If you need a tool that is able to drive different types of fasteners, the best impact driver is here to help. Despite having compact dimensions, this manual instrument provides the high rotational force. Although it has the simplest motor inside and its torque isn’t extremely high, this tool is still able to handle large-sized screws while providing great maneuverability. Thus, the impact drivers are convenient to use in tight spaces (like spots underneath the car, for example) or for working on a ladder.
So, what is the best impact driver? It is a manual tool, designed for driving and loosening fasteners of different types and sizes: screws, bolts, etc. The tool provides stronger torque than a drill and drives fasteners more quickly. Additionally, unlike the drill, it doesn’t tend to vibrate and will not twist your wrist during work. However, the impact driver can’t be a full replacement for a drill. It just provides more torque in situations where the drill can’t handle the job. For this reason, they are often sold together in one set.
Among the other advantages, it’s also worth mentioning the universality as it works with wood, metal, concrete, etc. This tool is also made in such a way so the user can hold it in one hand as it’s not only compact but also lightweight. The impact drivers are also used to loose large bolts and nuts that were over-tightened or got stuck due to the corrosion.
This way, those who work in a field that requires driving a large number of different fasteners will definitely benefit from the impact driver. However, if you have never owned such an instrument, it may be quite a challenging task to find the right one. For your convenience, we have gathered the most decent models in one article. Keep on reading to find out impact driver reviews of our top 10 favorites and add the best impact driver to your tool kit. By scrolling down, you will find some useful buying info in our buyer’s guide.
Impact Driver Reviews
This Dewalt impact driver is a wireless model that uses 20V lithium-ion battery. The tool has Dewalt’s typical black and yellow color design and is constructed in such a way to provide convenient work. More precisely, it’s made of lightweight materials, weighing less than 3 pounds, and features an ergonomic design with a textured anti-slip handle. The belt hook, located on the left side of the tool, makes it easy to carry the tool around. This comes in handy when you are working on a ladder and when both your hands are occupied.
There are also 3 bright LEDs that encircle the hex chuck, providing better visibility on the working surface. The tool is 5.55 x 9 x 3 inches in size, so will easily fit into tight areas.
The Dewalt 20V impact driver is equipped with a 1/4-inch hex chuck and accepts 1-inch bit tips. The chuck with quick-release of anvil type makes it easy to change the bits.
The tool offers 1400 inch-pound of max torque with 3200 IPM. However, the absence of brushless motor casts doubt on its great performance for some heavy-duty jobs. Thus, it will work better for DIY projects and taking nuts and bolts on/off while fixing a car, for example. It also has a one-speed operation (2800 RPM) which may be a problem when working with fragile materials.
The includes a 20V battery (1.5 Ah), fast charger, and a large carrying bag that can fit not only the driver and the charger but some small accessories as well.
- The charger has an automatic shutdown function when the charging is complete.
- Thanks to the hex drive system, the device is universal for almost all types of fasteners, like nuts, screws, bolts, etc.
- The fragile areas of the driver are covered with thick rubber, so nothing bad will happen if you drop the tool by accident.
- The battery runs less than 30 minutes on one charge.
- There is no bit holder for storing spare bits.
Video Dewalt DCF885C1
The Dewalt DCF887B is an impact driver, equipped with a brushless motor. It offers a variable speed control that allows switching between 3 speeds: 1000, 2800, and 3250 RPM. Thanks to that, you can work with a broader range of materials. The slide switch for setting the speed is located on the bottom of the driver.
The unit features compact and lightweight construction, being designed to fit into tight places and provide convenient work. Thus, the tool weighs only 2 pounds and has 8 x 3 x 5.88 inches. It also includes 3 LEDs, placed around the chuck that light up the working area to work in low-lit spaces.
This brushless impact driver works with 1-inch bit tips. It also features a one-handed loading 1/4-inch hex chuck with a convenient grip sleeve.
Note that if you don’t already have the Dewalt’s charger and a 20V lithium-ion battery, this tool will make you spend a significant amount of money. This model belongs to the pricier ones but goes without charger and battery or any other inclusions except for the tool itself. However, you can either buy a battery that was officially made by Dewalt specifically for this model or get any other third-party battery.
The tool puts out an 1825 inch-pound of torque with 3600 IPM which will probably be enough for both home projects and some professional use. It easily drives screws into hard materials and handles most surfaces, except for thick concrete. However, if you keep the trigger pressed for a longer time, the tool will probably drill through hard concrete, but it’s not safe for the motor.
- The tool remains cool during continuous operation.
