Often confused with drills, the impact driver is a screw-tightening tool that only fits 1/4-inch hex shanks. They are similar in terms of speed, measured in RPM, but the high torque sets the impact driver apart from the traditional drill. Both tools also come in corded and cordless options for your different needs.
In this article, I’ll review some of the best impact drivers with their features, specifications, pros, and cons. I hope this will help you choose an ideal unit for your needs.
If you want the best impact driver for nearly any job, I’d recommend the Makita XDT16T 18V LXT Brushless 4-Speed Impact Driver Kit. With a speed of 3,600 RPM and four different speed modes, it will help you perform various fastening tasks easily.
In addition to that, the power selector button that’s conveniently located under the chuck makes operation a breeze. This unit uses a brushless motor that brings 1,600 inch-pounds of maximum torque. What I like about having a brushless motor is that it’s less troublesome to maintain versus replacing carbon brushes. Additionally, it has an assist mode that reduces the likelihood of screw cam-out.
To maintain a low fastening speed until you start to tighten the screw, it has a cross-threading mode. It also has a quick-shift mode that balances the torque with the impact driver’s RPM for fastening efficiency depending on your application.
Moreover, handling it for long hours will be less of a hassle due to the ergonomic rubberized soft grip that reduces user fatigue. To help illuminate your work area, it has LED lights. Since it is part of the Makita LXT series, it is backed by Star Protection Controls that keeps it from overheating, overloading, and over-discharging.
Things I Like About This Product: It has various convenient features, such as an assist mode and two tightening modes. It also has an auto-stop mode and an ergonomic rubber handle.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The 4-pound weight is a little heavier than with most impact drivers.
Made with a 2,000 inch-pound torque, the Milwaukee 2853-22 M18 Fuel Impact Driver Kit is yet another brushless motor unit to consider. This tool has a 4-mode drive control that balances out speed and power while the Redlink Plus Intelligence technology protects the battery and impact driver from overload, over-discharging, and overheating during heavy-duty applications.
In addition to that, the tool has a durable construction thanks to the rubber mold that not only makes it corrosion-resistant but also softens the grip for less fatigue. Among the two features that I like in this impact driver are the easy speed adjustment and the soft start option, which are convenient for quick tasks.
Compatible with all M18 batteries from Milwaukee’s lineup, this impact driver has a 4.59-inch length that allows easy access in difficult positions. It also has an LED light for work area illumination, especially in dim garages or job sites. With a speed of 3,600 RPM (and 4,300 IPM), this tool only weighs 2.2 pounds so it’s not too heavy to carry around.
Because it has a self-tapping screw mode, it will save time using fastener stripping reduction. Likewise, its design allows single-handed bit insertion, which adds productivity. It is backed by a 5-year warranty.
You can read my full review of this driver here.
Things I Like About This Product: It is small, compact, and easy to slip into narrow spaces.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Aside from being slightly pricier than most impact drivers, pulling the trigger is a little tricky due to its small size.
For the weekend warrior, I’d recommend the Black & Decker BDCI20C 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit, which has a moderate amount of torque at 1,375 inch-pounds. With a speed of 3,000 RPM and 3,900 BPM, this impact driver features a quick-release hex chuck to lessen setup time and increase productivity.
Aside from that, the weight is around 3 pounds, so it’s not too much for beginners to carry around. If you have any of the 20V MAX power tools from Black & Decker, you can interchange their batteries with this tool.
The handle feels comfortable and was designed with easily-fatigued hands in mind since it is not too bulky. In addition to that, a built-in work light in this impact driver will help you see what’s going on in a dim area – great for difficult places when tightening screws.
For carpentry and backyard jobs, this simple lithium-ion powered tool will be sufficient, as well as for handling light mechanical work for motorcycles, bicycles, cars, trucks, and the like.
Compared to drop-in designs, the battery clip style of the charger is reminiscent of higher-priced impact drivers but for a budget-friendly tool. It is backed by a 2-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: It is lightweight, has a built-in work light, has a comfortable handle, and has a quick-release hex chuck.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a belt or side clip for additional user comfort.
