What Is an Impact Driver and When Should You Use It?

If you are DIYer who often undertakes big home projects, using an impact driver could make completing those projects a lot easier. However, you might not need it for every project, and not all of it are suited for all of your DIY needs, so you will have to determine which impact driver is right for you.

Read on to learn more about an impact driver, discover when you should use one, and find suggestions on the best impact drivers for your home DIY projects.

What is an Impact Driver?

People often get confused over the difference between a cordless drill, a hammer drill, and an impact driver. Essentially, an impact driver is the best of both worlds.

An impact driver combines the rotational force of a traditional drill with bursts of power similar to a hammer drill, driving the fastener even through points of resistance.

Impact Drivers vs. Drills 

Impact drivers are usually lighter than other types of drills, making them easier to use in some instances. They handle large screws and bolts more efficiently than compact drills and offer two to three times for torque than drills. You should use an impact driver for long screws or long fasteners when working with wood.

Some reasons to use an impact driver include:

  • Securing the beams of a pergola
  • Working with pressure-treated lumber

Impact drivers are great for larger projects but not necessarily ideal for all DIY projects or as a replacement for another type of drill. Impact drivers are not suitable for jobs that require a lot of precision–instead, you should use high-speeds for jobs that require more torque than a drill can provide.

When you start off building your power tool collection, you may not need an impact driver right away. A drill is sufficient and versatile enough for most basic home projects.

The Best Impact Driver

Now that you know what an impact driver is, you can determine whether an impact driver is right for you.

The best impact driver for you to use largely depends on the type of project that you plan to take on. Be sure to understand how much power you will need for the job.

The best impact driver will provide the right amount of torque or the toughest jobs you intend to use it for, yet you don’t have to break the bank for a good quality impact driver.

Listed below are the 4 best impact drivers for you to consider, based on their ratings and manufacturer quality.

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver

The Dewalt 20V Max XR impact driver operates on a brushless motor and XR Li-Ion batteries for more run time than other similar models. This tool is one of the most versatile options for an impact driver, as it features three speed settings for versatility.

This impact driver’s lightweight design makes it ideal for compact spaces, while the three LED lights will provide visibility in those tight spaces. Although impact drivers are generally not best to use for jobs that require precision, the Dewalt 20V Max XR impact driver provides added control thanks to its precision drive function.

Makita XDT14Z Impact Driver

This Makita Cordless Quick-Shift Mode impact driver is a high-speed tool in a compact size. It runs longer and has more torque and precision features that other impact drivers may lack.

One of the unique features of this impact driver is Quick-Shift Mode, an automatic controller that reduces impact speed and rotation by downshifting before driving the screw into place. It minimizes the damage to both the screws and your work.

Combined with the 3-speed settings, the features of this Makita impact driver will give you more control while allowing you to complete a wide range of fastening tasks that the regular cordless drill could not.

Black & Decker BDID1202 12-Volt NiCad Cordless Impact Driver

This Black & Decker impact driver is an affordable but reliable addition to your toolbox. Providing over 800 inch-pounds of torque, this impact driver provides four times the torque and twice the speed of other power drills to drive screws and other large fasteners.

The compact size of this impact driver makes it ideal for getting into tight areas, and it also includes an impacting block to provide high torque without unwanted kickback. This impact driver includes batteries, and it also comes with a 2-year warranty.

Although it is not the most heavy-duty impact driver, the Black & Decker impact driver is a great choice for those who take on lighter DIY projects that require a little more power than a drill.

Ryobi P238 18V One+ Brushless Cordless Impact Driver

The Ryobi P238 Impact Driver is a small yet powerful tool for all of your DIY needs. As with other impact driver models, it features 3-speed settings, with the top speed described as performing just as powerfully as other bigger brands.

The pistol grip handle has increased friction with a rubber molding between your hand and the tool, giving you excellent control, and the trim-beam lighting prevents shadows from being cast while you work.

One of the best parts about this impact driver is that it is affordable compared to other similar models yet comparable in terms of power and functionality, making it a great choice as a first impact driver for any passionate DIYer.

Final Thoughts

An impact driver may not replace your everyday power drill, but having one can be a welcome addition to your toolbox if you often undertake tasks where you need a little more torque. Impact drills are relatively affordable and can deliver quality results while having you do less work. Determine what your next DIY project will be, then figure out which impact driver will get the job done.

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