Source: TOOLS OF THE TRADE Magazine
Publication date: August 8, 2011

By Michael Springer

Favorites

It's no surprise that the favorites in this test lead the pack in torque, power, and runtime. After all, anybody switching from a 14.4- or 18-volt model hopes to get a smaller, lighter tool without giving up too much in the way of performance. The top picks are on the heavy end of the tools tested, but – to put it in perspective – they are half the weight of popular 18-volt lithium-ion drill/drivers of a few years ago, and still a pound lighter than current compact 18-volt lithium-ion models.

The strongest, longest-running drill/drivers are (in alphabetical order) the DeWalt, the Milwaukee, and the Ridgid. These tools simply dominated, taking the top three spots in each performance test as well as in torque. The second-tier performers, in order of preference, are the Porter-Cable, the Festool, the Bosch, and the Rockwell. The Craftsman performed well enough to make the second tier but lost points by having only one battery and no case, and by flexing under heavy loads. The Hitachi and Makita are strong machines in some respects, but were at the bottom in terms of runtime.

For the impact drivers, I like the models with long runtimes and the power to drive lags quickly. Here, too, the DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Ridgid models come out on top, followed by the Hitachi, Porter-Cable, Bosch, and Makita tools, in order of preference. The Craftsman and Rockwell bring up the rear.

If you find a good deal on a two-tool combo kit from DeWalt, Milwaukee, or Ridgid, you can't go wrong. A Porter-Cable kit would be a good next choice.

Michael Springer is the former executive editor of Tools of the Trade.