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Milwaukee 2688-20 Heat Gun Review

Editor Rating: 4.3/5

Outstanding

Milwaukee 2688-20

Reviewed by: Sean Masri

Last modified: Oct 8, 2020 @ 7:52 am

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Review Summary:

Being both compact and cordless, the Milwaukee 2688-20 heat gun is a machine that offers a break from the hot air norm.

Delivering a sole temperature of 875 degrees Fahrenheit, this unit is suitable for applications such as paint stripping, varnish removal, and putty softening. Its snub-nosed design makes it ideal for accessing hard to reach areas, and a ladder hook provides a practical solution for high-level projects.

A rapid heat-up feature means that no time is wasted waiting for the unit to reach its operating temperature. While a trigger function ensures that the heat gun only uses power while it’s held in your hand — saving valuable battery juice.

While this machine doesn’t include any additional nozzles — there are a multitude of accessories available as a post-purchase option from the manufacturer.

This heat gun hails from the Wisconsin-based Milwaukee brand — a company with over 90 years of experience in handheld power tools. The 2688-20 is the only cordless machine in their six-product hot air line-up — and is a step above their popular corded 8975-6 model.

Pros:

N
Cordless — runs off an 18-volt battery.
N
Operating temperature of 875 degrees Fahrenheit.
N
Hanging hook.
N
Seven-second warm up.
N
Weighs 1.7 pounds.
N
Compact head design.
N
Respected brand.
N
Temperature management system to prolong life.

Cons:

N
Only one heat setting.
N
Allows for a maximum of only 45 minutes use.
N
Tough on the pocket.
N
Unsuitable for low-temp projects.

Features and Benefits of the Milwaukee Heat Gun 2688-20


Free from mains cables and with a relatively small construction — the Milwaukee 2688 is undoubtedly a unique hot air machine. But does it have what it takes to play with the behemoths of the heat gun world?

Let’s see what this unit has to offer.

Battery Powered


Perhaps the most significant characteristic of this heat gun is that it’s cordless — a novelty in the hot air world. To discover the remarkable reasons behind this, check out my Cordless Heat Guns 101.

The truth is — mains leads are a pain.

Using a corded power tool is like being a dog on a leash — you’re restricted in your movements and unable to roam as you would wish. Freeing yourself from the restraints of AC power increases portability and elevates flexibility.

Furthermore, lengthy mains cables are a tripping hazard, can interfere with your working material, and are a nightmare when it comes to storage.

Hence, it’s pleasing to see a cordless hot air machine such as the 2688-20. Powered by an 18-volt battery — the manufacturer indicates that one single charge should provide around 45 minutes of use. However, owners of this machine indicate that, in reality, it’s closer to 25-30 minutes.

The lithium-ion cell is in Milwaukee’s proprietary M18 format — a battery that’s compatible across its line of 200 cordless power tools.

Snub-Head Build


Visually, the 2688-20 heat gun is remarkable for its compact design — looking more like an impact wrench than a hot air machine.

And, while in some aspects of your life, having an impressively lengthy tool is desirable — sometimes possessing short and stubby equipment is beneficial.

Most hot air guns have a head around 10.5 inches in length — the Milwaukee is just 7.4 inches. This allows this machine to venture into tighter areas than a standard DIY unit. That’s a welcome bonus if you’re wire sheath-shrinking in an engine bay, or attempting to loosen bolts beneath your sink.

Trigger With Lock


Unless you’re Greta Thunberg (which I assume you’re not — I can hardly see her wanting to get down to a few hours of intense paint stripping) — we’re all guilty of wasting electricity.

Whether that’s not switching off lights when we leave a room, overfilling a kettle before boiling, or leaving all our gadgets on standby.

Admittedly, with corded power tools, it’s not a great issue. Keeping your hot air machine powered on while you pop to the bathroom or make a cup of Joe won’t harm the machine. Although I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, you may kill a few polar bears.

However, with a battery-powered heat gun, it’s a complete no-no.

Your cell’s running time is already limited — making it too precious to waste. Hence, I welcome the inclusion of a trigger in the Milwaukee 2688. This means that the unit only uses battery power while it’s squeezed. Put the unit down for a cigarette break and it will switch off — saving energy.

Furthermore, this reduces the chances of accidental scorches or burns if you leave the gun unattended for a few minutes (although, to be fair, you should never do this anyway — but we’re all human).

That said, should you find that depressing the trigger for extended periods induces finger fatigue — the heat gun includes a ‘lock’ function. This allows the gun to remain operational without constant squeezing of the trigger.

Rapid Heat Up


Who likes to wait an inordinately long amount of time for their tool to be ready for business? You want to get down to some seriously hot action as soon as possible.

Hence, it’s pleasing to see that the Milwaukee heat gun reaches its operating temperature in just seven seconds. Thus, allowing you to crack on with your projects before you lose interest.

Overheating Protector


Naturally, you want your heat gun to be hot — but you don’t want temperatures becoming so high that they damage your precious equipment.

The 2688-20 machine incorporates Milwaukee’s proprietary Redlink Intelligence. According to the manufacturer, this is an industry-leading technological system that integrates complete communication between the charger, battery, and gun. This ensures that neither the power cell nor the crucial heating coil are exposed to dangerously high temperatures.

Hence, this should ensure both safe use and elongate the life of your unit.

LED Lamp


Unusually for a heat gun, the 2688-20 Milwaukee incorporates an LED lamp. This may appeal to those working in low-light conditions, or areas such as in cupboards, where access to an additional illumination source is challenging.

Furthermore, it saves you from the all-too-frequent occurrence of having to hold a Maglite between your teeth.

What Do Users Say?


