Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18ga Brad Nailer

Maybe not perfect, but darn close - durable construction, well balanced, instant fire, easy jam clearing, empty fire lockout, wide fastener range, excellent run time.

Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18ga Brad Nailer

Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer



Cordless nailers have come of age, and Milwaukee is leading the charge with a bevy of 4 professional duty nailers – an 18-gauge brad nailer (which I review here), a 15-gauge angled nailer, and 16-gauge angled and straight nailers. 

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The Milwaukee cordless nailer family as of August 2016

They're available as bare tools for anyone who owns other Milwaukee cordless tools and doesn't want the extra battery and charger, or in a kit format, which contains the nailer, a 2.0Ah REDLITHIUM battery, a charger, and a carry bag. Even if you own other Milwaukee tools the kit option is more economical. For example, the #2740 retails for $399 as a bare tool, and $479 as a kit - a difference of only $80. A spare 2.0Ah battery retails for about $99 – and sooner or later you'll need a new battery. It's also nice to have an extra battery at hand on the job site, particularly on very busy days, or when you've forgotten to charge up your battery the night before. Plus you get a decent storage bag that provides some protection for the tool, and makes it easy to carry it to and from a job site. 

The advantage of these nailers is that there is no fuel cartridge, you don't have to oil them, and they fire instantly when you pull the trigger.

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The #2740 18-Gauge nailer

Similar to most power tools on the market today, the body of the 2740 is made of a durable, impact and scratch resistant plastic composite body that can put up with a lot of work site abuse. It does well at protecting the internal components when dropped, and probably adds some vibration resistance value. At 6.8 pounds (with battery installed) it's heavier than an equivalent pneumatic model, but that's a sacrifice you make for the convenience of being hose and compressor free – as well as not having to use fuel cartridges. I find the 2740 reasonably well balanced, and, if I don't have to use it overhead all too often, not that burdensome. The handle is comfortable and the trigger is easy to depress.

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Stands securely on end

I like that the 2740 stands solidly on end. I find it easier to grab that tool than when it's laying on a side. Plus, those sides are subject to less wear and tear when you're working on rough flooring like concrete. The belt hook can be mounted on the left or right side of the tool.

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Awkward power button

The button that controls power and fire mode is on the back of the handle. Pressing the button once turns the nailer on. The default mode is sequential (single nail fire). However, the power stays on indefinitely until you turn the gun off (by pressing and holding the button for about 5 seconds). Which means you have to remember to turn the power off after using the tool, or it will continue to drain the battery – albeit at a fairly miniscule rate. 

Pressing the button a second time switches to bump (contact actuation) mode. The solid green light above the "T-TTT" label will flash continuously while the gun is in bump mode. To return to sequential mode you just press the button again.

There is no ramp-up time with the 2740. Pull the trigger and it fires right away. When installing trim I fire at about 1 nail every 5 to 7 seconds, and the 2740 had no problem at this speed. However, if you fire at a much quicker rate the nailer shuts down, possibly due to overheating. You then need to wait until it cools down (or perhaps until the internal circuitry sorts things out). This is more apparent when you use the gun in bump mode and begin to speed up your nailing. Pulling the trigger too quickly will invariably shut down the nailer. However, if you nail slow and steady – no problem.

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Easy to know when you need a refill

The magazine, which I found quick and easy to open and load, holds 110 fasteners, and has a nail quantity indicator – a series of rectangular windows that display how many nails are in the mag. You can occasionally glance at the mag to see when it's time to refill. However, the 2740 has a lovely dry-fire lock. This means you can just wait until the nailer doesn't fire any longer – the lock-out feature prevents the pin from firing when there are only a few nails left in the magazine, prolonging the life of the firing pin. The pin itself is fairly small (5/32" wide), which makes for easier nail placement, and the nailer comes with two no-mar tips that I find indispensable for protecting fine wood surfaces. Those little buggers are easy to lose, so I really appreciate the convenient tab on the back side of the magazine for storing the tip when not needed.

The 2740 has a large fastener range – 5/8" all the way up to 2-1/8". I'm typically shooting in the 1-1/2" length, but it's nice to have the flexibility of being able to shoot very short or extra long nails when needed.

