Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver Puts Serious Distance on Pro Models
When we had our initial conversations with Skil about their new cordless lineup, they were pretty clear that their tools are targeting DIY users. Their goal is to challenge 18V DIY products with a more compact 12V brushless form factor. Then we tested their brushless drill driver and realized it compares pretty well against Pro-level 12V models. The question I have now is if that’s the case for the Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver as well.
Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver Shootout Results
Skil claims to be their target users are the new generation of Millennials, but their performance in our shootout put some serious distance on major Pro brands. As the line develops, look for Skil to be a more affordable option for DIYers and Pros who want to supplement their more powerful 18V tools with more compact and lightweight options.
Results as of December 23, 2019. Check out our Best 12V Impact Driver page for the latest updates.
Where the rubber meets the road is in performance. The Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver gives you up to 1100 in-lbs of torque and 3500 IPM to go along with its 2600 RPM no load speed. Some of the Prosumer brands reach into performance levels that match Pro-level ratings and are quite a bit higher than Skil’s 12V. Pure DIY brands straddle Skil’s 1100 in-lbs on their 18V/20V Max tools with ratings on either side of that mark.
12V comparisons are much tougher to find competition for in the DIY market, so we’re looking toward Pro brands to see where Skil might fit. It matches Ridgid’s 12V torque rating and comes in a little under Makita’s 12V CXT model. That’s pretty good company to keep for a DIY tool.
Putting it to Use
There’s a big difference between specs on paper and real-world applications. Our Pros use their impact drivers to drive screws more than anything else and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Skil accomplishes that task with ease.
To give it a little more to chew on, I drilled a few pilot holes and tasked it to some larger lag screws. It handles 1/4″ lags pretty easily, but starts to struggle a bit with 3/8″. That’s in line with what we expect from our other impact drivers in this torque range. Realistically, this is a tool that you should primarily consider for screw driving in wood and metal. Leave the big stuff for your impact wrench.
Some drill bits and spade bits have a 1/4″ hex shaft so you can use them with either a drill or impact driver. Skil’s design of holding the bit in place with a ball detent in the collet means these will pop out when you back the bit out of the hole you’re making. In fact, you can insert and remove bits without pulling the collet release if you want. There’s nothing wrong with its ability to hold your fastening bits, I’d just avoid the crossover drilling bits.
Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver Feature Set
- 2-speed brushless motor
- Low/high mode selection switch above the battery
- 1/4″ hex collet
- Halo Light ring around the collet
- Forward/Lock reverse rocker switch
- Belt hook
- Rubberized bit holder on the back
Additional Field Notes
The Halo Light is an excellent design similar to what we’ve seen a few times in the past. It completely surrounds the collet meaning you can actually see the fastener and bit instead of casting a shadow over it.
Going with the slide pack battery design gives Skil more freedom in their handle development and they take full advantage. The shape contours very well to your hand and the rubber overmold helps secure your grip. Overall, the handle ergonomics are as good as any Pro brand.
Like you should expect from any level of power tool, the rocker switch and trigger are both easy to reach and operate with one hand.
The Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver weighs in at 2.0 pounds bare and 2.6 with a battery. That’s well under most anyone’s 18V weight. Compared to other 12V impact drivers on the Pro side, it’s about a 1/2-pound heavier. Like the drill, the weight balances well, so it doesn’t really feel like you’re carrying much extra weight.
As a bare tool, the Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver runs $59.99 or $99.99 with the PWRJump charger and 2 batteries. If you’re new to the Skil 12V line, going with a kit might give you even better value. The drill/impact driver kit with a standard charger and two batteries is $139.99 or you can add the oscillating multi-tool, LED light, and PWRJump charger to get a more comprehensive kit for $249.99.
You can pick up a kit from Ryobi that has their brushless hammer drill and brushless impact driver for $149 at the moment with better performance specs. A 1-battery drill/impact driver kit from Black & Decker is around $75 with specs that are closer to what you’ll get from Skil. Ridgid’s brushed 12V drill/impact driver kit is $99.
In any case, you’re trading off much bulkier tools for the higher power of Ryobi or lower price of Black & Decker. Ridgid’s kit looks compelling if you’re okay with a line that’s pretty limited. Skil settles into the sweet spot between all of those trade-offs.
The Bottom Line
Unlike the brushless drill, Skil’s impact driver doesn’t supplant 18V DIY and Prosumer impact drivers as easily. However, its performance and design is right in line with Pro-level 12V tools and pairs perfectly with their brushless drill.
Skil 12V Brushless Impact Driver Specifications
- Model: Skil ID574401
- No Load Speed: 0-1600/2600 RPM
- Impact Rate: 0-2500/3500 IPM
- Torque: 1100 in-lbs
- Collet Size: 1/4″ Hex
- Length: 5-7/8”
- Warranty: 5 years
- $59.99 bare
- $99.99 kit with PWRJump charger and two batteries
- $139.99 kit with impact driver, brushless drill, 2 batteries, and standard charger
- $249.99 kit with impact driver, brushless drill, oscillating multi-tool, LED light, 2 batteries, and PWRJump charger
Editor’s Note: This article originally published on November 29, 2018. It has been updated to reflect its performance in our recent shootout. Full results will be available beginning February 11th, 2019.