will go through the handle and to the tip of the driver. Thanks to the rubberized grip, almost none of that impact will be felt in your hand. Better yet, you won’t break the underlying molded plastic handle when you strike it.

milwaukee screwdrivers engine

These drivers come with the hex shaft and the tips have the same non-chrome plated hardened steel as the multi driver sets. While this kit comes with both a #2 Phillips and 5/16″ slotted 6-inch driver, I don’t recommend trying to chisel anything with the Phillips bit as it;s unlikely to end well. I think the goal here was to simplify production and have a nice matched set.

2PC Steel Cap Demolition Screwdrivers Specifications
Model: 48-22-2002
Phillips bit tips: #2
Slotted bit tips: 5/16″
Shaft: Forged steel hex
Shaft length: 6 in.
Price: $20

Milwaukee Insulated Screwdrivers

milwaukee insulated screwdrivers

I thought my exploration of standard screwdrivers was over until I saw the insulated Milwaukee screwdrivers included in the tools I was reviewing. It took me some time to really find a good use for these, but then I handed them to an electrician and let him have a go. When I got them back I participated in a remodel that involved a considerable amount of rewiring—some of it at the breaker panel. Our summed experiences were about the same. The insulated tools from Milwaukee are very similar in looks and feel to their standard drivers with the obvious exceptions of the lanyard hole in the handle and the insulated shaft. Like some other insulated drivers I’ve used, the shaft has a double insulation layer. This let’s you know when the outer layer has been damaged—you’ll see the yellow exposed underneath as opposed to just at the tip. Identification like this is good—and important—but Milwaukee also claimed to build in a significant amount of flame retardant and impact-resistant properties as well. The idea is to make sure you can use these tools for a longer period of time before having to replace them. Insulated tools are only good sol long as the insulation is perfectly intact.

milwaukee insulated screwdrivers 2

The 1000V insulated Milwaukee screwdrivers set includes three sizes: a 4-inch #1 ECX bit driver, a 4-inch #2 Phillips bit driver and a 6-inch 1/4″ slotted screwdriver. All three have the aforementioned lanyard hole, but I don’t really find those to be terribly useful. Those who spend their time really high up in the air will likely think very differently as a dropped tool could mean a lot of down time.

milwaukee insulated screwdrivers 3

1000V Insulated Screwdriver Set Specifications
Model: 48-22-2202
Phillips: #2 (4 in. shaft)
Slotted: 1/4″ (6 in. shaft)
ECX: #1 (4 in. shaft)
Insulation: Dual layer, 1000V
Price: $25

Milwaukee SAE/Metric Hex Key and Torx Key Drivers

milwaukee hex key driver SAE

Another interesting thing Milwaukee took on was presenting a different way to use hex and Torx keys. Now, I’ve used a lot of these manual keys and every tool seems to be very similar. You either have separate L-shaped keys, or you use a fold-out Swiss Army knife-style tool. Milwaukee took the concept of a basic interchangeable driver and affixed both SAE and metric hex bits as well as Torx bits.

Obviously, these are for head-on applications, so if you’ve got a place with very little clearance you’re still going to need an L-shaped key. For everything else, though I find this type of driver to be much more familiar. Where it gave me some difficulty was when I encountered some really torqued down Hex screws on a bike. I eventually worked it off, but the L-shape of a traditional hex key offers a bit more leverage. You can technically grab onto the hex or Torx key driver’s lower shaft with a wrench to give yourself some extra leverage, but that’s impractical in many situations.

milwaukee torx screwdrivers 2

I found these drivers extremely useful when working on my 2003 Jeep Liberty where I needed to replace the brake lights. The trouble is, the T20 Torx screws for the left rear tail light are impossible to access to with a traditional Torx key. It sits on the inside of the light shroud and is obscured by the hinge-side of the tailgate. With the Milwaukee Torx Key Driver I was able to position the bit all the way through to each of the two screws and remove them quite easily. I could describe the tool as a life-saver, but at the very least it saved me $125 for a broken tail light ticket! For a $17 tool, that’s like a 735% return on investment.

milwaukee screwdrivers hex

With how many metric hex and Torx screws you find on cars, truck and bicycles these days it was nice to see Milwaukee address most of the common sizes. They also refer to these as 10-in-1 tools. This is due to the Key drivers having 7 bits, an integrated wire stripper, a loop maker and the default 1/4″ hex driver chuck.

