Milwaukee M12 vs. M18 Impact Driver: What’s the Difference?

Milwaukee M12 vs. M18 Impact Driver: What’s the Difference?

Working with power tools can be an involved and complicated process, especially when it comes to the M12 and M18 impact drivers available from Milwaukee. Do you know the difference between these two types of drivers? Are you unsure what features come standard on either model? With so many choices, making an informed decision about which one is best for your needs is essential. In this ultimate guide to comparing Milwaukee M12 and M18 impact drivers, we’ll go over all of the differences between the two models and provide helpful tips on choosing the right one for your job.

What is an Impact Driver

An impact driver is a power tool used to drive in screws and other fasteners quickly and efficiently.

It uses an electric motor or air pressure to generate torque, which is then transferred through the bit of the driver into the screw or fastener being driven. Unlike traditional screwdrivers, impact drivers use rotational force as well as concussive blows that cause the screw or fastener to be driven more deeply into its material. This makes them much better suited for harder materials such as metal, where a screwdriver would have difficulty creating enough torque without slipping off of the head of the fastener and damaging it.

What is an Impact Driver

Impact drivers are also commonly used when working with wood because they can provide more torque than a manual screwdriver without damaging either the timber or the fastener. Impact drivers are available in both cordless and pneumatic (air-powered) models, as well as having various bit sizes to accommodate different screws and fasteners. These tools are an invaluable asset to any toolbox, and can make fastening tasks much faster and easier than with traditional screwdrivers.

The impact driver is designed for use in a variety of applications including construction, automotive repair, woodworking, and more. It is also becoming increasingly popular with DIYers who want maximum power from their tools without sacrificing safety or accuracy. Thanks to its versatility and range of features, it has become one of the most useful power tools for professionals and amateurs alike. [1], [2]

What Is Milwaukee M12

The Milwaukee M12 is a line of cordless power tools manufactured by Milwaukee Tool, which is a subsidiary of the parent company, Techtronic Industries. The Milwaukee M12 series includes more than 100 different products ranging from drills and saws to grinders and heat guns. All of these tools are powered by Lithium-Ion batteries that provide an extended runtime and fade-free performance. The M12 system also features a range of technology designed to make each tool easier to use, such as REDLINK™ overload protection, POWERSTATE™ brushless motors for increased torque, One-Key™ for customizing settings through your smartphone or tablet, and REDLITHIUM™ battery packs that deliver extra power and longer run times. [1], [2]

What Is Milwaukee M18

The Milwaukee M18 is a range of cordless, lithium-ion powered tools and accessories from the Milwaukee Tool Company. It includes over 200 products that are ideal for use in professional and commercial settings. The Milwaukee M18 system is designed to provide superior power, performance, and durability compared to other systems on the market.

What Is Milwaukee M18

The Milwaukee M18 system features an advanced 18V Lithium-Ion battery technology which provides longer-lasting run times than traditional NiCad batteries. This makes it perfect for jobs where you need more power or extended run times without sacrificing performance or battery life. Additionally, its lightweight construction allows users to easily carry their tools around without feeling weighed down. [1], [2]

Difference Between Milwaukee M12 vs. M18

As you can see, both the Milwaukee M12 and M18 are cordless, lithium-ion powered tool systems from Milwaukee Tool. To make it easier for you to decide which system is best for your needs, in this section we will discuss the differences between M12 and M18 products.

The Power Difference

Impact drivers are an essential tool that allow for a larger amount of torque to be applied with much less effort. This is important in many different applications where high strength fastening is required. The power and force provided by impact drivers make them useful for drilling into hard surfaces, such as concrete or masonry, driving screws, nuts and bolts into wood or metal, removing rusted/stripped screws and generally any other task which requires more torque than a standard drill can provide.

The main difference between the M12 and M18 systems is their power. The M12 system runs on a 12-volt lithium-ion battery, while the M18 system runs on an 18-volt lithium-ion battery. As you can imagine, this means that the M18 system has roughly 50% more power than the M12 system. This extra power makes it ideal for tackling tougher jobs such as driving larger screws into hardwood or even driving lag screws into concrete. It also allows you to get through your tasks faster due to its increased torque and speed capabilities over the 12V models.

Besides that, it obviously offers a longer battery life as well. The M18 batteries can last up to 3 times longer than the M12 batteries, ensuring that you have enough power for those long jobs.

The Speed Difference

The importance of speed in impacting drivers is immense. With speeds up to 3,450 RPM, these tools provide a great deal of power and torque that can work faster than any other tool available. This helps with jobs such as driving screws and bolts into hard-to-reach places, quickly loosening stubborn fasteners, or even busting through brick walls.

The M18 is capable of higher torque than the M12, which means it will be able to drive screws and other fasteners into harder materials more quickly. Additionally, the M18 batteries provide longer runtimes than the M12 batteries, so you’ll be able to work on projects for longer without interruption.

