We’re in a glorious cycle of tool innovation that sees new cordless tools coming out every week. If you look hard enough, you’re sure to find a new drill or impact driver in that mix frequently. While Makita is pushing the envelope and coming out with their first cordless Rear Handle Circular Saw, the Makita XDT12M is just another impact driver.
Or is it?
With most companies, new impact drivers usually mean they made it more compact or more powerful than the last one. When it comes to the Makita XDT12M, Makita did bring the size down a little further. But they didn’t stop there. Before we take a look at what makes this Makita impact driver so special, let’s first look at the basics.
On paper, the Makita XDT12M looks solid and matches what the XDT09 offered. That means you can expect up to 3600 RPM, 3800 IPM, and 1550 inch pounds of torque.
RPM is pretty much at the top of the rankings already and allows for very fast screw driving. The impact rate nearly follows suit but has been bested by Hitachi’s Triple Hammer Impact Driver at 4000 IPM.
Torque is well under the 2250 inch pounds of torque we found in the Ridgid Gen5X impact driver. However, keep in mind what you need an impact driver for. The specifications on the Makita XDT12M are dialed in for fast screw driving. The torque rating is enough to handle small lag screws, so you’ll have to decide for yourself how far into the realm of an impact wrench you expect your impact driver to go.
Makita has been getting lighter and more compact with their impact driver classes for some time. However, the Makita XDT12M is just a hair heavier than the XDT09. Heavier is relative course – this new model is 1.96 pounds bare and 3.38 pounds with a 4.0 amp hour battery.
We measured the new Makita impact driver at 4-5/8 inches long – just a touch shorter than the XDT09. The XDT12 also shares the ergonomic handle and rubber overmold of the 09 model, which is a slight upgrade from some of their previous 18-volt and current 12-volt models. It’s textured a bit more to give a slightly more secure grip.
Essentially, Makita has packed their new impact driver into the XDT09 housing with only minor changes.
Milwaukee’s One-Key impact driver may be the King of Customization, but Makita isn’t being totally left behind. For starters, Makita put 4 standard impact driver modes on this model. Most Pro level impact drivers these days have 3 modes, so you get a little more control between low and high speeds.
Like the XDT09, Makita included Quick-Shift, AKA T–Mode. This mode is optimized for fastening in metal applications where a self-tapping screw is often employed to cut through the metal before the threads grab. The danger comes in the form of the impact driver’s high speed. You need that speed to let the tip cut through the metal. Once that happens, there’s little resistance when the threads catch and it’s not uncommon to destroy a bit, cam out a screw head, or sheer a screw head off.
Makita’s Quick-Shift Mode starts the drive fast and when it feels the resistance lesson, it slows down to help you control the end of the drive. Check out the video below to see it in action in slow motion.
Makita also included their new Assist Mode in this model. Assist Mode essentially does the opposite of T-mode. It starts the drive slow and then accelerates to finish the drive quickly. This mode is perfect for driving screws in wood, particularly when you want an accurate start. Here’s another video, this time with Assist Mode in action. If you turn up your volume, you’ll hear the mode take over as it accelerates into the drive.
Other Features Worth Noting
The LED light is still situated above the trigger like the previous model. The difference is you now have more control over that as well. There is an on-off switch for the light next to the other controls on the tool. Pull the trigger to activate the light like you normally would, then press the button and the light is off. Now when you pull the trigger, the light will remain off. Press the light button again to switch it back to its normal operating mode.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the Makita XDT12M 18V LXT Impact Driver is pretty much the same as the 09 model with the addition of Assist Mode, a 4th standard control mode, and an LED light control. In fact, this is a rolling change for Makita as the XDT09 is being discontinued.
I have found that the vast majority of my work is using either Quick-Shift or Assist Mode. Having the four standard modes is great, but I like the control I have with the two modes that automatically speed up or slow down.
Makita sticks with their outstanding ergonomics and keeps the XDT12 lightweight and compact compared to their competition.
Power and Pricing
Perhaps the only real knock against it is that it only has 1550 inch-pounds of torque. I say “only” almost in jest. While there are more powerful impact drivers available, I just don’t think you need more power for the screw driving and light socket tasks an impact driver is used for. If you really need that much more torque, moving up to an impact wrench most likely moves you to the better tool for the job.
At $186.99 for the bare tool and around $325 for the kit with two 4.0 amp hour batteries, the Makita XDT12 is not a cheap impact driver. However, what you’re getting for that premium price is a premium feature set and outstanding ergonomics in a tool that is more than capable of meeting the needs of professional users.
Makita XDT12M 4-Speed Impact Driver Manufacturer’s Key Features
- Quick-shift mode selector has an automatic electronic controller that downshifts and reduces rotation and impact speed prior to driving the screw into place
- BL Brushless Motor delivers 3,600 max RPM and 1,550-in.lbs. of max torque
- 4-speed power selection switch provides precise fastening control for a wide range of applications
- Assist Mode (A-mode) feature helps eliminate “screw cam-out” and “cross threading” by driving at low speed until tightening begins
- Tightening Mode (T-mode) for faster tightening of self-drilling screws; helps prevent damage to the screw or workpiece
- Compact and ergonomic design at only 4-5/8″ long
- Features Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) which is engineered to provide increased dust and water resistance in harsh job site conditions
- All metal gear housing for increased job site durability
- 3-stage battery gauge indicates battery charge level
- Convenient one-touch 1/4″ hex chuck for quick bit changes
- Built-in dual LED lights illuminate the work area
- Rubberized soft grip provides increased comfort on the job
- Equipped with Star Protection Computer Controls to protect against overloading, over-discharging, and over-heating
- Makita’s proprietary hammer and anvil impact mechanism is manufactured using the best raw materials with the highest quality steel and a unique heat hardening process for maximum fastening and driving power
Makita XDT12M 4-Speed Impact Driver Specifications
- Model: Makita XDT12M, Makita XDT12Z (Bare Tool)
- Battery: 18V LXT Lithium-ion
- No Load Speed (4 speed): 0-1,100 / 0-2,100 / 0-3,200 / 0-3,600 RPM
- Impacts per minute (4 speed): 0-1,100 / 0-2,600 / 0-3,600 / 0-3,800 IPM
- Maximum torque: 1,550 in-lbs.
- 1/4″ hex shank
- Overall length: 4-5/8 in.
- Weight (with battery): 3.38 lbs.
- Includes: 18V LXT Lithium-Ion batteries, rapid charger, tool case
- Warranty: 3-year
- Price: $186.99 (Bare Tool)