Kobalt Impact Driver Review – 1324A-03
On the Hefty Side, Kobalt Impact Driver Delivers Impressive Breakaway Torque
We ran 30 impact drivers – 18V, 12V, hydraulic oil pulse models, and DIY brands – through a head to head shootout. With a combination of power and value, Kobalt’s 24V Max Impact Driver finished our competition in an overall 8th place.
Overall, Kobalt is hefty and on the slow side under load, but it hits really hard, especially when breaking nuts loose. Aside from the genuinely helpful fastening mode, it’s kind of bare bones when it comes to features. However, it will definitely get the job done. For $189 for the kit, it presents a solid value and a reasonably priced inroad to a tool line that’s quietly pretty solid.
* Results as of February 11, 2019. Check out our Best 18V Impact Driver main page for the latest updates.
Our two main areas of testing an impact driver’s performance are measuring speed under load and torque.
The Kobalt Impact Driver has a no-load speed of 2,700 RPM, 3,500 IPM, and 1800 in-lbs of torque. These are all right in the mix for mid-level professional impact drivers, but it’s the actual testing that shows how motor specs and mechanical design come together to do work.
Before we look at the 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.
Speed Under Load
The Kobalt Impact Driver moves at a somewhat leisurely 398 RPM during our speed test. This performance landed it securely in the 13th place for this round making it only marginally quicker than Makita’s hybrid model and Ridgid’s entry. For the sake of comparison, our winner blasted through over 250 RPM more than the Kobalt could.
Of course, speed isn’t everything, and this model doesn’t feel like it’s struggling to sink a 1/4″ ledger screw. Still, we like to see Pro models exceed 400 RPM in this test and this tool falls just short of that.
While speed isn’t necessarily in the Kobalt’s wheelhouse, power is. Kobalt finished our fastening testing by showing off a solid 2585 in-lbs of fastening torque. This earns it a 2nd place finish behind Milwaukee as one of only 3 models to hit harder than 2500 in-lbs.
Kobalt is one of the models we tested that produces more fastening torque with a 5-second burst than multiple 3-second ones. The takeaway is that it’s a little slower to reach its peak torque than others, but it hits harder than nearly everyone once it does.
The Kobalt Impact Driver really shines in nut-busting, finishing in a 2nd place tie with Milwaukee’s 18V model. Although all we really look for from a Pro impact driver is 2,750 in-lbs of nut-busting torque, Kobalt delivers an impressive 3,600 in-lbs (300 ft-lbs).
With that much power, take it easy when you get to metal fastening. That much torque doesn’t have any trouble breaking socket adapters or shearing off screw heads. This is where Kobalt’s fastening mode comes in – it starts in high speed and stops after a few impacts to set the screw without shearing them off.
Weight and Footprint
As a bare tool, the Kobalt Impact Driver is one of the 3 heaviest bare tools in our test at 2.6 lbs. Its compact battery only adds another pound, and it picks up a few places thanks to that.
All of our impact drivers fall within a 1/2″ or so of one another in height and Kobalt is on the taller end of that scale at 8″. The swings are wider for length, but Kobalt plants itself in the middle with a length of 5.6″. Overall, these measurements earn the KID 1324A-03 an 11th place finish.
All impact drivers are noisy; it’s just kind of the nature of the beast. Some are less taxing on your eardrums than others though, and the Kobalt Impact Driver happens to fall on the quieter end of what we’re used to hearing from these noisy tools. With a 4th place finish at 100 dB(A), you’ll still need hearing protection for sustained use. You’re still quite a bit lower than the Ryobi and Craftsman that put out 105 decibels.
- 3-Speed Mechanical Switch: We prefer these mechanical switches blister buttons. Sure, they’re not as sexy, but they also won’t fail or crack as quickly as blister buttons tend to.
- Finishing Mode: This mode allows the tool to set the screw head in metal fastening. The tool senses when it starts impacting and stops. It consistently sets the screw without shearing the head off.
- 24V Max Battery: One of the high points of the Kobalt line of cordless tools is that the battery packs have an extra cell. This means more power and longer runtimes.
- Brushless motor
- Belt clip
- LED worklight
The Kobalt Impact Driver runs $189 for the kit with one 2.0Ah battery, charger, and soft case. It also comes with a 5-year limited warranty on the tool and a 3-year battery warranty.
There’s a combo kit option that has the impact driver, hammer drill, and 4.0 Ah battery for $329. Amazon’s pricing is even more compelling.
*As of 2/11/19, Lowe’s has the impact driver kit for $169 and the combo kit for $279.
With 76 out of 100 points, the Kobalt finishes our shootout in 7th place for value.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Kobalt finishes the shootout in 9th place. It’s hefty and on the slow side under load, but it hits really hard, especially when breaking nuts loose. Aside from the genuinely helpful fastening mode, it’s kind of bare bones when it comes to features. However, it will definitely get the job done. For $189 for the kit, it presents a solid value and a reasonably priced inroad to a tool line that’s quietly pretty solid.
Kobalt Impact Driver Specifications
- Model: Kobalt KID 1324A-03
- Power source: 24V Max Lithium-Ion Battery
- No Load Speed: 2,700 RPM
- Maximum Torque: 1800 in-lbs
- Impact Rate: 3500 IPM
- Bare Weight: 2.6 lbs
- Weight with Battery: 3.6 lbs
- Length: 5.6″
- Height: 8″
- Warranty: 3-Year Limited (Battery), 5-Year Limited (Tool)