The Milwaukee Cordless Nailer Lineup Is Fast – No Spoolin’!

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In the construction and remodeling business, faster is better. Using nail guns for framing and trim work is a huge time saver over hand nailing – once everything is set up. Lugging the compressor in, searching for power, waiting for the tank to charge with air, unspooling and attaching the air hose, and then dodging it while you work – all these things chew up valuable work time. And when you’re finished, the process gets repeated in reverse. Recently, Milwaukee rolled out a line of M18 battery-powered nailers that are not only fast to get into action, but which can launch nails as fast as a pneumatic nailer. The lineup of red nailers includes four models, and we recently received a 15-GA Angled Milwaukee Cordless Nailer (2743-21CT) to evaluate.

milwaukee cordless nailer
The new Milwaukee cordless nailer, locked and loaded

Along with the 15-GA Milwaukee cordless nailer, Milwaukee offers a 16 GA Angled Nail Finish Nailer (2742-21CT), a 16 GA Straight Nail Finish Nailer (2741-21CT), and an 18 GA Brad Nail Finish Nailer (2740-21CT). All the nailers are equipped with Milwaukee’s reliable brushless motors, and they’ll run off any M18 battery. Milwaukee’s REDLINK PLUS Intelligence ties the whole system together, to prevent damage to the nailer and battery from overloading and overheating.

Here are the specs on the 15 GA Angled Nail Finish Nailer:

• Nail Sizes: 1-1/4” – 2-1/2”
• Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
• 700 nails per charge on an M18 REDLITHIUM 2.0 Ah Compact Battery
• Sequential and Contact Actuation (Bump) Modes
• Dry-Fire Lockout
• Adjustable Belt Hook
• LED Work Light
• Tool-free depth of drive adjustment
• Oil free – no oil replacements needed
• Tool-free jam release
• Nail quantity indicator
• Length: 11.9″
• Nail Diameter: 15ga – 34 degree DA Style Collated
• Weight: 6.3 lbs.
• Non-marring nose pad

Nailing The Details

The engineers at Milwaukee spent some time getting the details right on these new nailers. The first thing I noticed when firing the Milwaukee cordless nailer was that there is instant gratification. Press the tip, pull the trigger, a nail fires immediately. One issue with most other battery-powered nailers is the spool-up time. When you depress the nailer’s tip against the work piece, there’s about a one-second delay before you can fire a nail. That doesn’t sound very long, until you’ve done it over and over. If you’re just shooting a few nails, it’s no big deal, but if you’re trimming out an entire room – or an entire house – it becomes pretty aggravating.

Other nice touches? It’s easy to see at a glance how many nails are left in the magazine, and easily readable numbers on the side let you know the approximate number of nails left. In case you’re not paying attention, a dry-fire lockout stops the Milwaukee cordless nailer from firing when it’s out of ammo, preventing damage and wasted time. On the nailer I used, the lockout kicked in with four nails left in the magazine.

milwaukee cordless nailer
It’s easy to see when a reload is due

Adjusting the depth of drive is tool-free and fast – once you know the secret. There’s a knurled knob about 1-¼” above the nailer’s tip. Rotate it one way to increase the depth, and the other to decrease it. Unfortunately, there’s no indication on the nailer as to which is which; so if you don’t have the manual, experimentation is required. HomeFixated TimeSaver Tip: With the tip facing down, rotate the knob to your left to go deeper. Come up with a little mantra to help yourself remember: Lefty lower, righty raisey? Fine, YOU figure one out.

milwaukee cordless nailer
Depth is easy to adjust once you know which way to go

During my testing, I fired about 400 2-½” nails. The nailer never jammed, but if it had, clearing it would have been fast and easy. Just pull the battery (a good precaution when doing ANY maintenance or adjustment on a battery-powered nailer) and remove the strip of nails. Flip down the lever on the front of the nailer, swing it out, and clear the stuck fastener. Close it back up, and you’re back in business.

milwaukee cordless nailer
Jam clearing is fast and easy. Remove the battery and flip the clamp down…
milwaukee cordless nailer
Swing the cover out, and remove the errant fastener.

Firing Up The 15-GA Milwaukee Cordless Nailer

My first look at the Milwaukee Cordless Nailer lineup came in June of this year, at the Milwaukee New Product Symposium. They had a hands-on demonstration set up with all four nailers and some lengths of solid 4X4” oak. The nailers were all firing 2-½” nails (2-1/8” for the 18-GA), and all were consistently setting the nails sub-flush. It was a popular demonstration; who doesn’t love firing a nail gun?!

milwaukee cordless nailer
When the rep stopped talking, those guns got a workout!

When the 15-GA Milwaukee cordless nailer showed up, I was working on a bathroom remodel. We were in the finishing stages, and needed to add some 1X4 pine baseboard. It was a pretty tight space, so not having to deal with an air hose while kneeling next to the toilet made the task so much more fun! Or if not exactly fun, at least less unpleasant…

milwaukee cordless nailer
A tight spot waiting for the finishing touches

I grabbed a strip of Senco 2 ½” nails that I had picked up at the Home Depot. (They stock the nails in other lengths, too, and the nails are also readily available on Amazon and elsewhere). I dropped a strip of nails in, and depressed the button on the follower to allow it to slide to the rear of the nails. (The same action allows you to easily remove strips of nails).

milwaukee cordless nailer
Push in the button, and the follower slides around behind the nails

I powered the Milwaukee cordless nailer up by pressing the flush-mounted rubber power button on the rear of the nailer. The button has to be held in for about two seconds to turn the nailer on, and about four seconds to turn it off. When the nailer is turned on, it defaults to sequential mode, which is indicated by steady green lights near the power switch. To switch to bump mode, depress the power switch briefly; the light on the right will flash continuously, indicating the nailer is in bump mode. Depress the switch again to return to sequential operation.

milwaukee cordless nailer
Steady lights mean sequential mode, flashing indicates bump mode

We were nailing through the 1X4 and a plaster wall, and into rock hard 100-year-old studs. The nailer was easy to maneuver and control, and had no trouble at all sinking the 2 ½” nails below the surface. Two minutes later, attachment complete – a little caulk, wood filler and paint, and job done.

milwaukee cordless nailer
The Milwaukee cordless nailer was easy to maneuver
milwaukee cordless nailer
Ready for a bit of caulk and paint

Another ongoing project of mine is an old farmhouse, which is a total do-over. All the baseboards and window/door trim is being replaced with ¾” thick oak. I set the Milwaukee cordless nailer to sequential mode, and installed some of the baseboard. The nails had to penetrate the oak, ½” of drywall, and the old studs. The nailer had no trouble getting all the nails sub-flush in the trim, and it was a treat to not be tripping over an air hose – and dragging it across the newly-installed hardwood floor.

milwaukee cordless nailer
Another wall waiting for some baseboard…
milwaukee cordless nailer
The Milwaukee cordless nailer had no trouble with the oak trim
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On to the next

Another facet of the renovation involved gutting and re-doing the entire kitchen. Most of the project is complete, but there are still several “punch list” items to deal with. One of these involved replacing some oak moulding that had been removed from around a doorway, to enable us to install the last row of flooring.

milwaukee cordless nailer
One of those pesky little jobs you never seem to get to…

The trim had been waiting patiently in the corner for someone to come along and return it to its proper place. The Milwaukee cordless nailer had it all back to normal in about four minutes; if I had to drag out the compressor, untangle the hose, and wait for the pressure to build to bang in those dozen or so nails, that trim would likely still be leaning in the corner.

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The cordless nailer made short work of the trim
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Harmony restored!

Ready To Quit Being Hosed?

Doing punch list work like that would be an excellent way to use the Milwaukee cordless nailer. It’s very fast and easy to just grab it, power it on, and bang away; not having to mess with a compressor and air hose saves a fair amount of time and aggravation.

This tool is by no means limited to that type of work, though; it’s fast and powerful enough to work all day, and could easily be the primary nail gun for a trim installer. Milwaukee claims the 15-GA nailer can shoot 700 nails with a 2.0 Ah battery; that’s a lot of trim. If you’re a real trim animal, slap on a 5.0 Ah battery, or one of the 9.0 Ah batteries (due out in September 2016), and you’ll never have to stop!

milwaukee cordless nailer
Don’t want to stop every 700 nails? Slap in a bigger battery!

I was very impressed with the Milwaukee cordless nailer. It looks and feels like a very high-quality tool, and the robust construction should guarantee it holds up well on the job site. (They even give instructions on running a pre-use checklist in case the tool has been “dropped, received a sharp blow, been run over, etc.”) Sounds like an average day on some job sites I’ve been on…

milwaukee cordless nailer
Another member of the Milwaukee cordless nailer lineup

The idea of ditching the compressor and air hose, and switching to a cordless platform, is attractive to a lot of folks who use nailers on a regular basis. Up until now, most battery-powered options haven’t been very compelling, in terms of power, features, spool time, etc. There are gas-powered nailers available, and some do a pretty good job. The downside? They’re gas-powered nailers. They require a steady supply of expensive, smelly cartridges to make the gun go Boom.

The introduction of the Milwaukee cordless nailer lineup offers a variety of high-quality nailers, in the most commonly-used gauges. (It would be nice to see a pinner in the lineup – hint, hint). The nailers are covered by a five-year limited warranty; I’m not sure that applies if you run them over repeatedly, though. These nailers have the power and features carpenters, remodelers and other frequent users demand, and I’m guessing we’ll soon be seeing fewer hoses, and more red, on the job.

milwaukee cordless nailer

The full line of Milwaukee Cordless Nailers is available from our sponsor, Ohio Power Tool, in kit form or as a bare tool.

Buy the 15-GA finish nailer kit:

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15-GA tool only:

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Buy the 16-GA angled finish nailer kit:

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16-GA angled tool only:

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Buy the 16-GA straight finish nailer kit:

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16-GA straight nailer tool only:

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Buy the 18-GA straight brad nailer kit:

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18-GA tool only:

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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7 thoughts on “The Milwaukee Cordless Nailer Lineup Is Fast – No Spoolin’!”

  1. I also think the 18 ga.(2740) is a defective product. I have thousands of dollars of Milwaukee cordless tools and have been committed. I have the 15 ga. and like it. Bought a 18 ga. and test fired 30 times. Seven times it shot two nails at once. Eleven times it did not drive the nail all the way in. Twice it drove no nail at all. Most of the times it left a double impression. I took it back as defective and tried another. Same problems. Took this one back and tried a Paslode brad nailer which works great. Milwaukee needs to get their brad nailer off the market before their reputation is ruined.

  2. I have the 18ga straight version and it only countersinks about 50% of the nails no matter what material I’m nailing into. The jam-clearing lever rattles loosely whichever I find bothersome. The battery doesn’t sit firmly in the tool, leaving some side to side movement which is a huge pet peeve of mine in all Milwaukee cordless tools. Hugely disappointing is this nailer never countersinks any nails driven at an angle. If they would remedy these issues it would be a worthy addition to my Milwaukee tool collection. As it currently stands, I hide it when other guys are around out of embarrassment.

    • Sorry to hear about your poor experience with the 18-gauge nailer, Richard. The only model I’ve used is the 15-gauge, and I have been very happy with it; it works very well, and I haven’t experienced any of the issues you had with the 18-gauge version. Looking at some online reviews from others who have purchased that model, it appears you are not alone; there are quite a few negative reviews of the 18-gauge gun. Normally Milwaukee is very keenly attuned to user feedback, so hopefully we’ll see a new version that corrects these issues. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t hurt to contact their customer service people, and let them know about your experience.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Garry. It was a good opportunity to give the tool a workout, and earn some spousal brownie points for finally getting some trim installed. Win win!


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