Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT

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Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT

Manufacturer: Milwaukee
Model number: 2742-21CT
Price: $349-$399
Power source: M18 Batery
Motor size: Brushless FUEL line
Weight: 6.3 lbs

Milwaukee M18 FUEL 16 GA Angled Nail Finish 2742-21CT Review

There’s a lot of conversation among tradesmen these days whether battery operated cordless finish nailers can compete with the Paslode gas nailer or even pneumatic nailers.

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CTAs a fan of the Paslode nailer I will say that until recently, I was a complete skeptic of any of the battery operated cordless nailers. As much of a fan of gas nailers as I am, I also loathe the fact that they’re temperamental, require regular cleaning and the gas always seems to go stale or run out at the MOST inconvenient time. Not to mention the gas cartridge expenses over the life of the tool can really add up.

While the battery operated cordless nailers are still relatively new, they are getting better and better with each iteration. If you’re currently invested in a tool manufacturers battery platform – these nailers offer you the convenience of “cutting the air hose”, low maintenance, no gas cartridge expenses, decent fastening performance and productivity!

Milwaukee 16 GA Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT Review

We took the Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT to our jobsite and used it to install 2-inch 16-guage fasteners into ¾” exterior trim, pvc window surround units and interior trim casing and window sill fastening.   We then took it into our shop and did some specific testing.

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT

How It Performed

The Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT installed nails consistently at the desired depth. The only time I noticed a nail not set was when I did not have the tool pressed tightly against the surface being fastened – operator error.

On the job site the nailer performed flawlessly with no jammed or misfired nails. We immediately noticed that there is no “ramp up time” for this nailer, meaning that the tool does not pause to recharge itself – it placed a nail as fast as I was able to accurately aim, set and pull the trigger. [see video below]

The nailer has a slight recoil, but did not enough to bother me. I used the nailer over two days on the jobsite, and installed 760 nails before the battery needed to be recharged.

In the shop we tested this nailer by fastening different specicies of trim (Oak, Poplar, plywood) onto spruce framing lumber and LVL stock as a subsurface. The results were the same – consistent depth, flawless fastening, and no jams.

I recently did an editorial video called “Milwaukee Cordless Finish Nailers – Be Informed.” One viewer that commented on that video; he is a trim carpenter and used the tool to install 2000 nails in a day. I don’t know too many people who install 2000 nails in one day. His screen name is TheWinwin4All and here’s his comment:

 +TheWinwin4all “Next week I will have 2 houses to trim, will see how it will do. So far my main concern is the kick back. due to the different design in piston, this Milwaukee 15ga has a strong shake, almost like my .22 gun. Will see how my hands will feel after full day working with it.

+TheWinwin4all Update. used it on a job site for a day, went through about 2k nails with it. It is fast and powerful, never stalled on me due to overheating. Pretty consistent with depth, just here and there didn’t go all way down but pretty much on pair with my Hitachi, not bad. Loud..had to wear earplugs, but it’s manageable. The main issue is a strong kick into arm. At the end of a day my arm was hurt.

So, is it a keeper? – yes. Will it replace my pneumatic gun? – No. For occasional work it’s just fine, for building cabinets and shelves with no rush it is good. For going around the house installing trim and such all day long, not that comfortable, at least for me.”

Milwaukee M18 2742-21CT Specifications

  • Nail Sizes: 1-1/4” – 2-1/2”
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • 700 nails per charge on a REDLITHIUM 2.0 Compact Battery
  • Sequential and Contact Actuation Modes
  • Dry-Fire Lockout, Adjustable Belt Hook & LED Work Light
  • Adjustable Belt Hook – 3 locations
  • LED Work Light – stays on 15 seconds

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT


The Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT handles 16 gauge, 20-degree, angled nails. It has a fastener range of 1-1/4” to 2-1/2.”

Fasteners load from the bottom easily and the magazine, which holds up to 110 fasteners, has a sliding magazine clip that quickly and accurately loads or unloads.

  • Nail Sizes: 1-1/4” – 2-1/2”
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • 700 nails per charge on a REDLITHIUM 2.0 Compact Battery
  • Sequential and Contact Actuation Modes
  • Dry-Fire Lockout Loading the nails is straightforward and the nailer will stop firing and go into a “dry fire lock-out,” mode where down to 4 to 5 nails in the magazine.

If you’re not counting your nails, and I don’t, dry fire lock-out is indicated when the nailers contact nose will not compress and the LED light will not turn on.

Clearing jams is simple and easily accomplished by unlatching the “jamb latch,” clip on top of the tools front end. As mentioned earlier, we fired approximately 1500 nails while testing this unit and never encountered a single fastener jamb.

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT

Depth of Drive and Fastener Penetration

The depth of drive is easily adjusted and straightforward to use by turning a thumb knob at the tools nose contact.

We installed approximately 1500 nails in the workshop and on the jobsite, including fastening ¾” Oak, ¾” Poplar, Colonial casing, LVL stock and 2×4 framing material, without a jam or any issues.

One thing I immediately noticed was that the nailers firing pin does not over penetrate and leave awful looking “T” shaped scar in the wood.

Angled driven nails are not always consistent and require using a nail set. The same performance can also be expected from my Paslode and pneumatic nailer.

Power Switch

The power switch is located on the lower rear area of the tools handle. This power button needs to be pressed for approximately 2-3 seconds to power on the tool. Turning the unit off requires depressing the switch for 5-7 seconds, a bit long but doable.

An LED power indicator lights up and stays on the entire time the tool is connected to the battery, and in the “powered on mode.”

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT

Power Actuation Setting

This finish nailer will operate in single sequential actuation, as well as contact [bump fire] actuation. Once powered on, there is a actuation selector switch and LED light just above the slide pack battery, which stays on the entire time the tool is on. The indicator light tells you which mode the tool is set on:

  • Continuous solid green for single sequential actuation,
  • Continuous flashing green for contact actuation operation.

