The best impact drivers of 2024

When it's time to drive fasteners into wood, these are the tools you should reach for first—you know the drill.

Best overall

Milwaukee makes one of the best impact driver kits.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hex Hydraulic Driver Kit

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Best combo

Craftsman makes the best impact driver combo, which includes a drill.

Craftsman Cordless Drill Combo

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Best budget

Dewalt makes the best impact driver at a budget-friendly price.

Dewalt Atomic 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit

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While a cordless drill is an indispensable power tool for many applications, it has limitations when it comes to driving screws and bolts into wood—and that’s where the impact driver comes in. Impact drivers are similar in appearance to a cordless drill, but they pack a much bigger punch with their ability to create 1,500 inch-pounds or more of torque. This makes them capable of driving a 6-inch lag bolt into a stud or a long wood screw through multiple 2x4s. Their ability to drive even large fasteners into wood has made impact drivers essential companions to the cordless drill. A simple search for impact drivers reveals a broad range of prices, making it confusing to select the right one. This guide drills deep into the specs to determine the crucial features when shopping and offers up some of the best impact drivers on the market.

How we chose the best impact drivers

As someone who spends a fair amount of time on DIY projects around the house, I use a lot of power tools. My impact driver sees perhaps more use than any other power tool in my arsenal, whether I’m using it to drive a bolt into garage shelving or raise the leveling jacks on an RV. I used my personal experience to create this list of top impact drivers, choosing from a selection of more than 30 models.

Brand: Tool companies live and die by their reputation, which is why the brand is such an important factor when it comes to power tools. That’s why my selections only include tools from well-established power tool companies.

Battery: A cordless tool is only as powerful as the attached battery. With that in mind, I only chose 18-volt and 20-volt impact drivers (with the exception of our compact selection). These drivers provide the torque and battery life necessary to be consistently useful.

Functions: Impact drivers with advanced settings that allow the user to adjust the torque and speed, set screws easier, or prevent stripping ranked higher than those with only basic functions.

Value: While I didn’t put a premium on price, I did favor impact drivers that offered more power and features for less, while avoiding models that I felt were overpriced.

The best impact drivers: Reviews & Recommendations

Whether you’re a pro who uses an impact driver daily or a DIYer who is building up a toolbox, we’ve rounded up the best options with a variety of power at a range of price points.

Best overall: Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hex Hydraulic Driver Kit

Best overall

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hex Hydraulic Driver Kit

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Why it made the cut: A hydraulic drive and four operating modes give this impact driver superior power and control, placing it firmly at the head of the class.

Specs

  • Torque: 2,000 inch-pounds
  • Battery: 18 volts
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

Pros

  • Compact size allows it to get into tight spaces
  • Powerful and quiet hydraulic drive
  • Four drive modes prevent strip outs

Cons

  • Expensive

Technology sets the Milwaukee M18 Fuel impact driver apart from the rest. Its hydraulic drive sustains torque better than other impact drivers, allowing it to drive faster and with more power. With so much torque, impact drivers always risk stripping out a screw head. The Milwaukee M18 solves this problem by featuring a self-tapping screw mode that helps to start the screw without stripping it out. With its four drive modes, the user can tailor the speed of this driver to suit any job. We also like the small profile of this driver. At less than 5 inches long, this driver is compact enough to fit into tight spaces.;

While we love the power an impact driver provides, they are notoriously noisy devices. The M18 Fuel is one of the quieter models on the market. Its hydraulic drive technology eliminates the metal-on-metal contact that makes other impact drivers scream like a jackhammer. A battery gauge is a useful additional feature. Our one gripe with this model is that the M18’s single LED light only provides a dim view of the work area.

Best for pros: Makita LXT 4-Speed Impact Driver

Best for pros

Makita LXT 4-Speed Impact Drive Kit

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Why it made the cut: The various modes and settings on the LXT give the user a level of control that simply isn’t available on any other impact driver on the market.

