Last updated on February 24th, 2020 at 11:44 am
The building and construction industry involves a lot of drilling holes, installing, and removing small and large screws, bolts, and nuts. Without the right tool, however, the work can be really difficult, time-consuming, and with average results. But thanks to the 1/4 inch cordless impact driver. This cordless electric driver not only gives you freedom from hoses and power cords but also brings speed and professionalism into how you drill holes and install fasteners. It is a handy battery tool for use in and out of your garage. It helps you do more without compromising the quality of fittings and installations.
What is a 1/4 inch Impact Driver
A quarter inch impact driver is a powerful tool with a 1/4 inch hex head that delivers a huge amount of torque to drill holes and drive screws and bolts. It is designed to install fasteners into hard materials like heavy steel, hardwood, pressure-treated lumber and so on. It also does a great job on soft materials such as softwood, sheet metal, and plastic. Mechanics also use it as a nut driver for removing and installing small nuts.
But what is the difference between an impact driver and an impact wrench? An impact driver operates very similarly to an impact wrench. They both use a lateral impact mechanism to drive fasteners in or out of material. However, a driver does not deliver as much torque as an impact wrench and therefore cannot be used to break lose large lug nuts and bolts.
And what is the difference between an impact driver and standard drill?Although an impact driver can be used as a drill, the two are quite different in how they operate. An impact driver delivers more torque and power with rotational hammering. A regular drill, on the other hand, does not have the hammering action and only delivers a fraction of the impact drill power. In addition, unlike an impact driver that only accepts hex shank driver bits, a drill has a versatile chuck that grips firmly just about any design of a drill bit.
How does an impact driver work?
Whether gas-powered, electric or cordless, quarter-inch or larger, an impact driver works by bit rotation and exerting a rotational hammering action. You can use it both as a drill and a driver. In drill mode, the driver attaches to hex shank drill bits for making holes. The bits, however, must be rated specifically for use with impact drivers. You can use the impact driver with hole saws to make circular holes into material. For this setup though, you need an arbor and a pilot drill bit so that you can use hole cutters to make circular holes. This type of driver assembly is quite common with electricians, plumbers, and finish carpenters whose work involves a lot of fittings. You can also use a cordless impact drill with spade bits to bore out deep holes.
On the other hand, when used as a driver, an impact tool drives different types of bolts, nuts, and screws. However, you cannot attach the fasteners directly onto the tool. You need an impact ready nut driver. I prefer to buy a set so that I can drive different sizes of fasteners with minimal downtime. This improves overall effectiveness at the job. It is also easy to manage sockets in a set because most come packaged in nice plastic-molded cases. When buying the drill bits or nut drivers for your cordless impact driver, you must emphasize the impact rating and the hex head design. Otherwise, if you use a drill bit or driver that is not impact-rated, it is going to shatter with impact.
Which is the Best 1/4 Cordless Impact Driver?
Considering the competition on the market, selecting the best 1/4 cordless impact for your installation jobs can be as hard as finding a sewing needle in a haystack. However, because we want you to spend less time finding and more time being productive, we have done the dirty job for you. We have done thorough research, consulted with our colleagues, read people’s feedback, visited various garages, and done rigorous tests to narrow down the selection to these 5 powerful battery powered 1/4 hex impact drivers kits. Each one is capable of getting more fasteners installed in a shorter time than usual. You will also experience less fatigue on your arms than when using your regular drill. This is because of the concussive action produced by impact drivers that takes away the force from your hands and drives it directly on to the screw.
Comparison Table of 5 Best 1/4 Hex Cordless Impact Drivers
The following table is a side by side summary of how the drivers compare.
Detailed Review of the Best 1/4 Cordless Impact Driver Kits
Milwaukee 1/4 Hex Impact Driver Kit Review
The 1/4 inch Milwaukee cordless impact driver kit comprises of 2 18V/4Ah Lithium-ion M18 batteries, a brushless impact driver tool, M12/M18 charger, belt clip, bit clip, and of course they come packed in a nice hard plastic carrying case. Weighing just about 3 pounds and 12 ounces together with the battery, the Milwaukee 2753-22CT cordless impact driver delivers enough power to drive different types of screws and bolts in light and heavy-duty applications.
More specifically, the Milwaukee M18 cordless impact driver features a 1/4 inch chuck that is designed to allow easy installation and removal of bits. Its handle has soft rubber finish for increased comfort during use. The variable speed trigger is easy to depress to allow easy control of speed. The forward and reverse button is also strategically located to allow the operator to change the direction of rotation easily during operation. The impact driver tool has additional features such as a bright LED light with 10 seconds delay to illuminate the work area, a belt clip for suspending the tool on the tool belt when you are not using it, and a bit clip for holding bits. All these features make the M18 fuel driver very usable in different work environments.
