Often mistaken for a drill, an impact driver is a really handy tool to have around the house. However, with the many different existing power tools that one can currently find on the market, a lot of people might now know exactly what an impact driver is, what it’s used for, and how to shop for one.
Luckily, we’re going to tackle all of these subjects today, so keep on reading!
Best for Professional Use: DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit
“I’m a handyman so I mostly use this in building, assembling furniture, screwing onto wood/metal studs. I use it everyday and it handles all the job pretty well.” (Customer review)
Best Kit: Avid Power Impact Driver Kit
The Avid Power impact driver comes with a very convenient kit that includes a carrying bag, the battery and the charger required for this tool, plus a total of 24 bits and sockets.
Budget Pick: Ryobi P239 18V Lithium Ion Impact Driver
“The impact drill is very similar to their regular drill in how it functions, but it’s much more powerful and I’m confident it will be capable of piercing virtually anything I throw at it.” (Customer review)
How to Choose
With all the names that an impact driver is known for, it might be confusing knowing how to shop, especially if it’s not clear what are the characteristics that help separate good impact drivers from the bad ones. When you’re looking to purchase a proper impact driver, the main features of interest on your list should include:
- Weight is one of the most important factors that will determine how comfortable and efficient you will be when working with one impact driver or another. An impact driver is a common handheld tool, which means that weight is going to be a major factor in ease of maneuverability. If you have to fasten multiple screws, you don’t want to force your arm and experience fatigue from the first few minutes. You will learn to appreciate a lightweight impact driver even more when you find yourself in a situation where you have to insert screws overhead.
- The size of the impact driver is important if you have to tighten fasteners located in tight spots. It also matters if you tend to work in different places and have to carry the impact driver around a lot. A cumbersome impact driver is never a good thing, although, in some situations, there might not be a way around this.
- The torque of an impact driver will determine the amount of twisting power it has. This, in turn, helps determine how well the impact driver will perform. Torque is measured in inch-pounds and the higher this number is, the more power an impact driver has. A small impact driver usually has around 800 inch-pounds and can be efficient for those that need to drive screws in a workshop setting. More powerful models (which can have about 2,000 inch-pounds) are better for larger screws (and by “large”, we mean house frame construction screws).
- Since impact drivers are handheld tools highly-known for their portability, you probably know that they are battery-powered machines. These tools run on rechargeable batteries that have 12, 18, or 20-volt capacities. As you can imagine, batteries with larger capacities will last longer on a full charge, but also have a longer lifespan overall. 12-volt batteries are usually enough for stuff that you have to do around the house, while 20-volt models are better for a contractor’s needs.
TIP: Plenty of manufacturers create power tools that have interchangeable batteries. This means that you can use the same battery for multiple tools, as long as these are a match. This is why you will often come across impact drivers that don’t include a battery with the purchase.
The Best Impact Drivers
DEWALT is a brand that’s well-known for making quality power tools, so it kind of made sense to add this impact driver to today’s list. This is basically a kit that offers a 2.8-pound impact driver, a 20-volt battery, and a fast-charger. All of this is delivered in a convenient storage and carrying bag, so you can take your impact driver whenever needed in style. It has a compact design and a lightweight but it’s the battery voltage and the efficiency of the tool that are most impressive. The built-in LED operates with 20 second of delay after triggering the release. The ¼-inch hex chuck is compatible with 10inch bit tips.
- Includes battery and charger.
- Convenient carrying bag.
- Battery doesn’t seem to last very long.
The next product on today’s list is an impact driver kit that includes 14 sockets, 10 driver bits, and a convenient tool bag for carrying everything around. The package also includes a 20-volt battery that has a capacity indicator to tell you the battery level at all times, and the required charger for those times when you run out of battery juice, the system has a special chuck that allows you to quickly exchange bits by pulling back the collet. The three built-in LED lights make it easier for you to operate this power tool in low light conditions. With 3.1 pounds in weight, this impact driver is fairly easy to maneuver and to carry around as needed.
- Includes 14 sockets and 10 driver bits.
- Comes with a battery and charger.
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver.
- Integrated LED lights.
- Replacement battery not available.
This BLACK+DECKER impact driver kit is another convenient option that comes with a bunch of features worth mentioning. It has a high torque power and a quick release chuck that smoothes out your workflow and doesn’t allow you to waste any time when you’re working. The 20-volt battery is interchangeable, which is good news for those of you owning multiple power tools that require the same kind of battery. It is one of the impact drivers that offers the most value for its money, delivering a quality experience as long as the battery isn’t close to dying.
- Includes battery and charger.
- Quick-release system.
- Interchangeable battery.
- Not for heavy-duty use.
Makita is another power tool brand recognized internationally, which makes their impact drill worth reviewing. It is equipped with a brushless motor that runs pretty cool to help preserve its life. It has a lightweight and compact design to make it easy for almost anyone to manipulate it with ease. The ¼-inch hex chuck allows you to switch between bits with ease. The housing is made from aluminum to make this Makita impact driver studier and more durable. The package includes the impact driver itself, a lithium-ion battery, a suitable charger, and a convenient bag for carrying and storing your tool.
- Includes battery and charger.
- Comes with a varying bag.
- Quick-release chuck.
- Variable speed unavailable.
When you’re not left with that much money to spend on an impact driver, the Ryobi P239 is one of the best budget-oriented solutions on the market. Even if it’s cheaper compared to some of the other products we’ve shown you today, it does include features that make it a worthy purchase. The base of this impact driver has a magnet that helps you hold fasteners and bits so you can have them close by when you’re ready to use them. You can adjust the torque by pressing the trigger harder. It comes with integrated LED lighting that helps you work more efficiently even in low light conditions.
- Bargain price.
- LED lighting.
- Attached belt clip.
- Battery not included.
What is an impact driver used for?
An impact driver is a handheld tool that helps drive a fastener through a certain type of surface. That means that whenever you’re trying to drive a screw or a bolt through a rough surface, you are going to need an impact driver. You can consider the impact driver to be a powerful and automatic screwdriver.
What is the difference between a drill driver and an impact driver?
A drill driver is normally used for making holes in different kinds of surfaces, while an impact driver is mostly used for driving screws through a surface. To paint a clearer picture: when you want to hang a painting on your wall, you first use a drill driver to make a hole in the wall and then use the impact driver to drive the screw through the hole you just made.
Can you use an impact driver as a drill?
Yes, an impact driver can also be used as a drill because the drill bit is what makes the difference. You can use a drill to make small holes in steel that have a light-gauge or in wood surfaces. It’s important to take into account that different drill bits work for different kinds of surfaces, so always make sure you use drill bits that are rated for impact drivers.
Should I buy a drill or impact driver?
It really depends on what you need it for. A drill is typically used for drilling holes and for driving in different kinds of small fasteners. An impact driver is way better for situations where you have to direct force downwards and are more suitable for long-term use.
Having an impact driver around the house is invaluable even if you don’t normally do house repairs yourself. There are so many situations in which a person could benefit from having such a tool, including simple situations where you’re just looking to hang a painting on the wall. With the multiple existing options, you have plenty of choices that are more or less budget-friendly, with products that are suitable for casual and professional use.