DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Review

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Review

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Moves 12V Line into Competition

Every 12V shootout we’ve done in the past couple of years left me feeling kinda “meh” about DeWalt. Their 12V cordless tools didn’t have anything wrong with them per se, but they were being outpaced by an increasing number of brushless models. Whispers reached us a few months ago and now I finally have the DeWalt 12V brushless drill and impact driver combo in my hand.


  • Much more compact than previous brushed models
  • Modest weight savings over previous models
  • Considerable performance gains
  • Excellent value at $149 for the 2-tool combo kit


  • No major drawbacks

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit

Be sure to also check out our article on the Best DeWalt Drill

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill vs 12V Brushed

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill

Let’s start by taking a quick tour of the improvements DeWalt made for their new brushless cordless drill and compare it to their brushed model.

  • Length: The brushless drill drops more than 1.5″ off of the brushed length, now just 5.97″ long
  • Weight: The smaller size also comes with a 5-ounce weight reduction
  • No-Load Speed: The brushless DeWalt DCD701 picks up 25 more RPM in low (425 RPM) and maintains the brushed model’s 1500 RPM top speed
  • Power: There’s a big jump in power, moving from 189 UWO to 250 UWO—a 32% increase
  • Kitted battery moves from 1.3Ah to 2.0Ah

There are some things that aren’t changing as well. Both models have…

  • 15 clutch settings
  • 3/8″ chuck
  • 2-speed gearbox

Looking More Broadly

The length of the DeWalt 12V brushless drill is a massive improvement. Check out our best 12V drill review, it’s shorter than any other drill we tested, meaning it can get you into tighter spaces than any of its major competitors.

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill Gearbox

At 2.4 pounds with its battery, the DeWalt DCD701 is in the lighter half, just a few ounces heavier than the top contenders and nearly a pound lighter than the Milwaukee M12 Fuel drill.

Overall, this is a drill that’s about the best combination of weight and size we’re seeing in the 12V landscape. Add in handle curves that fit your hand well and you can’t ask for much better when you’re looking for a compact drill.

What About Performance?

I put the DeWalt 12V brushless drill through a variety of drilling tests and it passes with flying colors. With as well as it performed, I decided to run a little head-to-head test against Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel 2503.

Starting with the smallest Bosch Daredevil spade bit in my 12-piece set, I drilled through untreated 2x pine until the drill couldn’t go any further. On high, both drills were able to run a 5/8″ bit through. While they were both successful, DeWalt was clearly faster.

Kicking both drills into low, Milwaukee moved right on past the 1″ bit and successfully drilled through with a 1-1/4″. That’s impressive work for a 12V drill. DeWalt one-upped it, though, driving through with a 1-3/8″ bit.

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill 1-3/8" Spade Bit

DeWalt 12V Brushless Impact Driver

DeWalt 12V Brushless Impact Driver

Like the drill, let’s start with a look from the brushed generation to the brushless impact driver.

  • Length: The brushless model drops 1.2″ off the head length, shrinking to 5.05″
  • Weight: The weight comes down slightly, losing 2.6 ounces
  • No-Load Speed: The top speed jumps from 2450 RPM to 2850 RPM and gains an extra 200 IPM
  • Speeds: The brushed single speed motor gives way to 3-speed electronic modes on the brushless—high, low, and Precision Drive assist
  • Power: Maximum torque get a massive upgrade, skyrocketing from 950 in-lbs to 1450 in-lbs
  • Kitted battery moves from 1.3Ah to 2.0Ah

The features DeWalt doesn’t change are really good ones and we’re glad they kept them.

  • 3-LED light ring around the chuck
  • One-hand bit insertion
  • One-hand bit ejection
  • Accepts 1″ bits

Looking More Broadly

Like the drill, the DeWalt 12V brushless impact drive makes huge gains in the footprint department. Its 5.05″ head length is the shortest of any traditional pistol grip models in this class and goes toe-to-toe with the Ridgid Palm Driver (5.0″).

DeWalt 12V Brushless Impact Driver Controls

The couple of ounces that the DeWalt DCF801 drops helps its overall ranking in the 12V class as well. At 2.24 pounds, it sits right next to the Bosch PS42 and Milwaukee M12 Fuel impact driver as the lightest pistol grips with a battery.

