Brushless Impact Drivers - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Brushless motors deliver greater operational efficiency and longer runtimes for increased productivity.

brushless_impact_drivers

Brushless Impact Drivers



When accuracy in hole size and depth is crucial, for example, when making furniture or installing delicate trimwork, reach for a drill/driver. The control offered by a drill/driver's clutch can be somewhat more important than the need for extreme levels of torque. However, when you need to assemble a lot of nuts and bolts, or sink hundreds of screws in short order, an impact driver is generally a much better tool to use.
 
While impact drivers lack clutches, a number of models incorporate power selection switches that enable you to select the maximum impact force for a particular application. This can prevent over tightening nuts or sinking screws too deeply.

Impact Drivers: What's To Like
  • High levels of power for the most demanding driving tasks
  • Light weight for extended use
  • Less torque reaction under load
  • Shorter head length for use in confined spaces
  • Super quick bit changeover
  • Faster drilling & driving for increased productivity
Impact drivers provide considerably more power than drill/drivers, typically at a lighter weight, resulting in faster, easier drilling and driving.

For example, the Makita LXDT06 impact driver weighs 3.3 pounds, has a 5" head length, and delivers 1,500 in-lbs of torque. In contrast, a compact drill/driver, like the Bosch DDB180-02, weighs 3.2 pounds, has a 7-5/8" head length, and  delivers 400 in-lbs of torque. The Milwaukee 2603-22CT, a full-size drill/driver, has an even longer head size (8-1/2"), weighs 4.4 pounds, and has a maximum torque level of 650 in-lbs. (Note that the Makita driver is equipped with an 18V 3Ah battery while the two drill/drivers have 18V 1.5Ah batteries).

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L to R: Makita LXDT06 impact driver, Bosch DDB180-02 drill/driver; Milwaukee 2603-22CT drill/driver
 
The impacting action of an impact driver generates less torque reaction, making them easier to use when setting long, larger diameter fasteners, and you're much less likely to strip screw heads.
 
Unlike drill/drivers that have single sleeve ratcheting keyless chucks, impact drivers have 1/4" hex chucks. One advantage of this chuck is that it reduces the overall length of the driver head - so that the driver fits more easily into tighter spaces. A second advantage is that it makes bit changeover much quicker.
 
While you'll pay more for an impact driver, faster drilling and driving generally means greater productivity, which, over the long run, will provide you with a better return on your tool investment. 
 
Use Impact Ready Bits
impact_bits
The intense percussive force of an impact driver puts more stress on drill and driver bits than does a conventional drill/driver. It's not uncommon for standard bits to break or shatter in use.
 
Look for impact ready bits from DeWALTTask Tools, or Milwaukee.
A common complaint with impact drivers is that they are significantly louder than drill/drivers - particularly in confined spaces - which can be annoying when you're using one for an extended period of time. And, because of the greater impact stress these tools generate, you'll need to purchase drill and drive bits specifically designed for these tools.
 
The extra power of an impact driver comes from its internal design. Like a drill/driver, an impact driver uses rotational force to turn its drive shaft. However, when the torque needed to turn the shaft becomes too great, a compression spring forces a hammer gear against an anvil, applying additional force around the shaft, much like whacking a wrench with a hammer to loosen or tighten a bolt. 
 
It's this percussive force that provides an impact driver with such raw power - upwards of 1,600 in-pounds of torque. And, greater power means that you can get more done sooner.

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On this Makita impact driver you can see the compression spring and hammer located over the drive shaft, in front of the motor. The anvil is located in the nose piece, and is attached to the 1/4" hex chuck.
  
The latest development in power tools is the brushless motor. Just about every manufacturer is bringing brushless drill/drivers, impact drivers, and hammer drill/drivers to market. Before we look at some of the top models currently available we'll take a quick look at how brushless motors differ from conventional brushed motors.

Brushed and Brushless Motors

Brushless motors have been used in other industries for some time, but have only recently begun to show up in power tools, particularly drill/drivers and impact drivers.  You can expect to see just about every power tool manufacturer adapting this technology for a wider range of cordless power tools, including circ saws, recip saws, grinders, and the like.
 
A typical brushed motor consists of wires, magnets and brushes. The stator is essentially a fixed magnet or electromagnet. The armature, or rotor, rotates within the stator, and is connected to a drive shaft and commutator. Carbon brushes provide the electrical connection between the power source (the battery) and the commutator, which reverses the direction of current flow to the armature so that the magnetic fields maintain rotation. And it's that rotating force that produces torque.
 
Why Brushless is Better 
  • Smaller and lighter than brushed motors.
  • Electronic speed controller provides increased control over speed and torque settings.
  • Less friction, heat and amp draw means a longer run time.
  • More efficient use of energy
  • Less energy required to run the motor.
  • Virtually maintenance free.
  • Longer tool life.
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Typical brushed motor
 
One of the main disadvantages of a brushed motor is that the brushes constantly remain in contact with the armature - this creates friction (which accounts for the sparking that you see through the vent holes on a brushed power tool) and heat. Both of these reduce the efficiency of the motor. The constant friction between the brushes and the commutator wear each other down, which adversely affects motor performance - and where a motor is subject to excessive heat build-up it can lead to motor failure.
 
