Milwaukee M18 FUEL SURGE Hydraulic Driver

Milwakee M18 FUEL SURGE 1/4″ Hex Hydraulic Driver

Cordless 1/4″ impact drivers have been overtaking the fastening marketplace for several years now with most trades adopting these as their “go to” tool for installing small to medium size fasteners. While impact drivers have completely changed the game on most job sites they certainly have room for improvement in noise, vibration, and size. Recently we’ve seen several companies introduce new types of oil impulse technology to their “impact driver” lines including Ridgid and Makita.

Milwaukee has just announced the M18 FUEL SURGE 1/4″ Hex Hydraulic Driver.


How SURGE Works

The new Milwaukee M18 FUEL SURGE is powered by FLUID-DRIVE Hydraulic Powertrain. Oil impulse technology uses pulses of hydraulic oil to create the impact which results in reduced metal-on-metal impact. This results in some significant improvements over traditional impact drivers including:

  • Quieter Operation – SURGE is 50% quieter than standard impact drivers, operating at 76 dBA. This means that in most applications SURGE is under the OSHA requirement for hearing protection.
  • Smoother Performance – The M18 SURGE has 3 times less vibration that standard impact drivers. This results in smoother operation and increased user control.
  • Longer Sustained Torque – 450 in-lbs of longer sustained torque resulting in equal to or faster driving speeds when driving small to medium diameter fasteners.
  • Increased Durability due to minimized wear

In addition to the new oil impulse technology, SURGE includes everything FUEL has to offer including:

  • POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor
  • REDLINK PLUS™ Electronic Intelligence
  • REDLITHIUM™ Battery Pack

Probably one of the most important things to note, this is yet again another tool on a vast platform of 18V tools. That means SURGE will work with the batteries from the entire line of M18 tools that users already own.


What Does Longer Sustained Torque Mean?

Power tools have become so sophisticated that users get lost in a sea of facts, claims, figures and specifications that make it tough to decipher. One of the really important things to understand with this new oil impulse technology is what longer sustained torque means and how it relates to the tools performance. Below is a graphic that shows the torque of a standard impact driver (shown in grey) vs the new SURGE Hydraulic Driver (shown in Red).


  • Grey Line – For the standard impact driver shown in grey, the tool produces high torque values a very brief moments in time. The impact is happening at 3,000 impacts per minute (IPM).
  • Red Line – The SURGE Hydraulic Driver shown in red. This tool reaches peak torque quicker and holds that torque much longer. Also, SURGE impacts faster at 4,000 IPM.
  • The result is SURGE can perform equal to or faster than standard impact drivers when driving small to medium diameter fasteners.


The Future of Fastener Installation – Oil Impulse Drivers

Research shows that 90% of impact driver fastening in most trades is done with small to medium diameter fasteners. Below are some typical fasteners that many trades deal with an some average torque requirements for installing them:

  • #9 – 3 inch deck screw: 40 in-lb
  • 1/4″ x 3″ lag bolt: 53 in-lb
  • 3/8″ x 3″ lag bolt: 160 in-lb
  • #10-16 x 3/4″ Tek screw: 10 in-lb
  • 5/16″ bolt: 324 in-lb

450 in-lb of torque the SURGE greatly exceeds the torque required to install these typical small to medium diameter fasteners. So while a standard impact driver might produce a very short duration 1,800 in-lb of torque, that amount isn’t necessary for installation of typical fasteners and it’s not nearly as sustained as the SURGE. The result is a MUCH more efficient delivery of the power needed day in and day out to do the tasks that the majority of us need.

When you step up to large diameter fasteners then you’ll need to step up to something like an impact wrench which is designed to handle higher torque applications.


First Impression – M18 FUEL SURGE Hydraulic Driver

We got our hands on the new SURGE just recently so we need more time to fully evaluate the tool. However, we’re really excited about the performance and drastic reduction in noise and vibration. While testing the tool using some common fasteners we also notice a very nice improvement on the smoothness of operation. The SURGE comes with 3 standard speeds along with a special 4th mode for installing self tapping screws. It includes the standard belt clip, bit holder, and LED light that we’ve grown accustomed to on the standard impact drivers.

This new tool will be sold in four different skews as follows:

  • 2760-20: M18 FUEL SURGE 1/4″ Hex Hydraulic Driver $149
  • 2760-22CT: M18 FUEL SURGE 1/4″ Hex Hydraulic Driver CP Kit $249
  • 2760-22: M18 FUEL SURGE 1/4″ Hex Hydraulic Driver XC Kit $329
  • 2899-22: M18 FUEL 2-Tool Combo Kit $429

Built on the proven FUEL platform we have no doubt this will be a home run for Milwaukee!

Milwaukee M18 Fuel SURGE Hydraulic Driver Video




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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1 Comment

  1. Bruce Schena

    It’s not “inch-per-pounds” it “inch-pounds” as the units of torque. Torque is defined as force (F, in pounds) at a certain lever arm length (R, in inches). So, T=F*R which gives you units of “pounds*inches” (or inches*pounds” shortened to “in-lb” in the common lingo).

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