Instead of mechanically slipping like friction clutches, the electronic clutches on the Festool and the Metabo (shown here) shut off the motor at a set level of resistance. Motor speed is modulated so rpm falls as the clutch setting is lowered—making it easier for the tool to deliver the exact amount of torque.
With the DeWalt and Hitachi, changing from driver to drill mode involves turning the clutch ring past its highest setting.
Makita and Milwaukee provide a separate switching ring that allows the operator to switch between drill and drive without altering clutch settings.
The advanced controls of the Metabo and Festool switch the tools electronically between driver and drill mode—with the push of a lighted button and the slide of a switch, respectively.
Makita, Hitachi, and Festool put the gauge on the tool. It’s less convenient there but does allow you to check the charge of any generation of battery you put on the tool.
On the DeWalt and Metabo, the headlights are on the base. Bright and well-aimed, DeWalt’s LED provides the best illumination.
The full kit version of the Festool includes a standard chuck and a series of accessories: a 90-degree-angle attachment that holds the chuck or driver bits directly, an offset bit holder, and a “Centrotec” bit holder that fits special Festool bits.