The Milwaukee M18 impact driver 1/4 inch is rated at a maximum of 1800 in-lbs of torque and the brushless motor delivers up to 3000 RPM. Most importantly, the tool has 4 working modes with different speed and torque settings for increased versatility and control. The modes include:
- Mode 1 – delivers up to 200 in-lbs of torque and a maximum of 850 RPM
- Mode 2 – delivers up to 700 in-lbs of torque and a top speed of 2100 revolutions per minute
- Mode 3 – limits the torque to 1800 in-lbs and maximum speed of 3000 RPM.
- Mode 4 – Also known as Self-tapping mode. It is a special operation mode for installing self-tapping screws
Operation Modes of the M18 1/4 Inch Impact Driver
Mode 1 delivers up to 200 inch-pounds at a maximum variable speed of 850 RPM. In this mode, the tool starts by driving the screws quite fast and slows down as the head approaches the surface upon which it begins to impact to ensure the screw head is flush without overtightening. This mode is ideal for tightening door hinge screws.
In Mode 2, the Milwaukee 18V impact driver delivers up to 700 inch-pounds and a maximum of 2100RPM that can be varied using the speed trigger. It is usually the preferred operation mode for mechanics to tighten automotive nuts.
Mode 3 delivers all the torque and the maximum possible RPM. It is the preferred mode of operation for driving screws through metal and works very well when doing steel stud framing. In other words, mode 3 is ideal for heavy-duty applications.
Mode 4 (Self-tapping mode)
The fourth mode of operation is usually known as the Self-tapping mode. It is purposely meant to drive self-tapping screws because it provides custom speed and power needs. In this mode of operation, the driver starts at a controlled speed that ramps up gradually to 3000RPM. The controlled start prevents walking. The maximum speed, on the other hand, ensures that the self-tapping screw winds through its threads quickly. As the head approaches the surface, the speed slows automatically to about 750 RPM to prevent breaking or stripping out the screw. Additionally, the tool begins to impact slowly to ensure that the screw is flush without overdriving.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Impact Driver is an incredible tool that combines power, efficiency, precision, and amazing operator control to provide an unmatched working experience. The tool has a compact design and is generally not heavy on your hand thus preventing you from fatigue so that you can get more work done. The driver holds the impact bits tight to prevent them from wobble thus increasing efficiency and reducing wear on the tool. Tight-fitting bits also have longer life because of the reduced chances of stripping. Additionally, the RedLink plus intelligence technology allows the tool to communicate with the battery for optimum operation and to prevent overheating. As a result, this increases the life of the battery and tool. Lastly, the self-tapping operation mode is extremely useful and makes the tool the best cordless impact driver for framers who work on soft wood, sheet metal and ducts.
20V Dewalt Cordless Impact Driver Kit (DCF887D2) Review
The Dewalt impact driver kit features two 20V batteries, a 20V/12V charger, the DCF887D2 impact driver tool, and a hard plastic carrying case. The DCF887D2 DeWalt cordless impact driver is a brushless, 3-speed power tool ideal for driving nuts, bolts, and screws in light and heavy duty works. The tool weighs about 2.14 pounds together with the 2Ah battery and 3 pounds with the 4Ah battery.
The cordless DeWalt 20V impact driver features a brushless motor that efficiently delivers up to 1825 pounds of torque. The tool also has a 1/4 inch hex chuck with an easy lock that allows you to slide in bits without having to pull the chuck away. Removing the bit is super easy as well because you only need to pull the collar a little bit to the front to release the bit. The chuck locks the bits in place so you don’t have to worry about the bits coming off of the tool while you work.
Working with the Dewalt cordless impact driver is super easy because of its light weight and ergonomic design. The rubber grip on the handle allows the tool to rest comfortably on your hand while its variable trigger is nice and easy depress in order to vary speed. The button for switching between three operation modes is also big enough to allow you to operate without having to remove safety gloves. In addition, the DeWalt impact driver features 3 LED lights at the front to light up the work surface. The lights have a 20 seconds delay to increase visibility even after the last trigger release.
