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.

Update 01/22/15

It’s been over two years and the Gyro now lives in the trunk of my car. It STILL retains it’s original charge, which is completely amazing to me. Totally unexpected. I hope I don’t lose the charger!

Source: The sample for this review was provided by Black and Decker. Please visit their site for more info.

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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.

17 thoughts on “Black and Decker 4v MAX Gyro Screwdriver review”




  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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!

    1. Really. I have 2 of these. One I use every week the other sat in a drawer for over 2 years and still had a charge. I would check uounhave the charger plugged in.

  7. I bought 3 Gyro’s before Christmas last year. One for me and my RC hobby, one for my girlfriend who works maintenance at a hotel and the last for my brother (RC again). These are great tools! My girlfriend uses hers every day. Everytime I borrow mine to someone at the racetrack, they love it and want to know where to get one. I usually stick with Makita and Hitachi tools, but I would definitely buy this one again.

    1. i got this for xmas from my loving mother and it probably sit somewhere for a couple years until i couldn’t find anything else to use. and then scratched my head a few times to figure out how it worked. the palm button is almost not noticeable you just pick it up and you naturally put more pressure on the button as you start to screw something and like magic it works. the more you tilt it the faster it goes. total one hand slight tilt can run it full out screw in to total stop to barely unscrewing to full power screw out. Absolutely a unique, can’t live without tool. I’m Not a sweety, hair back construction worker and i don’t need a power screwdriver that doubles as a jackhammer. instead I’m an E/E Engineer and constantly working on electronics, computer and yes sometimes some ‘hair’ work and no matter what this works. power that seems to last forever, even after using it regularly and loosing the charger it kept running until i found the charger months later. super bright LEDs, and very high torque for such a small device. I dislike the lack of bit storage however my work requires one bit – a #2 phillips or 1/4 drive which is built in. I also dislike the weird charge plug but i understand why. this unit has such great power because it uses the newer style 3.7V Li batteries and they don’t want anyone plugging a 5V – 12v – 48v charge plug in it that everything else used. I wish they would have make it work using a standard barrel connector accepting 5v to 12v which around her is 90% of what i have. trying to find the BLACK charger with the weird end connector is impossible. for God’s sake B%D Please change the connector or at least the COLOR of the charger. Better yet allow a USB charger to be used in the future. maybe an intelligent USB for high power and a charge full LED. Oh yeah, and a removable bit strip on the sides and not the hard to get out of the hole rubber strips. use a magnatised holder (strong magnet built into the holder and the bit). that can also be used to hold the strip to the side of the device. LAST Thought. if you are a computer tech you need to own this screwdriver, if nothing else it is too funny to watch other people try to use it. the hairyback guys just squeeze harder to try to get it to run faster. ha too funny. -RSBurks QA Engineering.

        1. It is now almost 7 years since I wrote this review and it’s still my go-to “power” tool in the garage. I’ll be sad when the Gyro finally goes belly up.

  8. Dian Malsack

    This thing is worthless, no matter what I do it will not screw in, just reverse. Followed the directions to a tee and it still will not work.

  9. It has now been 5 years since I added my first comment. Believe it or not but this tool is still working. Would I buy another? Yes in a heart beat.

    1. Lorenzo LaRue

      By the looks of it, I think they’ve been “discontinued”. Went to buy an extra. Sears, Lowes, Amazon, on Ebay there were two, one was $104 + $18.95 shipping and the other $119 + $12.95 shipping. I paid $38.95 for mine about four years ago…I’m sad now….

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