Makita’s GPH01D Hammer Drill Hits the Power-Portability Sweet Spot
Staff, Courtesy of Makita
Trying to blend the power inherent in corded power tools with the portability that is the calling card of cordless tools is a fraught endeavor. Still, as manufacturers continue to pursue it, they occasionally strike a superb balance. We experienced that firsthand when testing Makita’s GPH01D, one of the best hammer drills—and overall power tools—we’ve used. In our recent cordless-drill test, it blasted 218 one-inch-diameter holes through Douglas fir framing lumber. We were pleasantly surprised by the number, but more impressive was how quickly it made them and how much control it lent us from the first hole to the last.
That reflects solid engineering, and the background there is as interesting as the tool’s accomplishments.
Makita’s 18-volt power tools always rank at or near the top of our tests. The line competes head to head with such stalwarts as Milwaukee and DeWalt and the emerging Flex. Makitas are expensive, but they deliver power, durability, and outstanding user experience that comes from sound industrial design as it applies to handle comfort, balance, and view of the cutline. Its 18-volt tools are among the most impressive in the industry. But still, the company felt it could deliver more.
Enter the 40-volt XGT line of power tools. These tools’ batteries are the same shape and size of those on 18-volt tools. The large battery (and this drill’s solid build) gives the GPH01D a comparatively heavy weight (5.2 pounds). Still, it handled nicely. But it’s the combination of speed, torque, and control that makes this tool so impressive. Its torque is 1,250 inch-pounds, placing it in competition with small impact drivers. But since this is a drill-driver with a hammer mode, it’s a lot more versatile. Its highest speed is 2,600 rpm, remarkably fast and several hundred rpm higher than comparable products.
Then there’s control. Cordless tools as powerful as this can kick back with a vengeance as you bury long drill bits in deep lumber. Another problem that comes from aggressive use is that the batteries can get so hot as to shorten their overall life. Makita did several things to address these problems. First, we had better control over speed and torque with a digitally controlled clutch, which has 41 settings at low speed and 21 settings at high speed (low speed is 0-650 rpm, and high speed is 0-2,600 rpm). High/low speed selection is simple, with a typical switch that slides between numbers 1 and 2. A thumb wheel and touch pad control the clutch. That’s one of the first things we noticed about the tool; the rotating clutch ring is missing.
With those settings coupled to a sensitive variable-speed trigger, you can handle wood, steel, and concrete drilling with greater precision and confidence. If, despite all that, you manage to stall the drill, its feedback sensing circuit (called AFT, for Active Feedback-sensing Technology) turns the motor off in a fraction of a second.
Based on our years of testing, we know that Makita’s track record of durability is very good. We have had tools break, but it’s rare. And it looks like the brand has done some things right here. The battery contacts have large surface area to reduce current density and prevent over heating; the drill’s all-metal chuck looks and feels hardy; and we couldn’t find any part that would loosen under load. Given that Makita fully expects you to push this tool to its limits, the brand equipped the rapid charger with two fans to better cool itself and the battery. The GPH01D looks and feels like a solid hunk of drill, and it is. If you choose to buy it, you’ll get your money’s worth.
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Published at Thu, 18 Nov 2021 23:47:00 +0000