What is the best impact driver on the market?
Cordless impact drivers are the staple of most DIY enthusiast’s tool kit and something that your average tradesman can’t live without. They allow you to quickly and effortlessly drive fixings into many materials.
A cordless impact driver has a lot of torque that’s what makes it tick, this can be used for applying force to drive and also remove fixings. They can speed up a job no end and they make a pretty neat noise to boot.
We will take a look at what exactly you need to look for when it comes to choosing an impact driver, some of the best on the market at the moment and any pitfalls to watch out for.
- 1 What is the best impact driver on the market?
- 2 Only got 5 minutes?
- 3 Best Pick
- 4 Best Budget
- 5 Our Best Pick Impact Driver – In Brief
- 6 Why Trust Us
- 7 How does an impact driver work?
- 8 What to consider in an impact driver
- 9 Uses for an impact driver?
- 10 Impact Driver vs Combi Drill
- 11 Best Pick DeWalt XR Impact Driver
- 12 Best Budget Tacklife PID02B Impact Driver
- 13 Best of the Rest
- 14 Frequently Asked Questions
- 15 In summary
Only got 5 minutes?
We appreciate your time is precious and sometimes you may not have time to read through the full article and so we have put together this five-minute brief section. This will hit some of the highlights of the article and also recommend our best pick and best budget model. If you need more in-depth information you can read the full article, but if you just have 5 minutes this is just for you.
Some people can cope with just having a combi drill, this will allow you to drill holes in a multitude of materials as well as driving fastenings into wood, metal and brick. If this is you or has been you, that’s fine.
If you really want to get the most out of DIY I would consider an impact driver, their sole purpose in life is driving fastenings and they are really good at it. Thanks to their high torque output they can force fastenings such as metal bolts into plugged brickwork where a normal combi drill would give up. Their entire makeup as you will find below is designed for this purpose and so their motors are designed to withstand the stress of fastening fixings in the toughest of situations.
Some impact drivers come in a set, including a combi drill, impact driver, two batteries and a charger. This allows you to have a drill bit that you are using in your combi drill and your screwdriver bit in your impact driver, saving time keep swapping over. It also means that if your battery should die on either device you have another ready to use.
Our Best Pick Impact Driver – In Brief
The DeWalt XR Impact driver offers up to 205nm of torque! This is a powerhouse, and wouldn’t have any problem driving a fixing in any situation! But what I also like about the DeWalt XR impact driver is the fact that through its 3 power settings, the power can be toned down to allow you to drive screws in without the power. Sometime an impact driver can be overkill and damage the screw or fastening, with the DeWalt XR you have complete control.
Some of the impact drivers we mention in this buyers guide are what they refer to as bare units, models without a battery, charger and in most cases even a case. This is for people who already have tools by that brand and can save money by not buying an entire kit. The DeWalt XR impact driver comes with everything you need to get going, battery, charger and case.
Why Trust Us
The internet is full of review sites that claim they have bought and rigorously tested every product so they can give you the best buying advice, Tripadvisor has some fake reviews, who do you trust?
Let us be straight from the off, we provide the following, we get a product category or subject area, find out everything you could possibly want to know about it, find some of the best products for sale in the category and combine it all into a concise buyers guide.
If we were buying something that is exactly what we are looking for, we don’t care much for someone’s opinion, we want facts, the best products based on specifications and reviews and it all presented in one place. That is what we provide in our buyer’s guides.
How does an impact driver work?
Inside an impact driver is a hammer that as it rotates compresses a spring. This in turn builds up and stores energy. As the impact drivers moves at high speed the spring is released forcing the hammer down and at the same time twisting it. The high energy that this unloads is transferred through the mechanism down the bit and to the fastening.
Below is a YouTube video that looks at the internals of an impact driver at 1200 frames per second. Slowing the video down allows you to really get an idea of how an impact driver works.
What to consider in an impact driver
There are several things you need to consider when purchasing an impact driver for the first time. They include;
- Can you save money purchasing a
bareunit (no battery or charger)?
- Do you already have some power tools from an existing brand?
- How often are you going to be using the impact driver?
- Do you have specific weight requirements?
Firstly, can you make use of a bare unit? Let’s take Makita as an example brand. Makita do a great LXT range of power tools, if you already have some of them, such as a combi drill, jigsaw and circular saw, you must already have a charger and some batteries. If you already have these you can opt for a bare unit that comes with neither of these, but the cost is much less.
Sometimes there is an element of brand loyalty. As well as the advantages of bare units, some people just prefer a certain brand. Maybe you have a range of mains power tools from DeWalt and are really happy with the brand. Purchasing the DeWalt XR impact driver might be a great idea.
The budget models we mention in this buyers guide are from Ryobi and Tacklife. If you are not using an impact driver for work and you are looking for a cost effective entry path into the world of impact drivers, then one of these may suffice. If, however you are someone who uses an impact driver to a greater extent, maybe for work, you would be better with one of the more premium brands, such as DeWalt or Makita.
