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Best 12V Impact Drivers of 2023

Updated
12V impact drivers are compact and accurate.

Impact drivers are powerful tools that use high torque to drive screws and drill holes into various materials. They are excellent tools for carpenters, construction workers, and anyone else who needs to insert screws frequently.

12-volt impact drivers are smaller and more compact than their larger 18-volt counterparts, which makes them ideal for basic screwing tasks around the home. There are now many of these tools to choose from, which can make it difficult to find the best one for your needs.

To make your search easier, we have reviewed five of the best 23V impact drivers that are currently available. We chose these drivers for their size and weight, torque, speed, and whether they have brushed or brushless motors.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Makita DT04R1 CXT Impact Driver
Best Cordless 12V Impact Driver
Makita DT04R1 CXT Impact Driver
  • Automatic speed adjustment
  • Only weighs 2.1 lbs
  • Brushless motor
Product Image of the Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12 Impact Driver
Best Brushless 12V Impact Driver
Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12 Impact Driver
  • Brushless motor
  • 3,300 RPM
  • Hex-chuck
Product Image of the Bosch PS41-2A 12V Impact Driver
Best Compact 12V Impact Driver
Bosch PS41-2A 12V Impact Driver
  • Durashield protection
  • Compact 5.4-inch nose
  • Fuel gauge indicator
Product Image of the DeWALT Xtreme DCF801F2 Impact Driver
Best High Torque 12V Impact Driver
DeWALT Xtreme DCF801F2 Impact Driver
  • 1,450 in-lbf of torque
  • 3 speeds
  • Quick-release hex
Product Image of the Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver
Best Brushed 12V Impact Driver
Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver
  • Weighs just 2.2 pounds
  • 25-minute charging
  • Incudes 2 batteries

Review Methodology: At Sensible Digs, we bring you a comprehensive review of the best 12V Impact Drivers, backed by thorough research and hands-on testing. Our professional team uses stringent criteria to evaluate each product, comparing performance, design choices, and other key decision-making factors. We measure and track data objectively, providing you with detailed analysis and assessment of each impact driver’s features. We share our experiences and evidence-based findings, ranking each product to help you identify the one that sets itself apart from its competitors. Trust in our fact-based, user-focused evaluations to guide your choice.



The Best 12V Impact Drivers of 2023

If you have decided to add an impact driver to your tool collection, you will have a wide range of different tools to choose from. To help you find the right one, we have reviewed five of the best 12V impact drivers you can buy today, chosen for their drilling power, size, weight, and motor type.

Makita DT04R1 12V CXT Impact Driver

Best Cordless 12V Impact Driver

This brushless Makita impact driver generates 1,200 inch-pounds of torque and a maximum of 3,000 RPM. It also delivers 3,900 IPM, so you can be sure it will tackle most driving tasks with ease. Makita has equipped this tool with user-friendly features such as its Assist Mode.

This feature starts driving screws at low speed until they bite into the material to prevent cross-threading and the driver from slipping out of the screw. This impact driver is compact and lightweight at just 2.1 pounds with a 2Ah battery installed.

What We Like

Smart Features

Assist Mode provides a smoother driving experience thanks to sensors that detect when the screw starts tightening. It then increases the driver’s speed to accommodate for the greater torque.

Only Weighs 2.1 lbs

Weighing just 2.1 pounds, this impact driver is one of the best compact models we have seen. It is important to keep your tools light if you use them for prolonged periods, so this one will minimize arm fatigue.

Brushless Motor

Brushless motors are more efficient, extending the life of your battery. They also run cooler than brushed motors, so you can use them for longer without needing to worry about overheating.

What We Don't Like

Expensive

Makita drills are never cheap but this 12V impact driver is more expensive than some of the company’s 18V models.

Product 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

Our Ratings

Power
4.5 / 5
Design
4.5 / 5
Battery Life
4.5 / 5
Durability
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
4.5 / 5

Community Feedback

"This Makita impact driver is a powerful tool, delivering 1,200 inch-pounds of torque and reaching up to 3,000 RPM. My experience has shown it can handle most driving tasks effortlessly, aided by its impressive 3,900 IPM. The Assist Mode, which starts driving screws at a slow speed, is a smart feature that helps prevent cross-threading and the driver from slipping. Despite its power and features, this impact driver is surprisingly compact and lightweight, weighing just over 2 pounds with the battery installed. While it is on the pricier side, the performance and user-friendly aspects make this impact driver a worthy investment."

