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Impact Driver Comparison Test


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There's no telling nowadays what people build. Decks, docks, treehouses, pressure-treated retaining walls, sheds, fences and firewood racks are projects our readers have asked about recently. This work calls for lots of fasteners, especially lag screws. Only one tool combines rotational speed and blows per minute in a way that makes it excel at driving these big screws: the impact driver. It's faster and more consistent than a drill driver and transfers less reaction torque to you. We gathered nine li-ion impact drivers, and a thousand screws later, here's what we found.

Bosch 26618-01 | $395Specs RPM/BPM: 2800/3200 Amp-Hours: 2.6 Lag Screws: 128

Likes The Bosch is a capable driver equipped with three speed/impact settings. It seems the most likely to survive a drop off a ladder owing to its thoroughly protected rubber nose and handle.

Dislikes The driver is larger and heavier than comparable products. Its speed/impact selector switch is hard to budge.

Bottom Line * * * * ½

Craftsman 79568 | $220Specs RPM/BPM: 2500/3200 Amp-Hours: 2.6 Lag Screws: 108

Likes This is a straightforward tool with a helpful charge-indicator light on the face of the battery.

Dislikes The 20-volt battery is too large relative to the driving power it provides.

Bottom Line * * * *

Dewalt DC827KL | $330Specs RPM/BPM: 2400/2700 Amp-Hours: 2.2 Lag Screws: 100

Likes Compact and rugged, the DeWalt has a battery post that inserts into the handle, giving it a characteristic that some severe-use builders will value: It has the least amount of wiggle. It also has few exposed body fasteners, making it sleek and easy-handling.

Dislikes No complaints noted.

Bottom Line * * * *

Hitachi WH18DL | $309Specs RPM/BPM: 2600/3200 Amp-Hours: 3.0 Lag Screws: 76

Likes A simple sliding switch on the handle increases or decreases torque. We also think its pivoting handle-mounted worklight is a great idea.

Dislikes The tool needs to catch up with other 18-volt competitors in lag-driving performance.

Bottom Line * * *

Makita BTD144 | $350Specs RPM/BPM: 2600/3400 Amp-Hours: 3.0 Lag Screws: 128

Likes The Makita combines small size, light weight and powerful driving performance. Its three speed settings and responsive trigger permit better force adjustment, so you can apply more power to lags and less to Phillips-head screws--preventing strip-out.

Dislikes Its charger is over-engineered and its graphics mysterious.

Bottom Line * * * * *

Milwaukee 2650-22 | $319Specs RPM/BPM: 2200/3200 Amp-Hours: 2.8 Lag Screws: 138

Likes A lag-driving powerhouse. It drove the most lag screws and was among the fastest drivers in our multifastener time trials. It's ruggedly built, with a heavy nosepiece and plentiful rubber overmold protection, especially under the battery.

Dislikes Nothing noted.

Bottom Line * * * * ½

Porter Cable PC18ID | $190Specs RPM/BPM: 2900/2800 Amp-Hours: 2.6 Lag Screws: 96

Likes Neither a bell nor a whistle to be found on it. That austerity could explain why this tool offers such a reasonable amount of driving capacity for the money.

Dislikes Clunky battery engagement.

Bottom Line * * * *

Ridgid Fuego R86030 | $170Specs RPM/BPM: 2400/3100 Amp-Hours: 1.5 Lag Screws: 52

Likes Part of the compact Fuego line, this driver is perfect for all but the largest jobs and turns in a respectable 35 screws per amp-hour.

Dislikes You can't turn on its worklight separate from the motor.

Bottom Line * * * *

Rockwell RK2800K2 | $220Specs RPM/BPM: 2400/3000 Amp-Hours: 1.3 Lag Screws: 57

Likes You won't lose this neon-green tool in the leaves, making it ideal for building cabins, ziplines and camping platforms.

Dislikes Its art-deco motor housing is uncomfortable.

Bottom Line * * *


14.4-volt tools and impact wrenches

All the tools tested are more than enough for homeowners. So much so, we think 14.4-volt models are worth exploring. One example is the Panasonic EY7541, an impact wrench with a square nose like a socket wrench's. It uses an adapter collet to accept ¼-inch hex-shank bits. It may be expensive ($345), but it's a superb, industrial-quality power tool.



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  • 3 months later...

The milwaukee was the fastest, drow most lags and had no cons. Even though that the makita had more stars? You are a funny chap golem. I´ve never understood all this fanboy about different brands. No matter if it is a drill or a grafic card for computers.

But I do know one thing that is fact. My friends that are working as carpenters are smoking battery after battery on theirs makitas and also a couple of gearbox last year. My dewalt tools have never broken down the last 6 years. My panasonic drills all went into pieces. Cracked house, burned motors, chuck spitting out all of it internal parts and so on.

If the milwaukee is so strong I would have bought that one but I want to be able to swap battery with my dewalt drills.

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I saw that review when it was first published and I have always wondered why they tested the Bosch 26618, which is a drill/impact driver combo?  Makita has a similar model but it was not tested.  I'm not absolutely sure but I believe Panasonic has a combo model as well.  The Bosch 25618 is a standard impact driver but it was not tested.

"The driver is larger and heavier than comparable products".  There were no comparable products in the review.  The comparable Makita combo model (not tested) is similar in size and shape (I don't know how much it weighs).

I'm no fan boy for Bosch.  I have owned or used several of the brands in the review. I just wonder why they put a tangerine in to compare with a group of oranges.  That's kind of like saying, "The Mustang and Corvette were excellent performers, but the Tahoe was difficult to park in tight spaces."

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