Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Review

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Review

Makita’s next expansion into their 18V LXT Sub-Compact series of tools is a new impact wrench. This follows a pretty natural progression for the line. Like the other members, the Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench shoots for compact 12V size while staying on the 18V platform. It gives you the benefits of smaller size and weight while unlocking Makita’s deep line of 18V tools and giving you much greater runtime than 12V tools.

Reverse Rotation Auto Stop

The new impact wrench is fairly basic in design, but it has a couple of bonus features you’re unlikely to find in the same size/weight class. There are three modes to work with that you cycle through above the battery. That’s helpful in and of itself, considering most cordless impact wrenches in this class only give you one.

Two modes are a simple low and high. The third is what Makita calls Reverse Rotation Auto Stop. This is a genuinely handy feature that stops both impact and rotation when it senses the bolt or nut is releasing. If you’re working overhead or in a tight space, it allows you to hand loosen the rest of the way to avoid dropping a nut or bolt.

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Review

If you release and press the trigger after the auto stop engages, you’ll get a partial turn. Just keep hitting it until you get your hardware as loose as you like. I use it whenever I’m working at height just to reduce the risk of dropping things and having to climb down and back up the ladder again.

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Standard Features

  • LED work light
  • 3/8″ square drive
  • Brushless motor


One of Makita’s greatest strengths is in the ergonomics of their cordless tools. Weighing in at 1.86 pounds bare and 3.26 pounds with a 5.0 Ah battery, it’s incredibly light for an 18V tool. With such a light weight, balance is a matter of which battery you use. Go with a compact pack for the best all-around feel.

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Review

Makita’s curvy handle design and overmold are present, making it an easy tool to pick up and use.


The Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench is in a unique place with its 130 ft. lbs. of torque (1560 in. lbs.). Other 18V 3/8″ models exceed that number handily while 12V 3/8″ models fall short. So what’s the better comparison? Your guess is as good as mine.

For now, let’s be content to know that it has slightly more power than Makita’s flagship 18V impact drivers. Clearly, the goal of this tool isn’t to challenge the beefier 18V wrenches out there. So why not just use an impact driver?

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Review

While Makita’s impact drivers are compact, this is still lighter. But the bigger issue is keeping the tool compact with an accessory installed. Add a socket adapter to your impact driver and you extend the length. There’s also the fact that the 3/8″ square drive will hold up much longer than an adapter.

Back to the actual performance. I spent some quality time driving lag 3/8″ lag screws and it’s a pretty stout little impact wrench. For that kind of application or driving long hex head timber screws, I really like this option over an impact driver. You get the power you expect from the impact driver in a lighter package, so it’s that much easier to manage.

Room for Improvement

There’s always a tradeoff in design. In this case, the Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench opts for a narrow head design that’s great for getting between boards and tighter to a wall. It’s at the expense of some length, though. Personally, I’d take a wider design to get a shorter head.

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Review

Aside from that, there’s not much to complain about. If you need more than 130 ft. lbs. of torque – and there are plenty of applications that do – you have to add weight. Just keep in mind that this is for the light-duty impact wrench tasks and enjoy the weight savings during the times you get to use it.

The Bottom Line

The Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench drops down in power to accommodate a much more compact and lightweight impact wrench than we’re used to on an 18V platform. With two speeds to choose from and Reverse Rotation Auto Stop, it’s also more feature rich than others in this weight class. With more power than a 12V model and a smaller footprint than most 18V models, it’s a nice addition for Pros that find the Sub-Compact line that extends power beyond what the Sub-Compact impact wrench has.

Makita Sub-Compact Impact Wrench Specifications

  • Model: Makita XWT12
  • Power Source: Makita 18V LXT Battery
  • Drive: 3/8″ square friction ring
  • Max Torque: 130 ft. lbs. (1560 in. lbs.)
  • Speed: 0 – 1300/0 – 2400 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 2000/0 – 3600 IPM
  • Length: 5-5/8″
  • Weight: 1.86 lbs (bare), 2.7 lbs (compact battery), 3.26 lbs (5.0 Ah battery)
  • Price: $99.90
  • Warranty: 3 years
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Orlando Negron-Rodriguez

Is that “length” top to bottom or left to right?


Since you didn’t bother to mention where it’s made, I guess I must presume it’s shamefully made by slaves in china.

I sure do wish you would list where stuff is made, though you clearly don’t care about slaves or the downfall of the freer world.


These sub-compacts from Makita are basically 18V tools with 12V power. I don’t get them.

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