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Tool-free depth of drive adjustment

I prefer nailers on which the depth of drive is quick to set, as it's something you may need to do when using different size fasteners, and will likely have to do when nailing into materials of different densities. The depth of drive is easy to set on the 2740. Once you make a depth adjustment it's a good idea to shoot a couple of test nails. It's a moot point for me, as on this nailer I've found it best to keep the depth setting at it's maximum.

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Nails seat at different depths depending on downward pressure applied

In the photo above I've set 1-1/2" nails into two layers of construction grade 3/4" ply with the depth adjuster dialed to its maximum setting. Shooting nails using the same downward pressure I apply when using my pneumatic nailer results in the nail heads being set consistently at or just below (and occasionally above) the surface (top row in photo above). When I apply firm, downward pressure (bottom row in photo above), the nails seat below the surface. I found this happens when shooting long nails into dense material and hardwood. On softer material like MDF and finger jointed pine, and when shooting nails 1" and shorter, I didn't have to press the tool nose as tightly against the stock. Once I figured this out, nailing went ahead smoothly. However, when doing a lot of nailing into dense material, this is likely to tire your arm more quickly than usual.

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Tool-free jam clearing

You also get tool-free jam clearing on the 2740. Just flip open a tab on the nose, pull out the offending fastener, close the latch, and you're back to work. Of course, remember to release tension on the magazine feeder or any nails in the mag will shoot out when you open the nose latch.

Over the month or so that I've been using the 2740 it's jammed four times, all as a result of hitting hard knots or glancing off other nails. I didn't experience any misfiring.

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Convenient work light

On the bottom back end of the body is an LED work light. The light is fairly bright, and directed towards the work area. Convenient if you happen to be working in a dimly lit area or a tight, confined spot.

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Side view for better nail placement

With most pneumatic nailers, because the heads are slimmer, you get a good line of sight when looking down from above the nailer. Not so with the 2740, as you can see in the photo to the left, above. In order to accurately place the drive tip – which is about 1/4" above the contact (or safety) tip – you need to look along the side of the tool. For just about all the nailing I do this isn't much of an issue. For those occasions when you need to tilt the nailer to its side the 2740 likewise performed well.

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Milwaukee almost nails it with the 2740

You can expect to get around 750 nails per battery charge with the 2740, which isn't too shabby. Not enough for you - just get another battery. 

After using the 2740 for the better part of a month I'm quite pleased with it's overall performance. It has a tough, durable body, is well balanced, fires instantly, doesn't jam that often (and jammed nails are easy to clear), has an empty fire lockout feature, takes a wide fastener range, and the 2.0 Ah battery provides a decent run-time.

It does have a few handicaps. Kickback is quite noticeable. For intermittent, occasional use this probably won't be much of an issue. However, for anyone using the tool on a daily basis for several hours at a time, the incremental, and cumulative effects of kickback are likely to be troublesome. It's also quite loud, though no louder than most compressors. Still, it's loud every time you pull the trigger, so hearing protectors are mandatory. Finally, the 2740 isn't made for speed-nailing – you'll need to adopt a 'steady as it goes' approach to avoid the nailer abruptly shutting down.
 

If you can adapt to the few idiosyncrasies of the 2740, then you'll find it a capable cordless nailer.
 

KEY FEATURES:

  • Motor: Brushless
  • Voltage: 18V
  • Nail Diameter: 18-gauge
  • Magazine Capacity: 110 Nails
  • Magazine Loading Style: Side Load
  • Firing Modes: Sequential and Contact Actuation
  • Nail Size: 5/8" - 2-1/8"
  • Weight: 5.9 pounds (6.8 pounds with battery installed)
  • Length: 10-1/2"
  • Height: 12"
  • Tool Free Depth of Drive Adjustment
  • Dry-Fire Lock Out
  • Tool Free Jam Release
  • Nail Quantity Indicator
  • Non-Marring Nose Pad
  • LED Light
  • Adjustable Belt Hook
  • Warranty: 5 Years (Tool), 2 Years (Battery)
  • Includes: M18 REDLITHIUM 2.0Ah Battery (48-11-1820), Multi-Voltage Charger (48-59-1812), Spare No-Mar Nose Pad, Belt Clip, Contractor Bag

COMPANY:Milwaukee
MODEL:2740-21CT
PRICE:$479.00 (Kit)
$399.00 (Bare tool)
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:Where to Buy

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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