Dewalt 20V Brushless Hammer Drill Reviews

DeWalt DCD996 Reviews - A Portable Drill That Can Keep Up With The Big Boys

Not many feelings can compare with the feeling of a DIY job well done. But the opposite is also true, the frustration that accompanies a DIY job that starts out well, but then turns into a struggle and a chore. It is a feeling that has sent many DIY projects to the eternal “must-still-finish” list. Luckily, this is where the DeWalt DCD996 comes in, it’s a tool that is perfect for almost every job there is. Don’t believe us? Just check out this review and you’ll see for yourself!

The DeWalt DCD996, a proper workhorse for every home.

We all know that feeling, you need to hang that one picture that your significant other has been going on about, but as soon as you get all the tools out, you realise you’re going to need an electrical extension cord for your drill… 

AVERAGE SCORE9.3

Battery Life
9.5
Ergonomic
9
Value For Money
9.1
Feature Set
9.2
Weight
9.6

So you spent the next half an hour looking for one, before realising that you don’t have an extra one and you’ll need to go to the hardware store. Maybe you don’t need an electrical cord because you have a battery powered drill, but as soon as you’ve drilled the pilot hole the drill loses all its power. Well, those scenarios are a thing of the past with the DeWalt DCD996.

With the DeWalt DCD996 you’ll be able to tackle some of the most demanding tasks without spending time looking for an electrical extension cord or worrying about running out of battery power. The fact that this is still one of the most popular DeWalt models even four years after its initial release speaks for itself. But why exactly is this product so popular? It all starts with the company that manufactures it: DeWalt Power Tools.

With so many drills on the market, how do you know which one is perfect for you? We’ll help you answer that question!
With so many drills on the market, how do you know which one is perfect for you? We’ll help you answer that question!

The DeWalt Power Tools Company, A reputation built on quality.

The DeWalt Power Tools company was founded in 1923 by Raymond DeWalt. Through the years this company has stood the test of time, having survived the great depression, the second world war, and the turbulent political times of the late 50’s and early 60’s. Today its yellow and black branding serves as a benchmark for quality and dedication. And that is exactly what you’ll get with the DeWalt DCD996.

But what the reader needs to bear in mind is that the DCD996 is a workhorse. It is not comparable, nor should it be compared with heavy duty drills like the DeWalt 20V Max XR Hammer drill. It’s like comparing Floyd Money Maywheather and Muhammed Ali - both of them were brilliant boxers, but they competed in different weight divisions.

That being said, the DCD996 is the perfect companion for any household and will prove invaluable with those routine maintenance jobs and can even help out with the odd labour intensive task. Bold claim, but we’ve got the specs to back it up!

DeWalt - A power tool company that has forged its way to the top through excellence.
DeWalt - A power tool company that has forged its way to the top through excellence.

Let’s Talk About Specs, Baby…

The specifications of a product can be somewhat of a tricky subject. One thing that must always be kept in mind when dealing with specifications is that the specifications of a product isn’t a simple game of top trumps, where the product with the best specs in a certain category beats another. To factors that need to be addressed is, firstly, the maximum needed specification and, secondly, the holistic effect on the product.

➜ RELATED: Power Drill 101: A Simple Guide To Learning How To Use Your Power Drill

The maximum needed specification is simply put, the highest level that you’ll need for a task. So, let’s say that for the standard DIY job you’ll need a drill with a no-load speed (the speed of the drill without drilling or screwing in a screw) of 2250 RPM at its highest setting. Any drill with a higher no load speed is wasted on normal DIY jobs.

The wrong drill can make you feel like Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum! Don’t get caught out, do your research!
The wrong drill can make you feel like Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum! Don’t get caught out, do your research!

The holistic effect on the product simply refers to how a specific specification influences the product as a whole. Eg. you might have a drill with immense power, but all the power really does is burn out components of the motor. The DeWalt DCD996 treads a fine line between these two factors. 

The highest no load speed is 2250 RPM, making it perfect for your daily DIY tasks, whilst also being powerful enough to deal with the odd labor intensive task. The bottom line is you don’t overpay for power you’ll never really use, as might be the case with some of the more powerful products.

Holistically this drill also works well, as each and every attribute is in balance with the rest. Even though this is a brushless model, automatically removing the achilles heel of most drills - the brushes - user feedback suggests that they did not notice a decline in the power, one of the main prices paid for a brushless motor.

As for the other specs, it boasts an impressive 830 Watts of output, powered by a state of the art Lithium Ion Battery. This means the measurable impacts per minute is 8600 on the low setting, 25500 per minute on the medium power setting, and a staggering 38250 impacts per minute on the highest setting. Other drills in the same price and quality category simply cannot compare.

