A great driver that is powerful and long-lasting; our home improvement expert praises the brand name and the tool itself.
Driver packs exceptional power and is extremely durable. Comes with numerous handy features designed to make your job easier. The battery has a solid runtime.
Switch is too sensitive and slips into safety mode at the slightest touch.
An affordable choice from a trusted brand that our expert notes includes the tool, a battery, and a charger.
The 20-volt battery allows for the driver to produce up to 1,375 inch-pounds of torque. Easy to replace bits on the fly. The handle is comfortable and the entire package is relatively light.
The battery life is a bit lower than expected.
A solid, pro-level option that comes loaded with great features and comes from a great brand, as our expert notes.
Includes case, charger, and slide-style battery. The 18-volt system provides a good amount of power. Has the ability to find the right amount of torque without human adjustment.
Unit is loud to the point of needing ear protection for prolonged use.
A powerful, affordable tool designed with ease of use in mind; our expert likes that it includes 2 batteries.
Well-built simplicity. Excellent battery life. Can drive up to 1,495 inch-pounds of torque. The battery life is pretty long. Has an LED work light to see in dim work areas. Easy to replace bits.
Doesn't come with many add-ons.
A great choice that our home improvement expert notes is mainly for automotive work.
Helps users obtain up to 200 foot-pounds of torque when hit with a hammer. Comes with 5 separate bits. Easy to change the bits in and out. Great for quick projects. Can tighten fasteners without stripping.
Can only be used with Craftsmen bits.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
A good impact driver is a powerful and versatile tool. It will breeze through jobs an ordinary drill/driver can't cope with.
If you’re shopping for a new impact driver, you’ll find plenty of options. This is good news in some ways, but the bounty of choice also presents some challenges. Voltage, torque, rpm, bpm ... there's a confusing array of specifications to consider and compare.
A standard drill/driver does everything an impact driver does, so why might you want to spend the cash on an extra tool? In a nutshell, it comes down to power.
An ordinary cordless drill will do dozens of jobs around the home and garden. Everyone should have one. But try using one to put a dozen three-inch screws through decking planks, and you won't get very far. Cordless drills just don't generate enough torque.
An impact driver is designed for jobs like this. In addition to being able to apply vastly increased twisting force to the screw, an impact driver provides the rapid hammer action needed to deliver considerable additional force. It makes for a powerful combination, driving screws and other fixings almost effortlessly.
So what should you look for when shopping for an impact driver? Our investigations covered the following topics, each of which we delve into below.
Cordless impact drivers now dominate the market to such an extent that corded models are all but impossible to find. That being the case, the question becomes one of battery power.
Torque (twisting force) is clearly a major factor when doing (or undoing) fastenings. Impact drivers are known for their exceptional torque. You can expect figures of around 1,000 inch pounds (in. lbs) from a 12-volt tool and in excess of 1,800 in. lbs from 18/20-volt models.
That said, torque without control can be excessive. If all 1,000+ in. lbs. came in at once, it would almost certainly tear the impact driver out of your hands. Because of this, impact driver triggers are progressive, allowing you to increase power gradually.
In addition to torque, impact drills can be rated for speed in rpm. Faster speed gets screws and other fixings fastened more quickly, so it ought to be a benefit. However, speed figures are not always quoted, not even by top manufacturers. The implication is that there’s always enough rpm to do the job.
Our research confirmed that assumption, but there is an additional feature on some impact drills that's well worth considering: variable speed. Many top impact drivers offer two or three speed choices. Effectively, they have a gearbox. This gives different torque ranges and thus more finesse for smaller fixings where full torque could actually strip threads or damage heads.
All impact drivers have a hammer action that jolts the screw. This is a very effective feature, but again, it's one where some manufacturers quote a figure and others don't bother. Our own investigations returned figures of between 3,000 and 4,000 blows per minute, depending on the model. Hammer action is a feature that's vital to efficient operation, but it’s not a feature that is necessarily “better” in one tool than another.
Consider buying an impact driver with a work light to illuminate dark corners. The best work lights have a time delay, allowing you to see the area for 20 or 30 seconds after the trigger has been released.
Consider a tool with a battery charge indicator. This can be useful.
Consider an impact driver that comes with a storage bag for tidiness and a belt clip for convenience.
Some recent impact driver designs incorporate the battery within the handle. This makes for a slender appearance, and at first, our testers found this attractive. However, most had gotten accustomed to putting an impact driver down and having it stay upright thanks to the bulk of the battery. Slimline models tend to fall over. It's perhaps a minor factor, but some people did find it frustrating when they went to reach for it, particularly if wearing gloves.
Budget impact drivers from well-known brands start at between $60 and $70. You'll usually get a single battery and charger. If you're only going to use this kind of tool occasionally for short periods, a budget-priced impact driver could be an adequate solution. But batteries on tools of this quality often discharge rapidly, and they take a while to charge again. It soon gets frustrating if you have to keep stopping in the middle of a job. An extra battery is the solution, of course, but that's another $30.
For that same $60 to $70, you could get a high-quality, durable impact driver from one of the market-leading manufacturers – but it will be a bare tool only; no battery or charger. By the time you've bought those extras, you'll have spent well over $100, and probably closer to $150.
If you want a comprehensive impact driver kit with two batteries, a charger, and a case or carrying bag, you'll pay anywhere from $170 to $300, depending on specification. Voltage often has little impact on price. Some 12-volt models are pricier than their 18-volt counterparts. Unless you have physical issues, we recommend the more powerful tool.
Consider more than just torque when choosing your tool. Maximum torque isn't everything; modern impact drivers deliver plenty of that. What you want is control – the ability to turn the tool up to drive long screws into cedar decking or down to drive self-tappers into sheetrock.
Be aware that the chuck on an impact driver is only designed to accept hexagonal bits (usually 1/4 inch). It doesn't open and close like the self-centering chuck found on ordinary drills and drivers. However, socket adaptors are available to extend the tool's usefulness, and most only cost a couple of dollars.
A. An impact driver is a bit like a cordless drill/driver on steroids: it does a similar job but with lots of extra torque plus a hammer action for continuous work. It can drill holes and secure long fastenings where an ordinary driver would struggle.
An impact wrench is primarily an auto tool that is used for undoing wheel nuts or other parts on vehicles.
A. You might, particularly if you already own cordless tools from the same brand and have compatible batteries. You need to check carefully, though, as this isn't always the case.
Otherwise, you'll need to buy at least one battery and a charger. You'll need two batteries if you want to continue working while one is recharging. Each of these things adds to the cost, so you may want to consider a kit option, as these sometimes work out to be cheaper.
A. Brushless motors are better every time. The reason: brush motors wear out quickly, are less efficient at transmitting power, and are often noisier. The main reason they're still around is that they're considerably cheaper to produce. There's nothing wrong with a brush motor in principle. If you want a cheap impact driver for occasional use, it's a viable solution. You'll pay more for an impact driver with a brushless motor, but you'll get a more durable, virtually maintenance-free tool.