Tool Review: NAPA Pro Power Series 1/2" Air Drill

NAPA offers the Challenger Super Duty 1/2” Reversing Air Drill, No. NPT 6-1136, part of the Pro Power Series of tools. The features of this pneumatic drill include a variable speed trigger, an advanced technology, stall-resistant motor, a one-hand forward/reverse lever, an industrial Jacobs keyed chuck, a comfort grip, lightweight composite body and two sets full cage gearing for extra power. The tool includes a 2-year warranty.

The review

When sent an air drill to evaluate, Lou Fort, lead technician at K.A.R.S. Inc. in Huntingburg, IN, did not know what to expect. He already owned several modern “keyless” drill chucks.

Lou was pleased with some of the features of this tool that made it unlike any other air drill he owned. The drill went through real-world tests, including drilling out broken bolts and studs, and drilling new holes in 1/4” steel plates. Lou also used it to run different size hones when enlarging a couple of pipefittings that he wanted a looser fit on.

He was very impressed by how smoothly the trigger worked.

“The smooth operation of the variable speed trigger made my pressure/flow regulator unnecessary,” said Lou. “Other air drills I own don’t have triggers as smooth and dependable as this drill has. On those other drills, I have added a pressure/flow regulator to help control the drill’s speed.”

The drill also proved to be exceptionally quiet. Lou is not sure if his assessment of the tool’s quietness is accurate (“My hearing is shot from years using abusive tools”), but he took notice of what other technicians told him in the shop observing him use it: “The sound level of the drill is lower, so I am told, than my other air drills,” said Lou. “I was told that if they hadn’t seen me using the drill they wouldn’t have known I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.”

Lou also advised that the tool was comfortable and convenient. “The installation, removal, positioning [of drill bits] is quick and easy,” said Lou. “And the composite housing with comfort grip is easy on your hand.”

Added to the convenience is the fact if the inevitable were to occur, the tool comes with “a ‘Sudden Service’ tag that would come in handy should the drill need to be sent in for service,” Lou noted.

Lou also offered improvements for the tool. Though Lou had no direct proof of there being a real problem, he expressed concern that “the ‘forward/reverse’ lever has me worried about breakage.” “The lever is easy to use, hasn’t interfered in any way,” he admitted. “It is just that it seems to sit a bit too far out from the housing. My only concern is with the directional switching lever.”

Lou also added that he would like to see the tool offered “with a ‘keyless’ chuck. Better yet,” he added, “build a dual ‘keyless/keyed’ chuck, that would give us the best of both worlds.”

That being said, Lou’s verdict? “The 6-1136 1/2” Reversible Air Drill is just as easy to use as any other air drill (with a keyed chuck) that I own. This is the first Napa Professional Air Tool I have ever used, but it won’t be the last,” Lou said. “The balanced feel, smooth trigger, easy-to-use ‘leverage’ handle and low sound level are all qualities anyone would like in an air tool. The 2-year warranty combined with the quality I see makes me feel good about recommending this drill as a ‘buy and use’ with confidence tool to anyone.”