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Earlier today I posted a roundup of precision screwdrivers on ToolGuyd, and for a moment it seemed silly that, with all the  individual precision screwdrivers I have, I still purchased this Kobalt 18-in-1 precision bit driver. But then I remembered why I bought it – because for $5 I now have a compact all-in-one precision bit kit that can be dedicated to unpredictable field work.

The screwdriver handle is made from aluminum and sports a rubberized finger-gripping zone and hard plastic palm-cap. The handle does not look very ergonomically designed, but it fits well enough in my medium-sized hand. While the handle is a bit wider than I would prefer, maybe the built-in bit storage compartment will come in handy someday.

The 18-in-1 set comes with a precision bit holder that opens awkwardly, but the design makes it easy to retrieve bits when folded out and locks them in when folded closed.

These bits feel somewhat weak, but I have not broken any yet.

The double-sided bits have ball detents that help keep them secure inside the bit holder. While none of the bits I have used thus far have accidentally fallen out of the screwdriver, past experiences have taught me not to rely on the low strength and poor quality control of such teeny tiny ball detents. You will share my hesitation after the first time you have to dismantle an entire project to retrieve a dropped screwdriver bit.

A 1-inch insert bit is only shown for size.

Right now this set is priced at $5, and you can find it in the winter holiday tool gift section at your local Lowes. After the holidays the “normal” price will likely spring back to $10.

Included bits: Slotted: 1/8″, 3/32″, 2x 5/64″, 1/16″; Phillips: #000, 2x #00, #0, #1; Torx: T4, T5, T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T15.

Verdict:

Will this 18-in-1 precision screwdriver set replace the many individually-sized precision screwdrivers I use on a regular basis? Absolutely not. But it is compact and has proven to be versatile enough to have earned a spot in my tool bag. If you are looking for your first precision screwdriver set, you could do a lot better than this, but not for the price.

Stuart Deutsch is a tool enthusiast, critic, and collector, and writes more about tools at ToolGuyd.

Stuart Deutsch

When I am not testing and reviewing new tools, I am working on robotics, electronics, woodworking, and other types of projects.

I am also interested in microscopy, the physical sciences, and new technologies.

I write more about tools and workshop topics over at ToolGuyd.com.


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Comments

  1. ka1axy says:

    I bought a similar driver to this. It has worked reasonably well, except the internal bit holder broke off from the cap the second time I used it. The cap is a bit tough to remove. . The external bit holder on this one looks like it’s made of the same kind of plastic as the internal one on mine, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it broke at some point in the future. That would eventually result in its separation from the driver. Perhaps a nylon tool roll with the driver and bits would have more longevity? Bits slipping out (or being pulled out by a close-fitting screw) is a problem.

    I can’t complain about the price, but the design quality seems off. I wish Lowe’s wasn’t such a Kobalt-centric store. I would gladly pay more for a higher quality tool. I can understand why Lowe’s doesn’t stock those, but there seems to be a continuing downward quality trend in the hand tools at these home centers. And it’s not just the tools.

    1. I have two of the screwdrivers I think you’re talking about, and getting to the internal bit holder is a pain. I often use one on micro Torx fasteners, such as those that facilitate knife and multi-tool adjustments.

      Wiha makes several micro bit holders and sets with pricing that reflects their better quality. Even if Lowes did not heavily focus on their Kobalt house brand, they probably wouldn’t offer higher quality precision tools due to low demand and sales volume.

      This Kobalt bit driver and kit is far from perfect, but I’ve been happy with it since purchasing it earlier in the month. While I am not ordinarily enticed by “special buy” holiday-timed tools, it seemed too good to pass up and I’m glad I didn’t. I also picked up a 26pc ratcheting micro bit driver set, and I have my eye on a $15 general purpose homeowner tool kit that comes with a more robust-looking pen-styled micro driver. Once the holidays are over my saved-up gift cards will be going towards a Wiha micro bit kit.

      1. ka1axy says:

        We have the Wiha tools at work. I love them! The Kobalt kits are better than the small eyeglass sets (in the two piece plastic stands) though… they work fine for the quick jobs…if I used them every day or for work, they would be Wiha.

  2. Mike says:

    Sorry to be off topic here, but I couldn’t find any other way to contact anyone in charge of the blog. I use the WordPress email alerts to browse the blog (it’s the only way I can remember to browse every day and not miss good stuff). Now, the emails have never contained the whole blog entry that I know of, but recently all the emails have stopped including a picture or even enough text to tell what the article is really about. It seems a trivial thing, probably, and I don’t know who to contact about it but could you please start including a longer preview in the emails again? Then again, if it’s a cost issue, I do understand.

  3. eggy78 says:

    I haven’t seen this kit yet, but I just bought another of the precision flat/phillips drivers, for a total of 4 (2 torx and 2 standard). I really like them, and I like that the cap is secure. I don’t find it particularly hard to remove but I’ve never had it come off by accident, which has happened with other similar drivers.

    In general, these are one of my favorite tools and I think the 18-piece set is pretty neat.

    One warning, though: Don’t try to pry anything with the flathead bits. I have broken 3 out of the 4 flathead ends in my original kit. And for what it’s worth, I wasn’t putting much pressure on them. Just trying to get something between the front and back casing of some electronic device. The phillips/torx ends seem to be able to take a fair bit of [ab]use.

    For $5, I would say you owe it to yourself to grab one of these.

  4. MysticX says:

    I don’t like Kobalt tools either, I got a double ended screwdriver and within a week the ball that holds the bit in was jammed. The bits would just fall out and flop around when I tried to screw something. I went to the service counter at Lowes and they told me to exchange it I had to find the guy in the tool department and have him sign off on the replacement. Well the guy was not in the tool department and I had to get someone to track him down. Then he couldn’t find the screwdriver despite it having the barcode still on it. It turns out in the week that I had it the handle faded so much that it was hard to tell it was even the same screwdriver. I finally got a replacement after nearly 15 minutes in the store, I don’t trust this thing so it sits in my junk drawer. I pulled out my grandpa’s rusted farm & fleet brand screwdriver and use that instead. The thing has to be almost 20 years old and it works better than a new Kobalt tool.