Some of these impact drivers, the DeWalt XR for a starter are much heavier than some of the other brands. Personally I like a fairly substantial heavy impact driver. But a light weight option maybe ideal if you are carrying it around a lot.
Uses for an impact driver?
Impact drivers have many uses, some of which I have detailed below. You do need to be careful as unless you happen to pick a model like the DeWalt XR impact driver that has adjustable speed settings you can damage your fixing or the material you are driving into with the raw power available,
- Driving bolts into wood, masonry and metal
- Driving screws into wood and metal
- Quick fastening and release of bolts
Impact Driver vs Combi Drill
What are the main differences between an impact driver and a combi drill? Is there a real reason for purchasing an impact driver and will I feel the benefit? The short answer is yes, buy one, right now!
The best explanation I can give you as to why an impact driver is a good idea is to look at to specialist bits of kit and a generic one. A combi drill is a staple product in everyones toolkit, you need one, for drilling holes and fixing fastenings into place. They have variable speeds, different modes and are a great tool! If you are drilling all day long however, or drilling into tough surfaces such as strong brick you would likely purchase an SDS drill. Likewise if you are someone who is driving fastenings all day long or driving fixings into a tough material an impact driver is the tool for the job.
An impact driver can drive a fixing into place up to 3 times faster than a regular combi drill. Part of the reason for this is its clever design, the high torque output all packaged into a small footprint.
Asking your combi drill to drill tough holes, better suited to an SDS drill isn’t ideal and will likely lead to component failure over time. The same goes for fastenings, if you are driving them over and over into tough materials with a combi drill, you will burn its motor out.
An impact driver is designed to do this job, it takes care of the power delivery with its high torque output and it is a breeze for its motor to cope with.
Best Pick DeWalt XR Impact Driver
- High power Brushless motor outputting up to 205Nm of torque ensures heavy applications are completed quickly
- Application control is achieved through 3 motor speeds and torque settings including Precision Drive
- Precision Drive mode offers additional control in screwdriving applications to avoid material and fastener damage
- Super lightweight and compact the tool is very comfortable to use and fits in small spaces
- 3x LED "Halo" light ring offers excellent work piece lighting
The DeWalt XR impact driver isn’t the cheapest impact driver on the market, but it has some of the best reviews and ratings and for a good reason. This powerhouse of an impact driver comes with everything you could wish for in an impact driver and more.
Firstly it’s a brushless model, this means the motor is likely to last longer, doesn’t need replacement brushes and should in theory withstand more of a beating.
It also has 3 power settings, allowing more greater control of the nm of torque at your disposal. We particularly like this feature as it allows for much less power if the XR is used just as a screwdriver for jobs like flat pack furniture assembly.
Finally, the 3 LED light ring provides ample light when working with the DeWalt XR impact driver, shining light into places where you are working and highlighting fixings.
Best Budget Tacklife PID02B Impact Driver
- [2000mAh Lithium-Ion Battery]: With 2000mAh battery the working time can be extended, it can install 150 pieces wood screws Ø5.4x90mm, 260 pieces wood screws Ø4.3x65mm, 1430 pieces wood screws M8x16; the battery is also compatible with all Tacklife 18V Cordless tools, like PCD04B, PCD05B, PCD04C, PCD06C
- [Powerful 180Nm Motor]: The 18V Impact Driver boasts a huge torque of 180Nm with rotation speed(2800 RPM), the impact rate (3600 IPM), can work on a wider range of screws(Machine Screw M4 to M8, Standard Bolt M5 to M16, High Tensile Bolt M5 to M12, Coarse Thread 22 to 125mm)
- [Variable Speed Pressure Trigger]:The speed of the drill is controlled by the movement of the trigger: the further the trigger Switch is pressed down, the faster the drill will run,you can control the speed you like with one hand
- [Sound and Vibration Levels]:Our impact drill apply to EN60745,A poorly maintained, incorrectly assembled, or misused tool may produce increased levels of noise and vibration. www.osha.europa.eu provides information on sound and vibration levels in the workplace that may be useful to domestic users
- [Small but Big Details]: Battery Indicator, Bright LED;59 free accessories(including 4x120mm screw bits,19xsocket set, 3xPower Drill Adapter,1xExtension Bar), 2000mAh battery, 1H Fast Charger,1xUser Manual, 24 months warranty card The PID02B Impact Driver has CE certification and RoHS compliant tested by TÜVRheinland
For out best budget Impact Driver we’ve picked the PID02B Impact Driver from Tacklife.
Despite its lower price when compared to the rest of the units in this round up, the Tacklife is a very capable unit featuring 180 Nm of torque, a 2800 rpm max speed and upto 3600 impacts per minute. This rivals some of the best impact drivers on the market but in a more cost conscious package.
The Tacklife PID02B comes with everything you need to get you started – the impact driver itself, a 1 hour fast charger with 2.0Ah battery and a basic set of impact bits and sockets in a soft carry case.
The Tacklife PID02B is a great tool for those who don’t want to spend too much on an impact driver but still need the performance of one of the premium brand units. The included 2 year warranty is the icing on the cake.
