Milwaukee M12 Cordless ratchet wrench review

The Best Cordless Ratchet Wrench, Part III

A Cordless Ratchet Wrench that will Put a Smile on Your Face.

While Cordless Impact Wrenches have enjoyed an increase in popularity in recent years, the less known but affordable and handy cordless ratchet has become an excellent accessory tool for pretty much every tool slinger.

click-here-to-see-the-number-one-cordless-ratchet The Best Cordless Ratchet Wrench, Part III
*If you’re just too impatient and want to see our top pick for #1, then go ahead! We don’t mind!

However, it’s still at an early stage in the game.

This is largely because highly important features like power, size, weight, and battery life are still developing and one battery-powered ratchet wrench could be quite different than the rest. Furthermore, today’s top-name brands often command a more premium price than the rest so some of us have to stop and ask if it’s even beneficial to fork out our money for one of these in the first place–and that’s a question we can only answer on a case-by-case basis.

Keeping these features–and price points–in mind, let’s now take a closer look at one of the current most popular and biggest sellers, which we have firmly placed into the 2nd spot on our Best Cordless Ratchet Wrench list, straight from Milwaukee Tools.

This is Part III of Which Cordless Ratchet Wrench is Best?

milwaukee-cordless-ratchet-500x500 The Best Cordless Ratchet Wrench, Part IIIOur Second Place Pick:

The Milwaukee M12™ Cordless 3/8″ Ratchet Wrench

As per the usual over a number of years, Milwaukee gets their power tool right up into another “best of” list, this time with the cordless ratchet.

With a good overall design that combines not only the company’s expected standard for high quality but also some unique extras, it causes this tool to practically be a must-have in the cordless wrench department.

It utilizes some noticeable torque (power) from a strong 12-volt, lithium-ion battery, and is one of the lightest I’ve ever taken a look at. It fits easily and comfortably in the hand and no doubt could be used for long periods of time without causing much in the way of fatigue.

When I compare this wrench to other tools in its class, it’s easy for me to see that the M12 ratchet is definitely one of the top performers across the board, and this sentiment is echoed hundreds of times over by its users.


  • A powerful 12-Volt motor which delivers up to 35 pounds of torque
  • Very fast: it produces 250 RPM and allows for variable speed adjustment on the fly
  • Battery life LED meter so you know how much power is remaining
  • The ratchet, battery, and charger are engineered with REDLINK to be optimized for each other, resulting in increased performance and safeguards against overloading
  • Built-in LED light that enables you to see where you are working
  • Sub-Compact size allows for use in the tightest of spaces
  • Interchangeable REDLITHIUM battery sizes which enable users to best modify the ratchet according to their application
  • Reinforced steel housing and metal trigger are durable and prepared for work in heavy conditions


  • Part Number: 2457-20
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.5×2.9×1.8 inches
  • Origin: Mexico
  • Model Number: 2457-20
  • Color: Red
  • Power Source: Battery-Powered
  • Voltage: 12 Volts
  • Package Quantity: 1
  • Measurement System: Metric
  • Included Components: Combination Wrench
  • Batteries Included: (only with kit)
  • Batteries Required: Yes
  • Battery Cell Type: Lithium Ion


Most notably to me right from the start is the M12’s compact size.

The main benefit of a having a cordless power ratchet in the first place is so that it can reach into crevasses and spaces that larger tools cannot. Secondly, the diminutive scale of the ratchet also lowers its weight (typically, anyway) and this makes it easier on the user.

Imagine, if you will, having to work all day long with a five-pound weight in your hand vs. holding a three-pound weight. The difference may seem negligible but any mechanic who’s used tool regularly for work or body builder who’s moved weights around and they’ll tell you that there’s no such thing.

When you take this battery wrench and compare it to another cordless ratchet wrench like the Craftsman, it’s easy to see the difference that size makes for the busy, hard-working mechanic.

In further order to help the tool retain the smallest size possible, the battery itself is also compact in size–but, the great thing is that it is still able to use the larger batteries which are compatible with Milwaukee’s other cordless power tools, so if the extra oomph is needed and working space isn’t a limiting issue, then you can slip the larger battery on and off you go! This is truly a good option.

The years-long quality, durability, and performance of Milwaukee is well-known and they did indeed put a lot of that into this small ratchet wrench. They claim that it is one of the strongest in its class and, to be honest, we are confident that’s rather accurate. Surprised, perhaps, is the correct word, I believe, to describe just how most might feel when they pick up this compact, 12V cordless ratchet and use it for the first time.

Price, for certain, is indeed another selling point.

There are a few other good quality, cordless ratchet wrenches on the market that can outperform the Milwaukee M12, but when it comes to the actual cost involved to purchase one, the cost is tremendously lower and that difference only increases as one considers extra batteries and chargers.

