10 Best Impact Drivers
It’s hard to overstate the value of a dependable, solid drill for use either in your shop, or just for the amateur. A good drill elevates what you’re able to do on any given project, and considerably speeds up the process. From drilling holes in concrete to drywall, to inserting the screws themselves, there’s really no limit to what you can make your drill do. In fact, some DIYers have even turned their drills into homemade lathes.
But, as with any power tool, you have a ton of options when it comes to picking a drill. That’s where the impact driver comes onto the scene. The typical drill that’s sold is a “drill driver.” That means it both drives screws and bits into various materials, and rotates the screws or bits.
An impact driver is a bit different. These tend to be smaller than a drill driver, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in torque. The theory behind an impact driver is that instead of delivering a variable amount of power – which is what a drill driver does – impact drivers put out quick rotary bursts of high power, with almost all of that force applied away from the tool. This forces screws and bits through work materials far more quickly than a regular drill driver.
You don’t have as much versatility with an impact driver as you do with a drill driver, but if all you’re doing is drilling pilot holes and fastening pieces of material together, then a drill-driver is your best friend. It will breeze through tasks like that far quicker than a drill driver.
With that in mind, let’s look at a list of the best impact drivers you can buy.
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Table Of Contents
- Top 10 Impact Drivers
- Buyer’s Guide to Impact Drivers
Top 10 Impact Drivers
1. DeWalt 20V MAX XR
DeWalt is one of the most respected names in power tools, and for good reason. They make excellent, contractor-grade equipment at fairly reasonable prices. That’s why this 20V MAX XR impact driver claims the top spot on our list. It runs on a powerful 20V battery, and delivers an astounding 1,825 in.-lb. of torque. That’s some serious power, which means you likely won’t come up against a project you can’t tackle with this impact driver on your tool belt.
The only downside to it is that the 4.0Ah batteries are heavy, so you’ll have to get used to the weight of the tool. Other than that, though, there’s really nothing we can point to as a dealbreaker with this impact driver.
Verdict: With DeWalt’s 3-year warranty, and the ability to switch between 3 different power modes so you can match the power of the tool to your job, there’s almost nothing to dislike about the DeWalt 20V MAX XR.
- 4.0Ah batteries
- LED lights
- 20V Power
- Brushless Motor
- 3250 RPM
2. Makita XDT12Z 18V LXT Brushless
Makita’s 18v offering just barely comes in second place to the DeWalt. Obviously, with an 18v battery, the Makita can’t offer quite the same power as DeWalt’s 20v tool. However, the Makita does have more power settings available – four to the DeWalt’s three. This gives you even more options when it comes to picking how much power you need for any given job.
Oh, and the tool’s weight of only 3.3lbs is pretty great, too. Throw in the 1,550 in-lbs. of torque, and you have a fantastic tool.
Verdict: This might be better for some folks than the DeWalt 20v, simply because it’s a bit smaller, a bit lighter, and has more speed settings. However, it doesn’t come with the earth-shattering power that the DeWalt does. Other than that, though, you can’t look at it and find something to truly fault.
- Brushless Motor
- 3 lbs
- 1,550 in-lbs. of torque
- 4 Settings
- 3600 RPM
3. Porter Cable PCCK647LB 20V MAX
Porter Cable is a solid, dependable brand, and their tools are known for their longevity. This impact driver is no different, and while its specs aren’t as jaw-dropping as what the Makita and DeWalt offer, it’s a great tool for the price. While price varies from retailer to retailer, Porter Cable tends to be a cheaper brand than others, including Makita and DeWalt.
Add in the brushless motor and more than enough torque for most of your fastening applications, and it’s hard to put a different impact driver in this one’s place on our list.
Verdict: Porter Cable is a dependable brand that you’ll likely be able to find at a good price. This particular impact driver has a lot of torque, and doesn’t weigh much at all. However, it doesn’t have the variable speed settings that we’ve seen on Makita and DeWalt, nor does it boast long battery life.
- Brushless Motor
- 2900 RPM
- 1400 lbs torque
- Only 2.9 lbs
- Significantly shorter than other impact drivers
4. Milwaukee 2753-20 M18
Milwaukee is constantly jockeying with DeWalt for the top spot in a contractor’s tool box, and when it comes to the M18 series of tools, it’s tough to argue with the results. Milwaukee manages to coax 1800 in-lbs. of torque from an 18v battery – impressive, right? And, it comes with four different speed settings, so you’re always able to match the power available in the tool to whatever material you’re working with at the time.
And, you shouldn’t have a hard time using this tool all day. Weighing in at only 2.6 pounds, it’s easily one of the lightest tools on this list.
