Makita DT03 Cordless Drill Reviews & Impact Drivers

12V Impact Drivers

Speed Under Load
Measurable Torque
Weight
Feature Set
Value
Final Thoughts

If it seems like the Makita DT03 is a little more ho-hum than Makita's typical core tools, you're right. We first saw Makita's slide pack 12V CXT tools, including the DT03, back in mid-2015. Time goes by and other players come in. The silver lining is that Makita has released its newest 12V CXT impact driver - the DT04. It sports a brushless motor and nearly 25% more torque! 

Overall Score 3.4 Shootout Results

Makita DT03 12V CXT Impact Driver Review


Makita DT03 Hints at Better Things to Come

When you’ve got a bunch of lighter duty work on tap, a 12V impact driver is an easier option to reach for. Makita has a no-frills option that will get those lighter jobs done at a pretty reasonable price. The Makita DT03 won’t blow the hinges off the door with a ton of power or speed, but it’s a relatively compact, lightweight, and reliable supplement for your 18V tools.

Makita DT03 Impact Driver Shootout Results

  • 12V Ranking: 4th place out of 9 
  • Speed Under Load: 204 RPM (7th place)
  • Fastening Torque: 307 in-lbs (7th place)
  • Nut-Busting Torque: 600 in-lbs (tie, 5th place)
  • Decibels Under Load: 100 dB(A) (tie, 7th place)
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds bare, 2.3 pounds with battery (6th place)
  • Footprint: 6.0″ head length, 7.0″ height (5th place)
  • Feature Set: No major highlights or drawbacks (6th place)
  • Value: $119 kit with 2 batteries and charger (2nd place)

Takeaway

If it seems like the Makita DT03 is a little more ho-hum than Makita’s typical core tools, you’re right. We first saw Makita’s slide pack 12V CXT tools, including the DT03, back in mid-2015. Time goes by and other players come in. The silver lining is that Makita has released its newest 12V CXT impact driver – the DT04. It sports a brushless motor and nearly 25% more torque!

If value is the most important factor, the DT03 is a fine option within Makita’s lineup. But take a look at the brushless DT04 if higher performance is what you’re looking for.

Results as of February 11, 2019. Check out our Best 12V Impact Driver page for the latest updates.

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Performance

Makita first released this model, along with some other 12V tools, back in 2015. Even at that time, these tools weren’t necessarily pushing the limits of what we could do with 12V power, but they were reasonably competitive in their class.

The story hasn’t changed over the last several years, particularly because the Makita DT03 hasn’t received an update. But not so fast, my friends. The brushless DT04 has been released with much higher performance specs, making this model a more value-minded option.

Under no load, this impact driver generates 2600 RPM and 3500 IPM to go with its 970 in-lbs of torque. We’ve seen better numbers, and to be fair, no-load numbers don’t mean a whole lot. That’s why we put this impact driver, as well as 9 other models, to the test.

Note: To see our testing methods, please check out our Best 18V Impact Driver main page.

Speed Under Load

The first thing we test for is a tool’s speed under moderate load. We glued up some OSB subfloor and drove 1/4″ diameter ledge screws into our new creation, testing the tool’s RPM along the way.

Makita DT03

The Makita DT03 manages an average of 204 RPM under load, making it the 7th fastest in the 12V class. It’s a far cry from Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel at 397 RPM.

Measurable Torque

Please realize that our torque tests do not and cannot replace how manufacturers test for their specifications. Head over to the testing methods section on our main shootout page to see the details.

We also measure both fastening and breakaway torque with an I-beam, some Grade 8 hardened nuts and bolts, and a torque wrench. When fastening nuts down, the Makita DT03 delivers 307 in-lbs of torque. This earns it a 7th place ranking on our charts and nearly 500 in-lbs less than the current leader.

Makita DT03

Makita consistently breaks 600 in-lbs of torque on our rig. Again, this number isn’t particularly impressive, but it earns the DT03 the 5th-place ranking, tying with 2 other models.

Feature Set

Keeping in mind that the big deal when this model was released was the change from pod to slide style batteries, there isn’t a ton to talk about on the feature side. It’s a single speed impact that checks off the boxes we expect to find but doesn’t go any further. That’s for the XDT04.

Here’s what you get:

  • Single speed brushed motor
  • LED light
  • Belt hook
  • Battery charge indicator on the battery pack

Ergonomics

Things start to turn around a bit for the Makita DT03 in the ergonomics department. Typical of the brand, the handle is comfy and the tool is well-balanced.

Makita DT03

Without the battery attached, it weighs a mere 1.8 lbs. With the 2.0Ah slim battery pack, it’s still only 2.3 lbs, bringing it in as the 5th lightest, just 0.4 lbs heavier than the leader.

It’s also 6″ long and 7″ tall. That’s somewhat ironic considering the XDT16 18V model’s head length is only 4.6″. But it uses a wider and shorter brushless motor.

Even though this has a mid-pack finish in both categories, it’s a little deceiving. The Makita 12V impact driver feels very nimble and comfortable, maybe even more so than some of the models that were objectively more compact and lightweight.

Price

 

At the time of our testing, we found the Makita DT03, with two 2.0Ah batteries and a charger, for $99, which makes it the 2nd best value considering what you get for the price.

Since then, the price has fluctuated a bit, and it’s retailing around $119. Whether there’s a sale running or not, it comes with a 3-year limited warranty on the tool, the batteries, and the charger. Even at this updated price, it’s still loads cheaper than both the Milwaukee and Bosch models.

There’s also a bare tool option for about $75 if you’re already on Makita’s 12V CXT platform. Just make note that it’s not compatible with the older pod style batteries.

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The Bottom Line

If it seems like the Makita DT03 is a little more ho-hum than Makita’s typical core tools, you’re right. We first saw Makita’s slide pack 12V CXT tools, including the DT03, back in mid-2015. Time goes by and other players come in. The silver lining is that Makita has released its newest 12V CXT impact driver – the DT04. It sports a brushless motor and nearly 25% more torque!

If value is the most important factor, the DT03 is a fine option within Makita’s lineup. But take a look at the brushless DT04 if higher performance is what you’re looking for.

Makita 12V CXT Brushless Impact Driver Specifications

  • Model: Makita DT03
  • Power source: 12V Battery
  • No Load Speed: 2600 RPM
  • Maximum Torque: 970 in-lbs
  • Impact Rate: 3500 IPM
  • Bare Weight: 1.8 lbs
  • Weight with Battery: 2.3 lbs
  • Length: 6.0″
  • Height: 7.0″
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty
  • Price: $119

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Glenn
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Glenn

The impact driver being reviewed here is brushed and not brushless as the heading states.

Matt
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Matt

Doesn’t the Makita Brushless cxt impact have the 2 speed controls with assist mode and led on/off control? It also boasts 1200 in lbs… This review is for the less premium brushed model seemingly.