Our best impact driver is the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I due to the fact that its frameless motor is 4 pole and its intelligence system “REDLINK” gives overload protection and performance optimization. You can quickly change bits with its 1/4 inch hex quick connect chuck. It has a better job application due to its speed.
We also have our step-up pick, the Makita XDT042 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Impact Driver Kit which has a variable speed on two settings: 2,300 RPM and 3,200 RPM and measures 5 7/16 inch long. Its very compact design has a 4 pole motor and has a max torque of 1,420 in lbs. There is a quick bit change due to its 1/4 hex chuck and it has only only 3.3 lbs of weight.
Our budget pick, the TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set, 7-Piece has a 3/8 in drive impact socket, very portable and light weight and it can loosen frozen and rusted screws without the worry for damage. In addition, it can also loosen corroded brake caliper screws and has a nonslip handle grip that is comfortable to use.
A Little Background
Impact drivers are a little different and torque driven compared to drill drivers. They are mainly used for screwing and unscrewing – from small-scale to large-scale screws. They are mostly used by people in the automobile industry or those who just want to self-repair cars and motorcycles. Their main use is for tightening and loosening, hence they are expected to have high torque.
Most impact drivers, however, do not have variable speeds compared to drill drivers. But when it comes to torque, they usually outweigh drill drivers in terms of usability, efficiency and workability, hence their name “impact drivers”.
How We Picked
We picked the best impact driver based from the following criteria:
Does it have an LED work light? An LED work light is highly important, especially on the fact that you will most likely be using an impact driver under the hood or in dark garages where there is minimal light source. Having an LED work light will help you accomplish the job easier and faster and give you more efficient results. Most have up to 3 LED work lights that have 20 second delays.
Is it highly durable? Any impact driver must be built to last for a long time. Check reviews if this particular impact driver has stood up to many years of operation and never broke down as easily as cheap ones out there. Any power tool must live up to the user’s expectations and ready for heavy duty work, be it big or small scale.
Does it have a good battery life? Most impact drivers are lithium ion powered, so there is not much to worry here. However, it depends on whether you want a bare tool or a battery included tool. The advantage of having a bare tool is that you can choose the kind of battery you want instead of relying on a manufacturer provided battery that has a quality that you are unsure of. On the other hand, if you are new to batteries or don’t mind at all, you can choose a tool that has already included batteries.
Is the motor very reliable? Most impact drivers have brushless motors and this makes them more advantageous over drill drivers. The motor must have some sort of mechanism to keep it running in good condition all the time, provided that you give it proper break times.
Does the motor avoid overloading and reduce user fatigue? Impact drivers with certifications and standards such as Energy Star can really help you pick the best one out there. A motor equipped with any technology that prevents overloading is worth buying. Impact drivers with ergonomic designs that reduce shock and user fatigue are good.
Is it lightweight and easy to fit in tight spots? Impact drivers weigh somewhere between 2 lbs and 7 lbs, but it all depends on what kind of impact driver you own. There are different kinds – air powered, battery powered and small, manual ones. It all depends on what you intend to use them for.
Does the impact driver have more pros than cons on Amazon reviews? Check the reviews for advantages and disadvantages of the product before you proceed to buy it so that you will know what you should expect from buying the impact driver itself.
Is it worth the price? Weigh down the different brands and options and choose which one is more suitable for your budget. Do you want a complete set or kit or just want a bare tool or battery included tool? Do the kits have other tools that you might need?
Does it have a decent warranty? Most impact drivers have warranties from 2 to 5 years, and this all depends on how you take care of your tool as well. It is important that you purchase directly from manufacturers, as some companies don’t give warranty to retail sold items.
Top Pick: MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I
Without further ado, our best impact driver is the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I. This strong and high impact driver runs on 18 V lithium ion batteries in which the frameless motor is 4 poles. Being coated in red finish and design, it has LED work light so you can easily finish the job with good brightness and better visibility. It has an intelligence system “REDLINK” which gives overload protection and performance optimization. You can also quickly change bits with its 1/4 inch hex quick connect chuck.
This impact driver provides the user with better job application due to its speed. However, take note that this is a bare tool only – the battery must be bought separately. Having a brushless motor, it is very rugged and dependable.
Who Else Likes It?
Many other users and articles on the Internet have reviewed the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I for its awesome features. Tool Guyd also puts the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I as their best impact driver. The article concludes that this impact driver offers more torque than most drivers of its kind and in the same price range. It was also said to be redesigned for better compact and comfort features. Possessing a very good price range, it has been praised for having an LED work light and its brushless motor improves speed and power of work. Compared to other impact drivers on the list, it has been hailed as their best impact driver, which is a big thing to consider.
