Impact drivers are the new drill. While we don’t recommend them for actual drilling – not into hardwood, at least – the Impact Driver has become the go-to tool for most homeowners looking to reduce fatigue and stress when driving screws. The tools, like Porter Cable PC18ID 18V Impact Driver, are extremely compact as well – allowing for more maneuverability than many drills with standard chucks. At just under $80, it also presents itself as an incredible value – especially if you’re already in possession of the lithium-ion batteries and charger required to power this tool.
Porter Cable PC18ID Features
Build Quality and Overview
Porter Cable PC18ID Impact Driver presents itself as an easy product to integrate into your system. For one, the PC designation, as opposed to PCL, implies that the tool can be used with the modern NiCad batteries as well as the highly-recommended lithium-ion batteries. It’s extremely versatile in that respect and will put a highly usable product in consumers’ hands that can be upgraded over time with new battery technology.
The tool is primarily gray and black, the latter being made up of the rubber overmold that gives you a rock-solid grip. Speaking of the grip – it’s great for bare-handed use or gloves. No matter what you do, you’re not going to drop this tool during use unless you purposefully let it go. The sides of the tool are also protected, allowing you to set the tool down without worrying about marring your workpiece. The Impact Driver has a red trigger that, unlike the new PCL line of tools, lacks the rubberized trigger – a feature of it being a tad older than the newest tools. Rather than ding the old, we’ll just praise the new. When you begin to depress the trigger, the integrated LED light comes on, illuminating the worlk area. It casts some shadows when you get closer (less than 2-inches) to the work area, but no more than most other 18V impact drivers we’ve used. The tool supports 1/4-inch hex drive accessories, which are becoming easier and easier to purchase. In our opinion, the genre is really taking off, making it difficult to see how the traditional chuck is going to eventually become a specialty or legacy tool in no time.
The Porter Cable PC18ID Impact Driver doesn’t include a battery or charger, so it’s designed to be used with your existing tools. If you want a complete kit, however, Porter Cable offers the PCL180IDK-2 which comes with two batteries, a charger, and even a belt clip accessory. As we mentioned, since it’s the PCL line, the trigger even has a rubberized coating over it. While the version we reviewed doesn’t come with batteries, that didn’t stop us from using it with our existing Lithium XL and EX batteries that come with the Porter Cable PCL418C-2. Like those tools, the Porter Cable PC18ID has the excellent spring-loaded battery eject mechanism that is extremely easy to release and should be standard procedure for all manufacturers’ systems as far as we are concerned. On the downside, there are no battery level meters on either the tool or the compatible batteries, so it is impossible to gauge when your batteries are about to run out. Our hope is that this is remedied in the next generation of Porter Cable batteries. Even DeWalt, the (now) higher-end brand of parent company Stanley Black and Decker lacks battery gauges, so it seems to be a company-wide area of improvement.
While the tool lacks a belt hook, it does feature a single bit storage system that is made very well and which we felt was actually better, and easier to use, than the one included with the company’s PCL180D 18V Drill.
Tool Testing and Use
The Porter-Cable PC18ID 18V Impact Driver is easy to use and has a great balance and feel. If you have the correct angle on a screw, it’s nearly impossible to strip the head out, and its 1600 ft.-lbs. of torque assures that even the biggest lag bolts are going to be driven into any material with ease. We drilled a ton of 3-1/2 inch screws into a piece of pressure-treated 4×4 lumber and liked the way the tool handled itself. We were also able to use it on a decking project and even to install some shelving in a tool shed. The tool is nimble and will be a great addition to anyone’s collection – an even bigger advantage if you’ve already started in with Porter Cable’s new battery form factor.
Like the Porter-Cable PCL418C-2 Lithium Combo Kit we reviewed earlier, we gave the PC18ID one of our rare 10/10 Value ratings. While we expect Porter Cable to do better in the areas of battery gauges and including basic accessories like belt hooks, the tool is one of the best values we’ve seen on the market. For the reasons above, the Performance rating of this tool garnered an 8/10, giving it some room to improve but clearly placing it way above average. Porter Cable may have made some adjustments to its line-up in recent years, but it is positioning itself, at least price-wise, to dominate its category as a budget leader. You get a lot of tool for your money, and that’s a good thing. If you want to pick this tool up along with batteries and a charger, be sure to check out the PCL180IDK-2.