Which Makita impact driver is best?
The cordless drill is a versatile, easy-to-use staple in every homeowner’s toolkit. However, standard cordless drills lack the power needed for tougher jobs like driving in long, heavy-duty screws or lag bolts. For tasks such as these, you need an impact driver.
Impact drivers look and operate very much like cordless drills, but they are specifically designed with enough torque to handle work that regular drills cannot complete. With its power and compact design, the Makita XDT16Z 18V Impact Driver is the best choice for those looking for an all-purpose impact driver.
What to know before you buy a Makita impact driver
In the past, corded tools provided more power than battery-operated alternatives. Due to advancements in battery technology, this is no longer the case. Battery-operated tools can now perform just as well as those that need to be plugged in and are much more convenient to use.
Makita impact drivers are available in two voltage options: 12V and 18V. While 18V models are more powerful, they tend to be heavier, and their batteries take longer to charge. Therefore, a 12V impact driver is the best choice for a DIY user, whereas 18V models are better suited for professionals who find themselves working regularly on challenging, repetitive tasks such as driving screws into solid lumber.
Torque, or twisting power, is the main feature that differentiates impact drivers from regular power drills. Torque is measured in inch-pounds. Makita’s 12V impact drivers can apply as much as 1,200 inch-pounds of torque, while their 18V models can generate upwards of 1,500 inch-pounds.
Due to their extreme power, impact drivers have a reputation for wrist strain when users first engage the tool. This can result in the bit jumping free of the screw head, potentially causing injury or damage. However, Makita has addressed this common issue with a feature called assist mode. Assist mode makes the tool start slowly and gradually work its way up to full speed. This prevents a sudden jolt of torque.
Some Makita impact drivers also keep power in check with a Quick-Shift Mode that decreases the tool’s speed as the screw is tightened. Thus, Quick-Shift Mode prevents you from embedding screws too far into your material, damaging your project.
IPM and RPM
While power and torque are the most critical aspects to consider when comparing Makita impact drivers, impacts per minute (IPM) and revolutions per minute (RPM) are also important features to keep in mind.
You can change the speed on Makita impact drivers by adjusting the pressure you apply to the trigger. Some models also allow you to select speeds specifically although general usage of these tools will not necessitate that degree of customized operation.
What to look for in a quality Makita impact driver
Most users will find everything they need in Makita’s two most common impact driver configurations: standard and subcompact.
Standard: Standard models are the approximate size, weight and shape of regular power drills.
Subcompact: Subcompact impact drivers are smaller to allow you to deliver a lot of power even in tight, cramped spaces.
Star Protection is Makita’s proprietary battery and performance monitoring system. This feature keeps track of the tool’s usage in order to prevent overheating, overload or over-discharge of the battery. This helps to extend the battery’s usable life.
Weight is often overlooked initially, but a hefty tool can be exhausting after long periods of working overhead. Thankfully, Makita impact drivers are some of the lightest on the market. However, keep in mind that the type of battery you use will affect the weight of your tool as well, with Ah batteries being slightly heavier than its alternatives.
Battery life indicator
Makita impact driver batteries feature a handy charge indicator that you can keep an eye on to prevent any frustrating downtime due to recharges.
Makita impact drivers are equipped with a bright LED flashlight on the front that turns on when you pull the trigger. This allows you to clearly see your work area and the screw or bolt you intend to drive. The light turns off automatically when not in use to conserve battery power.
Impact drivers generate a lot of vibration. Therefore, most Makita models include a comfortable molded grip to help alleviate hand fatigue that can occur when using the tool for extended periods of time.
How much you can expect to spend on a Makita impact driver
The most affordable Makita impact drivers are 12V cordless models that you can purchase alone for around $50 or with an included battery and charger for about $100. Makita’s high-end impact drivers alone can cost as much as $200, with kits that include spare batteries and accessories costing over $250.
Makita impact driver FAQ
Q. Can I use a Makita impact driver as a drill?
A. All impact drivers can be used as drills, but you will need drill bits with a hex shank or hex shank-to-chuck adapter to fit them into the tool. Also, use caution drilling small holes with an impact driver, as the tool’s extreme torque can easily break thin, fragile drill bits.
Q. Is there a difference between Makita brushless impact drivers and those with brush motors?
A. Because brushless impact driver motors produce less friction than brush motors, they run cooler, are more efficient and use less battery power. Models with brush motors, however, tend to cost less. Brush motors are most often built into older or corded drills.
Q. Can I use a hammer drill instead of a Makita impact driver?
A. No. Even though both tools use a hammering action to increase their power, they are not meant to do the same job. Hammer drills send their impact into the bit to create a jackhammer effect needed to drill into stone or cement. Impact drivers apply their hammering action to the rotation of the bit to create powerful twisting action.
What’s the best Makita impact driver to buy?
Top Makita impact driver
What you need to know: This versatile impact driver features Makita’s trademark rugged construction and enough power to accomplish almost any task.
What you’ll love: This model offers four-speed settings and 1,550 inch-pounds of torque, making it a flexible tool for various jobs. Assist mode automatically changes speed as the screw is driven to help avoid causing any damage due to overtightening or slipping.
What you should consider: This impact driver includes more features and delivers more torque than most users will actually need.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top Makita impact driver for the money
What you need to know: This impact driver’s powerful torque and affordable price make it an excellent value.
What you’ll love: Dual LEDs on the front of this tool brightly illuminate the work area. This driver’s lightweight handling, great battery performance and 1,500 inch-pounds of torque make it ideal for DIY enthusiasts.
What you should consider: No option to automatically change speeds and slightly less power than other models might make this tool come up short for serious projects.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This impact driver’s angled design is specially engineered for working in tight spaces.
What you’ll love: Allows users to easily work in confined areas thanks to its angled driver and large, comfortable handgrip. Very lightweight even with the battery attached.
What you should consider: Not a very powerful driver with only 530 inch-pounds of torque.
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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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