As tool manufacturers compete, they push each other to create better products. Over the course of time we see once high-end features become standardized. Pros reap the benefits as we get tools that last longer, perform better, and do more work. Ultimately we can serve our clients better when we have reliable tools.
Like all innovation, changes come in leaps and bounds before tapering to incremental changes. It’s never easy to know where in that cycle a tool is but I’m always eager to see improvements, no matter how big or small.
We’re currently well into an era of improvement in motor technology as more tools go brushless. The new Ridgid Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill is the company’s second effort in the brushless market and I was eager to test it out on several jobs.
You’ve probably read about the benefits of brushless motors over brushed motors on these pages before. The bottom line is that brushless motors are smaller, lighter, and longer-lasting than their brushed brethren. They cost more up front, but you don’t have to replace those carbon brushes. Even better is that smart tool technology has advanced because the brushless motor requires electronic controls to begin with.
For this review I used the drill to build and install doors, drive lag bolts, and build an outdoor table.
The Ridgid Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill includes the standard two speeds you’d expect from this class. High speed will run up to 2100 RPM and low speed will net you up to 700 inch pounds of torque.
Ridgid’s Hex Grip on the handle makes the drill comfortable and secure in the hand. The drill is light and compact thanks in part to the brushless motor.
The kit comes with 2.0 Ah batteries, although I prefer using 4.0 Ah batteries for the additional power and life. I certainly gave it a fair shake, but I was initially concerned it wouldn’t have the run time for what I’d ask of it.
Quality and reliability of my tools is most important, of course, and with so many cordless tools nowadays, battery reliability is a big part of it. Knowing where your charge stands at any given point is even more important on a daily basis. In any event, the battery gauge is a great feature – one that is becoming more common but hasn’t yet reached every manufacturer’s packs.
The worklight, however, is now a standard feature and the Ridgid has a very bright one.
Editor’s Note: The light is on the traditional mounting point just above the battery. It’s nice, but Ridgid’s Tri-Beam LED on the original Gen5X Kit is more effective. There’s also an independent light button so you can illuminate your work space without powering up the drill.
I also really like the small charger. If you’re running several manufacturer’s cordless platforms, you know that you need a tool bag just for all the chargers!
The kit includes an auxiliary handle to use in high stress applications. Finally, it comes with a small – but handy – reversible belt hook.
It’s hard to imagine doing all the trim work, window and door installation, baseboard, and crown molding that I’ve done for the last 15 years by hand. Now it’s getting even easier than it used to be with longer battery life, more power, and better design and the Ridgid Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill is a great example of all of those improvements in one package.
As I mentioned above, the drill is light and compact but the real test is on the jobsite – it didn’t disappoint. It’s very powerful for a compact drill, quiet, and easy to use. All the controls are in the right spot and easy to operate. Speaking of powerful, you’ll be hard pressed to find another compact drill with anything near Ridgid’s 700 inch pounds of torque. Most of the big names don’t exceed 600 inch pounds.
Because of the light weight, you can work with it for long periods of time. If you pick up a cordless drill and think you’ll need an extra protein shake to work with it all day, my advice is to run – don’t walk – away from it. But there’s no danger of that with this model at just 3 pounds.
As I built and installed doors and did other carpentry tasks, I was sure to use two hands on the Ridgid Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill. This ensures a straight drive. If the bit isn’t seated well in the fastener head, it can slip and strip the fastener. This presents an annoying and time-consuming problem. It’s better to do the job correctly the first time and apply extra pressure to the back of the drill with your other hand. Just be sure you’re not covering up the motor’s exhaust or the tool will overheat.
I appreciate the inclusion of the auxiliary handle in the kit, but that’s really best for hammer drills when you’re handling minor concrete and masonry work. I find that it’s too easy to unseat the bit from the fastener head on a tough drive with the handle, so I end up using my two-handed method without it every time.
Stabilize the drill with your non-dominant hand to be sure the bit is set correctly in the fastener head. Start slow and speed up – if you go too fast you could easily strip the fastener out.
One of my other favorite aspect of this cordless drill?
The run time. Even though I was concerned about the 2.0Ah battery, I’ve used this tool for over three weeks on drilling and screwdriving tasks and I’ve yet to charge it. That’s impressive.
The Bottom Line
I would absolutely recommend the Ridgid Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill to other Pros. This drill is light, compact, powerful, and the battery life is excellent – so good in fact that I’ve used it for over three weeks and haven’t had to charge it yet.
I’d love to see it come with 4.0Ah batteries instead of 2.0Ah. Yes, this would make it a bit heavier, but it would extend the already impressive battery life even further and boost the power a hair. Compact batteries are pretty much the M.O. on most drill kits though. Sold as a kit for $159, it’s an excellent value well below the cost of the other big names in this class.
Ridgid Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill Key Features
- 700 inch pounds of torque in a compact drill
- Micro clutch with over 100 torque settings
- Die-cast gear box
- 1/2″ single sleeve ratcheting chuck with carbide jaws
- Grip light switch independent of trigger
- Brushless motor
Ridgid Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill Specifications
- Model: Ridgid R86009K
- Power Source: Ridgid 18V battery pack
- No Load Speed: 2100 RPM
- Max Torque: 700 inch pounds
- Chuck: 1/2″ keyless
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Warranty: Lifetime Service Agreement
- Price: $159 (Home Depot)
Included in the kit are (2) 2.0 amp hour batteries, charger, belt hook, auxiliary handle, double-ended bit, tool bag, and manual.