The 18-volt Milwaukee 2650-21 cordless impact driver is consistently rated highly for torque, speed and run time. Similar in size and weight to a cordless drill, this driver excels at a variety of heavy-duty jobs, professionals and homeowners say. Features like the trigger-activated LED task light and battery gauge sweeten the package.
Top torque with two battery choices. The Milwaukee 2650-21 earns lots of praise from reviewers. It's available with two 1.5 Ah compact batteries, while the otherwise-identical Milwaukee 2650-22 (*Est. $280) comes with a set of 3.0 Ah batteries. The 2650-22 has double the run time, but otherwise the two drills offer the same RPM of 0 to 2,000, and they deliver an average 1,400 inch-pounds of torque.
After testing many brands and models of cordless impact drivers, editors at TheFamilyHandyman.com name the Milwaukee 2650-22 their favorite. They praise its "raw power," saying, "in our lag-screw races, it consistently matched or exceeded the others."
Calling it "a lag-driving powerhouse," Popular Mechanics agrees. In their tests alongside nine other Li-ion impact drivers, Roy Berendsohn says the Milwaukee 2650-22 "drove the most lag screws and was among the fastest drivers in our multifastener time trials."
Long run time. Both models use Milwaukee's Red Lithium batteries, which the manufacturer says have longer run time, better speed, more torque and more power than Milwaukee's regular Li-ion batteries. To check these claims, online DeWaltOwnersGroup.com compares Red Lithium batteries with Milwaukee's standard Li-ion batteries and DeWalt's Max Lithium batteries in a series of side-by-side tests. "Does Milwaukee's Red Lithium live up to its claims? I would have to say YES," they say.
In their test of 18 impact drivers, Tools of the Trade review both the Milwaukee 2650-21 and the 2650-22; not surprisingly, the Milwaukee 2650-22, with the more powerful battery, lasts twice as long (driving in 64 lag screws to the smaller battery's 31). The Milwaukee 2650 ranks high in the run time test with either battery," coming in third.
Fresh batteries in an hour. The Milwaukee 2650-21 comes as a kit, with a one-hour charger and two 1.5-Ah batteries. Contractors and mechanics at HomeDepot.com say having a fresh battery is never a problem. "Great battery lasting power, fast recharging," says a user at HomeDepot.com. Many users say the same, with no complaints on the speed or quality of the battery charger.
All the favorites. The Milwaukee 2650-21 "has all the features we love: a tool-belt hook, a bright work light and a battery 'fuel gauge'," say reviewers at TheFamilyHandyman.com. Of these, the battery meter is one of the most popular extras. "There is nothing more frustrating than heading out to do a half-hour of punch work and arriving on site with a dead battery that takes 30 to 60 minutes to charge," say reviewers at Tools of the Trade.
The LED task light is trigger-activated and it remains lighted for eight seconds after you release it. Reviewers say this feature is a huge bonus. "The light is awesome in brightness and a light press of the trigger turns it on without turning driver on," says a customer at HomeDepot.com.
In addition to a five-year warranty on the driver, Milwaukee includes a two-year warranty on their Li-ion batteries. On Amazon.com, one owner says their "customer service has been great" when they warrantied two batteries that quit after "1.5 years of heavy professional use."
1. Tools of the Trade
Review Credibility: Excellent Greg DiBernardo and his team take 18 Li-ion impact drivers to work for several months at a time to better understand how each one handles real-world use. in the Milwaukee 2650-22 takes first place because it's "the brute of the bunch -- a fast, powerful tool that torques noticeably when you engage the trigger."
Review: Tool Test: 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Impact Drivers, Greg DiBernardo, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Excellent The editors of TheFamilyHandyman.com take a large list of cordless impact drills and run them through lag screw races and torque tests. The Milwaukee 2650-22 gets the top pick by eight of the 10 editors for speed, "raw power" and "all the features we loved: a tool-belt hook, a bright work light and a battery 'fuel gauge'." With 1,400 inch-pounds of torque, it offers more twisting power than most of the competition. The 12-volt Milwaukee 2450-22 also gets a nod for being "well-made and pro grade with a tempting price tag."
Review: Choosing the Best Impact Driver, Editors of TheFamilyHandyman.com, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good "Only one tool combines rotational speed and blows per minute in a way that makes it excel at driving these big screws: the impact driver," say the editors of Popular Mechanics. They rate the tools on rpm, amp-hours and the number of lag screws each battery can drill during their comparison test of nine Li-ion impact drivers. The Milwaukee 2650-22 gets second place with 4.5 stars, high marks for speed and power, and no major drawbacks.
Review: Impact Driver Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Good Self-proclaimed DeWalt enthusiasts put the Red Lithium batteries to the test, comparing them with Milwaukee's regular Li-ion batteries and DeWalt's 12Max. They use side-by-side speed tests, freezing temperatures and battery life, admitting that some results were estimates only. They report some issues with Milwaukee's electronics when the drill heats up, but overall they say the 12-volt Red Lithium batteries live up to their claims of increased run time, higher voltage and more amps.
Review: Testing Milwaukee's M12 Red Lithium Ion Battery, Nov. 18, 2010
Review Credibility: Good The Milwaukee 2650-21 earns a perfect score from a handful of reviewers at HomeDepot.com. Many of the owners use the impact drill for heavy-duty mechanic and contractor jobs, calling it a powerful and durable tool.
Review: Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium 18-Volt Cordless 1/4 in. Hex Impact Driver Kit, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Good Reviewers at Amazon.com give the 2650-21 an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, with most giving the impact drill a perfect score. "After purchasing this Milwaukee too, it has done every job that I have asked of it -- from removing some pretty tough bolts on oil pans to setting up the lags for a deck, comments on user. A couple comments with lower ratings complain that the drills aren't compatible with the nickel-cadmium or older Li-ion batteries.
Review: Milwaukee 2650-21 18-Volt Compact Impact Driver Kit, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Fair About 10 consumers review the 2650-22 at Amazon.com, which is the same drill as the 2650-21 but with larger batteries. Most users praise the drill's power and size. "It's amazing to me that Milwaukee can get all of this torque out of such a small tool!" says one reviewer.
Review: Milwaukee 2650-22 18-Volt Extra-Compact Impact Driver Kit, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2013