Milwaukee claims this nailer will fire 3 nails per second. We fired this nailer both in single sequential actuation and contact actuation and were impressed with the speed that you’re able to install fasteners. However, this nailer is not designed to be operated non-stop machine gun fastening, not too many people would need to operate in this fashion.

Doing so will cause the tool to shut down to protect the tool from excessive heat. Having the tool internally protect itself is a huge advancement when it comes to protecting, and managing battery life. Longer battery life means more run-time and increases the performance of the nailer.

While speed may be fun to talk about and interest some production trim carpenters, the real test on the job site is the fastener placement, line of sight, accuracy and doing quality work.

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT

Weight and Balance

At 6.3 lbs this nailer is not as light as my pneumatic nailer, but it’s not that heavy either and is fairly well balanced. The nailer measures 5.5”w x 11.9”h x 11.9d.

Belt Hook

There are three location choices for the belt hook. There are left and right side positions, located on the rear of the motor, this position allows the tool to sit horizontal, pointing down on your belt.  There is a third location that allows the tool to hang upside-down, this position is located on the left side of the tool and best suited for right handers.

If you look at this tool it has a funky angle to it, this I due to the tools motor location and weight considerations. As a result of the angle the nailer does not rest upright like many of Milwaukee’s cordless tools. When not hanging from your belt, the nailer must be laid flat.

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT

Line of Sight

The tools line of sight is decent, you can expect the fasteners to be embedded dead center and 5/16” below the contact tips center line. Like any nailer, once you learn this, your fastener placement will be dead-on with placing straight on shots.

The no-mar contact tip is black, as is the nosing of the tool. It would be nice if a contrasting color were used, for us hard to see, old timers! Maybe a different color no-mar tip or positioning guide line could be used.

The LED light is located low on this tool and I did not find it overly useful unless your operating in a super dark area, like closet baseboard trim.

Low Maintenance

This tool is oil free, gas cartridge free and maintenance free.  It was designed to run almost 90-95,000 cycles before needing maintenance or replacement, that’s a design spec none of its competitor can boast.


The Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT has been seen to range from $349  for the bare tool and $399.00 as a kit.

Room for Improvement?

The Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT nose is BIG and gets in the way of some fastening applications. I found that when nailing trim against a wall, the tools sweet spot is either canted on its side or against the top edge.

Milwaukee no doubt beefed up this nose piece to increase durability to of the firing pin mechanism, a feature that adds to infrequent jambs, the tools longevity and time required between servicing.

Bringing the weight down on this tool would be great and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a 12-volt version some day!


Overall this is an excellent finish nailer and I would recommend it over the Paslode solely because it does not use gas cartridges. In my line of remodeling and carpentry work I am never doing the same tasks for long and often find myself using an array of different tools. As a result my finish nailer may sit for a day, week or even a month between uses.

Having a battery operated nailer, on the battery platform that I use other tools on, makes complete sense and increases my efficiency. It allows me to pull out the nailer when I want and not worry about setting up a compressor, hose or gas cartridge expirations, fuel levels or cartridge cost.

The most impressive feature of the Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT is the rate of fastening that is achieved with zero ramp-up time. I am able to install accurate fasteners at a decent rate of work with no disruption in my work speed.

How Much and Where to Buy?

The Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT sells online for $495.00 here: MILWAUKEE-M18-FUEL-16-Gauge Nailer

Milwaukee 16 GA Angled Cordless Finish Nailer 2742-21CT Video Review

About the author

Rob Robillard

Robert Robillard is a remodeler, general contractor, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts, and serves as the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and founding editor of A Concord Carpenter . Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review - Tool and Product Review - Video Channel, , where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob Robillard

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  1. Oleg k

    1. Um, Home Depot sells it for $350 and it’s always in Stock, can also be picked up at the store. A basic Google search shows a better price than you advertise for Amazon, not sure how you skipped that detail but I always thought of you as unbiased, after reading this review I’m quite sure of the opposite.
    2. All Milwaukee nailers have the same problems: Milwaukee often tries to reinvent the wheel with their ridiculous power buttons and innovative piston design that provides zero benefit (because no human can or should sink 16ga nails this fast), moreover, their super cool sensors often shut it off for no apparent reason, requiring one to restart the nailer, therefore, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the claims of speed are over exaggerated.
    3. I’m a huge Milwaukee fan but the oscillating tool and these nailers were and are a disappointment because not only they render my arms numb and my ears ring but they also command a premium price for safety and other features that seem to only ruin it and make it less usable than other nailers. These reasons were enough for me to pick up the Dewalt DCN660D1, not only its a lot quieter than Milwaukee but also almost 2 lbs. Lighter, with a much better center of gravity than Milwaukee. It sinks the nails just as fast or even faster and, although the led lights are completely useless and there is no dry fire lockout I will take these shortcomings any day over those of the nailers made by Milwaukee.
    4. What I hate about ALL angled nailers is the fact that the Home Depot stores often don’t have any nails for them! And even when they do they only carry Paslode, with Dewalt nails being reserved for online-only purchases. Milwaukee doesn’t make nails so anyone who buys this nailer needs to know that getting a 16ga 20 degree angled nails locally is going to be a hell of a challenge!

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Oleg – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. First off, when it comes to pricing, we list a price at the time we publish the article. At that time the availability was limited and the price was likely higher than it can be found today. After talking with the design team at Milwaukee I can assure you that speed wasn’t the primary focus for this tool. Power and long term durability were the driving factors for the circuitry that limits the tool if it’s operating at a point that might damage the battery or tool.

      Anyway, love hearing the feedback, and I don’t disagree about the availability of nails….

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