A die grinder (better known as a rotary tool) is truly one of the most multi-useful tools available. You can buy attachments that do everything from grinding to cutting, with all sorts of special-purpose tips for niche users. No matter what kind of project you are planning, it is important to have a tool that is fit for the job at hand. That’s why you need to educate yourself before buying a die grinder. There is no question that you can use one of these things, as their uses are nearly endless.


Comparison Table – Milwaukee Die Grinder

1
M12 Right Angle Die Grinder 2485-20
Power: 0.3 HP

Speed Levels: 4

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Batteries: M12 batteries required

Dimensions: 4.4 x 2 x 7.8 inches

Weight: 1.2 lbs

2
M18 Die Grinder 2784-20
Power: 20,000 RPM

Speed Levels: 1

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Batteries: M18 battery required

Dimensions: 3.8 x 16.4 x 4 inches

Weight: 3.05 lbs

3
M12 Right Angle Die Grinder Kit 2485-22
Power: 0.3 HP

Speed Levels: 4

​
Batteries: It came with 2 batteries and a charger

Dimensions: 4.4 x 2 x 8.7 inches

Weight: 1.2 lbs (tool only)

4
M12 Straight Die Grinder 2486-20
Power: 0.3 HP

Speed Levels: 3

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Batteries: 2 Lithium ion batteries required

Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.6 x 3.5 inches

Weight: 2.25 lbs

5
M18 Die Grinder Kit 2784-22
Power: 20,000 RPM

Speed Levels: 1

Batteries: It came with 2 batteries and a charger

Dimensions: 22 x 15.5 x 5.5 inches

Weight: 3.05 lbs (tool only)


Top 5 Milwaukee Die Grinder Reviews

 

To help you understand the differences between various products, we are going to show you five high-quality examples so that you can examine their qualities and features. The benefits of having a high-quality die grinder (as opposed to a piece of junk) are obvious: Longer service life, easier grinding via superior power, precise control, and good ergonomic comfort.

M12 Fuel Right Angle Die Grinder – Small And Precise

M12 Fuel Right Angle Die Grinder - Small And Precise

This is the smallest and lightest tool on our list, and this is reflected in various ways. For one thing, its price is quite affordable, so virtually anyone should be able to swing the cost. That slim profile makes it great for corners, tight spaces, and all sorts of other places where a big grinder would get in the way. Most customers seem to be satisfied with this product based on its good reviews.

We do see a couple of small disadvantages, and we mean that literally. A tool this small is going to have certain limitations, no matter how well-built it may be. This one does seem to be very well-built and durable, but it lacks a little bit in the power department. When we say it gets 0.3 HP, bear in mind that is only reflected in the maximum setting. At that speed level, the battery will probably be drained in about ten minutes. On the upside, though, the batteries are cheap and quick to recharge. Thus, you really will need more than one of them.

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Pros
  • Very precise speed adjustment
  • Lightest tool on our list
  • Relatively low price
  • Very slim for tight spaces
  • Very good reviews overall
Cons
  • Lacks just a little bit in power
  • Battery life isn’t great

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Die Grinder – The Hulking Brute

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Die Grinder - The Hulking Brute

When it comes to electric die grinders, this one can rightly be called a hulking brute. At right about 3 pounds, it is the heaviest grinder on our list by a significant margin. As such, it gets a little rough on the hands after prolonged use. Some users recommend rigging up a sling (a common rifle sling works nicely) to deal with the weight if you are going to be using this tool for a long time.

Still, this thing does pack some power. If you need a grinder that can eat material like candy, this is the one for you. We might also mention the battery life. While some die grinders don’t do well in this department, this model definitely earns its keep. If you get the 9 amp battery (strongly recommended), it will run for at least an hour before needing a recharge. In spite of all that power, this model is also relatively quiet.

It has only one speed, and that speed is no joke. Thus, you want to be a little bit careful and avoid using this one for fine sculpting. Rather, you should use a tool like this to remove lots of material in preparation for more detailed work. In the end, this tool is not very versatile, but it does its job with great power and effectiveness.

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Pros
  • Very powerful
  • Good battery life
  • Very durable construction
  • Pretty quiet for its size
Cons
  • Pretty heavy for a tool of this kind
  • Only one speed
  • Somewhat expensive

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Right Angle Die Grinder Kit – The Small-Scale Starter

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Right Angle Die Grinder Kit - The Small-Scale Starter

This is a kit that includes the Milwaukee M12 Fuel grinder that we already reviewed. If you want a refresher, go back and look at product #1. Remember how we said that you really need an extra battery for this model? Well, this kit provides us with an extra battery, a charger, a couple of handy wrenches for changing bits, and a convenient carrying case made of thick fabric.