Milwaukee MLW2553-20 M12 Impact Driver

Best Brushless 12V Impact Driver

Brushless impact drivers are now the most popular type but this Milwaukee impact driver still manages to stand out from the crowd. This is thanks to its POWERSTATE motor, which can complete tasks about 20% faster than the average impact driver.

It has a maximum speed of 3,300 RPM and generates 1,300 in.lbs of torque. If you want to increase the run time even further, Milwaukee also offers 6Ah batteries. If you combine this battery with the extra efficiency of the brushless motor, you will have a tool that you can count on to keep working until the job is done.

What We Like

Brushless Motor

Even among brushless motors, which are known for their efficiency, this model uses energy very effectively. It can speed up most jobs by as much as 20%, giving a major boost to your overall productivity.

Compact

This impact driver is small and lightweight enough for use in tight spaces. You will also be able to use it one-handed without suffering from hand fatigue as a result.

Hex-Chuck

Hex chucks will hold your bits in place securely and ensure they won’t slip during use. This makes them ideal for tougher driving jobs where a universal chuck might struggle to maintain its grip.

What We Don't Like

Battery and Charger Not Included

This product only includes the tool itself. You will also need a battery and charger, which could increase your costs significantly.

Driver Only

This Milwaukee tool is exclusively an impact driver. It doesn’t have drill settings and can only be used to drive screws and fixings, so it lacks versatility.

Product 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

Our Ratings

Power
4.5 / 5
Design
4.5 / 5
Battery Life
4.5 / 5
Durability
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
4.5 / 5

Community Feedback

"I'm thoroughly impressed by the compact and powerful nature of this impact drill. It's been a handy companion for my professional tasks, especially in those tight spaces where larger drills just miss the mark. The battery life could use some improvement, especially when driving larger fasteners, but it's manageable with a couple of spare big batteries. Although I experienced a bit of struggle when fastening 3" screws into studs, this drill generally meets my needs and works flawlessly. Its incredible torque and functionality, coupled with its appealing price point, make it a worthwhile addition to my tool collection."

Bosch PS41-2A 12V Impact Driver

Best Compact 12V Impact Driver

If you want a compact impact driver that can be used in tight spaces, this Bosch model is an excellent choice. It has the shortest head length we have seen during our impact driver search at a mere 5.4 inches. Weighing just 2.1 pounds, it is light enough to be used for extended periods without causing arm fatigue.

This driver produces 930 in.lbs of torque and spins at up to 2,600 RPM. It also generates 3,100 impacts per minute and has an all-metal gear housing to ensure it can cope with heavy workloads.

What We Like

Robust

Thanks to Boschโ€™s Durashield protection, this impact driver can be dropped from as high as 12 feet onto concrete and still work afterward. Bosch has tested this up to 25 times to ensure its nylon/ABS plastic housing is fit for purpose. You can buy it with confidence that it will cope with the hazards of a construction site.

Compact

This is the most compact impact driver we have seen in its class. The head is just 5.4 inches long, making it an ideal tool for working in cramped spaces.

Fuel Gauge

The fuel level indicator will remove any guesswork and help you manage the driver’s battery. It prevents over-discharging, which could damage the battery.

What We Don't Like

Lower Torque

This is a compact impact driver, with the trade-off being that it is less powerful than its larger counterparts. If you want as much torque as possible, you should look elsewhere.

Potential Charger Issues

Some users have complained that the charger gives off a strange odor when charging the battery. This apparently doesn’t affect every unit but it is something to be aware of.

Product 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

Our Ratings

Power
3.5 / 5
Design
5 / 5
Battery Life
4 / 5
Durability
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"I'm impressed with the compact yet powerful design of this device. The battery life is commendable, lasting a surprising amount of time and the design allows for it to fit comfortably in the hand, making the tool exceptionally convenient for woodworking projects. The three lights at the end of the driver are a brilliant feature, proving useful for working in dimly-lit corners. However, I did notice that the center hex shaft was not completely straight and there was a slight wobble when pulling the trigger, which might be a concern for some users."

DeWALT Xtreme DCF801F2 Impact Driver

Best High Torque 12V Impact Driver

DeWALT is one of the leading tool companies in the world, so it is no surprise to see them on our list. This impact driver is very powerful, generating 1,450 in.lbs of rotational force, many times stronger than drivers from some of the other top brands.

This is also a compact driver, with a head length of 5.05 inches, great for working in tight spaces. This is made even easier as the tool has three LED lights positioned around the nose core, so you will be able to work in areas that would otherwise be too dark.