Another review from Workshop Addict praises the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I because of its 150 ft lbs max torque. As already mentioned before, it has a decent and functional LED work light that helps the user get through the darkest of operations. It has a really reliable brushless motor and the XC5.0 batteries give you more runtime compared to most brands.
Yet another review from Pro Tool Reviews gives kudos to the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I. It can last up to 5 years with proper use, according to the article, and its high build quality makes it a very worthy contender in the world of impact drivers. It also has quite a high speed and very consistent, being greatly efficient on battery life.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
There isn’t much to say about the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I’s flaws. The only known downside to it is that the batteries not included and the fact that batteries may be quite expensive as you have to purchase it yourself. This is not a major con at all, especially if you really want a good battery life for this particular impact driver by choosing for yourself the best battery for it in which quality you can be completely sure of.
DEWALT DCD771C2 20V MAX Lithium-Ion Compact Drill/Driver Kit
For our step-up pricier pick, we have the DEWALT DCD771C2 20V MAX Lithium-Ion Compact Drill/Driver Kit. This impact driver has a variable speed on two settings: 2,300 RPM and 3,200 RPM and measures a total of 5 7/16 inch long. It has been thoroughly praised for its very compact design and being built with a 4 pole motor.
Having a max torque of 1,420 in lbs, which is fairly high compared to most impact drivers of the same category, it of course has a quick bit change due to its 1/4 hex chuck. With only 3.3 lbs of weight, it is the true epitome of light weight when it comes to impact drivers. In addition, it has a rubberized soft grip that reduces user fatigue and helps maintain workability and has a nonslip feature.
Added to its neat features, it also has an anvil and hammer mechanism for better efficiency on steel and fastening. Equipped with an ergonomic design, the DEWALT DCD771C2 20V MAX Lithium-Ion Compact Drill/Driver Kit uses Star Protection Computer Control to prevent overloading on battery. Like most impact drivers, this one also has LED work light. It includes the lithium ion battery (BL1830), charger and tool case and has a 3 year warranty for tool and battery.
TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set, 7-Piece
If you are out of budget and would like a smaller impact driver to do the task, you might want to try and buy the TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set, 7-Piece. This one has a 3/8 in drive impact socket and is very portable and light weight. As an impact driver, it can loosen frozen and rusted screws without the worry for damage. In addition to that, it can also loosen corroded brake caliper screws.
One of its best features is its nonslip handle grip which is comfortable to use. Having quite a high torque impact, this impact driver is steadily able to loosen fastened screws using its reversible drive. The included storage case is very convenient due to its durability. Since no power source required as it is a manual impact driver, it is a good handy-dandy tool to include in your arsenal, especially for those who don’t use impact drivers for very serious and meticulous purposes.
The TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set, 7-Piece is priced very cheap and weighs only 1.9 lbs. It has a very decent and convenient lifetime warranty from Tekton. Having overall dimensions of 8 in x 3.2 in x 2.2 in, it also includes a storage case, 3/8 inch drive bit chuck, 5/16 hex shank x 4. Overall, this impact driver is straightforward and perfect and must-have for any auto mechanic working especially on Honda and Acura models or even for motorcycles.
Small and Compact Impact Driver
Powerbuilt 648002 1/2-Inch Drive Impact Driver Kit
The Powerbuilt 648002 1/2-Inch Drive Impact Driver Kit is very useful for easy loosening and fastening frozen screws. This impact driver meets ANSI standards so you can be very sure of its quality, performance, safety, user friendliness, usability and many other standards. It also has a lifetime warranty, which makes it a very good buy for any DIY impact driver needs.
It is super light weight that it only weighs 1.8 lbs, so you can easily take it with you virtually anywhere for any purpose whatsoever. It has overall dimensions of 8 in x 2 in x 1 in and has a size of 1/2 inch. Do take note that because this is a bare tool only, unlike most brands and models, it does not require batteries or power source. The Powerbuilt 648002 1/2-Inch Drive Impact Driver Kit is incredibly cheap and is very usable and good for automobile and motorcycle DIYs.
Impact Driver with 3 Speed Feature
DEWALT DCF887B 20V MAX XR Li-Ion Brushless 0.25″ 3-Speed Impact Driver
If you want the best impact driver in which you can choose up to 3 speeds, you should pick the DEWALT DCF887B 20V MAX XR Li-Ion Brushless 0.25″ 3-Speed Impact Driver. It is equipped with a sturdy and industry standard brushless motor. Allowing you to be able to work in the darkest of situations, it has 3 LED work lights. In addition to its equipped LED lights, these lights also have a 20 second delay after the release of the trigger.
