DeWalt is bringing much more function to the Tool Connect lineup with the introduction of several connected tools to go along with their Bluetooth batteries, tracking tag, and Bluetooth adapter. The DeWalt Tool Connect Hammer Drill is spending some quality time with us currently. We’re ready to break down what this tool is capable of and what you can expect from Tool Connect.
For starters, the DeWalt DCD997 is built on the foundation of DeWalt’s DCD996 premium hammer drill. At the moment, you’ll have a hard time finding a better model in the DeWalt lineup. If you already use the DCD996, this will feel very familiar to you and it specs out the same.
The DeWalt DCD997 competed in our epic 50+ drill shootout where it showed exceptionally well. Usually, when summarizing a tool, I like to highlight the only areas that it did really well in. But this one didn’t really disappoint in anything, so let me count the ways I love this hammer drill. It’s fast, has a great feature set, doesn’t take up too much space, and won’t force you to take out a second mortgage on the house. Where it really excels is in its power-to-weight ratio where it leaves most every other brand with work to do.
Overall 18V Heavy-Duty Hammer Drill Ranking: 1st Place
Overall 18V Heavy-Duty Cordless Drill Ranking: 1st Place
Check out the full results here!
Tool Connect is far and away the biggest talking point about this drill. We’ll take a closer look at that in a moment. For now, you’re looking at a 3-speed brushless motor with your typical bells and whistles for a flagship hammer drill.
There are 11 clutch settings on the twist ring along with drill and hammer drill modes. You have a 1/2″ chuck and there’s a belt hook that you can install on either side if you like.
Below the trigger is a button to cycle through the 4 Tool Connect modes. It’s unusual (but not unheard of) to have the mode selection here in addition to the gear selection on top of the tool. Some quick math will tell you that means there are 12 total modes to work with.
- Programmable speed, bind-up toggle, and LED work light via DeWalt Tool Connect app
- Diagnostics available via Tool Connect app
- Inventory management available via Tool Connect web portal
- Last seen and disable features available via Tool Connect app
- Brushless motor
- 3 gears and 4 electronic modes available, 3 modes can be customized
- 11 clutch setting, drill mode, and hammer drill mode
- Belt hook
- DeWalt DCD997P2BT kit includes two 5.0 Ah Bluetooth batteries, auxiliary handle, and charger
Using DeWalt Tool Connect to Customize the Hammer Drill
Let’s Get Performance Out of the Way
Before we dive into Tool Connect itself, let’s start with performance. The DeWalt Tool Connect Hammer Drill is capable of giving you 820 unit watts out of power – translating to roughly 841 in. lbs. of torque. There are certainly more powerful drills out there. However, for nearly every standard task you ask your drill to do, the DeWalt DCD997 will handle it. With the auxiliary handle to stabilize it, even tough cuts like a 3″ hole saw or a 1-1/2″ spade bit through 2x PT are pretty smooth operations.
Where I draw the line is mixing, hole saws over 4″, and concrete or metal drilling over 1/2″. Realistically, there are better tools than the standard drill class for those tasks anyway.
I Promised Tool Connect, So Let’s Do Tool Connect
Performance of the drill wasn’t the first thing on my mind when this model arrived. Knowing its DCD996 DNA, I just didn’t have many questions as to its standing. What I was most curious about is customizing the modes.
On each setting, you can customize the LED work light’s intensity (including off) and duration. If you want to use the LED for several seconds or even minutes after you release the trigger, it’s useful. Scrolling all the way to the right, you can also toggle bind up control on or off.
When it comes to other settings, you can adjust the speed but not the torque. When you set a mode to a specific speed, you’re essentially using an electronic governor to tell the drill what the maximum speed is. It’s not perfect, though. I set up a simple RPM test to see how close my custom settings match reality.