For professional use, the Festool 576479 TID 18 Cordless 18V Impact Driver is a great choice for you. This powerful beast uses a brushless EC-TEC motor that’s more suitable for tough job site use compared to standard brushless motors.
At only 2.12 pounds, it won’t be bulky to carry around your work area, leaving your hands less fatigued at the end of the day. This weight also allows you to work on overhand projects easily. As with most impact drivers, it includes a belt clip for usability.
In addition to that, it has a T-mode that transitions the speed between sheet metal and wood to avoid overloading the tool. Because the tangential hammer mechanism of this impact driver only turns the screw without back-torque, your wrist doesn’t have to twist and turn.
Since it is supposed to be a heavy-duty power tool, this impact driver has four speeds, in which the highest goes up to 3,200 RPM. With a max torque of 1,593 inch-pounds, this cordless impact driver has a 1/4-inch tool adapter and a hammer motion impact.
Things I Like About This Product: Made for heavy-duty projects, this cordless impact driver is lightweight but powerful using its brushless EC-TEC motor. Its T-mode helps you transition between different materials along with its four speeds.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The torque is not as high as with other impact drivers (which are at 2,000 inch-pounds).
If a lightweight cordless tool is what you’re looking for, the Bosch PS41-2A 12V Max 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver Kit is for you. At only 2.1 pounds, this impact driver is great for overhead projects and beginners. Aside from that, it has a 5.4-inch head length, which is short enough for most narrow spaces. Powered by two lithium-ion batteries, it has an LED light for illuminating your work area.
With a maximum speed of 2,600 RPM and impact of up to 3,100 RPM, this tool delivers 930 inch-pounds of max torque, making it small but powerful. Since it has a built-in fuel gauge, you’ll know when to stop the tool to recharge it and avoid draining the battery too much. This results in longer battery and motor life.
The construction of this impact driver features a hammer and anvil system that improves its durability even with some heavy-duty applications. What’s more, it has a quick-release feature for the 1/4-inch hex drive that will save time in the job site or garage.
Because it is made with Durashield housing (ABS/nylon composite), it will withstand up to 25 12-foot drops onto solid concrete – perfect for industrial applications. It is backed by a 3-year warranty for the tool and 2 years for the battery.
Things I Like About This Product: This lightweight impact tool bears an impact-resistant housing for industrial use.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It does get hot when used for quite a while.
Made with a tough aluminum housing, the Makita 6952 2.3 Amp Impact Driver is a corded solution for users who want unlimited power. This tool has max torques of 88.5 and 1,062 inch-pounds in its two modes while the variable speed trigger allows up to 3,200 RPM of speed, making it ideal for different applications. Aside from that, it has an impact of up to 3,100 IPM with its powerful 2.3-amp motor.
Since it has a reverse switch that’s easy to access near the trigger, the impact driver is convenient to hold even when your hands are full. The tool spans at a 9-inch length with a 1/4 to 5/8-inch bolt drive.
As with most impact drivers, it features a quick-change 1/4-inch hex bit shank to save time. Likewise, it features dual ball bearings that will improve the motor lifespan. At only 2.9 pounds, this impact driver is easy on the hands, especially for overhead projects.
With an ergonomic handle, it will support your arms to lessen fatigue. In addition to that, even though it is not a brushless tool, its brushes are easily accessible for servicing. This impact driver is best used for plumbing, electrical repairs, HVAC installations, deck building, home repairs, and the like.
For more information, read my detailed Makita 6952 review.
Things I Like About This Product: It has an ergonomic design, is lightweight for overhead operations, and is great for long projects due to being corded.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t come with an LED work light.
The DeWalt DCF885C1 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit features an ergonomic and lightweight tool at only 2.8 pounds of weight and 5.55 inches of front-to-back measurement, which fits easily into tight spaces. Since it uses an anvil-type quick-release feature, it will save time when working on any screwing job. Although it has a 1/4-inch hex chuck, it will also accept 1-inch bit tips.
Because of its one-handed hex chuck design, operating the tool becomes easy when you’re multitasking. With its 3-LED light ring, you’ll illuminate your work area for added precision. Due to the 20-second delay of the LED, it will illuminate the area without shadows.
