12V impact drivers are smaller and more compact, compared to their larger 18-volt cousins, but with so many choices on offer, it can be difficult to know which one is the best.
Getting the right 12-volt impact driver takes research and planning. Here is our rundown of the best 12V impact drivers.
- Smart features
- Only weighs 21 lbs
- Brushless motor
- Brushless motor
- Compact &lightweight
- Durasheild protection
- Compact 5.4 inch length
- Fuel gauge indicator
- 1,450 in-lbf of torque
- 3 speeds
- Quick-release hex
- 25 min charging
- Incudes 2 batteries
Is a 12V Impact Driver Enough?
Many professionals and enthusiasts own 18V impact drivers but rarely use the tool’s full capacity. For this reason, these same users often own 12-volt varieties as well. While they are smaller and have less torque, they are still incredibly useful tools to own.
12V impact drivers are better at driving self-tapping screws into metal and 3-inch diameter screws into wood. They are quite handy when using drywall screws. They also do an excellent job of driving short depth screws into masonry and wood.
Modern 12-volt impact drivers can perform 80 percent of your daily tasks, so why drag around all the extra weight of an 18-volt impact driver.
How Do I Choose a 12V Impact Driver?
Once you have decided to buy a 12-volt impact driver, what are the key decisions you need to make? Here are some considerations to bear in mind.
It’s 12 volts, so it is going to be lighter. The weight of your impact driver is crucial, especially if you are using it for prolonged periods. Drywall contractors work for hours on end, and hand and wrist fatigue is a real concern.
Torque is the rate of rotational force the driver produces. It is not the same as speed. Impact drivers are effective at driving screws because they use high-torque and lower speeds. This gives the fixing grip to drive into the material without the driver stripping or shearing it.
If you are laying decking or constructing a fence, working accurately and speedily, without the fear of stripping the screws is a real bonus.
Impacts Per Minute
They are called impact drivers for a reason, so the impacts per minute (IPM) is vital to how well the tool performs. IPM is the measure of how many times the percussive action strikes the anvil behind the chuck to create a downward force to drive the screw or fixing.
12-volt impact drivers are smaller and more compact than their 18-volt varieties, but their sizes still vary. Choose an impact driver that is comfortable to hold. Remember, as with the weight, size impacts the length of time you can use the driver without suffering from fatigue.
The size also helps when you are using one hand to do the driving.
Brushed or Brushless Motor
The majority of impact drivers are battery-operated, and as anyone who owns a cordless power tool will tell you, it’s all about the run time of the battery. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of juice part-way through a task.
Brushless motors increase the run time of your impact driver by up to 50 percent, giving you more battery time to complete the project. They are more efficient, require less maintenance and run cooler for prolonged use.
Brushed motors are typically found in corded impact drivers, although some cordless models still use this type of motor. Brushed motors are less efficient, but if you are plugging in your power tool, this is less of a consideration. However, brushed motors need maintenance because, over time, the brushes wear out.
The amount you spend on your impact driver makes a marked difference to the quality of the tool. Pay less and get a lesser impact driver with fewer features. Pay more, and expect the best of the best. The more you up your budget, it increases your choices and expectations.
Impact drivers are never quiet, but some are noisier than others. We recommend ear defenders if you are using an impact driver. Every year, 22 million contractors and professionals seek help because of hearing problems created by loud power tools. Nearly half of all construction workers suffer hearing loss of some kind (1).
Frequency of Use
How often do you use your impact driver? This is a consideration when making your choice. Why pay over the top for a premium impact driver when you only use it once or twice a year. Similarly, why scrimp on the costs when you are using the impact driver for prolonged periods.
The Best 12V Impact Drivers of 2022
Finding the 5 best 12V impact drivers wasn’t easy. There are so many choices and variables to consider. Here are our 5 best options.
1. Makita DT04R1 12V CXT Impact Driver
This brushless impact driver delivers 1,200 in-lbf of torque and a maximum of 3,000 RPM. It also creates 3,900 IPM, so you can be sure it will tackle most tasks with ease. Makita also equips this tool with smart features like Assist Mode.
It drives at low speeds until the screw starts to tighten, and stops cross threading and cam-out, where the driver slips out of the head of the screw. This impact driver is compact and lightweight, weighing just 2.1 pounds, with a 2Ah battery installed.
Assist Mode eliminates the guesswork when driving screws thanks to sensors that detect when the screw tightens and increases the speed to accommodate for the increased torque.
Only Weighs 2.1 lbs
This Makita weighs just 2.1 pounds and was a close contender for the compact award. Weight is crucial if you are using the impact driver for prolonged periods and want to avoid suffering from fatigue.
Brushless motors are more efficient and give you an extended battery run time. They also run cooler than brushed motors so that you can use the driver for more extended periods.
Makita drills are never cheap, and this 12V impact driver is more expensive than some of their 18V models.
|Dimensions (inches)||4.4 x 14.5 x 12|
|RPM||3,000 plus 3,900 IPM|
|Charge Time||25 minutes|
2. Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12 Impact Driver
Winning the best brushless award is some accolade, but this Milwaukee impact driver does it thanks to their innovative POWERSTATE motor, which delivers applications 20 percent faster than the competition.
