Best Impact Drivers: The Top Tools for Working With Fasteners

The best impact drivers to make fasteners of all kinds a breeze to screw in or remove.

byHank O'Hop|
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BYHank O'Hop/ LAST UPDATED ON May 12, 2023

You need an impact driver. Sure, an impact wrench is going to be your right hand when it comes to powering through stubborn fasteners. But an impact driver is there to fill the void between an impact wrench and a drill, which is much larger than you might initially think. It's the perfect fit for the countless small fasteners you run into during routine tinkering.


So much so that it will bounce around both the house and garage, prompting you to wear it on your hip because that's easier than having to track it down every time you decide to toy with something. Which do you need? We're here to help you figure it out. We'll talk through what you need to know about these underrated power tools and drop some recommendations along the way.

Best Overall
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 18V Impact Driver Kit

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 18V Impact Driver Kit

Summary
Industry leading performance and quality from a name you can trust. This impact balances power and speed perfectly for professional use.
Pros
  • Compact size
  • Industry-leading performance
  • Shares battery with other full-size tools
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Battery may limit use in some spaces
Best Value

Hercules 20V Impact Driver Kit

Summary
Affordable, compact, and capable. This is the best option for budget-oriented DIYers.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Respectable power for the price
  • Shares battery with other affordable tools
Cons
  • Relatively short battery life
  • Collar can see improvement
Honorable Mention

Ryobi ONE+ HP 18V Impact Driver Kit

Summary
Another solid choice for budget-oriented buyers. This model packs the best performance and features into a price tag to rival bare tools from premium brands.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Great performance for the price
  • Shares battery with other affordable tools
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Bigger than competitors

Summary List

Our Methodology 

Impact drivers are a part of our daily lives. If we're not out in the garage using our own impact drivers, we're reading into what's new and what others have to say about the ones they've been using. That doesn't mean we just go off the cuff when putting this buying guide together. While experience is certainly a factor, plenty of research is done to ensure anything we recommend is truly worthwhile. 

Best Impact Drivers Reviews & Recommendations

Milwaukee's power tools earned their place on the top of the food chain through industry-leading power and performance. This is the new Fuel Impact Wrench and it delivers exactly as you'd expect it to. 2,000 in-lbs and 3,900 rpm qualify it for just about any job you'll encounter in the garage. It's also working with a compact design that helps it slip into those tight spaces that usually keep high-powered tools out. And being that it's part of the Fuel line, it shares batteries with other, industry titans in the power tool space. That battery might be the limiting factor for some jobs, though. It's just too bulky for some spots you may run into in the garage. It's also no surprise that the price is just too much for many DIYers.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Milwaukee
  • Part Number:2953-22
  • Battery Included: Yes

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Industry-leading performance
  • Shares battery with other full-size tools

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Battery may limit use in some spaces

It's hard to beat Hercules in the realm of value. This compact impact kit includes the batteries and runs for less than bare tools from most big names. Despite that, it's capable of delivering 2,200 in-lbs and hitting speeds of 3,600 rpm and features three different speed settings. Of course, it also shares batteries with other Hercules tools, making it easier for DIYers to build an ecosystem of power tools without going broke. Unfortunately, battery life isn't the best, and investing in a spare is necessary if you place a lot of demand on this impact. It's also worth mentioning that the 1/4-inch collar doesn't operate as smoothly as others, further inhibiting fluid use in high-pace situations.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Hercules
  • Part Number:HCB81K1
  • Battery Included: Yes

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Respectable power for the price
  • Shares battery with other affordable tools

Cons

  • Relatively short battery life
  • Collar can see improvement

Ryobi is always a solid choice for budget-minded working hands, and this impact is no exception. The impact itself is capable of delivering 1,700 in-lbs, putting it in line with premium offerings despite sitting at a much better price point than most. It also includes the batteries and charger to get moving, putting an entire kit in the same price range as some bare tools. That said, the batteries included are compatible with Ryobi One+ HP tools, which is a great ecosystem for any DIY garage. The most notable drawback is the size. It's not a massive impact, but it is still bigger than options from other leading brands. Customers also report this to be very noisy and unenjoyable to use.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Ryobi
  • Part Number:PSBID01K
  • Battery Included: Yes

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great performance for the price
  • Shares battery with other affordable tools