The rubber meets the road with the cordless Dewalt brushless impact driver when it comes to its operation modes. It has three operations modes, namely:
- Mode 1 (Precision Mode) – limits torque to about 20 ft-lbs and speed to 1000 rpm
- Mode 2 (Normal Mode) – limits speed to about 2800 rpm and 125 ft-lbs of torque
- Mode 3 (High Speed) – delivers a maximum of 152 ft-lbs, 3250 rpm, and a maximum of 3800 impacts per minute
DCF887D2 Dewalt Cordless Impact Wrench Operation Modes
Also known as the precision mode, Mode 1 is characterized by spinning slowly at a variable speed of up to 1000 rpm. Because of the slow speed and the subsequent low torque of up to 240 inch-pounds, the precision mode enables greater control that makes it ideal for lighter applications such as the installation of cabinet hinge screws. When operating in this mode, the impact driver tends to hesitate and begin to drive small lateral impacts as the screw head approaches the workspace. This ensures that the screw head ends perfectly flush with the surface.
Mode 2 is also known as the Normal operation mode. It is arguably the most used mode of operation of the DeWalt cordless impact driver because it delivers up to 1500 inch-pounds of torque at a maximum 2800 rpm. It is used mostly for tasks such as tightening down automotive bolts.
Lastly, Mode 3, also referred to as the High-Speed impacting mode is the third operation mode of the cordless DeWalt impact driver. In this mode, the tool delivers up to 1825 inch-pounds of torque at 3250 rpm that can be controlled using the variable speed trigger. This is the highest torque setting that can be used for heavy duty applications.
The cordless DeWalt 20V impact driver is a great tool that gives you control with its three-speed mode settings. It is light on your hand to prevent fatigue. It is also very powerful and the rubber grip on the handle makes it comfortable to hold. When you don’t have the impact wrench, the DeWalt cordless impact driver doubles up as one to remove wheel bolts and lug nuts that are torqued to spec. However, the only issue that is not necessarily a deal breaker is that the bits tend to wobble a little bit inside the drive especially when driving screws into wood. Generally, the DeWalt cordless impact driver is a great tool with the highest specs among competitors and definitely a great addition to your toolbox.
Makita 18V Cordless Impact Driver Review
The XDT111 Makita cordless impact driver set includes two 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 2.0Ah batteries, 18V Lithium-Ion rapid optimum charger, Makita 18V impact driver tool, and a blow molded plastic carrying case. The Makita cordless impact driver is equipped with an innovative 4-pole brush motor that delivers up to 1460 inch-pounds of torque at a maximum speed of 2900RPM and 3500 impacts per minute. It has a 5.375-inch long head and is fitted with a belt hook that easily clips to your work or regular belt. In addition, Makita cordless screwdriver is ergonomically designed for increased comfort and lightweight (only 3.1 pounds with battery) and compact for reduced operator fatigue.
Some of the specific features that make the Makita 18V cordless impact driver a great power tool include the compact size that makes it easier to get into tight areas. It also has dual LED bright lights next to the variable trigger button to increase visibility. Because brushed motors spark and heat under load, the all-metal gear housing of the Makita impact driver has ventilation that improves cooling performance and overall efficiency.
Additional features include star protection communication technology between the 18V LX-T Lithium-Ion battery and the tool which protects the battery against overload, over-discharge and overheating. As a result, this increases the life of both the tool and the battery. The LX-T Lithium-Ion battery line up also boasts quick charge time that ensures that your tool is put to work longer than it sits idle waiting for batteries to charge.
The XDT111 Makita cordless impact driver 18V kit is a great brushed set that delivers up to 122 ft-lb of torque. It is ergonomically designed and fits well in the hand. It also has a good build quality and strength for increased durability. The two downsides, however, are that the tool only has one-speed selection and uses brushed motors. The lack of multiple speed selections like the Dewalt and Milwaukee counterparts greatly affects the versatility of Makita XDT111. In addition, the 4-pole brushed motor, though 26 percent more efficient than 2-pole motors, is inferior to brushless motors. Other than that, the Makita 18V impact driver is a great electric cordless driver that can be used in applications such as body works and framing that involves driving lug screws and installing decking screws.
Hitachi Cordless Impact Driver Kit Review
Manufactured by the Japanese company Hitachi, the Hitachi impact driver kit includes two 3Ah 18V Lithium-Ion batteries and the Hitachi brushless impact driver tool stowed nicely in a hard plastic carrying case. The tool only weighs about 3.1 pounds with battery and delivers a constant power of 1280 inch-pounds operating at a maximum of 2400 revolutions per minute and up to 3200 blows per minute.
The Hitachi cordless impact driver is equipped with a quarter inch quick change chuck that allows you to change bits faster and easier. It also features a responsive variable speed trigger that provides the user with complete control during operation. Work does not stop with this tool when it gets dark because it incorporates a bright LED light that increases visibility even in enclosed work areas. The working bit is also kept close at hand when you need it by the on-tool bit storage slot. The handle is rubber molded to give a comfortable grip during operation and reduce operator fatigue.
