Best Impact Drivers of 2020

Updated
Categories Drills
Impact drivers are small but powerful.

If you want something with impact, get an impact driver. The clue is in the name. These high-torque tools are powerful and are perfect for driving screws and nuts, as well as removing lag screws.

If you want the best impact drivers, you need to do your research. Luckily, that’s where we come in. We’ve done the hard work for you.


Why Buy an Impact Driver?

Unlike drill drivers, an impact driver has a specific use. Drill drivers drill holes in a variety of materials and drive screws and fixings. An impact driver has more torque and delivers a more significant force when driving screws into tougher surfaces.

If you work in confined spaces, the short length of the impact driver will suit you. It typically has a 0.25-inch hex chuck, designed to take specialist drill and driver bits, but you can get larger chucks that cater to more robust jobs.

The hex chuck ensures that there is no slippage when the impact driver is under pressure, which adds to the power this little tool brings.

They speed up labor-intensive jobs like laying flooring, decking and fencing. Also, if you have rusted lug bolts that need removing, an impact driver is the ideal tool. This makes them handy for repair shops and garages.

What Size Impact Driver Do I Need?

The task at hand dictates the size of the impact driver you need. For general work like driving smaller screws, a 0.25 or 0.38-inch hex chuck will suffice. These are probably the most common size of chuck in use and better suited to general duties.

You should consider an impact driver with a 0.50-inch hex chuck for larger tasks with more demanding bolts and nuts. These larger tools can handle jobs that require more torque. However, they would strip a standard size bolt or screw because they deliver too much torque.

How Do I Choose an Impact Driver?

Think Torque

First and foremost, impact drivers are about torque. They deliver a high amount of power to drive screws and fixings into super-tough materials. You need torque to achieve this. It is the one main advantage impact drivers have over standard drills.

Blows Per Minute

The blows per minute of an impact driver is important because this is how the impact is measured. The best impact drivers combine high BPM with fast revolutions per minute (RPM) for the most impact.

Versatility

Impact drivers are not just for driving screws. They can bore large holes in robust material and they can drive lag screws thanks to their specialist hex-shaped chuck, making them excellent drills.

Voltage

The vast majority of impact drivers are cordless, but you can get a few models with power cords. However, they are few and far between. With cordless power tools, you will quickly learn that voltage equals power.

Most impact drivers have a voltage that ranges from 10.8 to 20 volts. By far, the most common in the States is the 20V variety.

Remember

Models with a lower voltage may be lighter and easier to transport, but they suffer from a lower torque, which affects how the tool performs.

Brushless Motors

Brushless motors are more expensive than brushed varieties, but if you are looking for a tool that requires minimum maintenance and delivers a more efficient use of the power, a brushless motor is a must-have.

Quick Note

A brushless motor also increases the runtime of your battery by almost 50 percent in some cases.

One-Handed Driving

Thanks to their size and high torque, you can deliver all that power using one hand. Unlike a drill driver, that requires two hands to stabilize the tool when drilling or driving through hard material, impact drivers are lighter and smaller.

Hex Socket Size

Hex chuck sizes vary on impact drivers. They come in three main dimensions, namely, 0.25 inches, 0.38 inches and 0.50 inches. The first two are the most common, and are the size found on general-duty impact drivers.

The largest size is for more demanding tasks like working on production lines and auto repair shops, where you need all the impact you can get.

Multiple Mode Settings

Older impact drivers were brute tools, known for their lack of finesse. Newer models have speed settings and impact modes to cater to different scenarios. These innovations help to mitigate the absence of any form of a clutch.

Some impact drivers even have dedicated settings, designed for deck screws, to make specific tasks more manageable.


The Best Impact Drivers of 2020

Channeling your way through the maze of impact drivers can be confusing, so we hand-picked 7 of the best makes and models on the market so you can make an informed choice.

1. Metabo HPT 18V Impact Driver

Best High-Torque Impact Driver

Metabo HPT WH18DBDL2Q4 18V Cordless Impact Driver, Triple Hammer Technology, Powerful 1, 832 In/Lbs Torque, Variable Speed Trigger, IP56 Compliant, LED Light, Tool Only
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Metabo is the new name for Hitachi power tools. This tool has 1,832 in.lbs of turning torque and generates 4,000 blows per minute.

