Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

DeWalt DCK296M2 Hammer Drill & Impact Driver Kit

DeWalt DCK296M2 Featured Image
PTR Review
  • Build Quality 8.5
  • Run Time 9.0
  • Hammer Drill Power 8.5
  • Impact Driver Power 9.0
  • Ergonomics 8.5
  • Value 8.0

With excellent battery life, power output, and the almost perfect combination of essential design features, the DeWalt DCK296M2 deserves serious consideration for anyone looking to upgrade or expand their cordless drilling and driving ability.

Overall Score 8.6 (out of 10)

DeWalt 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless Premium Hammerdrill & Impact Driver Combo Kit

Combo kits have traditionally been available with a standard drill to pair with an impact driver. Considering how much sense they make I’m sure many of you have already committed the extra space in your tool box for a cordless combo. Besides the money you save by going in for the set, you can’t beat the time savings and convenience of not having to swap bits. If you have a job that requires drilling pilot holes and driving fasteners, this makes all the sense in the world.

Now you can take this same convenience and apply it in masonry applications since the DeWalt 20V MAX XR kit adds the hammer drill option. Even if you don’t do a lot of drilling in concrete, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself there one day. When you need a hammer drill, you’ll have it. Aside from that, the build quality and crazy battery life alone might may leave you thinking it’s time for an upgrade.

My wife and I recently committed to hosting a group of friends at our home. With the summer heat breaking in Florida I set my sights on building a large outdoor table to gather around and enjoy the nice weather. The plans called for sinking a whole mess of 2 1/2 inch deck screws and I saw a few opportunities to work in some pocket hole joinery to improve aesthetics.

DeWalt DCK296M2 Combo Kit Power

DeWalt stopped using torque to rate the power of their drills a while back. They use unit watts out (UWO). UWO is the maximum power output for a drill system. It takes into account the efficiency of the entire drill system (transmission, clutch, and chuck). UWO measures the power of the drill at the chuck. I’m not going to wade into a debate about whether or not this makes sense, but I do applaud DeWalt for trying to take a more intelligent approach to power rating.

At the same time, it sure makes it tough for the consumer to compare DeWalt drills with other brands. The hammer drill I tested is rated at 650 UWO. According to the equation in our article “The Definitive Guide to Max Watts Out”650 UWO is about 800 inch pounds of torque. Just keep in mind that’s an estimate.

The numbers aside, this drill had all the power I needed to make quick work out of drilling pocket holes and sinking pilot holes several inches deep into pressure treated pine with little effort. Some of the stock was still wet from the lumber yard and I wasn’t sure if that was going to bind or stress the drill, but no worries, it turns out 650 UWO was more than up to the task.

DeWalt DCK296M2 Pocket Holes

I did not have a need to test the hammer drill feature, but given the fact that I was unable to detect even a hint of stress drilling wood, I’m going to believe this drill will operate as designed and make quick work out of light duty masonry drilling.

With a max torque rating of 125 ft lbs (1500 in lbs) out of the impact driver, the only issue I had was being careful not to sink the deck screws too far into the table. Occasionally a screw would find a knot in the wood, and the 3,200 impacts per minute would have to go to work a little early, but the driver always dropped the screw down as far as I needed it to go.

DeWalt DCK296M2 Impact Driver Fastening

DeWalt DCK296M2 Combo Kit Run Time

DeWalt DCK296M2 Pocket Hole Jig

The XR printed on DeWalt’s battery stands for Extreme Runtime. Given my experience with other DeWalt batteries, I was optimistic that this one would live up to the name. I had received the hammer drill and impact driver about 3 weeks earlier, and that’s when I charged the two 4.0 amp hour batteries included in the kit. Not being a professional carpenter, I had been working on the table in my spare time so fast forward 3 weeks to final assembly. Using the built in fuel gauge, I was pleased to see they were both still at full capacity. No self discharge had occurred and the meager use they had gotten up that point hadn’t put a dent in battery life.

Rather than running screws through the outside railing, I wanted to hide them using pocket hole joinery. So I began by using the drill in a Kreg pocket hole jig. I got absolutely no complaints out of the drill as I bored through about 20 half inch pocket holes. After this, I started squaring up the frame and drilling all the pilot holes. All in all I drilled and dropped about 2 pounds of various fasteners into this table, and the battery gauge conveniently located on the back of both batteries still showed 2/3 power. I’m impressed with battery life and the XR lived up to it’s name. You win this round DeWalt.

DeWalt DCK296M2 Combo Kit Build Quality and Features

Starting with the hammer drill, I find the LED worklight is well placed to reduce any shadow on your work piece. It stays lit for 20 seconds giving you plenty of time to get in position. The all metal chuck with carbide tipped jaws let me know that the bit was nice and secure.

