With much excitement and anticipation, we tested Milwaukee’s new M12 Fuel brushless impact driver (2453-22). All of Milwaukee’s new M12 Fuel drills and drivers, with the exception of their new brushless rotary hammer, feature the same hourglass-style grip design.
It’s hard to tell exactly why and how the impact driver is so comfortable to hold and use, but it feels to be a combination of superb front-to-back balance, overall weight, top-to-bottom center of gravity, and handle shape.
The impact driver has a 2-mode electronic speed control, not unlike the 3-mode settings found in their M18 Fuel impact driver. In practice I found this to be quite handy, as Mode 1 helps prevent damage to smaller fasteners.
The switch only works when your finger is off the trigger, and a white LED illuminates the mode numbers so you know which setting it’s on.
Electronic drive control is a great feature I’d like to see implemented on all new cordless impact drivers.
A lot of people, myself included, look at torque specs sometimes to compare tools and to see which one is better than the other. If you’re looking for a 12V-class impact driver with the best torque rating, this is it. I can remove bits with one hand on the handle and one hand on the chuck, but some users might prefer to hold the top of the driver to toggle the quick release with one hand and pull out the bit with the other.
Impact-rated 2-inch power bits are very easy to find these days, and if you prefer 1-inch bits there are plenty of adapters available. No part of a product design is by chance, and it’s evident that Milwaukee engineers thought about how they can make the trigger even more comfortable than on previous M12 drills and drivers. The control switch clicks to the left for forward driving, to the right for reverse, and it snaps to the center when you want it to.
A fuel gauge is built into the left side of the tool, with four LEDs reporting the charge level of the battery. The driver also has a delayed-off white LED worklight that works reasonably well without much shadowing. It also comes with a pre-installed well-placed, compact, and unobtrusive belt clip that you can remove or move to the other side of the tool.
The kit comes with a sturdy plastic case that has a comfortable handle and sturdy metal latches.
What I liked most, aside from the fantastic ergonomics, was the ability to dial down the speed and torque.
MSRP is about $169 for the kit, which comes with 2x batteries, a charger, and carrying case, and $119 for the bare tool.
On the bright side, I love that the torpedo style battery let’s it fit in my Veto bag much better than my DeWalt, and the fuel gauge is absolutely appreciated. One thing I find strange though is that the tool is actually slightly longer than my M18 Fuel impact driver. I am finishing up testing of the screwdriver (which I also find to be excellent), and the impact wrench will take a bit more time after that. Son of a… Why would they have a promotion like this on new products that many have been drooling over just waiting for them to be available?

Or since that product won’t be available long term, maybe a link to a Home Depot search page that shows both side-by-side?
I’m really liking this impact driver, but the one thing that I already wish it had was some kind of on-tool bit storage (for example see this one on the brushless Bosch tools).
Milwaukee’s new FUEL M18 impact driver is the latest edition to their line of 18V brushless cordless tools.
The FUEL lineup of brushless cordless tools initially launched with just a heavy-duty drill driver and a heavy-duty hammer drill, and will soon be expanded to include M12 drills, drivers, and wrenches. I am a real fan of both milwaukee fuel and deiswalt 20v max now my question is witch has the smaller head? Anybody see a head on comparison between this Milwaukee and the Makita lxdt01 brush less impact? The 2656 is a regular Milwaukee tool, but this kit looks like it could be a Home Depot special or exclusive, as it is only available at HD and 3rd party resellers. Milwaukee’s 2657 brushed motor drill (via Home Depot) is a 2-speed model that is similar to the 2656, but with an additional 600 in-lbs torque setting. If you don’t need multiple torque or speed settings, then this is a good model at a fantastic price.
Thinking I may just hold off on selling the C3 stuff for awhile, since most of my projects are done with the M12 tools for now. Even with a single battery this is a fair price for a critical tool in anyone’s gear.
The low stress on your wrists is also a major reason to use an impact compared to a drill, too. This might not seem like much, but it makes the grip much more comfortable, at least in my opinion. The new pistol grip design feels great to me, and seems like it would be equally comfortable for users with smaller or larger hands.
Mode 1 is the lower speed and torque setting, for higher precision work, and Mode 2 is the higher speed and full torque setting, for higher performance. But such a high torque ceiling isn’t always needed to drive the fasteners most users will reach for this impact for. If you’re looking for the best impact driver in terms of ergonomics and features, this is it. The large knurled spring-returned quick release knob pulls out when you want to remove the bit. The bits you use must have power bit grooves, as shown here, in order for the driver’s chuck to lock onto them. I’m not even sure what that is supposed to mean, but sculpted is the first word that came to mind.
A full charge takes 45 minutes, but they last for so long that during testing I never found myself waiting at the charger.
Impact drivers don’t have adjustable clutches like cordless drills, but an electronic speed range selector is the next best thing.
Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.

One potential explanation is that the electronic speed control works via voltage regulation, in which case there might not be much room for intermediate settings because of technical limitations or cost considerations. After those two reviews are up and published I’ll see if I can get my hands on the new M12 Fuel drills. More comfy for me much like dumbells, thicker handles are definitely more comfortable well atleast for me. When you need your next tool and are waiting for that deal of a lifetime, instead skip the wait and buy from ebay.
I noticed that there’s a potential mount for something like this using the threaded belt clip hole (on the opposite side from where you have it attached if you use it). The new 2653 impact driver features the latest and greatest impact technology in a compact and lightweight package. Many manufacturers have been making more and more compact versions of their tools recently in response to pro and consumer demands.
Back in the late Fall and early Winter of 2013, Milwaukee updated a couple of their popular M18 cordless drills and drivers with new features, ergonomics, and specs.
The 2656 is offered as a bare tool and as part of a (2) battery kit (via Home Depot), with the kit being $10 cheaper than the 2657 kit, although the bare tools are priced the same. Currently have the C3 heavy-duty with XCP drill and the three-speed impact driver (along with myriad other C3 tools) as well as an M12 kit.
I just looked now and a few stores in my area seem to have them in stock still at $99 (they were stacked in the main, front aisle of the two stores I was in last week).
Even so, there are times when the extra power might come in handy, such as when an application calls for a heavier-duty 18V-class tool but you want to just get the job done right then and there and move on. I tend to value features, comfort, speed, and quality over on-paper specs, which is why I discussed some of these things earlier in the review.
I havent gotten my hands on any m12 fuel tools but the biggest difference I see that would make them more comfortable is the slimmer profile at the top of the grip which makes room for the web between ones thumb and pointing finger.
It looks like the promo bundle for this particular kit is sold out already, but there’s a chance it will come back. My guess is that the new Milwaukee drills and drivers would be more compact even if designed with brushed motors.
If you want an impact driver for heavy use, you might want to look into a kit that comes with 2 batteries. They were sold out of it, but the clerk gave me the regular kit (which included two batteries and the hard case) for the $99 price. Had been wanting to replace the C3 gear for awhile due to my issues with Sears, but in comparing the M12 and M18, I’m shocked at how little a difference there is, especially physically.
It would require a small bit rack of metal (or that could be reinforced with metal) and some way to mount it. Plus, this offers inexpensive entry into Milwaukee’s fabulous M18 cordless power tool lineup.

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