DeWalt Tool Connect Hammer Drill Settings Vs. Reality
The Home mode is preset and you can’t change anything. Modes 1, 2, and 3 are customizable. Here’s what I found in my test:
- Home: 450/1332/2000 RPM
- Mode 1: 135/400/600 RPM
- Mode 2: 270/799/1200 RPM
- Mode 3: 405/1199/1800 RPM
Gear 1/2/3 Actual Speed with 67% Battery Charge
- Home: 447/1322/1983 RPM Average Variance: – 0.8%
- Mode 1: 138/403/603 RPM Average Variance: + 0.9%
- Mode 2: 266/781/1166 RPM Average Variance: – 2.2%
- Mode 3: 381/1137/1704 RPM Average Variance: – 5.5%
Once the battery settles into its 18V nominal voltage, the accuracy of the speed is within a pretty reasonable level of error. Notice that as you move up in customized speed, the variance grows.
Gear 1/2/3 Actual Speed with Full Charge
- Home: 446/1323/1984 RPM Average Variance: – 0.8%
- Mode 1: 151/445/663 RPM Average Variance: + 12.0%
- Mode 2: 290/850/1260 RPM Average Variance: + 6.3%
- Mode 3: 416/1229/1830 RPM Average Variance: + 2.3%
With a battery at full charge, you have a tool running at 20V. Like you’d expect, the numbers are higher. What’s interesting is that the non-customizable Home mode is nearly identical in both battery states. Looking at the variance decrease with speed, it’s a safe bet to assume that the tool is settling down toward its nominal voltage as the test progresses.
What to Make of the Results
I’ll admit, I love numbers and quantifiable data. When we look at the results of the speeds, it becomes clear that DeWalt Tool Connect isn’t actively tracking how fast the chuck is actually spinning. It’s more likely controlling what percentage of the trigger pull it allows, which is why you get different results at different charges states.
However, it does seem like the tool is allowed to run at maximum speed when you’re not electronically governing it in the app, hence nearly identical stats on the Home mode at both charge states.
You’re going to get higher RPMs than you define in the app with a battery at full charge for a brief period. However, once you settle into nominal voltage, you’re in the ballpark within a 6% margin of error. Considering we don’t have a need to pull an exact RPM while we’re drilling, that’s certainly good enough. What’s great is that we can dial in speeds in between what the 3 gears offer on their own. With larger wood boring and metal drilling, that can be a big help to optimizing drilling speeds. The downside is that whatever limit we place on the speed, we’re placing the same percentage limit on the torque – just like feathering the trigger.
With DNA that comes from DeWalt’s DCD996 hammer drill, the performance and ergonomics you expect are very present in the DeWalt Tool Connect Hammer Drill. What Pros need to decide is whether the additional control is worth the $50 premium you’ll pay.
Aside from a brief power boost you get with a fully charged battery, you’re going to be well within a 10% margin of error when you set the speed in the Tool Connect app. For most Pros, it gives you access to full trigger pull speeds you don’t normally enjoy. But is it better than just feathering the trigger and drilling by feel? I think it will be for some Pros.
Of course, balance all that with the diagnostic and tracking tools that also come with DeWalt Tool Connect. Also, keep in mind that it’s part of DeWalt’s Made in the USA with Global Materials effort and that the tool comes with a 3-year warranty.
DeWalt Tool Connect Hammer Drill Specifications
- Model: DeWalt DCD997
- Power Source: DeWalt 20V Max or FlexVolt Battery
- Max Speed: 2000 RPM
- Gears: 3
- Modes: 4 (3 are programmable)
- Torque: 820 UWO (841 in. lbs.)
- Chuck Size: 1/2″
- Length: 7.9″
- Weight: 3lb, 7 oz (bare); 4 lb, 13 oz (with 5.0 Ah battery)
- Price: $299.00 (kit with two 5.0 Ah Bluetooth batteries), $109.87 (bare tool)
This review originally published on February 9, 2018. It has been updated to reflect the hammer drill’s performance in our recent Cordless Drill Shootout.