Best 18V Impact Drivers Tool Reviews by Tool

Best 18V Impact Driver Head to Head Review


16 Impact Drivers Go Head to Head in Our Search for the Best 18V Impact Driver

Of the 30+ impact drivers we brought in for testing, 16 of them live in the 18V class. This is the most competitive group with manufacturers counting on core tools like cordless impact drivers to draw you into their battery platforms. We put these through a series of tests to find out who makes the best 18V impact driver.

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Best 18V Impact Driver

Makita 18V LXT Brushless Impact Driver XDT16

Compact. Lightweight. Powerful. Smart. Makita’s XDT16 sets the new standard for what an impact driver is capable of. This is the most compact and second lightest 18V model we tested, yet it still outperforms impact drivers that quote hundreds of inch-pounds more torque on their spec sheets.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Runnerup

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Impact Driver with One-Key 2857

Milwaukee comes in a respectable second place, highlighting powerful torque transmission with a better value rating than Makita. At just 1 mm longer than Makita, it earns an impressive score for its compact design as well.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Best 18V Impact Driver Value

Hercules 20V Max Impact Driver

The Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Max Impact Driver is a clear jump in performance for the bargain price tool chain. With just a 90-day warranty and some noticeable heat buildup, we have questions about its long-term use for Pros. But it gets the job done well, particularly with speed under load. It also costs just $99.99.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Also Consider

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Ridgid R86037N:  Ridgid’s $199 kit includes two 4.0 Ah batteries and their Brushless Hammer Drill. If you’re looking for more than just an impact driver, this is an outstanding value.

Craftsman CMCF820: Craftsman’s $149 kit ($99 bare) price tag sits between Pro and DIY models. It matches up well against Hercules without the heat buildup and comes with a 3-year warranty.

Best 18V Impact Driver for Sockets

Bosch “Freak” 18V Brushless Socket-Ready Impact Driver IDH-182

There’s no doubt that the Bosch Freak is the most (and only) truly socket-ready impact driver out there. If you’re tired of going through 1/4″ socket adapters, this is the best 18V impact driver for you.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Most Versatile 18V Impact Driver

Makita 18V X2 Brushless Impact Hammer Drill Driver XPT02

Makita’s hybrid impact driver doesn’t carry a ton of power, but it makes up for it in versatility. Twisting the collar lets you switch between driving, drilling, hammer drilling, and impact driving modes—all on the same tool! Electronic controls below the trigger let you adjust the clutch, power, and/or speed. There’s even a two-speed gear switch on top. The tool is also smart enough to lock you out of any controls that aren’t appropriate for the mode you’re in. It’s a great tool for MRO, HVAC, and electricians that work around a variety of materials but don’t need a ton of power.

Testing Results

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

Speed Under Load

With torque ranges to 2000 in-lbs and beyond, we didn’t expect Makita’s 1600 in-lbs to maintain the fastest speed under load, but it did. Even more impressive, it has a 78-RPM lead over second place Metabo HPT (Hitachi) 18V (573 RPM). Hercules (565 RPM) rounds out the top 3 with Metabo HPT 36V (562 RPM) hot on its heels.

None of these impact drivers have an issue driving our ledger screws, but four models are unable to hit 400 RPM doing so: Skil (307 RPM),  Makita’s Hybrid (363 RPM), Ridgid (372 RPM), and Kobalt (398 RPM).

Best 18V Impact Driver Head to Head Review

Fastening Torque

Before we look at our two results, realize that our torque tests do not and cannot replace how manufacturers test for their specifications. Please take a look at our testing methods on our main shootout page to better understand how we got the numbers.

For fastening torque, Milwaukee rises up to take first place with 2656 in-lbs. Metabo HPT’s MultiVolt notches a solid second place at 2501 in-lbs and Hilti finishes off the top 3 with a 2445 in-lb effort.

Best 18V Impact Driver Head to Head Review

Counting down to the bottom, Bosch comes in with 1413 in-lbs, Makita’s hybrid lands at 1332 in-lbs. Metabo is the lowest at 1236 in-lbs*.

*Ah, but there’s an asterisk on Metabo. In talks with their product team, the tool seems to have a malfunction. We will re-test with a different model and update the results.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Nut-Busting Torque

Nut-busting torque testing yields some impressive numbers for some of our impact wrenches—including some that exceed what 3/8″ and some 1/2″ impact wrenches are rated for.

