Milwaukee 1/4" Cordless M12 Lithium-Ion Ratchet Kit

A light weight, compact option when you're working with smaller diameter fasteners that don't require high torque levels to be properly tightened, or when you need to reach into tight quarters.


Milwaukee 1/4" Cordless M12 Lithium-Ion Ratchet Kit

If you do any amount of automotive work or maintenance work on machinery, you'll be familiar with a socket wrench or a torque wrench for fastening nuts and bolts. Pneumatic, corded, and battery powered versions of these tools - impact wrenches, air ratchets, and impact drivers are popular because they make it quicker and easier to remove or fasten bolts. They also have ample power to operate continuously throughout the work day, and to adequately tighten down even the largest fasteners.

The new Milwaukee cordless ratchet drivers aren't designed to replace their more powerful counterparts. Rather, they provide a light weight, compact option when you're working with smaller diameter fasteners that don't require high torque levels to be properly tightened, or when you need to reach into tight quarters. For work on a job site, and for the avid DIYer, they provide the convenience of not needing access to a compressor and hoses or having to deal with a power cord.

There are two versions of the Milwaukee cordless ratchet, a 1/4" drive model (2456-21), which I tested, and a 3/8" drive model (2457-21). They're virtually the same, except that the 3/8" model has an extra 5 foot pounds of torque.


The Milwaukee 1/4" Cordless M12 Lithium-Ion Ratchet Kit (2456-21) comes in a canvas carry bag with enough room for the ratchet and its accessories — a 30-minute charger and one 12-volt battery. You could also fit a second battery in the bag, along with a selection of sockets.

At only 10-3/4" long and just under 2 pounds (with battery installed), the 2456-21 is both light weight and compact. The handle (in which the motor is housed) is made of a high impact ABS plastic, covered with a rubber overmold grip. The paddle style trigger and, more importantly, the head, are made of steel for maximum durability.  

The motor, powered by Milwaukee's dependable 12-volt Max lithium-ion battery, delivers variable speed from 0 to 250 RPM, and up to 30 ft-lbs of torque.

All steel head
The business end of the 2456-21 is the head, where the action takes place, and where any damage is most likely to take place. Milwaukee has wisely chosen to use tempered steel here. The head is very compact, measuring about 3/4" x 1-3/16" x 2", making it easier to reach into really tight spaces.

Recessed forward/reverse switch

The forward/reverse switch is recessed into the back of the head. This is a nice feature that prevents the switch from getting hung up on anything. The downside is that the switch is a tad awkward to turn, especially if you have large fingers or if you're wearing gloves.

On-board battery fuel gauge
There is an on-board fuel gauge that displays remaining run-time. Which means you'll always know when it's time to recharge. I much prefer this 4 light display rather than the three lights found on many other cordless tools.

Lock switch and variable speed trigger
On the bottom of the handle is a lock switch and a variable speed paddle-style trigger. I quite like this trigger as I find it provides a high level of control. Besides, given the shape of the tool, I don't think a conventional style trigger would work.

You'll find the lock switch useful if you store the 2456-21 in a tool bag or box. It will prevent the tool from inadvertently powering on if the paddle pushes up against another tool. Like the forward/reverse switch, the lock switch is recessed into the housing, but you can use your thumb nail to easily flick the switch on and off.

Compact, light, and convenient to use
The 2456-21 can apply quite a bit of torque, and it's easy to strip the head off small bolts. There is an auto shaft lock, so that you can torque up a fastener until it's just set, release the trigger, and then use the 2456-21 as a conventional socket wrench to manually tighten the fastener. 

There is also a small, but quite bright LED work light located at the base of the head. It comes on automatically when the lock switch is turned off and the trigger is depressed. It's not bright enough to use as a flashlight, but it does illuminate the work area fairly well. Plus, it hardly uses any battery power.

At close to $200 this isn't a tool that will be on everyone's wish list. But, if you like working on your car or motorcycle, then the 2456-21 is a very nice alternative to a manual socket wrench. If you're a professional mechanic, or you work in a repair shop and are constantly fastening nuts and bolts, the 2456-21 is well worth considering. It's 30 ft-lbs (360 in-lbs) of torque can handle a wide range of fasteners, and the paddle style trigger, and auto shaft lock, allows you to feather the speed so you don't over tighten.
You'll be wondering how something so compact and light could be so handy.
  • 12 volt lithium-ion power source 
  • 1/4" ball detent anvil 
  • 0-250 RPM 
  • 30 ft-lbs (360 in-lbs) of torque 
  • LED work light
  • 10-3/4" length 
  • Lock switch 
  • On-board battery fuel gauge 
  • ABS plastic housing with rubber overmold grip 
  • 1.9 lbs. weight 
  • 5-year limited warranty (2-yrs on battery) 
  • Includes: (1) M12 RED LITHIUM battery, 30-minute charger, carrying case 

SOURCE:Find a Dealer
Carl Duguay, November 2012
Discover more great woodworking reviews!
Subscribe Now and get instance online access to our library filled with exciting woodworking information.
Continue to stay connected to the latest tool reviews with our bi-monthly woodworking magazines!