It’s no secret that impact drivers are far superior to standard drills for to installing or removing screws, bolts, nuts, and more. Meanwhile, impact drivers are typically more compact and lightweight, while offering an impressive power-to-weight ratio. That said, adding another power tool to your collection can be an expensive investment, especially when a tool you already own can perform the same job. Luckily, many of the impact drivers on the market today are affordable. We’ve sorted through as many as we could find and tested each one to see how they compare. To help you decide which one will serve you best, the following nine reviews will compile all the information that we gathered during our testing. We’ve picked our absolute favorites to recommend to you, but we thought all nine of these are worth mentioning.
|Ryobi One+ Cordless||1 Year||4.10/|
It’s hard to find brushless power tools in the budget price range, but Makita has managed it with the XDT131 brushless cordless impact driver. If you don’t know about the benefits of brushless motors, they last longer, they’re more efficient, have a higher power-to-weight ratio, and are just all-around better performing than their brushed counterparts. This model lives up to the hype, producing 1,500 inch-pounds of torque in a package that’s just 5″ long. Not only is it nice and compact, but this tool weighs just 3.3 pounds fully loaded up with a battery.
On top of being powerful, light, and small, the Makita brushless impact driver packs in some excellent convenience features. The trigger operated LED is a feature we think is pretty much necessary, and luckily, this device has one. We also appreciate the belt clip for when you need to have both hands available. It’s pretty hard to beat the great feature list of the Makita XDT131 at any price point. For this low price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any impact driver that offers more, which is why it’s our pick for best overall.
Once you purchase an impact driver, you’re still going to want some of your budget leftover for bits, sockets, and other attachments. The BLACK+DECKER BDC120C MAX impact driver is priced low enough to allow you this freedom without having to sacrifice on the quality of your tool. The 1,375 inch-pounds of torque the BLACK+DECKER provides isn’t class-leading, but it’s sufficient for most work you’ll do around the house. In our testing, it wasn’t able to break stubborn lug nuts loose, but it was able to do everything else we asked of it.
Once we held it, we realized how bulky and large this impact driver is. It’s almost the size of a normal drill. Despite this, it’s pretty lightweight, coming in just over 3 pounds with the battery installed. We think it’s a good mix of power and portability for the price. While we did appreciate that there’s an LED on the front, it was very weak and not very useful. Overall, we were quite impressed with the BLACK+DECKER BDC120C and think it’s the best budget impact driver under $100 for the money.
Weighing a mere 2.8 pounds with the battery installed, the DeWalt DCF885C1 is one of the lightest models that we tested in our budget impact driver shootout. It’s very small and compact, but it still manages to pack in a powerful 1,400 inch-pounds of torque. Since it’s so small, you’ll likely be maneuvering it into some dark and hard-to-reach areas. When you do, the three LEDs on the front will illuminate your workspace so you can see everything you’re doing.
DeWalt tools are known for being well made, but just to back it up they include a three-year warranty. Since this device is positioned at the very top of the price range, it’s good to have a bit of backup to protect your investment. The real problem that kept this tool from getting our top recommendation though was the poor battery life. We found ourselves needing to stop and recharge the battery more often than almost any other tool we tested. No matter how powerful, compact, and light the DeWalt impact driver is, we can’t quite forgive the poor battery life.
When we first read the spec sheet, we expected the Bosch GDR18V impact driver to be a favorite. While it turned out to be a very solid performer, it didn’t do enough to beat our top picks. The 1,400 inch-pounds of torque sounded great and it’s right up there with the most powerful models we tested for our budget comparisons. In the real world, this number seems to be pretty heavily exaggerated. This device wasn’t able to turn bolts that some of the other tools with the same power rating managed.
Despite being a bit underpowered, the Bosch was pretty quick, hammering out 3,600-IPM, impacts per minute. This allowed us to get long screws in and out faster, but we’d still appreciate a bit more power. Even though it’s not the most powerful, it is one of the bulkier impact drivers we tried. It’s not too heavy though, weighing in at 2.3 pounds without the battery. Though it’s still very capable, we think you’d be better off spending your money on the brushless power and efficiency offered by the Makita in our first position.
Ryobi is one of the more popular manufacturers of low-priced power tools on the market. For this reason, it’s quite possible you already have some of their other One+ tools, making it much cheaper to get started with this impact driver. If you don’t, then we wouldn’t suggest this as a starting point into the lineup. There were some features we liked though. The magnetic tray on top of the battery port is very handy, and we wish other manufacturers would start to follow suit! The 1,600 inch-pounds of torque also make this one of the stronger tools in the price range, and you can feel it when you use it. Of course, that power comes at the sacrifice of form, since this is one of the most cumbersome ones we tried, an issue that knocks off some major points.
Some of our biggest issues came from the LED. To start, it doesn’t turn on until the bit spins. Most models engage at a half-pull so you can see your work without turning the bit. Also, they usually stay on for 10-20 seconds once you let go of the trigger, but the Ryobi skipped this important feature.
