Kobalt 24V Max Brushless Tools

KOBALT/Lowes sent us (with a select group of tool reviewers) over the weekend to Las Vegas for their “New Tool Announcement/Media Event”, we got to see first-hand the entire new lineup of 24V Max Brushless Power Tools.  These have been in development for over 2 years, and will be a huge “step up” for them in the cordless tool market — rivaling Milwaukee, Makita, Dewalt, and RIDGID.

More power, longer runtimes, and better performance are 3 key areas that they wanted to improve upon — and it shows.

We were able to speak directly with the designers and engineers that created this new lineup, and got some very direct answers to our very direct questions.  Not only were they concerned about how these will perform in real life on the jobsite, they also thought about appearances.  Personally, I really like the new look of them & think that they textured grips and new blue color schemes look great.

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Taking a glance at the 3 different battery options that they will have — 2.0ah, 4.0ah, & 5.0ah — it was surprising to see that they are actually smaller than the 18v competition (with the same amp-hour packs).  This was achieved by moving certain portions of the battery electronics inside the tool, which turned out to be a big space savings.  One other thing to note would be that they are achieving the 24v rating (vs 18v/20v as you typically see) by including an additional battery cell internally, which increases runtimes and gives the tool more power.

Depending on which tools/toolkits you go with, they will include one of two chargers.  They have a standard charger, as well as a “fast charger”.  Both are wall-mountable, but the “Fast” version has an internal fan (like Makita chargers) to cool the battery as it charges — preventing overheating and allowing for faster charge times.

The new Kobalt 24V Max tools include :

IMG_5584 (1024x683) 1/2″ Drill Driver

  • Brushless Motor
  • All-Metal Ratcheting Keyless Chuck
  • Removable Side Handle
  • 2-Speed/Power Modes
  • 24 Clutch Positions
  • LED Light
  • 650 in-lbs Torque

The drill has the overall look/feel of a full size brushless drill — such as one of the new RIDGID Gen5X or Milwaukee M18 FUEL models.  In fact, they had a demo set up side-by-side with those drills, and using spade bits through 4×4 posts — almost every “race” ended with the Kobalt winning.  In some cases by a lot.  After using it, it does make me wonder if they are under-rating the torque specs (or maybe the competitors are over-rating theirs).

Having the ability to remove the side handle quickly is a big plus.  Normally you wouldn’t use it for smaller holes, but when you need more control with larger holes (such as hole saws or auger bits), it does allow you to maintain a solid grip without having the drill twist in your hand — hurting your wrist.

Normally in my testing we will use auger bits, since they quickly prove the amount of power a drill truly has.  In the demo area all that was available were spade bits — but after using the other brands side-by-side in the same materials, I feel like the Kobalt has a lot of power.  It will be interesting to see the amount of run-times we get out of it here.

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Impact Driver

  • Brushless Motor
  • 1/4″ Hex Chuck
  • 3-Speed/Power Modes
  • “Finish Function” (prevents over-driving)
  • LED Light
  • 1,800 in-lbs Torque

Right off the bat, I will say that the Impact Driver was my second favorite tool they demo’d.  It has 3-speed/power modes that have totally different “feels” to them.  Truly versatile and in the hand mimics very closely the Milwaukee M18 FUEL or Ridgid Gen5X.  I used it in a variety of materials, and had no issues (other than a phillips bit slipping — none with the impact though).

Very easy to change speeds — and coupling the three modes with an optional “Finish Function”, it prevents over-driving.  This basically means that the impact driver is “apprentice-proof” and if they are hanging drywall for example, the finish function automatically cuts power prior to the screw popping the drywall paper — saving you time and money.

It went through metal, fence board, deck boards, metal tubing, sheet-metal, backer board, and drywall — and on one battery, Kobalt is claiming you can sink enough deck screws to build a 10×10 deck — per charge!

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Reciprocating Saw

  • Brushless Motor
  • Quick-Release Tool Free Blade Change
  • 1-1/8″ Stroke Length
  • Adjustable Shoe
  • 3,100 Strokes Per Minute
  • Trigger Lock
  • LED Light
  • Anti-Vibration Technology

By the time we got to the Recip station (last stop), it was pretty sliced up.  The other groups went nuts, and cut up everything!  But, luckily there was enough left for us to test out it cutting through a wide range of materials (wood, metal, plastic).

