Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 2760-20 Impact Driver Review

Milwaukee 2760-20 Angle 5
Table of Contents

Quick take

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 2760-20 is Milwaukee’s hydraulic impact driver entrant in the flagship Fuel lineup. Notably, the 2760-20 uses oil impulses instead of a hammer to generate impacts, resulting in an incredibly quiet, less violent, and accurate driving experience than most impact drivers offer. It also includes several helpful drive modes, enhancing driving versatility and accuracy. However, some sacrifices you’ll make are average heavy-duty driving performance and OK enough battery performance. Combine it all, and there are few tasks it can’t handle well, making it most suitable for DIYers demanding versatility and for woodworkers or carpenters requiring accuracy.

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Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18 Fuel Surge
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 480.6
IPM 4,000.0
Drive modes 4
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as M18 hydraulic

Global rankings

21 models tested

TestResultRank
Driving speed (sec.)18.712
Torque (in-lbs)480.619
Battery run time (min.)41.012
RPM2,944.015
Bare weight (lbs)2.0913
Impacting noise (dBA)89.52

Editorial opinion

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Editorial rating

4.13 / 5 ⭐️’s

Pros

  • Incredibly quiet impacting performance
  • Exceptionally low vibration in the hand
  • Drive modes enhance versatility and accuracy
  • Brushless motor improves durability
  • Long battery and tool warranty

Cons

  • Average battery run time
  • Driving performance for heavy-duty tasks

Buy

Kits and bare tool options

2760-22

Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery

2760-20

Bare tool

Series lineup

Model #PlatformDrive ModesTorqueIPMReview
2656-20M181611.4 in-lbs3,450.0Full review
2760-20M18 Fuel Surge4480.6 in-lbs4,000.0Full review
2850-20M181850.2 in-lbs4,200.0Full review
2953-20 (Gen 4)M18 Fuel41,236.0 in-lbs4,400.0Full review

Alternatives

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20: Opt for the 2953-20 if you want to trade the 2760-20’s precision and subtle noise profile for a more powerful impact driver with higher torque. This flagship model is also much faster. Compare side by side

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Surge 2551-20: The 2551-20 is the sister hydraulic impact driver in Milwaukee’s Fuel lineup. It is far more compact and just as quiet. The 2551-20 is ideal for woodworking and carpentry, where speed and torque take a back seat to precision and squeezing into tight areas. Compare side by side

Milwaukee M18 2850-20: The 2850-20 pushes out much more torque in a compact footprint. It is also much faster, though the 2850-20 includes only a single drive mode. Compare side by side

Lab results

Design & ergonomics

Stands upright w/o battery: Yes
Stands upright w/ battery: Yes
Grip material: Rubber overgrip
Magnetic holder: No
Bit holder: Yes
Belt hook: Yes
Handle angle (deg.): 75.0
Head angle (deg.): 90.0

The 2656-20 stands upright with and without a battery attached and has a moderately aggressive forward lean, great for extending reach. The rubber overmold surrounds the entire grip, providing excellent shock absorption.

A belt hook and bit holder are included, and they are mountable on either side. There is no magnetic fastener holder, unlike some Ryobi impact drivers with this feature.

Weight

Milwaukee 2760-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.09
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 3.04
Weight w/ 2.5Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 3.70

The 2760-20’s bare tool weight and weight with a battery is in the middle of the pack, surpassing 2 lbs in its bare form.

The Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z is an excellent option for solid driving performance but at a much lower weight.

The 2760-20’s working weight can differ significantly depending on the battery run in your setup, which is why we tested the weight in different configurations. To keep it lightweight, we recommend combining the 2760-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery for a good balance of performance and weight.

If weight is less of a concern, pair the 2760-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved driving performance.

Compare weight test results

Footprint

Milwaukee 2760-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2760-20 Footprint2

Max height (bare tool, in.): 7.625
Max width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Collet to back length (in.): 5.000
Base length (bare tool, in.): 3.250
Base width (bare tool, in.): 2.265
Trigger circumference (in.): 6.375
Handle circumference (in.): 5.125

The 2760-20 has a reasonably compact head that helps it reach into tight spaces and through tight areas well. But the footprint is larger than most sub-compacts with stubbier collet-to-back lengths.

Compare footprint test results

Motor

Motor: Brushless
Impacts per minute: 4,000.0

Milwaukee includes its Powerstate brushless motor in the 2760-20. Brushless motors outperform brushed counterparts with better driving performance, battery efficiency, and durability.

The oil-impulse, or hydraulic, mechanism that impacts the 2760-20 is worth discussing. Most impact drivers include a hammer that implements impacts.

However, the 2760-20 uses oil impulses to impact the collet, resulting in less violent, smoother, and quieter impacts. The downside is most hydraulic impact drivers have lower torque profiles, as evidenced in our testing.