Cons

  • Noisy
  • Bigger than competitors

This kit from Milwaukee is a solid choice if you're looking to add a quality ecosystem to your garage. M12 tools use a compact 12-volt battery, making them an ideal choice for a lot of automotive projects. Despite the size, these tools are also plenty capable. The impact driver in this kit can run up to speeds of 3,600 rpm, despite the size. That's not all you get with this kit, though. It also includes a drill, cordless ratchet, and an impact wrench along with the batteries and charger you need to get rolling. The biggest drawback is the price. This kit runs for well more than someone looking for an impact driver is usually willing to spend. And, despite how great M12 tools are, this impact will likely be reserved for special uses, with the lack of torque and battery life being the limiting factors for bigger jobs.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Milwaukee
  • Part Number:3497-22-2554-20-2564-20
  • Battery Included: Yes

Pros

  • Includes system of great tools for auto work
  • Excellent performance for the size
  • Industry-leading quality

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Won’t compete with full-size alternatives

DeWalt's Atomic impact is the clear choice for situations that call for small packaging and decent power. It's able to deliver 1825 in-lbs and 3250 RPM while retaining a small, maneuverable head. It also shares the same battery with a long list of full-size tools, helping it to seamlessly slip into an existing collection. Of course, that battery is partially to thank for its performance-to-size ratio as well. The real drawback here is pricing. This option is considerably more expensive than many full-size alternatives. It's also still using the big battery, which can ultimately keep it out of exceptionally tight spots.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: DeWalt
  • Part Number:DCF850P1
  • Battery Included: Yes

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Power matches full-size alternatives
  • Shares battery with other full-size tools

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Battery may limit use in some spaces

Our Verdict on the Best Impact Drivers

Again, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 18V Impact Driver Kit is our top pick. The quality and performance are just tough to beat. However, it's hard to go wrong with Hercules 20V Impact Driver Kit wherever a tight budget is a limiting factor. 

What to Consider When Buying Impact Drivers

It's a good thing if you haven't made up your mind yet. Making an educated decision is always better than jumping on the first thing that's recommended to you. The following tips will get you up to speed on what makes one impact driver better than another so you can determine which best fits into your tool box.

Key Features

RPMs

RPMs refer to the speed at which the tool can operate. The higher the number, the faster it can fasten or loosen hardware. This does factor into how quickly you can work, but it only tells part of the story. It doesn't factor in the tool's speed under load. Still, it's a good number to refer to when reading through the specs, and a bigger number here is usually a good thing.

Torque

The torque rating is the other detail you need to look at to gauge an impact driver's performance. All the RPM in the world won't do you any good when the going gets tough. Torque is the power that drives fasteners through hard materials. A higher number here will also help an impact driver work more quickly under load, so you want to make sure a high rpm rating is backed by high torque for optimal performance.

Brushless Motor

A brushless motor is one of the best choices you can make when you’re considering different impact drivers. A driver with a brushless motor doesn’t need carbon brushes to deliver a current; instead, an internal circuit does that work. This kind of motor increases your driver’s workload and efficiency — which makes for a better overall tool. A brushless motor can lead an impact driver to have multiple speed settings, run longer on a single charge, and prevent issues like overheating.

Variable Speed Settings

You're dealing with small fasteners. Going all-out all the time will cause problems. While variable speed triggers and different modes to work with may seem like standard features on power tools, it's always wise to verify their presence. They become more important as power levels increase, so you'll want to be mindful of them as you shop and every time you get to work. Otherwise, stripped fasteners will be far too common for comfort.

Impact Driver Pricing

Impact drivers exist on a pretty broad price spectrum. They can list anywhere from $50-$300. Generally speaking, anything suited for DIY work and some professional work will list around between $100-$200, with professional-grade tools sitting in the $200-$300 range. Of course, performance, quality, and unique features are going to determine what you pay.

FAQs

You have questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What is an impact driver used for?

An impact driver can be used for a long list of tasks, but is particularly well-suited for driving long fasteners through hard materials.

Q: What’s the difference between a drill and an impact driver?

A drill and an impact driver seem pretty similar, but they have different uses. Your basic drill is meant to be an all-purpose tool, using standard and hex bits to drive all kinds of fasteners into place. An impact driver, on the other hand, has increased torque, power, and speed. Also, an impact driver can be used for tasks that need more force but aren't as precision-based as those that call for a drill.

Q: Do you need special bits for an impact driver?

Most impact drivers take 1/4-inch hex shank bits, so they’ll work with a very common bit size.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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