Metabo 18V Impact Drill Driver

A winning combination of innovative technology and durable construction

metabo_drilldriver

Metabo 18V Impact Drill Driver



There are three classes of drill/drivers In Metabo's new PowerMasterSeries of lithium-ion cordless tools: L-class (light duty), LT-class (medium duty) and LTX-class (heavy duty). All three classes are available in both 14.4V and 18V configurations as BS models (drill/drivers). As well, the LT and LTX classes are also available as SB models (with an impact hammer function).
 
All three classes of the new Metabo drill/s share a new motor design, new electronics unit, and new battery technology. It's this 'under the hood' technology that really distinguishes these drills. The LTX model I looked at, the SB18LTX, is their high-performance unit, designed for extreme duty. It will be of specific interest to cabinet installers, carpenters, contractors, plumbers, electricians and professional woodworkers - indeed anyone who is looking for maximum power, minimum weight and extreme durability.
 
The SB18LTX is powered by a newly designed 4 pole motor that delivers a continuous running torque of 389 in-lbs, and up to a honking 885 in-lbs of momentary torque when you need all the power you can get. This new motor is smaller than previous Metabo motors, and coupled with a smaller aluminum die cast gear housing, it reduces overall drill weight to an impressive 4.6 pounds. As well as helping to reduce overall weight, the aluminum gear housing offers the added benefit of better heat dissipation. One of the things I noticed about the SB18LTX was how compact it looks and light it felt, particularly in comparison to other high end drills that I am familiar with.


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(1) 4-pole motor (2) Electronics unit (3) Integrated single cell battery    

 
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(1) Torque adjustment clutch (2) Needle bearings (3) Spindle (4) Die-cast gear housing   
  
There are two gear settings on this drill. You can select the first gear (0 to 400 RPM) when you need low speeds and high torque for setting bolts or screws; or you can select the second gear (0 to 1,400 RPM) when you need high speed and lower torque, which is preferred for most drilling tasks, particularly when using smaller diameter bits. There is also a torque adjustment clutch that enables you to augment the torque from 13 to 31 in-lbs (in first gear), and from 31 to 114 in-lbs (in second gear).
 
Quite a few of the drills I'm familiar with use bushings. The SB18LTX does away with bushings in favour of sealed, permanently lubricated ball and needle bearings, with each gear mounted on an individual bearing. You'll find bearings on higher end motors. While they increase production costs, they do offer a lot of benefits over bushings, including increased motor durability, smoother delivery of power, and reduced shaft noise.


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(A) Trigger (B) Forward/reverse/lock switch (C) Gear selector
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(A) Impact hammer selector (B) Torque adjustment clutch
The SB models have an impact hammer function, which you'll appreciate for those times when you need to drill Tapcon screws into concrete, install decking or set lag bolts into pressure treated lumber. Before using it you need to switch the drill to second gear (high speed). In impact mode the drill delivers an impressive 28,000 impacts per minute.
 
The newly designed electronics unit works in conjunction with a new battery technology called Electronic Single Cell Protection (ESCP). The electronics unit monitors temperature and overall power load, and can automatically shut the drill off if it reach a critical temperature threshold. It also effectively prevents the battery from overcharging. Two 2.6Ah batteries comes with the SB18LTX. The integrated single cells are float mounted to extend battery life.


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Fuel gauge
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Side bumpers
The Metabo battery charger is unique, in that it has a built-in fan that cools the battery as it charges. According to Metabo, this both shortens charging time and extends battery life. On the back of the charger is a capacity display (fuel gauge). Pressing a button will indicate the charge level - four LEDs indicate the power reserve, from 25% to 100%. This is a very useful feature to have, as who wants to climb up scaffolding or onto a roof, only to find that the battery is dead. A two second check is fine by me.
 
The removable padded side handle can be easily rotated 360° to accommodate any drilling situation. Side handles are especially convenient when using large diameter or extra long bits. I tend it leave it on all the time. However, with the handle removed you can mount the drill on a portable drill stand that accepts a 43mm collar. A very nice feature, considering no one wants to cart a stationary drill press to and from the job site.


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Handle rotates 360°
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Uniquely positioned work light
Most drills now feature work lights, and the Metabo is no exception. However, this light is in an unusual location - it sits atop the battery housing, and directs the light upwards towards the work area. I found it very effective - the light is quite bright and it doesn't cast hard shadows as conventionally placed lights do.
 
On a job site power tools can take a real beating. I liked seeing the rubber bumpers on either side of the base of the drill; they'll help to absorb any impact, especially when manoeuvring into tight or confined spaces.
 
The keyless steel chuck (1/2" capacity) will stand up to a lot of abuse. It's easily tightened with one hand, and there wasn't any slippage when setting 1/2" bolts or drilling 1-1/2" diameter holes in hardwood using a high torque setting.


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Keyless steel chuck
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1/4" hex recessed spindle
This is the first drill I've encountered where you can remove the chuck to reveal a 1/4" hexagon recessed spindle. This would be useful when you need to get into hard to reach places. The spindle isn't magnetized, so hex bits easily fall out. However you can purchase an optional hex bit retainer. I'd want to be careful using it without the bit retainer, as you could easily damage the exposed spindle threads. While removing the keyless chuck isn't overly time consuming I'd rather just insert a quick change hex bit holder into the chuck rather than remove the chuck every time I want to use hex bits.
 
So what didn't I like? I'm not overly fond of the hard shell case that comes with the SB18LTX. I think that the first time it gets tossed into the back of the truck it's likely to break. I would have liked a belt clip on the drill. When moving about a work site it's convenient to have your drill close at hand (or close at side to be more exact). I find a belt clip more convenient than a holster. This new class of drill comes only in a pistol grip handle. I would have liked the option of a T-grip handle, which I find somewhat better balanced and less likely to tip forward when there is a large (or extra long) bit in the chuck. There is a bit holder that comes with the SB18LTX, but you can only use it if you remove the side handle. Anyway, I found that bits too easily slipped out of the holder.
 
Testing this drill by setting 1" screws or drilling 1/4" holes seemed like having a thoroughbred horse pull a cob cart. A drill like this really shines on the job site. I put it through its paces driving 4" #14 screws into 2x6s, setting 6" lag bolts into pressure treated stock, drilling 3/4" holes through doubled up 2x6s, and drilling 1-1/2" holes in 2x6s with a self-feed bit. The SB18LTX performed flawlessly, handling each drilling or driving task with ease.
 

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The SB18LTX is, without doubt, one of the best impact drill/drivers I've ever used. It offers a winning combination of durable construction, light weight, good balance, excellent comfort in use, loads of torque, and ample speed for any drilling or driving task that I'm likely to encounter in the shop or on a job site.

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KEY FEATURES:

  • 18 Volt, 2.6 Ah lithium-ion battery
  • 389 to 885 in-lbs of maximum torque
  • Dual range torque adjustment: 13 to 31 and 31 to 114 in-lbs
  • 2 speed gearbox: 0-400 and 0-1,400 RPM
  • 0- 28,000 impacts per minute
  • 1/2" quick change chuck with spindle lock
  • Reversing switch
  • Planetary gearing
  • Air cooled battery
  • LED work light
  • 4.6 lbs weight
  • 3 year warranty
  • Includes: two batteries, charger, side handle, bit holder, storage case
  • Optional: hex accessory bit retainer

MANUFACTURER:Metabo
AVAILABLE FROM:Tool and equipment suppliers nationwide
RETAIL PRICE:$468.00
MODEL #:SB18LTX
MADE IN:Germany

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