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8 Best 12V Impact Drivers of 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

person using Bosch PS41-2A Impact Driver

Compact, mobile, comfortable, and long-lasting, the 12-volt impact driver is a surprisingly useful addition to your toolkit. But, with manufacturers including the likes of Makita, Bosch, DeWalt, and the omnipresent Milwaukee, vying for your attention with a wide range of models, it can be difficult to determine which is the best 12-volt impact driver, and which will wind up sitting at the back of your workshop gathering dust.

To help you find the right model for your needs, we’ve compiled a list of 8 of the best models, based on mobility; durability; torque and power; recharging and battery capabilities; additional features; and more.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2020

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Bosch PS41-2A Impact Driver Bosch PS41-2A Impact Driver
  • 930 in-lbs of torque
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Includes two batteries and a charger
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 Impact Driver Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 Impact Driver
  • Uses compatible Milwaukee batteries
  • 1,000 in-lbs of torque
  • 2,500 RPM and 3,300 IPM speeds
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    DEWALT DCF815S2 Impact Driver DEWALT DCF815S2 Impact Driver
  • Maximum speeds of 2,450 RPM and 3,400 IPM
  • 3 LEDs provide light without shadow
  • Two batteries
  • Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver
  • Short
  • Light
  • Maximum speeds of 2,700 RPM and 3,200 IPM
  • Ridgid R82230N Impact Driver Ridgid R82230N Impact Driver
  • Reasonable price
  • 1,100 in-lbs of torque
  • Kit includes two batteries and charger
  • The 8 Best 12-Volt Impact Drivers

    1. Bosch PS41-2A Impact Driver – Best Overall

    The Bosch PS41-2A Impact Driver is a medium torque, high-speed driver. It is compact and mobile, weighing in at just 2.1 pounds. A head length of 5.4 inchesmeans that you will be able to navigate this model into tight spaces, and is one of the shortest heads in this list. The pistol grip handle means that the Bosch is comfortable, even for use over prolonged periods.

    It has an LED guide light. While it isn’t the brightest light, this ensures that it doesn’t sap battery life and it still provides more than enough illumination in gloomy conditions. It has a battery gauge so you don’t have to wait until it gives out completely to start recharging: a handy feature that isn’t found in all competitors. You receive two Li-ion batteries and a capable BC330 charger, as part of the kit, which also includes two ¼-inch driver bits and a storage bag.

    The maximum speed of the Bosch PS41-2A is 2,600 RPM while under no load and it has a maximum hammer speed of 3,100 IPM.

    The Bosch has some very good features, is a durable unit, and comes replete with accessories. However, it is more expensive than most other models.

    Pros
    • 930 in-lbs of torque
    • Lightweight and compact
    • Includes two batteries and a charger
    • Maximum speeds of 2,600 RPM and 3,100 IPM
    Cons
    • Features and accessories make this kit expensive

    2. Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 Impact Driver – Best Value

    Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 Impact Driver

    While the Bosch is one of the most expensive models on this list, the Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 Impact Driver sits firmly at the other end of the scale. It costs a fraction of the price of some of the more expensive models and represents the best 12-volt impact driver for the money.

    It is slightly longer than the Bosch, which means that it won’t fit into as tight a space, but it is slightly lighter. Like many of these devices, it has an ergonomically designed handle so it can be used comfortably.

    The Milwaukee has impressive power, delivering 1,000 in-lbs of torque, and it has top speeds of 2,500 RPM and 3,300 IPM.

    The 2462-20 is designed for light tasks, and is very well priced. It also uses the same Lithium-Ion batteries as other tools in the same range, so it is a great purchase for regular Milwaukee users. However, despite being lighter than the Bosch it isn’t as small, which means that it isn’t as convenient. It is also quite loud for what is basically a screwdriver, and it doesn’t include the same range of included accessories.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Uses compatible Milwaukee batteries
    • 1,000 in-lbs of torque
    • 2,500 RPM and 3,300 IPM speeds
    Cons
    • No accessories
    • Loud
    • Not as small as the Bosch

    3. DEWALT DCF815S2 Impact Driver – Premium Choice

    DEWALT DCF815S2 Impact Driver

    The DeWalt DCF815S2 Impact Driver is 6.25 inches long, so while it is small, it is by no means the smallest in our list of reviews. It weighs 2.3 pounds, which, again, means that it isn’t the best performing for this metric, although the weight is nicely spread across the device, making it comfortable to handle. And its ergonomic handle further improves its comfort level.