It has a no-load speed of up to 2,800 RPM and an impact of 3,200 IPM. Moreover, this impact driver has a max torque of 1,400 inch-pounds, which is okay for its speed. Since this kit already includes a battery and a fast charger, it is a great gift for someone new to such tools. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
To learn more about this impact driver, read my detailed review.
Things I Like About This Product: It is lightweight, has a compact design, and has a delay feature on the LED light to avoid casting shadows during your operation.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The motor isn’t brushless so it is a little more difficult to maintain. The included bag is also a bit on the small side for the tool and accessories.
With a powerful 2,000 inch-pound max torque, the Ryobi P239 Cordless 18V Impact Driver is a powerful tool. Like my previous pick, this impact driver also has a shadow-free design for the LED lighting due to its design.
Because this cordless impact driver has an onboard magnetic tray, keeping your fasteners and bits around becomes easier when working in difficult positions and low-light situations. Since it only weighs 2.72 pounds, it won’t take its toll on your arms or hands during overhead work.
To give you more convenience, it has a belt clip and it even has a Phillips head bit included as a bonus to get you started right out of the box. As this impact driver is brushless, it will be a breeze to maintain versus motors with carbon brushes.
With a GRIPZONE over-mold that features a micro-texture, the impact driver is easy to grip whether you’re wearing gloves or have sweaty hands when working on the job site. If you have any of the Ryobi ONE+ tools, it has a cross-compatible battery for you to use.
Read my detailed review of the P239 to learn more about this impact driver.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a powerful torque compared to similar impact drivers of its class. Moreover, it’s not too heavy to carry around for overhead projects.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The included LED light isn’t as bright compared to that of other impact drivers.
Delivering 1,460 inch-pounds of torque, the Craftsman CMCF800C2 V20 Impact Driver Kit features a cordless tool that has a speed of up to 2,800 RPM and an impact of 3,100 IPM. With a 1/4-inch quick-release chuck, it will be easy to change even when your hands are full.
Because it has an LED light, you’ll easily see your workpiece in low-light areas. The included 20V MAX lithium-ion charger has a charge time of about 60 minutes or less. Weighing 2.49 pounds, it is okay to use for overhead projects due to its compact design, as the impact driver measures 7.01 x 2.87 x 7.95 inches.
I like that it has a battery gauge that will help you estimate and manage your usage to avoid charge draining. For house projects, DIY installations, garage work, and the like, it is a simple impact driver that does the job. Moreover, it will also work for light-duty repairs on an RV trailer. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: It has an LED light for easy visibility and it has a compact and lightweight design that’s suitable for tight spaces and casual repairs.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It only has one speed as compared to others with two or four. The motor is also not brushless.
Made with electronic speed control (three gears), the Hilti SID 18-A Cordless Impact Driver is a tool powered by a brushless motor for a longer lifespan and easier maintenance. Unlike most impact drivers, this tool has four LED lights instead of three, so your work area will be better illuminated.
The electronics are well-sealed to protect against bad weather and work debris, which preserves its motor life. It is also made with a 1/4-inch hex quick-release chuck for one-handed operation. This impact driver delivers 3,450 IPM with a max torque of 1,460 inch-pounds.
I like that the tool has a motor brake, which will help you save time between operations and will also lessen the mechanical wear and tear of the impact driver. Weighing only 2.3 pounds, it is also suitable for difficult angles and overhead projects.
At the highest setting, it has up to 2,500 RPM of speed. What’s more, the speed-changing button is not too difficult to press, allowing user comfort. Because the tool allows either a 3.3 or 1.6 Ah battery (lithium-ion), it will give you flexibility if you want more power in your impact driver.
Things I Like About This Product: It has four LED lights that will illuminate your work better than most other impact drivers. The tool is also lightweight to handle difficult angles.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The speed is not as high compared to other impact drivers of the same class.
The Ridgid R86037 18V Cordless Brushless Impact Driver is another one of my choices thanks to its 3-beam LED for work area visibility and a belt clip for portability. Likewise, this tool has an ergonomic grip with a molded handle for sweaty hands or when wearing gloves.