We did get the opportunity to not only use the saw, but compare it to the current 20v version & the differences were clear.  The old version is larger, less powerful, and feels “bulky” compared to the 24v Brushless unit.  Aside from the color scheme change, the only thing that I liked more about the old-style was the textured grip.  The new one has a smooth design, and although it does protect the tool — I also think in dusty, slippery, wet, oily environments — it will increase the chances of dropping it.  Because these were “pre-production models”, I dont know if that is the final design — so it may change by June when they hit the shelves.

Power-wise I would place the recip in line with the Ridgid Gen5X version (that came in the 5-pc combo kit).  It is not as powerful as a FUEL…..but then again, the price isnt going to be close either.  I didnt have an issue with it stalling under heaving load, and no matter how hard I pressed through a cut, the Kobalt kept going.  At the end of our demonstration, Clint with Pro Tool Reviews decided to cut up the whole set & one-by-one the 2x4s got sliced!

Circular Saw

  • Brushless Motor
  • 6-1/2″ Blade
  • 2-7/16″ Cut Depth (same as 7-1/4″ Saws)
  • 0-50 Degree Bevel
  • Slimline Design
  • 5,400 RPM
  • Aluminum Blade Guard & Shoe

Without a doubt the most impressive tool in the Kobalt 24v Lineup!  My favorite by far — and the power, speed, and performance rivals ANY of the top-tier competition.  As you already know, we do extensive runtime and performance testing for almost every new cordless circular saw, and after using them — and using this — it is either at the top, or right up there with 1st place.

Two things stood out to me as soon as I picked up this saw — 1. It is very slim.  2. It has a right-hand 6-1/2″ blade.

The profile on it looks odd, because it is so slim.  Normally I am used to seeing a very large motor sticking out the side.  With the Kobalt it literally ends at the side of the grip!  This was achieved by creating a new style of brushless motor that is “inverted”.  By going this route they ended up with a motor that looks similar to a tuna-fish can VS a soda can.  They get the same power, and have a wider/shorter motor (instead of a thinner/longer motor).

The blade being 6-1/2″, as well as the right-hand blade orientation threw me off.  Normally you see 6-1/2″ saws with a LH blade & then the full size 7-1/4″ “sidewinder” versions being on the right.  Due to a unique shoe design, it allows for the blade to plunge deeper into the material — matching the cut depths of a 7-1/4″ saw!  It also is going to have the deepest capacities of any 6-1/2″ saw on the market.

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I think that the run-times on this will be very impressive (especially with the 5.0ah battery), since unlike a larger 7-1/4″ blade that has more mass — this is spinning a smaller blade, with a more powerful motor, and more capacity in the batteries.  Think of a F150 with a V8…..or an F350 with a V8…..the smaller truck (in this case blade size) powered with the same engine (brushless motor) will get a lot more MPG!

Like other high-end cordless (and some corded) circular saws, the Kobalt also has an electric brake.  This stops the blade completely within a second of releasing the trigger — prevent accidents and making using the saw much easier and much safer.  No more waiting for 5-10 seconds for the blade to stop….when you release the trigger on this, simply set it down.

What really “sold me” on this was using it to cut through 3 stacked sheets of 3/4″ plywood.  I thought that it would bog-down or stall, but surprisingly is chewed through the wood — didnt hesistate — and really felt similar to the very impressive Makita XSH03.  The speed and power levels are very similar to that unit, and I think if you are in the market for a cordless circular saw — the Kobalt is absolutely one you will need to consider.

1/2″ Impact Wrench

  • Brushless Motor
  • 1/2″ Friction Ring Anvil
  • 650 ft-lbs Torque
  • 2,400 IPM
  • 1,900 RPM
  • LED Light
  • Variable Speed Trigger

Bumping up considerably the power levels of their current 20v version, the new 24v Brushless has a similar size/weight/feel to it — with a lot more torque.  In fact, for most people I dont see them reasonably “needing” more than this one puts out.  Kobalt is claiming 650 ft-lbs…..which in my opinion is rated low (as it was with their corded version that we reviewed).

