Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver review

We all love power tools, but let’s be realistic:  Unless your tools are part of your job or you’re a serious handyperson, most power tools are overkill.  Yes, I’ve been guilty of using a $400 cordless uber-drill to tighten a cabinet hinge.  But what’s this odd-ball, palm-sized thing?  A Gyro?  Isn’t that meat eaten inside flat bread?  I had a chance to check out the new Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver.

As a (mostly) hairy-chested, grunting macho-macho man, whenever I see a “power” tool packed in plastic like this, I turn up my manly nose and move on to the “big boy” tools.  Wait, it’s motion activated?  And has a lithium-ion battery?  Well okay missy, let’s see what you’re all about.

The handle is cleverly exposed so you can get a feel for the grip.  This is important, because that’s how you’ll be controlling the tool.

Key Features

  • Gyroscopic Technology
  • Compact
  • LED Light
  • Lithium Battery
  • Voltage:  4 v
  • 180 rpm
  • Battery Type: Lithium

Benefits

  • Senses your motion for increased control with variable speed and forward/reverse
  • Illumnates project area
  • Holds a charge up to 18 months
  • For use in tight spaces

Time to dig in!  The package is that infamous hand-slashing plastic clamshell stuff.  This was the end result.

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Below, you’ll see the big “Gyro” button on the back of the handle and the Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver in my hand.  Notice how the palm of the hand rests against the “Gyro” button.

Aww, look.  It’s so cute!

Comes with two bits.  There is no adjustable clutch or anything fancy.  I’m not kidding.  There aren’t even any places to store extra bits.

A little white LED lights up the area once you squeeze the Gyro button.  The white LED light also doubles as a low battery indicator, and will blink rapidly for 5 seconds when the battery is low.  The Gyro also has over-temperature protection.  When the unit approaches a temperature above the normal range, the Gyro will shut off and the LED blinks in a long/short pattern for 5 seconds.

The included charger plugs in at the end of the tool.  It’s a proprietary plug that fits in one way.  Black and Decker suggests an initial charge of 16 hours, or 12 hours from a fully discharged condition.

Underside of the Gyro.  Made in China.

Using the Gyro is completely different than anything else I know of.  Instead of pulling a trigger, you grip the handle (squeezing the “Gyro” button) and gently “twist” the tool in the intended direction.  You guessed, it, righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

When you squeeze the Gyro button, the tool takes note of its position.  Once you rotate it in either direction, it spins the bit accordingly.  That’s right, want to go faster?  Rotate it just a bit more.

This twisty-gyro action took some getting used to.  I admit the novelty factor was very high.  No longer did I have to flip a switch to reverse direction.  I just rotated my wrist!

I set out to try out the Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver on the nemesis of modern life:  Assembling an IKEA end table.

This beastie table was perfect little exercise, because as shown in the photo, there’s a narrow area where a longer cordless screwdriver may not fit.  The Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver BARELY fit.  The white LED lit up the work area just fine.

Then I found an issue I had not anticipated.  When I removed a screw to realign a part, the Gyro pushed the back of my hand against the opposite side of the work area.  The Gyro had plenty of power to squish my hand against the drawer guide.  OUCH!

Because I held the Gyro from the back, the rear of my hand would be the first to smash against something else.  Conventional cordless drills and drivers are pistol shaped or even “screwdriver” shaped.

“Lemme undo this last screw, and- OUCH!”

Clearly, a stubby, manual screwdriver would have been just fine for this tight spot, but I really wanted to put the Gyro through the test.  Besides, at the time, I couldn’t find my stubby screwdriver.

Which leads me to an interesting point.  The Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver is small enough that you could toss it in a kitchen drawer or car glovebox, and it’s there when you need it.  Unlike my fancier Ni-MH or older Ni-CD powered cordless tools, the lithium batteries in the Gyro will hold a charge for up to 18 months.  That’s a big deal to me, because as a non-professional, my tools are NEVER charged up.

Speaking of professionals, take note:  The tool shuts down automatically after 45 seconds as a safety measure in case of accidental activation in your toolbox, kitchen drawer, backpack, etc.  Yes, if the screw you’re working on takes 46 seconds to finish, you’re out of luck.  Then again if that’s you, the Gyro probably isn’t your first choice anyway.

It’s probably not going to win over the heavy-duty tool types, but so what?  It’s got enough power for most household tasks, compact enough for tight spaces, and it’s likely to be charged up when you need it. I’ll be keeping the Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver lying around the house for sure alongside my “normal” hand tools.  I’ll just try not to squish my hands next time.

 

Product Information

Price:$40 MSRP ($39.97 at Lowes, Walmart, Amazon)
Manufacturer:Black and Decker
Pros:
  • Small, lithium batteries hold a charge for up to 18 mos.
  • Unique variable-speed gyroscopic control.
  • Fine for household DIY chores.
Cons:
  • Small learning curve for the gyro control vs. conventional trigger.
  • No bit storage.
Posted in: Do-It-Yourself, How-To, Home, Kitchen, Reviews

6 comments… add one

  • Bj Nicholls October 24, 2012, 11:29 am

    I tried one of these in-store at Lowes and decided that the actuation method is cute but stupid. If the driver had a conventional trigger and direction switch, you could modify your grip and you wouldn’t have had to smash your hand to make the Gyro driver work. In fact, the twist it takes to activate the B+D driver reduces one of the main advantages of these compact electric drivers; the ability to work in tight spaces where there isn’t room to grip and turn a screwdriver easily. There are small lithium drivers by Skill and other brands and I’d opt for one of them over this gimmicky product.

  • Andy Chen October 24, 2012, 11:31 am

    Bj:
    I totally agree. I like the size. If it had a normal trigger, it would be a great inexpensive little tool.

  • Jhon October 24, 2012, 11:38 pm

    I have two similar items (more like “gun” cordless screwdrivers).

    The most amazing thing about these is how long they hold a charge. 18 months is LOW-BALLING it. And it’s amazing how long it will run on a given charge.

  • MjM November 24, 2012, 10:49 am

    One other thing: The LED on the tool activates only when the motor is spinning. I have an older small B&D NiCd pistol-grip screwdriver that has the same problem… drives me crazy.

    B&D Engineers: We need to see where the screw is BEFORE trying to turn it!

  • Neil January 28, 2013, 4:22 am

    Chaps this is a brilliant piece of kit. I have had one of these for 6 months now and wouldn’t be with out it. A few of the assumptions noted in previous comments are totally wrong. The small LED light does not light up only when the tool is running – it actually lights up as soon as the tool is in your palm, so it can definitely illuminate the work area prior to actually screwing! Second misconception is that you need to wildly rotate our wrist to activate it. It takes a while to get used to the action but it really only needs a slight twist to start the unit, the faster you initially twist the faster it will run
    The battery life is phenoninal.
    I hope this helps

  • Charlie July 6, 2013, 1:04 am

    I liked my first one so much I bought another one so I could always have enough battery to do the job.
    Battery is strong and last a long time in real use. With two charged there is not much chance of running out of power.
    When driving longer screws and it starts to bog I stop and grab the ratchet screw driver to go the last couple of turns. This does a bunch to prolong the battery power. Is it really 12 to recharge from flat? Is it harmed by longer charging?
    Right now I have a old school 18V and a 12V on the chargers now, I will kill those in the morning and the gyros will go the next 4 hrs. WhooooHa!

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