Another brilliant feature of the DeWalt DCD996 is its weight, weighing in at 3.5 lbs. This means you enjoy all of the power and precision that this drill has to offer without sacrificing flexibility or manoeuvrability. 

No “do it yourself” job is complete without a DeWalt Drill!
No “do it yourself” job is complete without a DeWalt Drill!    

As we’ve mentioned before, this is a brushless model. This is a feature that means this drill will not suffer one of the most common ailments of drills with brushes around the motor - that of the brushes burning out and needing to be replaced. 

The usual drawback of the brushless design is that you sacrifice some of the power of the drill for the longevity of the drill. With the DeWalt DCD996 this does not seem to be the case. Most of the reviews we looked at never even mention lack of power as one of the issues. One of the main reasons for this is the impressive 830 Watts motor.

Don’t be left screaming because you didn’t buy the DeWalt DCD996!
Don’t be left screaming because you didn’t buy the DeWalt DCD996!

The DeWalt DCD996 also comes with three speed settings, meaning that it is able to deal with any household task with ease. That being said, each and every type of drill has its own limitations so don’t expect this drill to be able to mix tile glue or break up concrete.

The DeWalt DCD996 also has a reverse setting in all three speed settings, meaning you’ll be able to have the drill bit move in the opposite direction in all three of the speeds. This is important, as we’ve encountered a couple of drills on the market that does not have this feature. The result is that if you want to unscrew a screw you have to do it at the lowest speed setting.

While the DeWalt DCD996 isn’t cheap, it will be well worth your money!
While the DeWalt DCD996 isn’t cheap, it will be well worth your money!

The DeWalt DCD996, a Review of the Reviews.

Okay great, so you are thinking about buying your very own DeWalt DCD996 to help you out around your home. But, ever the mindful consumer, you decide to have a look at a couple of the online reviews. You have a couple of definite questions that you are looking to answer. Questions like: “Should I opt for the DeWalt DCD996, or is the DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Hammer Drill a better option?” or “What should the speed of the hammer drill be?” or “Should I opt for an entire drill kit with all the add-ons, or is the bare tool enough?” - A couple of hours later and you’re still no closer to an answer even though you’ve worked through tens and hundreds of reviews.

Don’t worry, this happens to the best of us, we in the industry call it cutting through the static. Years ago, reviews were the go to indication of how good or bad a product is. Unfortunately, certain nefarious agents started to abuse this resource towards their own needs, writing pumped up positive reviews of their own sub par products or attacking good products with bad reviews.


Fortunately, people like us exist and when you spend close to six hours everyday just sifting through reviews you quickly learn how to identify those malicious reviews. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with this review. So look at this as the review of all the reviews when it comes to the DeWalt DCD996.

Don't spend all your time working through endless reviews… Let us cut through the clutter!
Don't spend all your time working through endless reviews… Let us cut through the clutter!

Hey good looking...

First off, the looks. This tool looks brilliant. You take one look at it and you realise that this isn’t your normal run of the mill drill… Nope, the DeWalt DCD996 is here to get things done! The yellow and black design is accentuated with the use of bare steel throughout, giving it a rugged look that will be sure to impress friends and family alike. But the DeWalt DCD996 isn’t only great to look at, it's got some amazing features as well!

The right drill can even have some unintended consequences...
The right drill can even have some unintended consequences...

It’s hammer time!

The biggest advantage of the DeWalt DCD996 is that, unlike the smaller models in the DeWalt range, this drill comes with a hammer drill setting. For those of you who do not know, a hammer setting is a setting that causes the drillbit to not only rotate, but also move forwards and backwards, like a hammer, causing the drill to impact the drilling surface and thus break through tougher drilling material. 

This specific setting is why we decided to give the DeWalt DCD996 the “workhorse” title because of its ability to drill standard holes and screwdriving before flipping a switch and tackling the most challenging of materials for drilling.

You might not think you’ll need a hammer drill setting, but believe us, as soon as you need it, you’ll be glad to have it. That’s the thing about a hammer setting, you drill either has it, or it doesn’t, it’s not like some kind of feature that you can add to your drill retrospectively.

With the hammer drill setting not even concrete will stand in your way.
With the hammer drill setting not even concrete will stand in your way.

Safety first...

Safety is another important feature of the DeWalt DCD996. The forward and reverse button serves as a safety latch, helping you prevent starting the drill by accident. As an added feature it comes with a brake switch, which basically means the drill will stop as soon as the trigger switch is released. These features may not seem important, but in a home where you cannot count on the safe environment of a construction site, they quite literally, are lifesavers.

Always take the necessary safety precautions when working with any equipment.
Always take the necessary safety precautions when working with any equipment.

A Battery that can take a battering.

