As part of our paid partnership campaign with Lowe’s, we’ve been exploring their new Kobalt 24V Max XTR cordless power tool combo kit. I’ve been spending a lot of time with this kit, learning its ins and outs.
I have been debating about what I should focus on for my second post here. Do I talk about how the drill/driver plows through wood with ease? Or how the Kobalt reciprocating saw does a splendid job, even comparing well against pro brands’ models?
Should I discuss about how this is a superb new brushless power tool lineup that will exceed your wildest expectations?
As part of this sponsored campaign, I’ve been given a list of key selling points to keep in mind. For instance, here are the bullet points Lowe’s and Kobalt used to introduce me to the new 24V Max XTR cordless power tool system:
- Industry-leading motor
- Industry-leading battery technology
- Up to 50% extra performance compared to 1st generation Kobalt 24V Max tools
- Fully compatible with all Kobalt 24V Max batteries
- XTR is an extension to the Kobalt 24V Max lineup
- Focus on heavy DIY users and value-conscious pros
- XTR will be sold alongside (and not in place of) current models
- Industry-leading innovation
I have repeated this here, because it’s good to know.
Different users have different needs, but there’s a singular question that I always try to answer when cutting through marketing details and everything else that’s said on paper.
Why should I care? Or, what do I care about?
I could spend much time expanding upon the on-paper marketing language, and there will be plenty of timed to do so when I write up each tool separately once the sponsored campaign runs its course.
Here, I’m going to tell you all about 5 things that stood out to me about these tools. These are among the most significant factors that would make a difference to me if I were shopping for a new cordless power tool combo kit and looking at brands aimed at DIYers and value-focused pros.
1. Kobalt Delivers on All Marketing Promises
The new Kobalt 24V Max XTR cordless power tools are said to deliver MORE POWER, MORE PERFORMANCE, and MORE FEATURES, and they do exactly that.
More power and more performance is enough to give these tools a competitive edge against like-priced cordless power tools, even brushless models.
I’m used to there being asterisks next to marketing claims, even invisible ones. Sure, these new Kobalt XTR cordless power tools do deliver more power and performance than the previous generation models, but also a lot more than competing products as well.
With these tools, I’ve learned that there’s no (compared to “standard” tools that went obsolete 5 years ago) “gotcha.” They deliver more power and performance, period.
What does that actually mean? In my experience, more power and performance generally means faster task completion, and the ability to accomplish heavier duty tasks without having to hunt down a larger tool.
Having seen what these tools could do, I can’t think of any drilling, driving, or cutting task that I’ve used cordless power tools for in recent years, where these tools wouldn’t have been enough. Maybe there were certain tasks that demanded more power, but in those cases, these would have been the wrong types of tools.
2. Compact 4Ah Battery and With a Better Fuel Gauge
Despite having been using larger form factor cordless battery packs for a while, it has been difficult for me to get into the habit of using “compact high capacity” batteries. A compact battery, even a 4Ah battery pack, seems like an unnatural fit for heavier duty cordless power tools, such as circular saws and reciprocating saws.
My hesitation about using smaller batteries with high-powered tools stems from years of being accustomed to the reality behind “you need a high capacity battery for tools like that” recommendations and official advisement. Some brands’ tools were even physically incompatible with their compact batteries.
This compact 4Ah battery has proven itself to be quite capable, powering each tool through any and every task with ease.
This 4.0Ah “Ultimate Output” battery is one of the best parts of the Kobalt 24V Max XTR launch.
Even better, it has a 4 level LED fuel gauge, which I really like compared to 3 level gauges. With a 3 level battery gauge, one light usually means you should really get to a charger soon, two lights span the bulk of the range, and all three usually just means you just charged the battery and didn’t use it for anything yet. It’s helpful, certainly, but having 4 indicator levels better informs me as to how much more work I can accomplish before having to find a charger.
3. Drill/Driver with Anti-KickBack Tech
You know what cordless drill kickback feels like, right? If not, consider yourself lucky. Kickback is the counter-rotational forces that are exerted on users when a high-powered drill binds, jams, or otherwise seizes while drilling a large hole or driving a large fastener.
When kickback occurs, all of the energy that would go into the work is instantly transmitted to the user. Even with a strong grip on primary and auxiliary handles, you’re going to feel a bit of strain – at the least. Fatigue is the least that can happen, and severe injury the worst.
