Milwaukee M12 Cordless Lithium-Ion 1/2” SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer Review


I am sure you’re like me and when you first heard about a 12V Rotary Hammer Drill, you probably chuckled.  Well I know when I first saw this at the Milwaukee event, I was chuckling.  How the heck could a 12V rotary hammer drill even compete with a piece of concrete?  I use an 18V rotary hammer often, but the thing that really holds me back from using the 18V all the time is the power and the battery life.  That is primarily the reason I always keep either my Hilti TE or Bosch Bulldog on hand.  I am not knocking the 18V as they have come a long way, but come on, a 12V?   Now Milwaukee is telling me I can use a 12V with a 1/2″ SDS plus bit.  Well I had a chance to play with it at the show and to my surprise, this thing blew me away.  The initial two things that caught my eye was how light and compact the tool was.   The tool was sitting next to some block, so naturally I had to give it a test drive.  Wow this thing was fast and for some reason it didn’t vibrate my arm to death.  In fact, the vibration was very minimal.  One thing I noticed at the Milwaukee event was a pie chart next to the tool.  The chart showed the most common holes drilled using a rotary hammer.  To my surprise 4 out of 5 or 80% of holes drilled were 1/2″ or less.  After thinking about it for a while, it actually made a lot of sense. While on a job site there are still a lot of bigger holes drilled for pipes and more, there is also a heck of a lot of smaller fasteners and anchors being installed.

Well a couple of weeks ago we had a chance to test one out and have it in our own environment. As you can see in the video below, we had a chance to drill a bunch of holes into a concrete slab and see for ourselves how well this tool handled.  Later on I had the chance to take it to a job and try it out in a real application.  I have to say Milwaukee didn’t hold back when they designed this tool.  The tool is extremely lightweight coming in at only 3.9 lbs.  With a length of 9″, this means getting into tight spots isn’t a headache anymore.  Believe it or not this M12 produces up to 5,350 BPM using the variable trigger and has a 0-800 RPM.  The blow energy is .9 ft-lbs. The M12 uses an Electro-pneumatic mechanism so a user can use up to a solid 1/2″ SDS plus bit.  With a two mode operation (Drill, Drill Hammer) a user can drill holes and attach fasteners with one tool, by the turn of a switch.  Milwaukee also uses the REDLINK intelligence system with this tool, battery and charger.

I am very impressed at all the stats, but what really impresses me is the compact size and the balance of this tool.  This is a tool you can easily use for extended periods of time and don’t have to worry about getting fatigued.  Even the vibrations of this tool are kept at a minimal which is shocking.  I would think with a small tool, the user would feel more vibrations in their hands.

Milwaukee M12 Rotary Hammer 02I had a chance to take this to a friend’s job and see what he thought, this was a local strip mall remodel.  When I first showed him, he and a couple buddies were on lunch so I had a chance to pass the tool around and get the initial reaction which was all about the same.  Everyone liked the weight and size, but most were pessimistic about the real output of the tool.  Either way I was just there to listen, watch and of course get some use for myself.  Besides myself, only two other guys really had a chance to get their hands on this as the others were doing projects that didn’t involve this type of tool.  They were installing 1/4″ and 3/8″ HDI anchors so they needed to make 3/8″ and 1/2″ holes for these anchors.  Without boring you too much, by the time we ended the day, both were very surprised at how well the tool performed during the day.  Both were used to using an 18V version and really appreciated the lighter weight of the M12.  We did eat through some batteries, but having the two batteries around, we never had any down time.  I sure with smaller applications like Tapcons and other smaller fasteners, this will last a heck of a long time per charge.

Overall, Milwaukee has one of the best 12V lines around and just about any tradesman can benefit from the M12 line.   Milwaukee has surprised me again with this rotary hammer as they did with the M12 hammer drill.  The tool is lightweight, powerful and easy on the hands.  With the two switch function, you can use this tool for just about any application.  The compact size makes this great for fitting into tight spaces.  If you are someone who needs a rotary hammer without the cord and with out the weight, but still provides a powerful punch all day, the Milwaukee M12 Rotary Hammer is for you.

Don’t forget we are giving a new Milwaukee M12 Rotary Hammer Drill away in our Ultimate Tool Bag 2.





  1. Another good review Eric, but I’m still skeptical, given an impact energy of only 0.9 ft-lbs. Even so, with it’s size and weight I’d be willing to give it a try, especially when working on a ladder.

  2. Love it keep up with the reviews.
    I’m a farmer and use all kinds of tools and you guy do reviews on just about everything i use. You just helped me make my mind up on a rotary hammer.

  3. this is exactly what i would need for my concrete/ construction company that i want to start in a few years once i graduate high school, YOU SOULD GIVE ONE OF THESE AWAY TO A VIEWER OR SOME ONE THAT COMMENTS, HINT HINT WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE

  4. I have the dewalt 20v premium hammer drill, does this perform better at drilling holes in concrete foundations? and would you recommend this m12 rotary hammer to me even though I already own a hammer drill?

  5. dan, do you know of any deals on this tool anywhere, i think it would be perfect for when i want to start my concrete/constuction company in a few years, i would only have to use it 10-20 times a day for tapcons and i dont already have an sds or a hammerdrill at all, which sds do you think would be the best for me, im kind of partial to dewalt, alot

  6. Great review. Milwaukee’s M12 line has really caught my eye…especially now that they are rolling out the FUEL version of some tools. Now I just need an excuse to go buy them!

  7. I am a heat recovery ventilation engineer 😉 I put in plastic ductwork. Iv been doing this for 15 years in the UK. I bought the m12 fuel brushless sds compact and was absolutely delighted with it. The weight was fantastic. The size was fantastic and after all those great reviews it was sure to be brilliant. Firstly what a let down!!! It went straight back. do not bother with this tool. It’s so dame slow it unbelievable. How they can they say it’s a fixers tool I don’t know. Ok for the odd snag here and there great but for price work forget about it. And actually thinking back now the spec states it drills 60 X 6mm at 50mm holes in 1 charge. What a fool i was that’s only 30 brackets (with no mistakes). 18v all the way. 12v for part timer’s, snagging or as a jumped up rich boys household black and decker replacement. Soooooo let down 🙁


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