Verdict: It’s hard to fault Milwaukee on any of their tools, and the only reason this tool finishes behind DeWalt, Porter Cable, and Makita, is due to the fact that sometimes the speed settings are reported to not work as well as they could. And, since it’s a Milwaukee, you’re paying more for this tool than you would something else. Regardless, it’s a stellar piece of equipment.
- Part of the M18 Milwaukee line of impact drivers
- 1800 lbs of torque
- 4 Speed Settings
- Only 2.6 lbs
- 5 year warranty
5. Bosch IDH182-01
Bosch is always a solid choice when you’re looking for new tools, and this entry of theirs into the impact driver game is no exception. It boats one of the most ergonomic designs on the impact driver market, so you’re getting something that feels great in your hand. Even though it weights 3.8 pounds, it’s at least really comfortable while you’re using it.
Add in the 3 different speed settings to adjust power on your project needs, and the fact that you can use both square drive and hex sockets, and you have a really solid choice here at number five on our list.
Verdict: Bosch always puts out great tools. This impact driver is no exception, though it is a bit heavy for all-day use. And, other 18v tools coax more power from their batteries than Bosch manages to do here. If you love its ergonomic design, you won’t be upset with the tool’s performance. But you can just as much, or more, tool for a similar price.
- 18V Battery
- 1650 lbs of torque
- Brushless motor
- Includes square drives and hex sockets
- 3 speed modes available
6. Black + Decker BDC120C 20V MAX
Black + Decker tools can be hit or miss, depending on how much you spend, and what you’re buying. Luckily, this impact driver of theirs seems to be a solid choice. It has a 20v battery, and puts out a fine 1,375 in-lbs. of torque. That’s plenty for most hobbyist and DIY jobs, though it’s nowhere near what the high-end Makita and DeWalt models offer.
And, on this model, you have a really unique quick-release chuck system. This makes swapping out bits a breeze, and you won’t find yourself bogged down with changing bits like you might with other impact driver models.
Verdict: Black + Decker put together a good tool here, and its price will fall right in the usual range for tools from this manufacturer. However, it doesn’t have a brushless motor, meaning that its life is limited a lot when compared to the brushless offerings on this list. In addition, it’s only putting out 1,375 in-lbs. of torque. While that’s plenty for most jobs, that’s less than other impact drivers will produce, in a similar price range.
- 3 lbs
- Quick-release chuck system
- Compact Design
- 20V Battery
- 1,375 in-lbs. of torque
7. Ridgid R86035 Gen5X
Ridgid has been consistently making better and better tools, so it’s not a surprise to see the GEN5X pop up at number seven on our list. This impact driver won’t wow you with crazy stats; instead, it’s sort of the jack-of-all-trades. It has adjustable torque settings that allow you to get as much as 2,000 in-lbs. of torque. And while it’s only an 18v, the battery life is absolutely excellent.
Verdict: Ridgid put out a good tool here, but its biggest drawback is not sporting a brushless motor. You do get the lifetime service agreement that’s standard on all Ridgid tools, though, and the battery-life indicator is helpful. Not to mention the battery life itself – it’ll surprise you with how long it lasts between jobs. And, the adjustable torque settings give you perhaps more versatility than any other tool on this list. But without a brushless motor, or more torque, it’s hard to justify putting this impact driver higher on our list.
- Adjustable torque settings
- High-speed transmission
- Lifetime service warranty
- Battery life indicator
- 18V battery
8. Bosch 25618-02 18V Impact Driver Kit
Bosch earns another mention on the list with this 18v tool. They really stretched themselves to figure out how to preserve battery life, which makes sense since it’s only drawing on an 18v source. A lot of reviews have this model pegged as boasting the best runtime for medium or small duty fastening jobs. And, Bosch built in an “electronic cell protection” feature, which essentially helps prevent damage by over or misuse of the tool.
And, it’s a lightweight tool that’s compact and fits in hard places. In fact, if you had to pick just one small impact driver, this might be the one.
Verdict: While the compact design is awesome, and the battery life for an 18v tool is astounding, we’re not stoked about the one-year warranty this tool comes with. 1,500 in-lbs. of torque is plenty of power to get most of your jobs done, but you can get more power out of other impact drivers priced similarly.
- 2800 RPM
- Great battery life
- LED lights
- 1500 in-lbs. of torque
9. Ryobi Cordless 18v P237
Ryobi finally gets on the board with their Cordless 18v P237. Like all other Ryobi cordless tools, this one is part of the One+ battery family. So, no matter what Ryobi tools you have, if you have another 18v One+ battery, you have one that’ll fit this impact driver.