Best of the Rest
Bosch PDR 18 LI Cordless Impact Wrench
- Very powerful: High torque and high impact force ensure optimum performance when driving screws in metal and wood
- Very convenient: The compact and ergonomic shape, and a low weight ensure fatigue-free working
- The high-performance motor runs on reduced current, therefore enabling a particularly long run-time and increased efficiency
- Screw diameter up to 8 mm
The Bosch PDR 18 LI Impact Wrench shares Bosch’s Power4All technology so shares a common battery with other power tools like Bosch’s ever popular PSB 1800 Combi Drill so is an ideal purchase if you already have one.
While not the most powerful Impact Driver on offer with torque of just 130Nm – it is lightweight and ideal for less demanding applications and long running time.
Ryobi One+ Impact Driver
- Keyless hex drive
- Variable speed, reverse and brake
- On-board bit storage for added convenience
- GripZone over mould technology
- Comfortable positive grip
The Ryobi One+ impact driver is one of the more premium priced models we have included. Whilst not a trade brand, Ryobi has become a trusted DIY brand and as such can attract a premium price.
This impact driver does have a fair amount of power at its disposal too with 180nm of torque. If you already have Ryobi One+ power tools, you can benefit from buying the bare unit model. But if you are just starting out, the one above is ideal including a charger and 2Ah battery. (check out our battery range overview here)
Milwaukee M18FID-0 Fuel Impact Driver
- The Milwaukee M18 FID Fuel Impact Driver offers 4 unique modes of operation
- REDLINK PLUS intelligence system delivers the most advanced digital overload protection
- Impact Rate: 0-1,800/0-2,900/0-3,700
The Milwaukee is the anomaly of this buyers guide. Whilst writing this I was torn between including this as the best pick or not. It couldn’t make the best budget as it isn’t cheap enough nor does it include a charger and battery.
The reason I chose not to select it as the best pick is the price and fact that whilst the chance of someone having DeWalt power tools already is quite high, the average DIY enthusiast with a set of Milwaukee tools isn’t as common.
The Milwaukee M18FID-0 impact driver has a few great features including, 203nm of torque, a brushless motor and a digital battery gauge. The standout feature is the 4 different power modes, none of the other impact drivers in this buyers guide allow you to have so much control over the torque applied. The Milwaukee gives you the ability to either work with maximum power, in precision mode, a mode that prevents damage to fasteners and finally a mode that auto senses when the fastener is fully driven. The impact wrench then stops, stopping overworking the motor, saving battery power and protecting the fastener.
Frequently Asked Questions
Impact driver bits take one hell of a bashing. Depending on your impact driver of choice they can be experiencing over 150nm of torque at any one time. They come up against the toughest of fixings and surfaces and get very hot. Whilst there are cheap options on the market from DIY stores and own brands, they typically don’t stand the test of time!
If I had to recommend any one brand of bits to someone it would be the DeWalt range. They do a box of PZ2 bits in a handy case that clips to your belt, these bits are strong and last a long time. The idea of the multipack is as a tradesman you are fastening that many fixings you go through any bits at a great rate. These will certainly reduce the amount of times you go through bits though.
DeWalt also offer a pack that features the bit extension bar and a wide range of different sized bits and style of bits.
When it comes to working on a car there are two fundamentally different use cases.
Firstly, they can be used to fasten things in place, driving bolts and nuts into place and sometimes screws to hold the trim in place. What I would say in this instance is to be very careful. Most things on a car are torqued into place in accordance with the manufacturers recommended amount of torque. In most instances, I would nip it up some of the way with an impact driver and then finish it off with a manual torque wrench, set to the correct amount of torque.
The second use case would be for fastening or releasing wheel lug nuts. In this case, releasing them sometimes requires the strength and torque of an impact driver or torque wrench to release them, depending on who has fastened them on. Alternatively, you could use a wheel brace with a long bar on such as a scaffolding pole. Again fastening wheel lug nuts with an impact driver is great, quick and easy, but the last part I would always recommend using a torque wrench. You want to ensure they are tight enough not to come off, but the last thing you want is to be at the side of the motorway in need of changing a wheel and find they have been put on with an impact driver and won’t come off without one.
If you were buying one either as a garage or home user it would depend on the frequency of use, to which I would recommend. If
Some people have had a combi drill for years, they have used it to drill holes and also fastening fixings. Once they use an impact driver they realise the drill should just be a drill and this whole new beast out shines the combi drill for fastening fixings in every way. Sometimes, it works out cheaper to buy a twin pack and purchase a new combi drill and impact driver in a set together. This typically comes with a battery or two, along with the charger to boot. So whilst you can save some money if you are buying into a brand where you already have batteries and a charger for them, it is sometimes nice to start again.
Hopefully, from reading this buyers guide you should have a good understanding of how an impact driver works, when an impact driver is more suitable than a combi drill and what to look for when choosing an impact driver.
We have tried to identify some of the best impact drivers on the market today, looking through reviews, ratings, feature sets and much more.
If you have any feedback or questions, please comment below.
Last update on 2020-01-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API