Finish nailers are mainly of two types. On one side, there are straight nailers with boxy designs that are enough for general finish jobs. And you have the angle nailers on the other side, offering better reachability into tight spaces.
Most interestingly, Milwaukee has nailers of both types in its portfolio. In our Milwaukee finish nailer review, we shall dig deep into the pros and cons of two such units. Find out what advantages they offer alongside what flaws you have to compromise with.
Milwaukee Finish Nailer Review
1. Milwaukee Electric Tool 2741-21CT Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Straight Finish Nailer
A hefty finish nailer not only feels awkward to work with but also offers a poor line of sight. Plus, the added weight results in more fatigue over time. As cordless nail guns are usually on the heavier side, brands should pay heed to ergonomics. With the 2741-21CT 16-gauge finish nailer, Milwaukee does exactly that.
The 6.3lbs weight does seem like a downside on paper if you’re coming from a 2-5lbs pneumatic nailer. But in practice, it feels pretty compact in hand, thanks to an ergonomic design. Especially if you put it against first-generation cordless nailers, you’ll notice a significant upgrade in terms of in-hand feel and line of sight.
Whether you want the best countersink or a high firing rate, 15-20V brushless motors perform the best. Milwaukee has its lineup of POWERSTATE brushless motors, known for exceptional speed and power. Thankfully, they went with the same motor for the 2741-21CT 16-gauge finish nailer.
This 18V motor, paired with a unique cylinder design, can drive 2-½-inch fasteners into solid oak without breaking a sweat. So, you’re getting a pneumatic experience only without the cost and hassle of gas cartridges. Such performance is something that rivals like Bostitch FN1664K are yet to achieve.
Unlike pneumatic ones, the efficiency of cordless nailers depends on runtime. The more the runtime, the higher the efficiency. An efficient cordless finish nailer can shoot up to 1200-1500 nails on a single charge. The 2741-21CT 16-gauge finish nailer sits right between that sweet spot.
What else counts is the ramp-up time, where nailers like Makita XNB02Z struggle. A long ramp-up time means the tool delays quite a bit to shoot after you pull the trigger. Fortunately, the ready-to-fire cylinder design allows Milwaukee 2741-21CT to take zero ramp-up time.
Straight finish nailers have a right angle between the magazine and the barrel. Unlike their angled counterparts, they come in a boxy footprint and thus cannot fit into tiny corners or cramped areas.
Milwaukee 2741-21CT belongs to the straight finish nailer family, shooting nails of ¾ to 2-½ inches. Thus, it is suitable for tasks like general repairs and attaching thin boards.
Ease of Use
Other than performance, features like tool-free depth adjustment and jam release, dry fire lockout, and LEDs are important. Together they offer an enhanced user experience. While the tool-free adjustment and jam release bring relief, its adjustable belt hook offers you hands-free carrying.
With Milwaukee 2741-21CT, you don’t miss out on any of these. It even features the dry fire lockout mechanism that is absent from many high-end tools as well. Thanks to that, you won’t experience any dry fires, let alone your tool or surface getting harmed. Best of all, it needs no oiling whatsoever.
Being a straight finish nailer, Milwaukee 2741-21CT has a perpendicular magazine that limits its ability to fit into tight spaces. Plus, it features a bottom loading style for the magazine. You might find it a bit intimidating if you’re switching from any regular nailer with a side-loading mechanism.
2. Milwaukee Electric Tool 2742-20 M18, Fuel, 16 Gauge, Angle LED Finish Nailer
Cordless finish nailers come in all shapes and sizes, most of them being heavier than corded ones. At 6.3lbs, Milwaukee 2742-20 is no exception to that either. Yet, it offers a great in-hand feel, thanks to Milwaukee’s ergonomic design.
Despite having the same weight profile as Milwaukee 2741-21CT, this one feels a bit refreshing to hold. The credit goes to its angled magazine design that gives it a more compact nature. Hence, you won’t need as much elbow grease to tackle this 16-gauge angled finish nailer.
The performance of the Milwaukee 2742-20 is more or less on par with its sibling, 2741-21CT. They have similar specifications, with an identical 18V POWERSTATE brushless motor and unique cylinder design. So, it can also sink 2-½-inch fasteners completely into solid oak.
Moreover, the REDLITHIUM battery is present on this one too. Therefore, its runtime also matches that of the Milwaukee 2741-21CT. With its exceptional firing rate, it can compete head-to-head with pneumatic nailers.
For efficiency, this tool relies on the REDLITHIUM PLUS advanced technology. With this tech, it can effectively protect its battery pack from its biggest enemy, overheating. The battery, therefore, runs at its full potential and lasts much longer than that of nailers like the Paslode IM250S.
Furthermore, the usual runtime of the Milwaukee 2742-20 is somewhere around 1500 nails per charge. This value is significantly high and enough to get you through a full day of nailing. Best of all, it requires zero ramp-up time.
Angle finish nailers like Milwaukee 2742-20 come with an angled magazine and better reachability. Or at least the reachability is better than straight finish nailers like Milwaukee 2741-21CT. Therefore, you can easily cramp this tool into the tightest of spaces. As it drives 1-¼ to 2-½-inch nails, tasks like furniture making or repairing are also a breeze for it.
Ease of Use
As mentioned earlier, not having features like tool-free depth adjustment and dry fire lockout takes its toll on the user experience. Luckily, Milwaukee did not cut corners in any of the aspects where convenience is related. For example, you don’t need additional tools to either adjust the depth of drive or clear a jammed nail.
Besides, it ticks all the right boxes, whether it is dry fire lockout or no-mar pads. Both features save your nailing surfaces from dents and dings. Above all, you get to switch between sequential and contact actuation modes as per your project requirements.
The bottom loading mechanism is also present on this 16-gauge angle finish nailer. Thus, you will face some problems getting used to it. Plus, you get nothing but the tool inside the package. You’ll have to buy the battery and charger separately. It is a drawback as compared to the 2741-21CT that ships as a complete kit.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends mostly on your use-cases. If you need your finish nailer to cramp into small corners, an angled finish nailer will be a wise choice. Otherwise, a straight finish nailer will do just about right.
- Can I use brad nails in my finish nailer?
Unfortunately, you cannot use brad nails with a finish nailer. Brad nails are usually a lot thinner and measure at 18-gauge. Hence, using them in a finish nailer can cause unwanted jams.
This one tip will come in handy, no matter which Milwaukee finish nailer you choose. Always use compatible REDLITHIUM battery packs and avoid third-party alternatives. That way, you can counter the battery overheating issue and enjoy a long service life.
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