Tooling Up: The Fein Combo ASB14 Cordless Hammer Drill

In the first of a new series of tool reviews, Installer lets its chief tester get to grips with the Fein Combo ASB14 Cordless Hammer Drill.
Fein is a high-end German tool company primarily known for the MultiMaster – an oscillating multi-tool. However, the product under review is the fairly new line of cordless drills and drivers.
Appearance-wise, they are consistent with the other tools in Fein’s ‘arsenal’ – the orange and black finish giving the tool an immediately recognisable credibility born from around 140 years of development.
History aside, Fein consistently brings an excellent product to the market and this is no exception. I have had the chance to try this cordless drill for a few weeks and have given it a serious workout, testing its performance in direct comparison to other professional tools at my disposal.
Out of the box
On receiving the package, it was immediately apparent that this tool would hold its own, neatly packaged in the trademark colour scheme. Opening the case revealed a simply-constructed but highly functional tool. Personally, this makes me happy. Simple but effective should – in my opinion – be the mantra of every installer. Unfortunately, fancy add-ons can often cause more problems than they solve, and the reality is that all an installer needs is a reliable tool that gets the job done quickly and properly.
In hand, the tool is surprisingly lightweight, enabling prolonged use. This is definitely a strong point in a sector that sometimes gets this balance wrong. Balance is actually an excellent word to describe the Fein cordless drills – the power-to-weight ratio seems to be spot on. It doesn’t feel like it is ‘under-gunned’ and, at the same time, it certainly has more to give should it be needed.
For everyday work (as well as DIY), it compares very well to other brands in the sector. It is solid and its functionality out-performs most. It is comfortable in the hand and has rubber in all the right places, adding to the grip quality – especially when working in fairly (warm) tight situations where I found my grip was reassuringly secure.
The plastic body does not feel cheap, which is surprising to me, and helps with the overall weight of the tool. I am sure, however, that it is robust enough to survive a fall from a work surface or out of the back of a van – admittedly this was not part of my testing process.
Rapid power
This drill comes with two 14V Li-ion batteries and a rapid charger, giving an ever-ready source of power. Another ‘make-or-break’ aspect of a power tool is its ability to charge. With this Fein drill, a near-empty battery was fully charged after just 30 minutes – and despite the short amount of time in the cradle the power was as if it had been charged for hours.
Sometimes it feels that rapid chargers seem to show a green light early and actually deliver a reduced battery life, but not in this case. It’s important to note at this stage that if the drill is being used for DIY, construction or carpentry situations (i.e. constant use) the experience might be a little different, but, in this sector, one or two charges was all I needed throughout the whole day, and the rapid recharge took the same time as to make a cup of tea and drink it.
As with all of Fein’s cordless tools, there is a four-bar indicator light on the battery – handy when you want to see how much battery life you have left – and the drill has Fein’s Safety Cell technology integrated, which will protect your battery.
Each drill comes in its own sturdy, bright orange case – ensuring that it could easily cope with a bit of a roughing up in the back of the van. The handle is excellent, folds away neatly and doesn’t take up too much room.
In summary, I was impressed with this Fein cordless drill. At this price point, I expected it to perform well and I was not disappointed. I am sure the investment in high end tools repay themselves over time with reliability and durability. I feel that you get what you pay for here and, with Fein, it delivers on many levels.
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