Milwaukee M12 Fuel Impact Driver Review – 2453

I know I am going to sound like a broken record, but I believe Milwaukee truly has the best 12V platform around.  As technology becomes better, the motors and batteries will be able to do much more, which places Milwaukee in a huge advantage over its competitors.  Last year we saw these new 12V Fuel tools up close and we have to say we were pretty excited to get our hands on this Impact Driver.

If you are not familiar with the Milwaukee Fuel line, it is basically a way to label their brushless tools.  So if you see something that says M18 Fuel or M12 Fuel, you know those tools have the brushless motors with the RedLink system.  While the Brushless motor isn’t new technology, it is becoming more popular to use in power tools for a couple reasons.  With a brushless motor you get more power, longer life and longer run time.  You can check out this article by Popular Mechanics regarding brushless motor technology.  So as you can see by the title of this article, this is the Milwaukee M12 fuel which does indicate it has a brushless motor.  Let’s jump in and talk about what excites us and disappoints us with this new design.

The Milwaukee M12 Impact Driver comes in two models, the 2453-20 and the 2453-22.  Both models are exactly the same.  The only difference is what you get.  The 2453-20 is just the tool with no batteries or charger, while the 2453-22 comes with the tool, two 2.0 A/h batteries, a 30 minute charger and a case.

Milwaukee didn’t take an existing tool and just slap a new name on it, they actually made some significant changes to this tool.  First is the brushless motor, which you know.  Another huge change is having the 2.0 A/h batteries.  Putting these two items together makes this one powerful and long lasting 12V.  Another change is the grip.  As you can see by the picture below, the new grip is more like a pistol grip which feels better in your hand.  Also the rubber that surrounds the grip is much better.  The 1/4″ hex is now a true one handed operation.  On the first generation you had to pull the sleeve out and insert the bit.   With the new fuel, you just insert the bit and you’re set, the bit will lock into place.  Another huge change is the speed selector.  On the first generation you just had the variable trigger.  While the Fuel still has a variable trigger, Milwaukee has now implemented a two speed selector on the top of the tool.  With a push of a button you can select speed 1 or speed 2.  With speed 1 you get 175 in-lbs of torque with 0-1,200 RPM which is designed for more precision work.  If you desire more performance from the tool, just press the button and select speed 2.  On speed 2 you get a whopping 1,200 in-lbs of torque with 2,650 rpm which is great for driving those longer screws or penetrating hard surfaces.  One thing to note when you are using the tool, you can not accidentally switch speeds when your finger is on the trigger.  While the speed selector is indented into the tool, the tool will prevent you from switching speeds and ruining your work.  You have to have your finger off the trigger in order to switch speeds.

While Milwaukee really did improve this tool, we would liked to have seen two additions on this tool that were left out.  First, is the LED on the front of the tool.  While the LED light does provide good light, we really would prefer to have seen a three LED light system on the front of the tool, like the Hilti 18V Impact uses.  I am not sure if this is something that another company has a patent and Milwaukee can’t use or why they didn’t redesign this tool with a better LED light system.  The second item is the fuel gauge.  As with all the Milwaukee M12 line of tools, the fuel gauge is on the tool and not the battery, like the 18V batteries.  If you have a bunch of batteries laying around, you have to insert them into your tool in order to see how much power is left.  It would be great if you could just press a button on the battery to see how much charge is left.  Again, I am not sure why Milwaukee didn’t make this change with their new battery platform, but I can only guess to save space in the battery pack and keep the battery pack small.

Dan and myself had a chance to play with this impact and the two things that really stood out to me was the power and the feel of this tool.  The power of this tool really surprised me.  Driving screws was a breeze and it drove them a lot easier than I thought.  While this does have a lot of power for a small tool, it was very easy to control with the variable trigger and the 2 speed selection.  The second thing was the balance.  The new design is very nice and the pistol grip is incredible.   The weight of the tool is directly over your hand which also provides more control with less fatigue.  We took this over to Tom’s where he was doing a kitchen remodel at his house.  We let him and Mike use the tool.  Tom primarily used this impact to install electrical boxes while Mike used it to hang drywall.  Tom, who likes to complain, actually had great things to say about this impact.  He liked the size and it was much easier for him to get access between the studs.  Mike, who we just met a couple days before, also had great things to say about the impact.  He started off hanging drywall with his 18V Makita.  Once we put this in his hands, he was really surprised how much power he had for the size.  He also noted that the size made it much easier to stick in his tool pouch when he wasn’t using it.  All in all both were surprised and both had great things to say about it.  Mike actually wanted to use it to finish the drywall.  I had a chance to hang a couple pieces of rock and I also have to say it was very easy to use and control.  I could run screws into the drywall and had a very easy time controlling the speed and stopping the tool so the screw sank enough, but didn’t break the paper.

