Writing a review of the new Ridgid R9651 X4 18V 5-pc Combo Kit is both easy and hard. It’s easy because there’s a lot to say, and it’s almost all good. From the features, to the build quality, to the lifetime service agreement that includes brushes, batteries and more – this Ridgid 5-piece kit is a cut above many of the 18V cordless tools we’ve used all year – and we mean that to even include some of the bigger names. This makes the review difficult because, as you can imagine, it means we’ve got a lot to convey about this kit. And we need to be specific and back up our contention that it just may be the cordless tool industry’s best kept secret.
Ridgid R8651 18V Cordless Circular Saw
- Speed: 5000 rpm
- Blade: 6-1/2″
In a kit review we normally start with the drills, but in this case, the R8651 6-1/2″ Cordless Circular Saw was the place to begin. Frankly, it was the most fun to use, and it had some excellent features we couldn’t believe Ridgid had worked in. Some of them were the type we didn’t even know we needed, but they made the job easier. The R8651 is the newest X4 Cordless Saw from Ridgid and it runs on the company’s new Hyper Lithium battery platform.
Editor’s Note on the Ridgid Hyper Lithium-ion Batteries
We love Ridgid’s new 18V Hyper Lithium-ion High Capacity Batteries. For one, they are compact and light, but they pack a lot of power and the run-time on these tools was extremely long. The batteries feature built-in charge status indicators that can be activated with the push of a button and they are extremely rugged, including a rubberized base that protects against drops. We also loved how the release mechanism actually helps eject the battery from the tool – something we would like to see in more manufacturers’ products (some are downright difficult to remove).
The saw, like all of the products in the X4 line, includes Ridgid’s new Hex Grip. The grips are designed so that the primary handle includes little bumps arranged in a hexagonal pattern that give the tool an impressively secure feel. We really liked it better than the traditional smooth rubberized grips we’ve found on most other tools – and it didn’t tend to collect any more dirt, so it was a great solution with no real trade-offs. When you grab the tool by the handle, your ring and pinky fingers will automatically activate a small switch on the bottom that fires off the LED light. Each tool uses its LED light differently, but the R8651 Cordless Circular Saw will activate it in momentary mode, only keeping it lit while your hand grasps the handle (and presumably readies for, and makes, the cut).
The upper blade guard as well as the base (shoe) are made with magnesium (Mg), which is both durable and lightweight. The cast base (identical to the X3 R865 saw as far as we can tell) is also very robust and a far cry above the common stamped steel you find on many competitor’s products. Two really cool features surround the adjustability of the saw. First, the bevel control has positive clicking locks at 0, 15, 22.5, 30, 45 and 50 degrees. You can bevel the blade simply by lifting up on the bevel release lever (which was very easy to do) and tilting the shoe (or ‘base’, as Ridgid calls it). In this way, it is a very simply matter to make perfect bevel cuts in wood, even over longer runs. This is the easiest bevel adjustment system we’ve ever seen in a cordless circular saw. As for setting depth, that is also very unique in that Ridgid allows you to essentially “lock” adjustments by pulling out the release handle and allowing it to slip into a vertical position. This keeps you from accidentally releasing it during use – which could be dangerous, or at the least, ruin a critical cut. We’ve never seen this feature before, and it struck us as incredibly useful.
The saw cut easily for us, slicing through old 1915-era lumber like it was nothing – and that with the included Ridgid 6-1/2″ blade! We ran it up the side of a wood-sided house in order to expand a window frame and it worked like a charm. Mind you, it was cutting through old-world wood that is a lot tougher than most of the stuff we see these days. It also didn’t seem to hiccup when encountering the occasional nail. “Smooth” and “powerful” were the words that came to mind. After what we put this saw through, cutting standard pressure-treated 2x4s was almost a joke for the R8651 18V Cordless Circular Saw. Ridgid has really fine-tuned this product into something special.
Ridgid R86034 18V Cordless Impact Driver
- Torque: 1400 in-lbs
- Speed: 0-2400 RPM
- IPM: 0-3100
- Chuck: 1/4-inch hex
On the same job we were adding in two windows where there was previously one (and that one was installed rather poorly. The Ridgid R86034 X4 Cordless Impact Driver came in very handy for fastening the window to the frame, and also for adding the necessary supports to the wall. Impact drivers have become our real go-to tools of late. Unless I’m drilling or need the special finesse of a particular clutch setting, I reach for the impact driver. The R86034 model is among the most compact drivers we’ve ever seen, including even the most recent Generation 2 models from several of the “big boys”. Ridgid has managed to push out 1400 in-lbs of torque from a body that is just 5-3/4″ long from the back of the tool to the tip of the 1/4-inch hex chuck. It’s also just 2-3/16″ in diameter around the main body, making it a super-compact tool that weighs just a hair over 4 lbs with the High Capacity Hyper Lithium-ion battery attached.