The RPM tops out at 3,300, and it generates 1,300 in.lbs of torque. If you want to increase the run time even further, Milwaukee sells 6Ah batteries. Couple that with the extended battery life thanks to the brushless motor, and you get a tool that keeps going until the job is finished.
As brushless motors compare, this one is super-efficient. It speeds up most applications by 20 percent, increasing your productivity as well.
This impact driver is the ideal weight and size for cramped applications. It also means you can drive one-handed without suffering from hand fatigue.
Hex chucks are ideal when you want your bit to stay put. The hex shape means there is zero slippage. That’s perfect for tougher applications.
This deal is for the bare tool only. Add in the extra costs of the batteries and charger, and the value for money factor diminishes significantly.
This Milwaukee tool is an impact driver only. It has no drill settings and can only drive screws and fixings.
|Weight (pounds)||Not stated|
|Dimensions (inches)||3 x 7 x 8|
|Charge Time||30 minutes|
3. Bosch PS41-2A 12V Impact Driver
If a compact impact driver is what you want, this Bosch could be the ideal tool for you. It boasts the shortest head length in its class, at just 5.4 inches, and at 2.1 pounds, it is lightweight to improve the user’s experience.
This driver produces 930 in.lbs of rotational force and gets up to speeds of 2,600 RPM. It also generates 3,100 IPM and has an all-metal gear housing to protect it against heavy usage.
Thanks to Bosch’s Durasheild protection, this impact driver can be dropped from 12 feet onto concrete and still keep working. Bosch has road-tested this up to 25 times to ensure their nylon/ABS plastic housing is up to the task.
This is the most compact impact driver in its class. The head length is just 5.4 inches, making it the ideal tool for working in cramped spaces.
The fuel level indicator is a real lifesaver when it comes to managing the batteries. It prevents over-discharging, which can damage the battery beyond repair.
This is a compact impact driver, and so, it has less power than others featured. If you are looking for the maximum torque, it might be better to look elsewhere.
Potential Charger Issues
Some users have complained that the charger gives off a strange smell when charging. This hasn’t happened with all, but it is something to keep in mind.
|Dimensions (inches)||7.25 x 5.39|
|RPM||2,600 plus 3,100 IPM|
|Charge Time||30 minutes|
|Warranty||3-year tool and 2-year battery|
4. DeWALT Xtreme DCF801F2 Impact Driver
We had to include a DeWALT in the review, and this impact driver is a beast compared to some. It creates 1,450 in.lbs of rotational force. That’s over 500 times more than the compact Bosch model!
This is also a compact driver, with the head length measuring 5.05 inches, which is handy because if you like working in dark and tight spaces, it also has 3 LED lights positioned around the nose core.
This tool wins hands down for sheer turning power. It is the class leader, generating 1,450 in-lbf of torque.
It is standard to see 2 speeds on the average impact driver, but this DeWALT has 3, making it more efficient and accurate.
This driver is equipped with a quick-release hex chuck that speeds up bit changes. It also accepts bits up to 1-inch in diameter.
Build Quality Issues
The chucks can be temperamental and prone to falling apart after prolonged use. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it is a consideration to keep in mind.
|Dimensions (inches)||5.05 x 4.38 x 8.4|
|Charge Time||Not stated|
5. Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 12V Impact Driver
This Metabo impact driver generates 955 in.lbs of torque, so while it isn’t the most powerful, it will still cater to 80 percent of tasks. It is lightweight, at just 2.2 pounds, and the head length measures 6 inches.
It has a no-load speed of 2,700 RPM and generates 3,200 IPM. This Metabo has a free-standing design, so it stands upright when not in use and is equipped with an LED for dark spaces.
For such a slight tool, it packs a punch. The lightweight design allows for prolonged use without fatigue.
This Metabo comes with a fast charger to ensure you never run out of power. It charges in 25 minutes, which will allow for a quick charge while you take a coffee break.
Having 2 batteries means you can always have a fully charged spare on hand to keep you working.
This Metabo is less powerful than the Milwaukee or the DeWALT, so you may experience its limitations when it comes to specific tasks.
The brushed motor is less efficient compared to brushless motors. They also require a higher degree of maintenance because the brushes wear out with use.
|Dimensions (inches)||5.2 x 2.7 x 8.7|
|Charge Time||25 minutes|
|Warranty||Lifetime tool warranty and 2-year battery|
|Makita DT04R1 CXT Impact Driver||Cordless||2 lbs||4.4 x 14.5 x 12″||1,200 lbf-in||3,000||25 min||3-year limited|
|Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12 Impact Driver||Brushless||N/A||3 x 7 x 8″||1,300 lbf-in||3,300||30 min||5-year|
|Bosch PS41-2A 12V Impact Driver||Compact||2 lbs||7.25 x 5.39″||930 lbf-in||2,600||30 min||3-year|
|DeWALT Xtreme DCF801F2 Impact Driver||High Torque||5 lbs||5.05 x 4.38 x 8.4″||1,450 lbf-in||2,850||N/A||3-year|
|Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver||Brushed||2 lbs||5.2 x 2.7 x 8.7″||955 lbf-in||2,700||25 min||Lifetime|
Create an Impact
Impact drivers are a real asset in any tool kit. They drill, drive and even convert to become wrenches. If you have a project coming up and aren’t sure if an impact driver will help you, think again.
From fencing, flooring, drywall and decking, an impact driver delivers a speedier and more accurate result.