Now, let’s look at the battery. One of the biggest drawbacks of a battery powered device is that at some point the battery is going to run out. That, unfortunately, is the price you have to pay while gaining the maneuverability that a cordless device brings.

Luckily, the DeWalt DCD996 is compatible with all of the 20V Max Lithium batteries, so you have the ability of choosing the battery that is perfect for your needs. These batteries include the DCB203, a 2 Ah battery; the DCB200, a 3 Ah battery; the DCB204, a 4 Ah battery; or the mammoth DCB205, a 5 Ah battery. Being able to customise your choice is a massive advantage, meaning you won't end up overpaying for capabilities that you’ll never really need. 

The amount of technology that DeWalt invests into their batteries is something the company prides themselves on.
The amount of technology that DeWalt invests into their batteries is something the company prides themselves on.

Putting the “you” in useability.

The final positive note on this drill is the sheer usability of the tool. If you are someone who isn’t even certain how to use a drill or how to drill a pilot hole, then this drill is for you! As soon as you put this bad boy in your hands it will feel like it's been there for years!

And it is because of the time, energy, and dedication that went into the design, ensuring that the DeWalt DCD996 is as user friendly as possible. The first thing you’ll notice is how light it feels, even though it weighs 3,5 lbs.

The reason for this is an ergonomic design that ensures the centre of gravity is in line with your hand as you grasp the drill. This is very important because weight either in front or behind your wrist will cause your grip to tire, thus minimizing productivity, or even causing pain.

Another great feature is the 360 degree handle. This enables you to adjust the DeWalt DCD996 to fit either right-handed or left handed users. It can also help you when you need to get into those hard to reach spaces where a fixed handle would usually get in the way. 

Speaking about tight spaces, the Dewalt DCD996 comes with a built in light, meaning you’ll be able to shine a light on those hard to reach (and see) spaces. The light comes with three intensities, low, medium and high, but be warned the light drains the battery. 

Finally, the keyless chuck means that you are able to switch between drill bits without any hassle. It also means that you’ll never be able to lose the key, as there isn’t one. To know what a boon this is, just speak to anyone who has had to drive to the hardware store to buy a new chuck key, because they’ve lost the old one.

With DeWalt by your side it will always be a job well done
With DeWalt by your side it will always be a job well done.

A Couple of drawbacks…

While, over all, the DeWalt DCD996 is a brilliant tool that will be a great addition to any home, there are a couple of drawbacks. And because we pride ourselves on giving balanced reviews we feel we have to share these with you.

First off, the price. There are a lot of cheaper options available on the market, some of them with seemingly better specifications. But, as my old man always says: “In life, you get what you pay for.” When buying a DeWalt you’re not only buying the tool… You’re buying close to a hundred year’s experience in building and crafting power tools. So, yeah, it is quite expensive, but you get what you pay for.

The DeWalt DCD996 isn’t cheap, but it is worth saving for!
The DeWalt DCD996 isn’t cheap, but it is worth saving for!

Secondly, when you buy the DeWalt DCD996 you are only buying the bare tool. So unless you are opting for the complete drill kit, which is about three times the price of the bare tool, you will need to buy the batteries and other accessories as extras. This seems a bit excessive, already given the large price tag. DeWalt Power Tools maintains this is to ensure that the customer only pays for what they need, but it has caused a couple of potential customers to turn to other options.

Finally, some reviews mention a problem with the fit of the battery. These users complain that the batteries fit too loosely when you mount them in the drill, causing everything from low battery life, to the machine suddenly dying without warning. DeWalt believes that they’ve solved these problems with their latest line of batteries, but as of the writing of this article there has not been reviews to back up this claim.

Final word…

Overall the DeWalt DCD996 is the perfect companion for every household. While it may be a little bit on the expensive side, potential buyers can rest assured that this is an investment, and one that won't see them having to buy another drill for a couple of years. At the end of the day, the DeWalt DCD996 is at the very apex of handheld, portable, battery powered drills. It is completely up to you as the consumer to assess your needs and make a decision based on that. We can only give you the needed information to make that decision.

Thanks for reading! Now it’s up to you to decide what DIY project is next!
Thanks for reading! Now it’s up to you to decide what DIY project is next!

We hope you enjoyed this article and that it helped you make your decision about your next drill easier. If you’ve anything to share about your experience with the DeWalt DCD996 or any other drill, please do not hesitate to leave us a comment - we look forward to hearing from you! 

William  cawley
William is the editor-in-chief at TheKingLive, in which you can come across his writings in almost every imaginable product category. Dog lover, baseball fan, yoga enthusiast, and a believer. Formally working as a freelance copywriter and part-time photographer before channeling his passion into “hunting” for best products available on the market.
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