Three Things to Consider Before Buying an Impact Driver

If you don’t already own one of these handy power tools, get one before you try to sink another bolt or screw.

Person using Dewalt cordless impact driver on brown board.
Impact drivers are different than drills because of a micro-hammering action that occurs as a tool rotates bits.Bidvine

One of the great things about the cordless-tool revolution is the number of tools now available on lithium-ion battery platforms from various manufacturers. Yet, the sheer diversity of cordless tools can make selecting the right one utterly confusing. Nowhere is this more evident than in the purchase of an impact driver. This tool functions with a micro-hammering action as it rotates the bit and is ideal for driving virtually any threaded fastener (Philips, slotted, square-drive, Torx, etc.) and even impact-rated drill bits. If you are ready to pull the trigger on a tool that will provide years of hard-working service, here are a few ways to break down your purchase.

Drill/Driver Combos

DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver and Drill Combo Kit (DCK280C2) with DEWALT DWA2FTS100 Screwdriving and Drilling Set 100 Piece
A drill/driver combo is like having two tools in one unit.DEWALT

Cordless drill and impact-driver manufacturers seem bent on splitting out their package options to a mind-numbing degree. If you want to keep things simple, consider investing in a drill/driver combo. These kits are usually sold with one or more batteries, a charger, and a carrying case. A drill/driver combo is the most expensive option, but it will get you everything you need for virtually any drilling or fastening task and minimizes the number of times you have to switch bits and drivers on the job. However, combo kits also tie you more firmly to a given battery platform, so compare brands and product lines carefully before committing.

Impact-driver Kits

DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch (DCF885C1)
The latest and greatest impact drivers are loaded with features that will make each task easier to tackle.DEWALT

If you already own a reliable drill, then an impact driver is the next step toward increasing your speed and productivity. Like combo sets, a driver kit should come with a battery and a carrying case, either soft-sided or hard-shell. The best-in-class impact drivers now feature brushless motors, usually pumping out 18 to 20 volts of power. Other features to look for are an onboard LED work light, high-amp hour batteries, and a built-in belt clip.

Tool Only

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, Tool Only (DCF887B)
Ironically, the most valuable part of your impact driver isn’t the tool itself; it’s the battery.DEWALT

The great thing about committing to a particular brand (i.e. DeWalt, Milwaukee, Makita, etc.) is that once you have one tool, you can make the next purchase as “tool-only” and use the batteries you already have. This is especially true with impact drivers because most folks to buy a traditional drill first. To expand your kit with tool-only purchases, you’ll want to own at least a couple of batteries (which are also sold individually). But once you have those, the array of tools you can cost-effectively add to your shop is limited only by the manufacturer’s product line.

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