I also like the design of the clutch that incorporates the drill and hammer drill options on the collar. Some manufacturers put a separate switch on the body, However, with this design I feel confident that I’m in the correct setting for whatever application I’m working on. It’s no good hammer drilling the small screws in your kitchen cabinets because you forgot to flip a switch.

DeWalt DCK296M2 Mode Switch

The 3 speed all metal transmission adds durability and flexibility to this tool, and allows you to further customize it to whatever task is at hand.

Moving on to the impact driver, I used two different types of fasteners on my table build. This meant a lot of swapping back and forth between bits as I needed to fasten different types at different times. DeWalt uses a standard quick change hex chuck, but with an easy insert feature that was pretty handy at times. You still have to raise the collar to release the bit, but DeWalt’s design allows you to just push the new bit in and it locks in place. There’s no need to raise the collar, so loading bits is a one handed affair. This is nice when you’re in an awkward position holding a screw in place before you realize you have the wrong bit.

The impact has LED work lights in a 360 around the bit. In low light conditions this creates a nicely lit work space. It can also double as a decent flashlight when you need to dig around your tool box for something.

DeWalt DCK296M2 Lights

I found both hammer drill and driver to have nice ergonomics. All the controls were easy to manipulate. The tools are nicely balanced and easy to use in tight spaces and at different angles. The grip felt nice in my hand and the weight was manageable. The premium level hammer drill comes accessorized with a 360 degree side handle for when you need some extra leverage in high stress applications. The kit includes a somewhat flimsy carrying bag.

Both tools use a brushless motor for better power output. Since brushless motors don’t have to run at full capacity unless needed, this adds enhanced energy management and better runtime. There are also a few nice little features such as an extra bit holder on the hammer drill and belt hooks integrated on both pieces of the combo kit. Want to know more about brushed vs. brushless motors? Check out our article.

Compact or Full Size?

In the 20V MAX XR line, DeWalt offers a premium (DCD995) and compact model (DCD795) in the hammer drill. Both have very similar design and features. The major difference is dropping about a half inch of overall tool length and losing 290 UWO of power on the compact hammer drill. The premium kit is under model DeWalt DCK296M2 while the compact kit can be found as DeWalt DCK286D2.

I’m not really certain how much flexibility .6 inches makes on the job site, but who knows, maybe it could make it all the difference in the right scenario. The compact kit also comes with 2.0 AH batteries as opposed to the 4.0AH that come in the premium kit. Both hammer drills are relatively compact at 8.4 inches and 7.8 inches respectively. The impact driver (DCF886) is the same model in both the premium and compact kits.

DeWalt DCD995 Hammer Drill Specifications

DeWalt DCK296M2 Specs
  • Power Source: 20V Max Battery Pack
  • No Load Speed: 0 – 450/0 – 1300/0 – 2000 RPM
  • Unit Watts Out: 650 UWO
  • Chuck: 1/2″ Keyless
  • Weight: 4.7 Pounds with Battery
  • Warranty: 3 years

DeWalt DCF886 Impact Driver Specifications

  • Power Source: 20V Max Battery Pack
  • No Load Speed: 0 – 2800 RPM
  • Torque: 1500 Inch Pounds
  • Impacts: 0 – 3200 IPM
  • Chuck: 1/4″ Hex
  • Weight: 3.4 Pounds with Battery
  • Warranty: 3 Years

Final Thoughts

DeWalt DCK296M2 Work In Progress

For the DeWalt DCK296M2, I have one complaint and one request. On the hammer drill I noticed that the drill bit had a tendency to walk on me a little bit. It wasn’t much, but enough that my OCD forced me to use a center punch to be sure my pilot holes were exactly where I wanted them. My request would be for the addition of DeWalt’s 3 speed transmission option on the impact driver. Due to the relatively compact design, this driver begs to be used on more delicate applications, but the lack of control makes it a little risky. I plan to hang on to my 12v screw gun for more delicate work.

Considering it’s a brushless kit, the retail price of $369 is pretty much on par with the competition. You can go down some in price and get the similar specs in a brushed kit. You can also move into the top tier and get some additional power if you’re willing to spend more.

I’m hooked on a hammer drill and driver combo for life, I can’t imagine how I got by without one for this long. The humble drill and driver are a staple of my tool box and easily get the most work. However, with excellent battery life, power output, and the almost perfect combination of essential design features, the DeWalt DCK296M2 deserves serious consideration for anyone looking to upgrade or expand their cordless drilling and driving ability.

Buy the DeWalt Hammer Drill & Impact Driver kit at Acme Tools!

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