Bosch 18V Compact 3/8" Cordless Drill/Driver

Almost as light as a 12-volt drill with lots more power


Bosch 18V Compact 3/8" Cordless Drill/Driver

Small 12-volt drill/drivers are popular because they're so compact and lightweight, yet they deliver enough torque for a fairly wide range of drilling and driving applications.
The 12-volt Bosch PS31-2A, for example, has a 3/8" chuck, and a hefty little motor that delivers 265 inch-pounds of torque and speeds of up to 1300 RPM. And, it only weighs 2.1 pounds (with battery). In a cabinetry or furniture shop, or for installing trim work, where #6 and #8 screws in the 1" to 2-1/2" range are the norm, the PS31 is a great drill/driver to have on hand.
However, sometimes you need more torque, such as when setting 4" lag screws into 4-by lumber or drilling large diameter holes to run pipes, vents, wires and the like. Usually, a more powerful drill means a lot more weight and a bulkier format. Not so with the new Bosch 18V Compact 3/8" Cordless Drill/Driver (DDB180-02). For a marginal increase in weight, and a somewhat larger size, you gain a 50% increase in torque. And best of all, the DDB180 is priced about $20 more than the PS31. Sometimes big is better.

12V Bosch PS31 and the 18V Bosch DDB180

As you can see in the photo above, the DDB180 isn't much more than a 1/3 larger than the PS31. It has a head length of 7-5/8" versus 6-5/8" for the PS31, and weighs only .9 pounds more. You'd be hard pressed to find a lighter 18-volt drill/driver on the market.
The DDB180 is encased in Bosch's Durashield material - an ABS/nylon type polymer composite that provides protection from shocks, knocks and drops. According to Bosch it will withstand a 10-foot drop onto concrete without damage.

18-volt 1.3 Ah battery with Electronic Cell Protection
The DDB180 comes with two 18-volt lithium-ion batteries (#BAT609) with a 1.3 amp hour capacity. These batteries deliver reasonably good run time in a compact, low weight format. Replacements run about $94 ($50 US). You can purchase a 2.6 Ah battery (#BAT618) that adds a bit more weight to the tool, but double the capacity, for around $115 ($85 US).
The batteries are equipped with Bosch's ECP (Electronic Cell Protection), clever circuitry that protects the battery against overloading, overheating and deep discharge. According to Bosch, their ECP system ensures a four times longer battery lifetime. Since there is no practical way of testing this, we'll have to take it on faith. Even if the battery lasts twice as long it makes for a significant cost savings over the long term, particularly if you use the tool day-in and day-out.

Top mounted speed selector switch
As with all drill/drivers there is a top mounted speed selector switch. On the DDB180 it enables you to choose between high-torque (0-400 RPM) or high-speed (0-1,300 RPM) operation, depending on the size and depth of hole you're drilling or screw you're setting. I found the switch to be a bit stiff, requiring an aggressive push and pull to move the button, though perhaps with time it will loosen up a bit.
The clutch has 15 torque settings, plus the 'drill' mode. As you turn the clutch there is an audible 'click' in between settings, which makes it a bit quicker, I find, to make on-the-fly clutch adjustments. The DDB180 is also equipped with a motor brake that stops chuck rotation as soon as you release the trigger. I like this feature, particularly when I'm sinking a lot of screws consecutively.

Variable speed trigger, forward/reverse switch, LED light (in front of trigger)

No surprise on the location of the controls. The viable speed trigger is large and you can quickly and easily move the forward/reverse switch with thumb/forefinger. While the DDB180 lacks a battery power meter it does have a fairly bright LED work light - just in front of the trigger.
The handle is covered with a textured overmold and the overall impression when hoisting the drill is one of light weight and exceptional balance. This drill/driver also has a bottom mount battery, which I favour, because you can set the drill down on it base and it won't tip over.

Protection for rear end collisions

At the back of the DDB180 is a large rubber pad that adds some protection to the drill if you drop it, or if you knock the back end while working in tight quarters.

Metal nose
The 3/8" capacity chuck is plastic covered, but it does have a metal nose, making it much more durable. At least that's where any front end collisions are likely to take place. It isn't a chuck that you'd want to use on a job site, but then, the DDB180 isn't designed specifically for the trades.
If you constantly switch between drill bits and driver bits, then you'll really like the keyless, self-tightening (Bosch's Auto-Lock feature) chuck. It's a real time-saver.

On-board bit storage
Convenient belt clip
As my wife often reminds me, it's the little things that count. The DDB180 has two of them - on-board storage for one bit (a dual head Phillips #2 bit is included in the kit), and a removable belt clip, that you can mount on either side of the drill.

Decent case with extra storage space
You don't get a new style LBOXX with the DDB180, which is a pity as they're a marked improvement over the older style boxes. Still, a lockable hard shell case is much better than a vinyl bag - it provides more secure storage and better, moisture and dust protection. This storage box has ample room for a second battery, plus a lot of accessories - drill bits, bit holders, socket adapters, nut drivers and the like.

281 screws on a single battery charge
Bosch claims that the DDB180 will drive 160 3" screws on a single charge. I didn't have any 3" screws, so used 1-3/4" screws. On a single battery charge, without pre-drilling holes, I was able to sink an impressive 281 screws, with the drill in the high torque setting. I find these results very impressive indeed.
If you're looking for a compact, light weight drill/driver, but want something with more power than the typical 12-volt format offers, then I don't think you'll be dissatisfied with the Bosch DDB180.


  • 3/8" keyless auto-lock chuck
  • 18-volt 1.3 Ah lithium-ion battery
  • 15+1 clutch settings
  • 0-400 and 0-1,300 RPM
  • 400 in/lbs of torque
  • Motor brake
  • LED work light
  • 3 lbs weight (with battery)
  • 7-5/8" head length
  • 1 year warranty
  • Includes: 45-minute fast charger (BC630), 2 batteries (BAT609), 1 double-sided Philips drive bit, belt clip, hard shell case

AVAILABLE FROM:Tool and equipment suppliers nationwide
MODEL #:DDB180-02
MADE IN:Malaysia
Carl Duguay, May 2012
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