Cordless Drill Reviews & Impact Drivers

Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Max Vs DeWalt 20V Max Impact Driver


Harbor Freight loves to market claims that their tools compare favorably with DeWalt. So we decided to take a little more objective look and see what the numbers say about their top competitors. Let’s meet the contestants for this not-so-heavyweight bout: Harbor Freight Hercules Vs DeWalt 20V Max Impact Driver.

Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Max Impact Driver 63380

  • Power Source: 20V Max battery
  • Speed: 0–2800 RPM
  • Torque: 1500 in-lbs
  • Impact Rate: 0–3200 IPM

DeWalt 20V Max Impact Driver DCF888

  • Power Source: 20V Max battery
  • Speed: 0–1000/0–2800/0–3250 RPM
  • Torque: 1825 in-lbs
  • Impact Rate: 0–3600 IPM

Check out our impact driver shootout for the full details on our testing methods.

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Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Max Vs DeWalt 20V Max Impact Driver

Motor

Out of the gate, DeWalt uses their XR brushless motor and Hercules sticks with brushed. I’ll take the performance, runtime, and longer life of a brushless motor every time.

Read more about the differences here.

Verdict: DeWalt

Speed Under Load

Driving a 1/4″ ledger screw into glued up OSB is about as tough a job as we expect an impact driver to do on a regular basis. Many can do more, especially on an 18V/20V Max battery platform, but we prefer to move up to an impact wrench at that point.

In this test, the Hercules averages 565 RPM and DeWalt is pretty far behind at 429 RPM. That’s 32% faster drilling for Hercules under a moderate load.

DeWalt’s 3274 no-load RPM (tested) still has a huge advantage over Hercules’ 2593 RPM for light fastening.

Verdict: Hercules

Fastening Torque

Our fastening torque test involves giving each impact driver time to drive a hardened nut as hard as it can on a steel I-beam. Then we see how much torque it takes to loosen it with a digital torque wrench.

The results give us repeatable data but aren’t a replacement for the manufacturer’s specs.

Hercules takes 1498 in-lbs of force to break its effort and DeWalt requires 2237 in-lbs. That’s a 49% power advantage for DeWalt.

Verdict: DeWalt

Breakaway Torque

On the same rig we test fastening torque, we use our digital torque wrench and a torque multiplier (for torque over 250 ft-lbs) to set specific torque intervals for each impact driver to break.

In this case, both Hercules and DeWalt break 3000 in-lbs (250 ft-lbs), but can’t break 3300 in-lbs at the next step up.

Verdict: Tie

Weight

This one’s pretty straight forward. DeWalt weighs 2.1 bare and 3.1 pounds with its compact 2.0Ah battery pack. Hercules is exactly the same.

Verdict: Tie

Footprint

Impact drivers are much more compact than drills and both Hercules and DeWalt do a fine job of keeping their designs tight. Makita and Milwaukee own the most compact designs.

Hercules has a 5.8″ head length and 7.5″ height without its battery. DeWalt’s head is a 1/2″ shorter (5.3″) and slightly taller at 7.7″. When it comes to getting into tight spots, head length limits you more than tool height, giving DeWalt the advantage here.

Verdict: DeWalt

Feature Set

Hercules is a pretty bare-bones system, just checking off the basic boxes. Here’s the skinny:

  • Brushed motor
  • Single-speed with variable speed trigger
  • No special modes
  • LED light
  • Belt hook
  • No bit ejection
  • No one-hand bit insertion

On the other hand, DeWalt has one of the most impressive feature sets across the board.

  • Brushless motor
  • Three-speed mode selection
  • Tool Connect controls, diagnostics, and tracking
  • LED light ring around the chuck
  • Belt hook
  • No bit ejection
  • One-hand bit insertion
  • Made in the USA with Global Materials

There’s absolutely no contest here.

Verdict: DeWalt

Noise Level

Measuring decibels at 24″ (roughly the distance from the tool to your ear when it’s in use), there’s a pretty wide range. Both DeWalt and Hercules are above 100 dB(A) under load. DeWalt’s 104 dB(A) has twice the sound pressure level (SPL) of Hercules at 101 dB(A). Check out this article for more decibel details.

Verdict: Hercules

Battery

Both of these kits come with compact batteries and that’s really how we prefer to use them since it keeps the weight down. DeWalt includes two 2.0Ah packs and Hercules gives you one 2.5Ah. However, DeWalt also has kits with 4.0Ah or 5.0Ah kits, depending on if you’re getting the Tool Connect model.

You can also get more runtime by moving up in capacity. DeWalt has 3.0Ah (slim pack), 4.0Ah, 5.0Ah, 6.0Ah, and 8.0Ah batteries available along with Bluetooth battery options if you want some basic feedback and lockout. FlexVolt batteries can take you up to 12Ah. Seriously, though, using a 12Ah FlexVolt battery in an impact driver is pretty ridiculous.

