Metabo has come out with the BE 18 LTX 6, an 18V cordless drill capable of reaching very high speeds – 4,000 RPM. It’s described as the ultimate pilot hole and sheet metal drill.
When drilling small pilot holes, or small holes in sheet metal – say 1/8″ through sheet metal to accept rivets, or maybe even 3/16″, you want more speed, not necessarily more torque.
Modern cordless drills are fast, but not very fast.
Drilling speed charts, at least the couple of ones I just looked at, gives recommended drilling speeds in the 3,000+ RPM range for smaller diameter drill bits (1/8″ or 3/16″ max depending on the chart). Some of the recommended values are impossibly high, such as for thin aluminum.
Sure, you can use slower speeds.
But for metalworkers who have to drill LOTS of small holes in thin materials, efficiency losses add up. It’s for these types of workers that Metabo designed their BE 18 LTX 6 cordless drill.
It seems to be capable of handling other drilling tasks as well, as long as users keep in mind that it’s designed for fast and light drilling. You’re not going to be able to drill large holes into plate steel, or into an I-beam with this drill.
- 4,000 RPM no-load speed
- 3/8″ chuck
- 1/4″ max drilling in metal, 1/2″ in soft wood
- 35 in-lbs max torque
- Weighs 2.6 lbs with 2.0Ah battery pack
- All-metal ratcheting chuck
- Ergonomic grip and lock-on switch
- Aluminum gear housing
- Made in Germany
Price: ~$185+ for the bare tool
(Pricing is converted from international vendors, since US pricing is not yet available.)
Buy Now(via Amazon UK)
Years ago, part of the reason I bought my Bosch hammer drill was because I wanted a higher speed drill for general purpose work and for use with accessories, such as a paint stripping wheel for cleaning up metal parts. I used it for masonry drilling too, but it has seen more use as a heavy duty drill and with non-drilling drill accessories.
Most cordless drills these days are aimed at general purpose applications, and the types of needs a contractor, tradesman, DIYer, or average industrial user might have. They can handle small pilot holes and holes in sheet metal.
I know some of you are going to look at the 35 in-lbs torque rating and think that it must surely be a mistake. I almost did at first.
It’s important to remind you of the somewhat specialty nature of this drill, and how it’s aimed at metalworkers and other users wanting to drill small diameter holes in thin materials.
When drilling small holes, you need speed, not torque. Well, a little torque, and that’s what you get with this drill.
The price is modest – under $200 if you convert from overseas product listings.
The tool looks a little unconventional, but it also looks quite compact when you see it scaled with a battery pack. And as listed above, it weighs just a hair over 2-1/2 pounds.
I can definitely see the appeal in this drill, and think that Metabo’s The Ultimate Pilot Hole and Sheet Metal Drill claim has a good chance at ringing true.
Here’s a link to a drilling speed guide:
In the shop – for sheet metal and composites drilling – we’d use pistol grip air drills from Sioux capable of no-load speeds up to 7000 rpm. and in-line drills from Dotco that turned (no load) up to 28,500 rpm
I used to run a machine with a 50,000rpm spindle and occasionally, I wanted 60,000rpm.
What’s bonkers is the HSM400u from GF Machining. IIRC it has something like a 18HP 42,000rpm spindle.
5,6 or 7 axis CNC mills are a wonder are they not? A long way from the old Bridgeport machine that I grew up with.
I was about to say simlar – of aircraft work into those AL alloys up to 1/4 inch holes or more you are going to want speed. One for the cleanliness of the hole and two so as to get though the materieal without heating it up.
ODD as that sounds when you start talking about spinning a bit at 5K rpm but is it chips away at hardened sheet 7075-T65 or something akin to that you will need to go fast with the right drill.
I suspect you will begin to see others offer this – mildly surprised it hasn’t happened yet.
good find – I guess that chuck is a 10MM or 3/8 max?