We like this kit because it contains everything you need and nothing that you don’t need. Thus, you will not be wasting money buying components that you don’t need. The only non-essential component here is the carrying case, but it’s still a very handy thing to have. Of course, you still have all the inherent disadvantages that come with a micro-grinder. As for the kit itself, our only real complaint is this: A hard case would have been better than fabric.

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Pros
  • Includes everything you need
  • No unnecessary components
  • Includes die grinder #1
  • Reasonable price
Cons
  • See “cons” from product #1
  • A hard case would have been better

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Straight Die Grinder – The Direct And Straight Road

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Straight Die Grinder - The Direct And Straight Road

This one is very similar to product #1, but there is one big difference. Where product #1 was a right-angle grinder, this one is a straight die grinder. This means that the whole thing is kept on a single axis (like a screwdriver) rather than using a bent handle (like a nailgun). This configuration allows the straight grinder to work better for certain jobs, especially those that require working at irregular angles.

We like the comfortable rubberized grip, which helps to make up for the width of the handle portion. It offers three speeds, which is good enough for just about anything. On top of all that, it’s the cheapest grinder on our list (though only by a slight margin). As for downsides, we don’t see this thing working well for heavy-duty jobs. Also, we think that a button might be better than a triggering lever for a tool of this type.

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Pros
  • Easier for working at irregular angles
  • Pretty powerful for its size
  • 3-speed control is good enough
  • Very affordable (cheapest on our list)
  • Comfortable rubberized grip
Cons
  • Not particularly powerful
  • Trigger could be better

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Die Grinder Kit – The Heavy-Duty Starter

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Die Grinder Kit - The Heavy-Duty Starter

This is another fine kit, and this one includes the high-powered die grinder that we reviewed before (product #2). As you may recall, this is a big, bad, and powerful grinder that can eat its way through just about anything. With the right kind of bits, you could even work chunks of steel with this thing. However, it only has one speed and it’s a lot heavier than most.

The kit itself is a good one because it comes with a generous five-year warranty. We don’t see a lot of “loopholes” or exceptions here, and the product looks pretty durable anyway. We are also glad to see that this one included a hard case, as that will do a better job of protecting the contents.

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Pros
  • Grinder is very powerful and durable
  • Includes only what is needed
  • Generous five-year warranty
  • Hard case for superior protection
Cons
  • Most expensive option on our list
  • Grinder has no speed control

Buyer’s Guide – Milwaukee Die Grinder

You may have noticed that our top five products are all made by the same company. This is deliberate, as we have simply found Milwaukee to be the best overall manufacturer for a tool of this type. That being said, there are other good ones out there as well. In order to tell a good rotary tool from a bad one, you need to be familiar with how they work.

Understanding The Power Factor

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is: “How powerful is this thing?” That is to say, how quickly will it grind or cut, and how much effort will be required on your part? These are key considerations but bear in mind that stronger isn’t always better. For instance, if you are using your rotary tool to do some very detailed sculpting, you would want something with less power and speed. In this case, power and speed are pretty much the same things. Thus, we can measure the power of a die grinder in two different ways.

In our comparison table above, we chose to group RPM (revolutions per minute) and HP (horsepower) together. This is because, as we explained in the above paragraph, there are two ways of measuring the power of a die grinder. The horsepower rating is basically the “strength” of the motor itself while the RPM rating gives you a concrete idea of its speed. So, why do they use two different standards here?

The answer lies in the fact that most die grinders have multiple speed settings. Thus, they have an adjustable RPM level. It wouldn’t make sense to list the RPM rating in the specs for these products, as theirs can vary considerably. Likewise, a grinder with only one speed requires only one RPM number. Thus, we don’t really need to know how many micro-horses are in the motor.

Thankfully, this one is not that hard to understand. All multi-speed die grinders should have an HP rating of at least 0.3. All of the examples in the above section are within this general range of power. So, that’s basically one-third of a horse you’ve got in your hand. It is seldom that you will need more than that. Unless you are trying to cut into some extremely hard material, this range of power should be enough.

Durability

Unfortunately, there is one frequent problem that occurs when buying small tools: Lack of durability. You see, large parts are inherently tougher than small ones. Their extra mass and surface area can absorb shock and other forms of trauma more effectively than small pieces. Thus, smaller tools must be made of higher-quality materials. If not, then they won’t tend to last very long.

In most cases, this is one of the key things that make the difference between a cheap grinder and an expensive one. We haven’t included any super-cheap items on our list because most of them aren’t worth having. Sure, they might work well for a couple of weeks, but then some little plastic part will snap and you’ll be right back to square one.

You can’t always tell a lot about the durability of a die grinder by sight alone. You can look at the outer parts and see how tough they look, but that only tells you so much. Obviously, you won’t get a chance to take the item apart until you’ve bought it (and most people shouldn’t do that, anyway). That being said, you can always look up the product manual online and get a better idea of what the internals look like. Ideally, you want most of those parts to be made of well-coated steel.

