Milwaukee M12 FUEL 1/2" Drill/Driver Kit

A well appointed drill/driver that delivers good performance at a reasonable price.

Milwaukee M12 FUEL 1/2" Drill/Driver Kit

Milwaukee M12 FUEL 1/2" Drill/Driver Kit

The two most popular battery platforms are 12-Volt and 18-Volt. A lot of renovators I know own both formats: 18-Volt because of the greater power, and 12-Volt because they're appreciably lighter, which can make a big difference when you have a lot of overhead drilling and driving to do. 12-Volt models are also popular among furniture and cabinet makers as they don't need the massive torque that 18-Volt drills deliver. Same goes for a lot of DIYers. 300 in-lbs or so of torque is enough to handle just about any job around the home.

Milwaukee has recently come out with a new 12-Volt drill driver - the model 2403-22. It has some nice features, including a brushless motor that delivers 350 in-lbs of torque, two variable speed ranges (0-450 rpm and 0-1,700 rpm), and a 1/2" metal single sleeve ratcheting lock chuck. All in a very tidy 3 pound, 6 ounce package. Its the 1/2" chuck that will likely interest 12-Volt aficionados. Most compact 12-Volt drills come with a 3/8" chuck, which means you're largely limited to drill bits under 5/8". If you regularly user larger diameter drill bits, then you'll want to check our the 2403-22.

Stores in a hard shell carry case

I like all my power tools stored in hard shell cases rather than in those flimsy cloth bags. It makes tool storage easier, offers better protection, and is more convenient to cart to and from a job site. Plus, I like that I can stack the rigid cases on top of each other. The case for the 2403-22 is sturdy, stackable, and lockable. Unfortunately there isn't much extra room in the case to store the various accessories you need to use with the drill. You might be able to slip a few drill and driver bits into the case, but that's about it.

(L) 2 Ah battery; (R) 4 Ah battery

This kit contains a compact 2 Ah and an extended capacity 4 Ah battery. The real difference between these two batteries lies in the amount of energy they deliver, less so in their actual weight. The 2 Ah weighs just 6 ounces and delivers 16 watt-hours (Wh) of power, while the extended capacity battery weights only 7 ounces more, but delivers a whopping 43 Wh. The more energy a battery can store, the longer the battery can be run before you need to recharge it - and the more work you can get done. I see no real advantage for including the compact battery - other than as a cost savings measure. The 2 Ah battery costs about $50, while the 4 Ah runs about $100.

The amp-hour (Ah) rating is probably the most commonly used indicator of battery power. It lets you know how much energy is available. The higher the Ah rating, the more energy the battery will have on hand. The watt-hour (Wh) rating is a more accurate measurement of the amount of energy in the battery, because it includes both voltage level and current draw during the discharge of the battery.

With the 4 Ah battery installed the drill will stand on its base

Another advantage of the 4 Ah battery is that because it has a larger base than the 2 Ah battery (to accommodate more storage cells) you can stand the drill upright, rather than having to lay it on it's side as you do with the 2 Ah battery installed. I find it more convenient to grasp the drill when it's standing up. 

(L) 12-Volt model 2403-22; (R) 18-Volt model 2603-22CT

As you can see in the photo above, the nose of drill tilts upwards, about 15 degrees. I think this is done to improve the ergonomics of the drill. The 18-Volt 2603-22CT, with a horizontal nose, has a slight tendency to tilt downwards on the front end, particularly when a larger bit is installed. I have a slight preference for the upward tilting nose, as the 2403-22 feels exceptionally well balanced.

On-board fuel gauge and LED work light

Its pretty well a moot point to discuss LED work lights and fuel gauges, as virtually all power tools seem to have them these days. And with good reason. There is nothing more irritating than a battery going dry just after you've climbed up a 20 foot ladder, or slithered into a crawl space. A fuel gauge gives you a pretty accurate indication of how much gas is left in the tank.

On this drill both the work light and fuel gauge light up every time you press the trigger. I personally find it a bit irritating, and would like the option of being able to turn them both off.

The belt clip is another ubiquitous accessory, and on the 2403-22 it can be mounted on either side of the drill to accommodate left and right handed people.

Bumpers protect the work surface

When the 12-Volt battery is installed you have to lay the drill on it's side when not in use. A pair of rubber bumpers on either side of the drill help protect your work surface firm getting scratched. Just remember to set the drill down on the side that the belt clip is not mounted on.

Standard control locations

The collar for switching between drill and drive mode was a bit stiff to turn. However, the clutch rotates smoothly without any slop, which is reasonably important to me, as I adjust it often, depending on the type of screws I'm using. However, I'm not caught up by the number of clutch settings, as I only use the bottom, middle, and top settings all the time. I don't find much of a difference in drive depth in between these three settings.

The chuck is large, so you can get a good grip on it, and, as you'll find on most drills today, it's a single sleeve style that you can manipulate one-handed. The ratcheting feature tightens the chuck as torque is applied to the bit. I was pleased to find serrated jaws on this drill. These ridges along the length of each jaw apply a very secure grip on rounded shanks – more noticeable when driving larger bits under high torque.
While the 2403-22 isn't an industrial grade tool, it can certainly handle all the day-to-day drilling and driving tasks for the DIYer, and hobbyist woodworkers, It's also quite suitable for renovators, service technicians, contractors, and the like looking for light-weight medium-duty drill/driver. It's light enough to use when assembling furniture or cabinetry, yet can still power deck screws and lag bolts, sink tapcon screws, and drill large holes for locksets or plumbing pipes. And, the 1/2" chuck means you can use all the 5/8" and larger diameter drill bits in your arsenal. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, just a well appointed drill that delivers good performance at a reasonable price.


  • Brushless motor
  • 350 in-lbs torque
  • Dual variable speed: 0-450/0-1,700 rpm
  • 18 clutch settings
  • 1/2" metal single sleeve ratcheting lock chuck
  • On board battery power meter
  • LED work light
  • 7-3/4 lbs length
  • 3 lbs, 6 oz weight
  • 5 year warranty (2 yrs on batteries)
  • Includes: 2 Ah REDLITHIUM battery; 4 Ah REDLITHIUM battery; charger; belt clip; hard shell carry case

SOURCE:Dealer Locator
June 2014
Carl Duguay
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