I like the LED light, variable speed trigger (vs full-on/full-off), and the friction ring anvil.  Surprisingly they did not put an electric brake on this one…..so it will perform very similar to a corded impact or pneumatic impact.  Basically what that means is when you release the trigger, the socket continues to turn for a couple seconds until friction slows it down.  Comparing that to a higher-end cordless impact wrench (with an electric brake), you will notice that immediately upon releasing the trigger — the socket stops.  Not a huge deal to most people, but it is something you should take note of.

Based upon the power levels, I dont really see any competition with this impact on the market.  It is producing more than double the power ratings of the Craftsman, Ryobi, and Ridgid units — while coming in well under the ratings on the high-end ($450+) units from other brands such as Dewalt, Makita, and Milwaukee.  I think for the budget-conscience mechanic, DIYer, or someone starting out — this will be one to keep your eye on.

3/8″ Impact Wrench

  • Brushless Motor
  • 3/8″ Friction Ring Anvil
  • 150 ft-lbs Torque
  • 3,200 IPM
  • 3-Speed/Power Modes
  • “Finish Function” (prevents over-driving)
  • LED Light

Rather than just come out with one impact wrench…..Kobalt is giving you two options.  The 3/8″ version is much more compact, and has more user-friendly options than it’s full-size counterpart.

Built on the same frame as the Impact Driver (very impressive), the compact 3/8″ impact wrench is going to be light enough to use all day — while still having more than enough power to get the job done.  Like the Impact Driver, it also has the 3-Speed/Power Modes & “Finish Function”.  Although that wouldnt be used much in an automotive setting — if you decide to pick one of these up for construction (tightening anchor bolts, lag screws, pipe couplers, etc), you will be able to pop a socket right on the friction ring anvil & wont have to fool around with 1/4″ adapters (keeping the tool to a very short profile with no torque-loss).

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For me, I think having a compact impact wrench is an absolute necessity for ANY mechanic.  These can get in areas where a full size unit just will not fit, and they dont have those extreme power levels that many times can end up damaging a fastener (rounding it off or snapping it).  Unlike other impacts that have a “pin detent” anvil — requiring a separate tool to install/remove sockets — this one has the standard friction ring (or hog ring) anvil, which makes installing and removing sockets literally a one-hand operation done in seconds.

Depending on what you are working on, the 3 speed/power modes allow you to fine tune your power levels — conserving battery power, and giving you exactly the amount of power you need.

LED Light

  • 200 Lumens
  • Rotational Head
  • Direct-focus Beam

One word to describe the new LED light —- BRIGHT!

It is lightweight, stands upright on it’s own, and has a very focused beam.  In the demo area, the ceilings were 25’+ up — and shining directly up, it had beam width of roughly 2′.  Compare that to many of the the cordless lights out there, and they have wide-beams — which spread light dimly and dont focus.

Figuring in the 200 lumen rating — and combining that with any of the battery packs — you will have many days of continual use per charge.  It reminded me a lot of the RIDGID Gen5X LED light (in size/shape), and with that one we got almost 48 hours on one charge!

As we were about to leave, they gave us a “sneak peak” of a few tools in the 2nd wave coming in Q4 2016…..also Brushless…..also powerful.  They will include a 1/2″ Hammer Drill, Cordless Grinder, and Oscillating Multi-tool.

Overall we are very excited to see Kobalt “stepping it up” with this new launch.  The entire team is very positive, believes in the products that they are making, and are very motivated to continue to create new and innovative tools to help you work.  The 24v line is scheduled to hit the shelves in your local Lowes in June 2016.  Stay tuned for full reviews as we get these in and put them to the test!

*** FULL DISCLOSURE : Kobalt/Lowes sponsored this all-expense-paid trip in order for us to be able to visit them on site for demos, as well as other events during our stay. Thank you Kobalt! ***

To read more about our full FTC Discloure, check out it here —> Real Tool Reviews FTC Disclosure 

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