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Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Pulse Driver Review


Pro Tool Reviews

Build Quality
Ergonomics
Driving Power
Noise Level
Value
Final Thoughts

Compared to an impact driver, well, there's not a whole lot. The hydraulic Ridgid Stealth Force is in a different class, but as a replacement for the traditional impact driver, that's what we'll have to compare it to for now. Buy one - you won't regret it!

Overall Score 4.7 Pro Review
Readers Rating
12 votes
4.2

There are a few things that make me stop everything I’m doing, get up, and jump into a happy dance no matter who else is around. Ridgid just did that and I think David C. Smith is now threatening to put it up on YouTube. The source of my joy is the new Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Pulse Driver.

With this move, Ridgid is again poising itself to move up the performance ladder by beating several other well-known brands to the punch. We were very impressed with the performance of the Gen5X 5-Piece Kit and the Gen5X Hybrid Fan – and that was before the new brushless tools started making their way on the scene.

The big deal with oil pulse drivers is the noise level and power. When someone is using an impact driver nearby, you know it. Even through several walls, the unmistakable pounding of the anvil can reach your ears. For maintenance and construction crews around schools, offices, and apartments, the noise level can be a problem. Oil pulse technology dampens the noise by using a hydraulic pulse to get the same more powerful benefits than an impact driver.

Generations of industrial workers have known about the power of hydraulic tools and the oil impact driver has been around for a while. It’s just now making its way into the hands of general contractors and tradesman at a price point that can really be considered for an impact driver replacement.

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Until recently, affordable oil pulse drivers just weren’t available. Like the Gen5X Random Orbit Sander, the Ridgid Stealth Force is only the second to hit the mainstream market. Here’s the thing about Ridgid’s new oil pulse driver – it’s putting out fewer RPM’s and IPM’s standard impact drivers while boasting twice the driving speed and half the noise! Let’s look a little closer.

Ridgid Stealth Force Size Comparison

Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Pulse Driver Specs

Ridgid Stealth Force Head Comparison

The Ridgid Stealth Force (right) has a bigger footprint than the impact driver.

 

 

  • Model: R86036K
  • Power Source: 18V Hyper Lithium Battery (two 2.0 amp hour included in kit)
  • No Load Max Speeds: 1000/1800/2400 RPM
  • Impacts: 0 – 1700 IPM
  • Warranty: Lifetime Service Agreement
  • Price: $199
  • Available: December 2015/January 2016

Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Pulse Driver Key Features

  • Oil pulse drive
  • Reduced noise by up to 50%
  • Up to two times faster fastening
  • Brushless 3-speed motor
  • 1/4″ quick load collet
  • Tri-Beam LED’s surrounding driver head

Ridgid Stealth Force Noise Reduction

Ridgid Stealth Force Screw DrivingQuantifiable data is tough to argue with and I wanted to test the claims of faster driving speed and lower noise. It was pretty clear in some initial tests that both were true, but how much better remained to be seen.

 

I got out my Ridgid Gen5X Impact Driver (not the brushless one, but our review on that kit is coming soon!) to compare against the noise level and performance of the Ridgid Stealth Force. I grabbed a decibel meter running the dB(A) scale and placed it approximately the same distance away as my ear. Obviously, this is not a lab setting, so you might get slightly different results. The big thing is keeping the distance to the tool exactly the same.

I started with a simple no load running test on high speed. The Ridgid Gen 5X Impact Driver produced a consistent 85 dB(A) level while the Ridgid Stealth Force leveled off at 83 dB(A). That’s pretty much the last time the two tools were together on anything.

I tested the noise level while driving screws and lag bolts just in case there was any difference between low and high stress applications. While the noise levels were consistent in both applications, the two tools were very far apart. The impact driver settled in at 102 dB(A) while the Ridgid Stealth Force produced just 87 dB(A). Here’s a flashback to some video we took of the Ridgid Stealth Force in action:

This is the new RIDGID Power Tools Stealth Force oil impulse driver. Twice the speed and half the noise. Here's our first look: https://www.protoolreviews.com/tools/power/cordless/drills-drivers-cordless/ridgid-stealth-force-brushless-18v-3-speed-pulse-driver/19991/ Review coming soon!

Posted by Pro Tool Reviews on Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Although the difference in decibels is only 15, the implications are much greater. From perceived sound loudness, this means that the Ridgid Stealth Force Pulse Driver sounds about 75% quieter in our tests. Sound intensity is even more significant. The Gen5X Impact Driver has roughly 32 times the intensity of the Ridgid Stealth Force in our outdoor testing.

Without hearing protection, you could continuously use the impact driver for just an hour and 30 minutes a day, but the Ridgid Stealth Force with no restriction according to OSHA specifications.