What We Like

Torque

This tool’s standout feature is its sheer turning force. It is among the most powerful 12V impact drivers we have seen, generating 1,450 in-lbs of torque.

3 Speeds

Two speeds are standard for an impact driver but this DeWALT has three, improving its versatility.

Quick-Release Hex

This driver is equipped with a quick-release hex chuck that will help you switch bits more quickly. It can also accommodate bits up to an inch in diameter.

What We Don't Like

Build Quality Issues

There are apparently issues with the chuck and it can fall apart after prolonged use. This doesn’t appear to be a common problem but we have seen enough complaints that you should be aware of it.

Product 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

Our Ratings

Power
5 / 5
Design
4 / 5
Battery Life
4 / 5
Durability
4 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"As a longtime user of 20v tools, the switch to this 12v impact driver was initially met with skepticism. However, I soon realized that its lighter weight made it significantly easier to handle, especially for smaller tasks like installing light fixtures or curtain rods. Despite being just 5 ounces less than its 20v counterpart, the difference in weight, over half a pound with the battery, is noticeable and appreciated during longer projects. The tool's performance didn't disappoint either, with three operating modes that range from a gentle electric screwdriver function to a high-powered mode for tougher tasks. The LED lights proved to be a beneficial addition, providing ample illumination when working in darker spaces. While it may not replace a 20v for heavy-duty work, this 12v impact driver has earned a regular spot in my tool kit due to its versatility and convenience."

Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 12V Impact Driver

Best Brushed 12V Impact Driver

This Metabo impact driver generates 955 in.lbs of torque, so it should have enough driving power for the majority of tasks. It is also very lightweight at just 2.2 pounds, with a compact head length of 6 inches.

It has a no-load speed of 2,700 RPM and generates 3,200 IPM. This Metabo has a freestanding design, so it will stay upright when not in use, and it is equipped with an LED light for working in dark spaces.

What We Like

Lightweight

Despite possessing impressive power, this impact driver weighs just 2.2 pounds. Its lightweight design means you will be able to use it for prolonged periods without suffering from fatigue.

Fast Charge

This Metabo includes a fast charger to help you keep working. It fully charges in 25 minutes, fast enough to fill the battery during an extended coffee break.

2 Batteries

Your purchase includes two batteries, so you can charge one while using the other. You should never be left without power.

What We Don't Like

Limited Power

This Metabo is quite powerful but less than similar models from Milwaukee and DeWALT. You may notice its limitations when trying to drive into harder materials.

Brushed Motor

Brushed motors are less efficient than brushless motors. They also require more maintenance as the will brushes eventually wear out.

Product 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

Our Ratings

Power
4 / 5
Design
4.5 / 5
Battery Life
4.5 / 5
Durability
4 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Community Feedback

"Best decision I've made in a while was getting this Metabo impact driver. I was initially drawn to it because of the compatible batteries with my old Hitachi drill. However, this driver really won me over with its superior performance in driving screws and compact, lightweight design. Plus, now I have extra batteries to use. I must say, my tool collection has significantly improved with these additions."

Product 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 2.2 lbs ‎5.2 x 2.7 x 8.7″ 955 lbf-in 2,700 25 min Lifetime

Is a 12V Impact Driver Enough?

Many professionals and DIYers own 18V impact drivers but rarely need to use the tool at its full capacity. For this reason, 12-volt drivers have also become popular. Although they are smaller and generate less torque, they still have plenty of power for general screwing and drilling.

12V impact drivers are best suited for driving self-tapping screws into metal and 3-inch diameter screws into wood. They are also very useful for inserting drywall screws if you don’t have a screw gun. They do an excellent job of driving short screws into masonry and wood.

Modern 12-volt impact drivers will be able to perform the majority of these tasks around the home, so there is no point in carrying around the extra weight of an 18-volt impact driver.

How to Choose a 12V Impact Driver

Once you have decided to buy a 12-volt impact driver, you will have numerous options to choose from. You might not know where to start looking but there are some key features to consider that will help you narrow your search:

Weight

These drivers have smaller 12-volt motors, which allows them to be considerably lighter than larger 18V models. Like any handheld power tool, the weight of your impact driver is very important, especially if you need to use it for prolonged periods. Drywall contractors might need to use a driver for hours at a time, and a lighter tool will significantly reduce hand and wrist fatigue.

