In this era of DIY, drills are some of the most sought-after tools. When you need to drill a hole, the first tool that comes to your mind is usually a drill. But then, when you require a little bit more power, then enter impact drivers. Although they won’t replace drills in a handyman’s toolbox, their importance is significant when the drills don’t have the torque for the job.
If you’re stuck in a situation where drill drivers keep on struggling to get the job done, for instance, tasks where hardwoods are used – decking installation, constructing sheds, ceilings – you’ll appreciate having something powerful. Here are our picks for the best cordless impact driver powerful enough for your DIY ventures.
Quick Glance: The Best Battery Powered Impact Driver
The Best Cordless Impact Driver on the Market 2021
1. DEWALT DCF787C1 Cordless Impact Driver Kit (Our Top Recommended)
Certainly one of the most powerful impact drivers for people who don’t have the time to ‘kiss lots of toads’ before finding their ideal tool. DEWALT is a known name in the power tools business and the DCF787C1 doesn’t fall short of expectations in reliability. One of my favorite reasons for this is, however, its compact nature – it’s just 5.5-inch and can perfectly fit in tight places.
Another reason to consider this DCF787C1 cordless impact driver kit is the delay functionality. It has a 20-second delay capability after triggering the onboard lights which help to improve visibility.
Offering longer runtime, you’ll appreciate this if you’ve ever needed to get something done but get stuck in the process because your battery packed up. I remember the first time I got mine August of 2017, I had it running for over 2 hours and the 20-volts battery took it like a boss. Plus the DEWALT DCF787C1 gave me more than 57% run time because of the brushless motor which has more endurance than the brushed counterpart.
Handling of this power tool is something to compliment. The DCF787C1 is very easy to handle and use for longer hours because it is highly ergonomic and designed for comfort. Now you can work for hours without feeling fatigued as it’s a lot more controllable and comfortable.
However, one problem with this DEWALT impact driver is that it wasn’t built for larger bolts and nuts or dismantling/assembling several other vehicle parts. It can only be used for smaller bolts and nuts. But if you won’t be working with larger bolts, you’ll find that this is a tool worth considering.
All in all, you’ll appreciate the compact nature and feature-packed properties it brings with it, letting you overlook the small flaw it may have.
- Longer Run Time
- The LEDs attached on this kit makes it usable even in the dark without any hint of a shadow.
- 3-year warranty: the manufacturers know the importance of peace of mind and have slammed his product with a 3-year warranty.
- Allows for one-hand loading: the hexes chuck measure one-quarter of an inch and can be used to work on an inch-long bit tip.
- Compact and less clumsy and can be used in areas with smaller space.
- The DEWALT DCF787C1 cordless impact driver kit is capable of churning out 0-2800 RPMs. Its torque value also stands at 1500-inch lbs.
- The only thing I didn’t like about the DEWALT DCF787C1 driver kit was that I couldn’t use it for bigger nuts.
2. Milwaukee 2656-20 M18 Hex Impact Driver (Best for the Money)
If you are searching for a tool that’s compact enough to bag to job sites but powerful enough to drive heavy fasteners, the Milwaukee 2656-20 impact driver could be what you need.
Built with high-quality, tough materials this ¼-inch hex impact driver is equipped with major features you’d expect from a power tool.
There’s a pretty sleek REDLINK Technology connectivity linking the electronic components with the M18 batteries which are used to fire it up. This way, you won’t have to worry about overheating the components or entirely damaging this impact driver during usage.
The Milwaukee 2656 is also ergonomically designed, so if you love comfort when in use, you’ll probably be pleased with this tool. It’s compact too, although its small frame doesn’t limit its prowess as it’s designed to outperform bigger tools considering its powerful motor.
Also, this Milwaukee 1/4-inch impact driver comes spotting LED lighting which is great if you are working in dark conditions. A combination of LED lighting and it’s ergonomic textured handle means you don’t have to worry about working in wet/slippery and poorly lit environments.
Another impressive feature I really like about this impact driver is its variable speed trigger. With this, you simply have to apply pressure to the trigger to get you the amount of power you need to finish the job. This is how it’s able to create over 3,400 impacts per minutes which is more than required to get most jobs done.
One small issue you may have with this 2656-20 hex impact driver is its weight. It’s a small tool but weighs almost two pounds. This is a negligible issue and you’d find that its performance would cover up for that lapse.
