Milwaukee M18 FUEL Cordless Nail Guns Reviewed


It’s no secret that Milwaukee make some of the best tools going, their cordless tools in particular are consistently praised among novices and professionals thanks to their superior performance, noticeably rugged construction and favourable warrenty terms. And let’s not forget their tried and tested battery technology, including the latest innovation in ‘red’ lithium ion batteries.

Perhaps one subset of tool more than any other is required to stand up to massive forces during its life, and that’s of course the nail gun. These ‘battering rams with a handle attached’ are capable of driving nails deep into slabs of wood at an intimidatingly effortless rate, so with all safety and performance concerns in mind, naturally you’ll want to be sure the nail gun you choose is up to the task. These days the biggest bug bear for many regarding nail guns is the faff to keep them running effectively, most are either powered by compressed air or by a small gas powered combustion engine, and although both are effective they are restricting, either because they require expensive gas cartridges or, a cumbersome and restrictive air compressor.
To this end it makes a lot of sense to opt for a Milwaukee nail gun, if quality cordless electric tools are their bread and butter,  in no situation is that more essential than when moving quickly round an entire construction site to undertake essential nailing work. Despite this, nail guns are still something of a departure for Milwaukee, a company traditionally associated with less specialist tools such as drills, and we’ll look in more detail below at what the implications of this might be. One advantage they definitely do have however, is battery power up to the job in an industry where so many other manufacturers have still yet to crack the performance secrets provided by Milwaukee’s red lithium ion batteries and brushless motors.

As you’d might well have guessed, Milwaukee make a range of nail guns, their current ‘M18 Fuel’ range includes 2 straight brad nail guns, and 2 angled nail guns. A far as power is concerned, these guns feature a pressurized nitrogen cylinder to do the firing, effectively replicating the performance of a compressed air nail gun, but without the need for a compressor or hose restricting your movements. The battery and motor step in at the end of each shot to reset the cylinder, which quite an elegant system compared to the air and propane powered nail guns of old, especially when you consider that the motors are brushless making them longer lasting and largely maintenance free. The only consideration you should have with regard to additional cost throughout the life of these tools comes in the form of replacement nitrogen cylinders, from experience we’d expect these to last somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000 shots, we’re not sure on the replacement cost, but would estimate it to be somewhere around the £150 mark.

M18 FUEL 16 GA Straight Nail Finish Nailer (2741-21CT)

 

 

Key Specs

  • Nail Sizes: 3/4” – 2-1/2” (19mm – 64mm)
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • 800 nails per charge with Red Lithium 2.0 Compact Battery
  • Sequential and Contact Actuation Modes
  • Dry-Fire Lockout, Adjustable Belt Hook & LED Work Light
  • Includes battery pack, charger and carry case

This is the 16 gauge straight finish nailer of the bunch, and all reports of its performance are generally pretty positive, with just one important exception: despite an advertising campaign that claims this nailer is capable of sinking a 2″ nail into solid oak, the sad reality is that it isn’t really up to this, even with the depth adjuster ramped all the way up. It’s a shame that Milwaukee felt the need to push the bounderies of reality with their claims, because it detracts from what this nailer is good at, and that’s driving brads into thinner softwoods consistently and effectively. A little bit of honesty goes a long way, and it’s a shame it wasn’t fully the case here.

Despite the short comings, the same great features discussed in the overview are of course present, there are no gas cartridges to worry about, and the battery performance is second to none, so providing you don’t have a lot of thick hardwood to drive into, this will be a real workhorse. The really impressive thing about this, and the other M18 Fuel nailers, is how effortless the mechanism is. There is almost no lag between squeezing the trigger and the nail being fired, unlike a lot of other models where the motor first has to ramp up, or the compressor has to kick in. This makes these guns particularly great for working quickly in continuous mode, whereby you hold the trigger down and keep on planting nail after nail. A word of caution though, working in this mode the gun will time out after a short while, meaning that you have to stop and pull the trigger again, potentially upsetting your flow.

The only other slight niggle is that the pad on the tip of the gun is, for some inexplicable reason, a couple of milimetres too long. This means the nail is never fully driven into the wood, because the pad prevents the gun from firing the nail in fully. There are at present two solutions to this, either accept it as it is and be prepared to finish the nail off by hand, or file down the tip so that the end of the barrel is able to sit flush against the face of the wood. Not ideal in either case, but there is a work around, and hopefully Milwaukee will look to address this issue soon.

