Ratchets don't find their way onto my test bench very often. This makes this week's test of the Milwaukee 2457 cordless ratchet a special occasion. I was so excited I removed and reinstalled every bolt I could find in my workshop with this ratchet. Let's take a look at what the 2457 can do, and how it stacks up against air powered ratchets.
The Milwaukee 2457 Ratchet
The 2457 is a cordless 3/8" ratchet in Milwaukee's M12 line. It is the larger brother of the 2456 ratchet, a nearly identical model with a 1/4" square chuck. Engineered for heavy commercial use in auto repair shops, the build quality of this ratchet is very high. The metal head and gearbox are married to a hard plastic body. The grip is covered in black rubber in typical Milwaukee fashion.
The 2457 is a great ratchet as long as the work you do does not require more than 35 ft-lbs of torque.
The large paddle switch that dominates the lower part of the grip engages the motor. Varying the pressure on the trigger changes the motor speed from 0 to 250 rpm in a continuous fashion. Achieving and holding a specific motor speed takes little skill. The paddle has no guard, which makes it very convenient to use.
A knob built into the back of the ratchet's head selects the direction of rotation. The low contour of the knob keeps it from bumping into things, but also makes it hard to turn while wearing gloves.
A small slider just above the paddle switch locks both the paddle and the chuck of the ratchet. The tool can now be used like a wrench to break free stubborn fasteners the ratchet cannot break lose under motor power. This feature extends the ratchet's usable envelope into higher torque ranges, if you are willing to do the work manually. The switch itself is small and partially recessed into the body of the tool. Making frequent use of it will get tiresome very quickly.
The designers added a single LED work light just below the head of the tool. It illuminates the area below the chuck with bright, white light when the trigger is pressed, and extinguishes 10 seconds after the trigger is released. Although limited to lighting just one side of the chuck, the LED is still a useful feature to have. It works well with standard sockets, and performs admirably with deep ones.
The battery charger built into the body of the ratchet lights up for a couple of seconds after the trigger is pulled. Four red LED lights indicate the battery's charge level. Although fairly accurate the indicator only provides a vague idea of how much work is left in the battery. It'll tell you which battery is the one you just charged, but it won't tell you if the battery will get the job done when you are just about to dive under a propped up car.
35 ft-lbs of torque is just enough to make this tool useful when working on automobiles, but not enough to completely replace your air powered ratchet. The 2457 works well on small bolts, but the larger ones are torqued-down too hard for the wrench to get started. Locking the ratchet and breaking bolts lose to by hand certainly works, but doing so regularly gets cumbersome.
This dynamic relegates the 2457 to playing second string behind more powerful ratchets. When the task fits the ratchet's torque band, however, performance is exemplary. The 2457 drives bolts without any issues. With a little care this wrench will last for years in a daily-use environment.
The 2457's driving speed is slow by air ratchet standards. A good air powered ratchet will get the job done twice as fast as the 2457. If your project only includes a couple dozen bolts, you'll never notice the ratchet's slow speed. Mechanics who use their ratchet all day long should look for something faster.
The wrench automatically shuts off when it hits its maximum torque level to protect the motor. This feature makes the 2457 a great tool for installing bolts that need to be torqued-down with a torque wrench. Seating the bolts under motor power and finishing with the torque wrench speeds up the process considerably.
Endurance on a full battery charge is very good. It's hard to conceive of a task that would drain the battery faster than the time it takes the charger to recharge the spare battery. The ratchet will take care of most automotive repair tasks on a single charge. Appliance repair professionals will likely make it through an entire workday without having to swap the battery.
The rubber grip of the wrench gets dirty very quickly when the user's hands are covered in oil. It does not clean as easily as the hard plastic grip of air ratchets specifically engineered for the automotive environment.
The Milwaukee M12 Battery System
The 2457 has the considerable advantage of sharing a battery with a lot of very good tools. There is a great M12 tool in just about every tool category. All tools in this series sacrifice top end power and endurance in favor of being small and agile.
The Milwaukee 2457's performance is best explained by its 35 ft-lbs torque output. If that number is high enough for the work you do, the 2457 is a very capable ratchet. Built to last for years in a commercial environment this ratchet can be an upgrade over air powered ratchets. Losing the air hose is blessing, as long as the work gets done in a few minutes. Any longer and you'll miss the power and speed compressed air provides.
Heavy ratchet users, who like to use a single tool for all tasks, will be disappointed by the 2457. It is simply not powerful enough to do it all, and not fast enough to compete with air powered ratchets on large projects. This is a tool that works very well within its torque band, and hardly at all beyond it.
- powerful and durable
- low profile head
- can be locked to function as a wrench
- accurate variable speed trigger
- excellent battery and charger
- good endurance
- has overload protection
- lock and direction selector are hard to use while wearing gloves
- work light misses the target when using deep sockets
- too little torque to do everything