- Comes with LED lighting so you can work in dark conditions
- Allows you to control the number of impacts with a variable speed trigger – capable of creating up to 3,450 impacts every minute
- It’s a cordless power tool that supports M18 lithium-ion batteries.
- The Milwaukee 2656-20 offers superior handling, thanks to its textured handle allowing you to work even in slippery conditions.
- It’s a bit on the heavy side considering its small frame
- The switch tends to disconnect following consistent usage
3. Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Impact Driver Kit
If you don’t have the patience to sit for hours on end charging your tool, then the Makita XDT131 18V Brushless impact driver is worth checking out. It’s an interesting cordless and brushless tool which requires just about 30 minutes to fully charge and get working – making it the fastest charging power tool in the category. It’s noteworthy that the 18V Li-ion battery which this impact driver uses is among the fastest charging battery in their category.
You won’t be disappointed if you’re a lover of power, as the XDT131 brushless impact driver motor is able to deliver up to 1,500 Lbs of torque. With such power, you can easily work in any activity including woodworking, plumbing, automotive engineering, remodeling and more.
Another cool thing about this Makita impact driver kit is that it is compact and built for increased productivity with less downtime. It combines force and speed (variable speed 0-3, 400 RPM and 0-3 600 IPM) suitable for a full range of fastening and driving tasks which include tightening lag bolts, TEK screws, deck screws, cabinet screws and more.
Also, thanks to an efficient BL brushless motor which eliminates carbon brushes, the BL motor is able to run efficiently at a cooler temperature and lasts longer. This BL brushless motor which is electronically controlled optimizes battery usage ensuring longer run time (up to 50%) every charge.
A small dent on its otherwise positive attributes is the fact that although it has a variable speed controller, this 18V Makita brushless cordless impact driver is a little difficult to control. However, if you are an experienced impact driver user, you can always figure out how to go about it.
- Has a compact ergonomic design which ensures there’s reduced handler fatigue.
- XDT131 features a powerful brushless motor capable of delivering about 1,500 Max torque when needed.
- Has the fastest charging battery (18V Li-ion) in its category.
- Star protection technology that protects it from overheating, overloading and over-discharging.
- Made of solid materials and has great build
- Difficult to control if you are not used to these types of impact drivers
4. Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 1/4 Inch Hex Shank Impact Driver
The Milwaukee 2462-20 offers a mix of durability, convenience and strength all in one. The motor is certainly one thing that stands out. It’s pretty powerful and able to drive fasteners with about 1,000-inch-pounds torque at 2,500 RPM.
Another fascinating feature you’ll love is the RedLithium technology, an internal tech that allows the driver to communicate with the RedLithium batteries. This cross-communication keeps the impact driver’s motor from using up more power than it can handle as well as protect it from overheating. This is a rare feature for a tool with a 12V battery, pretty impressive I’ll admit.
Then there’s the rubber-mold pistol grip. If you work in slippery conditions, you’ll appreciate this little detail. The ergonomic rubber handle ensures you have a good grasp of the driver and can work properly even with your hands wet.
Working in areas with low lighting? The LED lighting can come in handy to keep your material illuminated thank to the trigger-activated LED light panel which is strategically located in front of and above the trigger. The location of the LED keeps shadows from being cast, so you can aptly hit your target without your fingers blanking out certain fields of vision.
Another feature stands out is the onboard fuel gauge – LED lights on the impact driver’s side which tells you just about how much battery power you have (shows in increments of 25%).
Considering the price point – it’s the most affordable impact driver on our list; we would say this Milwaukee 2462 is a worthy consideration for folks who are just beginning to tackle complex DIY projects.
On the flip side, the noise level is on another level. If you can’t handle intense noise levels, you might have a rethink. But, you can certainly manage this with noise cancellation headphones.
- Budget-friendly impact driver
- The ergonomic rubber handle helps you work even in slippery wet conditions
- RedLithium technology prevents your tool from overheating or damaging
- Presence of LED lights lets you work in dark areas.
- Monitor your device power usage with fuel gauge LED lights that show increments in 25%
- It’s pretty powerful, able to deliver up to 1,000-inch-pounds torque at 2,500 RPM.
- Intense noise levels
5. DEWALT DCF887D2 20V Brushless Impact Driver Kit
Another DEWALT impact driver worth checking out is the DCF887D2 which offers a mix of efficiency and convenience. The DCF887D2 comes with a 20V MAX Li-Ion power battery and a cordless, brushless motor which makes the machine useful even in somewhat inconvenient spaces.
