While the Milwaukee M18 Compact 1/2" Drill Driver Kit 2606 (not of the "Fuel" line from Milwaukee) is an exceptionally good cordless drill, it couldn't quite claim an award, though it did finish in the upper tier of the entire drill group. This drill packs plenty of power, finishing close to the top in both our drilling and driving tests. It has an average battery life and a handful of convenience features, along with a heavy-duty, all-metal chuck. While this drill is a bit heavy and expensive for the casual DIYer, it was definitely in the running for the best of the best, only falling a tiny bit short.Editor's Note: We updated this drill review with new sections to cover which drills we recommend and why. This update occurred on February 14th, 2022.
Milwaukee M18 Compact 1/2" Drill Driver Kit 2606 Review
Pros: Burly construction, tons of power
Cons: Heavy, costly
Compare to Similar Products
Milwaukee M18 Compact 1/2" Drill Driver Kit 2606
|Price||$180 List||$140 List|
$89.99 at Amazon
$126.99 at Amazon
$69.00 at Amazon
$49.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Burly construction, tons of power||Great for driving fasteners, heavy-duty, efficient use of battery life||Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight||Impressive drilling power, strong steel drilling performance, good control, great price||Inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Heavy, costly||Heavy, takes some force to swap batteries||Expensive, only includes a single battery||Only includes a single batter, so-so battery life in our tests||Weak, minimal features|
|Bottom Line||This beefy drill features industrial build quality with an all-metal chuck but was just slightly outmatched when it came to drilling power||If you are looking for a top-tier drill to go with your existing Milwaukee batteries, this is your best bet||The highest scorer in our group, this is a heavy-duty drill that can keep up with all your toughest projects||A decent drill for DIY projects that won't deplete your savings||An okay drill for basic household tasks and assembly projects at a great price|
|Rating Categories||Milwaukee M18 Compa...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||Milwaukee M18 Compa...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Capacity (Included)||1.5 Ah||Tested w/ 2 Ah||2 Ah||1.3 Ah||1.5 Ah|
|Drill Model Tested||2606-20||2803-20||KDD 524B-03||CMCD700||LDX120C|
|Box Model (Kit) Tested||2606-22CT||Tested tool-only, no kit||672823||CMCD700C1||LDX120C|
|RPM||Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1800
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1500
|0 - 650|
|Peak Torque (manu)||500 in-lbs||1,200 in-lbs||650 in-lbs||280 UWO||N/A|
|Measured Weight||3 pounds
|4 pounds 1 ounce||3 pounds
|3 pounds 7 ounces||2 pounds
|Measured Charge Time||31 minutes||25 minutes||75 minutes||58 minutes||210 minutes|
|Battery Indicator Location||Battery||Battery||Battery||Battery||N/A|
|LED Location||Above the trigger||Above the battery||Above the battery||Above the trigger||Above the trigger|
|Included Belt Clip||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This drill finished in the top portion of the group overall, just behind the DeWalt DCD777C2 and ahead of the DeWalt DCD771C2. The M18 and the DCD777C2 are almost identical regarding driving performance, convenience, and battery performance, but the DeWalt did slightly better in our drilling tests. Neither the M18 nor the DCD777C2 struggled much in our tests. The DCD777C2 was a bit faster at drilling through the steel sheet and using the 5" hole saw. The M18 also has a slightly higher list price than the DCD777C2. The DCD7771C2 can't match the battery life or drilling performance of the M18, but it is better at driving in fasteners.
First off, we ranked and compared the M18's performance by using different bits to drill various sized holes. This accounts for 35% of its overall score and is based on the M18's performance at drilling into a solid door with a large hole saw (5"), drilling through a steel sheet with two different twist drills, and drilling holes in a piece of 2x12 dimensional lumber with a 1" diameter spade or paddle bit. It did very well.
