Updated: June 8, 2015

Impact Driver Reviews:

You may wonder what exactly an impact driver is and how does it differ from a cordless drill that works on screws. An impact driver is much more powerful than a traditional cordless drill. The extra power comes from a "hammer blow" as many handymen sites refer to it. The impact driver functions very similar to the impact wrench that you see in tire and automotive centers when the lug nuts get installed. Owners of impact drivers say they are effortless to use and it makes projects like building a deck seem much easier than it would be with a regular cordless screwdriver. The one drawback to impact drivers is that owners say they are very noisy. Sure, they can drive a 3 inch deck screw into treated pine but you will notice the difference in noise levels between the impact driver and a cordless screwdriver. If you find that your cordless drill strips the screw head when driving screws into wood or metal, consider buying a much better equipped impact driver to do the job.
impact driver

Buying Guide - We found dozens of reviews online for these impact drivers and drills. Toolcrib.com features several as does Cordlessdrillworld.com. Amazon.com lists all the top brands, but it appears that DeWalt, Milwaukee, Makita, Bosch, and Hitachi dominate this field. Amazon is a great site for reading up on owner reviews of each product and seeing which ones rate well for certain features. Thisoldhouse.com and Toolmonger.com also have current reviews of impact drivers on their websites which are worth reading before buying anything. Lastly, Consumer Reports recently did a review (Dec 2007) on impact drivers and they gave their opinion on which ones were the best. CR notes that all the impact drivers they used from Makita and Ryobi required hearing protection since they were so loud. Most reviews note that the impact drivers are easy to use and many say that the screws "melt right in". We found the Panasonic EY7540LN2S to be the top rated impact driver of the bunch but at $300 it's also very expensive and may not be what the average DIY homeowner needs to finish projects. When you compare the best impact drivers with all the others you need to consider speed (how fast can it drive screws), power (torque for tightening and loosening), run time (battery charge), charge time (time to recharge a discharged battery), handling, and noise. All fail miserable in noise levels, but models like the Makita 6980FDWDE scored well in handling and ease of use in many reviews. Expect to spend at least $100 for an impact drive and closer to $300 if you want the best of the lot. You can find the best selling impact drivers here.

Best Impact Driver:

Clearly the Panasonic EY7540LN2L 14.4 Volt Lithium-Ion Impact Driver Kit is the one product we could find no fault with and the Panasonic EY7202GQW 12-Volt NiMH Cordless Impact Driver is considered a top choice as well. They are slightly different when it comes to weight, power, and battery type, but overall they perform exceptional and reviews from buyers back up what the experts from Taunton's 2009 Tool Guide and Consumer Reports found. The price is a deterrent for some, but the advantages outweight any drawbacks to these since they allow the user to stay comfortable while working on big projects (like decks). Owners say their wrists and hands don't take the beating that other impact drivers put them through.

Top Rated Lithium Ion Impact Driver Kit:

Although many would say the Panasonic models above are better performers, for the price the Makita impact drivers are probably a better value. The Makita BTD140 LXT 18 Volt Lithium-Ion Impact Driver Kit and the Makita LXT202 18-Volt Hammer Drill & Impact Driver Lithium-Ion Combo Kit are 2 solid products with more torque and a longer battery run time than most other models. Even the Makita 6980FDWDE is considered a "great value" from almost all that purchased it online. The kits include everything you need and the one that has the hammer drill is really a lifesaver on many home projects. You can see all the Makita impact drivers online at Amazon.

Compact Cordless Impact Driver/Drill:

Don't think we left out one of the biggest names in power tools - Bosch. When it comes to impact drivers Bosch has a solid reputation, but perhaps gets less recognition than they deserve in tests. We found several reviews for the Bosch 23618 Impactor 18-Volt Ni-Cad Cordless Impact Driver that would recommend the tool but they say the run time is a little disappointing. The Bosch 23614 gets reasonable marks from Consumer Reports but those on Amazon say it could "be better" with improved run time and charge times compared to other models.

Budget Impact Driver:

Not everyone needs the most powerful impact driver on the market to do the job. One of the top rated budget models is the Milwaukee 2401-22 12V 12-Volt Li-ion Sub-Compact Driver Kit which goes for around $100. Owners say the battery fuel gauge displays the amount of run-time left so you can judge when to stop a project and recharge before getting started on something to big. There is enough power with 100 in. lbs of torque and the speed goes from 0 to 500 rpm. When working on cabinets and shelving in dark corners of your house or garage, the LED supplies the necessary light to get the job done. The Milwaukee impact driver rates extremely well out of the 50+ reviewers on Amazon getting 4 or 5 stars in 50 of the 52 postings. Owners say the 2401-22 is "powerful", "lightweight" and the "perfect size".