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A couple of months ago my trusted Milwaukee 3/8 impact finally gave up on me after 7 years of daily use. This was the Gen 2 M18 Fuel with One-Key, which didn’t disappoint. But since it was out of warranty and the cost to rebuild it was more than a new impact would cost me, I decided it was time to upgrade.
Enter the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 3/8 Compact Impact. After having good luck with my other Milwaukee Impact, I wanted to stick with the brand. And now, after having used it daily for the last two months, I feel I can give an honest review of this tool.
With the release of the 3rd generation Milwaukee Impacts, the biggest difference to note is the size comparison to the older models. Losing almost a full inch in length, the 3/8 compact impact comes is at 4.8 inches long. Making this the most compact impact on the market.
Using it in an Automotive setting, the compact size has allowed for access to fasteners that weren’t accessible before. With that being said, I do have one complaint worth mentioning about the size. To achieve the compact length a flat nose instead of a cone nose was used. This caused the anvil to not stick out as far. To most, this wouldn’t be an issue. But for me, I have noticed a lot of areas where I now have to grab an extension to reach the fastener because the body is too wide. Where with the cone nose, it was slim enough to fit without using extensions.
Compared to the Gen 2 impact, you can definitely tell a power upgrade. Increased by 40ft-lbs, the new compact impact delivers 250ft-lbs of torque. With that kind of power, you have the ability to remove almost any nut or bolt to point this thing at. In fact, I’ve used it to remove lug nuts when using my pneumatic impact isn’t an option. ( I know, I need to upgrade to a 1/2 Cordless impact )
Of course, being this is a Milwaukee product, REDLINK Plus is a feature of this impact. This makes sure that you don’t overload the tool or damage it by overheating. Just a built-in protection plan from Milwaukee.
Specifications – Comparing new to old
|3/8 Compact Impact 2854||3/8 Gen 2 Impact 2758|
|IPM: 3,500||IPM: 0-3,200|
|Torque: 250ft-lbs||Torque: 210ft-lbs|
|Length: 4.8 inches||Length: 5.9 inches|
|Weight: 3.9 lbs||Weight: 4.2 lbs|
|Height: 9.93 inches||Height: 9.17 inches|
|Width: 2.56 inches||Width: 4.13 inches|
|Drive Control: 4 -mode w/ auto-shutoff & bolt |
|Drive Control: 4-mode Customizable w/ |
|Max RPM: 2400||Max RPM: 0-2,500|
|Warranty: 5-year tool, 3 year battery||Warranty: 5-year tool, 3-year battery|
- The most compact impact at 4.8″ allows for access in tight spaces
- 3 LED lights built into the nose
- Auto shut-off mode to prevent over tightening
- 4-mode drive control system allowing for the appropriate RPMs and IMPs
- Bolt-removal mode for more control after breaking free fasteners
- 250ft-lbs of torque
Lighting up the Work Space
While most Milwaukee cordless tools come with an LED light, the Gen 3 compact impact wrenches really upped the lighting game.
In prior models, a single LED light was placed right above the trigger. While it was still nice to have a light, you often found that it was blocked by the workpiece. It only really helped in locating the fastener, once you were on it you couldn’t see was you were fastening.
With 3 built-in LED lights on the nose of the impact, this isn’t the case. The placing of these lights illuminates the entire workspace and increases visibility by entirely omitting shadows.
4-Mode Drive Control
Having the capability to control output speed and power on Milwaukee impacts isn’t anything new. The 3/8 compact impact offers 4 modes that you can change with the touch of a button.
- Mode 1: 0-800 RPMs and 0-1,000 IPMs – 65ft-lbs of Torque
- Mode 2: 0-1,650 RPMs and 0-2,400 IPMs 150ft-lbs of Torque
- Mode 3: 0-2,400 RPMs and 0-3,500 IPMs 250ft-lbs of Torque
- Mode 4: 0-2,400 RPMs and 0-3,500 IPMs 250ft-lbs of Torque
Now you might look at this and wonder why are Mode 3 and 4 the same specs. Well, this is where the Auto Shut-off and bolt removal modes come into play.
When you place the tool in mode 4, two things will happen. In forward, the impact will run at a reduced RPM and shut off at 20ft-lbs of torque. This happens to prevent over-tightening and potentially breaking fasteners.
In Reverse, the impact goes into bolt removal mode. Basically, the tool will run at full RPM and IPM until the fastener breaks loose. At that point, the impact will reduce RPMs for better control of the nut or bolt. This reduces the risk of the hardware getting flung out of the socket and getting lost.
For more information on the 4 Mode Drive control, check out the user’s manual.
Milwaukee offers three options when purchasing the 3/8 compact impact. Depending on what you have for other Milwaukee tools will determine which option is best for you.
The Bare tool is model number 2854-20.
Model number 2854-22 gets you the impact, 2 XC5.0 battery packs, M18 & M12 Multi-Voltage Charger, and the standard Milwaukee carrying case.
Model number 2854-22ct is the same as above, only you replace the batteries with CP2.0 Batteries instead.
Buy It Now!
Check out these options at Toolbarn.com
The lack of the One-Key feature is disappointing on this impact when the older version I upgraded from included it. However, it isn’t a game changer when you have the 4-Mode drive control. The only lacking feature I miss is being able to locate the tool in the event it is lost or stolen.
The upgraded LED Light and smaller size have allowed me to access more fasteners that I would have either needed another tool for or extension and swivels. My only complaint is having to use extensions where I didn’t need to before with the cone nose on the older model.
But the bottom line is Milwaukee has yet again provided the automotive and mechanical trades a useful tool with the 3/8 compact impact wrench. The increased power and compact size along with the other key features that are packed into this tool make it a great addition to any toolbox.