If you are working on a budget or you are a homeowner the Hitachi 18 Volt impact driver is a great tool from a trustworthy company. It is ideal for performing tasks around the house that require quite low RPM. It is well built and compact and will drive screws and bolts even tight spaces. It has an unmatched lifetime warranty cover and 2 years on the Lithium-Ion battery and 1 year on the charger. Generally, the Hitachi impact driver 18V kit makes light work out of removing and installing fasteners, driving screws into hard and soft materials, and activities such as hanging drywall and screwing down subfloors. Besides the speed limit, the other major shortcoming is that torque is not adjustable although speed can be varied with the variable trigger.
Teccpo Impact Driver Review
Teccpo Cordless Impact driver set includes the impact driver, two 2Ah Lithium-Ion batteries, a belt clip, and a cloth carrying case. The tool features a more efficient 4-pole brushed motor that is powerful enough to produce up to 1600 inch-pounds of torque at a maximum of 2900 RPM at 4000 Impacts per Minute.
The Teccpo cordless impact driver is well designed for great comfort while in use. Its handle, though not rubber molded for slip resistance, is nicely curved to the palm and the fingers. The onboard LED light shines well on the target to increase visibility in poorly lit workspaces. Unlike the Milwaukee and Dewalt that have a one-touch chuck, the Teccpo requires you to pull the collar out to install and remove bits. Once installed, the belt clip enables an operator to securely suspend the tool on the belt and keep the hands free when it is not in use. The downside, however, is that the cordless driver only has 1-speed setting, which reduces its versatility. The speed is controllable with the indexable speed trigger. The 2Ah Lithium-Ion batteries are quick to charge; takes only 30 minutes to fully charge with the dual voltage Teccpo charger.
If you are starting out as a mechanic or at a body shop or you just want to accomplish certain tasks within the house, Teccpo impact driver is a budget brushed tool that delivers a lot of power. Its charger is usable on both 110V and 240V outlets. With the fast charge time, you spend more time working. In addition, 20V batteries have a fuel gauge with three indicators bars to let you know when you need to recharge.
7 Factor to Consider When Selecting a 1/4 Cordless Impact Driver Kit
The knowledge of how the best impact drivers compare in performance is not all that is needed to pick the best tool. The following additional factors also need to be put into consideration before spending a dime on a battery impact driver.
The clutch is responsible for adjusting the amount of force exerted onto a screw. The best cordless impact driver is one whose clutch has the widest selection. Out of the five best impact drivers, Milwaukee M18 fuel impact driver and DeWalt impact driver have the 3 torque selections each. In addition, Milwaukee has a fourth selection that automatically adjusts the lateral force to drive self-tapping screws safely and efficiently without stripping or walking.
You can select the battery powered impact driver based on your needs. If you are a homeowner looking for a tool that will perform light tasks around the house, you can go for impact drivers that do not deliver a lot of torque. These impact drivers are also cheaper. Alternatively, you can just consider other factors because any tool will either deliver as much torque as you need or will give you more control.
- Brand/Battery Lineup
Batteries can be a huge saving when purchasing cordless tools. You do not need to buy extra batteries and charger if you already have other battery powered tools that use the same battery line up. For instance, if you have already invested in Milwaukee’s M18 battery lineup, it is economical and more reasonable to stick with Milwaukee fuel impact driver even if Dewalt seems best to you.
- Speed selection
Ability to control the speed of the driver helps you protect screws from damage. For instance, high speed can strip screws or overdrive them into the material. The best cordless impact drivers are those that give an operator the control over speed either through a variable speed trigger or by having various speed settings. The Milwaukee 2753-22CT and Dewalt DCF887D2 impact drivers have a range of speed settings that an operator can select when driving different screws, bolts, and nuts.
- Type of motor
There are two types of motors; brushed and brushless motor. Brushless motors are more efficient, do not spark, and do not require maintenance. Brushed motors, on the other hand, spark, are less efficient, overheat more under load but less expensive. Out of the five cordless impact drivers, Makita and Teccpo are brushed and the rest are brushless. Depending on the compromise you want to make between cost and efficiency, you can choose the tool that works for you.
Tools are a huge investment and their insurance after purchase is very important. All the five impact drivers have warranty cover but the periods of cover vary significantly. Hitachi tops the list with an unmatched lifetime warranty cover on the tool while Dewalt only provides a year of cover. Milwaukee is second with 5 years cover followed by Makita which offers 3 years cover and Teccpo with 2 years of cover.
Some 1/4″ lithium ion impact drivers cost a lot more than others. Some cost as low as below $100 while others cost close to $300. Hitachi and Teccpo are among the cheapest yet powerful and reliable 1/4 impact drivers.
By taking all those factors into consideration, you can make a more informed decision on which tool to place your money.