Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel drill/driver combo kit (3696-22) includes a 1/2-inch hammer drill and a 1/4-inch hex impact driver.

The team at Great Lakes Builders recently had the opportunity to try out Milwaukee’s new M18 Fuel 1/2-inch hammer drill (model 2906-20) and 1/4-inch hex impact driver (model 2957-20), which come packaged as a combo kit (3696-22) with two batteries, a charger, and a blow-molded case. Not a shock: These tools are winners.

Hammer Drill
The 1/2-inch hammer drill was an unexpected favorite with the crew, mainly because of its compact size, ergonomics, and fit and finish. Two things that stood out immediately were the knurling on the all-metal chuck and the positive mechanical feeling of the detents when engaging the clutch. I thought that out of the box, the settings for the trigger and the work light were just about perfect, but with the One Key system, you can fine-tune the settings for functions such as the trigger ramp-up speed, the brightness and duration of the work light, and the maximum rpm.

Another great feature is the auto stop function, which prevents over-rotation when the drill binds up. With 1,400 inch-pounds of torque, this is an important safety feature. Again, with the One Key system, you can customize the auto stop control mode with low-, medium-, and high-sensitivity settings.

When equipped with the included M18 Redlithium XC5.0-Ah battery, the drill had excellent runtime.

With 1,400 inch-pounds of torque, the drill has the power to bore big holes through heavy timber and dense engineered lumber.

Hex Impact Driver
Milwaukee says that this 1/4-inch impact driver is the fastest and most powerful in its class, with 2,000 inch-pounds of torque, and I can’t argue with that claim. It has a three-LED work light that does an excellent job of illuminating the work. Bit insertion and removal was a breeze and absolutely top-notch, and we had zero problems driving any of the structural fasteners that we use day in and day out. Runtime (with the 5.0-Ah battery) was also excellent. Like the hammer drill, the impact driver is equipped with the One Key system, so you can dial-in the settings for just about all of the tool’s functions.

The drill has an effective and adjustable clutch to stop the bit quickly if it gets bound up.

Ultimately, I really liked this impact driver. However, the crew didn’t feel that the additional power it offered was enough to convince them to switch battery platforms. In addition, we often prefer to use oil pulse or hydraulic impact drivers, which are significantly quieter (but not as powerful) as standard impact drivers. We spend a lot of our time driving fasteners inside joist bays, which tend to amplify the sound generated by an already-noisy tool. Quieter tools make a huge difference when you’re working in framing cavities; for example, when you’re retrofitting joist hangers and driving hundreds of 1 1/2-inch and 2 1/2-inch #9 and #10 SDS screws.

Milwaukee’s compact and powerful M18 Fuel impact driver features 2,000 inch-pounds of torque and is equipped with a bright 3-LED work light.

Final Thoughts
The M18 Fuel 1/2-inch hammer drill and 1/4-inch hex impact driver are great tools, and I don’t think you could go wrong with either one of them, especially if you are already on the Milwaukee M18 platform. With the power and features mentioned above, the combo kit is a great choice, considering that it comes with two 5.0-Ah batteries. But I think it could be even better if you paired this kit with an oil pulse or hydraulic impact (Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Surge model 2760-20, for example) and some right-angle accessories, along with a good assortment of extensions and bits. That combination would be a moneymaker, while making for a safer—and quieter—jobsite. You’d have a heavy-hitting hammer drill that has a great auxiliary handle and auto stop technology in a compact size, a low-torque, low-decibel impact when loud noises are a concern, along with a beast of an impact with enough power to drive the largest of fasteners when you’re in open-air conditions. With the combo kit +one, you would easily be able to fasten or drill almost anything.

Photos by Jake Lewandowski

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