Before we start, remember 20V and 18V are the same in the Lithium Ion tool battery arena. You do not have to understand it, just accept it. Visit our article here to learn more about the issue.
I don't know what's more exciting, the fact that Battlefield 3 beta for PlayStation came out or that I have DeWALT's new 20v drills in my hands. The 20V line is continuing to impress me. I love everything about these new tools except one thing. The lack of a battery fuel gauge. I never know which battery has a charge and which one does not. The feel of these drills is stellar, they have the same type of feel as its sister 12v Max line up. They almost feel like an extension of your hand, the balance is great and I love the one button slide on/off flat packs.
Lets start with the DCD980L2 it comes with two 3.0Ah 20V Max battery packs, a charger, slide on handle and a DeWALT hard case. I have always been a fan of DeWALT 3 speed drills and this one does not disappoint. It has plenty of power thanks to its 3.0Ah battery pack and high power motor. How much power you ask? Well DeWALT tells us that it puts out 535 UWO. UWO? Unit Watts Out. Tools in Action has scientists working around the clock to build a flux capacitor to convert this mathematical equation of UWO to Inch pounds of torque. So for now I will keep it in layman's terms, I would say the power output closely matches that of the Ridgid X4 which has about 565 in. lbs of torque. It has enough torque to get the job done and is roughly the same size as most drills in its class. The 3 speed all metal transmission produces 0-575/0-1,350/0-2,000 rpm. The clutch has 22 settings and behind the clutch is the drill/driver selector.
The business end of this tool is all Pro. The 1/2 metal ratcheting chuck is the nicest I have seen. Twisting the chuck feels tight and solid and I had no issues with bits slipping out thanks to the carbide inserts. I love the feel of the chuck. Below the chuck is the LED light which remains illuminated for 20 seconds after you pull the trigger and like most drills, the longer the bit the smaller the shadow. Overall I like this drill and think DeWALT has done a fine job with this product. We had no problems drilling through wood on speed 3 with a 1″ spade bit and battery life was as expected. Most Lithium Ion tools these days have electronics that will stop the tool if certain conditions exist, over temp, low voltage, etc. This has its pros and cons as some tools cut out way too early. This was not the case with the 2 DeWALTs. They allow you to romp on them quite hard before the electronics shut you down. That is a major plus for me.
Now we go on to the compact DCD780C2. I like to call this the sleeper drill. It looks closer to a 12V than an 18V, and it has the power of a 18V (20V). It screamed through a 2×4 with a 1″ spade bit. It has 350UWO, again we will refer to our flux capacitor and get back to you on what that means in inch pounds. It comes with 2 1.5Ah batteries a charger and a case. The drill is compact and light, weighing in at 3.5lbs which is light for an 18V (20v). It has a belt clip on one side and a bit holder on the other. It really is compact, just a tad bigger than its 12V counterparts. It has the same LED light as the DCD980L2, has 2 speeds 0-600/0-2000rpm. The plastic chuck feels solid, easily ratchets tight every time and stays tight, 15 clutch settings are available. Both drills include a standard 3 year warranty.
To wrap it up, behind all the confusing 20V and UWO names and numbers DeWALT has a winner on its hands. The ergonomics and balance are fantastic, you really need to feel one in your hands to know what I am talking about. The slide on battery pack is solid and the one button release makes for easy fast changes and batteries can be charged in less than an hour. You can also charge the 12V Max packs in the same charger. They are geared towards the Professional and are a good solid choice. These two drills do not include the hammer drill feature. For that you will need the compact DCD785C2 and the DCD985L2. The drills are powerful and the ability to really push the tool hard before the electronics kick in are a feature that every user will love! The only thing that I would like to see is a battery fuel gauge. Check out http://dewalt.com