Milwaukee M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun Review

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Milwaukee M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun Compact Kit

Model 2866-22CT

M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun

Manufacturer: Milwaukee
Model number: 2866-22CT
Price: $229
Power source: 18V Li-Ion
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Last year we did a cordless drywall screw gun head to head featuring 5 different brands. Milwaukee wasn’t in the mix as they hadn’t yet released a cordless drywall screw gun. With the recent introduction of their all new M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun we wanted to get it on the job site and see how it compared to our previous experience with this new line of cordless tools.

To get great feedback and comparison I placed the new screw gun with my drywall sub-contractor on a recent house build. This same crew helped me evaluate the other cordless screw guns when we did the head to head so the feedback was consistent with their previous experience.

Features and Specifications

The M18 FUEL Cordless Screw Gun is built on the robust FUEL platform that we’ve seen so many great cordless tools use including:

  • The POWERSTATE™ Brushless motor spins at 4,500 RPM’s
  • REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence which allows the tool to sync the battery and motor for a more powerful and efficient design.
  • M18™ REDLITHIUM™ battery packs

In addition, the screw gun features several design specific features including:

  • Auto Start Feature: When engaged and the trigger locked on, the motor only starts when the screw contacts the drywall.  This results in no unnecessary motor noise between screws and up to 3X longer run-time.
  • Easy to remove depth adjusting nose cone
  • LED work light

Job Site Performance

I remember not too long ago when my job sites would be a tangled mess of extension cords when the dry wall contractors invaded the project. Between the trip hazards from the cords and the high pitched sound of drills buzzing all day long I felt like the job site was completely off limits during the hanging process. With recent advances in cordless tools, especially better batteries and the use of brushless motors, the job site has become much safer and significantly quieter during the hanging phase of drywall.

The new M18 FUEL Screw Gun performed flawlessly on this recent house build. The crew used it alongside both a DEWALT and Bosch cordless screw gun and it not only kept up with the other two, but at least two features were favored by the crew including:

  • Depth of Drive Nose Cone – The guys felt that the Milwaukee nose cone was the easiest to remove and replace. This is important when the guys need to “back out” or remove a screw.  This was the number one comment made by all the guys and really stuck out as something little yet quite important to them.
  • Ergonomics – The other big thing the guys all commented on was the ergonomics of the screw gun and more specifically the width of the back of the motor where they hold the drill. All the guys said it felt the most natural in their hands compared to other similar models.

When it comes to run time and performance the M18 FUEL Screw Gun did a great job. We tested the compact kit which comes with two (2) compact 2.0 battery packs. The guys would start the morning with two fully charged packs. At lunch time they switched from battery #1 to #2, and worked a full day on just two batteries. By using the compact batteries the tool weight is minimized for reduced fatigue. We have no doubt a larger 5.0 Ah pack would go all day, but the added weight would surely add to user fatigue throughout the day.

The Auto Start feature works exceptionally well and most certainly helps with the extended run times we experienced. The huge added bonus to the Auto Start feature is the lack of noise between screws. Unlike corded drills that are turned on and left on for hours at a time, this drill only turns on when a screw is engaged which is music to our ears!

The LED light definitely offers an advantage in dark corners and areas that are not lit well. We would like to see the light mounted around the chuck so that it provides 360 degrees of lighting.

This would be especially helpful when installing ceilings or working below eye level when the light creates a shadow above the tip within direct sight line.

Go Cordless – Your Health Will Thank You

We’ve tested six different cordless screw guns over the last year and I can say without a doubt that there’s simply no reason to buy a corded screw gun anymore. These new cordless screw guns drastically improve trip and fall hazards on construction sites by eliminating extension cords. They also are significantly quieter and no longer need to run constantly. At the end of the day, tools that make work safer add to our bottom line and make our jobs more enjoyable.

Collated Magazine

Here in this area drywall contractors are not using collated screws. However, there are areas that contractors prefer using collated screws. Just this week Milwaukee introduced their Collated Magazine designed as an accessory to the new M18 FUEL Screw Gun.

Designed to automatically feed collated screws, the new accessory features a tapered nose design to provide close access to tight corners and is compatible with all major collated screw brands up to 2”.

Featuring length and depth adjustment, a strip insert guide, and a ratcheting mechanism, the new accessory is designed to feed screw strips smoothly to minimize jams and maximum productivity. Complete with 360o adjustment, the new unit features 8 easy-lock positions for best access in various orientations.

This accessory will be available in mid March 2017 for $99.

Final Thoughts – M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun

Milwaukee did a great job rolling out not only this cordless screw gun but also a cordless cut-out tool at the same time. Combined with the collated magazine accessory they have provided a complete drywall installer’s solution built on their FUEL platform that’s proven to be very reliable and successful.

The M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun provides excellent performance at a very reasonable price of just over $200. The Auto Start feature combined with an easy to use depth of drive nose cone make this tool one of the best we’ve tested. When you combine that with the huge number of tools available on the M18 platform it’s hard to recommend another cordless drywall screw gun over this one.

M18 FUEL Drywall Screw Gun


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. cbs complex building services

    Absolutely the best screw gun I have used
    just what we needed buy it and don’t look back

  2. John hughes

    The milwaukee gun is a cheap piece of shit I am a professional with a large crew I took back my new dewalt guns after a week of steady use because they developed a strange grind when engaged I replaced them with the milwaukee screw guns which seem amazing but in the first year I have had to warranty them twice for the same issue and with my contact to milwaukee tools they do not appear to have a plan to fix the issue after heavy use the case assembly which also controls the screw depth strips out and loses the ability to hold the adjustment the cone is metal with a spline that lines up with the case assembly that is plastic. I asked milwaukee if I could get a metal case assembly and they said they don’t make it and explained my situation they acted surprised but I know this isn’t just a small defective batch issue I do not recommend this tool to a person who would use it for daily professional use until they create a metal case assembly for it.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      John – Sorry to hear you’ve had issues. I can tell you that my drywall crew (they are full time run and gun guys) use the Milwaukee, Dewalt and Bosch. They haven’t had issues with any of them and they are going on over two years now. Any idea how many screws before that happens?


    I would say the screw counts in the ballpark of 500000 but I know that’s not an isolated issue because of the Facebook groups that I’m a part of where many drywall professionals have voiced their same opinions on this issue with the Milwaukee screw gun and how the majority of them love the gun but it has a very inconsistent screw depth and most guys have to tape the cone to hold any kind of adjustment having personally experienced it I believe it however at first I was reluctant to because I was such a big fan of Milwaukee Tools in general honestly all it would take is for them to make the case assembly out of metal instead of plastic and that would solve a lot of the problem a metal spline matched up with a plastic one just isn’t a good idea

    1. Todd Fratzel

      John – I’ll pass this info along to our contacts there as well. They always seem receptive to good feedback. Thanks!

    2. Todd Fratzel

      Hey John….the folks at Milwaukee would like to chat with you about this further. Can I give them your contact info?

  4. Adam

    I have had the Milwaukee’ screw gun for less then a year and I have the same issue as John with it
    I’m thinking of selling all my Milwaukee and going to makitta

  5. Mike

    I’ve had 3 of these screw guns. I like it except the nose cone issue has happened to all 3 guns. Brought them in to a service center. They told me wear and tear and that I was the problem taking it off too many times.

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