Several people wrote in about a new line of Harbor Freight Hercules cordless power tools.
The first person who mentioned them said they looked like Dewalt rip-offs. I do see resemblances in the tools, specifically how the handles and battery packs are shaped. There are very strong similarities.
I suppose there shouldn’t be any surprise then, for Harbor Freight to be drawing a comparison between their Hercules cordless drill and Dewakt’s DCD780C2 kit (which is now said to be built in the USA).
As an aside, I’d consider Dewalt’s newer mass market-aimed DCD777, a compact brushless kit to be a more neutral comparison. It’s nearly as fast and powerful as the DCD780. It actually beats the Harbor Freight 20V Hercules drill kit on price too; the Dewalt kit is $99 with (2) battery packs.
What strikes me as odd is that Harbor Freight is calling the Hercules a 20 Volt cordless lineup. Not 20V Max?
What’s also odd is that there are several new or at least new to me 18V-class lineups – Hercules, “Earthquake XT” that looks to be a Milwaukee M18 clone, and a new lower-spec’ed Bauer Hypermax lineup.
For these new Hercules tools, it looks like Harbor Freight duplicated Dewalt’s 20V Max ergonomics and battery pack styling as close as they could. Maybe the battery packs are even physically compatible?
I’d ask someone at Harbor Freight for more information, but I haven’t had any communication with them for several years. They once asked about our review process, and I gave them the usual spiel, about how we test tools objectively and fairly and won’t accept money, and never heard back.
The new cordless drill is said to be on-par with Dewalt’s older DCD780 model. Instead of (2) 1.5Ah batteries that come with that kit, this Hercules drill comes with a single 2.5Ah battery pack.
Harbor Freight Hercules Product Specifications
On paper, the Hercules drill has competitive specs.
- 1/2″ Jacobs chuck
- 0-600/0-2000 RPM max speed
- 550 in-lbs max torque
- All metal gear construction
- 7-3/8″ height
- Weighs 3.6 lbs
- 60 minute charge time for 2.5Ah battery pack
- LED light with delay
Price: $110, on sale for $100
They say it “compares” at $179, but I think that’s a little misleading.
What about Milwaukee’s seasonal bargain 2606-21L kit? It’s still $99 at Home Depot and comes with a compact cordless drill, worklight, 1 battery, and a charger.
Harbor Freight Hercules
The Hercules drill kit, according to Harbor Freight specs, is a little faster and more powerful. And it comes with a larger battery pack. But the Milwaukee kit costs less.
I’m thinking that they designed their Hercules cordless drill with Dewalt’s DCD780C2 kit in mind for direct comparison. I’d guess that it was a cherry-picked comparison, but given how it looks a lot like Dewalt’s model, the comparison intention could have influenced the product design.
There’s a Hercules cordless hammer drill as well.
And there’s also a Harbor Freight Hercules cordless impact driver, with max torque spec’ed at 1500 in-lbs.
I bet they’re not going to draw any comparisons with Dewalt’s DCF885C1 impact driver kit, which is still at its seasonal price of $99 at Amazon. The Harbor Freight Hercules model costs more – $110 – although it probably goes on sale for $99. It’s said to be a little more powerful, and also comes with a 2.5Ah-rated battery compared to Dewalt’s 1.5Ah. But for the same price, which would you buy, the Dewalt or the Harbor Freight Hercules?
I also spotted new (or new to me) Hercules power tool accessories – drill bits, impact screwdriver bits, and masonry bits. What I found both curious and somewhat ironic, most of the features of the Hercules drill bit set had their own trademarked branding. There’s the BlueBraid titanium coating, StarterPoint tips, and Tri-Flat shanks.
The Hercules drill bit set is said to deliver Legendary Performance.
Harbor Freight Hercules FIRST THOUGHTS
I don’t have the greatest impression of Harbor Freight, especially in regard to power tools.
But Harbor Freight’s new Hercules cordless tools say all the right things, on paper. There’s also described as being jobsite tough. I’m also seeing legendary performance being thrown around for both the tools and new Hercules power tool accessories.
It’s hard to take these tools seriously, first given Harbor Freight’s reputation of cheap throwaway tools, but second because these look to be heavily copied designs. They’re too similar to Dewalt’s tools to simply be “inspired.” Color the Hercules tools yellow, and I’m sure there would be confusion. The battery pack looks similar enough to where it might be mistaken as Dewalt’s, and the same with the drills and impact driver, based on the shape of the handle.
That wouldn’t be a very good start for the new Hercules cordless tool lineup, but here’s the question that’s nagging me. What if Harbor Freight is seeking to produce jobsite tough tools? What if they’re serious about delivering legendary performance?
Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Cordless Tools Review
The tools look good on paper. I’m curious. If I could forget about the similarities with Dewalt’s styling, I might even be excited.
But something else is holding me back from getting excited. These tools, and the Bauer Hypermax and Earthquake XT tools, look to have been designed to “compare” with higher priced tools. So were they designed to do similar work for less money? If so, is anything about the tools special?
When a professional tool brand comes out with a new tool, thought has gone into each component. Every design aspect results from a deliberate decision.
So when something is copied, some of the “why” can be lost, leading to something that looks similar but is not quite the same. In regard to tools, this can mean compromises in performance, durability, runtime, ergonomics, or overall quality.
What will Harbor Freight do next with their Hercules lineup? More tools, or will they stop here?
And what about the “based on actual product testing” part of their comparison claims? Whose product testing? Because we all know how objective,fair, and balanced tool brands are when comparing their tools against other brands’.