Best 18V Impact Driver Head to Head Review

Skil emerges to top the class with 4200 in-lbs of torque (350 ft-lbs!). Kobalt and Milwaukee tie for 2nd at 3600 in-lbs (300 ft-lbs) while Makita’s XDT16 and Ridgid tie up 4th place with 3300 in-lbs. 5 other models hit 3000 in-lbs.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

On the low side are Bosch and Metabo HPT’s 18V Triple Hammer (2760 in-lbs), Makita’s hybrid (2400 in-lbs), and Metabo (1080 in-lbs).

Weight

Best 18V Impact Driver Head to Head Review

Mac Tools comes in first place for weight, weighing just 2.8 pounds with its compact battery. Makita is just a hair higher at 2.9 with Craftsman right on its heels at 3.0 pounds. Ridgid (4.0 pounds) with its new 3.0 Ah Octane battery, Metabo HPT’s 36V Triple Hammer (4.2 pounds), and Ryobi (4.4 pounds) with its new 3.0 Ah battery round out the heaviest models.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Footprint

Makita rules the roost when it comes to a compact impact driver. It’s just 4.6″ long and 7.4″ tall (without the battery). Milwaukee is very close behind with a head length just 1 mm longer and height of 7.6″. Metabo HPT finishes out the podium with both Triple Hammer models at 5.0″ long and 7.8″ tall.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Makita’s hybrid impact stakes its claim as the longest at 6.8″ to pair with its 8.0″ height. Ryobi (6.4″ long, 7.8″ tall) and Bosch (6.2″ long, 7.7″ tall) round off 13th, and 12th, respectively.

Best 18V Impact Driver Head to Head Review

One thing to note about Bosch’s length is that it’s due to the 1/2″ drive on the front. If you’re a heavy socket user, you don’t have to add the length of an adapter to your impact driver and Bosch can actually save you some length.

Best 18V Impact Drivers

Feature Set

Every one of our best 18V impact driver contestants has a brushless motor. There’s some separation from that point, though. Here’s a quick breakdown of what stands out from the standard features:

  • Bosch IDH-182
    • 1/2″ Socket Drive
  • DeWalt DCF887
    • Tool Connect App Model Available w/Bluetooth (DCF888)
  • Kobalt KID 1234A-03
    • Finish setting for screws
  • Mac Tools MCF886
    • Batteries are interchangeable with DeWalt 20V Max
  • Makita XDT16
    • 4 auto smart modes
    • Programmable mode switch
  • Makita XPT02
    • Drive, drill, hammer drill, and impact driver modes
  • Metabo SSD 18 LTX 200 BL
    • Soft start
    • 12-position speed dial with assist modes
    • Auto clutch to protect fasteners
  • Metabo HPT 18V Triple Hammer
    • 3-hammer impact mechanism
  • Metabo HPT 36V MultiVolt Triple Hammer
    • 3-hammer impact mechanism
    • Runs at 36V on MultiVolt battery or can run corded with AC adapter
  • Milwaukee 2857
    • One-Key App enabled w/Bluetooth
  • Skil ID573902
    • Control start mode for wood fastening
    • PWRAssist USB battery pack
    • PWRJump fast charger option

Noise Level

Impact drivers are loud by nature. We measured to see if anyone could keep it under control. Makita’s XDT16 and Hilti are the bright spots at 97 dB(A)—just 3 decibels louder than our oil pulse drivers. Makita’s hybrid is just 1 decibel louder at 98 dB(A).

Best 18V Impact Driver Head to Head Review

The ones that feel a need to make themselves heard include Craftsman and Ryobi hitting 105 dB(A) and DeWalt just below them at 104.

Value

Value takes a couple of different directions. It’s no surprise that the traditional DIY brands competing with the Pros do well in this category. Hercules leads this group with Skil also doing well. Ryobi uncharacteristically falls due to the fact that it isn’t sold as a kit, so you have to factor in the price of a battery and charger starter kit. If you’re already on Ryobi’s 18V One+ platform, the value proposition goes way up.

For the Pro brands, Ridgid tops the list with a kit that includes their brushless hammer drill for $199. DeWalt and Milwaukee round out the top 3 Pros. Don’t let the influence of the DIY brands dissuade you by their effect on the results—these four models are an excellent value for Pros!

*Editor’s Note: Chart has been edited to reflect updates in pricing information.

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Warranties

Even though there are some obvious differences in feel, fit, and finish, it would be impossible for us to assign each of these tools a score based on the quality of their construction. We’re not product designers, after all. That said, knowing how long each company stands behind their products can have a big influence on your purchase decision.

