Best Pistol Grip Drills for Timber Framing

Just about every homeowner and timber framer has pistol grip drills. They are about as standard as hooks are for anglers. But distinguishing the good from the not-so-good or a great heavy duty drill may not be a straightforward as hook line and sinker. What distinguishes a terrific drill for DIY projects and timber framers comes down to power, durability, capacity and the ability of the tool to put in a full day’s work.

HITACHI

DEWALT

MAKITA

MILWAUKEE

Amps

9

10

7

8

Weight

4 3/5

4.9

4.6

5.4

Max RPM

850

1200

950

850

Drill Depth

2 -1/8"

2- 9/16"

1-1/2"

3-5/8"

Hitachi D13VF 1/2-Inch 9-Amp Drill, EVS Reversible

pistol grip drills

This variable-speed, reversible Hitachi  D13VF  features two-finger control with lock-on capability for continuous use. It comes in 600 RPM or 850 RPM no-load versions, with a strong max torque of 416.6 inch-pounds for the 850 model. The 650 appears more suitable to the DIY crowd than industry professionals. Built with a cast aluminum gear housing that meets commercial standards, the 850 RPM effectively reduces heat. The handle incorporates form fitting grip design. Designed for pro use, an optional angle attachment can be adapted and it has a convenient belt hook for trekking around job sites and up and down ladders.

Owners give the product relatively high marks, depending on the type of work you handle. The locking side handle has pros and cons. It can be set on the right or left, but lefties sometimes trip the reverse button accidently. On the other hand, its thoughtful ambidextrous design and excellent balance earn praise.

Although the front handle gives the optics that you’ve signed on for tremendous power and deep drills, the wood drilling capacity is only 2 1/8 inches. On the other hand, the torque strength is more than adequate for tough harwords. Weighing in at a modest 4 3/5 pounds, which makes it great in the air on a raising, this Hitachi trends towards the folks only cutting one or two frame. It’s a solid drill for drilling 1" peg holes, and it the one in my tools box.

DEWALT DWD210G 10-Amp 1/2-Inch Pistol-Grip Drill

DeWalt has a solid reputation for excellent pistol grip drills and this model DWD210G  will only further its good name. The high-capacity, variable speed motor hits an impressive 1,200 RPM and features a soft-grip, rubberized handle for improved user control. It’s also designed for two-finger trigger action and has the industry standard reverse capability. DeWalt employs metal gear housing so the tool can sustain the rigors of commercial job sites.

The manufacturer makes the claim that its motors generate “50 percent more power.” The numbers on this model won’t raise an eyebrow against that statement. This 10-AMP DeWalt delivers 2 9/16 inches of wood capacity and a handles a ½-inch twist bit when working on steel and other metals. It also demonstrates excellent torque strength regardless of material.

Perhaps the most user-friendly aspect of this drill is the 360-degree swivel action that the locking side handle features. Easily maneuvered, the hand grip has the same type of non-slip plus the trigger enjoys. The Hitachi may work for lefties or righties, but the 360 handle goes around the world.

Users give the DeWalt high marks and a tad higher than the Hitachi. They point to the tremendous torque the pistol produces, especially for a tool under 5 pounds. And that seems to be what this drill is all about, motor strength. You can basically run a bit until it’s red hot and the motor doesn’t even blink. Simply put, the DeWalt DWD210G is a pro tool that takes a beating and keeps on drilling.

Makita DP4000 7 Amp 1/2-Inch Drill

The Makita DP4000 makes a nice do-it-yourselfer tool for infrequent use. Its 7-AMP motor and variable-speed only reaches a max no-load speed of 900 RPM and it features light-weight aluminum gear housing. The pistol grip provides a mix of rubber and plastic that helps firm gripping. All of these attributes don’t hit the standards set by the DeWalt or the Hitachi. However, it does feature a 360-degree locking side handle and large trigger that makes it user friendly.

At 4.6 pounds, users enjoy its light weight and relative durability. Given that the power and capacity falls on the low end of commercial needs, this tool may be best suited for DIY folks. For infrequent use, the Makita makes an excellent addition to your tool box.

Milwaukee 0299-20 Magnum 8 Amp 1/2-Inch Drill

This Milwaukee 0299-20 is a middle of the road pistol drill that enjoys a respectable amount of speed, torque and conveniences. The 8 amps, variable-speed tool hits 850 RPM and has an adequate 360-degree locking side handle. The textured grip is helpful, but not to the same degree as rubberized handles. It enjoys an all-metal gear case for durability and trends on the heavier side of this class at 5.4 pounds.

It earns fairly high marks among users. The major pluses include how smooth it runs and an excellent variable-speed trigger. The negatives point to the side handle being not a strong as some would like.

Nothing about this Milwaukee suggests it would hold up to pro standards under heavy, continuous use on a commercial job site. It falls in the middle of the class of 1/2-inch pistol grip drills and makes an excellent tool for homeowners and do-it-yourselfers.

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