QUICK NOTE: To buy any product reviewed below, click on the Buy Now button to go directly to the appropriate page on another secure site to get more information on that product and/or make a purchase. The “Bob’s Pick” logo below indicates which of the products below has earned Bob Gillespies highest purchase recommendation. Below the reviews is a SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON CHART and, finally, an article by Bob Gillespie on important features to consider when shopping and why.
BOSCH MODEL 23618 18v 2.4Ah FASTENING DRIVER
We found this impact driver to be compact and well-built. It features an innovative hammer and anvil technology and delivers up to 1350 inch-pounds of torque. Its soft handle absorbs the impact vibration well. It has a comparatively fast operating speed of 3200 beats per minute at 2800 RPM.
It has a 2.4 Amp-hour battery which means it gives you a long time between battery changes although probably not as long as the 3.0 Ah battery being offered by the Hitachi model. On the other hand, recharge time is only 30 minutes. It weighs 4.5 Lbs. which is about a pound heaver than most of the competing models.
The tool has 2 power ranges to conserve battery life: 0-2800 RPM & 0-3200 RPM. It offers easy brush replacement. It features a multi-position swivel LED system for illuminating the impact bit and screw head in dark, confined work areas. It has an aluminum gear housing to protect critical internal parts. The package includes the impact driver, (2) 18V 2.4Ah Lithium Ion batteries and a 30-minute charger.
DEWALT DC 825 KA 18V CORDLESS IMPACT DRIVER
This model sports a long-lasting, Lithium Ion battery that is lifetime-rated at 2000 recharges. It features a frameless motor for tool durability and long life. It is rated at 1330 inch-pounds of torque and offers a speed range of 0-2400 RPM (0-27,000 impacts per minute).
It has replaceable brushes, a textured, anti-slip grip, and a magnesium gear case. It weighs just 3.7 Lbs. and while it is not the lightest of the impact drivers compared here, it is close to it. The included kit box contains the impact driver, (2) 18V XRP Lithium Ion Batteries and a charger that takes a whole hour to recharge a battery, unlike the Bosch model which takes only 30 minutes.
MAKITA TOOLS MODEL LXT BTD141 IMPACT DRIVER
The thing about impact drivers from Makita Tools has always been quality, power and light weight all in one tool. This impact driver builds on Makitas years of experience in building fine impact drivers with an ear to the end users wants and needs.
This tool has a maximum torque output of 1330 in./lbs.. This makes the LXT BDT141 is the lightest of the bunch at just 3.4 Lbs.
One of the features I really like about impact drivers from Makita Tools is the bright white LED light on the front that comes on and goes off as you press and release the trigger. Other models from competitors have lights you turn on and off with an external switch and one even has a yellow light that is practically worthless when illuminating yellow wood.
Makita battery life is legendary and yet the included charger has Makita’s Lithium Ion batteries back up and running in just 30 minutes. The brushes are easily accessible for easy changing.
The Makita Tools carry box contains the driver, (2) Lithium Ion 3.0 Ah. Batteries and the 30 minute Optimum charger.
MILWAUKEE MODEL 2650-22 M18 18v 1.4 Ah IMPACT DRIVER
This model, at 1400 inch-pounds of torque is no slouch in the power department but it the last in line in terms of battery life among the impact drivers reviewed here. Its batteries produce 18 volts like the others but only give you 1.4 Amp-hours if life which is less than half offered by the Hitachi system. Whats worse is that Milwaukee makes batteries with far greater life but they are not compatible with this driver. Apparently Milwaukee has not woken up to the trend for a single battery type for all 18V tools across the entire line.
At least they include a battery fuel gauge so you can see how quickly the battery is running down. The tool gets its high torque from a 4-pole frameless motor. It has a built in LED for lighting up dark corners. The package contains (2) 18V M18 XC batteries and an 18V one-hour charger. The tool is also available as a bare tool for less money but why, Im not sure, since it is not compatible with other Milwaukee batteries.
SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON CHART: 18V IMPACT DRIVERS
|Amp-hours||2.4||Not Stated||Not Stated||1.4|
|Weight||4.5 Lbs.||3.7 Lbs.||3.4 Lbs.||3.5 Lbs.|
|Recharge||30 min.||60 min.||30 min.||60 min.|
ALL ABOUT IMPACT DRIVERS
When they first came out years ago, impact drivers were very popular in Japan but it took a while for Americans to realize what a terrific advantage impact drivers have over an electric drill when it comes to driving long screws into wood, especially decking. American companies like Porter Cable caught on to the idea and started competing with impact drivers offered by overseas companies. The idea for impact drivers was born long ago with the inventions of (1) the impact wrench, used in every automotive garage, and (2) the hammer drill used to power masonry bits into concrete and other extremely hard materials.
The technology that allows them to do this is sometimes referred to as hammer and anvil meaning that, unlike the simple twisting action of an electric drill, the impactdriver literally pounds the screwdriver bit around as if being repeatedly being hit by a hammer. This action gives these woodworking tools tremendous power that simply would not be possible if the same screwdriver bit were chucked up in an electric drill with the same size motor and battery. An additional advantage is that there are hex shank drill bits available so that your impact driver can double as a quick-change cordless drill thus becoming one of your most versatile woodworking tools.
The first time I picked up an impact driver, a 12-volt Makita, I thought it looked, to me, like a toy. I then tried it out by driving a 3-inch deck screw into a 4 x 4 piece of fir. I was amazed as I watched (and felt) the tiny machine effortlessly drive the screw home, sinking the head below the surface of the wood. I had to remember to keep a lot of hand pressure against the tool so that the screw driver bit did not pop out of the screw head and strip it. From that moment forward, I have never been without one of these amazing machines at my side.
Over the years, these drivers have been improved to the point of near perfection and this includes the batteries that power them. Battery size has grown from 9.6 volts to 18 volts and more. More than that, battery life has been greatly extended from what it was with the advent of Lithium Ion technology and subsequent improvements on that.
In fact, a significant part of the cost of any impact driver, whether it comes from Makita Tools, Bosch or DeWalt is the battery or batteries and charger that come with it. You may have noticed that most manufacturers of cordless woodworking tools have started selling so-called bare tool bodies meaning that they come with no battery or charger included and a greatly reduced price tag.
The reason for this is that most manufacturers (but not all) have discovered that if they make all their tools run on the same 18-volt Lithium Ion battery, they can sell more bare tool bodies while locking in their customers to their brand. End users love this because they do not have to keep laying out hard-earned money for shelves full of different batteries and chargers but, rather can just buy the bare woodworking tools that share the same battery.
Several manufacturers like Makita Tools have included two or more speed ranges in their impact drivers. Sometimes, too much power is not always a good thing. You can destroy small screw heads and break screw shafts. The more power used, the less battery life. Just because you have a 400 HP motor under the hood of your car does not mean that you drive around town with the accelerator pedal to the floor.