Furthermore, this impact driver is able to work on tight spaces due to its compact and lightweight design, so it is a great buy if you want an impact driver that is also compact and easy to fit on narrow spots. It also uses precision drive in speed so you do not need to worry about the quality of the power tool. It has a 1/4 inch hex chuck and what’s more, it can accept 1 in h bit tips.
Overall, the DEWALT DCF887B 20V MAX XR Li-Ion Brushless 0.25″ 3-Speed Impact Driver measures 8 in x 3 in x 5 in dimensions and is battery powered with 20 V lithium ion batteries. The impact driver weighs 2.2 lbs, so it is super light weight compared to most brands. Take note that this driver is a bare tool only, battery must be bought separately. However, on the bright side, it has a 3 year warranty.
Driver Kit which Includes Impact Driver and Cordless Drill Driver
Black & Decker BDCD220IA 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver and Impact Driver with 2 Batteries
An industry standard impact driver is what you will need if you really want something from Black and Decker. The Black & Decker BDCD220IA 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver and Impact Driver with 2 Batteries comes with both a drill driver and an impact driver in one kit, so it is perfect for those who absolutely need both a drill driver and an impact driver all in one place – for those who just cannot live without either of the tools.
Here are the specifications. The impact driver has 1,375 torque and 1/4 inch hx chuck for quick bit release and on the other hand, the included drill driver on the package has 310 in lbs of torque, 11 position clutches and LED work light. What’s more is that it also includes 20 V MAX lithium ion batteries x 2, so you do not have to worry about separately purchasing batteries for this impact driver set.
Being coated in orange finish design, the Black & Decker BDCD220IA 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver and Impact Driver with 2 Batteries is sold for a convenient price for 2 tools in 1 kit, so it is definitely a great buy for those who need two tools at once.
Being Energy Star certified, the Black and Decker combo has product dimensions of 9 in x 6 in x 8 in and has 7.8 lbs of weight overall. It is bounded by 2 years manufacturer’s warranty and the battery life is 24 hrs on the average.
Ergonomic One-Handed Loading Design with Compact Charger
DEWALT DCF885C2 20-Volt MAX Lithium Ion 1/4-Inch 1.5 Ah Impact Driver Kit
Also having a decent and useful LED work light, the DEWALT DCF885C2 20-Volt MAX Lithium Ion 1/4-Inch 1.5 Ah Impact Driver Kit is yet another awesome kit that comes with a very versatile and compact charger with a neat design. Having an Energy Star certified charger, it is also quality designed compact charger and ergonomic design for the impact driver grip.
What makes it different from most impact drivers? It has a one handed loading that provides convenience to the user. It also easily fits in narrow spots so it is very flexible and reliable as an impact driver. In addition, it also includes a belt hook for user convenience and portability. It makes use of a 1/4 inch hex chucks that can take 1 inch bit tips. There is also a a 20 second delay after the trigger release of the 3 LED lights.
Weighing at only only 2.8 lbs, making it light weight, the DEWALT DCF885C2 20-Volt MAX Lithium Ion 1/4-Inch 1.5 Ah Impact Driver Kit measures 5.55 in front to back. It has up to 3,200 IPM or impacts per minute and has 1,400 in lbs max torque, which is a good range for an impact driver. With a decent speed of 2,800 RPM, it runs on a 20 V lithium ion battery included x 2 and has product dimensions of 10 in x 16 in x 4 in. The overall package weight of 7.3 lbs and the product is coated in yellow and black finish. It has a 3 year warranty, 1 year free service and 90 day money back guarantee as well as 2 year free service on lithium ion batteries.
Composite Air Impact Driver
AIRCAT 1300-TH 3/8-Inch Composite Air Impact Wrench with Super Clutch Twin Hammer Mechanism
For those who want a quieter solution for impact drivers, you can depend on an composite mechanism impact driver such as the AIRCAT 1300-TH 3/8-Inch Composite Air Impact Wrench with Super Clutch Twin Hammer Mechanism. Running at only 882 to 6 dB which is below OSHA guidelines, it is a super quiet and convenient impact driver to use, especially if you want to lessen the work noise in your shop or work place.
The composite housing is very durable and in addition, the exhaust is through the handle to keep the user’s face from getting debris, which is fairly important when it comes to any power tool, especially impact drivers. Adding to its awesome list of features, the handle is ergonomically designed to lessen fatigue. There is also a flip lever that can be easily operated to switch between reverse and forward.
Having a product weight of only 3.2 lbs, the AIRCAT 1300-TH 3/8-Inch Composite Air Impact Wrench with Super Clutch Twin Hammer Mechanism has product dimensions of 8 in x 8 in x 2 in, is air powered and is a bare tool only> This impact driver has a warranty of 1 year for the parts and labor.
