Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver DS18DBFL2 Review
While the non-working LED indicator is a disappointment, take this Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver for what it is - a compact, entry-level brushless drill that will tackle 90% of your general drilling and driving needs.
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One of the interesting parts of my job is to see how manufacturers work with new technology in power tools. Common tools get updated all the time and yesterday’s premium engineering becomes the foundation of tomorrow’s value models as the cycle continues forward. Enter the new Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver. Model DS18DBFL2 clearly has a brushless motor from the name. But is it on the envelope of the latest technology, coming in with a value focus, or somewhere in between?
Where it All Fits
The Hitachi DS18DBFL2 and the impact driver it partners with for a 2-tool kit make up a new category for Hitachi – compact brushless. It balances a compact size with entry-level pricing while giving you a brushless motor. It’s a gateway to Hitachi’s 18V battery platform and their Affordable Battery Program. Since that’s the case, don’t expect it to perform with heavy-duty models or have as many features.
- All-Metal Chuck: Hitachi uses an all-metal chuck to give this drill/driver a durability boost over cheaper models. The chuck fits bits snugly and I didn’t have any issue with them slipping on me.
- Optical Trigger: According to Hitachi, their optical design will give you more control when feathering the variable speed trigger to the speed and power you want. The trigger switch and brushless motor are impressively responsive, unlike some of my other drills, which have a slight delay. Both the trigger and the rocker switch have more wiggle to it than other drills I use, similar to what Kenny points out in his review of the corresponding impact driver.
- Brushless Motor: The Hitachi DS18DBFL2 takes advantage of a brushless motor’s more efficient, cooler running benefits.
Additional Field Notes
One of the areas that Hitachi is still behind on is with their battery indicators. They aren’t showing up on the battery pack itself (not yet, anyway) and the 2-LED on-tool indicator isn’t terribly helpful. You can only tell if you’re above or below 50% charge. However, the indicator on my model doesn’t light up at all. I checked in with the PTR office that has an identical model (below) and confirmed that their indicator good. It seems to just be an isolated incident.
The work light isn’t terribly helpful. By the time it reaches the chuck, it diffuses so much that it lights up several inches below the chuck more than the fastener itself. I’d like to see Hitachi develop a LED system that sits around the chuck instead of below it.
Torque protection in the event of a bind up isn’t a feature you’ll find on this model. It’s not one you really expect to find at this price point or power level, though.
Hitachi’s compact 3.0 amp-hour battery has performed well with other tools, so we expect the same with the Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver. This battery’s low-profile also helps keep the tool’s weight, including the battery, at a slender 3.5 pounds.
The handle and overmold design are the same as we see across the board from Hitachi, so it fits well into the natural shape of your hand.
You Know The Drill
The Hitachi packs a respectable 620 inch-pounds of torque in its 6.9-inch length. By way of comparison, the Milwaukee M18 Compact Brushless Drill (2701) comes in at 500 inch-pounds. Of course, Milwaukee’s supercharged Fuel version hits 1,200 inch-pounds but is also bigger and heavier. The traditional two-speeds are here with max no-load RPM of 400 (low) and 1,800 (high). For a compact drill, these numbers are in line with what we expect.
In addition to some general drilling and driving tasks, I tackled a large plantation blind installation project at one of our properties. A job like this provides an excellent way to reveal the Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver’s strengths and weaknesses. Much of this job required my presence on a ladder with my arms above my shoulders. If the tool has an imbalance, or if it feels impractically heavy, this kind of work will expose it quickly!
Thankfully, both the balance and weight of the Hitachi are well-suited for the job. I felt very little fatigue, which is critical since fatigue makes errors much more likely.
The belt hook is an especially handy feature in this application since the drill can sit on my belt and leave my hands free to climb safely.
The Bottom Line
The Hitachi DS18DBFL2 checks off most of the boxes but can stand some refinement. At $140 bare and $160 for a 1-battery kit, it’s easy on the wallet and matches up appropriately with the basic design. While the non-working LED indicator is a disappointment, take this Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver for what it is – a compact, entry-level brushless drill that will tackle 90% of your general drilling and driving needs.
Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver Features
- Covered by Hitachi’s Lifetime Lithium Ion Tool Warranty, 2-Year Lithium Ion Battery Warranty and 1-Year Charger Warranty
- Powered by Hitachi’s 18V Lithium Ion slide-type batteries for fade free power and lighter weight than NiCd batteries
- Brushless Motor Technology for higher efficiency, increased run time and longer tool life
- Professional grade power with 620 inch-pounds of turning torque and up to 1,800 RPM
- Ratcheting 1/2-inch keyless all metal chuck for quick and simple bit replacements and secure holding power
- 22-stage + 1 clutch settings deliver 22 torque settings and a drill mode for ultimate precision and control
- Optical trigger switch for a more responsive variable speed actuation and wear resistant trigger assembly
- Built-in LED light effectively illuminates dark work spaces
- On-tool battery indicator displays the amount of power remaining in the battery pack to avoid downtime
- Metal belt hook so the tool is always close at hand
- Ergonomic grip, center balanced design and lightweight at 3.5 pounds (with battery) to reduce fatigue during extended or elevated use
Hitachi 18V Brushless Drill Driver Specifications
- Item Numbers
- Bare: DS18DBFL2P4
- Kitted: DS18DBFL2 & DS18DBFL2S
- Voltage: 18
- Torque: 620 inch-pounds
- Max No Load Speed: 1,800 RPM
- Clutch Settings: 22 + 1
- Chuck Type: 1/2-inch Keyless Ratcheting Metal
- Brushless Motor
- Capacity: Wood 2 inches
- Capacity: Steel 1/2 inches
- LED Light On-Tool
- Battery Charge Indicator On-Tool
- Metal Belt Hook
- Tool Length: 6-29/32-inches
- Weight: 3.5 pounds (with battery)
- Tool Body Warranty: Lifetime
- Battery Warranty: 2 Years
- Charger Warranty: 1 Year