Heavy Duty Drill/Driver Reviews
Issue: Drill/Driver Review (March/April 2013)
Posted Date: 2/4/2014
Heavy Duty Drill/Driver Reviews
A big drill with a modern 4-pole or brushless motor fed by a powerful lithium-ion battery churns out enough torque to drill monster holes and drive the longest screws. Plus, the high amp-hour ratings of the battery packs that come with these tools allow you to do enough work on a single charge to vanquish even the most challenging projects.
So, which one should you buy? There are a number of models in the 18- to 21.6-volt range currently on the market, and my challenge from the Journal team was to evaluate nine of these drills and pick my favorite. To maintain an “apples to apples” comparison, I’m not including drills that come with lower capacity slim-pack-style batteries, such as Craftsman’s C3 35704 or PORTER-CABLE’s PCCK600LB. Although these are also plenty powerful, they just don’t have the extended run time of the heavy-duty models featured in this article.
The Performance Trials
In addition to making observations about each drill/driver’s features and ergonomics, I put each drill to all the usual homeshop kinds of tasks — drilling holes in wood and metal, driving screws, etc. But I also wanted to probe the outer limits of performance for each model. Therefore, I subjected the drills to a series of torturous tests which pushed each one to the very edge of (or, in some cases, beyond) the limits of its abilities.
|A 1"-dia. self-feeding auger bit pushes
a cordless drill to its limits.
In the first test, I wanted to see how much maximum torque each drill could deliver, so I drilled a series of 1"-diameter holes through seasoned lumber — the kind of job you face when running new electrical circuits into a family room. I chucked up a not-too-sharp 1" Forstner bit (remember, this is the real world) and set the drill to its highest gear/speed range and disengaged its clutch. For the next trial, I switched the drills into low gear and chucked up a 1" self-feeding auger bit — the kind electricians use with super-heavy-duty corded drills. This bit really pushes cordless drills to their limit, as the bit pulls itself into wood very aggressively. I gave each drill 1 to 10 points based on its overall drilling performance.
|Each drill drove as many 5/16" lag
bolts as possible on a single charge.
For my second test, I checked how much run time each drill/driver could deliver on a single battery charge. About the toughest test I could come up with was to drive large lag bolts; the kinds you might use to mount construction hardware when building a deck or shed. I fitted each drill with a 1/2" socket driver, then ran lag bolts into 1/4" pilot holes drilled into construction-grade fir 4x4s. I counted the total number of bolts each drill was able to drive before it ran out of juice, and I awarded points accordingly. I also awarded bonus points to the speediest performers.
Once I had run down the battery packs, I wanted to see how long it would take to recharge them. After waiting for each pack to cool (important for long battery life), I set it into its charger and recorded the time it took to reach a full charge. I then gave each model points: 10 for the fastest charging time, and proportionally less for each of the others.
Click Below to Go to a Specific Review:
Festool T18+3 Drill/Driver Review
Metabo BS18 LTX