Fein 4-Speed Cordless Drill/Driver (ASCM 18 QX) - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Impressive build quality, superb balance and presence in the hand, exceptional performance, and a great set of features set the standard for quality in this contractor grade drill/driver.

Fein 4-Speed Cordless Drill/Driver (ASCM 18 QX)

Fein 4-Speed Cordless Drill/Driver (ASCM 18 QX)



Fein is probably most well known for it's industry leading oscillating tools and super quiet, high suction power dust extractors. What you might not realize is that Fein now offers a line of corded and cordless drill/drivers and impact drivers.

All told there are 16 cordless products to choose from. The 'ABS' line consists of four 2-speed drill/drivers, available with a 14V or 18V motor and either a 2.0 Ah or 4.0 Ah battery platform. The 'ASB' line has the same layout for four hammer drill/drivers. Finally, the 'ASCM' line consists of eight 4-speed drill/drivers offered in 14V and 18V formats, with 2.0 Ah or 4.0 Ah batteries, and either a standard chuck, or the new interchangeable chuck (which is identified by the suffix QX). There are also two kits, one featuring a combo drill/driver and hammer drill/driver, and another that includes a drill/driver and the cordless AFMM 14 MultiMaster. You can view the complete line here.

Over the past month I've been using the ASCM 18 QX - a 4-speed, 18V drill driver with the 4.0 Ah battery and interchangeable chuck.

If you're familiar with the Fein MultiMaster or Turbo dust extractor you'll know that the body of these tools, made from a high quality polymer plastic, are about as tough and durable as you can get. They're very resistant to scratching, cracking, common shop and work site chemicals, and have a high strength to weight ratio. The end result is that the body of the tool will stand up to a lot of hard, day-to-day use without falling apart. The ASCM 18 QX looks to be made of this same polymer plastic.

The drill weighs in at 4 lbs 7 oz (with the battery installed). A good portion of that weight is taken up with the 1.5 pound battery. You could shave off a few ounces by using the 2.0 Ah battery, though I think the loss in runtime isn't worth the loss in tool weight. The positioning of the handle in the center of the tool provides excellent balance, which you'll appreciate if you use the tool for extended periods of time. As on all hand power tools today, there is a rubber overmold grip that provides a reasonable level of comfort. 

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All-metal gear train and brushless motor

It's what's inside the tool that really counts. The ASCM 18 QX features an all-metal gear train that is more durable, will last longer, and run smoother, than having composite or plastic components in the gear box.

The other feature, which is becoming more common on higher end power tools, is the brushless (BL) motor. If this is new to you, read our short Introduction to Brushless Motors. In a nutshell,
BL motors are lighter and more compact than conventional brushed motors, so the tools are correspondingly less bulky, they deliver better control over speed and torque, they provide longer battery run time, they're virtually maintenance-free, and they deliver a longer service life. All in all, you get better value for your money. 

As you can see in the photo above both the gear box and the motor are completely dust protected, which is especially relevant for anyone who works in an environment where there is a lot of sanding or grinding.

Fein's 'Safety Cell Technology' is essentially a separate communication line that runs from the motor to the battery. This enables digital circuits in both the motor and battery to work together to better control the delivery of power when and as needed, as well as to protect the battery and tool from damage due to overloading or excessive power draw.

fein_ASCM18QX_10
A different set of controls

You can't help but notice there is no 'clutch' on the ASCM 18 QX, and that there is a slide switch at the head of the tool.

This drill features a 15-stage electronic torque setting dial instead of a conventional clutch. You dial in the torque setting, from 1, the lowest, to 15, the highest (or choose the 'drill' setting that overrides the clutch entirely), and the tool's electronics control the amount of torque delivered, up to a maximum of 796 in. lbs. Whenever the preset torque setting is reached the chuck stops turning and you hear a beeping noise, rather than the chattering of clutches that you normally hear. There are, in fact, two 'drill' settings on the selector dial – on either end of the selector dial, which makes switiching to drilling mode that much quicker.

Just ahead of the torque selector dial is the slide speed selector. As mentioned, the ASCM 18 QX has a 4-speed gear box, and you select the speed range with this slider: from #4 (0-400 RPM) the lowest speed setting, to #3 (0-800 RPM), #2 (0- 1950 RPM), and #1 (0- 3850 rpm), warp speed. You can easily move the slider in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction with your thumb. Once positioned, the slider remains securely in place.
 
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Interchangeable chucks

Fein isn't the first company to offer a drill with interchangeable chucks. You'll find this same set-up on Festool and some Metabo drills. I've always liked this feature, as it comes in handy when you're constantly alternating between drilling and fastening. You don't need to have two separate drills on hand, or to remove the drill bit and attach the driver bit with a drill bit holder. You simply switch drive heads. The ASCM 18 QX comes with a 1/2" single sleeve self-ratcheting chuck and a 1/4" hex quick release chuck. I'd like to see Fein add a right angle chuck, which is very convenient for drilling in tight, constrained spots - just about any place where a conventional orientation won't work.