  • Metabo HPT: Lifetime tool, 2 years battery
  • Ridgid: 3 years warranty, lifetime service agreement (includes replacement batteries)
  • Hilti 20 years tool, battery not stated
  • Kobalt: 5 years tool, 3 years battery
  • Milwaukee: 5 years tool, 3 years battery
  • Skil: 5 years tool, 2 years battery
  • Craftsman: 3 years tool and battery
  • DeWalt: 3 years tool and battery
  • Makita: 3 years tool and battery
  • Metabo: 3 years tool and battery
  • Ryobi: 3 years tool and battery
  • Mac Tool: 1 year tool, 2 years battery
  • Bosch: 1 year tool and battery
  • Hercules: 90 days

Final Rankings

Once we tallied up all the scores for ergonomics, performance, and value, we had some genuine surprises. Here’s what it looks like from first to worst:

  1. Makita XDT16
  2. Milwaukee 2857
  3. Hercules 63380 (no, I’m not kidding)
  4. Craftsman CMCF820
  5. Hilti SID 4-A22
  6. DeWalt DCF887
  7. Metabo HPT (Hitachi) MultiVolt WH36DBQ4
  8. Kobalt KID 1234A-03
  9. Metabo HPT 18V WH18DBDL2
  10. Mac Tools MCF886
  11. Ridgid R86037N
  12. Skil ID573902
  13. Bosch IDH-182
  14. Ryobi P238
  15. Makita XPT02
  16. Metabo SSD 18 LTX 200 BL*

*Metabo results may be influenced by a malfunction. We will test a new model once it arrives.

5 Takeaways

Rather than just leaving you with a list, here are 5 things we learned while we discovered that Makita makes the best 18V impact driver:

1 – “DIY” tools are Getting Better

It’s pretty clear that DIY brands are closing the gap in performance to Pro models. Their fit and finish aren’t as nice and some of their warranties are shorter, but they’re getting the job done. Longevity contributes to the true value proposition on some of these tools.

2 – Maybe Harbor Freight is on to Something

Okay, so we knew that anyway since there are some great accessory values there. Still, the presence of a Harbor Freight tool in the top 3 of a shootout tells us that they’re getting serious about having a higher performing line.

3 – Test Results Aren’t Everything

Makita’s hybrid model is a great example of a tool that’s intentionally designed to do a great job without competing for the highest performance. It doesn’t have the power of other 18V models, but for the Pro that can use its versatility, it’s a fantastic tool.

4 – You Need to Own an Impact Wrench

We shattered a lot of 1/4″ hex to 1/2″ square drive adapters testing the high power end of these tools. The adapters performed exactly how they were designed, snapping in the middle when the torque was too high. If you’re doing a lot of hard torque fastening in metal with sockets, grab an impact wrench. It’ll save you the cost of adapters and give you access to higher torque in the process.

5 – The Final Call is Still Up to You

We weight our results based on what our Pros agree is most important. If money is the biggest priority for you, your final rankings will look different than ours. We love diverse opinions, so tell us what you think is most important and which model you think is the best 18V impact driver.

Just remember that there are real people who do the work and who are contributing through their comments. I hate having to delete comments and ban people for acting like middle schoolers, so keep it on topic and clean.

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Kenny KoehlerClint DeBoerJames BerrethCountyCorkYep Recent comment authors
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James Berreth
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James Berreth

I appreciate you doing this kind of testing but I have to say, your final ranking of the Ridgid impact is off. It scored in the top four in nit busting torque, second in value, second in warranty and middle of the pact for everything else except dimensions. Of course being a Ridgid guy, I may not be impartial but I can’t figure out how you ranked them 11th overall.

Dan
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Dan

Milwaukee M18 Fuel and M12 Fuel can’t be beat I use mine everyday and you no other brand even comes close

Ben
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Ben

Hey Kenny, you have a couple typos mixing up the two HPT drivers. Starting with the final ranking where you have the model number for both the 18v and Multivolt listed as WH36DBQ4, but in the graphs for each section there’s also WH18DBDL2.

I assume that the one with 18 in its model number is the 18v which scored lower in every test – except driving speed!? In the paragraph above the chart it says the Multivolt was second and the HPT 18v was 4th, but in the chart those positions are reversed. Which is correct?

Robert
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Robert

Why are you testing ALL new impact drivers except for Bosch? Their new gdr or gdx 18v 1800cn would blow most of them away. Definitely not a 12th place finish. More like 2nd – 4th place.

Alan Mawford
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Mike, This is also worth a read, Makita do an all in one impact driver