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October 20, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill & Impact Driver

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 02
PTR Review
  • Brushless Drill 8.2
  • Brushless Impact Driver 8.2

The Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver are both decent tools that have numbers lining up with many of the big names on the market. There are also a few observations that make me feel that this is not quite a player in the top quite yet.

Overall Score 8.2 (out of 10)

Having spent the last few years working with the first generation Porter-Cable 20V Max Drill and Impact Driver, I was looking forward to the opportunity to review the newly released Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver. I’m not sure if you caught it but the keyword here is “Brushless”. With advancing motor and battery technology, tools are running longer, staying cooler, and many times saving space too. Having been satisfied with the performance and value of the last tools, I was eager to see how the new tools compared.


What’s in the Box

At this time, the Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver are not available as a combo kit but rather individual tool kits. I am reviewing these together because all too often, these tools go together in a set and it only makes sense that if you have one, you’re likely going to grab the other.

Also you will see that many of the basic features like build quality, accessories, chargers, and more are identical for the two tools. When I received the tools, they arrived in sealed retail decorated cardboard boxes. Upon opening the boxes I found the tools nested in cardboard trays that laid out all the included pieces.

Each came with two 20V MAX Lithium Ion batteries that are rated at 1.5 amp hours, or 27 watt hours. Also included is a basic battery charger and a optional belt clip that was not installed. The included battery charger is pretty compact and minimal but still does provide an LED indicator light as to the charging status and condition of the battery. The belt clip allows for ambidextrous use as it can be mounted on either side of the tool.

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 12

First Impressions

Porter-Cable bills itself more as an entry-level professional/tradesman level company as opposed to DIY, so there’s a higher expectation for their tools. In my hand the tools feel stout. The rubber overmold covers all the area where your hands grip and the handle of each is comfortable with both a gloved and un-gloved hand.

Both tools have variable speed triggers and a single LED light for bit illumination that comes on with just the slightest touch of the trigger but without starting the motor. An change from the original tools, the LED light is repositioned from below the chuck area to the handle base where the battery level meter is located. This provides a much larger and brighter illumination of the bit with fewer shadows when working in dark areas.


Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 04
The repositioned LED light offers better illumination.

The forward/reverse lever is in the same position that most tools are now days. With a simple finger flick, the direction can be changed. The battery level meter is on the tool, not the battery. I prefer the gauge on the batter rather than the tool so deciding if a battery is in usable condition doesn’t involve installing it on the tool.

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 06
You’ll find the battery gauge on the tool rather than the battery.

Comparison to Previous Generation Tools

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 11
The new brushless models are more compact and powerful than their predecessors.

When comparing to the previous generation, the most obvious visual differences are in both the overall length and weights. Roughly half a pound of weight was shaved and the tools got shorter. But what really is contributing to this is the new motor technology inside. We won’t rehash the technology of a brushless motor other than that they are more compact, produce more power, and run more efficiently.

In the case of the new Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver, we have approximately 50% longer run time over the brushed models. This claim did come from the manufacturer, yet given our experience in testing brushed vs. brushless motors we know that this is a realistic figure and we will run with it. Trust me, driving a few hundred 2-inch screws in to 2x material is not a fun, fast, or efficient use of our time… at least for this review!

If you review the specifications of the first gen models to the new ones, you will notice that both speed and power have increased thanks to the updated motor technology. In fact, the the specs are actually in line with other expensive alternatives which might make some users take a second look at these tools.

Comparing the Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill Driver Specifications

  • Model: Porter-Cable PCCK607LB
  • Battery: 20V Max Lithium Ion, 1.5 AH, 27 WH
  • No Load Speed: 0-450/0-1800 RPM
  • Max Power: 370 MWO
  • Torque: 270 in-lbs (PTI Testing Standard)
  • Capacity in Steel: 1/2″
  • Capacity in Wood: 1″
  • Tool Length: 7.4″
  • Tool Weight: 3.3 lbs (with battery)
  • In the Box: Tool, (2) Batteries, Charger, Belt Clip & Bit
  • Price: $139.00
Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 05
The new brushless drill is a touch taller, but not as long.

The specs show that the Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill Driver delivers more speed and power than its predecessor. When I saw the 1-inch hole rating for drilling in wood applications I could not help but start there to see how the drill did. In the low speed stetting, I was able to send a Bosch 1-inch Nailkiller Auger bit through 2X material without a hiccup. The drill never stalled out and I had to use two hands on the drill to keep it under control.

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 01
The Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill handled a 1-inch auger bit with no problem.