If you couple that with the 2,900 RPM, you have a heavy-duty impact driver to rival any tool on the market.

It also has a battery charge indicator, a light and a 4-stage electronic speed switch.

Why We Love It

4-Stage Speed Switch

This impact driver gives the user incredible precision and control with soft, power, normal and self-drilling mode.

Lightweight

It weighs just 2.9 lbs, which means that for prolonged periods of use, it will put less strain on your hands and wrists. It keeps you working for longer.

Triple Hammer Action

Introducing the third anvil increases the BPM and the torque and decreases the vibration of the tool.

Lifetime Tool Warranty

You can’t ask for better peace of mind than a lifetime tool warranty. The batteries are guaranteed for 2 years.

Keep In Mind

Price

This impact driver is expensive, considering it doesn’t even come with the batteries included in the price.

Batteries Required

You would need to buy two batteries and a charger for this tool, and that will set you back almost as much as the impact driver itself.

Additional Specs

Weight2.9 lbs
Dimensions (inches)9.8 x 7.3 x 3.9
Number of batteriesNone supplied
Amp-hours3 Ah
Torque1,832 in.lbs
Price$$$
WarrantyLifetime tool and 2-year battery

2. DeWALT 20V Impact Driver Kit

Best Cordless Impact Driver

DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch (DCF885C1)
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This DeWALT impact driver has a 0.25-inch hex that accepts 1-inch bit tips, and it weighs just 2.8 lbs. It generates 3,200 impacts per minute, 2,800 RPM and 1,400 units of torque. It is one of the most popular impact drivers on the market.

Unlike the Matabo, this is a kit, so it comes with the charger and a 1.5 Ah battery to get you working from the get-go.

It also has a fast charge time, although the company doesn’t state how fast.

Why We Love It

Price

For less than the bare tool Metabo, you get everything you need to start using the impact driver straight out of the box.

Lightweight

This DeWALT tool weighs less than the Metabo by 1 lb. It also has an ergonomic design to make it comfortable to hold.

Great Brand

DeWALT has been linked with quality and value for money for over 100 years. And this brand is all-American too.

Keep In Mind

One Battery

Having one battery is nice, but two is better. It means you can have a spare to keep you working through the task. Other brands offer kits that include an extra battery.

Weak Battery

DeWALT supplies this tool with the weakest battery in the range. At 1.5 Ah, it is going to drain pretty quickly.

Additional Specs

Weight2.8 lbs
Dimensions (inches)5.5 x 9 x 3
Number of batteries1
Amp-hours1.5 Ah
Torque1,400 in.lbf
Price$$
Warranty3-year

3. Makita XDT131 18V Brushless Impact Driver

Best Brushless Impact Driver

Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Impact Driver Kit (3.0Ah)
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Brushless motors are more efficient and deliver a longer runtime to the battery. This Makita generates 3,400 RPM, 3,600 BPM and 1,500 inches pounds of maximum torque.

And because this is a brushless impact driver, it runs for longer and stays cooler. It also requires less maintenance because there are no brushes to replace when they wear out.

It also has 3 times faster charging and an overload, overheat and an over-discharge power management system.

Why We Love It

Brushless Motor

The brushless motor extends your battery life by 50 percent. It is the most efficient system and far exceeds the performance of a brushed motor.

All Aluminum Gear-Housing

The aluminum gear housing ensures that no matter what the demands, the gears will last the distance. It protects your impact driver and, ultimately, your wallet.

Dual LED

The dual LED increases your visibility, especially when you are working in confined dark spaces.

Fast Charge

From empty to fully charged, the charger takes just 30 minutes to complete its cycle. It means you can charge the battery during coffee breaks.

Keep In Mind

No Variable Speed Trigger

This tool is not cheap, so you would expect a feature like a variable speed trigger to be part of the set-up.

Delivery Issues

A lot of people have reported that the state of the box left a lot to be desired after delivery. This issue was a recurring theme, so much so that it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence.

Additional Specs

Weight3.3 lbs
Dimensions (inches)10.16 x 15.08 x 6.06
Number of batteries1
Amp-hours3 Ah
Torque1,500 in.lbf
Price$$
Warranty3-year

4. Black and Decker 20V Max Impact Driver Kit

Best Budget Impact Driver

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit (BDCI20C)
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This budget option impact driver still generates 3,000 RPM and 3,900 BPM, so regardless of the lower price, it is still an effective tool to have around.