- Featuring the precision drive in speed 1, the DCF887B gives you more control and accuracy.
- The tool is constructed with a minimal number of moving parts so it has less chance of breakage.
- The DCF887B operates noticeably louder than many similar models, having around 100 dB of the noise level.
- The trigger is unstable and refuses to work on the first try at times.
This Bosch impact driver comes in a large kit. Except for the impact driver itself, it also includes a drill driver, two 12V 2.0 Ah lithium-ion batteries for both tools, 12V max charger (that can be used for charging any Bosch 12V lithium-ion batteries), and a carrying case. Unlike most tool cases, the one that goes with the CLPK22 is very compact.
The impact driver is endowed with 3 tiny LED lights that surround the locking sleeve and serve to light up the working area. They are pretty bright, but not enough to blind you when you work in the dark.
The CLPK22 is equipped with a variable speed trigger and reaches the max speed of 2600 RPM. At this speed, the tool works great for serial driving operations. Above the speed trigger, you can find the battery charge indicator.
To provide a convenient work, the driver features a lightweight body (2.1 pounds) and is ergonomically designed with a rubberized grip which prevents slipping.
The tool provides 930 inch-pound of max torque which is not too much, but thanks to the powerful hammer-and-anvil system, the CLPK22 is more than suitable for most standard applications and simple repairs.
The driver is equipped with a quick-release 1/4-inch chuck. The 5.4-inch head length makes it easy for the unit to fit in tight and narrow areas and even allows working at difficult angles.
- The included charger completely charges the fully drained battery in about half an hour.
- The impact driver can safely perform at low temperatures conditions (down to -4°F), so you can work in cold without worrying that the tool or battery inside may break down.
- The battery runs for about an hour on one charge.
- The chuck is only compatible with the bits that have a hexagon base.
- There is no mechanism to secure the attachment, so it slips out when you point the driver down.
Video Bosch CLPK22
Black & Decker BDCI20C
The BDCI20C from Black & Decker is an impact driver that delivers 1375 inch-pound of torque which is probably enough for most at-home projects when working with wood, metal, and even masonry. It reaches the max speed of 3000 RPM, providing enough power to remove fasteners with ease. Besides, the BDCI20C works with many types of fasteners: it can loosen and tighten various kinds of screws, including the Philips screw, and other bolts and nuts.
Thanks to the quick-release 1/4-inch hex chuck, you can conveniently change the bits with one hand. The device won’t slip off your hands while working as it has an anti-slip rubber grip. Thus, the tool will be easier to manage for users that have small/medium hands. The trigger has sharp edges and feels less convenient to push than the trigger with rounded edges. The unit doesn’t wobble during operation and generally feels nice to hold. Additionally, it’s also supplied with an integrated LED work light which activates by the trigger.
The unit is compact enough to work in tight spots (7.88 x 3 x 9 inches) but not very lightweight. With almost 4 pounds of weight, the tool may stress your arm if you will hold it overhead for a long time.
The BDCI20C comes in a kit that includes all the items you need to start working: 20V lithium-ion battery, charger, and a screwdriving bit.
- There is a magnet at the top of the driver designed for bit storage.
- Its working style is similar to a drill driver which is great for those who got used to working with drills.
- The speed switch is very smooth and highly responsive to the slowest rotations.
- The rocker switch is a bit tight and requires some effort to push.
- The provided battery drains quickly during constant work, so you may want to buy a better one or have an extra battery charged and ready.
- When the tool gets hot, it smells like it’s burning.
Video Black & Decker BDCI20C
Porter Cable PCCK604L2
This Porter Cable impact driver comes in a 2-tool kit which also includes a drill driver.
The 1/4-inch quick-load chuck makes changing of bits a matter of seconds. The tool has a high-performance impact mechanism that delivers 1450 inch-pound of torque and works at 2800 RPM speed. Thus, the tool is universal for many materials like steel, wood, concrete, and others. The kit also includes two Porter Cable’s professional-grade 20V 1.3 Ah lithium-ion batteries that ensure long runtime even during continuous work. Thus, you will be able to finish most of your home projects on a single charge. The charger and soft carrying case are also included.
The tool is only 6.9 inches long which means that it can easily work in narrow and hard-to-reach areas. The impact driver weighs 3.3 pounds, so your hand won’t get tired quickly. Besides, the impact driver also has an onboard LED light which illuminates the area in front of the tool, providing great visibility.
In terms of construction, the PCCK604L2 is equipped with an ergonomic handle that has ribbed rubber covering which provides an excellent grip even when your palm is sweaty.
- The Porter Cable PCCK604L2 is much quieter during work than many similar models.
