PRO Review: RIDGID Gen5X Combo Kit - Glued-N-Screwed
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PRO Review: RIDGID Gen5X Combo Kit

See how our PRO, Ron puts the new Gen5X Combo Kit to the test.

Say the name “RIDGID” in a construction environment, and the first thoughts will probably be of pipe wrenches, cutters or similar plumbing tools. Take a look at the RIDGID website or, stroll through a Home Depot, and those thoughts quickly go out the window. Founded in 1923 in, North Ridgeville Ohio, RIDGID has a well deserved reputation for producing quality tools. With over 300 products available they definitely have something for everyone.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few RIDGID tools, from my Fathers’ pipe cutter, to a 14″ band saw. The most recent addition, to the RIDGID collection, is the 18 volt, Gen5X Combo. With 5 tools, 2 batteries, and an upgraded charger; all packed in a heavy duty bag, this combo is a veritable one-stop-shop. We’ve been using them for a couple months now and feel more than qualified to offer a review.

First up is the 7-1/4″ circular saw. Heavy duty and heavy weight, this is a full feature saw that compares as closely to a corded model as any I’ve tried. The lock levers for the 56 degree bevel and the 2-7/16″ depth setting are easy to access and manipulate. The bevel and depth adjust smoothly, and are well marked. Detents at 15, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees make these common bevels easy to find. A trigger safety is located at the top of the grip, and can be engaged from either side with moderate downward pressure. Pull the trigger and you’re quickly reminded this is a cordless saw. The blade speed of 3700 rpm is sluggish compared to the 5300 rpm of a corded saw. On the plus side there is plenty of torque to keep the blade spinning happily, even buried to the hilt in 4×4 treated. We used the saw exclusively to frame walls in a garage, and had no problem cutting treated bottom plates and spruce framing. The weight of the saw, along with the comfortable ergonomics of the grip, made for smooth, stable cutting. The battery lasted all day and the saw never slowed down. While I’ll stick with a corded saw for big jobs, the RIDGID cordless will see plenty of use on smaller projects, and as an extra saw when more than one thing needs doing at a time. It will also be handy under floors, up a ladder, or anywhere I can’t or don’t want to pull a cord.

The heavy duty trend carries on to the Gen5X reciprocating saw. Big and beefy, with a 1-1/8″ stroke, it cuts fast and easy. Use the orbital action to fly through wood, or turn it off to cut nails,bolts and sheet metal. We used it to cut up old trusses from a porch rebuild, and cut through several of the mending plates in the process. It has also been used several times to cut up downed tree limbs, and was used as a pruning saw, from a 20′ ladder, when the pole saw we were using decided to take a siesta. Blades are easy to change; just turn the lock collar 180 degrees and slide them in. The work contact shoe also adjusts easily for different length blades, or can be removed altogether. To round out the package a light helps show the way, and a dust blower keeps the cut line clear. All in all a good example of the venerable recip.

The drill and impact driver still constitute the heart of most cordless tool kits. While we’ve used all the Gen5X tools a fair amount, the hammer drill and impact have accumulated the most mileage. Both have been pressed into service for everything from millwork, to electrical work, to framing, and both performed just fine. While adding electrical circuits in a basement, we used the drill with a 1″ auger bit to drill through cured fir floor joists and studs with no drama. No kick backs, no bogs, no problems. Later we used it to screw the wire to the receptacles and the receptacles to the boxes. While definitely “overkill” for that job, the 2 speeds and 100+ clutch settings made it easy to do without damaging anything. The impact was also used in this manner, in low speed with a light finger on the trigger. It’s more compact size was a little handier than the drill and we had the job done quickly. The lights on the front of each tool really helped out in the dim areas, and the belt hooks kept them close at hand. We also had a fair sized porch rail to build, and again the drill and impact carried the day. We ran the drill full speed to pre drill screw holes in the treated balusters. The impact was then used to drive 2-1/2″ deck screws through the balusters into the rail, top and bottom. It was here we encountered our only problem to date, as the impact kept dropping bits. At one point we could fully seat a bit and then pull it right back out. I don’t know if it was dust in the chuck or what, but it finally righted itself and hasn’t happened since. We haven’t had a job that required the use of a hammer drill, but we have tried it out. We had a friendly little race between the RIDGID, another cordless drill, a cordless rotary hammer, and a corded hammer drill. Drilling into a lightweight cap block the results were as expected; #1 Rotary hammer, #2 corded, #3 & 4 The cordless drills. That said there were no losers and I wouldn’t hesitate to take either one to a job. As a matter of fact I have to install a couple of handicap door seals on concrete soon, and the RIDGID hammer drill and It’s sidekick impact driver will be called on once again.

There isn’t a lot to say about the RIDGID flashlight except that it works great, and I use it at least once a day. Used inside or out it throws a usable beam a good 70 yards. With a lifetime bulb and the 4 Ah batteries it’ll be ready when you are. The rotating lens adjusts 45 degrees to throw light where it’s needed, and a belt clip makes it easy to keep up with.

If a drill and impact are the heart of a cordless tool kit, the batteries and charger must be the blood. The RIDGID 4ah Hyper Lithium Ion batteries have kept all 5 tools rolling merrily along. I made a determined effort to run one flat, and check the recharge time; about 40 minutes. Push a button on the front end of each battery, and LED lights from 1-4 indicate remaining life. The batteries slide into a “rail system” to engage the terminal on each tool. A push button lock on each side holds them securely in place, and it’s a simple one hand operation to remove them. As a side note, the terminals on each tool are fairly exposed so caution should be used, when loading them in the bag, to avoid possible damage. I’ve read reports of short term battery failure, only time will tell. On the definite plus side, I was overjoyed to find the new Hyper batteries worked in my 8 year old power planer; Thanks RIDGID!

So far we’ve been well satisfied with the Gen5X combo. All the tools work well, quality of manufacture is good, and they feel good in the hand. The lifetime service warranty and battery replacement are huge, making them even more attractive. Current retail is $499; not a bad price for a sack full of “get er done”.

Keep your finger on the trigger, Ron…..

 

About Ron Long (6 Articles)
Ron Long is a general contractor and remodeler based in Cartersville, GA. His extensive background in professional framing, renovating, millwork and window installation makes him the ultimate test for tools targeted to contractors. He’s also a life-long maker and wood whisperer. In fact, he drew the blueprints – then built ­– the home where he and his wife raised their daughter.
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