If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, you can also get a rough idea of the product’s durability by looking at the warranty terms. These are also easy to find online, and anyone selling warranty items will probably make those terms available to you before purchase. In general, a longer-term warranty means that the product is more durable. Also, warranties that are not excessively restrictive indicate a better product as well. The idea is simple: Putting a good warranty on a fragile product is a recipe for financial loss. Hence, most companies will not do that.


FAQs

How Important Are The Speed Levels?

You might also be wondering if you need a one-speed die grinder or a multi-speed grinder. While many people might automatically say “multi-speed,” this is not always the correct choice. Yes, a multi-speed tool does certainly give you more options, but you don’t always need them. For certain users and purposes, a single-speed is just fine. For instance, if you are planning to use your grinder for one specific task on a regular basis, a single-speed is likely to be all you need.

A multi-speed grinder is the preferred option in cases where versatility is a must. If you just want a general kind of project tool for whatever tasks might pop up, you don’t want to go with a single-speed grinder. On that note, you will also want to avoid a two-speed grinder (they need at least three settings). In the end, there is no perfect speed for everyone. It’s all about what you plan to do with your tool.

Why Are Size And Weight Important?

Size and weight are of the utmost importance with a tool like this. A die grinder is meant for high-precision work, and it’s very hard to do that with a heavy tool. You aren’t going to be mining coal with this kind of grinder…it’s far too small for anything except detailed work.

For comparison, imagine if you tried to write with a 5-pound pencil. Needless to say, it would be kind of ridiculous. A die grinder will always be heavier than a pencil or a pen, but you really don’t want to go above 3 pounds. Also, bear in mind that 3 pounds would be a maximum figure for most people.

As for the size factor, that should be obvious. You might need to work in cramped spaces, or you might have to work from an irregular angle. If so, a bulky tool is going to make your job a lot harder. Small size allows you to place that tool anywhere it needs to go. Besides, this kind of tool isn’t meant to be large anyway. There is simply no sense in buying a bulky or heavy die grinder.

Why Electric Die Grinders Are The Best Option

You may have also noticed that all of our top five choices are battery-powered electric models. You can get all kinds of rotary tools, and they can run on a variety of different power sources. Air compressor (pneumatic) power is also very common, but it comes with several disadvantages. First of all, pneumatic rotary tools are a little harder to control. They feel “overpowered” and it can be harder to do precise work with them.

If I wanted a tool to cut through a solid block of stone, I would get out a pneumatic tool and a large air compressor. However, that’s not the purpose of a die grinder/rotary tool. Again, these are small tools for precise jobs. Besides, who wants to haul that huge air tank around with them? For that matter, who wants to deal with a big long air hose that is constantly getting in your way and pulling on your grip?

For professionals, the choice is pretty clear. Even if you have a large work truck, who knows how many other things you’ll need to haul? Small air compressors are more or less useless, so you’ve got to have a large unit for any real benefit. Not only that, you’ll have to haul and maneuver it everywhere you go. Now, wouldn’t you rather have a tool that simply runs on a rechargeable battery? We definitely would.

Should I Get A Kit?

Two of the options on our list are kits rather than single tools. In some cases, it is indeed more cost-effective to buy a kit. However, this is not necessarily so. A kit can save you money, or it can waste your money on items that you didn’t need. When evaluating a kit, you should make sure that it only contains things that you would have bought anyway.

For instance, you will certainly need a battery and charger, but you might not need special holsters, cleaning tools, etc. Thus, both of the kits on our list are of the “bare bones” variety, containing only things that most users would have been willing to buy separately.


Summary/Conclusion

Although many of these products are similar, each one fills a specific niche. For this reason, it never hurts to have more than one type of die grinder (if you can afford to do so, of course). Overall, we cannot say that any one of these products is “the best.” Some are stronger, while others are more light-duty. Some are smaller, while others are a bit heavier. However, all of these variations exist for good reason.

For instance, there are some jobs for which a right-angle grinder will be awkward or impossible. That’s why straight die grinders exist, and the reverse also happens. However, we will say this: It’s better to buy a basic kit if you can afford one. If not, simply choose a tool that is large or small enough to suit your needs. We hope you have enjoyed this article and that you will return again soon.


John Billiou

John Billiou

LOCATION: Visalia, California

OCCUPATION: President

John Billiou assumed operations of the family business in 1989 with a “big appetite” for success.

Based in Central California, Billiou's Has been serving the Parts Needs of Lawn & Garden Dealers Across the Western United States for 70 Years.

Today, the company distributes new equipment and parts in 13 Western states and John said their No. 1 customers are cities and counties.

Billiou’s provides field support through their call center, field sales force, and an extensive website.

Billiou’s team strives to longstanding value to the customer and readers by making reliable and solid buying recommendations.

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