It also creates 1,375 in.lbf of torque and has a quick-release 0.25-inch hex chuck.

It comes with a 1.5 Ah lithium-ion battery, as well as a charger and a screwdriving bit. It doesn’t feel like you are compromising much for the decreased price tag.

Why We Love It

Affordable Price

As the budget choice, there would be something wrong if we didn’t make the price the best thing we liked about it.

Interchangeable Battery

The battery for this impact driver is a multi-use variety, designed to slot into a whole range of Black and Decker power tools. It saves you money in the long run because you don’t need to keep buying additional batteries for each new cordless tool.

Keep In Mind

Build Quality Issues

We say it time and again, you always get what you pay for. This model is built cheap to save costs, and that tells. Many have complained that the impact driver stops working after a couple of months.

Low Torque

The beats per minute are respectable, but the torque is where this impact driver falls short.

Additional Specs

Weight3.49 lbs
Dimensions (inches)7.88 x 3 x 9
Number of batteries1
Amp-hours1.5 Ah
Torque1,375 in.lbs
Price$
Warranty2-year limited

5. Makita XST01Z 18V LXT Oil Pulse Impact Driver

Best Oil Pulse Impact Driver

Makita XST01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Oil-Impulse 3-Speed Impact Driver, Tool Only
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What is an oil pulse impact driver I hear you ask?

This impact driver uses the oil’s viscosity to hydraulically drive the impact mechanism to make it 30 percent quieter. And as anyone who’s used an impact driver will know, they are noisy.

It has 3 power modes and the brushless motor delivers a maximum of 3,200 RPM and 2,700 BPM.

Why We Love It

30 Percent Less Noise

Ditch the ear defenders with this Makita impact driver. It uses oil pulse technology to harness the viscosity of the oil to drive the impact mechanism. It all adds up to 30 percent less noise.

Star Protection Technology

Makita has developed a computerized protection system that monitors the performance of the drill and the battery to keep your tool optimized.

3-Speed Power

3-speed settings allow you to get complete control of the impact driver no matter what the material is you are working on.

Keep In Mind

Steep Price

All this cutting-edge technology comes at a price. This tool is not cheap.

No Battery or Charger

When you factor in the added cost of the battery and charger, this impact driver is one of the most expensive on the list.

Additional Specs

Weight2 lbs
Dimensions (inches)3.31 x 8.07 x 5.79
Number of batteriesNone supplied
Amp-hours1.5 to 5
Torque355 in.lbf
Price$$$
Warranty3-year

6. Milwaukee 2853-20 M18 Impact Driver

Best Impact Driver for Lug Nuts

Milwaukee 2853-20 M18 FUEL 1/4' Hex impact Driver (Bare Tool)-Torque 1800 in lbs
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This impact driver creates 1,800 in.lbf of torque, making it the ideal tool for removing lug nuts.

It has a brushless motor that increases the runtime of the lithium battery to keep you going for longer, and it delivers a 30 percent faster driving speed to increase your productivity.

It also has 4-mode drive control to give you greater control of the output and the speed. It makes the tool more versatile.

Why We Love It

1,800 in.lbs of Torque

This driver produces 1,800 in.lbf of torque. That’s almost 500 in.lbs more than the Black and Decker. It gives you the power to remove lug nuts and so much more.

Compact Design

At just 4.59 inches long, this impact driver provides versatility when working in confined spaces.

REDLINK PLUS Intelligence

REDLINK PLUS ensures that the tool works at optimum performance while protected from overload when placed under heavy pressure. It stops the impact driver from burning out or sustaining battery damage.

Keep In Mind

No Batteries

Essentially, you are buying the “bare” tool only. The batteries have to be purchased separately, and they cost almost as much as the tool itself.

No Charger

Similarly, the charger is an added extra that needs to be factored in. Once you add up the extra costs involved, you realize that this impact driver is one of the more expensive models.

