10 Best Cordless Impact Drivers of 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks
When it comes to installing or removing screws, nuts, bolts, and more, the cordless impact driver has become our go-to tool.
Recently, it came time to replace our trusted impact driver that had served a long and useful life. While testing as many models as we could find to narrow it down to the best ones available, we found the following 10 models to be worthy.
To help you compare, we have included short reviews of each one. The first three are our top recommendations that we think are your best choices, but read them all and come to your own conclusions.
After our top picks, we’ve created a short buyer’s guide to help you figure out which features you should be prioritizing so you can get the tool that’s best suited for the work you’re going to use it for.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||DEWALT 1/4-Inch Impact Driver Kit||
|Best Value||BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX||
|Premium Choice||Milwaukee M18||
|PORTER-CABLE 1/4-Inch Cordless Impact Driver Kit||
|Bosch 12V 1/4-Inch Hex||
The 10 Best Cordless Impact Drivers
1. DEWALT 1/4-Inch Impact Driver Kit – Best Overall
If you want affordable, lightweight, and compact all in one package, then we think the DeWalt DCF885CC1 ¼-inch impact is the best electric impact driver you’ll find. Just 5.55 inches long from front to back and weighing in at a mere 2.8 pounds, this is one of the smallest and lightest units we tested. Don’t let that fool you though, inside that small exoskeleton lies a very powerful motor that’s packing 1,400 inch-pounds of torque and can reach speeds of up to 2,800 RPMs. It’s not brushless, unfortunately, but at this price, it’s hard to complain.
Not only can this tool fit into hard to reach spaces, but it can also light them up with the built-in LED. While this is a very handy feature, this model was missing a belt clip, which we would have liked to see. When it comes to longevity, the DeWalt power tools are backed by a three-year warranty that protects your investment should anything happen to go wrong. Altogether, we think the DeWalt provides an incredible value that’s hard to beat, which earns it our number one recommendation.
2. BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit – Best Value
Packing nearly as much power as our top pick at less than half the price, the BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX impact driver would be hard to beat for the title of best battery-powered impact driver for the money. At 1,375 inch-pounds of torque, it’s got an impressive weight to power ratio. With a max speed of 3,000 RPMs, it’s actually one of the higher speed units we tested. That said, it’s pretty heavy, weighing in at nearly 3.5 pounds.
Although this device does have nearly the same specs on paper as the DeWalt that made our first pick, it’s not as capable in the real world. If you ask it to perform too much work at the top of its limits, expect the BLACK+DECKER to let you know it’s displeased. Ours started emitting a burnt smell after a few dozen long lag bolts pushed it to its limits. For the price though, this impact driver is hard to beat. If you need commercial-grade power though, we’d still recommend spending a bit more for the DeWalt quality.
3. Milwaukee M18 Impact Driver Kit – Premium Choice
Though it is priced a bit higher than either of the two higher-ranking tools, the Milwaukee M18 ¼-inch hex impact driver is still one of the best values out of all the models we tested. As a kit, this impact driver includes two batteries, which is a definite advantage over the single battery included with most kits. Sweetening the deal, the Milwaukee is one of the most capable drivers we tested, loaded with 1,500 inch-pounds of usable torque. As always, we’re fans of the useful extra features, and this model has both a trigger operated LED light and a belt clip for your convenience.
At just about 3 pounds, this isn’t the lightest model we tested, but it’s also not the heaviest. We thought it was very compact and manageable given the amount of torque it’s got lurking beneath. Where the Milwaukee really shines though is the dependability. Backed with a five-year warranty, this is one tool you can count on to provide problem-free use for many years.
4. PORTER-CABLE 1/4-Inch Cordless Impact Driver Kit
The Porter-Cable ¼-inch cordless impact driver was one of the best units we tested, but it was just a bit outclassed in one respect or another by each of the three tools ahead of it. With 1,450 inch-pounds of torque, it’s one of the more powerful drivers we tested. It’s also on the heavier side at 3.2 pounds. It’s not one of the cheaper models we tried, but it’s also not overpriced. It does come equipped with several useful convenience features such as the battery gauge for checking how much power is left and the LED light that keeps your work visible when you pull the trigger.
The biggest drawback to the Porter-Cable PCCK640LB is the poor warranty. On the surface, it looks great. A three-year limited warranty doesn’t sound bad at all! However, if you dig a bit beneath the surface, you’ll see it’s not as great as it seems at first glance. Past one year, the warranty will not cover failure from normal use. This means that you effectively get a one-year warranty with this tool, instead of the three-year warranty they entice you with.
5. Bosch 12V 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver Kit
At just 5.4 inches long and weighing in at a measly 2.1 pounds, the Bosch 12V Max ¼-inch impact driver is one of the lightest and smallest ones around. There’s a drawback to that small stature though. This compact tool only delivers 930 inch-pounds of max torque. For light use around the home, this may be adequate. For serious use in a workshop or garage, you’re probably going to be left wanting.
Since it’s small and relatively underpowered, this tool is also very affordable. The battery life is pretty dismal, though this kit includes two batteries for your convenience. The LED light on the front is a nice touch that we always appreciate, and it comes especially in handy in the cramped dark quarters that this little tool can reach. If you need a tool for the hardest to reach nuts, bolts, and screws, then the Bosch 12V impact driver may be worth a look.
6. Makita XDT12Z Brushless Cordless Impact Driver
The Makita XDT12Z cordless impact driver has a pretty impressive stats list. With such a close battle being fought between all of the drivers on this list, the thing that hurt the Makita was the extremely high price. It cost more than double what other models did, and those models included a battery whereas this is a stand-alone tool. Aside from the exorbitant price though, there’s not much to complain about with this tool.
Equipped with a stout 1,550 inch-pounds of torque, the Makita is a very capable driver. The brushless motor ensures a long service life and excellent battery efficiency. It’s very lightweight and compact, able to squeeze into any hard to reach space. Despite being a great tool overall, the price of the Makita is too much to overcome for our top recommendations.
7. SKIL 20V 1/4 Inch Hex Cordless Impact Driver
The SKIL 20V ¼-inch hex cordless impact driver is affordable, though not the cheapest that we tested. It’s compact, though it’s also pretty heavy at almost four pounds. Despite the stout weight, it’s one of the weaker drivers that we tested, packing in only 1,100 inch-pounds of torque. We appreciated the built-in LED light that’s operated by the trigger, and we also were pleased to see the belt clip attached as well.
Despite the convenient features, one thing we didn’t enjoy was the short battery life. Each battery seemed to drain in just a few screws, making it very inconvenient since you’ll be constantly recharging your batteries. Despite the low price, we think there are other models priced similarly that provide a much better value.
8. Hitachi 18-Volt 1/4-Inch Cordless Impact Driver Kit
Hitachi is a well-respected name in tools and their 18-Volt ¼-inch cordless impact driver is an excellent device, though it doesn’t quite hang with the big boys in our top three. To start, it’s priced pretty high, which would be fine if it had some premium performance to back it up. With only 1,280 inch-pounds of torque, it’s certainly not in the running for strongest driver among the models we tested.
At 3.1 pounds, it’s not exactly heavy, but it’s also not one of the lightest models we’ve reviewed. We did like the LED light, but also missed the non-existent belt clip. Overall, we think it’s a very solid tool, though several others pack in more features at a better price to provide a higher value.
9. GALAX PRO 20V 1/4″ Hex Cordless Impact Driver
For the low price the GALAX PRO 20V impact driver sells for, we didn’t want to get our hopes up. We’re glad we didn’t, because it would have been a bit of a letdown. Though it’s not a terrible tool, it just doesn’t live up to the bar set by the impact drivers that topped this list. As soon as we held it, we could tell it was cheap construction. The plastic doesn’t feel very rugged, and it just doesn’t feel nice to hold, although it is very lightweight.
With just 855 inch-pounds of torque, the GALAX PRO doesn’t produce enough power for the more difficult screws and bolts. Though the low price seems like a great deal at face value, when you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find that this tool will leave you wanting. For a budget-minded choice, we would recommend you go for the BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX instead.
10. Ridgid Lithium Ion Cordless Impact Driver
Though the Ridgid R86037 is one of the most powerful impact drivers we tested with 2,250 inch-pounds of torque stuffed in, it’s not enough to help this tool claw its way up our recommendations list. The first dark mark for the Ridgid is its weight of 3.5 pounds without the battery. Once you add in a battery pack, this is going to be a hefty tool to lug around for screw after screw. We did appreciate the brushless motor though, which helps the batteries to last a very long time and should provide good longevity for this tool overall.
One of the big drawing points for Ridgid is the lifetime warranty included with all of their power tools. This warranty isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be though. Ridgid will only honor it if the tool was purchased at The Home Depot. Keep this in mind if you plan on purchasing any Ridgid tool. If it’s purchased from a third-party dealer, the warranty will not be honored.