I wouldn’t mind having one but I don’t know I’d use it often. sort of thought someone would come out with a gear drive unit for a normal cordless drill but since you really want to press as close to the centerline as possible I’d want a custom tool.
It’ll be interesting to see how people use this. I wouldn’t think it would be well suited for aircraft construction and things like that where more specialized tools are available.
But if someone is using a regular cordless drill for dozens or hundreds of small and shallow holes, that’s the kind of user I think this drill would be a good match for.
I use mine almost exclusively for drilling small holes. Mostly in wood but sometimes in metal. All in my home woodworking shop. It weighs more than the claimed weight . The brush type motor is very strong. It very quickly drilled a 3/8″ hole through Douglas fir despite. I have a four amp compact Metabo battery which works well for me. I would like the drill better if it were more compact and weight less but it seems to be high quality and high power. There is no alternative that I know of with very high speed in a cordless drill. I took the chuck off mine and replaced it with the Metabo hex-chuck accessory.
Considering how many companies make high RPM drywall screwdrivers, it is surprising that high RPM cordless drills are so scarce. I currently use a cheap Chinese copy of a Makita 4000 RPM corded drill and am waiting for a Metabo 4000 RPM cordless.
Fein has had a cordless drill available for some time now with no load speed of 3850 rmp on its highest setting. The ASCM 18QX or QXC 4 speed drill. Not as light weight as this one but an excellent tool in its own right. A bit more versatile with its different speed settings and 1/2 inch capacity. There is also a 14v version available as well.
“Most cordless drills these days are aimed at general purpose applications…”
Why don’t professional grade tool manufacturers have a setting on the transfer case that kicks it into high speed? Metal workers are a significant percentage of their customer base, they already have low speed high torque, why not an additional gear for high speed low torque? Seems dumb that didn’t become the standard years ago.
There is. Most cordless drills have high speed/low torque and low speed/high torque settings.
But there’s a limit as to how high speed you can get.
Speed is sometimes traded for torque.
There are some 18V-class drills with speeds below 1500 RPM.
Dewalt did and may still have some with 3 speed gearboxes. I have one at work that has the 3 speed gearbox though, I don’t actually know what the 3 speeds are.
Marvin L McConoughey
Great idea! I keep a cheap 1/4″ Steele 120 volt drill rated at 4800 RPM, just for drilling pilot holes in wood. It saves time and makes even dull drills perform well. Getting rid of the cord would be excellent.
So seriously for the guy building his home bulit aircraft this might be a boon – There are a few corded drills I know of that run that fast also. I think Dewalt and Milwaukee both make one – but one.
few people have the sort of shop air to run one of the air drills most sheet metal guys will use.
HVAC guys – I could see this and a decent impactor being major player for HVAC installs.
uhm – maybe auto repair –
Looks like a SE 18 LTX dry wall screwdriver with a regular chuck.
Except that has more torque (62in lbs) and the same speed (4000rpm). Maybe the 35in lbs is a misprint.
A guy on a Metabo exhibition stand in the UK was a bit surprised at me asking about this today. He said this has been available over here for a couple of years. I spotted the same drill body (but with a black, not bright alloy finish to the gear case) in use on an autofeed screwdriver. Perhaps the one Chris P refers to above. It is very compact and, as usual, excellent Metabo quality.
Nice, but I still think that pneumatic tools are better for these kind of jobs, especially speaking of speed. Obviously this can be a quite expensive rig so…
What specialized tool needs speed.. 3000 rpm min. Required nibblers found on Amazon with their included accessory kit.. perfect for circles/semi-circles.. speed found in this unit would allow cutting of aluminum with a nice almost finished edge to it..perfect for automotive shroud mods.. @ least thats going to be my attempt. Sure i wish i had the corded Milwaukee high speed 5000rpm @ home depot.., bUT it is 600.00 buckaroos too & personally, too many damn irons in the fire so 2 speak financially.. so yeah.. this option is practical..
Bad dog tools makes multi -purpose drill bits and guarantees for life. But they need 3000 rpm Drills