The major players in the plumbing tool market have some competition with the announcement of the new Makita 18V X2 right angle drill. As Makita’s first cordless right angle drill in this class, it has some serious muscles to flex.
- Powerful right angle drill with no cord
- Excellent runtime
- Excellent kit value
- Bind-up protection
- Bare tool price is a little more than red and yellow
The 2-speed Makita-built brushless motor has 2 speeds. 0 – 350 RPM is where you’ll work in your high-torque applications. That gets you up to a 6-1/4-inch maximum hole saw diameter – 1/4-inch more than what’s recommended for the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg.
The second mode moves you to 0 – 1400 RPM. That top speed is higher than most of the right angle drills for this class and it opens up some possibilities. When you’re working with bits that don’t need your high torque mode, you’ll drill faster through studs and joists.
As you can tell from the name, the Makita 18V X2 right angle drill is part of the 18V X2 line of high-performance tools. The big deal here is that you get the advantage of 36V power without having to pony up and add another battery platform.
Makita 18V X2 Right Angle Drill Highlights
- Drill up to (160) 2-9/16″ holes in 2x SPF on one charge
- Makita-built brushless motor
- Automatic Speed Change
- Metal gear housing
- Built-in clutch limits torque in low-speed bind ups
- Electric brake
- LED work light
- Tether notch
- Adjustable top handle
- Auxiliary handle included
Our crew usually uses a corded Milwaukee drill with an auger bit to make holes for wire, and I know many crews use something similar. It’s a fine tool for the application, but it’s really not optimal. First, it won’t fit between the studs, so you have to start drilling at a slight angle. The cord is a pain, of course. It also leaves us a risk of injury during a bind-up, especially if one of us hits a nail. We’ve all had the painful experience of getting our wrists wrenched, or even getting thrown into the wall during a bind-up.
Since the average home requires around 400 holes, all the sub-optimal aspects of our regular drill situation really add up. The Makita 18V X2 Right Angle Drill, however, doesn’t have these drawbacks. With a short auger bit, the Makita fit comfortably between the studs.
We were using an exceptionally long auger bit in the photos, which makes the tool much longer. A couple of the guys on our crew like using the long bit because they can drill through top plates without climbing a ladder. But using a shorter bit makes drilling between studs a cakewalk.
You Know The Drill
The hole-making speed alone of the Makita 18V X2 Right Angle Drill isn’t much different than our regular drill, but it still makes the job faster because we aren’t fighting with studs, pulling a cord, or worrying about a torque accident.
Makita’s reliable torque limiter, which only operates in low speed, disengaged the gears several times during the review. The green power light turns red to indicate the tool hasn’t stopped because the battery is dead, but because the safety feature kicked in. Reverse works as normal so that you can get out of the bind and spin it up again.
I thought low speed was a bit on the slow side, but it’s actually right on par with Makita’s big, red competitor. Of course, if you’re drilling multiple boards or using big holes saws for plumbing, you need that high torque, low-speed mode.
Although the Makita is bigger and heavier than our typical setup, I didn’t feel nearly as tired using it. The excellent ergonomics of the handles certainly help.
The runtime is impressive, too. On one 1,530 square foot house, I drilled out about 80% of the holes before needing to recharge the 5.0 Ah packs. You get a dual-port Rapid Charger with the kit, so you’re back with a full charge in about 45 minutes.
The air-cooled charger has a super-convenient USB charger for phones, which all the guys love having access to. In any event, it only takes about 45 minutes to charge the batteries, during which time we were busy running wire through the holes we already drilled. It’s nice to have the big voltage and stay on the 18V platform.
Pro Tip: Lithium-ion batteries don’t have memory like Ni-Cad. Put your batteries on the charger at lunch and you can run all day on one set.
There is one issue Makita has with the length of the auxiliary T-handle – it’s just way too long. It makes the drilling more unstable. I’d rather have the handle right up close to the drill head so I can apply direct pressure. Understandably, all auxiliary handle lengths on any drill are a function of how much torque each one has, so that’s not a knock against Makita’s design. But I’d still like a shorter one.
Price & Value
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Hawg (2709/2711)
- $349 bare
- $549 kith with two 5.0 Ah batteries (180 total watt-hours)
- $649 kit with 9.0 Ah battery (216 total watt-hours
- DeWalt FlexVolt Stud & Joist Drill
- $249 bare
- $349 kit with 2.0/6.0 battery (108 total watt-hours)
- $399 kit with two 2.0/6.0 batteries (216 total watt-hours)
- DeWalt FlexVolt In-Line Stud & Joist Drill
- $399 bare
- $549 kit with 3.0/9.0 battery (162 total watt-hours)
Clearly, the three leaders are all right around the same price. Makita stretches its capacity (a function of its power) a little higher than Milwaukee. DeWalt claims their new model is the most powerful corded or cordless, but I haven’t seen the documentation to prove it yet.
All that said, Makita’s kit price is very attractive at nearly $100 less than Milwaukee or Dewalt.
The Bottom Line
The Makita 18V X2 LXT Brushless 1/2-Inch Right Angle Drill packs a powerful punch to make our jobs safer, easier, and faster. Even better, its kit pricing makes it look a lot better than red or yellow.
Makita 18V X2 Right Angle Drill Specifications
- Model: Makita XAD03
- Power Source: 2 x Makita 18V battery packs
- Chuck: 1/2″ keyed
- Hole Saw Capacity: 6-1/4″
- Self-Feed Capacity: 4-5/8″
- Ship Auger Capacity: 2″
- Steel Capacity: 1/2″
- No Load Speed: 0 – 350/0 – 1450 RPM
- Length: 21-1/4″
- Weight: 14 lbs. with batteries
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $324 bare, $439 with 5.0 batteries