>>> Click Here For Pricing & Reviews on Amazon <<<

 

M18 FUEL 18 GA Brad Nail Finish Nailer (2740-21CT)

 

Key Specs

  • Nail Sizes: 5/8” – 2-1/8”  (16mm – 54mm)
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • 1200 nails per charge with Red Lithium 2.0 Compact Battery
  • Sequential and Contact Actuation Modes
  • Dry-Fire Lockout, Adjustable Belt Hook & LED Work Light
  • Includes battery pack, charger and carry case

This is the little brother of the 16 gauge nailer, capable of firing 2″ long 18 gauge nails (it can drive 2.125″ nails but these aren’t commonly available). It’s essentially a very similar beast, being great in terms of power and cordless freedom, but suffering slightly from the same problem of being inconsistent about fully driving in nails, again probably due to the end pad standing proud. Again, the claim that this will fire happily into solid oak is a little bit of an over estimation, you might manage it but it means applying a greater amount of pressure to the the tool. Whether you’re prepared to exert yourself any more than you have to is ultimately your choice.

In terms of comfort, this nailer is a good size, and it’s certainly comfortable to hold. The only niggle is the weight, at close to 5 kg, it’s definitely on the heavy side and will probably cause fatigue after a while, even for the most seasoned tradesman. Having said that Milwaukee have addressed the issue as best they can, supplying the tool (and the others in the range) with a compact 2.0Ah battery pack to keep the weight and bulk down. The fact remains that the trade off for the simplicity of battery power is added weight, and that won’t be changing any time soon.

>>> Click Here For Pricing & Reviews on Amazon <<<

 

M18 FUEL 15 GA  Angled Nail Finish Nailer (2743-21CT)

 

Key Specs

  • Nail Sizes: 1-1/4” – 2-1/2” (31mm – 64mm)
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • 700 nails per charge with Red Lithium 2.0 Compact Battery
  • Sequential and Contact Actuation Modes
  • Dry-Fire Lockout, Adjustable Belt Hook & LED Work Light
  • Includes battery pack, charger and carry case

The larger of the two angled nailers, and the most expensive of the whole bunch, the 15 gauge model is the most powerful option available for you to reap the benefits of an angled nail gun – ie. being able to nail in a tight space, without making the jump up to a framing nailer. As far as space saving is concerned Milwaukee have been pretty ingenious, if a little unconventional, in their approach. In order to be able to rake the nail magazine as far back as possible, the magazine has been twisted such that it runs alongside the body of the tool rather than in front of it, giving as much free space in front of the tool as possible. So if getting into tight corners is the name of the game for you, this is certainly one of the better options on the market, and the design even gives you some scope for driving a nail into a surface from an angle rather than just head on should you have the need to.

On the downside, like the others in the M18 Fuel range, this suffers from being heavy, and getting consistent results is largely dependant on you applying a degree of pressure on to ensure the nails don’t end up standing proud.

It’s important to note, like other angled nailers, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of angled nails specifically suited to this gun.

>>> Click Here For Pricing & Reviews on Amazon <<<

 

M18 FUEL™ 16 GA Angled Nail Finish Nailer (2742-21CT)

 

Key Specs

  • Nail Sizes: 1-1/4” – 2-1/2” (32mm – 64mm)
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 nails
  • 800 nails per charge on with Red Lithium 2.0 Compact Battery
  • Sequential and Contact Actuation Modes
  • Dry-Fire Lockout, Adjustable Belt Hook & LED Work Light
  • Includes battery pack, charger and carry case

The smaller angled nailer is very similar in design to the 15GA model, although interestingly the magazine isn’t raked back as much as the larger model, so you’ll be slightly more limited where you can use it. Incidentally we should mention that both angled nailers suffer from being slightly more fiddly to reload than the straight nailers, but it’s not a major concern and you should soon get the hang of it.

>>> Click Here For Pricing & Reviews on Amazon <<<

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Milwaukee M18 FUEL Cordless Nail Guns
Author Rating
41star1star1star1stargray

Recent Content

x