Bosch GDR18V Review
Pros: Compact, built-in bit holder
Cons: Didn’t do well in our torque and battery tests, slower than other models
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The GDR18V will effectively drive in most smaller screws, so it might be worth considering if you are already invested in Bosch's 18-volt battery line of tools but this is really the only reason that we could come up with for why you should check out this tool.
While the majority of our observations regarding this impact were fairly negative in nature, we did find a few things that we liked about this product. The Bosch provides a decent amount of light if you are working in a dark area. It's bright and doesn't cast a shadow across where the bit is but we were a little bummed that the light won't turn on unless the chuck is actually rotating.
The tool is also on the more compact side, only measuring 152 mm from front to back. It also has an integrated bit holder at the back of the battery for the included double-sided phillips bit and a belt clip, as well as an included wrist strap.
Regrettably, there wasn't much we found to like when it comes to the actual driving performance of this impact driver. It delivered significantly below average results in our speed test, with the Bosch failing to keep up when it came to setting ledger or lag bolts. It took an average of 9 seconds to sink a 3-⅝" ledger screw into a stack of plywood and 7 seconds to drive it into stacked 2x12s, which more than twice as long as the speediest impacts.
It also took over a minute to drive a ½"x3" lag bolt to the full depth — in a properly predrilled hole, of course — and almost 30 seconds to remove it. This pales in comparison to the top-tier tools, which could set this screw in 15 seconds or less and remove it in 5.
The GDR18V did a little better in our torque test but not by much. We found its performance to be very inconsistent in our tightening and loosening tests with a ¾" nut, earning it some disappointing scores. It maxed out tightening the nuts to 115 foot-pounds and took some time to break them loose if they were only tightened to 100 foot-pounds. Other models could reliably crack them loose from 300 foot-pounds and tighten them just as much.
This impact doesn't have different fastening modes and lacks a quick-insert bit holder. It's also relatively noisy when driving in screws, with our sound meter recording an average of 101 dBa at the level of the user's ear. This is definitely loud enough where you will want to consider using hearing protection for your own comfort and should always consult with the manufacturer's instructions to make sure you are using these tools safely and with all the proper protective equipment in use.
We also thought the Bosch botched it in our battery test, with the battery dying disappointingly quickly. We alternated between setting 14 ledger screws and driving in and removing a lag bolt from our speed tests to compare performance, with the GDR18V failing to complete two full cycles before calling it quits.
The Bosch's price does make it a reasonable bargain buy but there are still some slightly less expensive tools that we thought performed a bit better and would preferentially recommend if you are on a limited tool budget.
Overall, the 18-volt Bosch GDR18V fell far short of our expectations and scored close to the bottom of the pack. It will handle light to moderate-duty tasks alright but we would be hard-pressed to find a reason to recommend this tool over tons of other ones unless you are set on sticking with 18-volt Bosch tools.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer