Milwaukee M18 Brushless Impact Driver Review – 2653-20


I know when I make this statement we’re going to receive a lot of emails from people who both agree and disagree with my statement, kind of like Ford and Chevy lovers.  Okay here it is, this is the best power tool of 2012.  No, brushless isn’t new and no, the impact isn’t new, but when Milwaukee merged the brushless with the impact, balance, feel and power, they created the perfect tool.  Okay, now that I made this statement, bring the emails on.  Wait, never mind, let me explain first and then if you still have a beef with me, then you can bring the emails on.

I have never been one to use an impact driver until recently when I started using my Milwaukee Brush Impact.  I am a little slow to make changes.  I figure if my drill/driver was doing the job, why would I need an impact?  Well after using the impact, I can now say I use this tool far more than my drill/driver.  Now that the Milwaukee Brushless is in my hands, I grab for this tool far more.  So what’s so special about this impact?

First and foremost is the feel and balance of the tools.  The kit I am using is the 2653-22CT which has the compact batteries.  The compact batteries are 1.5 Ah, thinner and lighter than the high capacity 3 Ah battery.  Don’t get me wrong, the high capacity batteries are nice, but for me, the compact feels so much nicer in your hand.  For the stuff I am doing, the compact batteries are more than enough.  I can use this tool all day without recharging it.  The days I am doing heavier stuff with this driver, then I just charge it at lunch or use the extra battery the kit came with.

Next, is the power of this tool.  As you can see by the pictures below, this tool has 3 drive controls.  A user can make the changes by pressing a button at the base of the tool.  One thing to note is if the tool is sitting around, you can’t just pick it up and change the speed.  You have to activate the tool by pressing the trigger and releasing the trigger, then you can change speeds.  Still not sure if I like that option or not.  It would be nice to be able to just press the speed control and make the necessary changes, but on the other hand, maybe I would be bumping the button and changing the speed when I didn’t want to.  Either way, no big deal.  Mode #1 is for precision work (0-850 RPM, 200 in-lbs of torque,) Mode # 2 helps prevent damage to fasteners and materials (0-2,100 RPM, 700 in-lbs of torque) and Mode #3 delivers maximum performance for the toughest applications (0-2,900 RPM, 1600 in-lbs of torque.)   I really only use this impact in speed 3.  While it is nice to have the option to make the changes, for my applications, 3 speed is just the best.
Finally, the Milwaukee Fuel system.  This is something I don’t see or even think about unless I am writing an article.  However it’s nice to know Milwaukee is making the tool, charger and battery all talk to each other to give me optimal performance, while protecting my investment.

Brushless vs Brush Impact

Milwaukee made some changes with the new impact.  Besides the tool being brushless, the biggest thing I am happy Milwaukee implemented was the one handed bit change system.

So far I have used this on a basement framing project, a couple exterior projects and more.  Each and every time this tool has done what it’s supposed to do, make my life easier.   There are a lot of tools on the market, but this is one that just fits in your hand like a nice glove or a great hammer.  It just feels good, it is easy to control, has lots of power and great balance.  Really what else could I ask for in a tool?  Okay, maybe a bottle opener so at the end of the day I can have a nice refreshment.  Well come to think of it, the metal belt clip hook might just do the trick.



Peak Torque 1600 in-lbs
Max RPM 0-2,900
Max IPM 0-3,600
Charger NEW M18™ and M12™ Multi-Voltage Charger
On Board Fuel Gauge Fuel Gauge on Battery
LED Light Yes
Tool Weight (w/battery) 3.0 lbs
Tool Length 5-1/2″



  • 2653-20 M18 FUEL™ 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver
  • (2) M18™ REDLITHIUM™ Compact Battery Packs
  • 30-Minute Multi-Voltage Charger
  • Belt Clip
  • Carrying Case





  1. Makita has had this 3 speed and brushless impact for years and to bootits made in Japan. 18V LXT also has the most extensive cordless tools in the business. I’m not saying the Milwaukee is bad, it just seems late to the game.

