DeWalt Cordless Ratchet (DCF503B) Review

Today we will review another new power tool, DeWalt’s new 20 Volt Max cordless 3/8-inch impact ratchet. I’m so excited. I’ve been waiting for them to make these for the last four years.

Buy on HomeDepo: DeWalt Cordless Ratchet (DCF503B)

History of Power Tools In the United States

Before we get into reviewing this new tool from DeWalt, I want to take a second and talk about the history of this tool. This is DeWalt’s brand new impact ratchet, and when I say brand new, I seriously mean six months ago I saw DeWalt put like a teaser picture of this tool out and then maybe like 2-3 months ago you could start buying them in certain places online or at least order them or pre-order them.

You couldn’t really get them, but you could put a maybe deposit on them. So then, this last week, you can walk into a Lowe’s or Home Depot and buy this off the shelf, and that is incredible because DeWalt has not made one of these for a very long time, and they should have been making it for a very long time.

And This is why pretty much all the tools that you buy, whether from DeWalt, Makita or an inferior tool company, even Ryobi, Bosch and Craftsman, are all made by the same manufacturers. So there are probably three big tool manufacturers that make 90% of the power and even the hand tools. Husky, Craftsman, and gear wrench make these, and they’re all made by the same manufacturer. So there are one or two big parent companies that make all the tools you use.

And I tell you that so that I can tell you this. In 2010, Black and Decker, the company which has owned DeWalt since the 1960s, made DeWalt what it is today, the higher-end version of Black and Decker. They’re prosumer model, which is kind of lower professional, higher consumer, good tools that you can get at Lowe’s. So that’s what DeWalt was to Black and Decker. Well, in 2010, Black and Decker and Stanley Tools merged, which was wrong.

Innovation started going to crap when that happened. And when I say go to crap, I mean the quality of their tools was pretty good, but they just stopped innovating. For 10-15 years, all they did was make different types of drills and impact drivers, and they expanded what they could put their 20 Volt battery line on. But they didn’t make anything new. So they got stagnant, and there’s another company; in fact, this company Milwaukee did the opposite of DeWalt over the same period instead of just making new drills.

They made new tools designed to target the automotive industry, going after actual professional electricians and plumbers. They experimented with different types of batteries, and they were innovative, and some would say I would say in the last 10-15 years, they have begun to dominate that high-end kind of prosumer market for power tools. On the other hand, DeWalt kept making new drills until they woke up in the last year, and they care again and have been coming out with new tools. They’ve been coming out with new types of batteries like the power stack batteries we talked about for years. They had one significant impact gun, and now look, they have a smaller version of it and then this tool DeWalt cordless ratchet. So electric socket wrench you can put in tiny little crevices. Milwaukee has four different versions of this, and they have had them for years.

And I bought one a couple of years ago and promptly returned it because I got the little one, but it wasn’t powerful enough. So there might be some evidence of me using a red tool, not a yellow one. DeWalt is finally catching up and finally coming out with new tools.

I hope there’s.

DeWalt Cordless Ratchet Specs and Features

Drive Size 1/2 in or 3/8 in
Product Height 2.992“
Product Depth 15.787”
Product Width 2.795”
Battery Included No
Motor Type Brushless
Voltage 20 V
Product Weight 2.63 lb
Variable Speed Yes
Warranty 3 Year Limited Warranty
Claimed Torque 70 ft-lbs

There’s safety, but at least you don’t have to hold the safety down. You can permanently have it in not-safe mode, and it’s supposed to take our standard 20 Volt battery range, which I would imagine. But what I find interesting is their new power stack batteries, the ones that they keep marketing. They actually fit perfectly on the DeWalt cordless ratchet. If I were correct, it almost seems like DeWalt’s new tools are coming out with their new lineup. They’re making them fit their fancy new power stock batteries, not necessarily the ones they’ve had for 10 or 15 years.