Best Compact Right Angle Impact Driver
Craftsman 9-17562 Nextec 12-volt Right-Angle Impact Driver
Possessing a very ergonomic and compact design, the Craftsman 9-17562 Nextec 12-volt Right-Angle Impact Driver is a good buy when it comes to super compact impact drivers that don’t pack up much weight and good for very narrow spots. It gives you 700 in lbs of torque, which is okay for those who don’t mind high torque as much but still usable as a mini impact driver. It also has LED work light to promote better visibility to any user.
This impact driver includes charger and battery and also comes with case and 4 accessories. In addition, this also has an electric brake, quick connect clamp and fuel gauge to indicate charge level. Overall, the Craftsman 9-17562 Nextec 12-volt Right-Angle Impact Driver is made great for heavy duty applications. With up to 2,200 RPM speed, it weighs only 2.2 lbs and has 3 in x 2 in x 8 in dimensions. The package includes 1 lithium ion battery and is available in various colors – black, silver gray and red. Equipped with a great battery life, the Craftsman 9-17562 Nextec 12-volt Right-Angle Impact Driver is under 1 year limited warranty.
Best High Torque Impact Driver
Ingersoll Rand W7150-K1 1/2-Inch High-Torque Impactool Charger with Li-Ion Battery and Case Kit
Having a max reverse torque of 780 ft lbs and nut busting torque of 1,100 ft lbs, the Ingersoll Rand W7150-K1 1/2-Inch High-Torque Impactool Charger with Li-Ion Battery and Case Kit is a very useful impact driver kit that weighs only 6.8 lbs (8.7 lbs for the whole package). It is fair for its weight and very powerful when it comes to having high torque and heavy duty applications overall.
One of its best features is the impact driver’s soft touch handle grip which greatly reduces vibration and fatigue so that the user can feel comfortable and less tired when using this impact driver. In addition, when you order the Ingersoll Rand W7150-K1 1/2-Inch High-Torque Impactool Charger with Li-Ion Battery and Case Kit , it outright comes with charger, 20 V lithium ion 3.0 Ah batteries and blow molded case. For further protection, durability, this sturdy build has an aluminum hammer case that is steel-lined.
Having a high speed of 1,900 RPM, the Ingersoll Rand W7150-K1 1/2-Inch High-Torque Impactool Charger with Li-Ion Battery and Case Kit is indeed a very durable and light weight impact driver to consider for your needs. Being coated in gray finish, this impact driver has a good range of quietness meaning it is okay for those who are a bit too meticulous with noise and sound. It has a sound level of 100 dB. It has product dimensions of 18 in x 15 in x 5 in. For the warranty information, it has 1 year replacement for tools, 2 year replacement for batteries and also 3 year manufacturer’s warranty.
Other impact drivers that did not make it to our list do not have anything special to offer, but they do function as good impact drivers. However, while there are more conveniently priced and cheaper impact drivers out there. It all depends on the features that you want and if you want something that is best of the best then you might want to stick with the products that we have thus reviewed so far so that you will not have trouble spending money and effort to a product that is of low quality and a waste of time.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is important to have an impact driver?
A: According to this article from Woodworkers Guild of America , an impact driver is greatly needed for a variety of purposes in the industry or even as a DIY repairman. You definitely need it for high torque compared to drill drivers, especially if you want to work on screwing and unscrewing. It is also very good for furniture work on fastening screws. More often and usually, impact drivers have a quick release hex chuck, as compared to drill drivers – generally, it has better impact mechanism compared to cordless drill drivers.
Q: How do impact drivers compare to cordless drill drivers?
A: The easy bit release of impact driver is more compact but requires a special locking feature, whereas drill drivers use a keyless feature, which not everyone might find convenient, but it all depends. In addition to this comparison, the drills are for general use on wood, soft materials, drywall while on the other hand, the impact drivers are good for use on loosening and tightening bolts and anything that requires a high amount of torque.
Q: How do you take care of your impact driver?
A: This guide from Wonkee Donkee shows all the dos and don’ts when it comes to keeping the impact driver safe from damage. One tip is that you should keep it moisture and dust free so that it does not rust easily. You should be able to store it indoors away from bad temperature to protect it from damage. Of course, you should not use the tool if it has damage. Always remember to keep manuals and user guides so that in the future, you will be able to know how to manually repair some of its parts or know where to get help or get replacement parts. This is especially the case if your impact driver has a long warranty period. You can also get help from someone who is knowledgeable on impact drivers.
Wrapping It Up
As a whole, we hailed the MILWAUKEE M18 1/4 In. Hex I as our best impact driver due to its good price for its value, great features and almost perfect flawless build and usability as an impact driver for all kinds of users out there.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.