This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

When it comes to making quick work of big fastening jobs, nothing beats an impact driver. From driving in long deck screws to loosening corroded bolts, these tools zip through projects that wouldn’t be possible with a standard screw gun or power drill. To get the most out of your impact driver, you need to invest in one compact enough to use comfortably but still powerful enough to tackle the task at hand.

In this article: DeWalt 20-volt Max XR impact driver kit, DeWalt Atomic 20-volt Max cordless impact driver and Black and Decker 20-volt impact driver kit.

Why do you need an impact driver?

If you already own a power drill, you may ask yourself why you need a tool that appears to perform the same action. While drill guns are great for making holes and driving short screws through soft materials, they fall short in the torque department. Thanks to their additional power and concussive hammer action, impact drivers can twist screws through thick wood and tighten up metal hardware without the risk of getting stuck or burning out. Because impact drivers deliver so much torque, you can even skip the pilot holes in many cases. This alone can save you hours of time throughout a project.

What is torque?

Simply put, torque is a measure of rotational or twisting force measured in pounds-feet. Extreme delivery of this force is the standout feature of an impact driver. A driver capable of achieving around 1,500 pounds-feet of torque is acceptable for most jobs, although some exceptionally powerful tools can approach 2,000.

What to look for in an impact driver

Torque delivery alone does not make one impact driver necessarily more appropriate for you than another. Keep the following considerations in mind to make the best purchase for you:

  • Small profile. Compact tools are easier to maneuver, carry and store.
  • LED lights. LED lights around the tool’s bit help you see what you’re doing in poorly lit spaces.
  • Weight. A heavy tool can wear out your arm and wrist well before quitting time. Look for the lightest impact driver you can find, keeping in mind that a battery will add some additional heft.
  • Voltage. The higher the voltage, the higher the torque. Select a 20-volt driver for maximum power.
  • Brushless motor. Brushless motors generate energy more efficiently.
  • Quick-release nut. Opt for an impact driver with a quick-release system so you can swap bits on the move.
  • Included accessories. The cost of batteries, storage solutions, bits and belt clips can add up. Many manufacturers offer money-saving sets that include everything you need to get to work.
  • Variable speeds. Choosing a driver with selectable speed settings gives you more flexibility and prevents you from draining the battery on jobs that don’t demand full power.

Best powerful compact impact drivers

Best DeWalt 20-volt Max XR Impact Driver Kit

DeWalt 20-volt Max XR Impact Driver Kit

With three speeds and a brushless motor, this impact driver delivers a whopping 1,825 pounds-feet of torque. Three bright LEDs illuminate your workspace when you depress the trigger. This kit includes a case, two batteries and a charger.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best DeWalt Atomic 20-volt Max Cordless Impact Driver

DeWalt Atomic 20-volt Max Cordless Impact Driver

At just over five inches in length, this impact driver packs a maximum power of 1,700 pounds-feet of torque in a tight form factor. Three LEDS provide illumination, and its built-in belt clip makes it easy to keep within reach.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best Black and Decker 20-volt Impact Driver Kit

Black and Decker 20-volt Impact Driver Kit

Put 1,375 pounds-feet of torque in your hand with this lightweight, cordless impact driver that features a quick-release hex chuck and a rubberized, ergonomic grip. A battery and charger are included in this set.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best Porter-Cable 20-volt Impact Driver Kit

Porter-Cable 20-volt Impact Driver Kit

With two batteries and a charger, this kit is a perfect starter set. The impact driver itself delivers 1,495 pounds-feet of torque, and the included batteries display a power gauge to let you know when it’s time to charge.

Sold by Amazon

Best Makita 18-volt LXT Impact Driver Kit

Makita 18-volt LXT Impact Driver Kit

Compact for easy handling in tight spaces, this driver features advanced modes that cease impact and rotation when it senses that your screw is loose enough. You can choose from four different speeds, and it delivers up to 1,600 pounds-feet of torque.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best Makita 18-volt Cordless Angle Impact Driver

Makita 18-volt Cordless Angle Impact Driver

With 530  pounds-feet of torque, this impact driver is not the most powerful of Makita’s line. However, its unique design lets you reach into small, awkward areas where other tools won’t fit. If you struggle with fastening in tight quarters, this specialized tool will be one you reach for time and again.

Sold by Home Depot

Best Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 18-volt Impact Driver 

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge 18-volt Impact Driver 

Featuring a proprietary hydraulic powertrain, this impact driver is much quieter than the competition. It also includes Milwaukee’s Redlink Plus intelligence system, which prevents overheating and damage to extend the tool’s life.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best DeWalt 12-volt Max Impact Driver

DeWalt 12-volt Max Impact Driver

For those who don’t need the power of DeWalt’s more robust impact drivers, this kit offers value with its included pair of batteries and carrying bag. The tool weighs slightly more than 2 pounds, and you can change the bit using only one hand.

Sold by Amazon

Best Bosch PS41N 12-volt Max Impact Driver 

Bosch PS41N 12-volt Max Impact Driver 

At less than two pounds, this impact driver can be used all day without wrist fatigue. It includes a quick-release hex drive and three trigger-activated LEDs.

Sold by Amazon

Best Makita 6952 Impact Driver

Makita 6952 Impact Driver

While not as compact as battery-powered options, this corded driver from Makita will ensure you’re never stuck wasting time waiting on a charge. A rubberized grip makes operation comfortable, and an aluminum gear housing means this tool is built to last. 

Sold by Amazon

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.