Overall I feel this is the best 12V Impact Driver on the market.  The balance is incredible and the power allows you to do things you only dreamed about doing with a 12V.  The brushless motor is a key feature in this redesign and provides more power with a longer battery life, the 2 A/h batteries help also.  The redesigned grip creates a much better feel in your hands and allows more control.  While we really wished Milwaukee used a three LED light system on the front to minimize shadows, the single LED light isn’t too bad.  If you are looking to lighten your daily tool load, but don’t want to sacrifice power, the Milwaukee M12 Impact Driver is a winner.

SPECIFICATIONS

Voltage 12V
Length 6″
Peak Torque 1,200 in-lbs
Tool Warranty 5 Years
Battery Warranty 2 Year
Charge Time 30 Minutes
No Load Speed 0-2,650 RPM
No Load IPM 0-3,550

 

 

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Great review, as always, and you’re bang on. I have other 12v impacts and an 18v too. The 18v is often too powerful for certain applications and when I grab a 12v instead, it’s often under powered for the job. The M12 Fuel impact is exactly what I’ve been needing. In fact, due to the incredible amount of power and the two speed/power options, I never use the other 12v impacts and rarely use the 18v.

  2. Nice review. I’ve been digging around on Milwaukee’s site recently drying to find answers to two questions: 1) what’s the max torque on mode 1 of the drive control, and 2) does the chuck work with insert bits (like DeWalt’s model)? You answered the first question already, but where did you get this info? I’m hoping you might be able to answer the second question too.

    As for the 3-LED lighting system, DeWalt has had this on their 12V Max impact driver and screwdriver since the tools were introduced, but it’s not on their drill – and the difference is significant. I never really though LED lights on tools were that big of a deal (when none of my tools had them), but DeWalt changed my mind. In fact, DeWalt’s 3-LED system is one of two things making me hesitate on going all Milwaukee for my 12V tools. The other is the work light – DeWalt’s design is really well thought out, right down to blinking when the battery is getting low.

    Anyway, anything you can say about using insert bits with the Milwaukee impact would be helpful. I’ll also have the same question about the screwdriver when you get to do a review of it (the chuck is different for some reason).

    Thanks… keep up the good work.

  3. Yea, I don’t get it even Ryobi the corporate cousin of Milwaukee has the 18 volt impact with the 3 led’s in the nose of the tool. All a can think of is they want to keep the nose of the tool as narrow as possible.

  4. On the 3 LED, Bosch has the patents on that when the introduced the first 12/10.8v in 2007. They must let DeWalt use the patent and Ryobi or they could be doing it and waiting for someone to call them on it. I don’t know, but this Fuel 12v looks legit and can replace 18v possibly. Nice review.

  5. michael, you should be able to put a drill bit in it if it has a 1/4″ quick change end like driver bits,in the 3rd picture down they have a bit with the type of end that you would need on a drill bit, personally i think dewalt makes the best 1/4″ shank drill bits, they are hard to snap if they are impact rated.

  6. Brody – I now have the impact driver, and can say that it does not work directly with insert bits (slightly less than 1″ long, usually inserted into a magnetic holder). The bits go in fine, but don’t stick out enough, so you can’t grab them to remove them, and pulling out on the chuck collar doesn’t eject the bits either. As for drill bits, I know I can use any bit with a 1/4″ quick change type shank.

  7. I’m sorry, but Dewalt can not compete with Milwaukee at this point in terms of 12v. Maybe they will beef up their line up, but right now in 12v is not even close in my opinion. This Impact is an example of why.

  8. I may have to get one of these. I almost overlooked the 12v system until I started watching lots of the Tools in action videos. You guys do great reviews for people like me who want to know exactly what they are getting when they go to buy something. It seems the 12v system would be extremly handy for a lot of projects I have. Thank you.

  9. love the fuel and was wondering what type of bit do you use??? i can never find a good, strong durable bit. what ones do u guys prefer???

  10. I dropped this impact driver nearly forty feet onto a concrete floor while battening a roof, that’s it I thought something is bound to have broke. The battery and body did separate after impact but there was hardly a scratch and I was amazed to find it worked perfectly again, truly heavy duty indeed.

    This generates so much power in such a compact unit I can see it taking over much or most of the work I’d normally use my larger tools for.

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