Hercules has a 5.0Ah available as a separate upgrade.

Verdict: DeWalt

Price

Hercules is only available as a 1-battery kit from Harbor Freight. It runs $99.99 with a 2.5 Ah (45Wh) battery and charger. You can snag a 2.0Ah for $19.99, 2.5Ah for $24.99, and 5.0Ah for $39.99 if you want extras. Hercules tools are typically excluded from Harbor Freight coupons.

DeWalt has more options, but we’ll stick with the basics for now. On Amazon, the bare tool is $159 and the 2 x 5.0Ah kit runs $299.

If you don’t want Tool Connect, it’s a bit less expensive. The bare tool is $129 and the 2 x 4.0Ah kit is $229. There’s also a 2 x 2.0Ah kit for $179.

There are plenty of combo kits that include the DCF888 or DCF887 to comb through as well.

Verdict: Hercules

Warranty

This is pretty straight forward—DeWalt gives you 3 years, Harbor Freight gives you 90 days. We can dig a little deeper, though. DeWalt’s warranty includes a 90-day money-back guarantee and 2-year free service agreement as part of its package.

Harbor Freight lets you spend a bit more to extend your warranty to 1 or 2 years.

Verdict: DeWalt

Depth of Line

Harbor Freight has exactly 3 tools that work with Hercules 20V Max battery—an impact driver, drill driver, and hammer drill.

Put that up against DeWalt’s 200+ tools that work with their 20V Max batteries and this isn’t much of a contest.

Verdict: DeWalt

Value

Value is more than just the price, it’s what you get for the price you pay. Unfortunately, it also varies widely depending on what your priorities are. When we look at the performance, features, weight, footprint, noise level, batteries, kit options, warranty, and compatible tools weighed against the price, DeWalt is a much better value in my book.

But that’s me and what you value most in an impact driver may differ. And that’s okay!

Verdict: DeWalt, subjectively

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Final Verdict

The Harbor Freight Hercules impact driver posts some impressive performance and keeps up with DeWalt’s DCF888/DCF887 in several important areas. Of course, Harbor Freight’s price is very attractive.

But when we take a more holistic look at the two, DeWalt builds a lead too large for Hercules to overcome. From its brushless motor and feature set to warranty and depth of compatible tools, the DeWalt DCF888’s Pros are more than enough to overcome the price difference in our opinion.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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Matt
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Matt

There are some major holes in your review which we can predict as it’s easy to believe your sponsors wish to discredit Harbor Freight. 1.) You state Hercules has EXACTLY 3 tools. Exactly? They have a complete line up that will be hitting stores soon. You should inform your readers…. 2.) Brushed motors are really not a thing of the past. Especially with battery tech. It’s more or less a marketing scheme to make you believe you need to spend more to get a better product. We all fell for it. 3.) DeWalt wins value??? I mean based on your… Read more »

King Greasy
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King Greasy

The math doesnt work out in how the “testing” went. Why was the newest brushless dewalt tested against the Hercules and not the brushless bauer that blows it away for 60 dollars more? Also left out is that the harbor freight 2 yr warranty is only about 40 dollars where as dewalt warranties run up to 100 plus. This was not subjective as suggested and clearly the author didnt test its actual HF equivalent as its advertised. The fact that the lower end brushed HF tool kept up with an industry leader and favorite in its newest model is actually… Read more »

Brian Owens
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Brian Owens

As an ex employee of hft I have a little more insight to their product and return policies. HFT manages to save money by using cheaper products for their packaging and they do pass that savings on to consumers. While the packaging is sub par the product itself is worthy and durable. HFT has a ninety day manufactor’s warranty included in their prices and offers a one or two year replacement plans for very reasonable prices on most of their products. The replacement plans do not start until day 91 so you are actually getting 15-27 months of coverage depending… Read more »

Bostmm55
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Bostmm55

You can examine all the metrics but so much depends what you will be using the tool for. If you are a weekend DIYer then the HF may be a win from a price performance standpoint and maybe by a lot if you are not tied into a specific yellow tool. If you do a more than an infrequent project at home and/or look to own an entire suite of tools going with a brand like Dewalt, Milwaukee or any of the others may be the way to go as you can share the batteries and chargers since the HF… Read more »

Nathan Downing Phenicie
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Nathan Downing Phenicie

Let me first point out a conflict of interest: you earn a commission when readers click and purchase the impact driver which you recommend. As far as the comparison – I think most of the points are fair. Many folks prefer brushless today, but in terms of total tool lifecycle – brushes are easier & cheaper to replace than an entire brushless motor. Harbor Freight got their start selling returned & repaired tools. Under extended warranty, the tools can be swapped out for a new one, same day. DeWalt 5ah batteries cost $150 each. Hercules 5ah are $40 each. Now… Read more »