One of the first tools many people buy is a cordless driver or drill. However, there’s another power tool that’s just as versatile but makes many more jobs easier: an impact driver. The primary role of this handheld tool is driving screws.
Some of the jobs it can easily tackle include installing tile backer boards, building decks, screwing down plywood, assembling a swing set, erecting a fence, and a host of other tasks that require driving screws into wood and other materials.
Shopping for an impact driver can be pretty daunting, as there are so many to choose from. I’ve examined the options and come up with a list of my top 11.
Having said that, you might need one urgently for your next project, in which case I’d have to recommend the DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless Impact Driver (DCF887B). Here’s a quick run down of all my top picks for the best impact driver in 2021:
- Top Pick – DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless Impact Driver (DCF887B)
- Top Premium Pick – Makita XST01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Oil-Impulse Impact Driver
- Top Budget Pick – GALAX PRO 20 V Lithium-Ion Impact Driver
- CRAFTSMAN V20 Impact Driver Kit, Cordless (CMCF810C1)
- Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Impact Driver
- PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit (PCCK647LB)
- Ryobi P238 18V One+ Brushless Impact Driver
- MILWAUKEE ELEC TOOL 2760-20 M18 Fuel Hex Hydraulic Driver
- Bosch 12-Volt Max EC Brushless Impact Driver Kit PS42-02
- Metabo HPT WH18DBFL2QB 18V Cordless Impact Driver
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 0.1 My Top Picks for Best Impact Drivers in 2021
- 0.2 Top Pick – DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless Impact Driver (DCF887B)
- 0.3 Top Premium Pick – Makita XST01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Oil-Impulse Impact Driver
- 0.4 Top Budget Pick – GALAX PRO 20 V Lithium-Ion Impact Driver
- 0.5 CRAFTSMAN V20 Impact Driver Kit, Cordless (CMCF810C1)
- 0.6 Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Impact Driver
- 0.7 PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit (PCCK647LB)
- 0.8 Ryobi P238 18V One+ Brushless Impact Driver
- 0.9 MILWAUKEE ELEC TOOL 2760-20 M18 Fuel Hex Hydraulic Driver
- 0.10 Bosch 12-Volt Max EC Brushless Impact Driver Kit PS42-02
- 0.11 Metabo HPT WH18DBFL2QB 18V Cordless Impact Driver
- 1 What to Look for When Choosing the Best Impact Drivers
- 2 Conclusion
My Top Picks for Best Impact Drivers in 2021
To create this list, I spent many hours considering and examining many fundamental factors. Torque, impact power, RPM, type of motor, ergonomics, battery capacity, and other extra features have all been considered. Here are the top 11 picks on the market:
Top Pick – DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless Impact Driver (DCF887B)
This impact driver comes with a massive amount of torque and uses 4.0 Ah batteries, which are on the large side. Both these factors make this impact driver capable of driving large screws into most materials.
The tool is easy to operate and uses a simple mechanical switch for changing between the different power settings. You can change the bits with one hand, and it has three LED lights that are cleverly spaced around the chuck to provide optimum illumination.
The batteries might be powerful, but they are on the heavy side, which can be a strain if you’re using the driver for long periods. The upside of this feature is that the batteries do last much longer.
|Max. Speeds||1000-2800-3250 RPM|
|Item Weight||2 lbs (without battery)|
- Driver, batteries, charger, and carry case included in the price.
- Easy to use power settings.
- One-handed bit changing.
- Batteries are heavy.
This is currently one of the best products you can buy. With its three-speed settings, 20V operating power, good selection of compatible attachments, and long-lasting battery pack, you get a lot of impact driver for your money.
Check this product out on Amazon at the link below.
Top Premium Pick – Makita XST01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Oil-Impulse Impact Driver
The feature that makes this impact driver stand out is that the impact mechanism is driven hydraulically, making it much quieter than other impact drivers.
The impact drivers performance is monitored by a computerized protection system, ensuring the tool and battery are optimized at all times. The impact driver has three power modes that allow you to have complete control, whatever task you’re attempting. The brushless motor delivers a maximum of 2,700 BPM and 3,200 RPM.
It’s not the cheapest impact driver on my list, and the cost is further impacted by the fact that you have to purchase the battery and charger separately. That being said, the cutting-edge technology used in this power tool makes it worth the price.
|Max. Speeds||1200-2000-3200 RPM|
|Item Weight||3.2 lbs|
- Significantly less noise.
- Computerized protection system.
- Three-speed settings.
- Battery and charger not included in the price.
Using advanced technology and a lithium-battery, this impact driver runs for longer and works quietly and efficiently. The brushless motor runs cooler and more efficiently for longer, with no decrease in power.
Click on the following link for additional information.
