I’ve been working in the trades for almost 20 years now, and it seems that I’m driving more and more fasteners than ever. My first impact driver was a 14.4V DeWalt and a gift from my brother the plumber. He told me he saw a carpenter using it on a job site, tried it and bought three impact drivers that very day. Two were for his guys, and one was for me! I clearly remember the first time I used it—the raw, unadulterated power of the tool was impressive. So I bring a lot of history to the table when looking at the new DeWalt DCF886M2 XR brushless impact driver.
From building decks, to installing tile backer board, to screwing down plywood subfloors and building headers, I find that I’m always reaching for a fastener and something to drive it in with.
And you know what? Given the right tool, I like it!
You Need a Tool Like This
Impact drivers were originally engineered to do one job: drive screws. This is a task it does faster and easier than just about any other tool. In fact, impact drivers can sink long, large fasteners—including fat lag screws—that would stall most corded drills. But most tradesmen are up to speed on that. What’s interesting to me are the newest models hitting the market—because there’s a lot to choose from.
im•pact [n. im-pakt] The action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another
My DeWalt 14.4V impact driver actually lasted a good long while until I retired it a year ago. I traded it in for a DeWalt 20V DCF885, and then later I added the DCF895 brushless model to the toolbox. Brushless tools run cooler, last longer and can deliver over 50% more runtime than a tool with a standard brushed motor. Given the recent advancements in brushless technology, I was unsure if manufacturers could really do much more to achieve noticeable improvements to this type of tool.
I was wrong.
The New XR Line: What’s the Hype?
DeWalt released its brand-new 20V XR brushless lithium-ion impact drivers this year. XR stands for “Extreme Runtime” and speaks (primarily) to the new XR batteries, which are touted to have 33% longer runtime than previous DeWalt 20V battery packs. That got my attention.
With the new 4.0 Ah lithium-ion battery packs, these new impact drivers deliver the same power (or better) as previous models, but with greatly enhanced battery life. Indeed, when comparing the new DCF895M2 3-speed XR model to the current DCF895L2, the two tools look nearly identical save for some changes to the graphics on the side of the tools. The new XR DCF886, however, has some significant body changes to the older brushed DCF885 driver, and it adds an additional 100 in-lbs of torque. Another important factor to note when choosing an XR series drill is whether or not you need the additional features of the 895 series. These features include the three-speed functionality and the reduced length provided by the push button chuck.
The DCF886 kit shaves a full $70 off the retail price of the DCF895 series, and it gives me nearly the same performance. Since in most of my applications I don’t require the finesse of three impact settings, and the 5.55-inch clearance of the DCF886 is short enough for my needs, saving a few bucks makes a lot of sense. If you do more cabinetry work or want to use this to install door hinges or other more sensitive applications, spring for the DCF895.
- Model: DCF886M2
- Chuck: 1/4″ hex
- Anvil: Quick release
- Speed: 0 – 2,800 (no load)
- Impacts/min: 0 – 3,200
- Torque: 1,500 in-lbs.
- Length: 5.55”
- Weight: 3.4 lbs. (with battery)
- 3 LED lights with 20 second delay after trigger is pulled.
- Includes: 2 x DCB204 20V Max XR 4.0 Ah Li-ion batteries, Fast charger, Belt hook, Tool case
- Warranty: 3-year limited
- Price: $275 on Amazon
Job Site Testing: A Fastening Bonanza!
As with all of the tools I test, I took this one to work. I wanted to see if this tool was durable and able to tackle tough fastening applications on the job site. It so happened that we were working on a bathroom remodel, so I loaded the DCF886M2 with a freshly charged 4.0 Ah XR battery pack and gave it to my brother the plumber. He used it to drill 3/4″ and 2-1/2″ pipe holes in studs and floor joists to allow for the supply and drain lines. My brother uses mostly Bosch cordless tools, and he was impressed with the power, weight and size of the DCF886. I don’t think he’ll switch from his preferred brand, but it allowed him to give me some good feedback on the tool.
Soon after, I got the DCF886 back and used it to install 4” Truss Lok fasteners to head off the floor joists and create a plumbers box. It made quick work of installing all of the 3/8″ Simpson SDS fasteners in the related joist hangers.
I next used it to install Durock on the shower walls where I was able to really see the advantages of combining both power and runtime. Finishing up that job, I then screwed the new and existing 3/4” subfloor down before installing 1/4” PermaBase CBU cement board on top. All of this, mind you, was done on a single battery charge. At one point I worked the tool so hard that the casing was hot to the touch. I was sure the brushless electronic circuitry would shut down the motor, but it didn’t…so I kept right on working.
Usually with this much fastening, the battery dies at some point, and I can have an excuse to take a water break—but not this time. I finally gave up and took the break well before the battery ceased! My palm was sore, and this thing was just starting on its second XR battery.
Suffice it to say, the DCF886M2 got more than my attention that day. It got a permanent place in my toolbox. Since that remodel I have continued using the XR series impact driver for nearly every fastening application I encounter. It runs forever, and I spend less time swapping out batteries and more time working.