Metabo USA announced – only via social media – that they’ve come out with a new BS 18 LTX BL I cordless drill/driver that features new anti-kickback safety measures.
Note: It seems that Metabo uses the same model number for different generations of cordless drills. For this new model, search for order no. 602358520 instead of the model number.
Metabo USA’s video touted the new drill’s locking side handle, and they showed off the gyroscope-based anti-kickback tech, which has activates with both audible and visual indicators.
Digging deeper, we see that the max torque spec is 1151 in-lbs (hard torque), which is a little lower than the preceding model, which delivered up to 1300 in-lbs of max torque. This might be the first time a tool brand has stepped back from a max torque rating. It’s unclear why they did this, but 1151 in-lbs still reflects a great deal of power for a cordless drill.
Features & Specs
- 18V platform
- 1/2″ drill chuck
- Electronic torque control (electronic clutch)
- LED worklight
- 1151 in-lbs max hard torque
- 0-550/0-2000 RPM (no-load)
- Weighs 3.7 lbs without battery
- Weighs 5.3 lbs with 5.2Ah battery
Metabo Anti-Kickback Claims
Metabo claims that the gyroscope anti-kickback sensor they use, instead of an accelerometer, is more accurate and faster than their competition. However, they have not provided any information to back up this claim.
Different things can cause kickback in a cordless drill, such as when a large drill bit binds and the tool counter-rotates in response. Basically, if the motor is still turning, and the bit is stuck, the drill will move. When this happens, the drill will continue to rotate hard until power is cut to the motor. As kickback often results in a hard and fast motion, a user can suffer an injury before they can remove their finger from the trigger switch.
Anti-kickback tech detects these sudden counter-rotational movements and automatically cuts power to the motor. The key is for the anti-kickback tech to do this fast enough to avoid injuries to the user.
Accelerometers and gyroscopes typically detect movement in very different ways.
Accelerometers detect changes in velocity. Basically, this type of sensor detects the movement of a drill.
Gyroscopes measure changes in orientation. Basically, this type of sensor detects positional changes.
I am guessing that Bosch is “the competition” here, as they are Metabo’s only peer tool brand among the few to offer cordless drills with anti-kickback tech.
But here’s the thing – why would a gyroscope be faster at anti-kickback tech? Is the sensor faster? The response time? What justifies Metabo’s claims of their methods being “more accurate” and “faster?”
Can this potentially lead to greater instances of false-positive deactivations?
You might already be aware that Bosch Tools is part of a much larger company, but what you might not know not is that one of their sibling brands is Bosch Sensortec, a company that makes both types of MEMS sensors. Bosch should know a thing or two about accurately detecting kickback motion.
Speed and accuracy is important in anti-kickback tech, but I’m sure there are reasons for companies to use accelerometers instead of gyroscopes. We’ve never really questioned this before, as it made perfect sense, but now that Metabo is claiming their use of gyroscopes makes their anti-kickback feature faster and more accurate, it’s time to ask more questions.
The claims aside – this is good news that more manufacturers are adding anti-kickback technology. I’m not sure what the statistics say about workplace injuries from this phenomenon – but I suspect a lot of sprained wrists (perhaps worse) do occur.
This was a problem for out plumbers drilling with sleffeed bits. Their tools of choice were right angle drills like Milwaukee hole hawgs and super hole haws. They both would seemingly benefit from anti-kickback technology (a feature on some Milwaukee One-Key drills) .
The other place we were wary of kickback injuries was in drilling structural steel – where torque-reaction on breakthrough could be an arm-twister. There we’d prefer to use a magnetic drill press. But if not feasible – we’d often resort to using an 1/2 inch impact wrench with a chuck mounted.
New speed control module (no changes on working drill, hall sensor);
Changed place of control module;
Anti-Kickback direction based on direction of rotation;
New angle attachement
US Metabo: https://www.metabo.com/us/enus/tools/cordless-tools/cordless-drill-screwdriver/bs-18-ltx-bl-i-602358840-cordless-drill-screwdriver.html
Review (in russian): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHUziXoLO4M&t=106s
I have the original version of this drill back from 2014, it already cut off the motor when motor torque got too high, this seems to do the same thing. Perhaps if you’re not gripping the drill tightly enough, it might help?
I guess safety improvements are good, but they should focus their efforts on expanding their offerings, IMHO.
I have had a Bosch drill for years with anti kickback. It works really, really well. So well that I didn’t think about it at a friend’s house last winter when using an M18 and hole saw that caught something. My wrist hurt for days. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t really a standard thing. Kudos to Metabo.
You mentioned Bosch as a competitor but I’ve read on your blog about Makita XGT and Flex touting their new anti-kickback drills.
I don’t see Metabo considering Makita a competitor here. Makita has only added anti-kickback to specific 36V models, Bosch has several generations of 18V drills with this feature.
Maybe they meant “competition” in a plural sense, but I saw it as more of a singular call-out referring to Bosch.
Hikoki/Metabo HPT have reactive force control in their full size 18V and 36V drills. I guess they’re not considered a competitor to Metabo but I thought I’d mention it.
I’m a fan of this technology overall and would like to see more brands adopt it. In drill without it I’ve had success using the drill clutch to achieve a similar safety effect. When a bind occurs the clutch slips if it’s set to an appropriate level.
Stuart, what are your views on using the clutch for kickback mitigation? If it as simple as using the clutch why is it not publicized more? I have been told that a clutch is designed for use in low speed only but I can’t find this written in any power tool company literature. Any truth to this? Your thoughts?
Some clutch settings don’t give you the full torque range.
For this model, Metabo says that the “adjustable torque” range is 9 – 177 in-lbs.
The design can also vary. A lot of brushless motors now have electronic clutches which seem to be based on current draw/motor load.
Most clutches are designed to activate when the torque approaches the set/desired value. When a bit binds, torque goes up, but users can still get injured. If you have a perfectly solid grip on the tool, motor load will instantly spike. But if the user poses little resistance, you’re not guaranteed to trigger the clutch torque override/shut-off.
I know that some people try to use a clutch for anti-kickback measures, and I haven’t heard anything about what consequences this can lead to, but I don’t know of any that were designed for this.
From what I can tell, clutches are best used in low speed to avoid overshooting the desired torque level. At higher speeds, consistency and repeatability will suffer.
They took a step back from the 1300 inch lbs because that was an outright lie. Unless my larger Makita’s do 2,000 inch lbs. The Metabo 3 speed I had, touted at 1300, was more like 800.
I’m surprised you don’t include Hilti’s SF 6H-A22, which has Active Torque Control, as a comparable to this Metabo (and Bosch). It’s the same class of drill driver (22V =~ 18V), and Hilti has put this type of safety tech into their tools as long as anyone else.