The 2760-20 offers 4000.0 advertised impacts per minute, which is comparatively high, and improved the driving performance in our heavy-duty driving tests.

Drive modes

Milwaukee 2760-20 Drive Modes

Drive modes: 4
Drive mode 1:  High speed 
Drive mode 2:  Medium speed 
Drive mode 3:  Low speed 
Drive mode 4:  Self-tapping 
Variable speed trigger: Yes

Four driving modes on the 2760-20 vastly improve driving versatility over single-mode models. Drive modes we label as 1, 2, 3, and 4 correspond to high speed, medium speed, low speed, and self-tapping screw modes.

Drive mode 1 is the best heavy-duty setting for big screws, lag bolts, and decking screws. This mode finishes screws exceptionally well compared to other 18V impact drivers’ high-speed settings, although high-speed modes are rarely the best option for a consistent finish.

Drive mode 2 is best for a clean and consistent screw recess in most materials. This drive mode is incredibly accurate due to the less violent nature of the oil-impulse impacts. This setting offers a good balance of power and accuracy, great for light and medium-duty tasks needed with woodworking and carpentry.

Nicely, drive mode 2 still powers through driving screws into dimensional lumber, treated lumber, plywood, and hard and softwood.

We found ourselves favoring drive mode 2 over drive mode 1 since the lower setting lacks power, and drive mode 2 is already highly accurate in all density materials.

Drive mode 1 is subtle enough to drive brass screws, though we don’t recommend using any power tool to do so in practice.

The self-tapping mode works well enough driving common screw sizes in 1/2-inch to 1-inch lengths in thin sheet metal. In this mode, the collet spins until impacting and slows down to tap the screw.

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 18.7
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 3.7
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 14.9
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 3.0

The 2760-20 isn’t the tool of choice for heavy-duty driving jobs, such as breezing through driving big structural screws or lag bolts. Our GRK driving tests evidence its capabilities for the most challenging tasks.However, the 2760-20 isn’t designed for these tasks. It’s competent but isn’t ideal if you have a more powerful impact driver within reach.

For the most common uses around the home requiring 3-inch and shorter fasteners, the 2760-20 is an absolute joy, primarily due to its less violent hydraulic impacting mechanism that is incredibly quiet under load and significantly reduces vibration.

This impact driver was also highly accurate in our driving tests, where we drove common screw sizes and lengths into treated lumber, dimensional lumber, MDF, plywood, and soft and hardwood. We didn’t encounter a general DIY, woodworking, or carpentry task the 2760-20 didn’t shine at completing.

Compare driving speed test results

Torque

Milwaukee 2760-20 Torquemeter
Milwaukee 2760-20 Torque Charts

Max torque drive mode 1 (in-lbs): 480.6
Max torque drive mode 2 (in-lbs): 272.4
Max torque drive mode 3 (in-lbs): 66.0
Max torque drive mode 4 (in-lbs): N/A

All hydraulic impact drivers offer lower torque output than equivalent models with anvil-based impacting mechanisms, including the 2760-20. This impact driver generates enough torque to bust loose some stubborn lug nuts and bolts.

However, it isn’t powerful enough to tackle more stubborn fasteners a more powerful impact driver or impact wrench excels at. The torque profile is one of the trade-offs made for the quieter and smoother impacting experience.

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 offers flagship torque output in the M18 ecosystem.

Compare torque test results

Battery run time

Power type: Cordless
Battery run time (min.): 41.0
Battery tested: 18V Red Lithium CP 2Ah (48-11-1820)
Voltage: 18

The 2760-20 offers a solid amount of no-load battery run time but doesn’t top the charts in our tests in this category. The Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z and Makita 18V LXT XDT14Z are better options for battery life.

We tested battery run time with the 2Ah battery version. With a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery, the battery run time will continue performing similarly against competing models running the same Ah setup.

Compare battery test results

Battery lineup

Milwaukee M18 Battery Lineup

Milwaukee offers 1.5Ah, 2Ah, 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, 6Ah, 8Ah, and 12Ah batteries in its M18 lineup. Upgrading to the higher Ah options increases battery run time and improves driving performance, though we’ve not tested all of these batteries to understand the cost tradeoffs.

Having at least two batteries in your setup is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend buying a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah and a Milwaukee M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for most M18 impact driver setups for a good performance, price, and size balance.

Many Milwaukee impact drivers come in kits with chargers that charge multiple voltage batteries in one, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several M12 and M18 ecosystem tools.

Charging time

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Gauge

Charger tested: Milwaukee M12 & M18 Multi-Volt (48-59-1812)
Charging time 2Ah battery (min.): 41.0
Charging time 2.5Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 4Ah battery (min.): Not tested
Charging time 5Ah battery (min.): 98.0
Charging time per Ah (min.): 20.1
Fuel gauge: On battery

The Milwaukee M12 and M18 multi-volt charger (model 48-59-1812) included in most kits is reasonably fast at charging batteries, including to beat out team red’s most frequent adversary, Dewalt. It takes 41 minutes to charge an M18 2Ah battery and 98 minutes for a 5Ah battery, or approximately 20 minutes per amp-hour.