Now that you’ve read our opinions on the top ten cordless impact drivers of 2020, you may be ready to make a purchase and get to work. While we certainly wouldn’t fault you for the gung-ho attitude, we would have to suggest slowing down for a second to read this buyer’s guide. In this section, we’re going to cover the most important features that you should look for in a cordless impact driver. These are the same features that we used to compare the top ten in our reviews section above. Once you’ve finished reading the buyer’s guide, you should feel confident about choosing the right impact driver to fit your needs and wants.
At the end of the day, what matters most about your impact driver is that it can complete the functions you require. If you go to remove a bolt and your driver can’t budge it, you’re not going to be pleased. Likewise, if you’re trying to install a long screw and your gun just can’t quite power it enough to reach proper depth, you’re going to feel like you’ve made the wrong purchase.
Luckily, the torque specs of each model are available for comparison. Although all of these have pretty decent torque ratings, there is still some pretty significant disparity. Look for something with at least 1,000 inch-pounds of torque if you want to be sure it’s capable enough for a majority of work. If you know you’ll be using your impact driver in a heavy-duty capacity, then you may want to pick a model with a stout torque rating that is guaranteed to handle even the most stubborn of screws and bolts.
For the most part, these models are pretty close together in weight. However, small differences can add up over the course of several hours of work time. If you’re not going to be using your impact driver for extended work sessions, then you may not find a few ounces of weight to be worth saving. On the other hand, for those who plan to use their tool for hours at a time, we suggest spending a bit more to get the lightest model possible. Your arms will thank you for it in the end!
Sometimes, you need to maneuver your impact driver into a cramped area. In these situations, you’re going to be very pleased with a more compact driver that is able to make the squeeze. A larger unit may be more powerful, but if you can’t reach the screw or bolt you need, then all that power doesn’t do much good. This is where some planning can come in handy. Before making a purchase, determine exactly what your impact driver will be used for so that you can pick a tool that will fit that purpose the best.
Some features are really just about convenience and making your life easier. We love these features and hope to see them on just about every model we test. Of course, this isn’t always the case. While these features may not be crucial to the basic function of the impact driver, they definitely aid in increasing the tool’s usefulness many times over.
One of our favorite convenience features is the LED light built into many drivers today. This light turns on when you operate the trigger, and will generally remain lit for 10-20 seconds after the trigger is released. When you’re working in a dark room or under a cabinet where there isn’t any light, you’ll be very thankful for the help that an LED can lend your eyes!
Another convenient feature that we always appreciate is a belt clip. It’s just a small metal clip that screws into the frame of the gun to allow it to hang from your belt or pocket. If you’re going to be moving around a lot or using your hands and intermittently needing access to your impact driver, you’ll find the belt clip to be an invaluable addition that helps increase your productivity by saving you time.
Hopefully, after reading our reviews and buyer’s guide you have a good idea of which cordless impact driver has the features you need most. For our money, we would go with the DeWalt DCF8851 ¼-inch impact driver. We think it’s the best overall thanks to its very low weight of just 2.8 pounds, stout torque rating, and compact form that’s all protected by a three-year warranty.
For the best value, it’s hard to beat the budget-priced performance of the BLACK+DECKER 20V Max impact driver. With nearly as much power as the DeWalt at half the price, it’s got a power to weight ratio that’s hard to beat. Finally, the Milwaukee M18 impact driver is our premium choice, for when function matters and money doesn’t. With an impressive 1,500 inch-pounds of torque, it leads the pack though it still remains compact. The five-year warranty is one of the best and it still packs in convenience features like the LED lights and belt clip. In the end, we feel confident recommending any of these impact drivers. We’re sure they’ll live up to expectations and become useful additions to your tool collection.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Cordless Impact Drivers
- 1. DEWALT 1/4-Inch Impact Driver Kit – Best Overall
- 2. BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit – Best Value
- 3. Milwaukee M18 Impact Driver Kit – Premium Choice
- 4. PORTER-CABLE 1/4-Inch Cordless Impact Driver Kit
- 5. Bosch 12V 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver Kit
- 6. Makita XDT12Z Brushless Cordless Impact Driver
- 7. SKIL 20V 1/4 Inch Hex Cordless Impact Driver
- 8. Hitachi 18-Volt 1/4-Inch Cordless Impact Driver Kit
- 9. GALAX PRO 20V 1/4″ Hex Cordless Impact Driver
- 10. Ridgid Lithium Ion Cordless Impact Driver
- Buyer’s Guide