Brushless motors at an affordable price had us impressed upon first glance at the Porter-Cable PCCK647LB MAX impact driver. This tool is at the very top of our budget, though it didn’t feel like as much of a value as some of its competitors. When we first picked it up, we could tell it was very lightweight at just 2.9 pounds with the battery. Thanks to the brushless motor, it manages to pack 1,400 inch-pounds of power into its light frame.
Though it’s powerful, it’s not very fast with a max speed of just 2,700 RPMs. It took longer than many of the other models to remove the lengthier screws and bolts. For this price, we were hoping to see a speed selection, though all we got was forward and reverse. Still, none of these drawbacks is what kept the Porter-Cable from achieving a higher position. The biggest issue was the poor quality of the ¼-inch chuck. Ours jammed up in just a few weeks of light use, leaving us unable to remove or replace the bit. Naturally, this was a major disappointment and we expected better from this tool.
If all you care about is getting the smallest, lightest, most compact impact driver in the price range, then you may be attracted to the Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 impact driver. The Milwaukee M12 series is their 12-volt cordless lineup. Naturally, this will be far underpowered compared to the stronger 18V and 20V models that we’re used to testing. With a max torque of 1,000 inch-pounds, this little tool won’t be useful for much more than installing and removing standard screws. Don’t expect it to do much work on your vehicle.
Since it’s so small and can fit into dark and hard to reach areas, the LED lights are a very helpful feature. We also appreciated the fuel gauge which allows you to tell with a glance how much battery life is remaining. Despite these features, nothing this little Milwaukee impact driver did impressed us very much. It’s simply not strong enough for most serious applications and almost felt like a toy instead of a tool. Unless you only need it for the most minor uses around the home, we suggest picking a more powerful, capable impact driver.
If you’ve never heard of Galax Pro before, you’re not alone. They’re a relatively unknown manufacturer, which is probably why their products are so affordable. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you have any of their other products, so you’ll probably be purchasing this as a standalone. It is lower-priced than most of its competitors. Despite this, it’s a similar size and weight and seems to fit right in.
Nothing seems to stick out about it as glaringly negative right off the bat. Once you use it though, you’ll notice that the power is underwhelming. Even regular screws in wood were a bit of a challenge for this gun. Worse yet, the battery dies after installing just a few screws. Even for this low price, we don’t think the Galax Pro cordless impact driver offers much in the line of value. The BLACK+DECKER in our second position is in the same price range but offers much more power in a better-constructed package.
SKIL is a well-known name in tools, and we generally like their products. The ID572702 hex cordless impact driver is one exception. We did like some of the extra features such as the battery gauge and the well-placed LED light, but those were the most positive traits about this tool. It’s very heavy and bulky, feeling much more awkward than the competing models we used.
Despite the large footprint, this is one of the weakest impact drivers we tested, packing only 1,100 inch-pounds of max torque. This is barely more than the Milwaukee 12V managed, though the SKIL impact driver is part of their 20V lithium-ion system. Being underpowered and heavy, we hoped maybe the battery life would be exemplary. Unfortunately, we were disappointed once again by a very short battery life that had us continually stopping to recharge. Overall, we don’t think this is one of the best models available since you could have something stronger and smaller for the price.
There are many different features and functions on each of these impact drivers to compare. Though all of them perform the same basic task, the efficiency with which they perform their work varies greatly. Despite having so many different features to compare, we think that there are two main characteristics that you should prioritize the most when looking for a budget impact driver.
If your impact driver can’t drive screws and bolts, then what good is it? The torque rating of each tool will let you know ahead of time how much power it’s got behind the trigger. More torque is better, but most of the tasks you’ll be completing around your home and garage should be achievable with 1,400-1,500 inch-pounds of torque. Much below that and you’ll start to feel it struggling with the more stubborn ones.
One of the advantages to an impact driver over a traditional drill is the decreased size and weight. While most of these are smaller than a regular drill, there’s still some discrepancy from model to model. If you find yourself constantly having to squeeze into too small of spaces with your impact driver, you may prioritize a small size over a higher power level. Conversely, if you’re using your impact driver for putting together decks and basic household work, then you may prefer power instead of a smaller form factor. For working on vehicles, you’ll want to find the model that’s the best compromise of both. This will allow you to have plenty of maneuverability under the hood, while still having the power to break lug nuts loose.
Our reviews have covered and compared the nine impact drivers under $100 that we thought outperformed the competition. However, two of those stood out head and shoulders above the rest in our opinion, and these two get our highest recommendations. We think the best overall is the Makita XDT131 brushless cordless impact driver. The brushless motor provides excellent battery efficiency in a compact and lightweight package. It’s also impressively strong with 1,500 inch-pounds of max torque with 3,400-RPM speed capabilities. We think it’s pretty hard to beat the value this tool provides, which is why it receives our top honors.
For the best value of the bunch, we have to give the title to the BLACK+DECKER BDC120C MAX impact driver. It packs 1,375 inch-pounds of torque into a lightweight package that’s available for one of the lowest prices of any model we tested. Both of these tools are solid choices, and we feel confident giving both of them our highest recommendations.
Featured Image Credit By: Bosch Hex Impact Driver Kit
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!