The Milwaukee M18 drilled into the solid door with the 5" hole saw without any significant issue, never stalling or struggling. However, it does take a bit longer than some of the other drills, taking 30-35 seconds compared to 17 seconds or so of the top models.
This drill also drilled the 1" holes with the paddle bits without any hassle, quickly and easily drilling through the wood. It didn't stall out, even when drilling in its higher gear, and is one of the best at this test.
The M18 finished out with a strong showing when drilling through a steel sheet. It seemed like it struggled a tiny bit more than we would expect with the ¼" drill, but it still drilled through in about 2.3 seconds. It never stalled out or anything; it just took a bit more force than some of the other drills to power through. However, it did do a great job with the ½" drill, punching through the 16 gauge steel sheet relatively effortlessly.
Our subsequent two tests — driving in both a #9 wood screw and a 5" long, ½" lag bolt — also account for 35% of the total score. We rated each drill on the time it took to drive in each screw, how much the drill had to work to do so, and if it could set the heads properly. The M18 again did quite well.
This drill is pretty solid at driving regular (#9) wood screws. It lets you drive them to their full depth in a gentle and controlled way, easily setting the head flush with the surface of the wood. It has plenty of power to stop and start again without stalling, but it isn't the fastest at driving in the screws, with some of the top drills sinking them in just a bit faster.
The M18 also did very well in our lag screw test — a much harder task than the first driving one. We drilled a pilot hole then used the M18 to sink the 5" long bolt through a 2x4 into a 4x4.
It did this easily, setting the screw to its full depth without complaining, taking just a fraction of a second longer than the top drills overall.
Next, we evaluated and scored the recharge time and battery life of the M18and the number of included batteries. These three assessments account for 20% of its total score, with the Milwaukee M18 finishing just average. We tested this drill with the 1.5 Ah battery that came with the package we purchased, which can be used with compatible tools.
To compare the battery life between drills, all with different voltages battery sizes, we alternated driving 16 3" long #9 wood screws to their full depth and drilling three 1" diameter holes with the spade bit, basing the scores on the number of cycles completed. The best drills finished over eight, while the M18 only made it through about 4.5 cycles of this before calling it quits. Fortunately, this is one of the fastest charging batteries of the bunch, only taking 31 minutes to recharge completely.
We also liked that you can purchase the M18 as a package that includes an additional battery, so you can always have one on the charger while you work.
For the final 10% of its final score, we rated and scored the various features and functions on the M18 that make it easier and more efficient to use. It did reasonably well.
This drill is a bit on the heavy side, weighing in about 3.75 lbs., but it does have the option to add a belt clip. Unfortunately, this belt clip isn't included but can be attached near the battery pack. The clutch can hold a bit up to one-half-inch. The M18 has two different operating gear ratios.
It has a decent integrated work light, but it does dim after about seven seconds — a little fast for our taste, but at least you don't have to hold down the trigger the entire time.
We particularly liked that this drill has a battery level indicator, but it can be harder to swap batteries on this drill. It can bind up a bit when removed, and the double locking tabs are a bit harder to disengage than the single tab system used by other models.
Should You Buy the M18?
The M18 is a burly drill that packs a punch, just not enough to earn it an award. However, it was a contender for one and should be able to easily handle even the most challenging drilling tasks, albeit a bit slower than our top choices. This drill isn't a great budget buy; it has one of the highest list prices of the entire group.
What Other Drill Should You Consider?
If Milwaukee is your brand of choice, we prefer the higher-ranking Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/2" Drill Driver. This drill has the same level of drilling performance but slightly better driving performance than the non-Fuel. The battery life is also significantly longer, and the price is lower, making the Milwaukee of choice. If budget is a concern, you can save about thirty dollars on average going with the high ranking Kobalt 24-volt Max 1/2-in Brushless Drill KDD 1424A-03 which performed about the same for drilling and driving with just a slight decrease in battery life. Depending on your goals, this could be the better solution, especially if you don't already own Milwaukee products or work in a professional capacity with your drill.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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