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Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 3-27-2012
A recent addition to their line of power tools the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver brings lots of power but with new levels of control and versatility. Modern Lithium Ion battery technology means this tool runs longer and charges faster. The two included battery packs mean you have little or no downtime on the job. Combine that with the capabilities of the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver itself and the time is money adage can work to your favor.
The Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver is powered by an 18-volt, Lithium Ion Slide-Type battery pack with a stout 3.0 Amp Hour rating. These batteries have up to 3 times the life of traditional batteries yet weigh less and offer fade-free performance. An on-board indicator keeps you apprised of the remaining charge level.
The Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver features Hitachi Brushless Motor Technology that delivers up to 50% more run time with increased power and long-term durability with virtually no maintenance on the part of the user. This motor/battery combination delivers 593 in/lbs of turning torque and up to 1,800 RPM. A four-way electric power toggle and two-way speed switch allow the user to select from 8 different speed/power settings that let you tune the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver to the job. No load speeds in the Low range are 0-200, 300, 350, 400 RPM. In the High range, 0 to 1,000, 1,300, 1,500, 1,800 RPM. An optical trigger switch is more responsive than traditional variable speed controls and is more wear resistant for long-term trouble free operation.
The Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver also sports a “Tightening Mode” selector that lets you control how much force is applied to the chuck. This system essentially lets you make the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver act like a lower powered driver when you are working with small fasteners but you can bring it back up to full function by pressing the side-mounted button a few more times. A 4-LED panel just above the battery pack shows you how much force is currently selected.
To further control the brute power the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver is capable of delivering they added a 22 position tool-free clutch. Set the clutch on the appropriate setting for the fasteners and you can drive them without fear of stripping them or the holes out.
Ahead of the clutch is a 1/2" keyless ratcheting chuck. I can’t think of any other drill feature that has made these tools easier to use than the keyless chucks. Now folks like Hitachi really have these chucks figured out so the modern versions grip tightly with less strain yet are trouble free.
The Universal Rapid Battery Charger has lights and a graphical chart that keeps you informed on the charging process. This charger has a built in fan cooling system that keeps its own electronics at a safe temperature so it charges more consistently and reliably. Keeping the always-damaging heat down also increases the life of the charger in a big way.
The Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver is only 8.1”-long and weighs in at 4.4-lbs which should reduce day long fatigue by a bunch. And you can conserve your power by using the reversible metal belt hook to truly go hands free between uses.
The Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver kit reviewed here includes 2 of the 18V Lithium Ion Slide-Type Battery packs (330067), a 14.4V-18V Universal Rapid Battery Charger (UC18YRSL), a 2-Sided #2 Phillips Driver Bit (983006), removable side torque handle, instruction manuals and a fitted carry case.
This Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver outfit is covered by Hitachi's Lifetime Lithium Ion tool warranty & 2-Year Lithium Ion battery warranty.
The first thing I noticed about the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver is that the rubber overmold handle area is shaped nicely for comfort and control but that is augmented by the weight distribution. Very often drivers with higher-powered batteries can feel nose or tail heavy depending on the location of the battery pack. Hitachi got this one right and the balance is centered in the hand which makes using it more relaxed which translates to less tiring over time.
All of the controls are logically placed and operate as you expect. Perhaps the only caveat there is the “Turning Mode” feature that works sort of like a throttle for the power. A blister-type button on the side of the handle flange lets you select from 4 different force modes. This system allows you to “tone the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver down” when working with small, fragile fasteners. You can also take it to full power when the fastener size warrants it.
The charger is simple to use and though they call it a 45-minute charger, during the evaluation the packs often refreshed in 30 minutes or so. I tried to run the packs down to the end and found that the power stays very consistent right to where they run out of charge. You can notice a slight loss of power but that is followed quickly by the pack discharging.
The brushless motor is strong and runs smoothly. The combination of a true variable trigger, the high and low ranges plus the “Tightening Mode” gives you complete control over the motor and tool.
The chuck and clutch both work easily and predictably. The clutch repeats well so you can get used to using a certain chuck number for a size screw you use a lot. When you go back to that setting it performs the same. The chuck tightens easily so you don’t have to strain to keep a bit secure.
If you are familiar with Hitachi tools there is no big surprise in the quality and efficiency of the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver. This is a well-designed tool that is comfortable to use and versatile because of its wide-ranging capabilities and controls. The carry case is nice in that keeps everything together when moving from jobsite to jobsite or just storing the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver until you need it in your shop again.
The Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Drill Driver has a list price of $603.00 but is selling on the street for $320.00 (3-27-2012) That is not bad money for the quality and performance that we get from modern cordless drill/drivers.