The handle fits like a glove. It feels pretty beefy in hand. We’re going to have to test it out. There are two things I found. Pretty interesting when I read the box. Yes, I didn’t read the instructions, but I read the box, and the box says this has 70-foot pounds of torque, which is excellent because the Milwaukee one I had before had 35 pounds of torque and didn’t do the job. That’s why I stuck with the yellow tools and didn’t make the switch.

Also, it says that the plastic housing is oil and solvent-resistant, making me think they are going after the professional automotive mechanic. They want you to use this on your car because it will not get all oily and nasty.

Performance and Torque Test

So, test number one. Does it give me 70-foot pounds of torque? Let’s get some more bolts and play around and see what it actually will loosen. The battery is fully charged, so it’s not like the batteries are low on juice, so let’s experiment.

We have redesigned our torque testing stand. We have bolts with 40-foot pounds, 50-foot, and 60 -foot-pounds for the test. Even though the box said 70, we’ll see what this DeWalt cordless ratchet does. Let’s start with the lowest 40-foot pounds, and it can do it with no problem. Next test, 50-foot pounds. It struggled a bit at first, but it got it off. The next test is 60-foot pounds. Again, it can get it off with ease and not a problem. Unfortunately, it failed the 70-foot pound test. The box says it can handle up to a 70-foot pound. Maybe with a higher amp-hour and bigger battery, it could get to that 70-foot pound, but companies usually exaggerate these things. Still, we can comfortably say this little guy can handle 60-foot pounds of torque to loosen up a bolt, which means it is excellent.

So if you’re using it a tighten things, be careful, torque wrenches and measure things. That’s a great scientific approach, but we need some real-world experience with this tool, and for that, I have developed what I like to call the Udoka test. Please follow me over here to the socket set for the Udoka test. We will grab a breaker bar, probably a big ratchet. We will get a socket of the appropriate size. Tighten up the bar pretty good, and then we’re just going to tighten the hell out of the bolt.

This DeWalt cordless ratchet couldn’t do 70-foot pounds on our calibrated test, which is weird because it passed the Udoka test. I feel like I and a breaker bar are more than 70-foot pounds, but usually, you know they’re not as strong as the box says. Maybe with a fresh battery or a different battery. We could get a little extra performance.

Your results may vary, but I like this tool. It will go live with its brethren in the dusty yellow tool department. Its main job in the stable will replace the little impact driver. This is what I’ll put different sockets on when I’m working on the car and need to undo a socket or tighten up a socket, and an everyday ratchet just doesn’t fit in many places because it’s so big and it’s so long, especially on the Volkswagen.

There I take the fenders off of that for a lot of other various reasons. Suspension is just so much easier to take the fenders off, and there is no clearance, and I think this guy is going to fit, so I’m excited to use it and put it to use, so I will keep you updated on that if it works. If it doesn’t work, I’m excited that DeWalt is being innovative again, making new tools with new product lines.

Before you go, we have a comparison between DeWalt cordless ratchet and the famous Milwaukee cordless ratchet below. So keep reading to see which is superior and the best value for money.

DeWalt Cordless Ratchet Versus Milwaukee Cordless Ratchet

It’s hard to know just how good a cordless ratchet is without comparing it to the competition. So today, we’re going to take a crack at the DeWalt cordless ratchet versus the ratchet from the M12 line, which consists of their higher torque ratchet and their newest high-speed ratchet. The new DeWalt cordless ratchet compares most closely to that larger M12 ratchet because both are high torque ratchets. The new DeWalt is rated for 70-foot pounds and the Milwaukee 55-foot pounds.

Features and Specs

Milwaukee showed their newest model, their high-speed ratchet, which is a lower 35-foot pounds but a higher 450 RPM compared to the 200 of the M12 and 250 RPM of the DeWalt. The DeWalt 2-amp hour battery fits on this tool pretty well. I was expecting something a little bit unsightly when I first saw images of this tool with the battery hanging off the Milwaukee.

None of us likes the paddle throttle lever on Milwaukee’s. They get annoying after some use. Also, the forward-reverse selector on the DeWalt is much easier to use and actually possible with gloves. Unlike Milwaukee, which has this smaller and shallower knob that even on the much larger head, higher torque M12 uses that same design.

