Stuart first covered the Hitachi Triple Hammer impact driver back in September 2016, so I’ll just restate the critical information about the product before I go into my first impressions of the tool.
The Hitachi WH18DBDL2 has a triple anvil design which is supposed to give you more power with less vibration. Coupled with a brushless motor for power and efficiency, this impact driver weighs just 2.9 lbs with a 3.0 Ah compact battery.
- IP56 rated
- 1832 in-lbs max torque
- 0-2,900 RPM Max
- 0-4,000 BPM Max
- 4-speed electronic speed control
- Weighs 2.9 lbs
- 1/4″ hex chuck
The 4 electronic speed and torque modes include: 1) soft mode, 2) normal mode, 3) power mode, 4) self-drilling mode.
The kit includes two 18V 3.0Ah battery packs, a rapid charger, and plastic case. The price has dropped to as low as $360 since we last wrote about it.
Stuart’s Note: I have a review sample from Hitachi, but this model was purchased by ToolGuyd at retail sale pricing. Ben came across a good sale price, and I encouraged him to buy one to check out, on our dime.
Early Hands-On Impressions
I’ve been using the Triple Hammer driver for small tasks the last few weeks and have noticed a few things that I really like about the tool, but also some things that bother me.
For instance, if you haven’t used the tool in a few minutes, none of the buttons — battery gauge, light selector, or the mode selector — respond until you pull the trigger. When I posted a video about it on Instagram, I was told that this was normal behavior for an impact.
This seems strange to me; one of the first things I do when I pick up a cordless tool is check the the battery level. I’m usually grabbing it from my shop to take it elsewhere and I want to make sure I don’t need to grab another battery. I guess the other buttons not working until you pull the trigger could be some sort of lockout so the mode or light doesn’t accidentally get changed, but it makes no sense for the battery gauge to operate that way, especially since Hitachi batteries don’t have on-board gauges yet.
Stuart’s Note: In theory, the buttons could be bumped when the impact driver is in a tool bag, leaving the LED flashlight on until the battery is fully drained. It could be this, and as you mentioned unintentional mode changes, that the lock-out behavior was designed to prevent.
Speaking of controls, the placement of the mode selector switch might be problematic. If you hold the driver in your right hand, it’s actually really conveniently placed, but if you hold the driver in your left hand it’s really awkward to access or view which mode you are in.
The last thing that annoys me about the Triple Hammer is the chuck. Many newer impacts have one-handed chucks where you just push the bit into the chuck and it locks in place. With the Triple Hammer chuck, you have to pull the ring forward to even get the bit to go in all the way. Then when you let go of the ring it locks the bit in place.
All the above grievances are fairly minor, Hitachi has done some things really well with this driver.
First, at least for the size of my hands, the Triple Hammer feels very comfortable — the grip feels like it was molded to fit my hand. With many other tools, when you pick it up, you might have to change your hand placement to make it feel good in your hand, but when I grip the Hitachi, my hand just goes to the right place and doesn’t move from there.
I think the Hitachi was designed for smaller hands without gloves. I don’t have large hands, I wear a medium glove and it seems like there is just enough room on the handle for my bare hand. I’m not sure if somebody with a larger hand grip will find the handle to be as comfortable.
The Hitachi is noticeably lighter than most of the other impacts I’ve held. It’s not just the light weight (2.9 lbs with the compact battery), but the balance. The center of gravity is just below the trigger, right about where your middle finger grabs the handle. So it really feels like an extension of your hand, especially when you have to twist your wrist to get to fasteners.
One afternoon I grabbed both the Hitachi Triple Hammer and the Milwaukee M18 Surge “impulse driver” to complete a bunch of tasks. I wanted to compared the two side by side wile doing the same operations.
Obviously, the Surge was quieter, but the Triple Hammer definitely seemed quieter than other non-oil impulse based drivers I’ve used. I pulled out a Milwaukee M18 Fuel impact driver for comparison, and found the Milwaukee impact to be was noticeably louder than the Hitachi.
While both models have a variable speed trigger, they both have a different feel. The Triple Hammer definitely has a lighter pull than the Surge, and so you have to be aware of how hard to squeeze the trigger when switching back and forth between the different tools. Neither trigger is better or worse, the weight of the pull is just a matter of what you are used to and what you prefer.
I didn’t try to drive any huge lag bolts or run time trials on which driver is faster, but neither driver had any trouble sinking the 2″ and 3″ construction screws I was using.
My favorite impact so far has been the Milwaukee Surge, pretty much because I really feel I don’t have to worry about wearing hearing protection while using it, and I know I’m not disturbing everybody around me. It doesn’t have to be a Surge though, that’s just sample I currently have, I think I’d prefer to use just about any compact oil impulse driver over a traditional impact driver.
The Triple Hammer has me re-thinking that stance. When it goes into impact mode, the sound doesn’t jar me the same way other impacts have. At some point I’m going to have to run some sound pressure level tests on it to satisfy my curiosity.
Until I picked up the Triple Hammer impact, the most comfortable impact driver I’d handled was the Makita black compact 18V. I think the Hitachi rivals the ergonomics of that tool.