This particular model of ratchet is also one of the top-selling and top-rated sellers on Amazon, garnering excellent reviews from hundreds of users at the time of this article’s writing–which is one of the main reasons we chose it. Suffice to say, there’s no way for Milwaukee to fake such information and we have scant reason to believe why they’d want to even try in the first place.

There are, however, a few minor issues here and there, such as a reported DOA (dead on arrival), a replacement not given under warranty, and torque not being high enough, but when the majority are raving about the torque and are highly pleased with it, I can’t help but add my support as well, especially when I look at the craftsmanship and see its performance for myself.

As I mentioned earlier, it feels really great in the hand, seems well-balanced, can fit into some really tight places, and seems quite manageable to hold for long periods of time.



While the M12 Ratchet from “Mi-Li-Wah-Kay” is indeed a quality tool and even able to be used for some professional applications, I do believe that it would be difficult to fully back it as an all-around, daily mechanic’s ratchet.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. The sustainability or longevity-per-use from the smaller, compact batteries, and
  2. The overall torque, or nut-busting power, of the tool.

Now, don’t get me wrong–and hear me out!

I realize that I’ve already told you that the torque is quite good and, even initially, surprising. However, while the torque is quite good and, in many cases, superior to most other cordless ratchets, it is still considerably lagging behind its air tool counterpart, and therefore hasn’t yet established itself as a shop’s “must have” tool.

Here’s where I will digress for a moment:

I absolutely LOVE cordless tools.

Actually, when I was a kid I used to wonder often “Where are the cordless tools?” My dad had nothing but electric stuff and he wasn’t able to buy the more powerful pneumatic tools, so tinkering around the house–well, actually mostly outside of the house–with his electric tools was always quite the task, as I required his extension cord (assuming it was there) and had to drag it around to where I intended to use the tools.

So from a young age my mind naturally wondered “Why on earth hasn’t someone solved this issue yet? Why am I still having to use an umbilical cord every single time I want to drill, screw, or just obliterate something?” Well, maybe I didn’t know some of those words yet. I can’t remember.

Anyway, not too very long ago, the cordless power tools began making their way onto the market and although I was elated about this, I was also–at the same time–aggravated and disappointed. It seemed that even as an adult, the companies were lagging behind where I felt we were capable of being in the portable tool department. Whether or not it was/is deliberate, I’ll let you decide.

Fast forward to today and right now, with the Milwaukee M12 cordless wrench. Right now, it’s just not it needs to be in order to be a staple tool for a professional shop, though in time and with a little extra innovative love, I believe it very well could be.

Also Pay Attention to What You’re Getting!

Be aware of which version of this tool you buy, because it is available in both the baretool and kit form.

“Baretool” essentially means that it is the tool only–it comes with absolutely no battery, and of course, no charger! As disappointing or odd as this may sound to some of us, it’s kind of a norm in the market. It has its advantages and disadvantages but, for the most part, it makes sense why they offer it both ways. At the end of the day, it’s actually better because not all of us need the batteries or charger. Consider yourself warned, though!

More About the Power

More than a few professional technicians have reported that this wrench lacks the kind of power they need it to in order to compete in an everyday shop setting.

So, suffice to say if you intend to use it heavily or in such an environment, then perhaps a stronger, heavier-duty ratchet would be best. It’s at this point that you might consider moving up to our #1 choice on our “Best of” ratchet wrench list, or perhaps even better if you’re willing and able to spend the money.

Changing Speeds? Well, it Varies…

After reading through a variety of reports rather than simply relying on my own experience, I discovered that more than a few people are saying that the variable speed setting on the Milwaukee M12 isn’t really that “variable” at all.

Essentially, for me, the “feel” of it kind of reminds me of a video game and will take some getting used to, but I think that it’s doable. If you are concerned about this specific aspect of its performance, then it is something that you should consider. If possible, I’d recommend you testing the product at a local store, if possible, before purchasing in order to see if it’s going to be gentle enough for your desired feel and application.



While I do believe that this cordless ratchet wrench is a great tool, especially because of its compact design, it once again demonstrates and brings to mind some of the complaints I’ve consistently had about cordless tools “back in the day,” and even today, and that is simply power.

Yes, my friend, I do think that it is indeed more powerful than most others in its class and price range, but the simple fact that it is not AS powerful as I would really like for it to be–and many professionals just absolutely MUST have such power in order to make this a viable, wise, and sensible purchase for their garages.

However, this step forward is a nice one for the industry, the consumers, and has us looking forward to Milwaukee’s future offerings in the cordless ratchet realm! As with the cordless impact wrenches, we know that the technology will continue to improve, causing power and longevity issues to–hopefully and eventually–become a thing of the past.

Nevertheless, for the majority of us users and our applications, this tool is just too good in size (compact) and overall build quality to kick to the curb simply because the power isn’t of god-like levels. It still surpasses most in its class and kills most anything in its price range like Jaws for most of the film.

So, if  you are looking for an entry-level, semi-professional, and value-priced cordless ratchet, this could definitely be a good fit.

Our Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Stars

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