Best DIY Impact Driver Cordless Drill Reviews & Impact Drivers

Best DIY Impact Driver Head to Head Review 2020


Choosing the Best DIY Impact Driver Requires Prioritizing Speed, Power, and Size

As we looked over the entire list of current impact drivers and decided on more than 30 models to bring in for testing, we included some DIY models. The best DIY impact driver can mean a couple of things, though – it can be for serious DIYers (AKA Prosumers), or for general homeowner maintenance and repair. Whether you’re looking for the fastest speed, strongest torque, or most compact size, there are plenty of options to choose from.

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Best DIY Impact Driver

Craftsman V20 Brushless Impact Driver CMCF820

Craftsman V20 Brushless Impact Driver - Best DIY Impact Driver

Craftsman doesn’t necessarily dominate the DIY class, but it puts its best efforts in where it counts the most and ends up with a healthy lead over Ryobi in second place. Craftsman has the smallest overall size/weight combination and excellent driving speed. It suffers a bit in noise level and torque, though.

Most Powerful DIY Impact Driver

Masterforce FlexPower 20V Max Brushless Impact Driver 5740.1

Masterforce Impact Driver

Skil led the DIY class in overall torque until Masterforce showed up. It’s not a complete runaway, though. Masterforce was just 9 in-lbs short of Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel Gen 3 model for the highest fastening torque of the entire 18V/20V Max class.

When it came to our nut-busting test, Skil became the impact driver to beat. Even with the Pro brands involved, only Ridgid’s 18V Octane model could break more than Skil’s 4200 in-lbs.

Best DIY Impact Driver Fastening Speed

Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Max Impact Driver 63380

Hercules Impact Driver

Harbor Freight’s Hercules impact driver managed 13 more RPM than Craftsman to take the speed crown in the DIY class. From there, these two impact drivers put a pretty good gap on the rest of the competition.

Most Compact DIY Impact Driver

Craftsman V20 Brushless Impact Driver CMCF820

Craftsman and Hercules both have pretty compact designs and Craftsman gets the win thanks to a shorter head length. Craftsman also holds a slight edge over Hercules with lighter weight.

If weight is a super-important aspect for you, check out Skil’s 12V brushless impact driver. It doesn’t have as much power as the 18V/20V Max DIY models, but it’s the lightest option we tested.

Quietest DIY Impact Driver

Skil PWRCore 12 Brushless Impact Driver

Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver Review

Impact drivers aren’t quiet by nature, but some are definitely better than others. Skil’s 12V brushless impact driver comes in with 97 decibels. If you want the greater power of an 18V/20V Max model, look to Masterforce’s FlexPower at 100 decibels.

Another option is to leave the traditional impact driver design and look at hydraulic impact drivers. Ryobi is the only brand to offer one in the DIY class, cranking down the volume to a relatively peaceful 94 decibels.

Best DIY Impact Driver Value

Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Max Impact Driver

Hercules delivers an impact driver with more bang for your buck than the rest of the competition. It’s awfully close, though, and all but one model in this class score above 90 points in their value ratings.

Testing Results

Note: To see our testing methods, please check out our Best Impact Driver main page.

Speed Under Load

The race for the highest speed under load is close with Hercules (565 RPM) edging out Craftsman (552 RPM) for the win. Ryobi (447 RPM) still has respectable speed in third.

Skil (239 RPM) is no surprise on the bottom with its 12V power plant. The good news is that its speed is high enough to continue driving 1/4″ ledger screws effectively without straining its motor to the point of concern.

Best DIY Impact Driver Speed 06

Efficiency

We compare the no-load speed we tested to the speed under load results to see how efficient the motor in each impact driver is running. The higher the efficiency, the less effort the motor has to put in, and that’s a good thing for the life of your tool.

Hercules is the only DIY model to breach 20% and Craftsman score high as well. Skil’s 12V model is understandably lower since it’s driving the same size ledger screw with a smaller motor.

Best DIY Impact Driver Efficiency 01

Fastening Torque

Our torque tests do not and cannot replace how manufacturers test for their specifications. Our Best Impact Driver main page has our testing methods. Please check it out to see the details of how we get our results.

Masterforce really flexes its brushless motor muscles with a dominating performance in fastening torque, requiring 2647 in-lbs to break its effort. Even with the Pro brands included, only Milwaukee’s Gen 3 M18 Fuel model had more.

Ryobi’s brushless 18V (2401 in-lbs) is more than 200 in-lbs behind with Skil (2049 in-lbs) wrapping up the 2000+ part of the group.

Nut-Busting Torque

Skil rises up to crush not only the DIY competition, but it also puts many Pro models in its wake with 4200 in-lbs (350 ft-lbs) of nut-busting torque! Masterforce slides nicely into second with a 3900 in-lbs effort. Hercules matches Ryobi with 3000 in-lbs to muscle out a tie for 3rd place. Those numbers mix right in with the upper half of Pro models, so it’s an impressive performance for tools that fit in the DIY class.

