Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3/8″ Compact Impact Wrench Review

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M18 FUEL™ 3/8″ Compact Impact Wrench w/ Friction Ring 2854-20

M18 FUEL™ 3/8" Compact Impact Wrench w/ Friction Ring

Manufacturer: Milwaukee
Model number: 2854-20
Power source: 18V Li-Ion
Weight: 2.4 lbs
The expansion of compact cordless tools continues to explode due to the advances in brushless motors and batteries. Over the last several years we’ve seen a lot of cordless power tools trim down and lose inches where it counts most. Milwaukee has introduced quite a few next generation cordless tools that fall into this category including the M18 FUEL™ 3/8″ Compact Impact Wrench w/ Friction Ring, Model 2854-20.

This is a compact impact wrench aimed at the automotive and mechanical trades where smaller fasteners in tight spaces are difficult to get at. Built on their M18 FUEL platform it’s been designed for maximum power in a compact footprint.

Milwaukee 2854 Features & Specifications

  • Friction ring (hog ring) ensures quick and easy socket changes
  • The POWERSTATE™ Brushless motor delivers up to 250 ft-lbs. of nut-busting torque
  • 4-Mode DRIVE CONTROL™ provides greater control over output speed and power. Includes auto shut-off and bolt-removal mode
  • Bolt Removal control delivers full torque output, then decreases RPMs once the bolt is loosened to prevent fastener drops
  • Mode 1 IPMs: 0-1,000; Mode 2 IPMs: 0-2,400; Mode 3 IPMs: 0-3,500; Mode 4 IPMs: 0-3,500
  • Mode 1 RPMs: 0-800; Mode 2 RPMs: 0-1,650; Mode 3 RPMs: 0-2,400; Mode 4 RPMs: 0-2,400
  • 4.8″ in length provides most access in tight spaces
  • Tri-LEDs deliver high definition lighting to increase workspace visibility with less shadows
  • AUTO SHUT-OFF™ control prevents over tightening and increases productivity by applying no more than 20 ft-lbs. of torque
  • REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence ensures maximum performance and protects from overloads, heating and over-discharge
  • Compatible with all M18™ batteries & Chargers

Compact Size with Full Size Performance

When I first picked up this impact wrench I thought it felt too small to do anything meaningful when it came to fastening. But the reality is I often times grab my impact driver and stick a socket adapter into it for lots of small jobs. With the 3/8″ Compact Impact Wrench it’s already set up to go and it offers some great features that you won’t find on an impact driver. I recently used this new Gen 3 impact wrench on a few jobs including changing out the cartridge on my Taco circulator pump for my furnace and installing some structural fasteners on a deck project.

The beauty of this impact wrench really is the compact size. It’s MUCH smaller and lighter than traditional cordless impact wrenches. The head on it is under 5″ long and it only weighs 2.4 lbs. It has plenty of power for breaking free bolts and had more than enough power for installing 6″ long TimberLok screws. This latest version from Milwaukee has 25% more power than the previous model moving up to 250 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque which is pretty impressive for such a compact tool. Also tried it on a few lug nuts and had no issues with that either!

Auto Modes

New for these updated impact wrenches are the Auto modes for both tightening and removing. When removing a bolt the impact wrench delivers full torque output until the bolt breaks free, then it decreases the RPMs so the nut isn’t dropped at the end. This is a great feature especially for anyone working at elevated heights. AUTO SHUT-OFF prevents over tightening which is really important on things like aluminum rims or sensitive bolt/flange assemblies. It prevents applying more than 20 ft-lbs of torque, then allowing you to grab a torque wrench and apply the specified torque. So you get the best of both worlds, plenty of nut-busting torque to remove difficult fasteners yet a preventative shut-off so you don’t damage anything over tightening.

Standout Features

The Milwaukee 2854 offers 3 LED lights mounted in the housing which provide excellent lighting of the work area. The 4 preset modes are a great range of impacts/rpm’s that offer a wide range of applications. If there was one feature that I think would benefit these new compact impact wrenches it would be Milwaukee’s ONE-KEY system which would offer even more flexibility in settings for special applications.

It should be noted this 3/8″ compact impact wrench can also be ordered with a pin detent instead of the friction ring. That version is great for anyone that can’t afford to drop a socket (working at heights, or leaving a dedicated socket on for extended periods).

Where to Buy

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3/8″ Compact Impact Wrench with Friction Ring comes in 3 different configurations including bare tool, kit with large batteries and kit with compact batteries. All three are listed here and are available from The Home Depot.

Overall Impression Milwaukee 2854

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 3/8″ Compact Impact Wrench is a powerful little impact wrench packed with features. It really is amazing how much power can be packed into these small tools. Anyone that works in automotive or the mechanical trades can benefit from this compact impact wrench. The only thing that would make this a full 5 star review would be including the ONE-KEY functionality that we’ve all come to appreciate on Milwaukee tools.




About the author

Todd Fratzel

Todd Fratzel is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz, and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry.He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH. In his capacity at United he oversees the Residential and Commercial Building Division along with all Design-Build projects.He is also the editor of Home Construction & Improvement.

@tfratzelTodd Fratzel

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