Best Impact Drivers of 2022
One of these power tools may come in handy for heavy-duty home improvement projects like building a deck
The next power tool you should add to your home’s tool kit is an impact driver.
To the untrained eye, an impact driver may seem like just another drill. But this extremely versatile, cordless power tool drives screws more efficiently into wood, metal, and cement than traditional cordless drills can, making it a popular choice for heavy-duty home improvement jobs like building a deck or a fence. An impact driver can even drill into brick or concrete block.
“For any job involving driving more than a few screws, you really can’t beat the power and speed of an impact driver,” says Misha Kollontai, CR’s test engineer for impact drivers and cordless drills.
We put impact drivers through their paces in our lab. To calculate an impact driver’s power score, we measure both the torque it can generate and number of impacts per minute. We also look at how quickly it can drive wood screws in practice. This test is a reflection of how effective it is at driving fasteners into wood or other materials.
To assess run time, we measure how long a single battery can run the unit under a standardized load. We also run tests to see how long it takes to fully charge the battery.
CR’s experts use each impact driver to drive screws just as you would, taking note of attributes such as the balance and feel of the tool. We also look at the handle size and weight of the unit to determine an overall handling score.
Last, we measure sound in decibels at the user’s ear to get a score for noise. Impact drivers tend to generate more noise than their cordless drill cousins, and as it turns out, all the models we tested require hearing protection for safe use.
Read on for reviews of four of our top-rated impact drivers, listed in alphabetical order. And check out our roundup of the best cordless drills to expand your collection of power tools. For a broad look at the category, see our cordless drills and impact drivers buying guide.
Best Standard Impact Drivers
CR’s take: Although it takes a little while for the battery to fully charge, the lightweight DeWalt DCF887D2 receives an Excellent power rating in our tests, as well as Very Good run time and handling scores. It’s equipped with several bells and whistles: a storage case, battery charge indicator, and LED work light that helps when working in low-light conditions. It has a standard three-year warranty.
CR’s take: Hands down the highest-rated impact driver of all sizes in our lab tests, the Flex FX1351-2A delivers a stellar performance. Its power score is Excellent, meaning the tool drives screws with ease. This model also boasts top-notch run and charge time. Plus, it’s loaded with features, including a battery charge indicator, storage case, built-in bit storage holder, and LED work light to help in low-light job conditions. And it comes with a generous five-year warranty.
Best Compact Impact Drivers
CR’s take: While it’s by far the most expensive compact impact driver in our ratings, the Makita XDT16R is a top performer all around. Its power, run time, charge time, and handling scores are all Excellent, making this the only impact driver that knocked it out of the park in all four tests. Additionally, it features an LED work light, which helps in low-light work conditions, a storage case, and a battery-charge indicator that displays how much juice is left. It has a standard three-year warranty.
CR’s take: If you’re shopping on a more modest budget, the Milwaukee 2553-22 is about half the price of the Makita XDT16R while still earning strong marks across the board in CR’s tests. This model’s run time and handling scores are both Excellent, and its power and charge time ratings are Very Good. It’s also packed with the same features as the Makita but comes with an extended five-year warranty—two years longer than Makita’s three-year warranty.