The ergonomic handle with padded material allows you to have a strong grip on the soft material without hurting your palms. But that’s not all that impresses us about this brushless impact driver. Its three LED lights are certainly one of its best features. Asides the fact that it’s great for working in dark places or night times, it stays on for 20 seconds after releasing your finger from the trigger. Also, the three LEDs make certain that no shadows are cast when working.
Don’t want to be limited? You’ll love the 3-speed settings with a precision drive which lets you have more control and choose what speed you want for whatever project you need it for.
Probably the best feature of the DCF887D2 is the battery indicator. Yup, you have an indicator that lets you know just how much juice you have left. This way you don’t guess if it’s fully charged or needs a little more time.
There’s a negative which woodworkers won’t appreciate. It might not be for you because the impact settings are either too small or too much except you’re working on hardwood or you’re really good in setting it up. Either way, it’s worth checking out if you’re more of a metal worker or an advanced woodworker.
- Easy handling: What I loved most about the 887 is the fact that I could handle it easily without having to worry about calluses or blisters on my palms. The easy grip and soft handle covering ensured I was able to work for ours with my machine.
- No- shadow visibility: Even in dark places, the 887 can still be used because of the bright LED. After the trigger release, the LED stays on for at least 20 seconds.
- Convenience: The compact kit makes it easy to carry around less clumsily.
- Not built for woodworks: While the 887 cordless brushless 3-speed impact driver kits perform well with heavy deck screws, lag bolts, and machine bolts, it is not excellent with woodwork applications. The reason is most users complain that there is too much torque between the triple settings, making it too much force for lighter, wooden works.
6. Bosch IDH182-02 18-Volt Brushless Cordless Impact Driver
Craving flexibility on the job? You’ll love the options the Bosch 18-Volt brushless cordless impact driver offers. It has a socket-ready adapter that has both a brushless 1/4-inch hex and a 1/2-inch square drive all in one. With this adapter, you can easily switch between 1/4-inch bits and 1/2-inch sockets. This will eliminate the need to have two tools as well as curb the problem of having socket adapters break.
The ergonomic design of the IDH182-02 is another feature to love. It has a design that makes it comfortable to use all day thanks to its small grip diameter.
Power is one of the things that fascinate us about the IDH182. It’s able to deliver up to 1,650 in Lbs in torque. All you need to do is use the performance control system to select your preferred driving speed as well as your torque speed. So, basically you press a button and you can maximize the power or minimize the fastener damage as you like it.
Interestingly, this Bosch impact driver uses next-gen Bosch-made EC Brushless motor. This gives it two times more motor life as well as top-notch efficiency required for longer runtime with low or no maintenance. There’s also intelligent cell and motor protection designed to help the battery and tool last longer.
Let’s not forget the duo of anvil system and borsch-built hammer. They ensure you get maximum impact endurance plus tool performance during metal fastening and woodworking applications.
The Bosch IDH182-02 isn’t all positives, however, as it has a somewhat clunky process of switching batteries. But you can always get used to having this method of changing the battery.
Another slight issue with this impact driver is the speed changing button which the indicator is difficult to see/read when in direct sunlight. However, if you can get polarized glasses, you should be good to go.
- Versatile tool with both 1/4-inch hex and 1/2-inch square socket-ready adapter
- EC Brushless motor gives it more motor life and power efficiency
- The ergonomic design makes it idle for long-time, all-day use.
- Built sturdy with an electronic motor and cell protection for longevity
- Can’t view the LED indicator in direct sunlight
7. PORTER-CABLE PCCK640LB 20V MAX Cordless Impact Driver Kit
If you are thinking of building makeshift homes and need something that can serve you well, consider the PORTER-CABLE 20V impact driver. This China-built machine caught my attention because of its lightweight and compact build. The high torque machine is excellent for quick fastening, plus a tight space was no excuse as the driver fits in perfectly.
The 20V battery powers the motor and the LED lights which make it easy to work even in dark corners.
My PORTER-CABLE impact driver kit had a spare battery which means I had a longer work time. All I did was replace the dead battery and recharge it with the charger that took less than an hour complete charging. The battery gauge indicator is built to the machine so I didn’t have to wonder the level of power used or left.
While I liked that my kit is compact and solid, I couldn’t fit even an extra box of loose tools inside. It means I had to carry an extra bag for my other tools. Plus, the LED lights that brighten the front of the machine do cast some shadows.