With three speeds ranging from 750 to 2,750 RPM, 450 to 2,250 inch-pounds of torque, and up to 3,500 IPM, this powerful tool is also open for one-handed operation due to the quick-eject chuck design by pulling back on the collet. Since it only weighs 2.54 pounds, it will be useful for tight spaces where a heavy impact driver would make you feel fatigued.
I like that it has improved its trigger design from the previous version, in which the speed switch control is separate to avoid pressing it too much when not needed. Since it has a brushless motor, the impact driver will last longer than those that use carbon brushes and the tool will be easier to maintain.
Things I Like About This Product: It has LED lights for work visibility, an ergonomic grip, a lightweight design, and an improved trigger to avoid accidental speed switching. It is also a brushless motor for easier maintenance.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The battery lifespan needs improvement.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Impact Drivers Featured Above
So, how did I choose the impact drivers I mentioned? Well, I had some criteria in mind, which helped me decide. I hope these factors will help you, too:
1. Speed and Impact
The typical speed of impact drivers is around 2,800 to 3,200 RPM. Aside from that, they also have speed settings to choose from, mostly ranging from two to four different settings depending on the unit. This will help you switch between material types without ruining the screw head.
When it comes to impact, the usual range is around 3,000 BPM/IPM (blows/impacts per minute). Usually, the impact measurement of a driver is higher than its speed.
Higher torque means you’ll get the job done more quickly. Most impact drivers have a range of 1,300 to 2,000 inch-pounds of torque.
3. Motor Construction
Brushless motors have an advantage over those that use carbon brushes. For instance, brushless motors tend to last longer, since they are nearly maintenance-free versus having to replace the carbon brushes each time they wear out. What’s more, brushless motors eliminate additional noise and mechanical work inside the unit, leading to less likelihood of overheating.
4. Corded vs. Cordless
While most impact drivers nowadays are cordless for portability, there are still units out there that are corded, in case you want unlimited power. Either way, both types of impact drivers should have sufficient runtime for common tasks.
Having a conveniently-placed trigger and a simple way of switching between the speeds makes an impact driver easy to work with. This will save time and effort whether you’re on the job site or just working in your home garage or house remodeling project.
Another important feature is the ergonomic grip. A rubberized mold will help you to hold the impact driver in a stable way and with minimal fatigue and vibration. A textured mold will also increase the grip onto the tool handle.
I’d also recommend impact drivers that allow one-handed bit replacement thanks to a quick-release feature for the hex chuck. This feature will also lessen time consumption if you need to meet deadlines or just want to work quickly even with full hands.
6. Weight and Size
Impact drivers tend to weigh around 2 to 3 pounds. However, the base weight may change depending on what battery you install and how much power you’ll need. Having a lightweight unit reduces user fatigue when you’re working with an overhead project, as well as when going through narrow spaces. It also helps to have a compact and narrow head that will fit easily into small areas.
My top pick is the Makita XDT16T 18V LXT Brushless 4-Speed Impact Driver Kit due to its wide range of settings and usability features. I also like the Milwaukee 2853-22 M18 Fuel Impact Driver Kit and I’d recommend this tool if you prefer a higher-torque impact driver.
For budget-friendly needs, the Black & Decker BDCI20C 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit is a great option, which is lightweight and easy to handle. However, for professional users, I think that the Festool 576479 TID 18 Cordless 18V Impact Driver will suit you well due to its powerful brushless EC-TEC motor.
Another high-torque unit I’d suggest is the Ryobi P239 Cordless 18V Impact Driver. For a brushless tool, the Ridgid R86037 18V Cordless Brushless Impact Driver is a worthy choice.
Job site tasks will be easily handled with the Bosch PS41-2A 12V Max 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver Kit due to its portability and impact-resistant housing. However, if you prefer unlimited power, you will love the
with its ergonomic design.
If you prefer built-in LED lights that have a delay feature to avoid casting shadows, the DeWalt DCF885C1 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit is a great choice for that. Another unit that has a quality LED work light is the Craftsman CMCF800C2 V20 Impact Driver Kit. If you prefer up to four LED lights, the Hilti SID 18-A Cordless Impact Driver is for you.