Milwaukee M18 2850-20 Impact Driver Review

Milwaukee 2850-20 Angle 5

Quick take

The Milwaukee M18 2850-20 comes out of the gate swinging with solid driving performance and high impacts per minute, particularly at this low price point. But the luster wears off shortly after, considering that it has a single drive mode that limits driving versatility and lacks battery run time performance. The best reason to buy this impact driver is to get into the Milwaukee brushless ecosystem without breaking the bank, such as when upgrading to the Milwaukee M18 Fuel flagship lineup.

Brand Milwaukee
Platform M18
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 850.2
IPM 4,200.0
Drive modes 1
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as -

Global rankings

21 models tested

Driving speed (sec.)14.75
Torque (in-lbs)850.23
Battery run time (min.)38.014
Bare weight (lbs)2.018
Impacting noise (dBA)96.810

Editorial opinion

Methodology used: Heavy duty

Editorial rating

3.79 / 5 stars


  • Brushless motor
  • Great driving speed
  • High impacts per minute
  • Long tool and battery warranty


  • Battery life
  • Single drive mode
  • Requires two hands to change bits

Recommended configuration


Includes (1) M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery

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

Lab results


Milwaukee 2850-20 Torquemeter
Milwaukee 2850-20 Torque Charts

Max torque drive mode 1 (in-lbs): 850.2
Max torque drive mode 2 (in-lbs): N/A
Max torque drive mode 3 (in-lbs): N/A
Max torque drive mode 4 (in-lbs): N/A

Torque output is one of the calling card features of the 2850-20, as evidenced in our testing. The 2850-20 generated some of the highest torque output we’ve seen in the 18V class, impressive for such a modestly-priced impact driver.

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20 offers considerably more torque and better handles demanding applications, should you be looking for best-in-class performance.

Compare torque test results


Milwaukee 2850-20 RPM Charts

Max RPM drive mode 1 (fwd.): 3,240.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (fwd.): N/A
Max RPM drive mode 3 (fwd.): N/A
Max RPM drive mode 4 (fwd.): N/A
Max RPM drive mode 1 (rev.): 3,139.0
Max RPM drive mode 2 (rev.):  N/A 
Max RPM drive mode 3 (rev.):  N/A 
Max RPM drive mode 4 (rev.):  N/A 

The 2850-20 achieved solid results in our RPM tests. The high RPM performance is a con, especially with only one drive mode, but it can be a helpful feature in certain situations. The high RPM sets fasteners quickly into your workpiece.

But such a high RPM too frequently results in cam-out. The cam-out potential is exacerbated by the fact that there’s a single drive mode, leaving the cam-out possibility to how delicately or not you feather the variable speed trigger.

There is no significant RPM difference between forward and reverse driving, unlike some impact drivers that increase the reverse RPM to remove stubborn screws more easily.

Compare RPM test results

Driving speed

GRK total driving time forward (sec.): 14.7
GRK average driving time forward (sec.): 2.9
GRK total driving time reverse (sec.): 11.0
GRK average driving time reverse (sec.): 2.2

In our driving speed tests, few impact drivers we’ve tested broke the threshold of averaging less than three seconds per screw. The 2850-20’s high impacts per minute undoubtedly explain some of the performance, particularly when finishing the last leg of driving long lag bolts and structural screws.

Higher-end models, such as the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2953-20, Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z, and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF845, beat out the 2850-20 with impressive driving speed performance.

Compare driving speed test results

Drive modes

Drive modes: 1
Drive mode 1:  High speed 
Drive mode 2:  N/A 
Drive mode 3:  N/A 
Drive mode 4:  N/A 
Variable speed trigger: Yes

One critical missing factor is that 2850-20 includes only one drive mode, though the variable speed trigger helps in scenarios where a lighter driving force is needed. Additional drive modes would improve the driving versatility, albeit increasing the price tag.

The Makita 18V LXT XDT14Z and Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887 are good alternatives with more driving versatility.


Milwaukee 2850-20 Collet Closeup

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

It takes two hands to change bits on the 2850-20, one hand to slide the collet and the other to insert or remove the bit. The collet has no easy-insert or bit eject feature, which helps with one-handed bit changes.

Most Dewalt impact drivers are ideal for one-handed bit changes since these impact drivers include a well-designed easy-insert and bit-eject collet.


Motor: Brushless
Impacts per minute: 4,200.0

The 2850-20’s advertised 4,200 impacts per minute is high for an impact driver. Our in-house driving speed tests demonstrated that the elevated number of blows results in exceptional driving performance at this price point.

The 2850-20 also Includes a brushless motor, which helps with battery life, smoothes out driving performance, and should improve long-term durability. However, we haven’t tested the multi-year durability to confirm its shelf life.

Battery run time

Power type: Cordless
Battery run time (min.): 38.0
Battery tested: 18V Red Lithium CP 2Ah (48-11-1820)
Voltage: 18

One letdown of the 2850-20 is the run time performance in our battery tests. The brushless motor significantly improves run time over comparable brushed motors. But 38 minutes of no-load battery run time isn’t much to write home about, especially considering that some cheaper impact drivers have a longer battery run time, more driving mode versatility, and higher torque.

Expect running with any of Milwaukee’s higher Ah 18V batteries to increase run time, but still lag behind other impact drivers running a similar Ah setup.

The Ryobi 18V One+ P237 is an excellent alternative budget option with better run time and several drive modes. The Makita 18V LXT XDT13Z is a better pick than the 2850-20 due to the Makita’s exceptional battery performance at a comparative price point.

Compare battery test results

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

Design & ergonomics

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


Milwaukee 2850-20 On Scale

Bare weight (lbs): 2.01
Weight w/ 2Ah battery (lbs): 2.96
Weight w/ 2.5Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 4Ah battery (lbs):  Not tested
Weight w/ 5Ah battery (lbs): 3.62

The bare tool weight is moderately light for an 18V impact driver. It isn’t as lightweight as other drivers with a battery when adding Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery, which is a slightly heavier 2Ah battery than several different manufacturers.

The working weight can differ significantly depending on the battery run in your setup. To keep it lightweight, we recommend combining the 2850-20 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 2850-20 with Milwaukee’s M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved driving performance.

Compare weight test results


Milwaukee 2850-20 Footprint1
Milwaukee 2850-20 Footprint2

Max height (bare tool, in.): 7.625
Max width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Collet to back length (in.): 5.125
Base length (bare tool, in.): 3.125
Base width (bare tool, in.): 2.625
Trigger circumference (in.): 6.500
Handle circumference (in.): 5.125

The 2850-20 has a middle-of-the-road compact design that makes it versatile for tasks around the home. One of the more essential measurements, the collet-to-back length, isn’t too long, giving you solid clearance in tight spaces.

Compare footprint test results

Driving clearance

Min. interior width clearance (in.): 7.750
Min. top edge clearance (in.): 1.125
Min. interior 45-deg. clearance (in.): 6.125

We don’t recommend the 2850-20 if you consistently drive fasteners in tight spaces. A sub-compact or smaller footprint compact impact driver can squeeze into tighter spaces, especially if they have shorter collet to back lengths.

Compare driving clearance test results


2850-20 Impact Driver Noise Chart

Max noise no load (dBA): 83.7
Max impacting noise (dBA): 96.8

Our noise performance tests demonstrate that the 2850-20 is not a quiet impact driver.

If you want a comparatively quiet impact driver, consider hydraulic models, such as the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Surge 2551-20 or Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 2760-20.

The Ryobi 18V One+ P237 and Ryobi 18V One+ PBLID02 are worth considering if you want to squeeze out a few decibels of lower noise at a similar price point and with equivalent driving performance.

Compare noise test results


Max head vibration no load (m/s2): 37.6
Max grip vibration no load (m/s2): 1.9

Compare vibration test results


Milwaukee 2850-20 Light
Milwaukee 2850-20 Light Closeup

Light: Yes
Light on/off: No
Number of lights: 1
Light time delay (sec.): 10.0

The light on the 2850-20 does the job but is not as bright as most other models. The single LED light has a blue tint that we didn’t encounter with other models. You also don’t get the versatility of having the option to turn off the light when pressing the trigger, like many Makita impact drivers.


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 2850-20 has a five-year warranty, which is among the longest offered by any manufacturer. Milwaukee’s M18 batteries include a two-year warranty.

Picture of 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


Leave a Comment