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As manufacturers tool "combos" go this one from Hitachi makes the most sense to me. Both are often used tools in nearly any shop.
Click image to enlarge

Hitachi 18V Brushless Lithium Ion Combo Kit

Full time tough tools for the home shop market

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 10-8-2013

Hitachi’s new 18V Brushless Motor Lithium Ion cordless 2-tool combo kit, (#KC18DBFL) combines the remarkable power of the brushless motors with the long-lasting punch of Lithium Ion batteries. And Hitachi is confident enough in this outfit that they cover it with their Lifetime Lithium Ion tool warranty and 2-Year Lithium Ion battery warranty!

The Hitachi 18V Brushless Lithium Ion Combo Kit (#KC18DBFL) shown in this review comes with the DV18DBFL 18V Brushless Lithium Ion Hammer Drill, a WH18DBFL 18V Brushless Lithium Ion Impact Driver, (both sold only as part of this kit!) two 18V 3.0Ah Lithium Ion Slide Type batteries, a UC18YFSL rapid charger and a molded carry case.

Both of these tools use an optical trigger switch that “talks” to an onboard microprocessor to deliver smooth, predictable RPM. Because the battery current does not pass through the optical switch as it does on mechanical versions there is less power lost there to extend the useful life of the battery charge. There are also fewer moving parts in the trigger switch to wear or fail.

Just above the trigger is the slider reversing switch. Leave this switch in the center and it locks out the trigger for safer transport. On top of the drill driver motor housing lets you select between the Low range of 0 to 400 RPM and its High setting which offers 0 to 1500-RPM. This switch also controls the impact rate with 0-5600 BPM (blows per minute) on the low end to 0 to 21,000 BPM on the high end. The impact driver is single speed and features 0 to 2900 BPM per minute.

Both chucks (left) are well-made and tough. Both are also very easy to operate and hold fast. the clutch ring on the drill driver is also very nice and repeats well. Both grips (right) are nicely shaped and give a good sense of grip and balance. The optical triggers work very well and save battery power.
Click images to enlarge

The grip area on both tools has been ergonomically designed to fit the hand naturally. That reduces strain to let you work longer and be more accurate the whole time. The grip areas have a rubber overmold that gives a good sense of grip by reducing slippage.

Brushless Hammer Drill

The DV18DBFL Brushless Hammer Drill brings contractor-level power to your shop by developing 440 in-lbs. of torque. It has an all-metal ½” ratcheting keyless chuck that features carbide inserts for maximum gripping of the bits you use even during hammer-type operations in concrete. The built-in clutch has 22 torque settings plus a hammer setting and a drill setting so you dial in exactly what you need using the single aluminum clutch ring.

The DV18DBFL Brushless Hammer Drill develops up to 1,500 RPM and in hammer mode can produce up to 21,000 BPM! An LED light is located in the base of the tool but is aimed upwards to illuminate the area around the bit. This arrangement does a great job of showing you the next fastener in dimly lit environments. Despite the rugged construction and full range of features the DV18DBFL Brushless Hammer Drill weighs only 4.2-lbs which you will appreciate when doing overhead or extended use jobs.

Brushless Impact Driver

This kit also includes the WH18DBFL Brushless Impact Driver. This driver is compact and weighs only 3.5-lbs. but it has a full list of features bolstered by rugged construction. It develops an impressive 1,460 in/lbs. of turning torque that handles the tougher jobs like working with bolts and larger screws and can drill into virtually any material.

This WH18DBFL Brushless Impact Driver produces up to 2,900 RPM and an impact rate of up to 3,200 BPM. This tool also has a base mounted LED light that effectively lights the work area. A ¼” hex chuck makes all of your current bits with this popular shank usable plus gives you a huge range of bit types and styles to choose from at nearly any tool outlet. The hex chuck is not only slip-free it is easy and quick when changing bits.

This kit includes two battery packs (left) that fit on both tools. You also get this 110V fast charger (right) that is fully automatic but has lights and a graphical explanation if you are that interested!
Click images to enlarge

Batteries and Charger

This kit includes a pair of high capacity 3.0Ah Lithium Ion slide type batteries and a fast charger. The batteries have a keyed slide-type connector that makes changing them easy and the click tells you that they are secure on the tool. The slide connector also reduces weight higher in the tool which gives it a more balanced, less fatiguing feel.

The charger (110V) accepts one battery pack at a time and is fully automatic. Slide the battery pack onto the connector and go on about your business. An LED light and graphical chart shows you how the recharging is going. An internal fan keeps the charger cool during charging operations.

In the Shop

Hitachi has always leaned towards making contractor-style tools with the durability and useful features those trades need. That benefits the home shop because we get more for our tool dollars. The Hitachi 18V Brushless Lithium Ion Combo Kit is a great example of that kind of glitz-free design and quality manufacturing execution.

Both of these tools performed flawlessly in our evaluation. The clutch on the drill driver adjusts easily and stays put. An important aspect of the clutch is that once you find a setting that works with your favorite fastener when you return to the setting later it responds exactly the same way. I know this is how they are supposed to work but many do not repeat with equal torque like the Hitachi drill driver shown here does.

Battery life is far longer than I anticipated with the level of power these tools develop. Another nice thing about the Lithium Ion batteries is that the power stays constant right up to where it is time to freshen the charge. There is no tapering of the available power or loss of RPM when the charge begins to be depleted.

Conclusions

Video Tour

 

It is interesting to me that Hitachi only sells these tools in the Hitachi 18V Brushless Lithium Ion Combo Kit but I can see the logic. Most people today have both types of tools so offering them together, sharing a single battery and charger type just makes sense because of the cost savings this combination offers. I have no idea if Hitachi will continue to sell these tools in this kit only but it does make sense.

The 18V Brushless Motor Lithium Ion cordless 2-tool combo kit has a street price of $449.00 (10-5-2013) which when you consider the sum of all of the included components is not bad at all. The science behind building quality Lithium Ion batteries continues to improve and this is just one example of how they are supposed to work.

If you are looking for a new drill driver or impact driver, consider this Hitachi 18V Brushless Lithium Ion Combo Kit. These are well-designed, well-made tools that will serve you a very long time with common sense care.

See the Hitachi product page – Click Here

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