What is the Best Impact Driver?

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My Pick
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, Tool Only (DCF887B)
Milwaukee 2656-20 M18 18V 1/4 Inch Lithium Ion Hex Impact Driver with 1,500 Inch Pounds of Torque and LED Lighting Array (Battery Not Included, Power Tool Only)
Bosch Bare-Tool 25618B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver
Warranty
3 Years
5 Years
1 Year
Voltage
20V
18V
18V
No load RPM
0-3,250 RPM
0-2,750 RPM
2,800 RPM
Max Torque
152 ft-lbs
124.99 ft-lbs
124.99 ft-lbs
My Pick
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DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, Tool Only (DCF887B)
Price
Warranty
3 Years
Voltage
20V
No load RPM
0-3,250 RPM
Max Torque
152 ft-lbs
Buy Now
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Milwaukee 2656-20 M18 18V 1/4 Inch Lithium Ion Hex Impact Driver with 1,500 Inch Pounds of Torque and LED Lighting Array (Battery Not Included, Power Tool Only)
Price
Warranty
5 Years
Voltage
18V
No load RPM
0-2,750 RPM
Max Torque
124.99 ft-lbs
Buy Now
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Bosch Bare-Tool 25618B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver
Price
Warranty
1 Year
Voltage
18V
No load RPM
2,800 RPM
Max Torque
124.99 ft-lbs
Buy Now

Last update on 2019-09-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Think about the last time you applied too much torque when fastening a screw with a cordless drill and you destroyed the head of the screw? It was frustrating right? Well, enter the impact driver!

How does it work?

The impact driver uses a hammer, anvil, and spring to deliver rotational force around a bit. This mechanical technique allows for a higher amount of torque and speed so you can more easily fasten a screw without the cam-out or destruction of the screw head. Not only will allow you to fasten screws easier, you can fasten screws quicker and in tighter locations where a typical cordless drill can’t reach.

Why would you want one?

Many DIY’ers and home professionals use an impact driver when you know a cordless drill can’t get the job done as well or as easily. For example, perhaps you’re working with a denser wood or concrete that a cordless drill would have trouble with. Maybe you’re hanging cabinets and you need to fasten heavy duty, specialized screws with a longer shaft. The impact driver is smaller, more compact, and can get in tighter spaces while fastening with greater torque. Just keep in mind the longer you impact a fastener, the tighter it will get. So be careful! You don’t want to over tighten.

Advantages of an impact driver

  • Easier to drive screws due to the hammering mechanism
  • Smaller, can use in tighter spaces due to clutch-less design
  • Easier to carry being 2-3lbs lighter than a cordless drill
  • Fewer ruined screws heads due to less cam-out

Disadvantages of an impact driver

  • Requires hex shank bits which you may need to buy
  • Louder due to impacting under torque
  • Easier to over tighten

The Best Impact Driver

If you’re looking for a great all around impact driver that you can use in any application, you’ll want to consider the The Dewalt DCF887B 20V. As of this review, DeWALT tools are made in 7 different manufacturing plants in the United States.

Features:

  • Bare tool – no battery or charger included
  • Small and Lightweight
  • Brushless motor
  • 3 LED illumination lights
  • Belt clip
  • Great warranty
  • Made in the USA

Specifications:

  • Length: 5.3″
  • Voltage: 20V
  • Weight: 2.0 lbs
  • No load RPM: 0-3,250 RPM in 3 speed modes
  • Maximum Torque: 1,825 in-lbs or 152 ft-lbs
  • Chuck size: 1/4″ quick connect hex chuck
  • Warranty: 3 year limited warranty, 1 year service, 90 day money back guarantee

Differentiators:

  • 20V for additional power
  • Highest torque rate
  • Lightest weight, shortest length
  • Better illumination from 3 LED’s
  • Great warranty
  • Made in USA

The DeWALT impact driver makes it easy to fasten screws in tight places. Due to its chuck-less design, it’s much easier to get the driver into tighter spots where a typical cordless drill can’t go. Especially if you’re trying to screw or drill up in a corner somewhere with less than optimal lighting. The 3 LED’s on the front are great at illuminating your work area so you can see what you’re doing. This is such a great feature that’s now included on many hand tools. It’s very difficult to go back now without having this feature. The lights will stay on for 20 seconds to light the area you’re working on. Having 3 LED’s also helps the lights to cast no shadows on your work area.

