As we continue our series of reviews of the latest outdoor power equipment this spring, we come to the new Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer. It's important to note that before we dive in, Milwaukee targets their OPE at commercial professionals as a complement to air tools. It is from this perspective that we are looking at the new battery powered cord cutters that Milwaukee has to offer.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer Key Features
First, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer runs on Milwaukee's M18 battery platform. This means that no matter what kind of Milwaukee battery you have, from compact to high capacity, you can use it to power your cord trimmer. As far as kit goes, it will come with a 9.0 amp-hour battery.
Like we've seen in many professional-grade battery-powered cord trimmers, the M18 Fuel has two speed settings. You'll get up to 4600 RPM on low and up to 5800 RPM on high. A two-speed setting is combined with a variable-speed trigger for control. However, you cannot change the speed on the fly. You need to take your hand off the trigger completely, change the speed, and activate it again.
Moving down to the business end, the dual wire head will accept either 0.080" or 0.095" trim wire. The unit comes pre-wired with a 0.080 inch twisted pair.
As you might expect, this is a bump-feed system. Milwaukee added a few little things to improve overall durability. One of these is found here in the form of a metal ring to prevent crash action from wearing out parts as quickly as a pure plastic head.
Cut diameter settings are 14 or 16 inches. The knives on the guard can be adjusted inward or outward to provide the length you desire. Milwaukee inserts cutting screws into the metal anchor points so you don't start your relationship by destroying the guard with an over-tightened screw. Of course, many pros simply remove the guard entirely and get a wider range of cutting. It's not recommended, but there's enough power here to make it work in some cases.
On this model, your adjustments are not tool-free. Thread cutter requires a Torx wrench and handle adjustment requires a hex wrench. There's no onboard tool storage—nor do we want to—so you'll want to make sure you make adjustments before heading out.
Users of other battery-operated cord trimmers will notice a difference in grip with this model. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer is overmolded with Milwaukee's standard tooling to provide a great grip and feel on the trigger handle. The support handle is softer and more comfortable than most — but there's no foam underneath it. It feels like a thick application of Milwaukee rubber overmolding.
The advantage of this is that it will absorb the tiny vibrations from the trimmer very effectively. On the downside, some users may experience irritation or blisters during a long day. Wearing gloves can solve this problem.
Editor's Note: See what we thought of the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Blower
Would anyone really use two speeds?
We tested the Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer and the stranded wire that comes with it, as well as the standard 0.095-inch wire we use on our other string trimmers. Low speeds are great when you're cutting through thin grass or just covering a maintenance cut and want to extend battery life. I'm able to trim around our shop and don't feel like I'm missing out on a lot of cutting speed by keeping my speed low.
Things got interesting when I started dealing with some overgrown weeds that had come up from nearby woods. This excess growth has no chance, even with reduced inventories. With enough power, I have no problem using this battery option instead of the gas model for overgrown. That's just a pretty impressive display for a string trimmer of this class.
Line Variations of the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Line Trimmer
Wrapping is very simple and is a manual process. Some cord trimmers are designed so that you can simply thread the line through and twist the bumper mechanism in the opposite direction without disassembling the head. This is not the case here. You will need to remove the spool and wind the line manually.
However, a few points are helpful. Two grips hold the line in place when you put the head back in place. You also don't have to thread the wire through the hole. Instead, there are grooves that allow you to pull the wire straight into place before you fold the head back.
One of the key benefits of a battery-powered OPE is reduced noise – and reduced emissions, which we expect to be demanded by certain communities in the next few years. Keeping in mind that wire choice and cutting tape diameter play a role, I got a consistent 86 decibels (dbA) high speed and 84 db low speed. That should be low enough to keep even the penny-pinching resident happy, though it did exceed OSHA's limit in our testing.
You do have some limitations, though. This trimmer is attachment ready, so there's no need to switch to an edging blade or a brush cutting blade for an all-in-one solution. That's okay considering most pros don't switch heads on the fly. They are equipped with special tools for each task. However, for a professional contractor who wants to use a tool battery for OPE, this will only be a wire cutter.
Edging isn't entirely impossible, though. The supportive handle is designed to make it super easy to use the trimmer vertically and maintain the edge with a string. I was surprised to find that the grip is really natural.
You can only do about an hour of trimming, so commercial professionals will want to have a charger ready and possibly a second battery for cycling. As the days get longer and the grass grows faster, some pros may also need shoulder straps to ease summer fatigue.
Editor's note: Check out our best battery-operated cord trimmers article for our top picks.
the bottom line
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer does a really good job as a complement to the commercial Pro's pneumatic string trimmer. It's not heavy, noise levels are kept low, the 9.0 amp-hour battery offers decent fuel capacity for this class, and there's plenty of power for almost all maintenance and overgrown mowing.
Business professionals need to know a few things. This model is a replacement for a string trimmer only – not an edger or light brushcutter. The 9.0 amp-hour battery will give you up to an hour of trim time, so you'll most likely want to have a second battery and/or charger installed in your vehicle. While it's not that important, I'd love to see the shoulder straps come into play on those long days.
This is a great option for Pro Contractors who already use Milwaukee cordless tools and want to use them for personal property or for occasional job site control. Whether you are using it personally or professionally, I definitely recommend that you upgrade to the 0.095" series immediately.
A kit with a battery and fast charger costs $299. However, with no need to buy/mix fuel or oil, and no real maintenance other than line changes and the occasional cleanout, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Line Trimmer will pay for itself in a few mowing seasons.
NOTE: This model has been superseded by the Milwaukee Quik-Lok 2825-21ST model.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer Key Features
- The M18 FUEL cord trimmer has the power to clear thick brush, hits full throttle in under 1 second, and provides up to 1 hour of run time per charge
- Specifically designed to meet the needs of landscape maintenance professionals, the motor is located on the rear of the trimmer to provide the best combination of power, balance and maneuverability
- Trimmer has high and low speed settings with variable speed trigger
- High provides power to clear thick undergrowth while low maximizes run time while having enough power for lawn mowing
- 16" mowing belt mows more grass at a time for increased productivity
- Full-sized head accommodates more lines and features metal reinforced lug knobs for extended life
- The M18 FUEL Cord Trimmer is fully compatible with over 125 solutions on the M18 system
Milwaukee M18 Fuel String Trimmer Specifications
- Model: Milwaukee 2725-21HD
- Speed: 0 – 4,600 / 0 – 5,800 rpm
- Voltage: 18V
- Battery: M18 red lithium battery, 9.0 Ah
- Cutting Tape: 14″ – 16″
- Wire Diameter: 0.080″ / 0.095″
- Feed system: collision feed
- Trigger: variable speed
- Housing and handle material: Plastic
- Fuel Type: Electric
- Length: 73.6″
- Height: 8.5″
- Width: 8.8″
- Weight: 12.3 lbs
- Warranty: 5 years (tool), 3 years (battery)
- INCLUDES: M18 REDLITHIUM HIGH DEMAND 9.0 BATTERY PACK, M18 & M12 FAST CHARGERS
- Price: $199 (bare) $229 (kit)