Reviewers say the combination of power and comfort make Milwaukee's 2401-22 the best cordless screwdriver. In side-by-side comparisons, it's one of the fastest drivers with one of the longest battery run times, and its LED light and battery meter are some of users' favorite features. Testers say the 2401-22 is a top choice for homeowners, woodworkers and contractors who need a heavy-duty screwdriver and occasional driller.
High performance driver with top speed and torque. With 175 inch-pounds of torque, reviewers say the 12-volt Milwaukee 2401-22 is one of the most powerful cordless screwdrivers available.
After evaluating six drivers in the field, the Journal of Light Construction calls the 2401-22, "one of the two most powerful tools in the test." They say it's a "good drill for tougher jobs," and one user at HomeDepot.com calls it "light but gutsy."
The Milwaukee 2401-22 is also one of the fastest drivers, placing first for drilling holes and driving screws in a comparison of cordless screwdrivers by a consumer testing organization. In the Tools of the Trade magazine's tests, the 2401-22 places second for speed: "This driver is the strongest in the class, with the fastest driving times and the capability to do what we need from it in the field," says David Getts. It has one speed setting (with a range of 0 to 500 rpm) and a variable speed trigger that gives you more control for delicate projects.
Don't confuse this screwdriver with the Milwaukee 2410-22: This is a 12-volt drill/driver, and one expert test says it doesn't perform as well as the 2401-22 screwdriver.
Helpful fuel gauge. The Milwaukee 2401-22 is the only driver in our report that includes a battery fuel gauge on the tool itself. This feature is more common for larger drill/drivers, and users say it's valuable to know how much battery you are working with before you start a job.
In side-by-side testing of 10 cordless screwdrivers by Wood magazine, editors say that the lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries in the Milwaukee 2401-22 outlast their competitors. In one battery charge, the 2401-22 drives 259 drywall screws.
The 2401-22 also excels in run-time tests by the Journal of Light Construction, where it drills the most holes with a 1-inch spade bit in both normal temperatures and after sitting in 20-degree Fahrenheit storage overnight.
The Milwaukee doesn't do quite as well during battery life tests by Tools of the Trade. It places fifth in a test that consists of driving 3-inch screws into hardwood.
Most consumers say the 2401-22 has a long battery life. "I used it for a finished staircase project and could sink 63 3.5-inch deck screws (without pilot holes in the stringers) on one charge," says one owner at Amazon.com. Other Amazon.com users add that the batteries hold a charge well during storage.
The 2401-22 comes with two Red Lithium batteries, Milwaukee's high performance Li-ion batteries. These are 1.5-amp batteries, but longer running (and heavier) 3.0-amp batteries are available for purchase separately.
Rapid charger with battery monitoring. The smart charger that comes with the Milwaukee 2401-22 monitors the charging status, temperature and voltage during recharging to help prolong the life of the Li-ion batteries. Milwaukee says the charger takes 30 minutes, but editors of Wood magazine report it takes a little longer before the batteries are actually ready.
A few reviewers on Amazon.com report problems with the battery charger failing in less than two years, but most of these users say they replaced the charger using the warranty.
Lightweight driver with contractor-grade amenities. "Great comfort and a few handy features" are the top reasons editors at Tools of the Trade say the Milwaukee 2401-22 is the best subcompact driver. They like the rubber-coated trigger and say the "small size combined with great balance and a nice grip give it the comfort edge." Their only complaint is the location of the reverse switch, which right-handed users can accidentally bump.
Editors of Wood magazine also give the 2401-22 top scores for its overall feel and balance, saying the forward/reverse settings and chuck are easy to use. At 7 inches and 2 pounds, it's one of the smallest 12-volt cordless screwdrivers.
The LED light is "actually bright enough that it could serve as an emergency flashlight in extremely dark conditions," says Chris Baylor, About.com's guide to woodworking, and users at Amazon.com like how well the light illuminates crawl spaces.
Baylor also comments on the automatic spindle lock. "When the power is off, the chuck locks in place, allowing for manual-screw driving." This feature also allows you to change bits easier with one hand. In their comparison, Tools of the Trade calls the 2401-22's chuck "the best of the bunch," because, "... it clicks open, clicks closed, and is spring-loaded to help eject the bit."
Its 15 clutch settings are the fewest in Wood magazine's comparison of subcompact drivers, but the Journal of Light Construction says this does not bother them as they only used a few settings for most jobs in their field tests.
There is no onboard bit storage, something Baylor calls a minor complaint. For storage, the 2401-22 comes with a molded fabric case that holds the driver, batteries and charger.
One of the best warranty packages for cordless screwdrivers. Milwaukee includes a five-year warranty for the 2401-22 cordless screwdriver, plus a two-year warranty on the batteries.
As a brand, Milwaukee earns top ranking in two large surveys: the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 survey of cordless drill buyers, plus a 2008 survey of professional builders. At Amazon.com a small percentage of users reported using the warranty for faulty batteries or chargers, and there are no complaints with Milwaukee's customer service.
Review Credibility: Excellent Editors of ConsumerReports.org test 11 cordless screwdrivers, including the Milwaukee 2401-22, as part of their cordless drill test. They rate each model's speed, power, run time, charge time, noise and handling before picking the best buys.
Review: Cordless Drill Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
2. Wood Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Wood magazine tests 10 subcompact drivers to find out which are the most powerful, have the best run times and are easy to use. They name the Milwaukee 2401-22 as one of the best overall -- it even performs better that the Milwaukee 2410-22, a 12-volt drill/driver -- and say it has the longest running battery of the bunch.
Review: Shop Tested: Cordless Micro-drivers, Bob Hunter and Doug Ley, July 2010
3. Tools of the Trade
Review Credibility: Excellent The Milwaukee 2401-22 driver earns top ranking among the nine subcompact Li-ion drivers tested here. The Milwaukee has "the best feel of any subcompact" and is praised for superior performance and features like the bit holder, battery fuel gauge and LED light.
Review: Tool Test: Compact and Subcompact Drill/Drivers, David Getts, Feb. 23, 2009
4. Journal of Light Construction
Review Credibility: Excellent Objective tests for this detailed, well-illustrated comparison review of six subcompact Li-ion drivers find the Milwaukee 2401-22 to be one of the two most powerful, although it does not quite live up to the manufacturer's claims. Northup says it's capable of performing well even in sub-freezing temperatures and it's a good drill for tougher jobs. Drawbacks include the single speed range plus a handle comfortable mostly for large hands.
Review: Tool Test: Subcompact Drill/Drivers, Dave Northup, February 2009
Review Credibility: Very Good About 200 owners have reviewed the Milwaukee 2401-22 here, giving it an overall average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5, making it one of the top-rated cordless drivers. We found relatively few complaints of quality control issues; most owners praise the tool's convenience and power. Reviewers say this driver works well for do-it-yourself users and contractors. There are a few scattered complaints about durability and battery life.
Review: Milwaukee 2401-22 12-volt Li-ion Compact Driver Kit, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good The Milwaukee 2401-22 earns an overall rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 in more than 40 reviews. Users say it's powerful, has good battery life, charges quickly and is a durable, sturdy tool. Most say it's a particularly great tool for the price, and handles small to medium jobs well. There are a couple of isolated complaints about the batteries.
Review: Milwaukee M12 12-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/4 in. Cordless Hex Screwdriver Kit, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of April 2013
7. J.D. Power & Associates
Review Credibility: Very Good Milwaukee earns the top ranking among 12 brands in this customer-satisfaction survey of nearly 5,000 people who bought a cordless drill/driver during the previous year. Editors use six categories to determine customer satisfaction and say that "Milwaukee performs particularly well in two factors: operational performance and battery versatility."
Review: 2010 Cordless Drill/Driver Satisfaction Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, June 2, 2010
Review Credibility: Very Good Milwaukee also takes top ranking in this survey of more than 3,400 builders, compared with 21 other brands of cordless tools. Though Milwaukee ranks third as the brand used the most, it has the highest quality rating.
Review: 2008 Builder Brand Study, Editors of Hanley Wood, March 31, 2008
Review Credibility: Good The Milwaukee 2401-22 cordless driver earns 4.5 stars here out of a possible 5, with praise for its combination of power and low weight. Baylor calls it "a solid, well-built woodworking tool." The main drawback is that it lacks on-board bit storage.
Review: Milwaukee 2401-22 Heavy-Duty 12v Compact Driver Review, Chris Baylor, Not dated