Additional Specs

Weight2.55 lbs
Dimensions (inches)4.29 x 6.42 x 9.41
Number of batteriesNone supplied
Amp-hours5 Ah
Torque1,800 in.lbf
Price$$$
Warranty5-year

7. Bosch PS21-2A 12V Pocket Driver Kit

Best Compact Impact Driver

Bosch PS21-2A 12V Max 2-Speed Pocket Driver Kit with 2 Batteries, Charger and Case
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Okay, this is the compact category, so we thought it was apt that this 12V impact driver is called a “pocket driver.” It offers the shortest length of any driver at 5.6 inches, which makes it ideal for small spaces.

And because it is small doesn’t mean it is weak. It still offers 265 inch-pound-force of torque, meaning it can drive screws through wood and 22-gauge metal. It also has a variable speed trigger to help you control the rate of the driver.

Why We Love It

Adjustable Clutch

It has a 20+1 adjustable clutch to help you set the torque level for different materials. The RPM ranges from 350 to 1,300.

Compact and Lightweight

Thanks to its size, it reaches parts that other impact drivers would struggle with. It is also lightweight, weighing just 1.8 lbs.

Great Value for Money

This impact driver kit is incredible value for money. It comes with 2 batteries, a charger and additional screwdriver bits.

30-Minute Charge Time

Imagine taking your flat battery from zero to fully charged in just 30 minutes. This Bosch can do that to keep your impact driver working all day.

Keep In Mind

Low Power

Keep in mind that because this is a compact model, you are going to suffer slightly with the power this tool delivers.

Build Quality Issues

This is a cheaply made impact driver, with some complaining that it didn’t last the first year of use.

Additional Specs

Weight1.8 lbs
Dimensions (inches)6.5 x 5.6 x 2.5
Number of batteries2
Amp-hours2 Ah
Torque1,300 in.lbf
Price$$
Warranty3-year

Impact Driver Comparison Chart

ProductBestWeightDimensions (inches)No. of batteriesAmp-hoursTorqueWarranty
Metabo HPT 18V Impact DriverHigh-Torque2.9 lbs9.8 x 7.3 x 3.9None3 Ah1,832 in.lbf2-year
DeWALT 20V Impact Driver KitCordless2.8 lbs5.5 x 9 x 311.5 Ah1,400 in.lbf3-year
Makita XDT131 18V BrushlessBrushless3.3 lbs10.16 x 15.08 x 6.0613 Ah1,500 in.lbf3-year
Black & Decker Impact Driver KitBudget Pick3.49 lbs7.88 x 3 x 911.5 Ah1,375 in.lbf2-year limited
Makita XST01Z 18V LXT Impact DriverOil Pulse2 lbs3.31 x 8.07 x 5.79None1.5 to 5 Ah355 in.lbf3-year
Milwaukee 2853-20 M18 Impact DriverLug Nuts2.55 lbs4.29 x 6.42 x 9.41None5 Ah1,800 in.lbf5-year
Bosch PS21-2A 12V Pocket Driver KitCompact Driver1.8 lbs6.5 x 5.6 x 2.522 Ah1,300 in.lbs3-year
Jump to the Full Impact Driver Reviews

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use an Impact Driver for Screws?

Yes, yes and yes again. Impact drivers love driving screws. Make sure you have the right size hex shank because if you oversize it, you run the risk of stripping the screw or worse still, snapping it.

Impact drivers are commonly used for laying decks and driving deck screws, as well as lag screws that suit the hex-shaped attachments associated with impact drivers.

Are Brushless Impact Drivers Better?

100 percent yes. Brushless motors are more efficient and deliver a better battery life, but they are more expensive to buy. That said, almost all impact drivers are cordless. A brushless motor increases the runtime of batteries by nearly 50 percent, which is the difference between getting the job done and failing because your battery ran out of juice.

Brushless motors also require less maintenance and are more reliable. You certainly don’t need to replace brushes as you do on a brushed motor.

Does an Impact Driver Need Special Bits?

The chuck is hex-shaped, unlike with standard drills that employ a universal chuck with three grippers to hold the bit in place. The hex shape means that your impact driver will only accept bits that correspond with this shape.

The advantage of having a hex-shank is that changing the bits is easy, and they will not slip when placed under extreme pressure.


Less Torque, More Action

Hopefully, you now have a clearer idea about impact drivers and what they can do. They are not a replacement for your standard drill driver, but they do give you that extra punch when it’s needed.

And if you like to work on your car on the weekends, an impact driver is going to make your life so much easier.

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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.
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