Specs

  • Torque: 1,600 inch-pounds
  • Battery: 18 volts
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds

Pros

  • Loaded with speed settings and modes
  • Advanced technology automatically adjusts speed and torque
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Expensive for bare tool

Makita has made a name for itself by pushing the technology envelope with its power tools, and that’s on full display with the LXT. One can tell the difference between it and lower-end models just by pulling the trigger. But the smoothness of the motor isn’t all that sets the LXT apart. While other impact drivers are limited to pressure-sensitive triggers, the LXT is loaded with speed settings and modes, all designed to maximize the driver’s efficiency in a broad variety of applications.

The Makita has specific speed settings for standard fasteners and bolts and tightening modes designed to prevent stripping or breaking. There’s even an assist mode that helps to prevent cross-threading by driving at slower speeds until the screw begins to tighten.

While these features may only serve to confuse the average DIYer, they’re invaluable to a pro who may be using the driver for jobs that require repetitive tasks where delays from slow tools or damaged fasteners or slow tools equate to lost dollars.

Best cordless: Dewalt Atomic 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit

Best budget

Dewalt Atomic 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit

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Why it made the cut: Dewalt doesn’t play around, and while this driver might lack some of the fancy features other drivers on this list have, it makes up for it in raw power.

Specs

  • Torque: 2,000 inch-pounds
  • Battery: 20 volts
  • Weight: 4.54 pounds

Pros

  • Compact size allows it to get into tight spaces
  • Powerful and quiet hydraulic drive
  • Four drive modes prevent strip outs

Cons

  • No self-tapping screw mode
  • Loud

Part of the well-respected Dewalt line of tools, this 20-volt beast boasts some 1,700 inch-pounds of torque at a price that’s less than half the cost of other premium brands.

The Atomic does lack some of the cutting-edge tech offered by those higher-priced power drivers. Most notably, this driver is missing the different power modes that higher-end models boast and the hydraulic drives that allow them to deliver torque more consistently and with less noise. But it’s still hard to argue with the value this power driver offers, especially considering the low price.

In addition to its ample power, the driver includes some of the smart design features Dewalt tools are known for. Three LED lights integrated around the chuck create a veritable floodlight on the work area, eliminating the need to squint or blindly hunt and peck for the screw or bolt head.

If you’re comfortable using a pressure-sensitive trigger to avoid stripping screws, don’t mind a little more strain when driving lag bolts, and can endure a little noise, then the Atomic is a heck of a deal for a Dewalt power tool.

Best combo: Craftsman Cordless Drill Combo

Best combo

Craftsman Cordless Drill Combo

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Why it made the cut: The affordable price of this drill and impact driver combo is like getting two power tools for the price of one.

Specs

  • Torque: 1,500 inch-pounds
  • Battery: 20 volts
  • Weight: 4 pounds

Pros

  • Affordably priced for two power tools
  • Quality construction 
  • High battery capacity

Cons

  • Lacks bells and whistles of other impact drivers

An impact driver and a cordless drill often go hand in hand—the cordless drill bores the pilot hole while the driver secures the fasteners. This tool combo kit makes purchasing the two as a set a logical choice. With its ample 20-volt batteries, this duo from Craftsman is one of the more dynamic and affordable duos on the market.

While Craftsman may not have the reputation it once did in the glory days of Sears, its tools are still well-built. That shows with this combo, which boasts solid features, such as brushless motors that extend run time, a 2-speed gearbox on the drill, and 1,500 inch-pounds of torque on the impact driver. They’re also comfortable to use, thanks to ample rubber grips and large triggers.

And while this combo lacks some of the premium features that other impact drivers and cordless drills have, such as speed controls and modes that auto-adjust torque, these Craftsman tools are much more affordable. Find out more about the best drill sets.

Best budget: Bosch Max 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver Kit

Best compact

https://www.amazon.com/GXL12V-220B22-Brushless-Lithium-Ion-Cordless-Batteries/dp/B09MV9877P?tag=camdenxpsc-20

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Why it made the cut: Its smaller size and light weight make this an excellent impact driver for tight spaces and jobs that don’t require the high torque output of larger models.