    Its 950 in-lbs of torque is about average, but the DeWalt uses it well, delivering maximum speeds of 2,450 RPM and 3,400 IPM.

    The DeWalt performs about average in respect of its power and speeds, and isn’t as small as a lot of the more compact models. Despite this, it is one of the most expensive models available. Fortunately, there are some areas where it excels.

    The DCF815S2 comes with two batteries, which means that you can charge both for prolonged work periods, or charge one while using the other. It also has a storage bag, which can be used for transporting or preventing damage while not in use. The belt hook is an inexpensive but honestly valuable little addition, and the three LED lights provide much greater illumination than is offered in a lot of similar devices.

    Pros
    • Maximum speeds of 2,450 RPM and 3,400 IPM
    • 3 LEDs provide light without shadow
    • Two batteries
    • Storage bag included
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Needs to be smaller

    4. Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver

    Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver

    The Metabo HPT WH10DFL2 Impact Driver is a really light impact driver, weighing a paltry 1.8 pounds. It is also 5.9 inches in length, so is short enough to get into tight spaces, but its overall footprint is larger than a lot of the tools in this list because of its battery pod design. In terms of ergonomics, the handle is contoured nicely and the weight is spread out evenly across the tool.

    The Hitachi has 955 in-lbs of torque and maximum speeds of 2,700 RPM, which is above average, and 3,200 IPM, which is about average. Although its torque rating is less than some other models, it delivers the torque more efficiently than a lot of other models, which means that you get consistently more power with the HPT WH10DFL2.

    Its single LED light does a half-decent job of illuminating but doesn’t eliminate shadows like the DeWalt’s triple bank of lights. It does have a belt hook, which is convenient for carrying the screwdriver, and it comes with two batteries and the charger. It’s reasonably priced but the Metabo’s lack of power and its oddly large footprint let it down.

    Pros
    • Reasonably priced
    • Short
    • Light
    • Maximum speeds of 2,700 RPM and 3,200 IPM
    Cons
    • 955 in-lbs torque could be more
    • Larger than most, despite being shorter

    5. Ridgid R82230N Impact Driver

    Ridgid R82230N Impact Driver

    The Ridgid R88230N Impact Driver is an average-priced 12-volt impact driver. It weighs in at 1.9 pounds and is 5.4 inches long, making it easily one of the smallest models available. However, it has a pod-style battery, which means that the handle is thicker than some other models, despite its size. One area that needs improvement is in the bit changing method used. Most devices now offer one-handed bit changing, but the Ridgid will require that you use both hands.

    It has an impressive maximum torque rating of 1,100 in-lbs, but its maximum speeds are lower than average at 2,000 RPM and 3,000 IPM.

    The drill has a belt hook and a single LED guide light. Although this lightweight device can be bought dill only, the full kit offers a drill driver, two batteries, a charger, and a soft carry case, and it represents good value for money.

    Pros
    • Reasonable price
    • 1,100 in-lbs of torque
    • Kit includes two batteries and charger
    Cons
    • Not as powerful as others
    • Handle is quite thick
    • Low 2,000 RPM and 3,000 IPM speeds
    • Bit changing is cumbersome

    6. SKIL PWRCore Cordless Impact Driver

    SKIL PWRCore ID574401 Cordless Impact Driver

    The SKIL PWRCore ID574401 Cordless Impact Driver is a really powerful but inexpensive, cordless driver. In fact, when you buy the device alone, it is one of the cheapest on our list and has some of the best no load speeds and torque ratings. Under load, the driver can feel powerless, and if you want features like the impressive Halo LED light, you will have to pay quite a lot more.

    The SKIL is aimed at the DIY market, which means that you won’t be using it all day, every day. At 2.0 pounds without the battery and 2.7 pounds with the power pack, it is heavier than other models. However, its only 5.9 inches long. This isn’t the shortest but its short enough that it should reach tight screwing positions. It has a brushless motor, which means that it should be quieter and not as violent, although it is louder than most of the other brushless models.

    The battery has a USB charging port, which means that it can be charged using chargers for most mobile phones and other mobile devices.

