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Milwaukee vs Ryobi Cordless Impact Wrench: Which is Best?

There is often conundrum on what size of impact wrench best works with what. There’s no one answer that can be conjured right off the bat because there are several things that need to be taken into account.

People are often torn between ½’ and 3/8” impact wrenches because each has something that they’re good at and buying both can be quite expensive. One impact wrench alone can already make a serious dent on the bank.

To perpetuate the battle between ½” and 3/8” impact wrenches, we’re going to take a look at a couple of impact wrenches, one from each size, to see if one size can fit most, if not all, types of fastening and busting jobs.

Quick Summary

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench and the Ryobi P1833 both won’t disappoint when dealing with light to moderate tasks.

The Milwaukee Stubby, while feature-rich and extremely powerful for its class, will still be outperformed in terms of speed and torque by the Ryobi P1833 simply because ½” wrenches will always have an edge over 3/8” ones.

Let’s Compare the Milwaukee and Ryobi Impact Wrenches

Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench

M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8" Impact Wrench (Bare Tool)

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench is one of the most, if not the most, compact cordless impact wrench in the 12V class. Its integrated REDLINK Intelligence helps it maintain ideal running conditions as it allows full-circle communication between the tool, battery, and charger.

Battery Power

It runs off of the M12™ REDLITHIUM™ line of batteries. M12™ REDLITHIUM™ batteries are smaller and lighter than NiCD compact batteries but they deliver long runtime and fade-free power. They are 65% lighter and 50% smaller than NiCD batteries. They also run cooler and can work in temperatures below 0°F/-18°C.

Drill Weight and Size

From the name itself, the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ was designed to be stubby to fit into tight spaces. Compared to its Milwaukee 3/8” Fuel Mid Torque counterpart, the Fuel Stubby can get to more nooks and crannies. It only measures 4.8” x 2.4” x 7” and weighs 2.92 lbs with an XC4.0 battery.

Variable Speeds and Torque Ratings

It offers a max breakaway torque of 250 ft-lbs. The POWERSTATE™ brushless motor can deliver speeds of up to 2,700 RPM and a max impact rate of 3,200 IPM. The 4-Mode Drive Control lets you toggle between different speeds so that you can tackle different jobs and tasks:

  • RPM: 1,200 | 1,800 | 2,700 | 1,500 – 2,700
  • IPM: 1,100 | 2,100 | 3,200

What We Like

  • It is very lightweight and compact. You can work in cramped spaces and work for hours on end without discomfort
  • The 4thDrive Control Mode can shut the tool down automatically before you come too close to overtightening the fastener.
  • REDLINK Intelligence protects the tool from overheating and overloading.
  • It is one of the most powerful 12V impact drivers.

What We Don’t Like

  • It does not come with a battery but you can always get the kit to get the entire package. If you already have other Milwaukee brand tools in your arsenal this should not be a problem.

Verdict on the Milwaukee M12 Fuel

The Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench is a powerhouse in the 12v class and based on actual applications, it can surpass expectations. This power in a tiny package is suitable for low to medium torque jobs.

Ryobi P1833 3-Speed 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench

Ryobi P1833 3-Speed 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench Kit

The Ryobi P1833’s specs work for home mechanics who want a lightweight impact wrench.

Battery Power

The kit comes with an 18V 4.0 Ah Lithium-Ion battery. The battery is part of Ryobi’s 18V ONE+ System.

The batteries of Ryobi tools operating on the ONE+ System are interchangeable. You are, therefore, not limited to just 4.0 Ah for the Ryobi P1833. If you have existing Ryobi tools with batteries of better power capacity, you can, by all means, switch them up.

Drill Weight and Size

It is pretty lightweight and weighs only 1.61 lbs without the battery, 3.45 lbs with a battery. It measures 11” x 6.4” x 8.4”.

Variable Speeds and Torque Ratings

The Ryobi P1833 packs a max torque of 300 ft-lbs, a max speed of 2,900 RPM, and an impact rate of 3,200 IPM. A three-speed selector switch provides better control over different applications:

  • Low – 0 to 1,800 RPM (precision fastening)
  • Medium – 0 to 2,300 RPM (controlling driving depth and fastener tension)
  • High – 0 to 2,900 RPM (maximum torque)

What We Like

  • It is lightweight and is designed with a shorter head so it is very easy to maneuver it in tight spaces.
  • The over-mold on the grip puts a damper on the vibration.
  • It has a three-speed selector so that you can adjust the speed depending on what the task at hand demands.
  • The ½” square anvil with detent pin retention allows easy and secure socket connection.

What We Don’t Like

  • The motor can be slightly loud compared to other brushless motors.

Verdict on the Ryobi P1833 Impact Wrench

The Ryobi P1833 proves to be a good impact wrench for moderately challenging fastening and nut-busting jobs.  This would be a perfect fit for those who enjoy do-it-yourself projects and repairs.

Milwaukee vs Ryobi: Which is Better?

If we don’t factor in the size and battery class, the Ryobi P1833 has superior speed and torque specs over the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby.

However, if we juxtapose each of them to their kind, the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby would be in the honor roll of the 12V 3/8” class. The Ryobi P1833 would not be in the top ranks of the 18V ½” class but it would not be at the bottom either.

If you’re tight on space, the Milwaukee M12 Fuel Stubby 3/8″ Impact Wrench would be a good fit.

But again, in the question of which can do more, the answer would be the Ryobi P1833. Because ½” impact wrenches lie in the middle of the anvil drive size chart, they strike the best balance between power and precision and they can do a lot of things that a 3/8” impact driver cannot.

Final Thoughts

What you need to use comes down to the conditions that you will be working with. A 3/8” wrench would be great for bolts that are 10mm in diameter or below. It’s also perfect in situations that call for accuracy and precision over power. Otherwise, go for a ½”.

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