Ridgid’s 18V Impact Driver has the same excellent Hex Grip as the rest of the tools in the X4 Combo Kit, but the grip trigger causes the twin LED lights to stay on for 10 seconds, letting you use the driver as a sort of flashlight or work light as needed to prep for your fastening. A threaded brass insert allows you to move the included belt clip to either the left or right side of the tool. In addition a rear-mounted bit-holder means that you don’t have to put out extra money for an accessory that should be standard fare for a tool like this.
One of the things we also liked about the R86034 was that the 1/4-inch hex chuck literally throws bits out when you push forward on the release ring. We had so much fun with it, we were measuring how far we could get it to throw… 21-inches seemed to be the leading average on our tool. While this is funny, it also meant that we never encountered a bit that had become seriously jammed into the hex chuck from over-torquing – even after extended periods of use.
This tool came to the rescue as we were securing new 2×4 studs within a window frame to block out a pair of new aluminum windows for the aforementioned replacement project. Driving in 3-inch screws through multiple pieces of pressure treated wood (which is simply what we had on-hand, so it was used) presented us with the impression that this impact driver could be stopped by nothing. With all of the torque being eaten up by the high-speed impact mechanism, we were free to worry about placement and getting everything together quickly. The screws just drove straight into the wood with very little resistance – as smooth an experience as we could hope for.
Later, we took the Ridgid Impact Driver for a spin in a new bathroom remodel we were doing in a 1920’s bungalow home. This involved placing a lot of Durock cement board n the walls. This time, it was a much tougher test for the Impact Driver, with over 100 2-1/4″ screws being sunk into Durock, through lathe, and into ancient hardwood that held up the walls of the bathroom. Not only did the Ridgid R86034 keep up with the heavy load of work, it did the entire job on a single charge. We were very pleased with the power-to-weight of this tool and what it offered us.
Ridgid R8611501 18V X4 Hammer Drill
- Torque: 565 in. lbs
- Chuck: 1/2 in. carbide locking jaws
- Speed: 0-450 / 0-1600 RPM
- Hammer: 0-7,200 / 0-25,600 BPM
The wonderful thing about doing a job like installing a window is that you are constantly alternating between tasks, so using both an impact driver and a hammer drill, like the X4, just made the job easier. In our case, we also just wanted more opportunities to use the new tools, so we chucked it up and got to work. While considerably larger than the “stubby-by-comparison” R86034 Impact Driver, the Ridgid X4 Hammer Drill is actually pretty manageable, given how powerful it is. The girth of the motor housing of the tool is fairly narrow, but large enough to let you know there’s some torque under the hood (roughly 565 in. lbs.). The clutch is slightly recessed into the body of the drill, above the trigger, and the mode switch is the kind we have really started to like: a dual-sided 3-way switch that can be easily changed from Drill to Screw to Hammer mode with either gloved or naked hands. It beats a top-mounted switch any day in that it’s easy to engage and has very positive locking positions. The clutch goes from 0-24 and is almost a pleasure to use – it’s positive clicks and grippy surface making it a simple chore to twist, even with sweaty hands. The top-mounted 2-speed switch flips your variable trigger top-speed from 450 to 1600 RPM with a single push. Last, but not least (in the drivetrain, that is) the 1/2″ chuck is the popular and durable all-metal Jacobs model we’ve come to know and love.
The gray rubber overmold is particularly well-placed on this tool, offering a good rear grip for powering through hammer drilling tasks. The sides of the tool are also well-protected – so much so, that there’s really no need to be careful when setting the drill down on its side. Even the battery eject buttons are well-shielded from damage by rubber flanges that hang over the tops. Like all the tools in the X4 line, the Hammer Drill also sports the Hex Grip texturing and, like the Impact Driver, it has a Grip Light that activates the integrated LED for a full 10 seconds without engaging the drill/driver. Even the little things Ridgid does are nice – like the bit holder on the rear of the tool (though we did notice there was no provision for a belt clip). Under the skin, the X4 has a die cast gear box and the 4-pole open-frame motor should hold up for a long time – a factor that seems important given the lifetime service agreement Ridgid is sticking its neck out on.
We continued our window installation by using the Ridgid 18V X4 Hammer Drill to drive 3-inch screws through the window frame into the 2×4 studs of the frame. In all cases we found the power to be more than adequate and the job was quickly completed, with several people commenting on the excellent size and weight of the Ridgid as well as how quickly it plunged the screws into the wood.
Another project we sank the X4 Hammer Drill’s teeth into was cutting out holes in sheets of Durock for our bathroom tub faucets. This was for a job we were doing that involved renovating a 1920’s-era bathroom with new subway tile and trim from Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. We actually used a Porsa Drill Diamond Hole Saw Kit we reviewed last year to perfectly cut out the holes and it worked like a charm. In no time flat, the Ridgid X4 Drill had powered through the four necessary cuts and set us up for a perfect fit.
