This new Ryobi cordless hammer drill/driver (R18PDBL) from the company's own ONE+ system has a brushless 18v motor and we're running it on the very latest high performance Lithium+ 5.Ah rechargeable battery. With the Ryobi ONE+ system the £129.99 drill/driver is bought separately to the charger and battery, because the latter items can be used across a wide variety of over 50 other Ryobi cordless tools.
Built with durable plastics and a good amount of protective rubber material this is a nicely compact drill/driver which nevertheless feels solid, having a weight of just over 2kg with the 5.Ah Lithium+ battery attached. It is well-balanced when held with one hand and the rubber grip and trigger are perfectly positioned for optimum comfort in use. It has an easy twist 13mm keyless chuck mechanism and includes onboard storage which has a two ended screwdriver bit included. There is also a very good front facing LED light which automatically comes on whenever the trigger is pressed, and the beam is cleverly centred exactly where the bit meets the work in hand. Alongside this, all the other function switches light up except for the chuck direction switch. The new brushless motor is an important part of this Ryobi combi drill/driver, giving hopeful longevity, a 60Nm torque and 40% more use on a single charge with our 5.Ah battery.
Switching is easy between use as a standard drill, hammer drill or using the e.torque control when used as a screwdriver. There are two gear settings for use when drilling, and a standard sliding switch for clockwise and anti-clockwise direction which also immobilises the trigger for safety when centred. The trigger is pressure sensitive to increase speed as it is pressed, something which helps greatly in use and is fairly standard on most similar tools nowadays, but this one has a nicely balanced spring mechanism for accurate use. A nice addition is the inclusion of a blue neon light around the e.torque band which flashes when the desired torque is reached. The unusual thing about the e.torque is that when switching to the drill mode and then back to e.torque this Ryobi Cordless drill/driver remembers the last used torque setting and flashes when the previous setting is reached.
Standard Drilling: Well balanced and comfortable to use, this drill makes for easy-going when drilling through woods and other softer general materials where the hammer action is unnecessary. With the gear setting on number 1 it will not go too fast and you have good control over the drill. With the gear setting on 2 there is plenty of speed for more demanding drilling into metals or harder plastics, etc. The motor pleasingly never struggled in any of our tests and the battery capacity held up brilliantly.
Hammer Drilling: We felt that this mode was the most important to test well, given that the motor and battery strength are really put through their paces during the hammer action and any problems about this Ryobi combi drill's abilities would show under these pressures. Well, we turned the hammer drill setting on, placed an 8mm masonry bit into the easily hand tightened chuck and first drilled into a concrete block - we set the gear setting to number 2 and the motor whizzed the bit through the concrete with absolutely no problem at all. Now, much of our studio and its surrounds are made of granite and this has proved a problem for many a drill we've possessed in the past, so we had to try the Ryobi out on that truly hard natural stone. Firstly, it was simple to pinpoint our entry point, even on this uneven surface, because the variable speed on the trigger button works very well and is easy to manipulate, but once we had made that first embedding mark, we took the speed up to full and the dust flew. And yes, without a single hiccup we find the hammer action allows the bit to sink through the granite very easily. Of course you need a decent bit for this, but the main point is that this cordless Ryobi drives the bit at a high speed through this truly hard material.
Screwdriver: Once again this Ryobi combi drill/driver is comfortable to use when driving in and removing screws. The e.torque settings are from 1 to 10 and work well. When the desired torque is reached the blue neon torque light flashes and the motor immediately stops - it is very decisive and much better than those variants of electric screwdrivers that disengage the drive with the motor still going. The compact size of the unit allows access to reasonably tricky and hidden areas where screws might be used, although it is difficult to reach really tight areas with any electrically driven appliance - just as well they invented hand driven screwdrivers! Of course, once again the excellent touch driven trigger speed control is very important to help control these screwing procedures and avoid damaging the heads of the screws.
Battery & Charging
We found the Ryobi 5.Ah Lithium+ 18v battery (RB18L50 @ £99.99) compliments this combi drill well. It is not really too heavy, has a run time of around two and a half hours and charges from empty in about the same time from our experience. There are four LED battery level indicators. Other cheaper battery choices are available for the same equipment in the Ryobi ONE+ system, but personally we would stick with the Lithium option in all cases, although you might consider the Lithium+ 1.5Ah battery, which has a one hour run time, if keeping the weight down is important to you. Ryobi offer a single fast super charger (BCL14181H @ £39.99) that charges all the Ryobi Nicad, Lithium and Lithium+ 18v batteries.
This Ryobi Cordless percussion brushless drill (R18PDBL), part of the Ryobi ONE+ system tool range, is a well built excellent general drill/driver which is definitely up to the tasks of drilling and screwing that most people would anticipate needing to do around the home, and will without doubt be found in the toolkit of a great many professionals as well. It has the quality and feel of a tool that will last the test of time - and no plugs or wires anywhere!