    Pros
    • USB charger
    • Cheap
    • Halo light is excellent
    Cons
    • Not as quiet as expected
    • Heavy
    • Good features and decent kits cost extra

    7. Makita DT03Z Cordless Impact Driver

    Makita DT03Z Cordless Impact Driver

    The Makita DT03Z Cordless Impact Driver is a compact and lightweight device. Under no-load, it offers 970 in-lbs of torque and maximum speeds of 2,600 RPM and 3,500 IPM. With the battery attached, it weighs 2.3 pounds so it is really light. It is 6 iinches long and it uses a clip-on battery, so it has a thin and ergonomically designed handle that is comfortable to use for virtually any job. The slide battery also enables the impact driver to stand on its own, which is handy for temporary storage.

    However, the Makita is expensive. For the driver alone, it costs the same as other kits: kits that come with two batteries and a charger. This means that you will have to pay extra or forego the benefit of having two fully charged batteries when you start a new project.

    Pros
    • Good ergonomics
    • Lightweight
    • 2,600 RPM and 3,500 IPM
    • Clip on battery
    Cons
    • Very expensive
    • Standard kit doesn’t include a battery

    8. Craftsman Nextec Impact Driver

    Craftsman Nextec 320.61189 Impact Driver

    The Craftsman Nextec 320.61189 Impact Driver is small and light. It has a length of just under 6 inches and weighs 1.8 pounds without the battery. The handle has been designed for comfortable use, and it is well weighted. It also has an LED light to illuminate the area you’re working on. The bare kit does not include a battery or charger, and by the time you add these costs, it becomes an expensive item. Despite being one of the more expensive models, however, it is somewhat lacking in power compared to the rest of the devices in our list. It has 810 in-lbs of torque and maximum speeds of 2,200 RPM and 3,000 IPM.

    Pros
    • Small
    • Light
    • Comfortable to hold
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Lacking in power
    • Poor value for money
    • No battery

    Buyer’s Guide

    Used to drive in long fastenings to decking without stripping the heads, the impact driver was once a rare luxury. Professionals used electric drills or manual screwdrivers, while DIYers had to make do with whatever they could lay their hands on.

    Nowadays, the 12-volt impact driver is one of several ranges, with 18-volt alternatives also being commonplace. What’s more, there are numerous options to choose from when buying, and a host of features designed to increase the functionality and usefulness of the tool.

    When compiling our reviews, we looked at the following factors to find the best model that your money can buy.

    Torque

    Torque is a measure of rotational power. Huge torque is the single biggest benefit that this device offers over electric screwdrivers and drills. It is this that enables you to drive long screws into decking, and which prevents the impact driver from stripping and blunting the screw head. While the 12-volt impact driver cannot match the 18-volt model’s 2,000 inch-pound’s level, you can still expect to see ratings of 1,000 inch-pounds. This is roughly the same amount of torque you would expect to get from an 18-volt drill, but in a more convenient, lighter, and more efficient machine.

    Impact drills typically display a no-load torque rating. This is a measure of the rotation power of the motor when it is rotating freely and, typically, the greater the torque, the greater the driver.

    RPM And IPM

    Torque is only one measure that you will see when choosing an impact driver: the other two are Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) and Impacts Per Minute (IPM).

    A higher RPM means that the driver will be able to do its job, screwing fastenings in or out, more quickly. However, most modern drivers offer power-saving capabilities by allowing variable RPMs. The harder you press the trigger, the higher the RPMs. Expect maximum RPMs between 2,000 and 3,000 in a 12-volt device.

    IPM, or Impacts Per Minute, is a measure of how many times the internal hammer strikes against the anvil in a minute. The higher the IPM rating of a device, the more often it can pulse, and the better it can cope with screwing awkward fastenings into difficult materials. IPM ratings vary from 3,000 to 3,500 in impact drivers of this power.

    Size and Weight

    Although torque is the biggest benefit of using this kind of device, maneuvrability is also important. The length of the driver determines how tight a space you will be able to screw into. If you’re working in an especially tight area, look for an impact driver with a length of less than 5.5 inches. You should find most of these devices have a length of less than 6 inches.

    The weight of the device determines how comfortable it is for long-term use. Light devices weigh in below 2 pounds without the battery. When comparing the weight of devices, some manufacturers may list the weight including the battery.