  2. Makita beat just about everyone to the punch on the brushless, but I don’t think it’s fair to say Milwaukee is late in the game. Dewalt just released a brushless driver in late April, has Bosch or Metabo released a brushless tool period? What I can’t wait to see is the 4ah Red Lithium batteries.

  3. Now I will write this the best I can to help all understand. Yes I do believe Milwaukee and Dewalt are both late in the game as well as Bosch and Metabo not even being there. The problem with the Milwaukee and Dewalt id that standard charges take 60min and 70 min to fully charge a battery. Now, when you take Makita for example, having Brushless and a fast charger 30min Max time, this entails more work being done by the tool operator than comparable impact/drill driver. 4ah batteries may give you a bit longer runtime, but will take well over an hour to charge making a fast charge system ideal for contractors- like myself, who are doing fast paced, intensive fastening jobs.

    Don’t get me wrong, Milwaukee has the market in 12V for sure, but Makita simply dominates the 18Volt segment. When referring to Dewalt 20V, all it is is the pEAK OUTPUT of what the battery can deliver at one moment. Just like all the 10.8Volt batteries went to 12V. They run current at 10.8 Volt and not 12V peak. It is simply a marketing tool for tool noobs who think higher voltage is better.

    Taking Bosch 36Volt, much heavier, awkward to hold and use, does not deliever more work per hour than what the competition is offering. If you bring muscle to muscle and overall tool performance, the Makita is still the leader.

    In my opinion. I would like to hear your thoughts.

    Good site BTW.

  4. Milwaukee now has a 3 way charging system where tool,charger and batter communicate with each other. Makita has had it for years. LED light was a MAkita patent that every other company has now standard on their tool. 3 speed impact, first in the industry. It seems as though, Makita has really forged ahead in this feild. LEst we also forget, have a look into the Panasonic line of cordless and brushless.

  5. i have had 2 milwaukee tools 4 2years the warranty sold me. 2 years down the track my rattle gun half inch drive stopped working every now and then and also my top of the range impact drill was over running took them in 4 picking them up i was given a bill for $146. because the triger had worn out.then went on to read on the recipt the armiture would be next faire ware and tear?? obviosly pulled the triger 2much.also now my drill wont hammer

  6. I just bought this impact to replace my rigid x4 and there is no comparison. I have also used the 14 volt hilt impact and I think the hilti Is better but is more expensive. The Milwaukee has plenty of power and feels great. Only time will tell if I t will hold up

  7. Hi, I have been a any tool will do kind of guy, But in 2005 I bought my first 5 piece kit, it is the Bosch 18 volt ni-cad. Now I can say this is quality tools. I know ni-cad is old tech, but ask around , like I have and you will see, ni-cad batteries have been still working in all types tool brands, this being said, I think Bosch has good strong tools that don`t stop. charge and treat your ni-cads properly and they will last, lion do have a shelve life, I know they have no memory for charging, and you can charge them any time.Also they stay charged longer, but not sure if they will last longer.

    • Ni Cads are not the most powerful but they last a VERY long time sitting in a garage – if they were never overcharged.
      I have some NiCad powered tools that still work after 20 years on the original batteries.

  8. I need some advice! I am a DIY guy. Work on cars, home, metal fab. So on. I have the m18 circ rec saws and hammer drill. Love them. I am not sure what to buy a 1/4 hex driver or 3/8 square foot impact wrench. Main problem is I want to be able to twist lugs and use 1/2 sockets to pull transmissions and stuff like that. I was thinking to get the shock wave 3/8 to 1/4 hex adapter to use the hex option when driving a lot of fasteners(Has anybody used it?). I can’t see myself buying both as I am not using them enough to warrant that. But at the same time I would like both options in one machine. Any feedback! Thanx

  9. Cool thanks Dan think I will do that. I have heard that Milwaukee is coming out with a brushless 3/8 compact impact. Is it worth waiting for? Also, maybe you know about when it is going to be available?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here