Today we are going to look at the Wiha Ultra Driver.
The Ultra Driver is a fairly new product from Wiha that is marketed as a 26-in-1 tool whereby it contains 13 double-ended bits of which 12 can be stored in the handle.
In some other locales, this design may be called the LiftUp 26.
I really do like the presentation of the piece in this nice cardboard box and the flier that goes inside, which includes part numbers for all of the Ultra Driver sets and bits.
As indicated on the flier, there are three 26-in-one sets that can be purchased in this style.
The tradesman with part number 77790, which is the one I purchased here includes a little bit of everything including slotted, Philips, Pozidrive, Square, Torx and Hex bits. The Technician model has part number 77791 and includes a larger selection of slotted bits and replaces the hex bits with an extended Torx bit selection. The last model is the Industrial version with part number 77792 and is heavy on the Hex and Torx bits with only a single bit each for slotted and Philips.
Special Ultra Driver Double-Ended Bits
Now let’s take a look at the special Ultra driver bits that this driver uses.
These bits are not a standard size and are only intended to be used in the Ultra Driver bit holder. The issue is the length of the bit is not standard and the locking notches are quite a distance from the end, which wouldn’t allow it to lock into a standard ¼” bit holder.
Each of the bits is marked ‘Wiha’ with the sizes of each end. I was kind of scratching my head as to why they paired the Philips #0 and #3. I suppose the thinking was that the most common Philips sizes are #1 and #2 and therefore should on the same bit.
One cool thing about this particular set is that it includes both metric and inch sizes for the most common hex drive sizes. I actually wasn’t expecting this but it is certainly a nice feature to have.
Ultra Driver Handle and Bit Holder
Now looking at the Ultra Driver bit holder, we have a spring-loaded piece of machined aluminum near the tip that slides back to release the bit.
When inserting the bits, there is no need to pull back on the release latch as they will lock in place automatically.
The holder for the bits is spring-loaded and contains a self-opening six-position carousal on two levels to provide a total of 12 bit holders.
If we take a close look at these holders, the solution they came up with is both simple and elegant in its design and implementation. A standard rubber O-ring is used to hold the bits at a particular angle offset from the center shaft. The O-ring applies just enough pressure so that you can easily open and close the compartment with very little restriction.
Each of these compartments is hex shaped to accept the special Ultra Driver bits. The bottom of each compartment is cut out so you can see what is on the other end of the bit.
I did notice that each of these holders is only attached with a plastic hinge that is all part of the same mold for each set of six holders. At some point these would wear out from continuous opening and closing of the compartment, but I think only Wiha really knows how many cycles it would take to do that. I’m guessing probably in the tens of thousands so I don’t really see any issue unless you use this set every day for decades.
I really do like how you can freely spin the holder so you don’t have to rotate the entire handle to get to the bit you are hunting for which is a nice feature.
Initial Sluggish Opening
The pop-out carousels are spring loaded with dual latches at the end of the handle. I noticed the first couple of times opening and closing it seemed a bit sluggish. This could just be it needs to be broken in a bit, but what I did is also add a little oil to help it a bit and now it opens quite smooth and quick.
I didn’t see any desiccant packs in the box so this could be from moisture building up on the springs but I didn’t see any evidence of rust or corrosion. Adding a small desiccant pack might be something Wiha needs to do in the future if they start getting reports of corroded parts out of the box.
13 Bits – Bit Only 12 Bit Holders
Another thing to note about the selection is that thirteen bits are included but only 12 slots are in the handle holder. Therefore, one bit must be always locked in the driver bit holder in order to utilize all 13 bits included.
I would prefer not to leave a bit in the holder so what I decided to do is to just store one of the square drive bits separately, as that is one that I hardly ever use. A multi-bit screwdriver like this I would tend to put into a pants pocket, which could cause some issues if you left a bit in the holder, depending on which bit is installed.
Use With Alternative 1/4″ Bits
As I mentioned before the bits on the Ultra Driver will not fit the standard ¼” bit holders out there due to its double-ended design.
Standard ¼” bits can sort of be used, but the locking mechanism appears to only be in one direction so there is some play with the bit in the driver as it relies on the length of the double-ended bit to provide a stop going in the other direction. You can sort of use a longer ¼” driver bits, but it will not necessarily lock in place like it will with the Ultra Driver bits.
Initial Testing & Conclusion
After using the Ultra Driver for a bit it does take a little getting used to the shape of the handle as it is quite different from Wiha’s standard handles. The bit release collar also spins freely so that can be used to stabilize the driver while in use.
Overall it’s definitely one of the better multi-bit drivers that I have used. It is nice that you don’t have to separately carry around the bits which is often the case with most of these types of sets.
I think I’m personally going to use this driver as what I call a top drawer screwdriver. Something that you can grab quickly when you need to take something apart when you don’t feel like getting your normal tools.
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