The cordless drill has become ubiquitous on job sites and around the home. Typically, manufacturers are targeting either the contractor or the homeowner. However, Metabo HPT seems to be trying to strike the balance between the two and appeal to both consumer groups with the HPT combo kit. Will they be able to deliver? That’s what we intend to find out in this review of the Metabo HPT driver and drill set.
I have to admit, I underestimated the Metabo drill set. As you probably already know, Metabo and Hitachi merged to form the supergroup Metabo HPT (more about that in a minute). Personally, I have loved the quality of Hitachi’s tools for some time. Their miter saws and pneumatic nailers in particular are reliable and perform understatedly well. I have also used Metabo’s grinders in the past and have been impressed with their innovation and sturdy build.
But the danger of a merger is that after the financial guys get involved, they tend to water down the products in the short-sighted view of revenue. All the while they are riding the reputation down. Think of DeWalt and Emglo and then DeWalt and Black and Decker in the 1990s. Rather than raising one company to the high standards of the other, DeWalt wound up with a bad reputation for about a decade before righting the ship in the last couple of decades.
I say this to explain my skepticism of combining two companies that make tools that I like. I mean, on the surface it makes sense. After all, they were both green. But how would they improve, if at all? It’s like when two good bands form a supergroup. Ostensibly, this should be pretty cool. But things could get pretty weird in a hurry (ever hear of Chicken Foot?). But in the case of Metabo and Hitachi, it just seems to work like you would have expected. Which is unexpected.
The two companies’ merger is more akin to Bad Company. Now, that may sound like the worst possible result since their intentions were likely to be one good company. But from a metaphorical standpoint, they nailed the intent. Like the aforementioned band, Metabo HPT is aiming for a wider audience. They have managed to produce ballads they could sell to the masses, without alienating their hard rock fan base. And as it turned out, they made some great hits (like the multi-volt table saw). For Metabo HPT, that first hit for me comes in this combo kit. Let’s dive in and I’ll explain.
Sudden Impact – Unboxing the Metabo Drill Set
The Metabo HPT drill combo is somewhat of an enigma. One of the first things that stands out is how small they are. Both drills are lighter and shorter by design. Yet they pack a serious punch. The diminutive size and weight belie the impact drill’s underlying capabilities. Like the story of Lambert, this is a sheepish lion that has found its roar. Of note is that the torque, the variable speeds, and brushless motors are all on par with the contractor’s specifications. Yet the size, weight, and price point each appeal to DIYers and weekend warriors. Maybe Metabo is onto something here.
The Metabo HPT 18v drills are brushless. This means that they have more torque, are more durable, require less maintenance, are lighter weight, and don’t fuss with their hair in the morning. That boils down to one thing: they are ready for work right out of the box. The Brushless technology makes them both a subcompact and high torque drill kit. The impact has 1240 in-lbs of torque, which is about the same as a Nissan Sentra. But since it’s a subcompact, can fit into smaller parking spaces.
Meanwhile, the Metabo HPT drill driver boasts 485 in-lbs of torque. Which sounds cute when compared to the impact driver. So, I guess I should have started with that one. But when it comes to drilling, you don’t need that much impact. You’re more interested in speed and control. With the variable speed and manual clutch settings, you are in full control.
So you can be as gentle as you like when working with delicate projects. Or you can dial it up to 20 – which is the equivalent of 11 on a guitar amplifier. “Most bloke’s drills only go to 19, but when you need that extra little push – 20 is like one louder, isn’t it?” Or if you want to throw caution to the wind and go full drill mode, don’t say we didn’t warn you. In fact, you have to turn the dial 90 degrees. It’s almost like they don’t want you to stumble into the drill zone accidentally. As if they have created a whole DMZ between 20 and the drill setting. You have to want it!
Sizing Up the Metabo Drill Set
The impact driver is 15% lighter than their standard drill. The driver-drill is 20% lighter. So, that means you can shed weight without the diet. The driver-drill is only 6.2” in length while the impact driver is a mere 5.3”. All of this means that they can reach into tighter spaces and reduce fatigue even when using them all day long.
- Brushless motors
- High torque
What Do You Mean “Brushless”
I have to admit, I thought brushless meant that they had brushless motors – motors that styled their hair like Green Day. I could get behind that. But look closely to the back of these….
The “less” is capitalized. As in Brush Less. I’m not sure if this is a reminder to help Less with his grooming or if it’s just encouraging you to occasionally skip your dental hygiene routine. Either way, I like it. The message is either helpful or edgy. Other than alienating themselves from the American Dental Association, I think we have a winner.
Now, I may be misunderstanding this, but I lean more toward the idea of eschewing toothbrushes. After all, “alligators are ornery… ’cause they got all them teeth but no toothbrush” – Mama. It would stand to reason the same would happen to a drill. It may seem nuanced, but a brushless tool with a li-ion battery hints at the man-eating Tsavo lions of 1898. It turns out, they simply had bad teeth which made them more aggressive. And if I were being stalked by a toothless lion, that is exactly how I would scream “Li-ion!”; the pause between the i’s is where I poop myself.
But don’t worry. You won’t poop yourself with the Metabo HPT drill set. These are the sheepish li-ions at your disposal. They are docile enough for home and craft. But when called upon for heavy lifting, they don’t back down. Overall these are a great deal for anyone looking for an everyday drill that is capable of handling anything around the house or job site.
Taking the Metabo Drill Set for a Spin
Now that we have stared at them for long enough, let’s drill down into the details by actually trying them out. We can start with the drill driver. Which is the one that’s not an impact driver. We’re going to put these through their paces at home and on the job. I had a honey-do list of things to do, so I put the drills to work.
The first thing I had to do was hang a picture. This is a simple task, I know. Just a couple of holes in the drywall, but I wanted to ease into it before I put it through its paces. Obviously, drywall isn’t a problem for a drill, but right away I could see the benefits of the drill’s features.
First of all, it is lightweight. Which is noticeable when you are holding and using it. But also, if this was in your tool pouch you would notice a big difference. Ok, just for a couple of screws most of us aren’t going to fatigue. But the weight savings would make this a drill I would be happy to use all day long. But it does highlight the one gripe I have and that is the lack of a hook to hang it on a tool belt. However, it is small enough to fit inside a large pouch. Or I could just add a dedicated drill holster.
Secondly, it has a unique led light placement. When you look at the drill and you see it on the foot, you wonder how well it will work. But it puts the light exactly where you will need it without casting shadows from your off-hand. For the most part, it’s a pretty good idea. Plus I think it would be pretty good at hanging pictures in the fog.
Next, I wanted to hang some doors. I don’t like to over-tighten my hinge screws, so I always adjust my clutch setting. Of course, every drill is going to have a different setting for the sweet spot. The setting is extremely important for doors with MDF framing, as I’m sure you know. In this case, my doors were real wood, so I could crank them a little more. But that clutch keeps me from being overly ambitious (as opposed to the impact driver). I set the clutch to 13 for the perfect balance every time.
I had a couple of projects I wanted to get to in the shop, so I tried it on some plywood. I started with predrilling some ¾” birch. Which it handled with ease. So, I wanted to see how it would stand up to some hardwood. I drilled a couple of holes through some 5/4 oak. When the 5/16” drill bit had no issues, I put a larger bit in and let it fly. It had no problem even with such hard wood. If it had much more torque, I think it would need a handle to protect your wrists. Again, the weight and size make this drill convenient and easy for all-day usage. So a few holes were no problem. I could see keeping this as my everyday shop drill.
What about smaller projects around the home? My wife makes some crafts at home, including polymer clay earrings. Each one needs a small hole for the pieces to go together. Of course, any drill could work for this. But she ordinarily uses a Makita 12v because it’s lightweight and small. She tried the Metabo drill driver and actually, there isn’t much difference. In fact, the 18v Metabo is only 0.2 oz heavier than the 12v Makita. That makes it a pretty impressive all-around drill.
Next, we can take the impact driver out. While I wanted to be reasonable with the drill driver, I decided to put the impact driver through its paces. For example, I didn’t think it would be fair to try drilling into concrete with the drill driver. But I wasn’t as gentle with the impact. I used it on wood, metal, and even tapcons with no issues.
First up, I had a couple of pictures to hang. Of course, this was no problem to put a couple of screws into a fisher or a stud for any impact driver. But right away you notice the difference in size and weight. Being lighter and well-balanced made it easy to use the driver. And even though this project was finished quickly, I could see using it all day very comfortably.
The second project was to rehang some cabinet doors. I know, I should use the drill driver with the clutch dialed down. But I guess I like to break the heads off of stainless steel screws. I know, it sounds psychotic. Needless to say, I had to replace a screw. But at least we know it’s strong enough for screw decapitation, should you ever find the need.
Next up, I used it for drilling. Again, this is usually better suited for the regular drill. But there are times when you will only have one drill with you. With drill bits made specifically for impacts, you can carry just one and switch out the bits. In this case, there was nothing I could throw at the Metabo impact that it couldn’t handle. Whether it was drilling or driving, it had all of the oomph I needed or even expected from a bigger tool. Realistically, this can be an everyday workhorse for most tradespeople.
Summary of the Metabo Drill Set Review
All in all, I am impressed with the Metabo HPT drill set. Like an all-electric subcompact, high-torque version of the Sentra, they are economical, reliable, and come with a keyless start. They don’t brush their hair, which explains their radical stance on dental hygiene. Which, in turn, explains their aggressiveness.
So, who is the Metabo HPT Drill Combo Kit for? Contractors, homeowners, punk rockers, lions (with or without toothaches), commuters, and more. The only people who may not like them are dentists. And even that is purely for ethical reasons.
That said, there are a few improvements I would suggest. These don’t come with a belt hook, which would be a nice addition. The charging time is about 40 minutes, which is quite long for modern batteries. And finally, they could clean up their image with a “brush more” campaign to expand their appeal to the dental community and parents of small children.
These are some nit-picky gripes. And truth be told, Metabo HPT has to trade something to make this an affordable option. If the choice is between the quality of the tool or some conveniences, I think they have made the right sacrifice to make the Metabo HPT a great budget drill set.
All things considered, Metabo HPT is off to a good start with this combo kit. They have made a high-quality drill driver set that is affordable enough for the average homeowner, yet durable enough for most contractors. They are deceptively powerful little tools with a lithium-ion roar. A sheepish Li-ion indeed!