The next power tool you should add to your household tool kit is an impact driver.
To the untrained eye, an impact driver may seem like just a drill. But this extremely versatile cordless power tool drives screws more efficiently in wood, metal and cement than traditional cordless drills, making it a popular choice for heavy-duty home improvement jobs like building a deck or a fence. An impact driver can even drill into brick or concrete block.
“For any job that involves driving more than a few screws, you really can’t beat the power and speed of an impact driver,” says Misha Kollontai, CR Test Engineer for Impact Drivers and Cordless Drills.
We put impact conductors to the test in our laboratory. To calculate the power score of an impact driver, we measure both the torque it can generate and the number of impacts per minute. We also take a look at how fast it can drive wood screws in practice. This test reflects its effectiveness in driving fasteners into wood or other materials.
To assess run time, we measure how long a single battery can run the unit under a standardized load. We also run tests to see how long it takes to fully charge the battery.
CR experts use each impact driver to drive screws just like you would, noting attributes like balance and tool feel. We also look at handle size and unit weight to determine an overall maneuverability score.
Finally, we measure the sound in decibels at the user’s ear to get a noise score. Hammer drills tend to generate more noise than their cordless drill cousins, and it turns out that all the models we tested require hearing protection for safe use.
Read on for reviews of four of our top-rated impact factors, listed alphabetically. And check out our roundup of the best cordless drills to expand your power tool collection. For a general overview of the category, see our cordless drill and impact driver buying guide.