Once again, DeWalt is taking steps that make it the best combination of size and weight in the 12V class. We’re definitely impressed. At the same time, DeWalt is calling these “Xtreme Compact” cordless tools and it looks like the marketing matches the claim.


Realizing the DeWalt 12V brushless impact driver is primarily a screwdriver and small nut driver, I put it to the kind of light work I expect from my 12V impacts. For a 12V impact, it’s a quick-driving model that’s very easy to use.

DeWalt 12V Brushless Impact Driver 1/4" Ledger Screw

For a better idea of its performance, I brought out Milwaukee’s latest M12 Fuel impact driver—the very same one that dominated our best 12V impact driver review article. This time, I used 1/4″ ledger screws into layered OSB subfloor to see how their driving speed compared. Test after test, these two impact drivers simply refused to give in. They’d be at a dead tie. Milwaukee would be slightly ahead. DeWalt would be slightly ahead. By the time it was done, I couldn’t make a call as to which one was faster.

Shootout Results

We put DeWalt up against the best 12V impact drivers available. You can check out its head-to-head performance yourself here. If you just want it in a nutshell, this is how it fared:

  • Size: 90
  • Feature Set: 100
  • Speed: 68
  • Torque: 66
  • Noise Level: 86
  • Value: 85
  • Overall: 4.0 out of 5.0 (3rd place overall)


We’re looking at the DeWalt 12V brushless drill and impact driver combo kit. The set comes with a charger and a pair of 2.0Ah batteries for $199. If you want just one or the other, the kits are $99 as are the bare tools. Another $114 on the individual tool kits gets you a TSTAK container to carry them in, but there isn’t an option for the 2-tool combo.

Let’s put that combo price in perspective a little. Milwaukee’s current M12 Fuel combo (2598-22) runs $229. Makita’s CT232 runs $139 to $149, depending on what case you want. Bosch doesn’t offer a combo kit for their 12V brushless drill and impact driver.

The big takeaway is that you’re paying a little more than Makita for serious performance gains. That performance closes in on Milwaukee for a much lower price.

Who Should Buy the DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Combo?

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Combo DCK221F2

I am very impressed with DeWalt’s performance, ergonomics, and feature set for this combo. The performance is close enough to the top that I have to wait until we’ve put it through all of our standardized tests before I make a call. It’s so good that one or both of these might take over the top overall rankings.

Backing that up with incredibly compact designs, it hits what you need if size and weight are your highest priorities. And with the price set where it is, the DeWalt Xtreme Compact combo kit may very well be a perfect balance that fits everyone’s needs.

There’s zero doubt in my mind that this is a Pro-level 12V kit and its price is certainly attractive for serious DIYers, too. What’s interesting is that there’s high enough performance here to make homeowners think about passing on a DIY/Prosumer 18V line and going for more compact 12V tools instead.

The Bottom Line

DeWalt has done a fantastic job bringing down the size and ramping up the power in these tools. The DeWalt 12V brushless drill and impact driver combo kit takes a couple of tools that felt like afterthoughts and turns them into legitimate contenders. If you’re a DeWalt fan, it’s time to be proud of their 12V line again!

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Specifications

  • Kit Model: DeWalt DCK221F2
  • Included Batteries: 2 x 2.0Ah
  • Price: $199

DeWalt 12V Brushless Drill Specifications

  • Model: DeWalt DCC701
  • Power Source: DeWalt 12V Max batteries
  • No-Load Speeds: 0–425/0–1500 RPM
  • Max Power: 250 UWO
  • Length: 5.97″
  • Weight with Battery: 2.4 lbs
  • Price: $99
  • Warranty: 3 years

DeWalt 12V Brushless Impact Driver Specifications

  • Model: DeWalt DCF801
  • Power Source: DeWalt 12V Max batteries
  • No-Load Speed: 0–2850 RPM
  • Max Torque: 1450 in-lbs
  • Impact Rate: 3600 IPM
  • Length: 5.05″
  • Weight with Battery: 2.24 lbs
  • Price: $99
  • Warranty: 3 years

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