Ridgid Stealth Force Driving Performance

Ridgid Stealth Force Lag Bolt

When it comes to backing up the claim of greater driving performance, I tested the Ridgid Stealth Force Pulse Driver using 3-1/2” drywall screws and 3/8” x 3-1/2” lag bolts. Both were used to connect stacked sheets of 3/4″ plywood and I gave the lag bolts the benefit of a 1/4” pilot hole. Since I was making some holes, I tossed in drilling data as well. Just to be fair, I used Ridgid’s 2.0 amp hour battery on both drivers.

Starting with Milwaukee’s Titanium Red Helix Drill Bits that are designed for use with impact drivers, I drilled several 1/4” pilot holes that went through the plywood. The Ridgid Gen5X Impact Driver averaged 5.74 seconds. The Ridgid Stealth Force did the same number of holes with an average of 3.92 seconds each. This ends up being about 32% faster.

With the lag bolts now up to the plate, their job was to fasten the material I just pilot drilled. The impact driver averaged 9.60 seconds while the Ridgid Stealth Force had a noticeably faster average of 5.54 seconds. For those of you with your score cards out, that’s an improvement of 43% in speed.

Finally, the 3” drywall screws had to make it through the same material without being aided by pilot holes. The Gen5X Impact Driver needed an average of 2.03 seconds for each drive. The Ridgid Stealth Force took just 1.29 seconds on average to improve speed by just over 36%.

A Couple of Surprising Finds

There are a couple very important differences between traditional impact drivers and Ridgid’s Stealth Force Pulse Driver. You’re going to notice the number of impacts are about half what they are in an impact driver. Particularly when you’re driving slow, each impact transfers more power to your arm. You’ll get more wrist movement that makes delicate driving harder to control.

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You’d expect more transferred power into your arm and wrist to be harder on your joints. Even though your arm is moving more, it’s much softer than the vibration of an impact driver. This is due to the nature of having the oil pulse mechanism softening the more powerful blow internally.

It feels like the difference between striking a hammer on a sheet of plywood versus 1/4” steel. You can deliver plenty of power in both situations. The wood cushions the blow and makes it feel softer even though you delivered the same amount of power. We’ll have to do some testing to prove it, but the softer blow may significantly improve the lifespan of impact rated driver bits.

Parting Shots

Ridgid Stealth Force Gen5X Brushless

Industrial workers have understood the benefits of hydraulic impact power for a long time. We’re excited they are finally reaching the every day user on residential and commercial jobsites. The Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Pulse Driver is more than just a quieter solution for apartment, school, and office jobsites. Its clearly higher driving performance makes it an easy choice to swap out for your traditional impact driver in nearly every applications.

There is a premium price on this as a kit. With 2 compact batteries and charger, it’ll set you back $199. The Gen5X Impact Driver with one battery is normally $99, but is currently on sale for $79. As these oil impact drivers, like the Ridgid Stealth Force, become more readily available, I’m hoping they’ll replace impact drivers in kits just like hammer drills have replaced drill drivers.

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27 Comments on "Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Pulse Driver Review"

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Earick
Guest
I debated long and hard on getting the Stealth Force Impulse Driver cuz it was more expensive and used tech that I had never tried and didn’t know how well it worked. So after some thought I figured screw it if I don’t like it I can return it. I am used to single speed impact drivers and not very high power ones as I hadn’t gotten a new one in years. So I figured balls out and set it to 3 and ran a 3″ deck screw in a pressure treated 4×4 which it did in the blink of… Read more »
Ken Abrahamson
Member

Actually makita had one out for a while. I got the ridgid and love it even more than my fuel Milwaukee. Transmission on the top, extra switch for the light. And because of the added torque more control. 176 1/4 3 1/4 tapcons and not a 1 broke

Rick Owen
Guest
Kenny I’m not that familiar with hydraulic types of drivers for job sites but I have used some in a local factory. Two questions A) what if any types of maintenance is needed with these tools B) is there any issues that might come up after these tools get a little wear on them such as oil leakage. I’ve seen some in the factory I mentioned that would leak some fluid when in use. Not a lot but on some job sites that would need to be protected against. Top end manufacturers I’m sure would consider this but on some… Read more »
Earick
Guest

Hey no worries if it breaks just make sure you register it for the lifetime warranty and it will be covered!

Clint DeBoer
Admin

Oh, Clint is wearing a Go Pro in efforts to capture the elusive “Happy Dance” in action…purely for purposes of blackmail, that is.

victor serpa
Guest

“ridgid– steath”

victor serpa
Guest

Hi Clint — A bit confused – if the stealth is 40 to 50% quieter, then it should be around at least 45 to 50 decibels. {based on 89 decibels}………….THX…………victor…………..”LUV” your site.

Clint DeBoer
Admin

Psychoacoustically-speaking, a 10 dB SPL drop is a perceived reduction of half volume.

Brian
Guest

You would think so, but decibels are exponential.

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