Best 12V Impact Drivers of 2020

Updated
Categories Drills
12V impact drivers are compact and accurate.

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.


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.

Weight

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

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.

Size

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.

Price

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.

Noise

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 2020

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

Best Cordless 12V Impact Driver

Makita DT04R1 12V Max CXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Impact Driver Kit (2.0Ah),
Check Price

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.

Why We Love It

Smart Features

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 Motor

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.

Keep In Mind

Quite Pricey

Makita drills are never cheap, and this 12V impact driver is more expensive than some of their 18V models.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 2.1
Dimensions (inches) 4.4 x 14.5 x 12
Torque 1,200 in-lbf
RPM 3,000 plus 3,900 IPM
Charge Time 25 minutes
Price $$$
Warranty 3-year limited

2. Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12 Impact Driver

Best Brushless 12V Impact Driver

Milwaukee Electric Tools MLW2553-20 M12 Fuel 1/4' Hex Impact Driver (Bare)
Check Price

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.

Why We Love It

Brushless Motor

As brushless motors compare, this one is super-efficient. It speeds up most applications by 20 percent, increasing your productivity as well.

Compact

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-Chuck

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.

Keep In Mind

Bare Tool

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.

Driver Only

This Milwaukee tool is an impact driver only. It has no drill settings and can only drive screws and fixings.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) Not stated
Dimensions (inches) 3 x 7 x 8
Torque 1,300 in-lbf
RPM 3,300
Charge Time 30 minutes
Price $$
Warranty 5-year

3. Bosch PS41-2A 12V Impact Driver

Best Compact 12V Impact Driver

Bosch PS41-2A 12V Max 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver Kit with 2 Batteries, Charger and Case,Blue
Check Price

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.

Why We Love It

Robust

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.

Compact

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.

Fuel Gauge

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.

Keep In Mind

Lower Torque

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.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 2.1
Dimensions (inches) 7.25 x 5.39
Torque 930 in-lbf
RPM 2,600 plus 3,100 IPM
Charge Time 30 minutes
Price $$
Warranty 3-year tool and 2-year battery

4. DeWALT Xtreme DCF801F2 Impact Driver

Best High Torque 12V Impact Driver

DEWALT XTREME 12V MAX Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch (DCF801F2)
Check Price

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.

Why We Love It

Torque

This tool wins hands down for sheer turning power. It is the class leader, generating 1,450 in-lbf of torque.

3 Speeds

It is standard to see 2 speeds on the average impact driver, but this DeWALT has 3, making it more efficient and accurate.

Quick-Release Hex

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.

Keep In Mind

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.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 4.54
Dimensions (inches) 5.05 x 4.38 x 8.4
Torque 1,450 in-lbf
RPM 2,850
Charge Time Not stated
Price $$$
Warranty 3-year

5. Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 12V Impact Driver

Best Brushed 12V Impact Driver

Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 12V Peak Cordless Impact Driver Kit, Includes 2-12V Lithium Ion Batteries, 25-Min Quick Charger, #2 Driver Bit, & Carrying Case, 955 In/Lbs Driving Torque
Check Price

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.

Why We Love It

Lightweight

For such a slight tool, it packs a punch. The lightweight design allows for prolonged use without fatigue.

Fast Charge

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.

2 Batteries

Having 2 batteries means you can always have a fully charged spare on hand to keep you working.

Keep In Mind

Lower Power

This Metabo is less powerful than the Milwaukee or the DeWALT, so you may experience its limitations when it comes to specific tasks.

Brushed Motor

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.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 2.2
Dimensions (inches) 5.2 x 2.7 x 8.7
Torque 955 in-lbf
RPM 2,700
Charge Time 25 minutes
Price $$
Warranty Lifetime tool warranty and 2-year battery

12V Impact Driver Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Dimensions Torque RPM Charge Time Warranty
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
Jump to the Full 12V Impact Driver Reviews

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.

Headshot of mark

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
20 Types of Drill Bits (The Complete Guide)20 Types of Drill Bits (And Their Uses)
How to Sharpen Drill Bits Made EasyWe Show You How to Sharpen Drill Bits (In 7 Steps)
The Key Difference Between Brushless and Brushed DrillsBrushless Vs. Brushed Drills
Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill: Which Should You Choose?Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill: Which Is Right for You? 
When to Choose a Screw Gun Vs. a Drill (So You Can Tool Up Like a Pro)Screw Gun Vs. Drill (Which Is Better?)
How to Drill a Hole in Glass (6 Easy Steps)How to Drill a Hole Through Glass (6 Steps to Feel Like a Pro)

Leave a Comment