The Makita XWT17 Impact Wrench Just Might Be the “Goldilocks” of Impact Wrenches.
With 520 ft-lbs of fastening torque and 740 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque, the new Makita XWT17 Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench makes for an excellent addition to the Makita’s brushless lineup of impact wrenches. It also strikes a nice balance between weight and power. The tool seems ideal for mechanics, tradesmen, or anyone who needs more torque than an impact driver or small impact wrench can provide. We reviewed the XWT17, but if you prefer a detent anvil instead of a friction ring, the near-identical Makita XWT18 has you covered.
- Great ergonomics
- Ample power
- Low vibration
- No dedicated tether point
- Uses only a single LED for illumination
Makita XWT17 Build Quality – Very Tank-Like
There is a big difference between the Makita XWT17 Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench and Makita’s smaller XWT14. The latter weighs 2 lbs. lighter and has 240 ft-lbs of fastening torque and 430 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque. Both tools feel good in the hand and are well-made, but the mid-torque version feels like a tank.
I have owned a smaller Makita impact driver for several years. It has served me well. However, when I picked up the XWT17 for the first time, I instantly knew this was in an entirely different class of tool just from the heft and feel of it. It even has a rubber shroud covering the front of the tool. This protects expensive wheels from damage when removing and fastening lug nuts.
Not Too Heavy
Weighing 6.0 lbs. with a 5.0 Ah battery, the Makita Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench shaves nearly two pounds off the weight of Makita’s High Torque Impact Driver (XWT08XV). The extra weight of the high torque model gives you 740 ft-lbs of fastening and 1,180 of nut-busting torque. This seems better suited for working on heavy machinery or tractor-trailers.
Friction Ring or Detent Anvil
Once you decide which weight class you need, you also have to decide whether you want a friction ring anvil (also called a hog ring anvil) or a detent anvil to hold your sockets on. Detent anvils closely resemble the ball mechanism that holds sockets onto your ratchet head. A friction ring is another mechanism that holds sockets on, just not quite as hard. This mechanism proves useful when you have to remove sockets more frequently. Detent anvils work best where you put one socket on and leave it on for extended periods. They are also more difficult to remove.
Makita Mid-Torque Impact Wrench Ergonomics
Makita has made a name for themselves in the ergonomics department. They have a knack for creating comfortable, well-thought-out tools that are also easy to use. The Makita Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench is no exception. Its balance is weighted toward the front, but the grip is very comfortable.
I spent quite a bit of time testing the XWT17 and comparing it with three other impact drivers. I own one from Makita and two from DeWalt. The XWT17 first drove 1/2″ x 10” lag bolts into 4x4s without a pilot hole. This proved to be child’s play for the tool. I also removed and tightened the lug nuts on my Ford F150 with no issue at all. Moving on, I took the tool to my test bench. There, I ran nuts on and off a section of railroad track to which I had welded 3/4″ Grade-8 bolts.
The Makita XWT17 jerks when you start it—more than the other impact drivers I have used in the past. If you prepare for it, the effect lessens. Even with that, the ergonomics keep the Makita XWT17 Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench feeling comfortable. It seems ideal for anyone planning on spending a large portion of the day using impacts.
Makita XWT17 Impact Wrench Features I Like
With a variable speed trigger and 4-speed ranges, this impact wrench offers excellent control. It comes across, initially, as a little confusing until you play around with it. An electronic bolt tightening/removal mode senses when the fastener is tightened. It then immediately stops rotating or keeps hammering for a brief moment depending on which setting you choose. This lets you easily come back later and use a torque wrench to apply the proper amount of tightening force. After reading the directions, it took me just a few minutes of playing around with the different settings on my test bench to pick up on how exactly it operated.
A single LED under the tool lets you see what you are doing. Plus, the battery includes an onboard charge level meter. Makita also included a removable belt clip that is wide enough to hang the tool on 2X material.
Flexible Joint to Protect the Battery
When you first pick up the Makita Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench, you will notice a seam between the battery and the handle. The tool can flex at that point. This helps protect the battery from vibration. Vibration is bad for batteries as it can prematurely wear out the electrical contacts. Makita has done a lot with its AVT anti-vibration technology on concrete tools. It’s nice to see them continuing to incorporate protective anti-vibration technology into more of their tools.
At two feet, the Makita Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench measures 88 dBA without a load and 105 dBA once the impact mechanism engages. This is on par with many other impact wrenches I’ve used.
Everyone’s a Critic
I only have two minor complaints about the Makita Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench. The first is that the LED light is just not bright enough and casts a shadow where I’m working. At 51, my eyes are not what they used to be—I need all the light I can get! I tend to either wear a headlamp for nearly every task I do or use a work light. I would love to see a three-light ring around the anvil instead of one under it.
Secondly, there is not a tether attachment point on the tool. This can help prevent your tool from falling and injuring someone below you when you are working from heights. This would not normally be a big deal since tethers can be secured around the handle at the point where the battery attaches… However, that’s exactly where the flexible seam is located. I have no idea how well this would hold up as a tether attachment point, especially if the tether rope worked its way into the seam. I would rather see a dedicated ring designed to be clipped onto.
You can pick up the Makita XWT17 or XWT18 as a bare tool for just $239 or as a kit with two 5Ah batteries for $459.
If you are looking for a powerful mid-torque impact wrench, the Makita XWT17 Mid-Torque 1/2″ Square Drive Impact Wrench with friction ring or the XWT18 with detent anvil would make an excellent choice. This would be ideal for auto or industrial mechanics, contractors, or other tradesmen who need a rock-solid impact wrench that is not too big, yet not too small. In other words, this may just be the “Goldilocks” of impact wrenches for those who need this many ft-lbs of power.
If you have questions about Makita’s Mid-Torque Impact Wrench, please leave them in the comment section below.
Makita Mid-Torque Impact Wrench Specs
- Model: Makita XWT17
- Voltage: 18V LXT
- Square Drive: 1/2 in. friction ring (XWT18 hog anvil)
- 4-Speeds: 0-500/1,200/1,900/2,200 RPM
- Impacts: 0-1,000/1,700/2,400/2,700 IPM
- Fastening Torque: 520 ft.lbs.
- Nut-Busting Torque: 740 ft.lbs.
- LED light with an independent on/off switch
- Weight: 6 lbs.
- Dimensions: 6-11/16 x 3-3/16 x 10-7/8 in.
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $459