Milwaukee Electric Tool has long been in the business of manufacturing quality power tools for the trade professional, and its persistence in developing tools useful to the professional shines brightly with this drill/driver kit. From the moment I first pulled it out of the case and held it my hand I was impressed by the fit and feel. Now I know most tool reviews include side-by-side comparisons between two major market competitors, but this one doesn’t. I chose to review this drill based off actual work on the job rather than on the workbench, as you might see in the many YouTube videos available.
I’ve been in the plumbing and hydronics business for about 15 years. One of the first lessons learned as a contractor is that spending your money on quality tools is well worth the investment. Today that investment continues to grow as new technology ups the manufacturing costs and the demand for hard(er)-working tools requires tougher, more expensively built materials to get the job done. “Get the job done” is exactly what Milwaukee has built-in to this compact, 18V lithium-ion powered brushless motor drill/driver.
At first glance, I noticed that the case, although well-built, allowed no room for additional storage for extra drivers or drill bits. I know all the major brands offer separate “cases” or kits that keep all your often-used accessories in one place, but I tend to keep at least a couple hex drivers along with a Phillips bit with my drill for quick and easy access. Neither this case, nor the drill itself allow for such storage. I will point out, however, how well everything fits in its place; cradled snugly are every included item. Included in the kit are (2) M18 REDLITIUM batteries, Milwaukee’s signature Multi-Voltage charger, the drill/driver and a very useful auxiliary side handle assembly.
I have been carrying this drill on and off job sites for a couple of weeks now and I’ll say I have thought about leaving my electric right-angle drill at the shop to free up some valuable truck space more than a couple times. The all-metal ratcheting locking chuck provides maximum grip, bit retention and durability, quite the departure from other cordless drills I have owned and used in the past.
The new contoured soft grip fits in my hand and feels great each time I pick it up, but what I most wanted to test was the battery life and power produced by the brushless motor.
Milwaukee’s website touts the REDLITHIUM™ extended capacity battery pack as able to deliver more work per charge and more work over the pack life than their competitors. It has an onboard fuel gauge to help you monitor the charge with the push of a button. I found this feature very useful and accurate. The batteries are built in-house by Milwaukee, a fact they are very proud of and should be; they deliver a solid power supply for an extended time period, miles ahead of their predecessors.
By now you’re probably aware of the push toward brushless motor technology for cordless tools. Milwaukee promises 10 times monger motor life if you select their tools. What sets this motor apart from competitors is the ability to perform at peak capacity 25% longer because of its built-in intelligence system or REDLINK PLUS™.
REDLINK PLUS™ (built in to each FUEL™ series product) is an intelligence system made to give a “full-cycle” communication between the battery, charger and motor. This system will optimize performance by constantly monitoring the internal workings of the drill. With the advanced technology in Red Lithium batteries, the new Fuel series drill is made to give optimal motor performance while under load.
Overall I’d say this drill/driver kit is a rock solid tool, making it a great investment for anyone looking to purchase what might be their last cordless drill. This particular model doesn’t include a hammer function (check out the 2604 series kits for the hammer option). I can’t say there is anything about this drill that disappoints, storage for bits in the case would be the only improvement needed as I see it. The 2 9/16” auger bit I drilled (pictured) into seasoned 2x-framing seemed to be well within it’s designed for working range. Each time I have put the 2603-22 Drill/Driver to the test has been to tackle tough jobs, it has yet to let me down…and the runtime of the batteries is nothing short of fantastic!
Voltage ~ 18V
Speed ~ 0-550/0-1,850 RPM
Peak Torque ~ 725 in-lbs
Chuck Type ~ 1/2″ Metal, Ratcheting Lock
Charge Time ~ 1 Hour
Tool Waranty ~ 5 Years
Battery Warranty ~ 3 Years