Torque

Torque is how much force a driver’s bit turns with, rather than how quickly it turns. The harder the job, the more important torque becomes in comparison to speed. Impact drivers are effective at driving screws into materials as they use higher torque and lower speeds. This encourages the screw to bite into the material without the driver stripping or shearing it.

If you are laying decking or erecting a fence, an impact driver will enable you to insert numerous screws quickly without needing to pre-drill holes for them.

Impacts Per Minute

Impact drivers also use a percussive motion to increase their driving power, hence their name. How quickly they do this is measured in impacts per minute (IPM) and it has a significant influence on overall performance. The higher a tool’s IPM, the more quickly it will be able to drive screws into tougher materials.

Size

In general, 12-volt impact drivers are more compact and portable than 18-volt models but their sizes still vary. Look for an impact driver that has an ergonomic handle and is comfortable to hold. Like the driver’s weight, its size and shape will affect how long you can use it before your hand and wrist become fatigued. A smaller tool will also be easier to control when used one-handed.

Brushed or Brushless Motor

The majority of impact drivers are cordless and battery-powered, so battery life and efficiency are essential. One of the most important parts of a drill or driver’s efficiency is whether it has a brushed or brushless motor.

Brushed motors use an older design and are more commonly found in corded impact drivers, although some cordless models still use them too. Brushed motors are less efficient as they need to transfer energy via their brushes but this is less important if your tool is plugged in. Brushes are usually the first part of motors to wear out, which means these tools require more maintenance than ones with brushless motors.

Brushless motors can extend the run time of your impact driver by as much as 50%, giving you much longer to complete your work before you need to recharge. They are more efficient, require less maintenance, and are less prone to overheating during prolonged use.

Price

Like any tool, your budget will have an unavoidable influence on the quality of your impact driver. It isn’t a universal rule but you generally get what you pay for with power tools. It can be tempting to save money by choosing a budget-friendly tool but, if you are a professional and need to use it frequently, it is well worth paying a little extra for a superior impact driver.

Noise

Impact drivers are generally loud tools but some are noisier than others. We recommend always wearing ear defenders when using an impact driver. Each year, about 22 million contractors and DIYers suffer hearing issues caused by loud power tools. Almost half of all construction workers suffer hearing loss of some kind (1), so check customer reviews to find out if a particular impact driver is very loud.

Frequency of Use

Your needs will probably be very different depending on whether you are a casual DIYer or a professional construction worker. If you only expect to use your driver occasionally for basic tasks such as hanging up pictures, it won’t be worth spending the extra money for a high-end tool. On the other hand, if you regularly need it for large-scale jobs such as installing decking, you shouldn’t allow yourself to be held back by a budget driver.

FAQs

Is a 12v Impact Driver Stronger Than a Drill?

Generally speaking, yes, a 12v impact driver is stronger than a drill. Impact drivers are designed to handle higher torque applications making them ideal for driving long and heavy screws or bolts, while drills do not offer the same level of power or torque.

The extra power of an impact driver also allows it to be used in tight spaces, something that would be difficult with a standard drill.

What 12v Impact Driver Has the Best Torque?

The Milwaukee 2551-20 M12 is the 12v impact driver with the best torque. Expert testing revealed that it’s also quieter compared to similar 12v models.

Aside from its many other useful features, this model comes with a self-tapping screw mode, which makes it stand out from the crowd.

Can You Do Everything With a 12v Impact Driver?

While a 12v impact driver is a powerful tool, it is unsuitable for every job. It is only ideal for driving fasteners and screws, like bolts or lag screws. Other tasks, such as drilling through hard material or cutting, can be difficult for an impact driver.

Its power can make it dangerous in certain situations and on delicate materials, so it should always be used cautiously.

Do 12v Impact Drivers Break Bolts?

A 12v impact driver can break bolts, although it’s not common. The high torque generated by the impact driver can cause the heads of certain bolts to break if too much pressure is applied.

To avoid this, it is crucial to select suitable bolts for the job and use the correct speed settings and techniques when using an impact driver.

What Is the Best 12v Impact Driver?

The DEWALT XTREME DCF801F2 provides the ultimate performance for 12v impact drivers.

Its brushless motor has a long runtime and durability, and its 1/4-inch quick-release drop design gives you total control.

It also has three controllable modes; a variable speed trigger lets you choose from precision driving, extended runtime, and maximum power. Three built-in LED lights make sue the material is always visible when youโ€™re using it.


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Headshot of Mark Weir

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.