It’s the “Max” that I think gives it away. When DeWalt came out with its 20V Max line we scratched our heads until it was explained that, like 12V Max tools, 20V is the peak output before the voltage drops to the nominal 18V. In other words, most 18V lithium-ion tools are “20V max” in the way that most 12V tools are really 10.8V nominal. For some reason the industry jumped onto 12V but eschewed 20V (except for the crew at Stanley Black & Decker). In any case, the new Rockwell Tools 16V Max line looks to be their version of 14.4V nominal marketed “to the max”. And that’s cool–why not? The only important question is whether or not the tools have the power density (power for weight) that makes them valuable compared to the power of 18V and the size/weight-savings of 12V tools.
Rockwell’s new RK2600K2 16V MaxLithium Drill-Driver looks to be fairly compact and lightweight, though we don’t have exact size specs to do more than make a cursory examination. The company’s new 16V tools are more powerful than their 12V models but are designed to shave off some of the bulk. Rockwell describes them as “highly maneuverable to get in and out of tight quarters quickly”, making us wonder if the company’s marketing folks are fans of NASCAR.
The Rockwell 16V Drill/Driver has 302 in. lbs. of torque, which is about 14% more than Bosch’s PS31-2A 12V Max Drill Driver. but 14% less than Milwaukee’s new M12 FUEL 1/2″ Drill/Driver Kit (2403-22). We’re not sure what the street price of the Rockwell will be, but the Bosch is $130 online and the Milwaukee M12 is around $180, so the expected $140 retail puts it appropriately in the middle.
The 16V Drill/Driver uses a 3/8 in. keyless, single-sleeve Jacobs chuck with a 16-torque-setting clutch and a two-speed (0-400/1500 rpm) gearbox. It weighs 2.75 lbs. drill/driver also has an LED work light that doubles as a low-battery-charge indicator when blinking. The tool’s drilling capacity is 1 in. in wood and 3/8 in. in steel. The kit includes two, 1.3 Ah batteries, a 30-minute charger, a double-end screwdriver bit and carrying bag. The included belt hook can be mounted on either side of the tool and the tools features a nice soft grip rubber overmold on the handle.
Another thing Rockwell has going for it is that the batteries are warranted for life. Rockwell’s Batteries for Life Program, which is available on all their cordless tools, means that registered tools are covered for the original owner as long as he has the tool.
The Rockwell 16V Drill/Driver (RK2600K2, $139.99) will be available in February 2013 through Rockwell, Menards, Amazon, and other online and B&M locations nationwide.