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New Milwaukee M18 Brushless Angle Grinder

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Milwaukee is launching a new M18 cordless angle grinder, model 2686.

Described as a cut-off grinder, the new tool features a brushless motor, 4-1/2″ and 5″ wheel compatibility, electronic clutch for kickback protection, and tool-free adjustable guard.

The M18 brushless grinder has a paddle switch and operates at 11,000 RPM.

Milwaukee M18 Cordless Grinder 2686-20 Cutting Tile

The angle grinder is described as being fully compatible with the most common grinder accessories in the market. It has a 5/8-11 spindle and works with 4-1/2″ wheels out of the box.

Milwaukee ships the grinder with a Type 27 guard, and clip-on Type 1 guard attachment. They say this eliminates the need for an additional guard swap.

Type 27 guards are standard, and I have found it nearly impossible to find Type 1 guards for grinders if they’re not already included with the tool.

Having both Type 27 and Type 1 guards is best, and I don’t mind the changeout, which should be done when you’re changing from a grinding wheel to a cut-off disc.

A clip-on Type 1 guard that modifies a Type 27 guard for added protection seems like an acceptable budget-minded option.

Milwaukee M18 Cordless Grinder 2686-20

The grinder also has a 2-position side handle and built-in dust screen.

It measures 12.25″ long and weighs 4.6 lbs (tool-only).

Milwaukee says the grinder can make up to 80 cuts in 1/2″ rebar when paired with an M18 XC 5Ah battery.

The grinder is compatible with Milwaukee’s 5″ cordless angle grinder guards and dust shrouds, which are not included.

Key Specs

  • Brushless motor
  • 4-1/2″/5″ accessory compatible
  • 4-1/2″ Guard included, 5″ sold separately
  • 5/8-11 arbor
  • 11,000 RPM
  • 2-position auxiliary handle
  • Paddle switch
  • Tool-free guard adjustment
  • 12.25″ length
  • Weighs 4.6 lbs

At this time, there is only a tool-only option (2686-20).

Price: $149 (tool-only)
ETA: April 2023

Compared to Milwaukee M18 Fuel Grinders

Milwaukee M18 Cordless Angle Grinders 2023

You might have noticed that the new cordless “cut-off grinder” is an M18 brushless tool.

Around 10 years ago, in the age of brushed motors and lower capacity batteries, cordless angle grinders were described as cut-off tools. When I asked a brand manager about this, they plainly said this was because power and runtime were not yet up to snuff yet.

Milwaukee recommends the new M18 brushless tool, 2686, for cutting and light grinding applications.

The M18 Fuel grinder, 2880, is recommended for cutting and heavy grinding applications. Compared to the new 2686, the 2880 and others in its family features a removable dust screen, anti-vibration handle, and RapidStop wheel brake.

Note: The M18 Fuel braking grinder is available in several styles – 2880 has a paddle switch, 2881 has a slide switch, 2882 has a paddle switch and One-Key, and 2883 has a slide switch and One-Key.

The M18 Fuel variable speed braking grinder, 2888, is recommended for cutting, grinding, and heavy material removal.

Basically, the 2686 seems to be the new “good” grinder, where 2880 and its family are “better,” and 2888 is “best.”

The anti-vibration handle and wheel brake might be reasons to step up from the new 2686 to one of the M18 Fuel models.

The M18 Fuel 2880 is $199 at Acme Tools, and the M18 Fuel 2888 is $249 at Acme Tools. This puts the “good, better, and best” tool-only options at $149, $199, and $249 respectively.

The 2686 is an upgrade compared to the M18 2680 brushed motor model ($129 at Home Depot), with respect to speed (11K RPM vs 9K RPM), weight (4.6 lbs vs 5.9 lbs), and undoubtedly efficiency (due to brushless vs brushed).