We’ve heard of kickback resulting in people falling off ladders, being smacked in the face with their tools, or suffering wrist strain and related injuries.
With the anti-kickback tech in Kobalt’s cordless drills, there is less risk of personal injury, as the tool shuts off the moment kickback conditions are detected.
While there will always be the risk of injury when using tools of any kind, I am very much appreciative of features that work to reduce such risks wherever possible.
Here’s a quick video showing off the anti-kickback feature. The aux handle is only removed for display purposes.
While I’d like to show you a similar test conducted with a powerful cordless drill not equipped with such a feature, there is always risk of bodily injury. I dug out a powerful drill by a pro brand, and using a push stick to avoid injuring my wrists, I tested it with a fastener deeply seated thanks to high impact driver torque.
The kickback forces were enough to propel the spinning drill several feet away, and without anti-kickback tech, all that counter-rotational energy would have went into my hands. Powerful drills have powerful kickback unless there’s an anti-kickback sensor and shut-off programming.
This is a feature you’ll be glad to have.
In my testing experience so far, the anti-kickback tech has done a great job. I’m satisfied with the response time, which seems to be swifter than I can release a trigger once a kickback event occurs with other high-power drills.
4. A Circular Saw Without Compromise
I have been having a great experience with the new Kobalt 24V Max XTR circular saw as well.
I have mainly cut 2x construction lumber with it so far, and some sheet goods.
When comparing this against other cordless circular saws, I’d start by looking at the shoe. Three dimensional shoes usually cost more to make than stamped steel shoes, and in my experience they hold up better.
So, off the bat, the circular saw wins points from me for the nice shoe.
What is the blade guard made of? On a cheaper saw, you’ll find a plastic blade guard. Here, the Kobalt XTR cordless circular saw has a metal guard.
Metal is usually more durable than plastic, and for something that contacts the ground every time I put the tool down, greater durability is a plus.
The control levers are large and easy to toggle, and the angle and offset markings are clear.
The Kobalt 24V Max XTR circular saw bare tool is priced at $149, and at the time of this posting, you get a free 4Ah battery with it.
Shown above is a brushless circular saw from Brand-X, priced at $119. That brand’s circular saw is a good model, and I have nothing bad to say about it.
What do you get for the Kobalt XTR’s higher price? First, more speed in the form of faster RPMs.
But also look at the construction – you get a better shoe, metal blade guard, and larger more comfortable user controls.
If you want a cheaper saw with compromises, this isn’t the tool for you. But if you want a more premium user experience, that’s where the Kobalt XTR tools shine.
This isn’t the cheap tool you upgrade from once you get fed up with it, it’s the premium and polished tool you upgrade to.
5. Superb Impact Driver
The Kobalt XTR impact driver is a very comfortable size. It has both power to spare, and lower speed settings that reduce the potential for damage when driving smaller fasteners.
Here’s how fast it can drive in a 5/16″ x 3-1/8″ lag screw alternative, with no pilot hole:
Next it was my first attempt. I wanted to see at which point I could stall the impact, and it drive the large screw an additional 1/2″ or so and then stripped out the hole.
This could very well be the most powerful impact driver I’ve tested so far, and yet its speed control still allows for small fasteners to be driven with reduced risk of damage.
What About the Reciprocating Saw?
Power, speed, a pivoting and extendable shoe, and comfortable use provide for satisfying user experience.
Since I already gushed about the recip saw on social media, I wanted to give some spotlight to the other tools in the 5pc combo kit.
Here’s a look at what I already said about the Kobalt XTR reciprocating saw:
Reciprocating saws are not as glamorous in their use or results as circular saws or other tools used more to create than to break down, remove, or demolish, but they still need to be capable and comfortable to use. So far, this one has not disappointed.
As a Reminder…
All of these new Kobalt 24V Max XTR cordless power tools are fully compatible with existing 24V Max batteries.
If you’re already in the Kobalt 24V Max system, the new 4.0Ah Ultimate Output battery might be a compelling reason to spring for a kit instead of a bare tool.
Thank you to Lowe’s for providing the review samples, and for giving us the opportunity to explore these tools as part of a sponsored campaign.