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Review of the Master Mechanic Swift Driver Ratcheting Screwdriver

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Master Mechanic Swift Driver

Master Mechanic Swift Driver

(c) 2012 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.
I remember being given my first ratcheting screwdriver to add to my tool chest at about the age of twelve. For a while, that one flathead screwdriver was probably my favorite tool for a long time, simply because it was unique, mechanical, and very cool (even though it didn't work all that well). Later, when I found a Yankee screwdriver in a box in a shed, the ratcheting model I had enjoyed for so long lost a bit of its luster.

Today, with cordless screwdrivers cordless drills and impact drivers being common choices for driving screws, the traditional handheld screwdriver rarely makes it out of the tool chest.

The Master Mechanic Swift Driver ratcheting screwdriver may help to bring the non-powered screwdriver back into vogue. This handheld screwdriver has a unique dual-drive gear system that doubles the driving speed of a regular screwdriver. The kit includes twenty-six different bits with the ratcheting handle to allow for driving of almost any type of screw.
The Master Mechanic Swift Driver unit has a large handle with an ergonomic grip that is easy to turn and apply plenty of torque with your wrist. However, its the dual drive gear technology that makes this ratcheting screwdriver unique. Every ratcheting screwdriver I've ever used would turn the screw bit just like a basic screwdriver: turn the handle clockwise and the bit (and screw) rotates clockwise. After reaching the limit of your wrist's twisting range, rotating your wrist in the opposite direction (to re-load), these old ratcheting screwdrivers would simply click but the tip wouldn't rotate.

On the contrary, the dual drive gear action of the Swift Driver can also twist the bit when rotating the handle in the opposite direction, during the re-load phase. So, when the gear is set to "forward" (for driving screws clockwise), rotating the handle both clockwise and counter-clockwise will turn the screw tip in a clockwise manner to drive the screw. Flipping the action switch in the opposite direction will allow the user to loosen screws (counter-clockwise) while twisting the handle in both directions. In this manner, you're using both the clockwise and counter-clockwise motion of the wrist to drive or remove the screw, effectively doubling the driving speed over a traditional screwdriver or ratcheting screwdriver.

When I first opened the package and took a good look at the Swift Driver, I was impressed with not only the dual-drive action of the tool, but also the sturdiness of the unit. It has a bit of heft without being overly heavy, which leads one to believe that the screwdriver will be able to take the abuse of being used on a job site without having to worry about durability. Master Mechanic obviously believes that the Swift Driver will be durable, as they've covered the tool with a limited lifetime warranty.

Features

The Master Mechanic Swift Driver kit includes the following pieces:
  • Ratcheting screwdriver with magnetic tip bit holder
  • Flexible driver extension
  • 7 Phillips bits
  • 3 flathead slotted bits
  • 4 hex-head bits
  • 3 square-drive bits
  • 6 SAE nut driver bits
  • Bit carrying case

Tool Review

The big question about the Swift Driver is, how well does the dual-drive ratcheting action work? In a few words, pretty well, although the action could be a little better.

When driving screws, one would first set the action switch all the way forward, which is the clockwise action. Twisting the screwdriver handle clockwise (with only one hand on the screwdriver handle) will twist the bit clockwise exactly like a regular ratcheting screwdriver. Turn the handle to the right, and the bit moves right - turn the handle to the left and the bit doesn't move as the handle allows the operator to re-load (as discussed earlier).

To activate the dual-drive action, one must use their off hand to hold a knurled ring in the middle of the screwdriver (typically in the area where one would use their off hand to support a regular screwdriver). Holding this knurled ring securely will twist the screw tip of the screwdriver when re-loading with the handle. Once the user gets the hang of how the two-handed dual-action operates, they'll find that it definitely doubles the driving speed of the bit without any additional effort.

Flipping the action switch toward the rear of the screwdriver will change the bit from a clockwise motion to a counter-clockwise motion.

How well does the dual-action feature work? As I mentioned earlier, pretty well. The only problem that I found with it is that the dual-action tip spins very easily when there is no load on the screwdriver, but when actually driving a screw, one has to hold the knurled ring quite firmly to get the bit tip to twist on the re-load action of the wrist. It certainly requires more off-hand effort than I expected, but not so much that the dual-action feature was difficult to use.

Final Thoughts

If I were asked to decide whether to keep one of these Swift Drivers in my tool chest with other hand tools for regular use, I'd probably reach for one before a basic screwdriver, simply because it's faster and quite versatile with the additional tips. Some tradesmen (such as electricians and woodworkers) will probably find it more handy than others (anyone working on electronic equipment shouldn't use this driver if they are concerned about the magnetic tip affecting the electronic hardware), but for people whose tasks require handheld screwdrivers (without being able to employ a cordless screwdriver), the Swift Driver would likely be a welcome addition to their cache of tools.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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