Oil impact drivers have made a big splash over the past year thanks to the Stealth Force from Ridgid and Makita’s Oil Impulse Driver. They also showed that similar mechanisms can be designed for very different results with Ridgid displaying incredible power and Makita settling in as a screwdriving specialist. TTI’s value-priced brand entered the scene with the Ryobi QuietStrike Pulse Driver (P290) as an addition to the One+ 18V lineup.
The big advantage in an oil pulse driver comes from quieter operation. The combination of hydraulic fluid and elliptically shaped impact mechanism have the bonus of softening the impact blow so you feel less vibration shock. It’s similar to the difference between a push and a punch. I can certainly move someone by pushing them with all the force I can muster. With a punch, I can still make them move, but I’ll also leave a bruise due to the violence of the strike.
TakeawayRyobi is the only model to feature a brushed motor, so it’s no surprise that its performance rankings are lower than its Pro brand counterparts. The only curious result is in nut-busting torque – with the level of fastening torque the QuietStrike has, we expected nut-busting to come in as much as three times higher. But no matter how many times we repeated the test, it came back in the same range. Despite that and bulky design, it earns enough points against its $149 kit price tag to still earn the top value score.
With a traditional impact driver, you feel the violence of the impact. With an oil impulse, you feel a stronger push. Beyond the softer impact, you’ll also notice the impact rate isn’t as high as your impact driver. With the Ridgid Stealth Force, that translated into both quieter operation and much faster driving results that showed up in our impact driver shootout. The question is if the Ryobi P290 QuietStrike impact driver will follow suit.
Ryobi P290 Quietstrike Impact Driver Design
Living under the TTI umbrella with Ridgid, it should be no surprise that both oil impact drivers share some qualities. In fact, the QuietStrike is essentially the same tool inside the housing minus the brushless motor.
The Ryobi QuietStrike is a single speed driver (Ridgid has 3 speeds) housed in the typical yellow/green casing. Ryobi’s GripZone overmold is around the handle and back of the motor housing. At 7-3/4 inches long, the driver is shorter than Ryobi’s drills but longer than their impact drivers. It’s also a bit on the heavy side, weighing just over 4-1/2 pounds with a 4.0 amp hour battery pack.
Aside from the weight, ergonomics are decent. The post-style battery dictates a wider handle that isn’t as form fitting to your hand as you’d expect from some of the Pro brands. Still, it’s certainly not a tool that I’m wanting to put down the moment I pick it up.
Light up the Sky
Ryobi brought over Ridgid’s Tri-Beam LED lights, which are a major plus in my book. They surround the chuck and eliminate the shadows caused by lights mounted at the base of the handle.
Ryobi gets away from other designs with their LEDs in that there’s no time delay. They come on when you press the trigger enough to start turning the collet and they go off the moment you release it.
Ryobi’s MagTray is found on the QuietStrike. If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s on the extended base below the handle and can hold several small fasteners so you’re not stuck trying to hold them while you drive. It’s pretty effective on screws up to 2 inches or so, but I place anything larger than that in my pocket.
Ryobi P290 Other Handy Features
Ryobi and Ridgid both use an auto-load chuck in their impacts. With one hand, simply push the bit in place to lock it. When it’s time to remove it, pushing the collet forward with eject it with an internal spring.
An included belt clip can be screwed in place for either right or left handed use and there’s a bit holder at the front of the base.
My first question is whether the Ryobi QuietStrike was designed to be a power player like Ridgid’s Stealth Force or a controlled screwdriving specialist like Makita’s Oil Impulse. The answer – somewhere in between.
After driving a variety of fasteners from 2-inch drywall screws to the 3/8 x 3-1/2 inch lag screws, it was evident that Ryobi is all about the smaller diameter screws. Even though you’re probably limited to 1/4 inch diameter, you can drive very long timber screws. I was capped at an 8-inch length, but I’ve talked to other users that have driven 10-inch screws into PT.
The decision to make the QuietStrike a single-speed driver seemed a bit concerning at first. Under load though, I found that I had a very nice balance of speed and control. Speaking of speed, the driving speed is clearly better than a drill and close to – but slightly slower than – an impact driver.
Ryobi QuietStrike Pulse Driver Specifications
- Model: Ryobi P290
- No Load Speed: 0 – 3200 RPM
- Impact Rate: 0 – 2200 IPM
- Chuck: 1/4″ quick-change hex
- Weight: 2.96 pounds bare, 4.54 pounds with 4.0 amp hour battery pack
- Length: 7-3/4″
- Height: 7-1/2″ bare, 9-1/2″ with 4.0 amp hour battery pack
- Rated Applications: Wood, concrete (Tapcon), and metal fastening
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $79 (bare tool), $149 (kit)
The Bottom Line
Ryobi is officially a DIY line, but they keep producing tools that reach above that mark. It’s why you see so many tradesmen and maintenance/repair crews use them. The Ryobi QuietStrike Pulse Driver is a screwdriving beast that can handle most small diameter screws even at very long lengths. It’s not going to be as helpful on larger lag screws like we saw with Ridgid’s Stealth Force though.
Noise reduction is clearly evident with speeds near what we expect from Ryobi’s impact drivers. The impacts are not as violent as an impact driver even though you’ll feel the push of the pulse drive mechanism. For the DIYer, tradesman, or maintenance crew member, this is an easy recommendation to add to your One+ tool bag.