Even though I came a little late to the game, I am a huge fan of impact drivers. My original epiphany with ¼” impact drivers came in 2012, when I got a DeWalt 20V Max DCF895C2. It immediately became one of my favorite tools, and it still gets a good workout on a regular basis. But much like my experience with trendy nightclubs, there are places it just can’t get into, despite being fairly compact (the tool, not me). Gaining access to those tight spaces is what the new Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver was designed for.
According to the official specs, the Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver offers users maximum access, and ultimate speed and control over their hard to reach fastening applications. Its narrow head profile fits where pistol-grip impact drivers cannot, and its extended paddle switch allows users to operate the tool from multiple grip points. The tool makes use of advanced electronics through Milwaukee’s REDLINK™ INTELLIGENCE, for optimized performance. This system provides advanced overload protection in abusive situations, and improved temperature management to maximize tool life and protect the user’s investment.
• Drive Size: 1/4” Hex
• Fastening Torque: 350 in-lbs. in Mode 1, 675 in-lbs. in Mode 2
• No Load RPM: 0-1,500 in Mode 1, 0-2,250 in Mode 2
• No Load IPM: 0-2,400 in Mode 1, 0-3,400 in Mode 2
• Head Diameter: 1.4”
• Length: 12-1/8”
• Weight: 3.35 lbs. (with compact battery)
• Integrated LED light to illuminate the work surface
Getting A Grip On The Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver
The new Milwaukee impact driver comes in the standard sturdy red plastic case, with the standard sturdy metal clasps. There’s room for the tool with battery attached (compact or the larger XC), the charger, and an extra battery of any size. The tool fits nicely in the hand, and is easy to get up and running without first perusing the manual. It’s there if you need it, though, bursting with warnings and some useful tips.
The battery was about half-charged on arrival, so I topped it off, which took about 20 minutes. The M18 batteries come with a charge-level indicator, a feature we really like. Simply press a button to see how much juice remains, from 1 – 4 bars. A nice feature I’ve noticed on all the recent M18 tool kits is that they come with a Multi-Voltage charger, which can charge both an M12 and an M18 battery. This is a boon for anyone who uses both 12 and 18-volt tools, as it’s one less charger cluttering up the workbench.
To insert a bit into the chuck, pull out on the ring, slide the bit in, and release the ring. To remove the bit, pull the ring out and pop out the bit. The Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver can take bits as short as 1”, which barely protrude from the chuck. This lets you get into some pretty tight spaces. A word of caution, though: make sure you use good quality, impact-rated bits. If you use a cheapo bit, and it gets jammed in the chuck, you will have a helluva time getting it out.
Once the bit is in, just set the speed control to level one or two, depending on how much speed and torque you need. There is a slide-through switch to control direction. In the center position, the tool is locked. Push it through from the left for reverse, from the right for forward. The paddle switch is pressure sensitive to control speed, and can be pressed anywhere along its length to activate the driver.
Into The Wall
To try out the driving power of the Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver, I grabbed some ¼” X 4-½” lag screws and headed for the Official Testing Facility, aka our old farmhouse. I picked a spot in a stud bay that only had about 7” of clearance between studs. One of the studs had three abutting studs, giving a total depth of 6”. I set the driver on level 1, set the tip of the screw against the outer stud, and fired away, with no pre-drilling. The paddle switch was very easy to operate from anywhere along its length, and provided great control over the driver’s speed. The screw slowly disappeared through the studs; it made it all the way in, although it seemed to be struggling a bit toward the end.
I backed the screw out, set the driver on level 2, and repeated the process. The Milwaukee was MUCH happier at this setting, quickly and steadily driving the lag screw through all the studs, and burying the head. I repeated the process a total of twelve times; the tool showed no signs of strain, and the compact battery still showed three out of four bars.
A Head Turner – And A Head Transplant!
To make it even easier to get into those tight spaces, the Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver lets you rotate the power head. This can be handy if you have big paws, like yours truly, and can’t get a good grip with the head in the normal position. The head comes off quickly, can rotate 360°, and will lock into any of eight positions. Loosen and remove a single screw, and tug the head off (it fits snugly, so eat your Wheaties). Rotate it to the position you want, line up the splines, and push the head back onto the body. Now just tighten the screw, and you’re ready to make an impact.
When I finally did take a peek at the owner’s manual, the Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver (Model 2667) seemed to be the same tool as the Milwaukee 3/8” Right Angle Impact Wrench (model 2668), with a different head. I thought it would be cool if the heads could be swapped out, so you could slap on the 3/8” drive head when a socket was called for. We checked with Milwaukee, and got this back:
“Yes. They can be interchanged if a user wanted to change heads between applications. The head mechanisms are available as service parts, which can be purchased through any authorized distributor.” I called my local Milwaukee distributor; they don’t stock the parts, but they can be ordered. The prices listed are the prices they quoted.
If you have the impact driver, and want the wrench head, get the 3/8” Square Part no. 28-14-2668 (Fig. 68) $54.85
If you have the impact wrench, and want the driver head, get the ¼” Hex Part no. 28-14-2667 (Fig. 67) $57.35
If you’re looking for a low-budget way to drive sockets with your Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver, you can pick up a Milwaukee ¼” hex to 3/8” square socket adapter for about $7.50 from Amazon. Using an adapter costs you a bit of space; it projects out from the head about an additional ¾-1”. Make sure you get one that’s impact rated.
Should You Squeeze One Into Your Toolbox?
The Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver doesn’t pack the same wallop as a pistol-grip impact driver. The new Milwaukee M18 Fuel Impact Driver, model 2653 (which we will be reviewing shortly), for example, boasts 1600 in/lbs. of torque. The right angle driver, with 675 in/lbs., has less than half that, but managed to easily handle the 4-½” lag screws. It should easily be able to handle any light to medium fastening jobs. Its size and shape will let it get into all those small, scary spaces where the pistol-grip models just won’t fit.
This would be a great tool for electricians, plumbers, HVAC techs, mechanics, framers and finish carpenters, and pretty much anyone who has to do secure fastening in tight quarters. The amount of control the tool provides lets you drive delicate fasteners without stripping them, but gives you the oomph you need to bury lag screws or loosen stubborn bolts and screws. The ability to swap heads, or to use a socket adapter, makes the Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver even more versatile.
The kit we received to evaluate, the 2667-21, includes the Milwaukee M18 Right Angle Impact Driver, one M18 REDLITHIUM Compact Battery Pack, a Multi-Voltage Charger, and a carrying case. It’s also available as a bare tool (2667-20), and with two XC batteries (2667-22). There is a five-year warranty on the impact driver, and a three-year warranty on the battery.
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