- Solid build
- High torque makes it an efficient machine
- Very comfortable to use while also being lightweight.
- Attached with a fast charger, plus a spare battery.
- This machine didn’t cost me much. Its functionalities were a huge deal compared to its price.
- The features of this machine are basic. It means it gets the job done for a basic user; however, pro users might want ‘premium’ features and wouldn’t get much out of the PORTER-CABLE.
- There isn’t room for storing an extra tool in this kit.
- The durability of this machine isn’t confirmed yet. I’ve not had mine for long though. However, from fit to finish, the PORTER-CABLE looks and feels durable.
If you’re in the market for an impact driver to aid your DIY endeavors and make those long screws and nuts easier to tighten on that thick material, you’d need to get a handful of details to pick out the perfect tool.
To aid you with this, we are detailing crucial tips you should have at the back of your mind prior to selecting the best impact driver for nut set.
What Performance Parameters Should I Look for Before Buying an Impact Driver?
Before opting for an impact driver, consider what you need in this powerful tool which is lacking in the regular drills. Here are a few performance parameters worth checking out prior to purchase:
- Torque: The torque is the most important criteria to look out for when selecting an impact driver. You need a tool which can deliver a high power blow. Noting that torque measures rotational force, any impact driver you are considering should be able to deliver a high number of powerful blows per rpm.
- Drive Size: The size of the impact drive determines what types of accessories you’ll need. The ¼-inch hex is the most common drive size. With such a driver, you will accessories which have 1/4-inch size hexagonal shanks. It’s noteworthy to remember that all accessories you purchase for impact driver need to be designed for impact, else it’s a waste. This is because using regular accessories with an impact driver will see them shatter.
- No Load Speed: This basically is the rotational speed of the drive when there’s no load. This number is the speed at which driving the fastener can be achieved.
Battery performance parameters are also an important consideration. Here are a few things you should look at:
- Charging time: It’s important that you consider the charging time of your driver. A typical 2 Ah battery will take between 30 minutes to 60 minutes to completely charge.
- Battery Capacity: You should be looking for a battery with a large capacity. The capacity measured in Ah and the higher the number of Ah, the more capacity. The one thing to bear in mind is the higher the battery capacity, the more the charging time, weight, size, and cost also increase.
- Quip Tip: You’ll rarely find a battery and charger with each purchase of an impact driver, so purchase them separately. However, purchase combo packs instead of individual items. This should save you a couple of bucks.
Is a brushless model recommended?
Brushless motors are becoming rampant; in fact, most power tools these days come with brushless motors. Power tools with brushless motors asides from having compact bodies also run longer times. They typically come with more power and astounding motor life.
On the flip side, they averagely cost more than the brushed models but considering their benefits, worth the extra cost. If you are stuck in the middle between a brushed model and a brushless model, you would be making a good call if you choose the brushless model.
Are there specific features to look out for in an impact driver?
Impact drivers interestingly aren’t feature intensive. You won’t have to do a skim through lots of features to select the best. In fact, asides tool-less accessory change, there isn’t so much feature to look out for.
You may, however, consider such things as ergonomic grip design, illumination light, variable speed setting, brushless motor and the manufacturers’ warranty in case you receive a faulty tool.
Difference between an impact driver and drill driver
Since both are generally called drivers, you might want to have a little background knowledge about what differentiates an impact driver from a drill driver. A drill driver handles light DIY functions like drilling into walls, repairing sheds, building flat-surface furniture and more. They won’t work well with hardwoods. In fact, you’d exert a lot of pressure when driving in screws which would most likely strip off the screw head.
The impact driver, on the other hand, was built for tackling serious ‘impact’ jobs which would normally require driving long screws. They work well for hardwoods and other types of materials. Aesthetically, impact drivers are similar to drill drivers, the major difference is they are usually compact which is good for working in tight spaces.
Alright, you’ve done an impressive job of staying with me while I talk about some of the best impact drivers on the market. Let’s both agree on something, the DEWALT DCF787C1 is the best impact driver on the market and for good reasons.
How many drivers do you see spotting battery indicators? That aside, it’s packed with impressive features and yet remains lightweight. Another tool that’s remarkable is the budget-friendly Milwaukee 2656-20 which is able to create 3,450 impacts per minute.
Whether you are looking for versatility, power or convenience, we’re sure that you’d find the perfect impact driver to make your DIY adventure less tiring.