Specs

  • Torque: 930 inch-pounds
  • Battery: 12 volts
  • Weight: 2.1 pounds

Pros

  • Weighs just 2.1 pounds
  • Compact size ideal for tight spaces
  • Built-in battery gauge

Cons

  • Not as powerful as larger impact drivers

The compact size of this power driver from Bosch makes it a great option for reaching fasteners in tight places. While most impact drivers put their battery at the bottom of the handle, this model integrates it inside the handle. That design innovation makes the driver smaller and lighter—it weighs just a hair over 2 pounds.

With a head measuring just 5 inches long, you can squeeze this driver into tight spaces where you might otherwise have to wrestle with a stubby handheld screwdriver. The light weight also makes jobs easier on the wrist and arm for longer jobs and more manageable for those who may not feel comfortable wielding a heavier 5-pound impact driver.

While this lighter-weight impact driver may be more convenient to use, note that its smaller and lighter 12-volt battery produces less power–930 inch-pounds of torque versus the 1,600 inch-pounds of torque heftier 18-volt models offer, so it may lack the power to handle some tougher jobs.

Things to consider before buying an impact driver

Various factors, from power to battery life and extra features, differentiate impact drivers from each other. Here’s more about each to help you find the best model for the work you plan to tackle:

Torque

The main function of an impact driver is to drive fasteners into wood that a standard cordless drill simply isn’t powerful enough to handle. For that, a driver needs plenty of torque. Most impact drivers produce around 1,500 inch-pounds of torque, enough to drive lag bolts into solid wood or 3.5-inch deck screws through two 2x4s.

Battery

A cordless tool can be very well made, but if the battery isn’t strong, it won’t produce enough power or last long enough to be useful. Look for 18-volt and 20-volt impact drivers. But don’t pay more for a 20-volt model; with the exception of the label, 18-volt and 20-volt batteries are basically the same and offer the same amount of peak power and battery life.

Brushless motors

As you’ll quickly notice when shopping for impact drivers, many use brushless motors. Power tools with brushless motors are typically more expensive, as brushless is better technology. Brushless motors produce significantly less friction inside the motor when running. As a result, these motors use less battery power. A brushless motor runs faster and lasts longer than an impact driver with a standard motor. Brushless motors also typically have a longer lifespan.

Extra features

While all impact drivers produce similar amounts of torque, some features set the bargain-priced models apart from the high-end models. Many have settings and features that allow the user to customize the driver’s performance to suit the application. These features automatically change speed and torque settings to optimize performance, preventing damage to fasteners, which can slow a project down. Other high-end models have quieter hydraulic drives that deliver more consistent torque. While these features are nice, they often come with a steep price, so consider how much of an advantage they’ll give you when deciding if they’re worth the additional cost.

FAQs

Q: How much does an impact driver cost?

The impact drivers we’ve recommended come in kits that range at time of publication from about $140 for the used Bosch Max 1/4-Inch Hex Impact Driver Kit to the same price for just the impact driver for

Q: What is the most powerful impact driver?

With its 1,700 inch-pounds of torque, the Dewalt Atomic 20V Max Impact Driver produces more torque than any other impact driver on the market.

Q: Is it worth getting an impact driver?

 If you find yourself driving bolts or long screws into wood, it’s a good idea to have an impact driver, as a normal cordless drill usually won’t produce enough torque to drive these fasteners all the way through the material.

Q: Do I need special bits for an impact driver?

Yes. An impact driver requires hex shank bits. These bits have a hexagonally shaped shank. Bits with round shanks will not work with an impact driver.

Final thoughts on the best impact drivers

As with other power tools, impact drivers range from expensive models with numerous features to bare-bones options at affordable rates. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hex Hydraulic Driver is a great choice for those who use an impact driver regularly and will put its higher-end features to good use. For those looking for a more affordable model that still produces plenty of power, you can’t go wrong with the Dewalt Atomic 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.