- The trigger is larger than average which makes it more convenient to push.
- The kit includes a double-ended bit tips and Phillips head screwdriving bit.
- The bit storage doesn’t seem reliable enough.
- It may get so hot during continuous operation that even burns your hand.
Video Porter Cable PCCK604L2
The Dewalt DCF787C1 is a solid impact driver equipped with a powerful and efficient brushless motor which provides 57% more runtime in comparison with a usually brushed motor. The brushless motor and higher-than-average 1500 inch-pound torque make the unit capable of withstanding some heavy-duty jobs and many DIY projects.
The DCF787C1 has a 1/4-inch hex chuck and uses 1-inch bit tips. The chuck makes it easy to change the bits with just one hand. The tool reaches a max speed of 2800 RPM, so it’s a bit slower in comparison with the other impact drivers that are equipped with a brushless motor as well.
The tool is perfectly balanced being 12.5 x 3.75 x 9.81 inches in size and weighing less than 3 pounds. The onboard LED light automatically lights up the working area after the trigger is released. The DCF787C1 also features a convenient and soft non-slip grip handle.
The kit includes a 20V battery, charger, and a large, soft case that can fit the impact driver and some accessories.
- The tool is made in such a way to be able to withstand regular work, so it may be used by service providers.
- The Dewalt DCF787C1 can safely work under bad weather conditions like rain, snow, low temperatures.
- This 1/4 impact driver works especially great with wood so it is good for professional carpenters.
- It has only 1 LED light while the other similar Dewalt’s impact drivers have 3. Thus, it may not give enough light.
- The noise level exceeds 100 dB so you may need to wear earplugs during continuous work.
The Milwaukee 2656-20 is an electric impact driver that weighs 2.3 pounds and has 2.9 x 5.7 x 7.8 inches in size. The LED light is located below the quick-connect 1/4-inch chuck and is able to provide an evenly-lit working surface. The rubber handle features a textured design that allows for better grip even if your hand is wet. The onboard ambidextrous belt clip will let go of both hands one by one when needed.
The Milwaukee impact driver features a powerful motor with 3450 IPM and 1500 inch-pound of torque. Thus, the tool can work with many hard materials and is capable of driving heavy fasteners.
The 2656-20 reaches up to 2750 RPM. Thanks to the convenient variable speed switch, you can vary the speed by the amount of pressure you put on the trigger.
The tool is compatible with M18 batteries which you have to buy separately as it’s not included in the kit. The charger isn’t included as well.
- The electronics inside the driver protects the battery from overheating.
- The unit is well-balanced as it doesn’t feature a large interface at its top like most other drivers do, removing excessive strain from your hand.
- The LED light can be turned on without activating the drill, so you may want to use it as a flashlight.
- It takes a long time to drive screws in wood material.
- The tool doesn’t have enough torque to remove lug nuts from car/truck.
The Milwaukee M18 impact driver is equipped with a solid brushless motor that is capable of delivering up to 30% faster driving speed in comparison with the brushed one. Besides, the unit provides 4 different settings for drive control that allow adjusting the output speed and power for greater precision and versatility. The unit is designed to be able to handle heavy-duty jobs as its motor provides 2000 inch-pound of torque, 3600 RPM of max speed, and 4300 IPM.
The tool is 4.29 x 6.42 x 9.41 inches in size and weighs 2.5 pounds. With such a size, it’s able to access tight spaces. Thanks to belt clip, you can attach the tool to your clothing and carry around. The handle is covered with the over-molded rubber. The working LED light is located at the back of the chuck.
The 2853-20 is shipped as a bare tool, so you will have to buy the M18 battery and the charger separately.
- The self-tapping screw reduces the stripping of fasteners.
- The integrated Redlink Plus intelligence protects the tool from overload and ensures its optimal performance.
- The low-profile vibration at the handle makes the tool easier to control.
- The driver’s lowest torque is still too high for small-sized screws.
- Sometimes the LED light refuses to turn on.
The present Makita impact driver is supplied with a brushless motor that gives out 1500 inch-pound of torque. Thus, along with variable speed (3400 RPM max) and 3600 IPM, this model is suitable for a wide range of fastening jobs. The tool is also compatible with many types of fasteners. For example, deck/TEK/cabinet screws, lag bolts, and others.
Its size is 3.50 x 8.30 x 6.50 inches and weighs 3.3 pounds, so you probably won’t get tired too quickly while working. Despite being a lightweight model, the unit features robust all-aluminum housing. The grip is made of soft, non-slip rubber. This model offers a LED working light for better visibility as well. It also has a one-touch 1/4-inch hex chuck which offers a quick bit changing.