Ridgid R8641 18V X4 Reciprocating Saw
- Speed: 0-3600 RPM
With each tool in the 5-piece X4 kit we enjoyed more and more of Ridgid’s innovations in these particular power tools. When we picked up the R8641 18V X4 Reciprocating Saw, we immediately noticed two very important features: the orbital switch and the adjustable shoe. I can tell you with a fair amount of confidence that this is the first 18V cordless reciprocating saw that we’ve seen with an orbital mode. The way Ridgid does it is by implementing a dial at the top of the tool which can be rotated 180 degrees to either engage or disengage the orbital action. While orbital action will take up more battery juice, it also results in a much quicker cut during demolition. Anyone who has done a significant amount of demo with a reciprocating saw knows the benefits of using an orbital model.
We put this saw to use very quickly, continuing to tear into the old wood of our 1915 home project. Sometimes a circular saw is a great tool, but there are places it can’t get into – particularly in corners. For this we turned to Ridgid’s R8641 Reciprocating Saw and, boy, did that orbit action tear it up. This wood was hard, but the action of the blade tore into it at a much faster clip than we were seeing with a competing saw that didn’t have orbital action.
We also used the R8641 Reciprocating Saw to tear out a new hole for a toilet we were moving backwards a bit by way of an offset flange. When originally installed, the centerline for the toilet was a full 15 inches off the rear wall – about 3 inches too far, leaving a huge space behind the tank. Slapping in a new Bosch Demo blade, we powered through plywood, cement board, mortar, and heaven knows what else, to extend our hole and fit the offset flange securely in place.
Ridgid has really delivered a lot of power in this reciprocating saw. Though it has one of the smallest girths of any cordless model we’ve used (in fact, most of us described it as downright “tiny”), it didn’t bind up or even slow down on difficult cutting maneuvers. The lever-activated adjustable shoe served us well, especially with this last task, as it allowed us to maintain positive contact while limiting the plunge of the blade so as to not chew up the edges of our pipe below. We also liked the Grip Light which worked in a momentary fashion, to light up the work surface as long as our hands grasped the tool.
Overall, this was one of our favorite tools to use and has quickly become a product we reach for over much of the competition.
Ridgid R8691 18V X4 Work Light
Typically, the lights found in most Combo Kits are what we like to call “throwaways”. They are there to add another value tool, but really don’t cost anything or have any particular features that are innovative or attention-grabbing. Ridgid decided to do two things right. First, it utilized an LED light source – almost unheard of, despite our repeated criticisms of standard lamp technology in these kits. Secondly, this light is actually pretty useful and flexible. The R8691 has a dual mode where it can function as a spot or flood/area lamp. This means it can harness the power of the Cree LED to immerse an entire room with light, or simply focus a more high-intensity beam on a particular location. It does this by using a single LED light source, but rotating the cylindrical housing 180 degrees to change the focus mechanism for the light.
On top of that, there is an extendable “sky hook” that can allow the light to hang from a standard joist or 2×4. Since you can rotate the beam up or down, this gives you some flexibility. It’s too bad the light can’t also swivel or you could truly place it just about anywhere in a jobsite and still get plenty of light. The light seems fairly durable and it’s nicely compact, making it easy to tote around or throw into the included tool bag. About the only thing we didn’t like about the Ridgid Work Light was the fit of the battery. In our sample it was a bit tough to push it into place. Overall, that’s not such a big deal – maybe Ridgid was just testing our manliness factor.
The charger that comes with this kit is the R840093, which charges both Li-ion and NiCd sled-style batteries from Ridgid. It’s a fairly large charger that can be wall-mounted or set atop a bench. There are five indicator lights across the front of the charger (or “top” if you wall-mount it). They show status for Power, Charging, battery Evaluate, Temp Delay, and Defective battery. Hopefully the last two never come on for you, but with such a wide array of status LEDs, Ridgid really lets you know what’s going on. Plug the unit in and the green power LED comes on – big and bright. Insert a battery and the charging LED blinks green while the battery itself lights up its charge status LED (red) and blinks to let you know where it is in the charging process. This is a 30 minute charge, so after the required time was up, the Charging light turned solid green and the tool showed a full 4 bars in red.
When you use a lot of tools, reaching for your favorite becomes a high status symbol for the tool involved – that is, if they actually had egos… which they don’t. In this case Ridgid should be very much puffed up and pleased with itself. The tools in this kit are just so usable that you’re going to want to pick them up over much of the competition. Features and power are where it’s at – as is the equitable relationship between power and weight. The tools are strong, innovative and they just make sense. This is so much the case that we wonder why it’s Ridgid that has apparently brought so much disruptive innovation to market and not some other company. We can’t help but wonder how long it’s going to take for these tools to get recognized for the advanced products that they are. This is not an area where you want to have “the best kept secret”. Instead, shout it from the rooftops, run some ads on TV, have your tools pimped out in massive endcaps where users can get their hands on them. Do something. For Performance we give these tools a 9/10 and a perfect 10 for Value. At $499 for a 5-piece kit, these tools are priced 20% lower than the competition and they actually just might outperform while saving you money.