With its almost miniature design and cable-free feature, I feel that the 2688-20 is a welcome addition to the Milwaukee heat gun product line. However, do users of this machine share my enthusiasm toward this novel hot air machine?

To provide a fully balanced review, I garnered the opinions of industry experts and owners of this unit. And, on balance, the views are fairly positive. Users remarked about its handy LED light feature, appreciated the compact head, and welcomed its cordless nature.

That said, there was some criticism. A few guys indicated that the battery life was too short. Another issue mentioned was that it lacks heat capabilities in both the upper and lower temperature ranges.

To see what I mean, check out the opinions for yourself.

Alternatives to Milwaukee 2688-20


Should the Milwaukee cordless heat gun 2688-20 not be stoking your fire of enthusiasm — check out these impressive alternatives.

DeWalt DCE530B


If you’ve set your heart on a cordless hot air machine — but feel that the sole 875-degree Fahrenheit temperature of the Milwaukee is restrictive — this machine may be the solution.

The DCE530B offers a choice of two heat settings — 532 and 990 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to tackle a wider range of projects than the 2688-20.

  • A similar price point to the Milwaukee.
  • Includes two additional nozzles — there are no accessories with the 2688-20.
  • Slightly shorter head than the Milwaukee — 6.6 inches as opposed to 7.4 inches.

Wagner HT400


If you like the compact design of the Milwaukee, yet anticipate that the battery life may be an unwelcome restriction, this heat gun could be ideal.

The Wagner is a corded mini hot air machine, featuring a 4.25-inch head and weighing just 0.7 pounds. While it doesn’t reach the 875 degrees Fahrenheit of the Milwaukee, it has a choice of two temperature settings of 450 and 680 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • More compact than the Furno 300 — it allows easier access to confined spaces.
  • An LED light — not a feature on the Furno — illuminates dark areas, such as engine bays.
  • Substantially more price-heavy than the Furno 300.

Black and Decker HG1300


For some projects — such as removing layers of years-old paint — you need intense heat. As the Milwaukee lacks a little in that department, this dual temperature hot air gun could be the answer.

The HG1300 offers a choice of two heat settings — 750 and 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. This should appeal to those ardent DIYers looking to address heavy-duty projects, such as removing bolts and extensive paint stripping.

  • Lighter on the bank balance than the Milwaukee.
  • Mains-powered, as opposed to the lithium-ion cell of the 2688-20.
  • Like the Milwaukee, it includes a hanging loop.

Conclusion


As cordless heat guns are a rarity in the hot air category — the 2688-20 is a welcome and overdue addition to the Milwaukee line.

Being battery powered, it should appeal to those who work out in the field or have restricted access to a mains outlet. Its snub-head design is ideal for working in confined spaces, while the inbuilt LED lamp will provide illumination in low light areas.

Admittedly, the short lithium cell running time may prove an encumbrance for some users — unless you own a pile of M18 batteries. Furthermore, devoted DIYers will find that just one temperature setting is overly constraining — limiting the number of projects that this gun can handle.

However, for those seeking a compact unit without the annoyance of a mains lead — the Milwaukee 2688-20 is a freedom-enhancing heat gun.

Milwaukee 2688-20 FAQs

Q: How Much Is the Milwaukee Heat Gun 2688-20?

The 2688-20 from Milwaukee is a cordless heat gun with a compact head design. To check out the current price, take a look here.

Q: Will the Milwaukee 2688 Work With the M18 Fuel Battery?

Yes. This heat gun is compatible with Milwaukee’s proprietary M18 lithium-ion cell. This also means you can use the battery on over 200 other Milwaukee branded power tools.

Q: Is the Milwaukee Heat Gun 2688-20 Good to Use for Tinting Car Windows?

Yes. The 875 degrees Fahrenheit temperature of the Milwaukee gun is suitable for most window tints. Although, first check with the film manufacturer’s recommendations for the ideal heat setting, as it varies between brands.

Ideally, use your heat gun with a fishtail nozzle, to ensure even hot air distribution on the tint.

Q: Milwaukee 2688 Heat Gun Uses?

With an operating temperature of 875 degrees Fahrenheit, the Milwaukee hot air gun is suitable for a wide range of applications, including:

  • Paint removal.
  • Addressing rusted and stubborn screws, bolts, and metal fittings.
  • Drying paint.
  • Stripping varnish.
  • Removing glue.
  • Window tinting.
  • Wire sheath shrinking.
Q: How Well Does the Milwaukee 2688 Hot Air Gun Work for Stripping Paint?

The 875-degree temperature of the Milwaukee heat gun should be suitable for stripping paint. However, the running-time constriction concomitant with battery power may make it unsuitable for longer projects. If this is an issue, I’d recommend looking at a dual temperature corded machine instead.

Q: Can I Remove the Screen From an iPhone With the Milwaukee 2688?

No. The sole 875-degree temperature of the Milwaukee heat gun is too high for screen removal — you run the risk of damaging your smartphone in the process. Instead, look for a hot air machine that allows for precise temperature selection — such as a digital heat gun.

Q: Does the Milwaukee Heat Gun 2688 Come With More Tips?

No. This heat gun includes no interchangeable nozzles. However, you can purchase additional ends for your heat gun, which are compatible across the Milwaukee hot air machine line.

Q: Is the Battery Included With the Milwaukee 2688?

Unfortunately not. You need to purchase an additional M18 lithium-ion cell separately to power this unit.

Q: How Heavy Is the Milwaukee Heat Gun 2688-20?

The Milwaukee heat gun is 1.7 pounds. However, with the battery attached, this hot air machine weighs over two pounds — making it relatively heavy for a small unit.

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