Bosch Compact Drill Driver DDB181

By Ethan Bickford on Tool Reviews

Bosch DDB181 Compact 18 volt Drill Driver Review

I’ll often resort to using 12 volt drills and impact drivers for light duty drilling and driving tasks. While the light weight and easy handling of a smaller 12 volt tool is nice, they can be a little short on power.  Bosch looked at this end-user conundrum and engineered a super compact 18 volt drill driver.  They are calling, this driver the most compact 18 volt drill driver on the market.  At ACC we’re always excited to try out any tool that’s pushing the envelope of design and innovation, so when we had the opportunity to give this tool a test we went for it!


First impression

It’s no surprise that my first impression of this tool is that it is quite compact and very lightweight. The width and length of it are closer to that of a 12 volt drill. But the DDB181 is a fully featured tool, with two speeds, a 20 position clutch, and a 1/2″ chuck. The grip is comfortable landing in the middle ground where most users of most hand sizes will find it well sized for all-day use. There’s also a handy bit holder tucked out-of-the-way behind the battery at the bottom of the grip.

In useBoschDDB181_03

For a lot of carpenters 12 volt drills and drivers can perform the majority of their work tasks.  I have often stuck with my 12 volt kit to avoid carrying around the extra, un-needed weight and bulk of 18 volt tools. But this means having another entire battery platform to deal with. Often with additional chargers and certainly with more batteries to charge and eventually replace (although 12 volt batteries are a lot less expensive). The beauty of the DDB181 is that you have the compact 12 volt size but with 18 volt power and batteries, so you get the size and weight savings, but with more power and on one 18 volt platform.

I used the DDB181 for drilling pilot holes in trim, and for piloting deck framing and blocking to prevent splitting before driving structural screws. I also used it for driving some decking screws, and re-hanging an exterior door. The DDB181 Performed admirably in all tasks.

Finally I chucked a 1/2″ ship auger and drilled through a stack of 2 pieces of 2x PT pine and one 4x PT pine post. That’s about 6-1/2″ of wood. This little drill had no problem sinking the auger through all of it.

DDB181 Specifications

  • 1/2″ Chuck
  • 3 lbs
  • 7.1″ length
  • 350 in lbs of max torque
  • two speed settings: 0-400 RPM/1,300 RPM

Room for Improvement?

There’s no battery gauge, so a battery gauge would be a welcome addition, it doesn’t matter too much whether it’s on the tool or on the battery. I like having a battery gauge as it prevents getting up a on a ladder or roof with a tool that’s about to lose its charge.

We noticed that the clutch adjustment collar is somewhat obstructed by the body of the tool, near the trigger so you can’t just wrap your hand all the way around it and twist when you need to make large changes to clutch settings or switch between drill and drive modes.  Neither of these are deal breakers though!

Overall Impression

The Bosch DDB181 is a great option for anyone looking for a light-weight, compact drill driver, with more power than 12 volt tools. From the full-time electrician to the serious DIY’er this drill could easily be the go-to for a wide range of trades for medium duty tasks. It’s a no frills tool but you get what you need to get the job done, all with the bonus of a seriously compact, light-weight tool.

At the end of the day, getting the job done easier and with a lighter tool, means more work completed and a lesser chance of a  sore back from lugging heavy tools in your belt. Plus at only $150 street price this is a great deal too!


How Much and Where To Buy?

The Bosch DDS181-02 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/2-Inch Compact Tough Drill/Driver Kit with 2 High Capacity Batteries, Charger and Case sells for $ 149.00 online here: Bosch-DDS181-02-Lithium-Ion-Capacity-Batteries

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About the author

Ethan Bickford

Carpenter / Remodeler / ACC Photographer

Ethan Bickford has a long history with carpentry. His father worked as a contractor for many years and taught him the ins and outs of home repair and remodeling from a very young age. Since then Ethan has kept up his skills and knowledge by doing handyman work while in college and eventually started his own carpentry and remodeling company which he’s been running for the last three years. Ethan loves teaching and advising on tools and techniques and is a big fan of quality workmanship. His motto is: “Do it right the first time!”

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