When we saw the new”Max” designation for Rockwell’s latest 16V line, we knew the drill (yes, pun intended). The DeWalt 20V Max tools line represents the peak output before the voltage drops to the nominal 18V. In other words, most 18V lithium-ion tools are “20V max” in the way that most 12V tools are really 10.8V nominal (see our article on 20V Max vs 18V). For reasons unknown to all but the most fastidious students of tool-marketing, the industry jumped onto 12V but mostly avoided 20V (except for the tools under the Stanley Black & Decker umbrella). Rockwell’s 16V Max line looks to be their version of 14.4V nominal marketed “to the max” (in fact, some nominal 14.4V batteries have 16.8V peak output). So the only important question is whether or not the tools have the power density (power for weight) that makes them valuable compared to the power of 18V and the size/weight-savings of 12V tools.
The Rockwell RK2611K2 16V Max Impact Driver looks to be fairly compact and lightweight, though we don’t have exact size specs to do more than make more than a cursory examination. The new 16V tool is more powerful than Rockwell’s 12V model but is designed to shave off some of the bulk.
The Rockwell RK2611K2 16V Max Impact Driver has 950 in. lbs. of torque, which is quite respectable, though some 12V products from DeWalt and Milwaukee are starting to get at and above that (the new Milwaukee M12 2453-22 has around 1200 in-lbs of torque). The tool length is fairly small–just 5.9 in., a full 1/4″ or more shorter than some 12V products from DeWalt and Makita.
The new Rockwell impact driver uses the expected 1/4 in. hex chuck, but also has an all-metal gearbox. The tool weighs 2.5 lb. and spins at up to 2400 rpm with up to 3000 blows-per-minute (bpm) using the variable-speed trigger. The built-in LED work light illuminates the work area and, like the Drill/Driver, doubles as a low-battery-charge indicator.
Also included is a belt hook can be mounted on either side of the tool and both tools feature a nice soft grip rubber overmold on the handle. The Rockwell 16V Impact Driver includes two, 1.3 Ah batteries, a 30-minute charger, a 2 in. screwdriver bit and carrying bag.
Another thing Rockwell has going for it is that the batteries are warranted for life. Rockwell’s Batteries for Life Program, which is available on all their cordless tools, means that registered tools are covered for the original owner as long as he has the tool.
The Rockwell RK2611K2 16V Max Impact Driver ($140) is expected to be available in February 2013 through Rockwell, Menards, Amazon, and other online and B&M locations nationwide.