Speaking of large heads, the DeWalt has one similar in size to the larger Milwaukee, a bit narrower but also thicker due partly to that more convenient selector switch compared to the M12. It is much smaller and more similar to the OG cordless ratchets of old hand ratchets since they never had cords, to begin with. However, it is not as tiny as DeWalt’s largest 12-amp hour pack; their 5-amp power sticks off this tool and is a bit chunky.

So, we’ll have to see how that affects torque. And if that’s well worth it, and on the topic of torque specifically for ratchets, it doesn’t mean much, maybe 25% of the pie, in my opinion. So, yes, you read that right, torque is not super crucial on these tools. But from what we’ve learned, we can now visit the rank chart. They’re ranked here in no particular order points on this list.

Brand Model No Average Weight with Battery Head Size (width x depth) x 20 Price
Milwaukee 2557-20 3.1 lb 1.59” x 1.08” $169
Milwaukee 2566-20 2.38 lb 1.17” x 0.74” $179
DeWalt DCF503B 2.97 lb 1.55 x 1.18” $179

With a battery across all the storms, we’ve used average. So worse for the DeWalt, which also feels pretty front-heavy with a standard battery. Their head dimensions are listed above as sort of a cross-sectional area function.

But you might expect that we have a real-life application test to do. Well, that’s what we wanted to make a real-life testing situation for ratchets. While RPM is necessary if that RPM bogs down during use, who will be on top? It’s hard to say from the specs alone, so we drilled and tapped an angle iron for five different sizes, three bolts per size from a quarter-inch to half-inch threads.

Then what these tools will be working on are nylon lock nuts. Free speed is excellent, but what happens when that bolt or stud is rusty, cruddy, or just an imperfect threats? The nylon lock nuts represent a constant load on the tool that increases with bolt size from just about four-foot pounds on small bolts to 15-foot pounds to 55-foot pounds. That way, you know the RPM is not just bullshit marketing speak, but a helpful RPM that doesn’t bog down from imperfections.

Usually, you can finish a regular nut much faster than a lock nut. The time is quite different, but a higher torque ratchet should be less affected. The test will be a versus higher torque models from M12 and DeWalt using their best batteries.

DeWalt Versus M12 (2557-20)

From this head-to-head performance comparison, it is pretty indicative of their pace. You’ll notice the 250 RPM of the DeWalt making some early gains over the 200 RPM M12, but torque is required to do well in this test. Nearly half the bolts on this gauntlet need to be loosened at increasing torque levels at the foot-pound values we have set, ranging from 15-foot pound to 55-foot pound.

If the tool can’t loosen it with the trigger, you must work it by hand, just like you would be working on a car. If a tool never has to be used by hand because it’s powerful enough, it will get stuff done quicker without that hand; use and benefit from that, like in real life. So it’s clear that the DeWalt is moving out ahead, and even once it hits some of the more rigid tightened bolts, it can make mostly quick work of them.

Keep in mind during just free spinning; these tools are seeing 5-to-15-foot pounds of work constantly from those new nylon locking nuts. So, the dual ultimately finishes at two minutes and six seconds, right as the M12 is struggling with the 35-foot pound nut, a nut that DeWalt was able to take off with just the trigger pull. The Milwaukee eventually finishes at three minutes and 10 seconds, just over a minute after. And this is not just a function of RPM. If the M12 is 200 RPM and the DEWALT 250, the DeWalt should be finishing 25% faster by RPM alone, but it was closer to 50% faster while under load in this test.

DeWalt Versus M12 High Speed (2566-20)

But the hurdles for the dwell are just beginning for the M12 high speed, which should bring a lot more ribbons at 450 RPM. That is, if the later larger bolts don’t bog it down in this test, the newest M12 ratchet speed is blistering. It should be no surprise if you’re familiar with cordless ratchets. The M12 must pause on the 20-foot pound bolt to work it by hand because it’s bringing less torque. But that’s how most of these things go. A ratchet is not an impact tool if you’re using one of these to loosen a bolt.