The XDT131 ships with 18V 3.0 Ah battery, charger, and a large tool bag.
- The efficient brushless motor keeps the tool cool during work which extends its serve term.
- The motor is electronically controlled and uses energy more economically.
- The included charger provides up to 3x faster charging than a usual impact driver charger.
- The tool sometimes bounces during work.
- The provided tool bag is of poor quality and doesn’t seem reliable, so you may want to get a better one.
The MLW2553-20 is one of the most compact and lightest Milwaukee’s impact drivers. Having only 3 x 7 x 8 inches, the tool squeezes into tight spaces with ease. Plus, it weighs less than 2 pounds.
This 12V impact driver provides 1300 inch-pound of torque and works with a wide range of fasteners: 3-inch lag bolts, ledger screws, etc. The Powerstate brushless motor provides up to 3300 RPM of max speed.
On top of the tool, there are 4 buttons that allow switching between 4 different drive control settings. Thus, you will be able to work with more projects that require lower and higher speeds.
The tool is equipped with a LED working light and usual rubberized handle with a smooth surface. The M12 battery and the charger aren’t included in the kit and must be bought separately.
- The MLW2553-20 outperforms the usual 12V models being more than 20% faster and more versatile.
- The tool doesn’t drain the battery quickly even during some heavy-duty jobs.
- Thanks to such a small size, so the tool adapts to different adapters easier.
- The tool is excessively loud as for the 12V model.
- Because of being located above the trigger, the LED light creates a shadow in the dark.
How to Use an Impact Driver and How does It Work?
Before opting for any tool for a specific application, you need to know its working principle. So, how does an impact driver work?
The motor starts as you turn the tool on. The hammer’s downward force impacts the spline which results in the formation of the rotational speed on the core. To start producing the torque, the unit transmits rotational inertia from the sleeve to the lighter core while the hammer’s blow pushes the tool forward into the screw to reduce slip outs. The modern advanced impact drivers don’t require manual power to nudge the fastener.
What you can use an impact driver for mainly depends on the model. In general, most models are used as DIY tools and gained the biggest popularity among builders and woodworkers. They are used for building decks, fastening plywood subfloors, making holes in woods, and some types of soft metal.
The impact driver’s construction includes a curved spline that has a mechanical core that is responsible for torque production, surrounded by the outer sleeve, a hammering mechanism, and an impact head. The head may also be changeable to provide better versatility, allowing you to change it in accordance with the type of fastener.
The biggest disadvantage of most impact drivers is the absence of a clutch. Those models that are equipped with a clutch are higher in price. Plus, due to the construction of modern impact drivers, the clutch can’t be used when the unit is engaged.
Those models that go with a keyless chuck are heavier and bulky. However, the impact drivers are still shorter than cordless drills.
The impact drivers also provide easy and convenient bit changing which requires only 3 simple steps: just slide the outer ring on the hex chuck, drop in the bit, slide back, and that’s all.
Modern models have built-in LEDs that light up the working area. This allows for more precise and convenient work and comes in handy when you work in poorly lit conditions or when the working area is in shadow.
The typical electric impact driver is usually powered by 12V – 20V lithium-ion battery. The voltage depends on the amount of torque provided by the tool. The torque, in its turn, indicates the level of rotational speed. The max torque that will be enough for most applications is around 1500 inch-pound (170 Nm).
The adjustable clutch gives you control over the amount of torque generated by the driver. This helps prevent damaging of screw heads and also lets you use the unit for finishing applications when working with wood.
Some high-tech impact drivers are equipped with electronic clutches that adjust the torque automatically.
It’s commonly believed that a good impact driver must reach high speeds, but that’s not actually true. High speed is necessary only when you drive small screws into soft material. Hard materials and long screws need lower speed but higher torque.
The tool capacity to work with hard materials also depends on the impact per minute (IPM). Usually, the electric models provide 3000 IPM. However, some costlier drivers are able to offer higher value.
Those impact drivers that go with a variable speed control allow you to adjust the rotational speed of the tool during work, providing great flexibility. The optimal speed for most applications is up to 3000 RPM. The advanced models have multiple speed control which allows setting the exact speed and torque you want to reach.
Those impact drivers that have a quick-release chuck can be used with 1/4-inch chuck bits only. They can be effortlessly removed and inserted, providing easy changing process.
Such chucks work only with hex bits. However, you can buy a special adapter for round- or square-shaped drills or bits separately. Although some manufacturers provide such adapters in the kit along with the driver.