The crew of Tool Box Buzz, comprising six remodeling contractors (including Todd Fratzel and Rob Robillard), did a head-to-head test of full-sized impact drivers. All of the drivers tested run a brushless motor and are often kitted with larger Ah Li-Ion batteries, 4.0Ah or higher (the highest being 6.0Ah). They performed a variety of tests on each driver, applying several decades worth of construction trade experience in their evaluations.
Impact Driver Testing Criteria
The crew did not consider run-time, and I’m glad they took a stand on this. As they put it, “We feel that most of the major tool brands that are offering a full-size impact driver are using good lithium-ion battery packs along with brushless motors. Because of this, in most situations these tools will run long enough for the average worker to complete his or her work in a standard work day. Furthermore, if the user owns two battery packs, it’s extremely unlikely they will drain one battery before the second one is charged and ready to work.”
That said, the head-to-head test assessed four elements of each impact driver: productivity, torque, ergonomics, and pricing/value. The crew considered several common uses for the impact drivers and laid out three common tasks that they often perform on jobs.
They evaluated how quickly each driver could run the following fasteners into pressure treated southern yellow pine. In each of the tests, they took the average of five installations with each impact driver:
- 3” Deck Screws
- 3/8” x 3” Galvanized Lag Bolts
- 5” LedgerLOKs
Average Applied Torque
The crew tightened a 1/2” bolt and nut assembly onto a 1/2”-thick piece of steel for 6 seconds, then removed the nut using a digital torque wrench set-up. They repeated this test five times for each impact driver and averaged the results.
The crew evaluated the size of each impact driver, its weight, balance, grip comfort, LED lighting, and functionality of controls. While a relatively subjective test, the crew named three top tools based on the group’s overall consensus.
Pricing and Value
ToolBoxBuzz acknowledges the complexity of comparing kits because many manufacturers package the kits differently (that is, with varying accessories and Ah battery packs), or offer bare-tool only. Still, they lay out the options nicely and offer a best-value and best overall.
Here's a video summarizing the review: