True Corded Power Claimed by Metabo 18V Brushless Angle Grinder
Metabo is one of a few brands of power tools that isn’t widely known outside of professional circles. You have to dawn the door of your local steel/welding supply yard to actually experience the tool in person. This, however, is something that may soon change as Hitachi recently acquired the brand for $180 million, and Hitachi is distributed across many retail outlets.
I was originally exposed to the Metabo brand while researching better methods for finishing the stainless steel components of my furniture when I came across their Burnishing Machine. I hadn’t seen anything like it before, and after using it, found that it delivered the most professional finish I’d ever seen from a handheld power tool. I also discovered that I could use it to achieve really unique effects in my wood finishes.
I recently reviewed the Makita brushless/cordless grinder, and although I felt that the tool didn’t meet my initial expectations, there were quite a few redeeming factors and it is still in regular use at the shop. Metabo recently released a brushless/cordless grinder with their new 5.5 amp hour LiHD batteries and they were eager to see how the Metabo WPB 18 LTX 115 Quick stacked up against my Makita experience.
Metabo WPB 18 LTX 115 Quick Out of the Box
- Model: Metabo WPB 18 LTX 115 Quick
- Kit Item Number: 6.13074.62
- Power Source: 18V Battery Pack
- Battery Pack Tested: 5.5 Ah LiHD
- Grinding Disc Size: 4 1/2 “
- No-Load Speed: 9000 /min
- Spindle Thread:5/8″ – 11 UNC
- Weight (including battery): 5.7 lbs
- Warranty: 3 years, tool and batteries
- MSRP: $219 (bare tool), $439 (5.5 amp hour LiHD kit), $479 (6.2 amp hour LiHD kit)
Shop all Metabo products at Acme Tools!
Included in Kit
- Metabo WPB 18 LTX 115 Quick
- (2) 5.5 amp hour LiHD batteries
- Cutting guard clip
- Inner support flange
- Quick adjusting nut
- Side handle
- Dust filter
- Charger ASC 30-36 V “AIR COOLED”
I’m definitely a fan of the hard case. Not many brands have stuck with them, but I’m glad Metabo has. The case contents are fairly standard: tool, charger, 2 batteries (these are massive), handle, and a guard. One included accessory I’ve not seen before is a cutting guard clip, and one that seemed missing at first glance was the lock nut wrench. The cutting guard clip is a little tricky to get back off once you properly attach it, but it does cover a significant portion of the blade and offers quite a bit more protection than the guard alone. I discovered there is no lock nut wrench included because Metabo’s quick-locking nut conveniently tightens without the use of one.
One feature that really jumps out at me as I look over the tool for the first time is the swiveling battery pack. These LiHD batteries are much bigger than the Makita batteries and being able to swivel a full 360º means I can always re-orient the battery if it’s cumbersome in a tight spot.
The Bump and Grind
When it comes to cordless grinders, the most important factors are power and battery life. Metabo claims their new 18V brushless angle grinder “cuts” like an 11 AMP corded grinder while outperforming other cordless grinders. I was disappointed with Makita’s performance based on their claims, so I didn’t have high hopes the Metabo would be much better. But to my surprise, the Metabo WPB 18 LTX was much more powerful than Makita’s model. I don’t do enough “cutting” with my grinders to validate their 11 AMP claim, but I can definitely attest Metabo is on par with a quality brand 9-10 AMP grinder when it comes to weld removal, which is a much more torque-heavy application.
I don’t think Metabo’s claims are out of line when it comes to performance. The battery life was on par with the Makita, however the Metabo worked faster and accomplished more in the 20-30 minutes of 70-80% duty cycle use. Metabo’s LiHD batteries take about 1:45 to fully charge, but can go straight from heavy use to the charger without issue. Compare that to the Makita battery, which only takes about 20 minutes to fully charge, but is too hot right off the tool and requires a significant amount of cool down time before the charger will accept it. In either case, when you have a lot of heavy grinding in front of you, you’ll need more than 2 batteries and 1 charger to keep working at a heavy duty cycle pace, but the Metabo will get more work done in a shorter amount of time.
The Metabo WPB 18 LTX 115 Quick is pretty feature rich from top to bottom: the swiveling battery pack and quick lock nut stand out the most throughout regular use. I often have to sneak the grinder into tight vertical clearances on my steel furniture legs and orienting the battery horizontally allows me to more comfortably position the grinder. In these positions, I’ll admit that I miss the locking switch feature on the Makita, but I respect the safety argument for Metabo’s dead-man paddle switch.
The Metabo quick lock nut is really convenient – you can apply a safer level of torque when tightening the wheel down and still remove it without grabbing an additional tool. When I switch out wheels on my other grinders, I rarely tighten them with the supplied wrench; I only go to the toolbox for the wrench when the wheel is too tight to loosen by hand with my gloves on.
I definitely appreciate Metabo leaving the battery life indicator on the battery instead of the tool, as with the Makita grinder. However, the battery pack release lever being on the tool instead of the battery pack did take a little getting used to.
One last thing I want to mention about the Metabo WPB 18 LTX 115 Quick is the fast brake wheel. I’ve really grown to love how quickly my Festool sanders stop spinning when you turn the tool off and Metabo’s fast brake is no different. It allows you to set the grinder down almost right away without having to first skid the flap/cutting wheel to a stop. Once you get used to this feature and then switch back to a grinder or sander that doesn’t stop quickly, you really appreciate the fast brake. Metabo definitely thought through the design and features of their new brushless grinders.
Of the primary three brushless/cordless angle grinders currently on the market (Metabo, Milwaukee, and Makita), my vote for the winner is Metabo by a long shot. I’ve used all three and the Metabo is the closest experience to a corded grinder when it comes to power and performance. Not only was I able to flatten welds at a faster pace; the battery outlasted the other brands without overheating. I could go straight from bearing down on a weld to the charger without issue. I still think we have some time before we see a total cordless takeover of the grinder market the way we have in the cordless drills space, but we are definitely seeing significant progress. The Metabo WPB 18 LTX 115 Quick is very close to a complete replacement of a 9-10 AMP grinder, with the only drawback being price and battery charge time.