I would suspect that most users will not being doing 1-inch holes all the time so anything smaller will be even more of a breeze. The chuck will take bits up to 1/2-inch in size and is ratcheting which makes for more reliable bit retention. I like the addition of the drill/drive mode collar where now you can switch from drilling to screw driving without changing your torque setting.

As for the torque ratings go, Porter-Cable is part of a group of tool companies using MWO (Max Watts Out) to try to bring some clarity to the table as to the power of their drills. This rating number can be a little tricky to make comparisons to other tools as it does not directly translate into a torque measurement.

What is interesting is that while not listed on the Porter-Cable website, in tiny script on the package, the max torque is listed as 270 inch pounds per PTI testing standard. The power on this drill puts it cloe to other compact drills out there and we suspect that most users will find this drill more than adequate.

Ratings

  • Power: 3.8
  • Design: 4.2
  • Ergonomics: 4.2
  • Build Quality: 4.1
  • Value: 4.1
  • Overall: 4.1

Porter-Cable 20v Max Brushless Impact Driver Specifications

  • Model: Porter-Cable PCCK647LB
  • Battery: 20V Max Lithium Ion, 1.5 AH, 27 WH
  • Max Torque: 1400 in-lbs (Bolt Tightening Torque)
  • No Load Speed: 0-2700 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0-3100 IPM
  • Tool Length: 5.8″
  • Tool Weight: 2.9 lbs (with battery)
  • In the Box: Tool, (2x) Batteries, Charger, Belt Clip & Bit
  • Price: $139.00
Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 03
The shorter profile of Porter-Cable’s brushless impact driver.

If you’re buying the new Drill/Driver the next obvious purchase is the The Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Impact Driver. This new model took what was a decent tool in the previous generation and turned it into a competitive player in the market. What’s interesting to note is that for this tool, the new motor technology did not give it more power over the last generation but it did allow for a more compact size, more speed, and longer run time.

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 10
Porter-Cable packed 1400 inch pounds of torque in their first brushless impact driver.

The driving force of 1400 inch pounds of torque is more than sufficient for most fastener applications. I really like the easy load 1/4-inch hex chuck. Inserting a bit is simple because no manipulation of the chuck is necessary – just insert the bit and it locks in place. When it is time to change bits, the bits are ejected by pulling back on the chuck.

As I was using the impact driver, I also noticed how lightweight and balanced the tool felt and how compact the overall length was compared to the previous generation.

Ratings

  • Power: 4.1
  • Design: 4.0
  • Ergonomics: 4.2
  • Build Quality: 4.1
  • Value: 4.1
  • Overall: 4.1

Value

Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver 13
The charger is now a very small profile that slips over the battery.

I like the brushless motors along with the power and efficiency that comes with them. I will admit that I was a little disappointed that the Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver did not come with some kind of storage bag or carry case.

Also, as I compared to the previous generation tools, the included battery chargers seemed a little chincy. The chargers felt more in line with my computer or cell phone charger rather than something that’s “jobsite” tough. At the same time, the compact size is something Porter-Cable touts as a benefit. In the end, it’s a change from the norm and it will take time to get used to it and see how tough they really are.

So the question of value comes into play here as we look at what we got in the box, performance, and how much they cost. For the individual tool price point, the figures are pretty much on point.

The Bottom Line

The Porter-Cable 20V Max Brushless Drill and Impact Driver are both decent tools that have numbers closing in on many of the big names on the market. There are also a few observations that make me feel that this is not quite a player in the top tier just yet.

Since these tools go together like peanut butter and jelly, they need to be available as a combo kit. If you have other 20V Max Porter-Cable cordless tools, these are an obvious and easy upgrade. If you’re just starting a tool set collection, there might be better alternatives that offers a better total bottom line, at least until Porter-Cable packs them in a kit. Are they developing a brushless recip saw and circular saw before that happens? I hope so!

Now it’s time for me to pass on the first generation Porter-Cable impact driver and drill to someone else and see how these two tools will hold up over the next few years. Given what I have seen so far, I have no reason to doubt that these tools will last long and perform well.

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William Reese

The combo kit is offered now. Just picked it up at lowes. Love these tools. Totally agree about the battery charger though, pretty weak… Although if that’s the only downside porter cable did pretty well again.

Gary

Hey Thomas, you could send them over to me for the next couple years of testing!
Seriously though, totally agree on the kit thing. The cost of batteries utilized for a greater number of tools considerably lowers the overall cost of a group of tools, not to mention the weight and the necessity to only have the one charger around.

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