There are a few things that make me stop everything I'm doing, get up, and do a happy dance no matter who else is around. That's what Ridgid did, and I think David C. Smith is now threatening to put it on YouTube. My source of joy is the new Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3 Speed Impulse Driver.
With this move, Ridgid is once again poised to move up the performance ladder by beating several other big names. We were impressed with the performance of the Gen5X 5-piece kit and the Gen5X Hybrid fans – and that was before the new brushless tools started popping up.
Check out our best hydraulic impact drivers and best impact drivers articles to see how the tools match up.
The case of oil pulse (impulse) driver
The big issues with oil pulse drives are noise levels and power. You'll know when someone is using an impact driver nearby. Even through several walls, the sound of the anvil hitting can be clearly heard in your ears. Noise levels can be an issue for maintenance and construction crews around schools, offices and apartments. Oil Pulse Technology suppresses noise by using hydraulic pulses
same The benefit of being more powerful than an impact driver.
Generations of industrial workers have known the power of hydraulic tools, and hydraulic drivers have been around for some time. It's just getting into the hands of general contractors and tradesmen at a price that could really be considered for replacement impact drivers.
Only recently have affordable oil pulse drives been available. Like the Gen5X Random Orbit Sander, the Ridgid Stealth Force is the second product to hit the mainstream market. Here's the thing about Ridgid's new Oil Impulse Driver – it puts out fewer RPMs and IPMs than a standard impact driver, while driving twice as fast and half as loud! Let's take a closer look.
Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Impulse Driver Specifications
- Model: R86036K
- Power: 18V Ultra Lithium battery (two 2.0 amp hours included in the kit)
- Maximum speed without load: 1000/1800/2400 RPM
- Impact: 0 – 1700 IPM
- Warranty: Lifetime Service Agreement
- Price: $199
- Availability: December 2015/January 2016
Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V Three Speed Pulse Driver Key Features
- Hydraulic pulse drive
- Reduce noise up to 50%
- Twice as fast
- Brushless three-speed motor
- 1/4″ quick release chuck
- Tri-Beam LED peripheral driver head
Ridgid Stealth Force noise reduction
Quantifiable data are hard to argue against, and I wanted to test the claims of faster travel and less noise. Clearly, in some initial testing, both are correct, but that remains to be seen.
I pulled out my Ridgid Gen5X Impact Driver (not brushless, but we'll be reviewing that kit soon!) to compare the noise level and performance of the Ridgid Stealth Force. I grab a decibel meter running a dB(A) scale and place it about the same distance from my ear. Obviously, this is not a lab setup, so you may get slightly different results. It is important to keep the exact same distance from the tool.
I start with a simple high-speed no-load run test. The Ridgid Gen 5X Impact Driver produced a solid 85 dB(A) level, while the Ridgid Stealth Force stabilized at 83 dB(A). This is pretty much the last time these two tools will be together for anything.
I tested noise levels while driving screws and lag bolts in case there was any difference between low and high stress applications. While the noise levels were consistent for both applications, the two tools were far apart. The shock driver was solid at 102 dB(A), while the Ridgid Stealth Force produced just 87 dB(A). Here's a flashback from our video of Ridgid Stealth Force in action:
While the difference in decibels is only 15, the implications are much greater. In terms of perceived loudness, this means that the Ridgid Stealth Force impulse driver sounded about 75% quieter in our tests. The sound intensity is more pronounced. In our outdoor tests, the Gen5X Impact Driver was approximately 32 times stronger than the Ridgid Stealth Force.
You are limited to continuous use of the impact driver for 1 hour and 30 minutes per day without hearing protection, but the Ridgid Stealth Force is not restricted per OSHA regulations.
Ridgid Stealth Force Drivability
In supporting claims of higher drive performance, I tested the Ridgid Stealth Force Impulse Driver using 3-1/2” drywall screws and 3/8” x 3-1/2” lag bolts. Both were used to attach Stacked 3/4" plywood, I provided the goodness of 1/4" pilot holes for the lag bolts. Since I'm drilling some holes, I also put in the drilling data. To be fair, I'm on two drives Both run on Ridgid's 2.0 amp hour battery.
Starting with a Milwaukee titanium red auger bit designed for use with an impact driver, I drilled a couple of 1/4" pilot holes through the plywood. Ridgid Gen5X Impact Driver averaged 5.74 seconds. Ridgid Stealth Force played the same number of holes, averaging 3.92 seconds per hole. This ended up being about 32% faster.
The lag bolts are now attached to the plate and their job is to hold the material I just test drilled. The Impact Drive averaged 9.60 seconds, while the Ridgid Stealth Force was significantly faster at 5.54 seconds. For those without scorecards, the speed increased by 43%.
Finally, the 3" drywall screws must pass through the same material without pilot holes. The Gen5X impact driver took an average of 2.03 seconds per actuation. Ridgid Stealth Force was over 36% faster in just 1.29 seconds on average.
some surprising discoveries
There are a few very important differences between traditional impact drivers and Ridgid's Stealth Force impulse drivers. You'll notice about half the number of impacts compared to an impact driver. Especially when you're driving slowly, more power is transferred to your arms with each bump. You'll get more wrist movement, making subtle driving harder to control.
You'll expect more power to be transferred to your arms and wrists, making your joints stiffer. It has a much softer vibration than an impact driver, even though your arm moves more. This is due to the nature of the oil pulse mechanism internally softening the more powerful strikes.
It feels like the difference between hitting plywood with a hammer vs hitting 1/4" steel. In both cases, you're giving plenty of power. Even though you're sending out the same force, the wood will cushion the blow and make it feel Softer. We'll have to do some testing to prove this, but a lighter blow may significantly increase the life of an impact-resistant driver bit.
Industrial workers have long understood the benefits of hydraulic impact power. We're excited that they're finally reaching everyday users in both residential and commercial workplaces. The Ridgid Stealth Force Brushless 18V 3-Speed Impulse Driver is more than just a quieter solution for apartments, schools and office workplaces. Its significantly higher drive performance makes it an easy choice to replace traditional impact drivers in almost all applications.
For a kit, that's a hefty price tag. Comes with 2 compact batteries and charger for $199. The Gen5X impact driver normally sells for $99 with one battery, but it's currently on sale for $79. As these petroleum impact drivers, like the Ridgid Stealth Force, become more readily available, I expect them to replace impact drivers in kits in the same way impact drills replaced drill drivers.
Follow Pro Tool Reviews on Facebook and Twitter!