To insert a hex bit, pull back the chuck collar, insert the bit into the hex quick-release chuck and let go. You can feel the bit is secure in the chuck and you don’t have to worry about tightening a chuck like you normally would on a drill! This process is much quicker and simpler than a cordless drill.

When you pull the trigger, the impact driver will activate and begin operating. The more you press the trigger, the faster the driver will turn. One great feature is the 3 different speed modes. When the drill is in mode 1, DeWALT calls this precision mode for light duty applications when you want the driver to act like a screwdriver up to 1000RPM or 20 ft/lbs. Think of small screws that don’t need a lot of power. When you start working in a more dense wood or concrete, you can go to mode 2 for 1500 RPM or 125 ft/lbs or mode 3 which is 1825 RPM’s and 152 ft/lbs. When you let go of the trigger, the driver has a brake and will fully stop rotation.

The DeWALT impact driver comes with a 3 year limited warranty and covers faulty materials and workmanship.

The Next Best Impact Driver

The Milwaukee M18 18V 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver (2656-20) is also a 1/4″ Hex driver in the same class as the DeWALT except it has an 18V vs a 20V for the DeWALT. It’s a very solid choice as well and will make all fastening much easier again compared to a normal cordless drill. When you consider all its features it’s a great contender.

Features:

  • Bare tool only, no battery or charger included
  • Milwaukee 4 Pole brushless motor
  • Milwaukee designed impact mechanism

Specifications:

  • Length: 5.5″
  • Height: Not specified
  • Voltage: 18V
  • Weight: 3.1 lbs
  • No load RPM: 0-2,750 RPM
  • Maximum Torque: 1,500 in-lbs or 124.99 ft-lbs
  • Chuck size: 1/4″ quick connect hex chuck
  • Warranty: 5 year limited warranty

Differentiators:

  • Longest warranty
  • Small, compact size
  • 18V, not 20V
  • Lowest no load RPM

To insert a bit in the Milwaukee impact driver, simply push the drill or driver bit into the shank until its secure. To remove the bit, pull the collar to release it and just pull it out. It’s pretty easy and once you get used to the process, and again, you’ll soon prefer it compared to a normal cordless drill.

You’ll find a control switch near the trigger to adjust the direction of the drill. Just move the control switch to the left or right for your desired operation, forward or reverse. The other control you’ll find on the impact driver is the speed control. The Milwaukee has only 2 speeds, low and high, compared to 3 of the DeWALT. You’ll also find only 1 LED on the Milwaukee compared to 3 on the DeWALT.

One Final Option

When you consider the Bosch Bare-Tool 25618B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver, keep in mind that Bosch intends this tool to be used only on bolts, nuts, and threaded fasteners. They explicitly state that it’s not to be used as a drill. So just remember to consider that factor when deciding if you’re going to use your impact driver with hex drill bits or not.

Features:

  • Bare tool only, no battery or charger included
  • Built in LED work light
  • Compact design allows use in small spaces

Specifications:

  • Length: 5.7″
  • Height: 8.75″
  • Voltage: 18V
  • Weight: 3.3lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • No load RPM: 2,800 RPM
  • Impact Rate per Minute: 0-3,200 IPM
  • Maximum Torque: 1,500 in-lbs or 124.99 ft-lbs
  • Chuck size: 1/4″ hex shank

Differentiators:

  • Small, compact design

The Bosch impact driver employs most of the same features as other drivers in its class. The trigger switch is variable speed so the more you pull the trigger, the faster it will drive and the opposite when releasing. The driver also has a brake so that when you release the trigger it will rapidly slow down the rotation of the bit. Just imagine if you had a lot of screws to fasten and the chuck kept spinning after each one. You’d have to wait for it to stop before moving to the next screw. The Bosch impact driver also has a trigger lock so that you can prevent it from starting accidentally and discharging your battery. Like the others, it also has forward and reverse lever to change rational direction when needed.

Another nice feature of the Bosch is a small area at the back of the driver to store a bit when not in use. It’s a nice and simple way to hold a bit until you need it. The Bosch driver also has a built in work light for better visibility when driving. It also has an optional belt clip to attach so you can keep both hands free when its not in use.

Overall, the Bosch is another great tool to keep around for driving fasteners. It keeps up with the competition by having all the standard features of other drivers in its same class.

Cordless Impact Driver Introduction