There’s been a lot of buzz here on Toolmonger this week about Milwaukee’s new V18 line that’s scheduled to hit shelves around the end of the month. We had the chance this week to check out the updated tool in the line — the hammerdrill — and thought we’d share some first impressions with you, as well as some less marketing-oriented photos.
Our first thought when we opened the box is that Milwaukee indeed made an effort to make this hammerdrill appear less bulky than previous models. It has a thinner look and feel, though it definitely keeps the solid, durable feel that you’re used to from Milwaukee. Like many current high-end manufacturers, Milwaukee integrated a number of different materials into the drill’s casing to make for a very comfortable grip. Fit and finish is excellent.
We couldn’t help but notice the all-metal chuck as well. It’s definitely a high-end feature, and goes hand-in-hand with the drill’s massive 500+ in-lb. torque rating.
The drill’s controls are simple. The gearbox’s two speeds are selected with a switch on the top of the drill. You can select from any of 24 clutch settings by rotating the ring just aft of the chuck — just like you’re used to. Even numbered clutch settings are marked in white on the ring, while the “in-between” clicks represent the odd numbers.
A ring right behind the clutch setting ring allows you to select from three drill modes: drill (no hammering action/clutch disengaged), driver (no hammering action/clutch engaged), and hammerdrill (clutch disengaged/hammering). Each is represented by a little icon: a drillbit for drill mode, a screw for driver mode, and a hammer for hammerdrill mode. So, if you were driving screws into a cabinet and had found the perfect clutch setting, then needed to drill a hole, you could simply switch to drill mode, drill the hole, then switch back to driver mode with the clutch still set. It’s not a totally new feature, but it’s handy none the less.
A horizontal switch in the standard location above the variable-speed trigger sets direction with a center position for “off.”
The V18 battery does indeed feel exactly like a smaller version of the V28. It seems larger and heavier than most Ni-Cd 18V packs we’ve seen, but it’s a bit of an illusion. Milwaukee’s quite different slide-on mounting system makes the battery appear more “square” and makes it seem to hang off the end of the tool instead of integrating into the base. Really, the V18’s back isn’t that much larger then most.
The slide-on battery mount is slick as well. The battery and drill mount are designed to allow the battery to mount forward and backward, so you can balance the tool more effectively for whatever load you’ve got on it. With just a standard drill bit, you’ll probably want to leave it in the “normal” mode, but should you have a heavy or long item in the chuck, reversing the battery shifts its weight to the rear to help balance it all. We really like the way the battery slides into the charger stand as well; It’s easier to deal with than the standard “stick it in the top” type.
We’ll definitely have more to say about the V18 this month as we have time to make use of it in some real-life situations, but our first impressions are quite positive. If you’re in need of a very powerful 1/2″ drill, you’re going to want to check this one out next month.