Bosch DDB181 18v Compact Drill Driver Review – I Call My New Drill “Hieronymus”

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Recently, I’ve had Bosch on the brain. Last week, while suffering through some sleepless nights due to a painful inner-ear infection, I sat up binge-watching a new detective series called “Bosch.” Flipping channels, the title caught my eye solely because of my love of Bosch power tools, but the story of Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and his dogged hunt for a serial killer turned out to be pretty engaging too. Bosch is a no-nonsense cop who never compromises his values and always gets the job done. Yup, just like a Bosch power tool! Maybe just like the Bosch DDB181 18v Compact Drill Driver Bosch (the tool company, not the detective) sent us to review.

Like Los Angeles Homicide Detective Harry Bosch, the new DDB181 (I call my new drill “Hieronymus”) isn’t flashy. It’s construction is incredibly sturdy, like Bosch’s black Crown Vic Police interceptor, but it is small and German designed, like the Heckler & Koch P7 9mm semiautomatic pistol that Harry Bosch carries as a backup. And like the H&K P7, the new Bosch DDB181 Compact Drill Driver packs a whole lot of firepower in a small package.

An action hero with the same name as my favorite artist AND my favorite power tool? I'm in!!
An action hero with the same name as my favorite artist AND my favorite power tool? I’m in! Photo – Amazon

Like the TV character Harry Bosch, the Bosch DDB181 compact cordless drill is new, but based on years of refinement. The TV character is based on the protagonist of 17 best-selling mystery novels by author Michael Connelly. The drill, on the other hand, is the latest in a long line of top quality cordless drills going back to the 1980s. If Harry Bosch had a cordless drill in the utility closet of his Hollywood Hills bachelor pad, I think it would be a DDB181!

Compact and compact-er.
Compact and compact-er.

The specs of the new Bosch compact drill/driver are everything you would expect from a pro grade cordless. 18 Volt power, 1/2″ Chuck, two speed settings (0-400 RPM/1,300 RPM,) 350 in lb. of max torque, LED light and sturdy, optional belt clip. Where it excels is not in what it has as much as what it doesn’t have. It doesn’t have the size of standard 18V drills. It weights only 3 lb. and the length is only 7.1″ length. That is an entire pound lighter than my 4 year old Bosch “compact” 1/2” cordless drill!

Side by side, you can really see the difference.
Side by side, you can really see the difference.

There are just so many reasons to like this new drill. It has nearly the size and weight of a 12V drill with the power of 18 volts. For an electrician, plumber or HVAC tech or cabinet installer who works a lot over their head and in tight spaces, this drill is a dream. I have to say that in 99% of day to day tasks, this is plenty of drill.

The new light location. Interesting!
The new light location. Interesting!

One interesting note: Bosch has moved the light from over the trigger to below the grip. I haven’t passed judgement on this move yet. I could see it as a possible improvement, as the light is less likely to be blocked by the chuck, but I could see it glaring in tight spaces. I’ll be interested to see if they keep that LED light position in future models.

If you are a fan of police procedurals, check out the TV show Bosch on Amazon Prime, or in the Mystery section of the public library. If you are a fan of well-designed, powerful and lightweight power tools, look for the distinctive red “BOSCH” letters on the side of the well-built tool. The BOSCH 18V Litheon 1/2″ Compact Drill Driver W/ 2 Slimpack Batteries DDB181-02 is on sale with our sponsor Ohio Power Tool for just $120!

Buy Now - via Ohio Power Tool

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About Rich

Rich Dana loves to build things, to tinker on things, and to grow things. After more than a decade as a historic building remodeler in Brooklyn, New York, he and his wife Ericka moved to their back-to-the-land dream home (and fixer-uper nightmare), an 1870s farmhouse on 15 acres in eastern Iowa that they call “Catnip Farm.” For the last 18 years, Rich has specialized in super-efficient historical renovations and solar PV installation. He is working to convert much of the farm into perennial food crops like nut trees and berries, and he helps Ericka out with her heirloom seed project. His latest passion is learning to sew.

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3 thoughts on “Bosch DDB181 18v Compact Drill Driver Review – I Call My New Drill “Hieronymus””

  1. Bosch is a great power tool brand. In your review, you mention pro grade cordless tools having 350 “lbs torque, and 1300 RPM high speed. These feature are more DIY than pro grade. Bosch usually has higher specs wtih their drills, just curious on why they claim lower.


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