SAE Hex Key Driver Specifications
Model: 48-22-2104
Socket: Magnetic 1/4″ nut driver
Shaft: Forged steel
Sizes: 1/4″, 7/32″, 3/16″, 5/32″, 9/64″, 1/8″, 7/64″
Features: Wire stripper, loop maker
Price: $17

Metric Hex Key Driver Specifications
Model: 48-22-2106
Socket: Magnetic 1/4″ nut driver
Shaft: Forged steel
Sizes: 6mm, 5mm, 4mm, 3mm, 2.5mm, 2mm, 1.5mm
Features: Wire stripper, loop maker
Price: $17

Torx Key Driver Specifications
Model: 48-22-2103
Socket: Magnetic 1/4″ nut driver
Shaft: Forged steel
Sizes: T30, T27, T25, T20, T15, T10, T8
Features: Wire stripper, loop maker
Price: $17

Will the Real 10-in-1 Please Stand Up?

milwaukee 10in1 screwdriver

Now I know Milwaukee refers to the three hex and Torx key drivers as 10-in-1 tools, but they also market an identical 10-in-1 with Phillips, slotted and square (Robertson style) bits. This is just a great all-around tool to have on-hand for a secondary tool bag. I don’t like to always have to rob my primary job site tool kit when I need to do some electrical work or a plumbing repair. As such, I tend to value a certain level of redundancy. A tool like this offers a quick and easy way to include a bunch of drivers all at once, and it fits into the tray of your truck box for easy access when you need a driver. While I wouldn’t use the wire stripper or loop maker as my primary tool for this type of work, it’s great that I can get so much functionality in such a small tool.

When using the 10-in-1, I felt that I could apply a ton of torque to the handle. It’s big because it needs to contain the 6 additional bits, but that size gives you a lot to grab on to. Like the other tools in this series the individual 3-1/2″ long bits have a standard 1/4″ hex shank so you can use them with your impact driver when needed. In this way, the tool doubles (triples?) as a holder for your most commonly-used bits.

10-in-1 Multi-bit Driver Specifications
Model: 48-22-2102
Socket: Magnetic 1/4″ nut driver
Shaft: Forged steel
Phillips: #2, #1
Slotted: 1/4″ 3/16″
Square: SQ#3, SQ#2, SQ#1
Features: Wire stripper, loop maker
Price: $17

Milwaukee Ratchets It Up a Bit

Very similar to the 10-in-1 Multi-bit Driver, Milwaukee’s ratcheting model swaps out a couple of square bits for their #1 and #2 ECX bits. Then they added a ratcheting mechanism that is one of the simplest I’ve yet seen. The way it works is intuitive. If you’re holding onto the black rotating ratchet switch while you turn the tool in the direction you want to go, it locks it into the proper direction. The ratchet was strong as well, and I was able to use the tool to free a couple of really well-seated screws on an old electrical box as well as swap bits to remove the Phillips screws that had, in some makeshift fashion, secured it to a stud wall some years ago. Swapping bits isn’t via the push-through method of the other tools, due to the presence of the ratcheting mechanism. Instead, you use your finger to slide the bits downward and out the bottom. It’s difficult enough that they won’t ever accidentally slip out of the handle, but easy enough that, with the possible exception of a fresh #1 Phillips bit, you can get them out unassisted. If you do have trouble, just pull out the active bit and use it to push the next bit down and out.

Milwaukee Ratcheting Multi-Bit Driver

There are certainly other ratcheting drivers on the market—take Kobalt’s Double Drive, for example. While a tool that complex has its uses, I found that I don’t really use the double action all that much. It removes your ability to torque down on a screw and is really only sufficient for small sheet metal fasteners where you aren’t encountering a lot of resistance. I’ve also noticed that a majority of ratcheting screwdrivers use a longer shaft and 1″ bit tips. While that’s fine, it also reduces the usefulness of those bit tips in other applications. Using longer bits means I can get some use out of them in a pinch when I need to step up to an impact driver. Also, the Milwaukee screwdrivers give you the ratcheting action, but you feel as if the tool is designed for a wider range of uses. It really feels like you can bear down a lot harder on the fastener.

Like the other 10-in-1 tools, this ratcheting model has an integrated wire stripper and wire loop, but the wire loop is located to the side of the shaft, making it actually a tad easier to use then with the other tools where it is centered on the larger socket base. It makes a nice tight loop and I could see this getting a lot of use if you’ve got this tool out and don’t have a lot of wiring to strip and secure.

10-in-1 Ratcheting Multi-bit Screwdriver Specifications
Model: 48-22-2301
Socket: Magnetic 1/4″ nut driver
Shaft: Forged steel
ECX: #2, #1
Phillips: #2, #1
Slotted: 1/4″ 3/16″
Square: SQ#2
Features: Forward/reverse ratchet, ratchet lock, wire stripper, loop maker
Price: $17

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