Pros: fast, powerful, not noisy, build quality
This is a review of the Makita Lithium ion hydraulic impuls driver BTS130SFE / BTS130RFX (November 2006).
I was looking for a reliable quality cordless drill / screwdriver and had good experiences with Makita in the past, so I considered their products in the new Lithium ion range:
1. drills with 3 gears.
2. impact driver.
3. hybrid impact drill, a four-in-one tool: it can (hammer) drill and (impact-)drive screws.
4. hydraulic impact drill BTS130SFE , or "impulsscrewdriver" as it is advertised in Europe.
5. impact wrench.
Note that I am an enthousiastic DIYer, not a professional metal worker. Nevertheless, I tend to do my research before I buy something and I am prepared to spend a bit more for a quality product. Important factors for me were: compactness, versatility and reliability. I have used Makita for many years and their tools have always been reliable so that was the main reason I looked at Makita again. Compactness made me decide to go for an 14V tool and not for the 18V series.
I heard many good things on impact drivers, especially their strengh and lack of kick-back. Therefore I also looked at them. I dropped the wrench (nr. 5) because of it specialised use for high torque bolts (car wheels etc.). So that left me with 1-4. Although a 3-gear drill has its advantages for drilling in metal (high speed) it is bulkier than the rest so I dropped that one also. A drawback of impact drills is their sound: they are noisy devices when they start to hammer. The hydraulic unit is the exception here as it is specifically designed to minimze noise by utilizing a different impact principle: instead of a hammer it uses haudraulic oil pressure. That, plus the fact that I did not need a hammer drill (btw, I think 14V is a bit too underpowered for hammer drilling) and the higher speed of the hydraulic unit made me decide to buy it. Note that the unit has a chuck for 1/4" bits as all impact drivers. For this reason I also bought a seperate chuck with a 1/4" hex shaft so that I can use it as a drill as well. Note that the hydraulic unit has a lower torque than the impact driver (30 Nm vs. 130Nm) but it has a faster rotation speed. This makes it also suitable for drilling, although this is not what the unit is primarily designed for.
Fine, so what are my experiences with this tool?
Compared to a normal cordless drill it rotates fast - also while driving screws - and this takes some getting used to. After some practice you learn how to control its speed at low rpm. Weight of the entire unit incl. battery: I would say medium. Not the lightest, not heavy/bulky either. Sound: comparable to a standard cordless drill, that is at low rpm very little sound at all, and at maximum rpm you hear a normal nonannoying engine sound. Not the 'taka taka taka'sound of an impact drill that uses a hammer.
Although an impact driver is not designed to be used primarily as a drill, you can drill with it remarkably well. The seperate chuck with hex shaft sticks out quite a bit, making the entire construction less stiff. As soon as you start drilling however, you do not notice this anymore. I expect this to be even less when using drills with hex shaft straight away in the Makita's 1/4" head. Drilling in wood goes effortless: I tried standard spiral drills up to 10mm and larger 'speed drills' up to 24mm without any problem. I also drilled in metal up to a few mm diameter, again without problems. Clearly the high rotation speed of the unit is beneficial here.
I tried to drive screws with and without predrilled holes in softwood: in all case driving screws goes extremely fast. You have to take care to stop early enough. I did screws with diameters up to 4mm without any problem. You clearly feel the power of the tool when driving the screws in.
Screwdriving in hardwood and metal: not tried yet.
- Screwdriving in wood goes very fast and effortless;
- Also very suitable for drilling in wood and metal;
- Although it is too early to tell, I expect this tool to be reliable, based on my experiences with Makita tools;
- Li-ion battery (lighter, compacter, chrages quickly, higher energy than NiMh batteries);
- Build quality: the entire unit feels strong and tough;
- Built-in white LED light: not a reason to buy this tool, but is is a little extra.
- Expensive (745 euro, including seperate chuck);
- Fast rotation speed needs a bit getting used to. This is not really a weakness, just a property of hydraulic impact drivers;
- Carrying case is a bit too large. Not a deal breaker of course, but I don't like these too large cases in which everything starts moving around.
A quality product for drilling and screwing. To me it seems to have all the advantages of normal cordelss drills and imact drills without the hammering noise. Only for driving high torque bolts (>30 Nm, i.e. car wheels etc.) this unit is perhaps not powerfull enough and then you might look into specialised impact drivers/wrenches.
Update May 2007:
After half a year of use, I have not changed my opinion. I have bought a set of drills with hex shaft and that works really neat: really worth the few extra euros, since you save a lot of time in this way. I recommend the product.