Best DeWalt Impact Driver in 2020
Unlike several other brands that might have one or two products, DeWalt has more than one impact driver in their lineup. Realizing this, we thought it might be helpful to classify each for its strengths. The best DeWalt impact driver for your application might not be the one with the most power. It also might not be the least expensive.
It might be somewhere in between.
Best Dewalt Brushless Impact Driver
If you want the most feature-rich DeWalt impact driver, you go for the Dewalt DCF888 with Tool Connect. In our opinion, however, we’d call the DCF887 the best DeWalt brushless impact driver. It delivers the same impressive torque and speed under load, but without the additional $20 spend. Of course, if you can catch a sale—go ahead and grab the extra connectivity features.
In our testing, the DeWalt DCF887 stayed in the top half for performance, design, and value. When we look over this tool, nothing stands out and says “fix this”. It just works…reliably. DeWalt’s product team doesn’t necessarily chase the numbers that other brands push for. Instead, they seem content knowing they have an excellent impact driver. As a DeWalt user, the only decision is whether you want the Tool Connect features available in the DCF888.
On paper, it specs out to 1825 in-lbs of torque. In our tests, the brushless DeWalt DCF887 impact driver required 2,237 in-lbs from our torque wrench to loosen its fastening efforts and broke 3,000 in-lbs on our pre-torqued bolts.
3,000 in-lbs equates to 250 ft-lbs—the same kind of power we see in compact impact wrenches. Our best DeWalt impact driver comes as a bare tool and in several kits. Prices range from $130 to $199.
Dewalt 12 Volt Impact Driver Review
For compactness, you have two options. We’ll start with the DeWalt 12 Volt impact driver review we completed recently. DeWalt has a rather shallow 12V line of tools. If you really want the lightest-possible experience, however, the DeWalt DCF801 does the trick. It also serves as a much-requested brushless upgrade for the company’s dated DeWalt DCF815 12V impact driver.
With 60V FlexVolt tools supplementing higher power for their 20V Max cordless tools, smaller DeWalt 12V tools often get overlooked. In our testing, however, the DeWalt DCF801 does an admirable job accomplishing 80% or more of what you expect from a full-size impact driver.
The brushless DCF801 drops a full 1.2 inches off the head length of the prior model, shrinking it to just a hair over 5 inches. The top speed also jumps to 2850 RPM and you get three electronic speed modes including High, Low, and Precision Drive assist. In terms of power—maximum torque skyrockets to 1450 in-lbs using a 2.0Ah battery pack. This 12V impact driver rocks and you can get the kit for just $129!
Dewalt Atomic 20V Impact Driver Review
The DeWalt DCF809 impact driver functions like a value-geared Pro-level impact driver. A straight-up 12V replacement wouldn’t have quite the same feel. It clearly sits in the middle of the 18V/20V Max pack with respect to power, but with a size more on par with the feature-rich DCF887.
So the tool functions as a less-expensive alternative for Pros who want DeWalt ergonomics and reliability without the cost of a flagship tool. It also keeps you from opening up Pandora’s box on a new 12V platform’s worth of batteries and chargers.
We like the excellent ergonomics and the value. At $109 for the bare tool, it offers 20V compatibility for the price of a 12V tool. Or grab the kit for around $129.
Dewalt 20V Max XR Impact Driver Review
We covered the best 20V Max XR impact driver above—the DCF887. However, if you want something a bit less “flagship”, consider the DCF885. It offers similar ergonomics as the flagship DCF887/888, but you can grab the kit for around $99. It’s also assembled here in America!
This has to be the best Dewalt 1/4 impact driver deal going right now. For Pros looking to pick up an extra tool, or to outfit a truck or shop, we find it hard to pass up. This tool has the great tri-LED chuck light we love and supports 1-inch bits. That makes it SUPER-compact and easy to use in tough locations.
It honestly has much of what we like and very little we don’t.
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How We Determine Which DeWalt Impact Driver is Best
Speed Testing Under Load
Maintaining speed under load is more important than the no-load speed given on the back of the box. We drive ledger screws into glued-up laters of OSB and measure the maximum RPM with all of the threads engaged in the final inch of driving. Better drills have higher RPMs while under this moderate load.
To measure torque we run two tests on a steel I-beam using Grade 8 hardened bolts, washers, and nuts. After hand-threading each nut down onto the welded bolt, we use the impact driver to give it three 3-second and 5-second bursts. We then measure the torque required to remove the nut and apply a formula to the results.
For the second test, we tighten down the nuts to a predetermined setting using a Gearwrench 64-832G torque multiplier. We then see what torque the impact driver can successfully back off. We do this using 10 ft-lb (120 in-lb) increments until we land on the maximum “nut-busting” torque value.
As a general rule, this type of torque represents around 50% more than fastening torque. However, it’s not exactly the same in every tool, so there’s no formula we can use to tell you how much fastening torque each model actually has.
Impact drivers are a loud tools! We take an SPL meter and record the A-weighted dB reading from 24” away (approximating the distance from the tool to your ear). We do this in a consistent environment to ensure accurate results.
Impact drivers have lots of power, but the best tools also stay nice and compact. Overall weight remains an important factor. We measure the bare weight of each tool and also with the most advanced compact battery available at the time of testing.
The best impact drivers have a compact footprint. We measure both height and length for each impact driver using a digital caliper. The length is arguably more important than the height. Tools with a more compact head can squeeze into a smaller space.
While we don’t come across many tools that have a terrible grip, some are better than others. We look at how the tool fits in your hand along with how comfortable and secure the rubber overmold is. Since someone with small hands tends to prefer a different style than someone with large hands, the handle size doesn’t play a part in our scoring.
Sales 101 will teach you that every feature must have a benefit. When we look at the feature set to help determine the best impact driver, we’re looking for features that have tangible benefits. That includes having a brushless motor, the number of speed settings, app-based controls, LED light design, bit insertion/ejection, and more.
The value a tool offers will be different for everyone depending on what features, performance, and price you prioritize the most. Regardless, it’s the sum of what you get compared to the price you pay that determines the value for you. That’s how we give each impact driver a value rating.
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