The max speed of M18 is around 1800 RPM while the M12 is around 1700 RPM. This means that when you use an M18 tool, it’ll be able to perform more tasks faster than an M12 tool. So while the M12 is a great option for lighter projects, it may not be able to handle heavy-duty tasks as well as an M18 tool.

In addition, both tools have two speed settings, allowing you to switch between low and high speed depending on what material you’re working with. This gives you more versatility when it comes to fastening applications.

Difference Between Milwaukee M12 vs. M18


As we mentioned earlier, the M12 and M18 systems both use lithium-ion batteries. The only difference is that the M18 battery has 18 volts of power while the M12 battery has 12 volts of power. So if you need more torque and longer runtimes, then an M18 battery will be your best option.

It’s also worth mentioning that both tools are compatible with all Milwaukee M12 and M18 batteries. So if you have both systems, you can use the same battery in either system.

Weight and Size

Another important difference between the two systems is their weight and size. The M12 products are significantly lighter and more compact than the M18 tools, making them ideal for applications where space is limited or a lightweight tool is needed.

The main factor affecting the size is fuel cells, with the M12 tools using a 12V battery and the M18 tools using an 18V battery. The M12 weighs roughly around 2.3 lbs. while the M18 fuel weighs 3.2 lbs. Still, both tools can be used for prolonged periods of time without fatigue.


Another important factor to consider when looking at the Milwaukee M12 vs. M18 is durability. The M12 system uses 12-volt battery packs, while the M18 system uses 18-volt batteries. This difference in voltage gives the M18 an advantage in terms of power and torque, but also means that it’s more likely to wear out faster than the less powerful M12. If you are using your tool primarily for heavier or frequent tasks, then a higher voltage battery will be beneficial in helping your tool last longer.

The build quality is also a major difference between the two. The M18 tools are built to last, with all-metal components that make them resistant to wear and tear. In addition, the battery packs for M18 tools feature Milwaukee’s Red Link technology which helps protect the tool from overloading or overheating.

Price Point

Now let’s talk about price. The M12 and M18 systems both offer products at different price points for various budgets. Generally speaking, the M12 tools tend to be cheaper than the M18 counterparts since they use less power and are smaller in size.

For example, an M12 drill/driver can start around $130 while an M18 version will cost you around double that. But keep in mind that with a higher price comes more power and longer runtimes so it’s worth considering if your project requires it.

Overall, both systems remain great options for anyone looking to invest in quality tools without breaking the bank. [1], [2]

Difference Between Milwaukee M12 vs. M18

Advantages of Milwaukee M12 Tools

Now let’s talk about the advantages of Milwaukee M12 tools.


The first advantage of the M12 tools is that they are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for tight spaces or applications where a cordless tool is preferred. They have a slim handle design which allows you to grip the tool securely and easily, even in awkward positions. The battery pack also adds minimal weight to the overall package, meaning you won’t feel weighed down by your tool when working for long periods of time.

Easy to use

The second advantage of the M12 tools is that they are easy to use. The slim design and compact size make them easy to maneuver and control, even in tight spaces. Additionally, the variable speed triggers allow you to easily adjust your power output depending on the task at hand. This makes it easier for beginners to get used to using a cordless tool without worrying about overloading or damaging it.

Nice price point

Lastly, Milwaukee M12 tools are incredibly affordable compared to their M18 counterparts. For example, an M12 drill/driver can be purchased for as little as $130. This makes them perfect for people on a budget who don’t want to spend too much money on quality tools. [1], [2]

Advantages of Milwaukee M12 Tools

Disadvantages of Milwaukee M12 Tools

However, there are a few drawbacks to the Milwaukee M12 tools.

Insufficient power and torque for difficult applications

The first is that they do not have as much power or torque as their M18 counterparts. The 12V battery packs deliver less power than the 18V ones found in M18 tools, meaning you won’t be able to get through tough tasks such as drilling into concrete with them. Additionally, the 12V battery packs also run out of juice quicker than 18V batteries, so you may find yourself needing to recharge your tool more often if you are using it for extended periods of time.

Require more maintenance

The second disadvantage is that the Milwaukee M12 system has a shorter lifespan than the M18 system. This is because the 12V battery packs require more frequent charging and maintenance, which can add up over time.

Additionally, they are also prone to overheating when used for extended periods of time, so you’ll need to be careful not to push them too hard.

Prone to overheating

Finally, the Milwaukee M12 tools are also prone to overheating when used for extended periods of time. This is because the 12V battery packs do not deliver as much power as their 18V counterparts, meaning they can overheat if you are using them for heavy-duty tasks or for longer than usual. [1], [2]

Advantages of Milwaukee M18 Tools

Next we will move on to the advantages of the M18 tools over the M12.

Ideal for heavy duty applications

The Milwaukee M18 tools are ideal for heavy duty applications due to their higher power and torque. This makes them perfect for tougher jobs such as penetrating hard materials, driving large screws, and working in tight spaces that require more power than an M12 tool can provide.

Offers more flexibility

The M18 tools also offer more flexibility since they are compatible with all Milwaukee M12 and M18 batteries. This means that if you have both systems, you can use the same battery in either system.

Compatible with previous generations of tools

The Milwaukee M18 tools are also compatible with previous generations of tools, making it easier for you to use the same batteries and chargers as your old tools. This makes it easier for you to transition from one tool to another without having to buy different batteries or chargers.

Offers more power

The M18 tools also offer more power and torque than the M12. This makes them better suited for tasks that require high levels of torque, such as driving large screws, penetrating hard materials, and working in tight spaces. [1], [2]

Advantages of Milwaukee M18 Tools

Disadvantages of Milwaukee M18 Tools

Unfortunately, the Milwaukee M18 tools do have some drawbacks as well.

More expensive

The most obvious disadvantage of the M18 tools is their cost. Since they are more powerful, they tend to be more expensive than the M12 tools. This can be an issue if you’re on a budget or if you don’t need the extra power and torque that an M18 tool provides.


Another disadvantage of the M18 tools is their weight. Since these tools are more powerful, they tend to be heavier than the M12 models. This can be a problem if you’re working in tight spaces or if you need to move the tool around often.

Not fit for home projects

Finally, the M18 tools may not be ideal for home projects. Since they are more powerful and expensive, they may not be necessary or cost-effective if you only need to do light-duty tasks. This is definitely something you want to keep in mind when shopping for tools. [1], [2]


What is better, M12 or M18 Milwaukee?

When it comes to deciding between M12 and M18 Milwaukee impact drivers, the answer is largely dependent on your specific needs and preferences.

M12 models are smaller, lighter, and more compact than their M18 counterparts. This makes them easier to handle and less likely to fatigue the user when working in tight spaces or with extended use. They also tend to be cheaper than their larger counterparts.

However, that being said, M18 models have many advantages over M12s. For example, they offer higher torque ratings, which means they can generate more power for tougher jobs that require increased force. Additionally, their larger size allows them to accept larger bits such as socket-style bits used in automotive work. Furthermore, they are often compatible with a range of battery packs that can help extend the lifetime of the tool.

What is the difference between the Milwaukee impact drivers?

The Milwaukee impact drivers come in two voltages, 12V and 18V. All of the impact drivers share similar features such as a brushless motor design, an all-metal gearbox, and a die-cast aluminum housing.

The main difference between the Milwaukee impact drivers lies in their power output and size. The Milwaukee 12V impact driver is smaller than the 18V model and it offers a lower torque output. It is best suited for light-duty applications such as driving small screws or bolts into soft materials such as wood.

The Milwaukee 18V impact driver has a larger size and higher power output than the 12V model, making it capable of driving larger screws and bolts into harder materials such as metal.

What’s the difference between Milwaukee Fuel and M18?

The main difference between Milwaukee Fuel and M18 is the motor. M18 uses a brushed motor while Fuel uses a brushless motor. Brushless motors tend to be more reliable, powerful and efficient than brushed motors. Furthermore, Milwaukee Fuel provides up to 30% more torque than M18.

What is the difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2 M12 impact drivers?

The Milwaukee M12 Gen 1 and Gen 2 impact drivers are both 12 volt cordless tools, but there are some key differences between them. The first difference is that the M12 Gen 2 is smaller and lighter than the M12 Gen 1, making it easier to work with in tight spaces. The M12 Gen 2 also has more torque than the M12 Gen 1 and a quicker motor, which helps you get your jobs done faster. The max RPM is now 3300 compared to 2650 of the M12 Gen 1, and the max torque is now 250 in-lbs compared to 180 in-lbs for the M12 Gen 1.

Useful Video: Milwaukee Impact Drivers | M18 VS M12 | FUEL VS SURGE | Standard VS Hydraulic


The Milwaukee M12 and M18 are both great tools, with different advantages and disadvantages. If you need more power and torque, the M18 is your best option. If you need something that’s lightweight, portable, and easy to handle in tight spaces, the M12 is the tool for you. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference when choosing between these two models.

No matter which tool you choose, Milwaukee offers great quality and reliable performance with their impact drivers. Both the M12 and the M18 offer superior ergonomics and a wide variety of compatible accessories. With either model, you can be sure that you will get years of dependable use from your investment. So take some time to compare features between both models and decide which one is right for you.

This article was able to help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing between the Milwaukee M12 and M18 Impact Driver. Both models have their own unique features, so be sure to weigh your needs before making a purchase. Good luck!