Top Budget Pick – GALAX PRO 20 V Lithium-Ion Impact Driver
This is a impact driver that will get the job done but won’t break the bank. You even get a 1.3 Ah battery included with your purchase.
It delivers 3,000 BPM, and with regards to speed, you get a maximum of 2,800 RPM. You control the speed using the trigger, allowing you to match whatever job you’re handling, whether it’s restoration, maintenance, or building.
Ergonomic features include a thick rubber-coated handle that is not only comfortable but safe as well. The hex chuck and battery pack connection can both be changed quickly and without the need for any tools. Extras include a manual, belt clip, and six screwdriver bits.
As this is a budget impact driver, it’s not quite as versatile as some higher-priced drivers and may struggle with more heavy-duty jobs.
|Max. Speed||2800 RPM|
|Item Weight||2.3 lbs|
- Battery, charger, manual, belt clip, and screwdriver bits included.
- No tools is required for changing bits and battery.
- Not for heavy-duty applications.
This is a very competitively priced tool that includes features you’d expect from a higher-priced driver, such as the hands-free bit change, powerful battery, and selection of accessories. It does let itself down when it comes to heavy-duty applications, but the price does reflect its versatility.
To check out prices and make a purchase, click on the link below.
CRAFTSMAN V20 Impact Driver Kit, Cordless (CMCF810C1)
The Lithium-ion battery pack that comes with the impact driver can be recharged in less than an hour, which is a valuable feature if you’re in the middle of a project and don’t want to waste too much time.
The quick-release ¼” chuck requires no tools, letting you change the bit using only one hand.
In terms of power, it has an impressive 1,460 inch pounds of torque that should be strong enough to drive in most fasteners. The maximum speed is 2,800 RPM, with a delivery of 3,100 BPM. You can use this impact driver for driving multiple fastenings in a short space of time.
The only downside worth mentioning is that there’s no low battery indicator which means it stops working without notice. This can be frustrating if it happens in the middle of a project. You can overcome this issue by having a spare battery already charged and ready to go.
|Max. Speed||2800 RPM|
|Item Weight||2.05 lbs|
- Battery charges in less than one hour.
- Use at home and professionally.
- Quick-release, no-tool chuck change.
- No low battery indicator.
You can use this impact driver from CRAFTSMAN for a whole host of things, despite its low price. It’s got enough power, and even if the battery runs down, you won’t have to wait long for it to be fully recharged.
If you want further details or make a purchase from Amazon, use the following link.
Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Impact Driver
When you’re starting from scratch with an impact driver, it’s always good to find one that includes what you need for working with a range of fasteners.
The brushless motor delivers 1,500 inch pounds of torque and a variable speed settings between 3,400 and 3,600 RPM. Electronic control ensures battery energy use is optimized by matching RPM and torque to each application’s differing demands.
Having no brushes also means the motor runs more efficiently over a more extended period and stays cooler, thereby reducing the risk of overheating. Another significant advantage if you have other Makita tools is that the batteries are interchangeable.
There have been a few problems with the quick release bit holder not being well machined. The simple fix for this issue is to machine and file the slots, allowing the bits to go in and out easily.
|Max. Speed||3400 RPM|
|Item Weight||3.3 lbs|
- Driver comes with a range of bits.
- Variable speed settings.
- Electronically controlled motor for energy efficiency.
- Quick-release function doesn’t always work well initially.
I love the fact that you can use this driver right out of the box. It comes with a battery pack, charger, 50-piece driver kit, and magnetic insert holder. Being a Makita, the batteries are also interchangeable, which is excellent if you own other Makita tools.
If you want to make a purchase or need more details, follow the link below.
PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit (PCCK647LB)
This is one of the least expensive drivers in the brand’s range, but you still get all the basic features needed to handle any projects that might crop up around the home. Speed ranges from 0 to 2,800 RPM, with a maximum of 1,450 inch pounds of torque. Both these figures mean you’ll be able to drive fasteners efficiently into most materials.
Another great feature in this value driver kit is a one-handed chuck. There’s an LED light located above the trigger and a spare bit holder in the grip base.
The kit includes the driver, charger, two 1.3 Ah batteries, and one screwdriver bit. It’s shorter than many other drivers, by around 14%, making it easier to use in tight spaces or at awkward angles.
The only negative aspect to report is that the trigger control for the driver’s speed is very sensitive. Once you’ve gotten used to it, however, you’ll achieve better results.
|Max. Speed||2700 RPM|
|Item Weight||3.2 lbs|
- Compact size.
- Variable speed trigger.
- Tool-free chuck
- Sensitive trigger takes some getting used to.
With its impressive torque figures and high fastening speeds, this driver will handle most applications. The brushless motor increases running time, and the quick-change chuck allows easy, one-handed bit changes.
Click on the link below for more details or to make your purchase from Amazon.
Ryobi P238 18V One+ Brushless Impact Driver
This impact driver has been designed with the professional in mind and includes many conventional features such as a ¼” hex chuck that’s quick release. It also comes equipped with a handy belt clip and three LED lights to illuminate the work area.
Ergonomics are critical for anyone who uses power tools all day, and Ryobi has made sure this impact driver is comfortable to operate for long periods. For a firm and comfortable grip, the grip zone is over-molded with rubber.
The tool weighs just over three pounds without a battery, making it perfect to use with one hand. It’s also relatively short, which means you can use it in tight spaces.
In terms of specification, it delivers 2,000 inch pounds of torque and 3,100 BPM. That’s plenty enough power for driving fasteners into a range of tough materials.
The only downside is that it comes with no battery or driver bits. This means you have to purchase them separately. If you’ve already got another Ryobi tool, remember the batteries are interchangeable.
|Max. Speeds||1050-2200-3200 RPM|
|Item Weight||2.7 lbs|
- Ergonomic handle.
- Battery and driver bits not included.
It is a very versatile tool that has been designed with prolonged use in mind. It’s not uncomfortable to use for long periods, and its size makes it easy to use, even when space is limited. For such a compact impact driver, it packs quite a punch.
Click on the link below for more details or to make your purchase from Amazon.
MILWAUKEE ELEC TOOL 2760-20 M18 Fuel Hex Hydraulic Driver
This tool uses a hydraulic drive system. To spin the collet, it uses the power of oil as it expands and contracts. The benefits of this type of mechanism include much less noise, less violent impact, and fast driving.
There are four driving modes, one of which is for self-tapping screws. Figures for RPM depend on the mode you choose but range from 900 right up to 4,000.
Comfort plays a part in the design. The standard handle has a rubber over-mold. The tool itself, with the battery attached, is well-balanced, whatever way you use it.
This tool has much less torque on paper, which is due to the way it’s powered. That aside, it does deliver a maximum of 4,000 BPM, allowing it to tackle some heavy-duty applications, but for real heavy-duty stuff, you’ll probably need to call on an impact wrench.
|Max. Speed||3000 RPM|
|Item Weight||2.3 lbs|
- Light and compact to use.
- One-handed bit changing.
- Quieter operation.
- Low torque.
This is a very capable impact driver you can use for both metal and wood applications. It’s extremely quiet to use and can complete a range of tasks quickly. Some of the extra features include an LED light, belt clip, and lock/reverse/forward switch.
For more information about this product, click on the link below.
Bosch 12-Volt Max EC Brushless Impact Driver Kit PS42-02
12V impact drivers can be super handy to have around, especially for all those random jobs that keep popping up in your home. You’ll probably find it drives slower and has to work harder than its larger cousins, but it should be able to handle most tasks. Confined spaces or working overhead shouldn’t be a problem either.
Torque is only 975 inch pounds, but the brushless motor does deliver 2,600 RPM and 3,100 BPM. Other features include three very bright LED lights, standard controls, and a variable speed trigger.
There’s also a belt hook. You do have to install it, but it’s really only a minor inconvenience.
|Max. Speed||2600 RPM|
|Item Weight||1.6 lbs|
- Very capable impact driver.
- Excellent runtime.
- Belt hook has to be installed.
This is a fantastic little impact driver to have in your toolbox. It comes in handy for assembling furniture, hanging or building cabinets, and other similar tasks overhead or in tight spaces.
Click on the link below for more information about this product.
Metabo HPT WH18DBFL2QB 18V Cordless Impact Driver
With its lifetime warranty, you can be confident this driver is going to serve you well. It’s very powerful and delivers 1,522 inch pounds of torque and 3,400 BPM. The RPM is up to 3,100, which makes this impact driver’s specifications very impressive.
Other features include a battery charge indicator, so you never get caught out, an electronic 4-stage speed switch, triple hammer action, ergonomic grip, center balanced design, easy bit change with the keyless ¼” hex drive, and LED light.
This driver is on the expensive side, especially when you consider the batteries and charger have to be purchased separately. Be that as it may, you do get a lot of features for your money, and there’s the lifetime warranty to take into account.
|Max. Speed||3100 RPM|
|Item Weight||2.9 lbs|
|Warranty||Lifetime on tool body|
- Lifetime warranty on the driver.
- Triple hammer action.
- 4-stage speed switch.
- 2 x batteries and charger have to be purchased separately.
For a tool that’s lightweight and compact it’s no slouch when it comes to performance. There are a host of other features, including a battery charge indicator and LED light. If you’re not too worried about lots of bells and whistles, this impact driver delivers professional capabilities.
To check our prices and make a purchase, click on the link below.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Impact Drivers
When choosing an impact driver to add to your toolbox, it’s always best to start by weighing up different factors. Impact drivers have a specific purpose, so you need to look at the features that improve the way it performs and make it easier to use.
