Milwaukee Ratcheting Crimper Review: 48-22-3075
The Milwaukee Tool Company was founded in 1883. They are one of the oldest manufacturers of crimping tools and tool accessories in the world. Their products have been used by police departments all over the country for decades, including some of America’s most prestigious law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, ATF, U.S.
Marshals Service, and even the U.S. Secret Service!
In the early 1970s they began producing their own brand of crimpers called “Ratchet” which were sold exclusively at hardware stores and other retail outlets. These tools were made from a special plastic with a hard coating on it that could not be sanded or polished off like ordinary plastic tools would allow. The plastic was so strong that it could withstand being hammered repeatedly into shape.
These tools were very popular among hobbyists and home users alike because they were cheap, easy to use, and didn’t require any specialized skills. However, the popularity of these tools soon waned when the manufacturing process became too labor intensive and expensive to produce. To make matters worse, many of them broke due to poor quality control procedures.
Milwaukee Tool took their time and eventually came out with a new line of crimpers which were much better than the ratchet tools, but that’s a story for another time.
What Are The Different Kinds of Crimpers for the Home User?
The different types of crimpers are designed for different types of jobs. Knowing what type of crimping job you’re going to have to do will help you choose the right one for the job. There are three major types of crimpers: ratcheting, manual, and channel locks.
Ratcheting Crimper: This is the most common type of crimping tool found in the average home. These are the same tools that were briefly popular in the 70s when they were sold under different brand names like EverRatchet, but Milwaukee makes the best ratcheting crimpers. They work by compressing the connector while a ratcheting mechanism turns a cog which compresses the connector onto the wire.
Manual Crimpers: These crimpers are, rather obviously, not ratcheting and require the user to squeeze the handles of the tool to compress the connector onto the wire. These are commonly used in industrial environments because they can be subjected to much more abuse than ratchet style tools. These types of crimpers also have a very limited use because they can only be used for the specific connectors that they are designed to work with, meaning you need several different types of crimpers for different connectors.
Channel Lock Crimpers: These crimpers resemble a pair of pliers and are used like them too. The handles open up to reveal where the connector is placed and then it is squeezed shut around the connector and wire. These are not a common choice, but can be used if you don’t have anything else.
These are sometimes used by people who already own a set of channel lock pliers and don’t want to buy a dedicated crimper.
What Is The Best Brand of Crimpers?
While quality tools are important, brand loyalty generally isn’t. There are several good brands on the market and most of them perform their intended functions very well. However, the market leader in the crimper market is certainly the Milwaukee Tool Group and their M12 series of ratchet crimpers.
The M12 ratcheting crimpers are available in five different models which have a wide range of capabilities from working with telephone cables to large power cables. They are also compatible with other MIL tool systems which makes them a perfect choice for professionals who already own a large collection of MIL tools and equipment.
For the casual user who needs a crimper for occasional use, the Milwaukee M12 series ratchet crimpers are probably overkill. However, these tools have been built with durability and longevity in mind. For a casual hobbyist or homeowner they should last practically forever.
There are also other good brands on the market such as Lutz and Knipex that make high quality tools as well.
What Do I Need to Know Before Buying?
There are a few different things to look for when buying a crimper, regardless of the type you’re buying.
#1: Make Sure It’s the Right Connector Size for the Wire You’re Using
The first thing you need to look for is the size of connector that your crimper can handle. You don’t want to buy a crimper that only handles smaller connectors when what you really need is a larger connector. This will result in having to buy the more expensive and heavier duty crimpers when a cheaper and lighter model would have worked just as well.
For example, if you’re working with 10 gauge wire, then you’ll need to buy a crimper that can handle 10 gauge connectors. If you try to use a smaller crimper, it won’t make a solid connection and your connections will be weak and unreliable. If you try to use a larger crimper, then the crimp will end up crushing the wire itself, possibly exposing strands of wire and creating a short circuit or an intermittent connection.
Most ratcheting crimpers can be adjusted to handle different size connectors by turning a knob on the side. With most of these, you can set them to accommodate from a range from 8 AWG to 2/0 AWG or even 1/0 AWG. You can also get non-ratcheting models that only do a single size, but these are less common and harder to find.
Note: If you don’t know what size wire you have, it’s very important that you don’t just guess or try to estimate what the size is. This is especially important if you’re using non-standard automotive wiring that was added after the vehicle was built as this often uses smaller than standard wire sizes. The smallest standard automotive wiring is usually 8 gauge, but there are 7 gauge and even 6 gauge wires used in certain circumstances.
Always use the ohm meter to verify what size your wiring is before you buy a crimper.
#2: The Second Important Thing to Look For is the Type of Connector Itself
The second most important thing you need to look for is what type of connector you’re actually going to be crimping. There are many different types of connectors used in automotive wiring and the specific type that you need will depend on what you’re doing as far as adding additional circuits or lighting or what have you.
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