Earlier this year, Makita released the LXFD01CW, an 18-volt lithium-ion drill/driver that is exceptionally small and light. To test this tool I spent several months using it on site and performed a number of runtime tests on its batteries.
The Makita drill/driver is short – a mere 7-9/16 inches from chuck to tail. With the battery attached, it weighs 3.3 pounds, which is lighter than the vast majority of 18-volt drill/drivers. Its small size and weight make for easy handling overhead and in tight spaces like cabinets and narrow joist bays. To create a more comfortable and ergonomic handle than the ones on previous models, the manufacturer tapered the bottom of the grip and added vertical ribbing.
The drill comes with 18-volt compact batteries and can be used with the larger LXT batteries. But the reverse does not hold: Compact batteries are not compatible with Makita's LXT tools. This is because many LXT tools require more power than could be supplied by compact batteries, so they were purposely made not to fit.
As of this writing, the compact line includes the drill/driver, a hammer drill/driver, an impact driver, a vacuum, two flashlights, and a radio. It's a fine selection of tools, but if you're looking for a single battery platform to power high-demand tools like circular saws and rotary hammers, you won't find it here.
The Makita drill/driver has a solid complement of features: a 1/2-inch chuck, a two-speed gear set, and a nice belt hook that can be attached to either side of the tool. The hook is thin and wide, so the tool doesn't swing all over the place when you are walking around. An onboard LED projects from above the trigger and shines on the work area; it can be activated without engaging the motor by lightly pulling the trigger. The light remains on for 10 seconds after the trigger is released, a feature I found useful when working in poorly lit crawlspaces.
The case deserves high marks. In addition to housing the tool, two batteries, and a charger, it can accommodate a bunch of drill bits and drivers. An included plastic cap fits over the contacts of the spare battery to keep the connection points clean. I rarely used this feature, but if you're the fastidious type, it's a nice option.
The only feature I missed was some on-board bit storage. The manual refers to a small bit-holder available as an accessory. It seems odd not to have included this with a tool whose size and weight make it perfect for the kind of punch-list and maintenance work where bits are constantly swapped out.