Let’s look at some of the most important ones you need to consider.
There’s possibly nothing more frustrating than buying a tool that doesn’t have sufficient power to carry out the tasks you want it to. Models with less power are better suited for DIY projects and in the workshop, whereas more powerful ones will be the model of choice for many professional contractors.
One of the most significant benefits of a top-quality impact driver is the speed at which it performs. You’ll find two specifications are most commonly used:
- RPM, or rotations per minute, which is the no-load speed
- Impact rate, which is generally stated in BPM, blows per minute, or IPM, impacts per minute.
The higher the RPM and BPM, the quicker you’ll be able to complete a job. Many models also include a variable speed trigger. Using this, you can adjust the speed to the task you’re doing. You’d start at a higher speed and then back off towards the end to ensure the screws are flush with the surface.
Another feature to look for is the reverse function. It allows you to use the tool for unscrewing as well as driving.
Torque is a term used to describe the turning force of a machine or its twisting power. It is a good indication of a driver’s capabilities. The higher a driver’s torque, the better suited it will be for driving large screws. A driver with lower torque will be more suitable for use in a workshop setting.
Unlike an impact drill, there is no torque limiting clutch on an impact driver. If you need this kind of feature because you want to limit the torque amount, an impact driver is not the right tool for the job.
A driver’s impact is measured in blows (BPM) or impacts per minute (IPM). If a driver has a high BPM number, it can overcome greater resistance and therefore be much more productive when it comes to driving in screws. It also means you’ll complete the job much quicker.
Impact drivers are extremely loud tools to use, and this is because of the impact mechanism. They are so loud that users are recommended to wear hearing protection.
A recent innovation has been drivers that use hydraulic fluid or oil. They operate at much lower noise levels because the fluid produces a much quieter action, making them more comfortable to work with.
Brushed vs. Brushless Motor
Many manufacturers now use brushless motor technology because it offers increased performance and extends the life of the tool. They tend to be more expensive, but require fewer repairs and last longer. A brushless motor is typically more efficient, and it doesn’t get as hot.
If you’re on a limited budget, a brushed motor will cost less and still do a decent job.
A cordless impact driver will run on either a 12V, 18V, or 20V rechargeable battery. The battery lasts longer, the higher its capacity. Batteries with higher capacity also generate more power. If you plan to use your driver for DIY projects, a 12V battery will be sufficient.
When you’re using a power tool for any length of time, ergonomics is a key consideration. Many factors affect how comfortable a tool is to use, for example, its size, weight, and shape of the grip.
An impact driver that is lighter and smaller allows you to drive large numbers of screws without suffering arm or hand fatigue. This is especially important if you want to drive screws overhead. You’ll also be able to use the driver in tight spaces.
It’s also essential for the tool to feel right in your hand. A grip that includes a rubber over-mold will have extra comfort, particularly in the area between your index finger and thumb, where it’s soft.
Extra Features to Look For On The Best Impact Driver
Besides the essentials such as power, brushless vs. brushed motor, battery capacity, and ergonomics, a few other elements are worth looking out for.
With an LED light on the tool, the area where you’re using it will be better illuminated. This feature is especially useful when you find yourself working in low light.
Depending on the model, you can expect one, two, or even three LED lights. The position of the light is equally important. If it’s located above the chuck, you’ll have to deal with annoying shadows.
Many of the top impact drivers include a battery indicator. It shows you how much life there is left in the battery, usually with a series of lights. Knowing when the battery is about to run out is helpful as it means you won’t run out of power partway through a job.
If the tool has a belt hook, you’ll be able to take it with you and have it close to hand while you work on other things. This can be a very useful feature to have as it’s much easier than carrying it around, particularly when you’re working up a ladder.
Quick Release Chuck
How quickly you can change the bit will affect the time it takes to get a job done. The majority of drivers have a ¼” hex chuck, but the vital thing to look for is one that allows for a rapid change. Drills often require a tool to change the bit, but this is not the case with an impact driver.
Many drivers also have a rubberized surface surrounding the chuck, which allows you to change the bit using one hand.
At this point, it’s worth pointing out that you have to purchase specially designed impact driver bits. Regular drill bits are unable to withstand the stress, can easily break and potentially damage the driver.
The best impact driver you can buy depends on how and where you plan to use it. Choosing a model with enough power and one that feels comfortable in your hand are equally important.
The basic functions of all the impact drivers in my list are much the same, but subtle differences and extra features make certain brands and models stand out.
All the drivers I’ve featured are worthy of being recommended, but if you want me to single out one, in particular, I’d have to go with the DEWALT 20V MAX XR Brushless Impact Driver (DCF887B).
It’s got heaps of power, has an ergonomic design and offers reliable and flexible performance, whether you’re a DIYer or a professional.