The battery life is certainly better than average, and in true Ryobi fashion, it’s priced fairly affordably, when you consider what you’re getting out of it.
Verdict: There’s no brushless motor, and this one tends to be noisier than most other impact drivers. And, it’s not built as solidly as other models. However, it produces plenty of torque to handle any job you throw its way. And as long as you take care of it, this Ryobi should last for a reasonable amount of time.
- Part of Ryobi’s One+ battery system
- 3 torque speed settings
- LED lighting
- Decent torque
- Good battery life
10. Hitachi WH18DGL 18V Driver Kit
This offering from Hitachi rounds out our list, and does so in admirable fashion. It gives you adequate torque at 1,280 in-lbs., and only weighs 3 pounds. That means you won’t get tired from a day of putting this to good hard work.
The ergonomic grip and compact design also help make it ideal for use in cramped conditions. Pair that with its 18v battery, and you have a really solid tool here at number ten on our list.
Verdict: This Hitachi is great, and there’s really not a lot to dislike about it. Battery life could be better, and the torque output is definitely on the lower end of what you can find in an impact driver, but that doesn’t take away from all the good that it offers. The ergonomic design and compact size make it ideal for driving fasteners in less-than-spacious situations.
- 1,280 in-lbs. of torque
- Weighs 3 lbs
- Ergonomic grip
- Compact design
- Quick-change chuck
Buyer’s Guide to Impact Drivers
When you’re shopping for an impact driver, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Specifically, you want to find a tool that has a brushless motor, delivers a high amount of torque, and one that won’t exhaust you if you need to use it for an entire day.
But what do all those things mean? Let’s take a quick look so that you’re better prepared to buy your next impact driver.
The quick and easy of it is that brushless motors last longer and work better than a traditional motor.
How is that possible? Well, a regular brushed motor has carbon brushes, attached to magnets, that transfer power to the commutator and armature, causing a driveshaft to spin.
In a brushless motor, the carbon brushes are removed and the magnets are located on the shaft of the motor itself. The brushes are replaced with a circuit board that is responsible for energy delivery to the drive shaft.
So that’s how we come to the claims of longevity and higher-performance. Because of the circuit board’s role as being in charge of power distribution, variable amounts of power are dispersed depending on how much resistance the impact driver encounters. For example, a brushless motor won’t send the same sort of power to drill through pine as it would through maple. That’s why a brushless motor lasts longer, and how you’re able to get better power performance out of one than you are from a traditional brushed motor.
With the way power tools are going, most every tool worth owning in the next few years will have a brushless motor. It’s likely not worth saving a few bucks for a brushed motor, when you can more than make up for the cost in the longevity of the tool.
This is a concept that we should all be fairly familiar with, but in case we’re not, we’ll go over it here. Torque is a measure of how much force is applied in a downward direction. In the case of an impact driver, we’re looking at how many pounds of torque per inch we can get out of a given tool. Some of the tools on this list top 3,000 in-lbs. of torque, which is just absurd. That’s 3,000 pounds of downward pressure created, all to push fasteners through any material you can dream of.
Obviously, you want to take your torque needs into consideration when buying an impact driver. If you’re not regularly drilling through metal and concrete, you probably don’t need something with more than 3,000 in-lbs. of torque. So, when shopping for your next impact driver, make sure you’re not going overboard on the torque side of things. While it’s always better to have more power than not enough, there is such a thing as overdoing it.
This isn’t usually something you think of when buying new tools, but it’s especially important with drills – how much does it weigh? Is it heavy enough to absorb the shock of heavy-duty work? Or is it so light that your wrists will take a beating if you use it all day? And, in that same vein, is its light weight due to the manufacturer cutting concerns in production?
You want an impact driver that’s comfortable in your hand, but that you could conceivably carry on your belt, and in your hand, for an entire day’s worth of work. Make sure to test out various sizes and brands of impact drivers, in addition to different battery sizes. A 4.0Ah 20v battery will weigh more than an 18v, and that’s something you’ll need to take into account.
At the end of the day, everyone needs an impact driver. The trick is in finding one that fits your exact needs and budget, without compromising. Luckily, we live in an era where we have more tools available than we could ever reasonably own. This means you have more options than ever before in choosing something that works great for you. From different torque settings to quick-change chucks and long battery life, you’ll be able to spend hours – if not days – sorting through your options before finally deciding on what your next impact driver will be. Just remember the cardinal rule of shopping for tools – unless it’s an outrageously good deal, don’t buy it without seeing it in person first. You always need to get a feel for the tool – how it runs, how it sounds, how it feels in hand. These are all little things that add up to whether or not you like your choice. So take your time, and sort through the options on this list. You’ll likely find something you really enjoy.