When it comes to electric power tools, Milwaukee is one brand that stands out as being instantly recognizable. The Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation was founded in 1924 in Wisconsin, and has been producing high quality tools since that time. Mention of the name Milwaukee, which is of course a Wisconsin city that has long been famous for industry, brings to mind images of steel work and railroad cars. In this light, images of high torque power tools aren’t much of a stretch and while we could spend all day talking about the assortment of drills, grinders, saws and routers that Milwaukee makes, the fact is that they also make a damn good impact wrench. The M18 FUEL 1/2″ High Torque Impact Wrench is one such example, and the focus of this review.
When it comes to features, the M18 FUEL delivers some pretty hefty specs. First and foremost, this is an 18 volt battery powered impact wrench, and the battery is fantastic. It’s a lithium battery that offers superior runtime relative to most of the competing products out there. In addition, the battery has an electric “fuel” gauge which indicates charge percentage on the battery, hence Milwaukee’s “FUEL” moniker.
The M18 FUEL is driven by a brushless motor that dissipates heat well and is capable of delivering a max of 700 ft-lbs of fastening torque and a max of 1100 ft-lbs loosening torque. This particular wrench gives you the option to pare back on the fastening torque by offering two settings, 700 ft-lbs and 100 ft-lbs, which allows you to use your wrench on lighter duty bolts and nuts with reduced risk of damaging your fasteners. Naturally, it also comes with a variable speed trigger that lets you adjust torque and speed on the fly by modulating the force you use to press the trigger with your finger.
Other notable features include an LED light for added visibility when working in dark spaces, a second battery so that you can have one charging while you work, and a charger that allows you to keep your batteries topped off. This wrench also offers overheating protection and overload protection, which are great safety features for both user of the wrench and for extending the lifespan of the tool. Finally, the hardened 1/2″ friction anvil makes socket swaps a breeze.
When it comes to build quality, the fit and finish are great, which we would absolutely expect for an electric impact wrench at this price point. The materials are generally high quality, ranging from heavy rubbers and plastics for the touch points to heat treated steel for the power train aspects of the tool.
From an engineering standpoint, a lot of thought has gone in to making this tool comfortable. If you are someone who plans to use an impact for long periods of time, you will likely appreciate the attention to detail that was paid when designing the ergonomics of this impact wrench. The contours feel great in hand and the tool seems like an extension of your arm when working. You don’t need to contort your hand to get a comfortable angle on fasteners.
When it comes to value, the Milwaukee M18 FUEL offers a pretty nice proposition. It is certainly not the cheapest impact wrench around, but in this case you get what you pay for. We really like all aspects of this wrench, and would certainly recommend it if you can come up with the coin.
For your money, one of the most important things you get when buying this particular wrench is a 3 year warranty on batteries and a 5 year warranty on the tool. When it comes to power tools in general, that’s most definitely on the higher end. Lots of competitors offer a mere 1 year on batteries and tool, so you get the idea.
As far as best place to buy, Amazon typically has free shipping and tends to beat out the major online tool houses so this is what we recommend. Overall, we highly recommend the Milwaukee M18 FUEL Impact Wrench to anyone looking for a solid 1/2″ drive. Note that if you already have batteries that will fit this wrench because you have other Milwaukee tools, this wrench can also be had as just a bare tool without batteries, charger, or case for significantly reduced cost. If there is any doubt as to whether the batteries you have will work, we recommend getting in touch with Milwaukee to confirm to avoid a potentially hazardous situation.
You can see more pictures, read more reviews, and see prices by clicking here! Alternatively, you can also read some more of our recommendations for other great impact wrenches if the Milwaukee doesn’t suit your needs.