Skil’s PWRCore 12 (1680 in-lbs) represents its class well, finishing in the top 3 against Pro competition.

Best DIY Impact Driver Nut-Busting 04

Weight

There’s a big gap between the lightweights and heavyweight in this class. Skil’s 12V (2.7 pounds)is the only one to keep the weight under 3 pounds. Craftsman and Hercules sit right around 3 pounds for lighter 18V options while Ryobi is easily the heaviest at 4.4 pounds.

Best DIY Impact Driver Weight 08

Footprint

Mirroring DeWalt’s 20V Max silhouette, Hercules gives us the smallest overall footprint at 5.8″ long and 7.5″ tall. However, Craftsman has a shorter head length, and that’s going to help you get into tight spaces more than a shorter height. Four of the six models have a head length under 6″ before Ryobi and Masterforce get into a bulkier footprint.

 

Best DIY Impact Driver Size 05

Feature Set

Here’s what you can expect in terms of features from each of these DIY impact drivers.

Craftsman V20

  • Brushless motor
  • 3 speed modes
  • No assist modes
  • 3-LED light surrounding the chuck
  • Belt hook
  • One-hand bit insertion
  • Spring bit ejection

Hercules 20V

  • Brushed motor
  • 1 speed mode
  • No assist modes
  • Single LED light under chuck
  • Belt hook
  • Two-hand bit insertion
  • No spring bit ejection

Masterforce FlexPower

  • Brushless motor
  • 3 speed modes
  • Auto-stop assist mode
  • LED halo surrounding the chuck
  • Belt hook
  • One-hand bit insertion
  • Spring bit ejection

Ryobi 18V One+

  • Brushless motor
  • 3 speed modes
  • No assist modes
  • 3-LED light surrounding the chuck
  • Belt hook
  • One-hand bit insertion
  • Spring bit ejection

Skil PWRCore 20

  • Brushless motor
  • 2 speed modes
  • Precision start assist mode
  • Single LED light above the battery
  • Belt hook
  • One-hand bit insertion
  • Spring bit ejection
  • PWRJump charger available in kit

Skil PWRCore 12

  • Brushless motor
  • 2 speed modes
  • No assist modes
  • LED halo surrounding the chuck
  • Belt hook
  • One-hand bit insertion
  • No spring bit ejection
  • PWRJump charger available in kit

Noise Level

In noise level, Skil (97 dB(A)) produced fewest decibels under load and Masterforce just touched the 100 dB(A) mark. Craftsman and Ryobi both top the list of all 30+ impact drivers with their 105 dB(A) levels.

Best DIY Impact Driver Fastening Noise 03

Value

Hercules doesn’t currently come as a kit, but even if you need to add the cost of a battery and charger, it still gives you the most bang for your buck. This is a high-value group of impact drivers, and the lowest score among them is still a solid 87 points.

Best DIY Impact Driver Value 07

Price List

  • Craftsman V20: $99.00 bare, $169.00 kit with two 2.0Ah batteries
  • Hercules 20V: $49.99 bare tool only
  • Masterforce FlexPower: $89.99 bare, $149.00 kit with one 2.0Ah and one 4.0Ah battery
  • Ryobi 18V One+: $99.00 bare, $129.00 kit with two 3.0Ah HP+ batteries
  • Skil PWRCore 20: $149.00 kit with one 2.0Ah battery
  • Skil PWRCore 12: $59.99 bare, $99.99 with two 2.0Ah batteries

*Prices are at the time of writing.

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Final Rankings

18V

  1. Craftsman V20 Brushless Impact Driver

  2. Ryobi 18V One+ Brushless Impact Driver

  3. Masterforce FlexPower Impact Driver

  4. Hercules 20V Impact Driver

  5. Skil PWRCore 20 Brushless Impact Driver

12V

  1. Skil PWRCore 12 Brushless Impact Driver

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Peter S Doff
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Peter S Doff

If your are going to test impact DRIVERS you shouldn’t use a test for impact wrench LOOSENERS. A better test would be DRIVING long hex-head lag bolts into lumber. I think you should test the Hyper Tough 20-Volt Max from Walmart. I got one as a gift and was prepared to be disappointed. For most of my real world DIY jobs it works far better than its price would lead you to believe, even though its claimed max torque is lower than the 12V Dewalt. It has a better warranty than most of the drills you tested, works better than… Read more »

Matt
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Matt

I still have trouble trusting anything from HF. Good numbers for sure, but will the tool hold up long term? If in 5 years we haven’t heard of a ton of problems from these guys, I’d consider going with it, but until then I’m not taking my chances. The $159 Ridgid kit for a brushless impact driver, non-hammer drill, and 2 batteries seems like a better value to me and one I’d bet would not break within a year. The Kobalt impact either bare or in a larger kit seems like a better deal too given the cheap replacement batteries.… Read more »