Milwaukee M12 vs M18 – What Are Their Major Differences?

If you’re in the market for a new cordless power tool, it’s important to know your options. The Milwaukee M12 and M18 are two great options that both offer unique benefits. The two models differ primarily in terms of weight, size, and battery life.

The main difference between the M12 and the M18 is their battery. Even though these products look similar, their batteries make all the difference. Let’s take a look at what makes their batteries different.

milwaukee m12 vs m18

Milwaukee M12 Battery

The M12 battery is a lithium-ion battery and it comes in 1.5, 2, or 3 amp-hour run times. The high-performance variety offers 3, 4, and 6 amp-hour run times.

The 12V voltage means that it can work with any of the M12 gadgets from Milwaukee Tool Company such as drills, saws, and even work lights. It weighs only 1.80 grams making it very lightweight compared to other brands on the market today.

The REDLINK Intelligence System has been featured on this item which assures you of optimized performance as well as protecting your gadget from overloads via total system communication within itself.

Pros of The Milwaukee M12 Battery

  • The REDLINK intelligence technology provides optimized performance and overload protection.
  • M12 batteries are very versatile, a feature you will notice from their ability to work in different weather conditions, boosting the M12 power gadgets’ functionality.
  • They are also compatible with almost all M12 tools, except for some which need special batteries.
  • Longer runtime and less downtime between charging sessions due to the quick charge rate of 20 minutes or less on most models to get up to 80 percent done (based on full capacity).

Cons of The Milwaukee M12 Battery

  • The main downside to the Milwaukee M12 battery is that it solely works with M12 gadgets.

The batteries are designed to be compact and lightweight, which means they can’t really be used for larger tools or machines. If you have an older cordless tool that uses a different type of battery such as NiCad or NiMH (nickel-cadmium), you’ll need to buy new tools if you want to switch over to an M12 battery.

  • Another downside is that these batteries don’t last very long when compared with other types of batteries.

They also tend to run out of power quickly and aren’t designed for heavier jobs like drilling into concrete or metal surfaces. You’ll need more than one battery if you’re using your device for extended periods of time because the charge won’t last very long.

Milwaukee m12 vs m18 - M12 lithium battery
Milwaukee M12 Battery

Milwaukee M18 Battery

The M18 is designed to be compatible with all Milwaukee cordless tools. It can also be used in extremely cold weather conditions, making it ideal for use during the winter seasons.

The M18 batteries are available in different capacities and run-time options. You can choose from the regular version which has 1.5 or 2 amp-hours; the XC version which has 3, 4, 5, and 6 amp-hours; or the high-demand battery option with 7-amp hours of run time.

The regular version is compact and has 1.5 or 2 amp-hours in run time. It is ideal for light household works like drilling some holes in your wall with minimal effort on your part while still getting great results. This is due to its lower weight compared to other tools like drills or saws that need more force due to their heavier build materials.

Pros of The Milwaukee M18 Battery

  • The REDLITHIUM-ION batteries are lightweight and compact. The tools can be used for extended periods without getting tired or fatigued. The batteries also have a higher run time than their counterparts. This translates to more productivity during the use of the tool.
  • The batteries come with an intelligence system called REDLINK which monitors voltage levels and automatically protects against overloading. When operating at full capacity, these tools will last longer than others thanks to this feature.
  • The REDLITHIUM-ION 18V battery features a robust build, translating into superior durability and fewer malfunctions caused by accidental falls or impact damage compared to other brands’ power sources.

Cons of The Milwaukee M18 Battery

  • The main downside to M18 batteries is that they will only work with M18 power equipment. While this makes sense, it can be inconvenient if you have a lot of tools that use different kinds of batteries.
  • Another drawback is the length of battery life. The 18V lithium-ion battery has a runtime of about 60 minutes, which is comparable to a 20V NiCad or NiMH battery but much less than other types.
Milwaukee m12 vs m18 - Milwaukee M18 red lithium battery
Milwaukee M18 Battery

Milwaukee M12 vs M18 – The Major Differences

1. M12 Has Lower Battery Life Compared to The M18

The M12 is a 12-volt tool, which means it is smaller and lighter than the 18-volt M18 counterpart. In addition to this, it’s also cheaper.

However, the tradeoff for these advantages is less battery life than the 18v version. This can be a dealbreaker for some people; if you’re going to be using your tool often and long enough to drain two batteries then you should probably opt for an 18-volt instead.

2. M12 is Lighter and Smaller Than M18

While both the M12 and M18 are powerful, the M12 is lighter and smaller than its counterpart. The M18 has a mass of 0.95 pounds while the M12 weighs only 0.4 pounds. It’s also about an inch shorter than the M18 at 4 inches long, it can fit into tight spaces that your standard cordless drill would not be able to reach.

If you’re looking for a compact power tool that’s easy to carry around with you, but still packs some punch when it comes to performance, then this one is right up your alley.

3. M18 Has More Power and Torque

The M18, with its 450 ft-lb of torque and 20V MAX lithium-ion battery, has more power and torque than the Milwaukee M12 with its 400 CFM rating.

The M12 is also a bit shorter than the M18. While this might not be a problem for some people, others may prefer the feel of bigger tools in their hands.

4. M18 Has a Longer Run Time

The M18 has a longer run time than the M12. The 1.5Ah battery on the M12 will last you around 30 minutes, while an extended 1.5Ah battery will give you 58 minutes of running time. For a compact drill, this is enough power for most jobs around the house or for light-duty work at work.

The standard M18 batteries can be charged in about 30 minutes. The 5Ah batteries provide even more capacity for larger jobs and take less than an hour to charge from 0-100%.

5. The Milwaukee M18 is a Reliable and Powerful Cordless Tool, But The Milwaukee M12 is Lighter and Easier to Use

The Milwaukee M18 is a powerful cordless tool that’s built for heavy-duty use. It features a brushless motor, which means it will last longer than a standard lithium-ion battery and it won’t overheat as easily. The M18 also has more torque than the M12, which means you can use it to drive screws faster.

The Milwaukee M12, on the other hand, is lighter and easier to handle than the M18. You can also get the two-pack replacement batteries so you can use them interchangeably. This makes the M12 ideal for smaller jobs around your home or office.

6. The M12 and M18 Are Available in a Different Price Ranges

The M18 is more expensive than the M12. It’s also more powerful and has longer battery life. The M12 is cheaper than the M18. It’s less powerful, but it has a shorter battery life and may not be as durable.

Read: Can You Mix 5w20 and 5w30?


This article compares the Milwaukee M12 and M18 cordless tools, showing you the differences between them. These differences can be categorized into – battery life, weight, torque differences, durability, and efficiency. It also gives a breakdown of their pros and cons so that you can make an informed purchasing decision based on your needs.