Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20

By Jeff Kirk on Tools PLUS!

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20 Review

As a Finish carpenter, theres nothing more satisfiying than seeing the trim work come together at the end of a big project. A lot of time and effort goes into trimming out a house.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20

When you get down to the final five or ten percent of trim left, there is  nothing more annoying than setting up a compressor and rolling out air hoses on a finished floor only to shoot on 4 or 5 piecs of trim This is where having cordless finish nailers really shine!  All thats needed, is to insert nails, the battery and go!

For years there have been a select few cordless nailers on the market which require not only a battery but expensive fuel cells. The fuel cell costs add up over time, not to mention they expire so its basically money wasted if you dont use them in that time frame.  Milwuakee has recently just released their M18  Fuel 16 gauge straight nailer, model number 2741-20, it comes as a kit which includes a single 18 volt  2 amp battery, a dual M12 and M18 charger and a cordura tool bag.

Milwaukee 2741-20 Features

Just like all of Milwaukees tools, the 16 gauge fuel nailer is definitely heavy duty, primarily made of their high impact plastic for most of the body and nail magazine. This tool also has a rubberized coating on the handle and towards the upper back as to provide better grip, if sweating or in wet conditions.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20

Most battery operated nailers are much heavier than their pneumatic counterparts, this nailer is no different, but it is balanced.  Where most cordless nailers have the majority of the weight in a large bulky head, the M18 nailer has the weight distritbuted more more evenly along the full body. The tools weight distribution takes strain off the users wrist, it reminds me more of a tool found in a sci fi movie.

Because of being balanced differently the belt hook is located at the back of the head as opposed to the bottom of the handle like competitors model.

To prevent accidental firing of this nailer, there is a digital on/ off button located just above the battery port which also sports a green LED light indicating the nailer is on.   The other specs on the gun are below:

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20 Specifications

Firing Modes Sequential and Contact Actuation
Voltage 18V
Magazine Capacity 110
Magazine Loading Style Bottom Load
Nail Diameter 16ga
Nail Size 3/4″ – 2-1/2″
Tool Free Depth of Drive Adjustment Yes
Oil Free Yes
Dry-Fire Lock Out Yes
Length 11.9″
Tool Free Jam Release Yes
Weight 6.3 lbs
Nail Quantity Indicator Yes
Non-Marring Nose Pad Yes
LED Light Yes
Adjustable Belt Hook Yes
Tool Warranty 5 Years

Test run

When it came time to put the nailer through its paces, I opted for 3 regular jobsite tasks.

First setting interior door frames shooting, as I prefer using a 16 gauge nailer for hanging doors. The 16 gauge nails have better strength and more holding power.

Second, I used the nailer to install 3/4” pine baseboard and base cap shooting through both 7/8 thick plaster along with new 5/8 drywall into framing.

Third,  I used it to install 1” x 2 1/2”  cedar fence slats horizontally to pressure treated sub framing.

Back at the shop, I tested it for depth of drive consistency, average nails shot per charge on a battery and finally the size of the hole left by the driver

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20

How Did It Perform?

Upon receiving the nailer I had great expectations based on the Milwaukee name, unfortunately I must say I have some mixed fellings:

I liked how well balanced this nailer is, there was less fatigue after several days of constant usage.  I was also impressed with how the tool was able to shoot upwards of 1000 nails off their 2 amp battery.  The addition of a belt clip is a nice touch, as theres nothing more frustrating than setting down a tool to grab shims only to reach for the nailer again and your shims fall out because you have to pick up the tool off the floor.

The issues I found with the nailer were such things as, the nails not advancing in the magazine after each shot primarily when using  2 ”  and 2 ½:  I had to push the nails ahead by hand. Ive experienced  this issue with brand new guns before but only with 2 1/2” nails. This may have to do with the molding of the plastic magazine simply needing to be broken in.

Nails being set below the surface was sporatic, approximately 1 out of 5 nails had to be set by hand. The nailer does have a noticible recoil, which causes double holes when it shoots. The double holes are a huge no no if your working with stain grade materials. I dont know the exact cause of the recoil maybe its do to the overal balance of the tool not having enough weight directly behind the driver or possibly something else.

Ergonomically the nose of the gun is 1 3/4” lower than the top head of the gun, making it difficult to get into tight spaces, I found myself changing the orientation of the gun to get into inside corners for shooting baseboard

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 16 Gauge Cordless Nailer 2741-20


Milwaukee is definitely on the right track buy adding cordless nailers to their arsenal since they have so many tools out already, it will definitely keep loyal users on a single tool platform.

We are looking forward to the second generation releas of this nailer, I am sure the Milwaukee engineers are listing to our feedback and will make some amazing adjutments!

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About the author

Jeff Kirk

Journeyman Carpenter/ Renovations/ Finish carpentry/ Graphic and Illustration Artist/ Gym Rat Hailing from Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada . Jeff graduated from the Nova Scotia Intitute of Technology's Carpentry diploma program in 2005, from there became indentured in the apprenticeship program and then completed the Interprovincial Exam receiving his Red seal in 2008. Focusing mainly in residential high end renovation and custom new homes. He brings his knowledge of better building practices and understanding of how to get the most out of power tools to the team.

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