    As well as total weight, consider the spread of the weight. If there’s too much weight at the front or the base of the driver, it will be uncomfortable to hold for long periods. Ideally, the weight should be spread evenly across the whole device.

    person using DEWALT DCF815S2 Impact Driver

    Ergonomic Design

    Look at the width and grip of the handle. A handle that is too thick will be too difficult to hold, while a thin handle will cause the driver to slip out of your hand. One of the factors that influences the thickness of the handle is the type of battery that is used. A pod style battery means that the handle has to be thicker to accommodate it. A clip-in battery can have a thinner handle that is the right thickness for prolonged use.

    You can also look for soft-grip handles. These will dampen vibrations, making it easier to hold the driver for long periods. Repetitive stress is most often associated with regular and prolonged use, but if you aren’t used to using this kind of device, even an hour or two screwing down decking can leave you with blistered and raw hands. A rubberized grip can help prevent this.

    Motor Type

    Some devices boast a brushless motor. Brushless motors are more efficient, generate less heat, and vibrate less. They will last longer, require less maintenance, and typically even have lower ongoing energy usage. However, they do cost more. If a device has a brushless motor, the manufacturer will list it as a feature. If there is no mention of motor type, it is reasonable to assume that it is a brushed motor.

    Drill Features

    Below are some of the features you can expect to see on 12-volt impact drivers:

    • LED Lights – An LED light is directed at the area that you’re working, illuminating the work area and the fastener. A single light can give a general glow but will usually leave shadows. Multiple lights, or a halo LED light ring, eliminates shadows, and gives the best overall lighting result.
    • One-Handed Chucks – Using both hands to replace the chuck bit takes time. For professionals, this extra time does add up. For DIY enthusiasts, it is arguably less important, but being able to change chuck with one hand means that you don’t have to break the flow of work once you’ve started.
    • Belt Hooks – While this is definitely not an essential item, it is a useful little feature and, considering the minimal amount it would cost to implement, should feature on more of these devices. The belt hook will prove invaluable if you’re climbing up and down a ladder.
    • Charge Gauge – A charge gauge may be found on the tool itself or on the battery. It shows how much charge is left in a battery before you have to plug it in and recharge it. It’s a handy feature that prevents you from having to gamble on whether to recharge or not.

    What’s Included?

    Always check what is included with a drill when buying. Not only does it enable you to compare price on a like-for-like basis, but allows you to check that you have everything you need before you start work.

    • Battery – A battery is a key component in a cordless power tool. Surprisingly, one isn’t included in every impact driver purchase. This does mean that if you have a compatible battery, you don’t have the unnecessary expense of buying another. Some kits include two batteries, which is an added convenience because it means that you can either use one while charging the other or charge them both for prolonged use.
    • Charger – A battery alone is of no use because without a charger you will only get a single use. Some recent batteries can be charged via a USB cable, which most of us have laying around. Otherwise, ensure you have a compatible charger already, or that you get one with your purchase.
    • Case – A carry or storage case is a convenient addition to your purchase. It can prevent damage to the drill, loss of the parts, and allows you to keep everything neat and tidy, even when not in use. Hard cases offer better protection but are not as flexible, while soft cases can be placed anywhere but won’t prevent the same amount of physical damage as a hard case.

    divider 8

    Conclusion

    There are a lot of factors to consider when buying an impact driver.

    • Should you splash out and get a brushless motor?
    • Do you need a model that will get into really tight corners?
    • Will you be using it for a prolonged period so need a rubberized grip and ergonomic handle?

    Hopefully, using our reviews, you can find the right model that meets all of your requirements and makes the job easier. We found the Bosch PS41-2A Impact Driver to be the best overall device. Although its torque rating was lower and price higher than some other models, it has excellent RPM and IPM, and it comes with two batteries and a charger so you get everything you need. The Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 Impact Driver represents excellent value for money and, although it isn’t as small as the Bosch, it is compatible with Milwaukee batteries so you can save on the cost of a battery and charger, too.

    More impact-driver related posts:

    Which 18V impact driver is our favorite?

    Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: Which is Best for Your Needs?

    Ryobi P236 vs P237 Impact Drivers: Which One’s Best for Your Needs?

    Best Drill & Impact Driver Combo Kits of 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

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