Solely expecting that to happen by pulling the trigger each time you’re going to be having a hard time in life. These are nut runners. They should have enough power to overcome nicked and rusty threads or otherwise just be stuff off quickly. Both of these tools do that well, the DeWalt having to stop less often to work by hand, which is why it’s catching up towards the end.

And like on the 50-foot pound nut, the M12 is going to have to take more hand ratcheting than average before that throttle works, but at the end of the day, even under new nylon nut loads, the M12 can do the task quicker, finishing at one minutes and 40 seconds. The DeWalt is not far behind, though at its two minutes and six seconds.

Torque Testing

Here we have torque testing. The higher their torque, the more points they get to shave off their tally. One of the cool things about the DeWalt is it technically has interchangeable heads. So you could theoretically buy the extended version or that head alone and swap it.

I thought taking these bolts out would do the trick, but it’s turning this head entirely. This looks like a collar nut, but you must spin the whole head like one 1/2-inch thread to take it off. But the upside, I guess, is you could make a cool right-angle head or some other weird angles to your preference.

We will test these cordless ratchets with the torque Dino. This will be torque compared to a torque wrench. Since there’s no absolute testing standard for power ratchets that we know of.

The first one for the test is the higher torque M12 ratchet with a 2 amp hour battery. The first try showed the result of 45-foot pounds. And another twist which could be persuaded up to about 54-foot pounds. Then using the same ratchet with an X 6.0 battery resulted in about 60-foot pounds, which can be convinced up to 70-foot pounds.

Using these tools by hand is essential as they aren’t powerhouses, so let’s try to break it that way. Obviously, this is helping us with the extended length for extra leverage, showing 235-foot pounds. I think that should cover most things for 3/8 inch.

And now here’s for the DeWalt with a 2-amp hour battery. The result is 67-foot pounds, but we couldn’t be convinced higher than that, and with the 5-amp hour battery, we can get as much as 72 from our attempts; additional pulls of the trigger don’t seem to help this, too much.

Right now, we just give it the beans by hand, basically as much grunt as you could be expected to produce with this length, and then we’re going to check its progress. So the result is 217-foot pounds, and these tools are pretty up there with just standard ratchets alone.

Lastly, we will test the M12 High Speed with a 6-amp power battery. The other two ratchets went over their ratings of 55 and 60. This high speed is just shy of its 29, and we were able to get this model up to 170-foot pounds by hand.

The Performance Result

We are using a point system to indicate which model is the best based on the specs and test results that we have done so far. Peak torque (ft-lbs) will be negative to tell good points. Lower total points indicate the best performance and value for the money.

Brand Weight Head Size Price Test Time Peak Torque Total
Milwaukee 2557-20 31 27 169 190 -70 347
Milwaukee2566-20 (High Speed) 24 10 179 100 -29 284
DeWalt DCF503B 30 23 179 126 -72 286

The M12 (2566-20) high speed in first, then the DeWalt cordless ratchet following pretty closely behind and the M12(2577-20) last. So far, the performance and specs of the extended and standard-length models on this one should be the same.

My Final Verdict

Personally, this is where I’d rank them as well. The DeWalt is good, very good even, and if you own the DeWalt batteries, you should be pretty happy this thing came along, but the speed of this ratchet, even under moderate load, you have to use it by hand.

You’ll notice the peak torque is nearly 25% of the total score from all the points, which is how we feel. This category sits in real life; peak torque, or the ability of the tool to shove your knuckles into part of the engine, is about 25% of the pie by itself, not brand cell tools.

This way, torque figures are always going to sell a tool better. Sometimes companies might make a lure that’s better at catching fish, and sometimes they make a lure that’s better at catching anglers if you know what I mean.

This DeWalt cordless ratchet advertised higher work than the 55-foot pound M12 and more or less. They announced higher RPM than that too, which is a difficult feat to pull off both. And it did that as well and under load. I am pretty happy with the result and performance of this DeWalt cordless ratchet.

Buy on HomeDepo: DeWalt Cordless Ratchet (DCF503B)

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