On the ASCM 18 QX this system works well. The chucks fit onto the output shaft very securely. You can also mount a bit directly into the output shaft. With a 1" hex bit chucked into the output shaft head length is only 7-3/4", making it handy for working in tight spaces. I found that there was a slight wobble on the end of the 1/4" hex chuck, though not enough to be of concern when you need to precisely drill holes or set screws.
 
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Carbide chuck jaws

I was pleased to see carbide jaws on the 1/2" chuck, as they provide better gripping pressure and prevent bits (particularly those with round shafts) from slipping. They're also practically indestructible.
 
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(L) LED work light, (R) fuel gauge

LED work lights and fuel gauges are so convenient that they should probably be considered essential components of any power tool. On the ASCM 18 QX the light is positioned at the base of the handle. I've used a few other drills with lights in this location, and much prefer it over those positioned ahead of the trigger. I just find they do a better job of illumination. It isn't a feature I often rely on, but when needed, it's great to have.

The side mounted battery fuel gauge is indispensable – not so much in a workshop, but definitely on a job site. It saves time and reduces frustration, as you don't always have a spare battery at hand. I make a habit of putting my batteries on their chargers at the end of the day so they're topped up the next go around.

The 18V, 4.0 Ah 
battery that comes with the ASCM 18 QX provides a heck of a longer runtime than 'older' 1.5 Ah batteries – a good 400% increase in runtime. I don't know how many charge cycles this battery will deliver, but I would expect upwards of 2,000. While a 2.0 Ah battery is available, it isn't much lighter, but provides an appreciably shorter runtime. For shop use the 2.0 Ah battery would be fine, but for job site use, go for the four.

The ALG50 charger that comes with the ASCM 18 QX will charge all Fein batteries from 12V to 18V. It only takes 45 minutes to recharge the 4.0 Ah battery - not too shabby.
 
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The ASCM 18 QX kit

The ASCM 18 QX comes with a removable side handle that can be adjusted a full 360-degrees. I found the handle a bit stubborn to attach, but once on, it's just like any other handle. I like to leave the handle attached all the time, but unfortunately, you can't put the drill back into the case with the handle on the drill. Very irksome.

The tool hard shell carry case is great. It's made of a durable high-impact ABS plastic and has a black comfortably rounded flat-folding handle, and a center lock. Because the handle lays flush with the top of the case it won't snag on anything, and it makes stacking the case that much easier.

 Two chromed steel latches provide a tight, secure closure. Like the handle, these sit flush with the front of the case. You'll also notice that the corners of the case are rounded, which makes it less likely to sustain damage when transported to and from job sites.
 
Four protrusions on the back of the case protect the lid hinges from damage, while a series of six 'feet' on the bottom of the case protect it from damage. To keep the feet from getting overly scuffed I added felt pads on the four corners - they're inexpensive and easy to replace.
 
On the inside of the case is a custom fitted high-density polystyrene molded insert that holds all the components neatly and securely. There's even room for a healthy handful of accessories.
 
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Lots of power, comfortable to use, super battery life

Fein claims that the ASCM 18 QX will deliver about 1,800 screw connections on a single battery charge. I would guess they used fairly short screws. Still, it's quite impressive. I decided to see how well the drill would work with real screws. I was able to fully sink 62 8mm x 360mm (5/16" x 14") RSS structural screws into the end grain of pressure treated lumber without pre-drilling. That's an equally impressive feat. I've also used the ASCM 18 QX for a range of other jobs - powering a 2" hole saw through dimensional lumber, setting 3" deck screws, and attaching deck ledgers with 1/2" x 6" lag screws. It's all just a walk in the park for the ASCM 18 QX. 

Anyone who makes their living using power tools will want to have a look at the Fein ASCM 18 QX. The build quality is very impressive, it's well balanced and feels very solid in the hand, performance is a good as you'll get from any drill/driver currently on the market, and it comes with a no-nonsense 3-year warranty that covers both the tool and battery. If these are of paramount importance then I doubt you'll go wrong with a Fein.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Brushless motor
  • 18 Volt, 4.0 Ah battery
  • QX Quick Change chuck system (1/2" keyless chuck and 1/4" hex quick release magnetic bit holder)
  • Carbide chuck jaws
  • 4-speed all-metal gearbox: 0 - 400/800/1,950/3,850 RPM 
  • Maximum torque: 796 in.lbs
  • Electronic torque setting
  • Dustproof motor and electronics
  • Weighs 4.4 pounds (including battery)
  • 3-year warranty (drill, charger, and battery)
  • Includes: 2 Li-ion batteries, rapid charger ALG 50, removable handle, 1/2" keyless chuck, 1/4" quick release magnetic bit holdertool case

COMPANY:Fein
MODEL:ASCM 18 QX
PRICE:$555
MADE IN:Germany
SOURCE:Dealer Locator
Atlas Machinery


Other Fein Product Reviews:

fein_FMM350Q_lead
FMM350Q Corded MultiMaster
Fein_AFMM14
AFMM14 Cordless MultiMaster
fein_turboIII
Turbo III Dust Extractor 
September 2014

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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