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Updated November 2022
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Buying guide for Best Makita impact drivers

A cordless drill driver is a versatile tool, and every home should have one. A drawback, however, is that cordless drill drivers don’t provide sufficient torque for heavy-duty driving jobs like putting in decking screws, lag bolts, and other large fasteners.

The answer is an impact driver, which looks fairly similar and is just as easy to use. The difference: an impact driver is purpose-designed to tackle jobs where standard drills struggle.

Makita’s range of impact drivers is one of the most comprehensive on the market, with a choice of tools to suit DIY enthusiasts, tradespeople, and contractors. Quality is excellent. Other brands might be better known, but few compete with Makita in terms of performance for the price.

The challenge lies in deciding which Makita impact driver would best meet your needs. Our buying guide can help you find answers.

Makita’s brushless motors have a couple of important advantages over their brush motor counterparts. They require virtually zero maintenance, and they have a longer lifespan.

Performance considerations

Four important areas to look at are power, torque, impacts per minute (IPM), and revolutions per minute (RPM).


While Makita still produces one-corded impact drills, cordless models now dominate. They are capable of producing equivalent power and are simply more convenient. Historically, corded tools had the advantage of costing less, but nowadays, that’s not necessarily true.

When it comes to voltage, you have two options: 12V and 18V. Clearly, 12V impact drivers have less out-and-out power, but they are compact and lightweight. If you do a lot of work overhead, that might matter to you. Batteries for 12V tools usually charge faster, too, though larger 18V versions will run longer.

While 12V tools are a good choice for the DIY user, you may want an 18V model if you’re driving 4-inch deck screws into lumber that hasn’t been pre-drilled — the kind of job a Makita impact driver is perfect for.

Note: Some cordless tools are rated at 20V, some at 18V — there’s no real difference. All these motors produce 20 volts peak (at the moment they start), but they run at 18 volts. It’s just that some manufacturers quote the higher figure.

Expert tip
Do not leave lithium batteries in cold conditions. Store them above 40 degrees to prolong the battery life.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert


The main advantage a Makita impact driver gives over a drill/driver lies in its twisting power, or torque, which is measured in inch-pounds. Makita’s 12V models develop as much as 1,200 inch-pounds, and 18V models create over 1,500 inch-pounds.

With all this power, the challenge lies in managing it. Impact drivers are known for torque reaction — an initial jolt that can strain wrists and result in the driver “caming out” (twisting free of the screw or bolt and damaging the head). Thankfully, Makita impact drivers have an A-mode (Assist) that starts slowly, thus eliminating the problem.

Many have T-mode for rapid tightening of self-drilling screws. There’s also the trademarked Quick-Shift Mode that automatically downshifts as the fixing is tightened, preventing you from driving a screw too far and damaging the material.


Impacts per minute (IPM) and revolutions per minute (RPM) are perhaps less important than power and torque, but they are still useful for comparison purposes. The IPM is the hit rate, and on Makita impact drivers, it increases in line with motor speed.

All of these tools have variable speed adjusted by trigger pressure, but many also offer anything from two to four speed ranges. These add tremendous flexibility when dealing with different fastenings and materials, though the power of these machines is such that many users may never need that kind of advanced control.

Makita’s corded impact driver remains popular and is highly rated by owners. However, it is bulkier than Makita’s cordless models and could pose a challenge in tight spaces.


Other features


Makita makes impact drivers in a range of configurations. The two most common are the standard models and the shorter “subcompact’ models, which can deliver a lot of torque in confined spaces. However, if things get really difficult, Makita produces angled impact drivers and at least one flexible model for more detailed work.

Star Protection

This is Makita’s battery safety system, which monitors performance to prevent overload, overheating, or overdischarge (which would prevent the battery from charging properly).


Weight matters in particular if you have to work overhead for any length of time, and Makita’s impact drivers are among the lightest. Note that high Ah batteries may increase the weight slightly.

Battery charge indicator

The batteries for these tools have a useful charge indicator so you don’t find yourself suddenly powerless in the middle of a job.

LED light

Most Makita impact drivers have an LED light on the front, which is great if you’re working in dark corners.


Makita impact driver handles have a soft, comfortable grip for long work periods without discomfort.

Expert tip
Some newer models of Makita impact drivers offer Bluetooth technology to help you not lose a tool on a job site.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert


Depending on the jobs you need to do, there are lots of accessories to fit your Makita impact driver that can make life easier. Buying own-brand gives you the assurance of quality and greater durability than cheap alternatives.

Impact driver drill bits

Makita B-65399 Impact Gold Drill Bit Set

The 14 pieces in this comprehensive set are specifically designed for use in impact drivers and are capable of drilling most metals as well as softer materials. They have a 1/4-inch hex shank and titanium nitride coating (TiN) that can extend working life up to 2.5 times that of ordinary high-speed steel bits.

Socket set

Makita T-02369 1/4-Inch Drive Socket Set

An impact driver will never replace a dedicated wrench, but it can be very effective on small items and in tight spaces. These are made from tough, heat-treated alloy designed for high-torque use, and they can be added to your toolkit for a modest outlay.

If you don’t already own a drill/driver, or if you’re thinking of upgrading an old one, consider Makita’s drill/impact driver combos. You can get a great value, and you don’t have to worry whether batteries are compatible.


Makita impact driver prices


The cheapest Makita impact drivers are 12V cordless models, which you can buy for around $50 as a bare tool or $100 with a battery and charger. This is a good choice if you need a lightweight tool for occasional use. Bare-tool cordless 18V models start around $60, but these have the older brush motors.


The majority of the Makita impact driver range sits between $100 and $200, including subcompacts and angled and corded models.


Few of the models in Makita’s impact driver range exceed $200, but price depends on kit contents. Those that have two batteries or offer multiple tools will occasionally push to $250 or more.

Whichever Makita impact driver you choose, make sure you’ve got some ear defenders. These tools are loud!


Q. Can I use a Makita impact driver as a drill?

A. Yes, but you’ll need drill bits with a hex shank or a hex shank-to-chuck adapter. This is true for all impact drivers, regardless of the brand. Care is needed, as the power of the impact driver can easily break small diameter drill bits.

Expert tip
Storing your impact driver in a bag or case is ideal. Bags and cases are often sold separately, but they're worth the investment to extend the life of your tool.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

Q. Do Makita impact drivers with brushless motors perform better than those with brushed motors?

A. Brushless motors produce less friction and run cooler. As a result, they make more efficient use of battery power, so having one in a cordless drill is a definite plus. However, brush motors cost considerably less, and there’s little difference in performance if you have mains supply. You usually find brush motors on corded impact drivers and older cordless models.

Q. Can I use a hammer drill instead of a Makita impact driver?

A. No. Although both use a hammer action, a hammer drill sends the impact along the drill bit (usually masonry type). The purpose is to add a chiseling action. With an impact driver, the hammer action is rotational to provide increased torque.

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