A reader’s email (more on that tomorrow) led me to find out about Bosch’s newest cordless drill, the DDS181A.
At a glance, I can tell that the Bosch DDS181A is visually different from their DDS181, and a look at the specs describes changes beneath the surface.
Here’s a quick look at the Bosch DDS181A’s side profile. I can immediately see that the chuck is metal – or appears to be metal – and that the grip has some new overmolded texturing.
The adjustable clutch also looks different, which I can only tell since I own a DDS181 as my personal drill and know it quite well.
Taking a look at both drills side by side, with at attempt to scale them according to battery pack width and screw spacing, as well as trigger switch length, the new drill looks to be comparable in size.
- 600 in-lbs max torque
- 0-500/0-1700 RPM
- 7.0″ length
Product pages for the Bosch DDS181A drill don’t describe many differences. A sales page for the DDS181A kit that comes with compact battery packs reads the same as one for the DDS181. There are a few added details for the DDS181A kit that comes with FatPack batteries.
Durable, heavy-duty chuck – better bit retention and great torque transfer.
The chuck does look different, and it looks to be metal instead of plastic. (But… if you go by our recent plastic vs. metal drill chuck post, it seems that despite the appeal of a metal chuck, few users have had issues with plastic-sleeved chucks.)
Innovative, lighter 18V canned motor – more compact but the same power.
The DDS181A weight is listed as being 4.0 lbs, while the DDS181 weight is listed as 3.4 lbs.
Comfortable to use – weighs only 3.5 lbs. and is only 7.0 In. long.
Oh, so it’s 3.5 lbs and not 4.0 lbs despite what the specs tables show for all DDS181A models?
This is a durable and beefy drill that can power through the toughest materials.
Sorry, as much as I love my DDS181, it could NOT power through “the toughest materials.” For really heavy duty drilling jobs, I’ve had to reach for my corded drill, although these days competitors’ super-duty cordless drills might suffice.
Looking at the product summary for the FatPack kit, it says:
The Bosch DDS181A-01 Compact Tough 1/2 In. Drill/Driver kit has a tool that features Bosch’s innovative canned motor, which provides the drill/driver the same power but at a lighter weight and a more compact design.
And for the SlimPack kit it says:
The Bosch DDS181A-02 Compact Tough 1/2 In. Drill/Driver kit has a drill that features Bosch’s efficient, lighter canned motor, an innovation that gives the drill/driver the same power with lighter weight and a more compact design.
Okay, so it’s becoming a little clearer. Unless some of the benefits carried over from the DDS181, the main highlight of the DDS181A is that it is more compact and lighter in weight, while delivering the same level of power and performance. Plus there’s that updated chuck.
I wonder why Bosch didn’t just give the new model its own model number. DDS181A? That seems likely to cause some confusion.
Ah, looking at the SlimPack kit on Amazon, it’s described as the metal chuck version, with the DDS181 described as the plastic chuck version. So maybe that’s the main differentiation after all.
Pricing: $159 for the 2 SlimPack battery kit, $229 for the 2 FatPack battery kit, $99 for the bare tool, $169 for the drill and impact combo kit
There will also be an L-Boxx kit, pricing unknown.
So… the new drill looks to offer 2 main updates: a new metal chuck, and a lighter motor design that is said to result in lighter tool weight.
It’s hard to make sense of all this when the new drill’s specs actually show a higher weight (3.5 lbs or 4.0 lbs, depending on whether you look at the specs table or description bullet points, vs. 3.4 lbs).
But hey, surely it must be better, right? Right?
It looks to me like the drill has been redesigned from the ground up. So why give it a confusing model number, DDS181A? I would be more understanding if Bosch had simply changed the plastic chuck for a metal one. But the entire housings are different, the base area is different, the adjustable clutch is different, the grip is different, the vents are different.
The torque, motor speeds, and overall tool length are said to be the same, but that doesn’t seem like enough for this to simply be an “A” version.
I was initially excited to learn of a new Bosch cordless drill. Now, after trying to find out what’s new and improved, I’m a little confused and somewhat underwhelmed. Come on, Bosch, at least pretend that you want our money.