Milwaukee’s 48-59-1812 charger charges multiple battery voltages in one, conveniently saving space in your shop if you have several M12 and M18 ecosystem tools.

Compare charging test results

RPM

Milwaukee 2760-20 RPM Charts

Max RPM drive mode 1 (fwd.): 2,944.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (fwd.): 2,144.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (fwd.): 885.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (fwd.): 2,953.0
Max RPM drive mode 1 (rev.): 2,817.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (rev.): 2,060.0
Max RPM drive mode 3 (rev.): 848.0
Max RPM drive mode 4 (rev.): 2,902.0

The 2760-20 has a moderately slow RPM profile. We appreciated the slow RPM’s ability to softly set a screw when starting a drive cycle. The low RPM also reduces the risk of cam-out and stripped screws. Conversely, a higher RPM would help drive screws faster in medium and heavy-duty tasks.

There is no meaningful difference between forward and reverse in each drive mode. Some impact drivers increase RPM for specific specialty drive modes to bust loose stubborn nuts and embedded screws.

Compare RPM test results

Driving clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.625
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.125
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.000

The 2760-20’s compact design resulted in average performance in our clearance tests. Expect the thin profile and compact head to help it slide through tight spaces and into tight corners. But sub-compact impact drivers are stubbier to fit into tighter areas.

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 is a solid alternative to consider in the Milwaukee M18 lineup for its tighter clearances performance.

Outside the M18 lineup, the Dewalt 20V Atomic DCF850 shines with its clearances performance due to its stubby short collet-to-back length.

Compare driving clearance test results

Noise

2760-20 Impact Driver Noise Chart

Max noise no load (dBA): 83.0
Max impacting noise (dBA): 89.5

The 2760-20 is incredibly quiet. While no impact driver greets you with a gentle hello, the noise performance of the 2760-20 is unmatched in its category, closely matching the noise profile of a hairdryer.

The subtle noise profile is most impressive when driving common screw sizes and lengths you’d encounter around the home. The decibel readings in these tests, such as driving 3-inch and shorter screws into dimensional lumber, were exceptionally low, making it a joy to use without annoying the neighbors.

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Surge 2551-20 is another hydraulic impact driver to consider for improved noise performance.

Compare noise test results

Vibration

Max head vibration no load (m/s2): 21.1
Max grip vibration no load (m/s2): 3.4

The hydraulic impacting mechanism included on the 2760-20 produces a fantastic vibration profile. It’s a pleasure driving screws with the 2760-20, almost approaching the lower vibration generated with drill/drivers.

Compare vibration test results

Light

Milwaukee 2760-20 Light
Milwaukee 2760-20 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light on/off: No
Number of lights: 1
Light time delay (sec.): 11.0

The light illuminates a moderately large work area focused in the correct location. The work light can’t be disabled and doesn’t act as a dedicated flashlight.

Several Makita impact drivers include a dedicated flashlight functionally with the forward/reverse switch set to neutral.

Collet

Milwaukee 2760-20 Collet Closeup

Collet size: 1/4-inch hex
Quick-change collet: Yes
Bit-eject collet: No
Easy-insert collet: Yes

Milwaukee rarely includes a bit-eject feature on its impact drivers, but some models have an incredibly smooth easy-insert design, both of which are true with the 2760-20.

Many Dewalt impact drivers include easy-insert and bit-eject collets that are smooth with the best collet design we’ve come across.

App integration

App integration: None

There is no bluetooth app integration to review impact driver diagnostics or to customize driving profiles on your phone. Some high-end Milwaukee impact drivers come in a One-Key version which includes an app integration to track impact driver usage, displays tool diagnostics, and allows you to set custom driving profiles, such as adjusting the RPM for each drive mode.

Warranty

Tool warranty (years): 5
Battery warranty (years): 2-3 (depends on model)

Milwaukee stands behind the durability of its impact drivers with exceptionally-long warranties. The 2760-20 has a five-year warranty, which is among the longest offered by any manufacturer. Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah batteries include a two-year warranty and the M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah batteries include a three-year warranty.

What's new?

7/14/23: Preliminary review published
8/2/23: Full review published

Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton is the founder of DIY Gear Reviews and a recognized expert in the home and DIY space. He has over 200 bylines covering topics such as power tools, hand tools, and woodworking. Nathan is the strategic director for DIY Gear Reviews, deciding everything from the content covered to designing the testing methodologies for lab-tested reviews. He can be emailed at nhamilton@diygearreviews.com.

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