A brushless motor does away the brushes and the commutator. Like a brushed motor it has permanent magnets and electrically induced magnets (the stator). However, in place of brushes that provide the electrical connection, a brushless motor uses an external electronic speed controller that creates the revolving magnetic field between the two magnets and causes the shaft to spin. Shown below are the brushless motors on Hilti, Makita, and Milwaukee drivers.
 
A major advantage of this system is the reduction in friction inside the motor, which means less wear on internal components and less heat build-up, resulting in a longer motor lifespan. Because the electrical connection is controlled digitally, rather than mechanically (by brushes) brushless motors run more efficiently, transferring more power to the drive shaft. Like brushed motors, they can heat up, particularly under a heavy load. However, they can be more effectively cooled.
 
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Brushless motor - Hilti SID 18A Impact Driver

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Brushless motor - Makita LXDT06 Impact Driver 
 
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Brushless motor - Milwaukee 2653-22 Impact Driver 
 
The brushless motors on the Hilti, Makita and Milwaukee drivers look remarkably similar (I wasn't able to open the casing on the DeWALT). These motors are not only small, but they have very few moving parts - which means fewer things to wear out, and more importantly, less friction and less heat. 
 
If you were to take out the brushless motor on either of these impact drivers you would see something similar to the photo below - a fan (which serves to cool the motor), a permanent magnet, an electronic speed controller (that serves the function of the brushes and commutator on a brushed motor), and an electrically induced magnet (the stator). Placement of the fan varies - on the Hilti it's located just behind the stator - on the other drivers it's located behind the permanent magnet.

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Brushless motors have fewer parts and produce less friction
 

Six Brushless Impact Drivers to Choose From

I looked at six brushless impact drivers from four manufacturers - DeWALT, Hilti, Makita, and Milwaukee. All these models come in two kit formats, each consisting of the driver, two batteries, battery charger, belt clip, and a storage box or bag. The 'compact' kits contain two 1.5Ah batteries (1.6Ah for Hilti), while the 'high capacity' kits come with dual 3Ah batteries (3.3Ah for the Hilti).
 
Makita was the first company to make 'bare' tools available - the tool body without batteries, charger, belt clip, and storage box or bag - making it more economical for users to add to an existing kit. It's a great idea, as you can save anywhere from 40 to 55% off the kit price. Fortunately, all companies now offer bare tools.
 
I looked at the tool ergonomics, the features they offered, and their power and performance.
 

Ergonomics

For anyone who uses power tools on a daily basis, particularly for extended periods of time, good ergonomics is important. The way a tool feels in your hand is not only affected by the size of your hand, but by the dimension and configuration of the tool handle, tool head, and battery pack. And, of course, there is still an element of subjectivity - what feels comfortable and well-balanced for one person may be awkward for someone else. 
 
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Fortunately, tool manufacturers take tool design very seriously, and are quick to introduce new design features that improve tool balance and  comfort. After using these drivers for upwards of six weeks, I feel that there is little, if any, substantive difference between how these drivers feel in the hand. They are all very well-balanced and comfortable to hold, have soft-grip handles, large triggers, and easy to manipulate forward/reverse buttons. The differences in weight and head length are somewhat more apparent.
 
I weighed the tools with 3Ah batteries installed. The lightest drivers, the Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06, are 3.3 pounds, while the Hilti is the heaviest at 3.8 pounds. That 15% weight differential is barely noticeable, likely because these drivers are so well-balanced. Of course, all these tools will be somewhat lighter with 1.5Ah batteries installed - for example, the Makita LXDT06 drops to 2.75 pounds and the Hilti comes in at 3.2 pounds.
 
Head length is fairly uniform. At 5" the Makita LXDT06 has the shortest head, while at 5-3/4" the Hilti has the longest head. The other drivers are 5-1/4" long. If I was consistently using an impact driver in confined spaces, head length would be a more important factor than weight - otherwise, I don't consider the difference in head length to be critical.
 
With my moderately sized hand - 3-3/4" palm width - I found that the Makita drivers and the DeWALT had just the right feel - when not wearing gloves. The handles on these drivers have a more streamlined curve - particularly at the bottom of the handle. However, when wearing gloves the tactile difference between these drivers is, in my view, not that great.
 

Features

There are a number of features to consider when selecting an impact driver, including the drive chuck, power level selection, battery power meter, work light, belt clip, storage, and warranty.
 

Hex Drive Chuck

All impact drivers have 1/4" hex drive chucks - you install a bit simply by pushing it into the chuck. To remove the bit you pull on a spring loaded, knurled or ribbed, sleeve that surrounds the chuck. 
 
The sleeves on the Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06, and Hilti were the easiest to grasp - spring tension isn't overly tight, and the base of the sleeve is angled, affording a better grip. I found that the sleeve on the Milwaukee required noticeably more effort to move, and my fingers frequently slipped off the chuck sleeve. 
 
The DeWALT doesn't have a sleeve, instead it uses a bit release button, located below head of the chuck. This was by far my favorite, as it made bit removal much quicker. Surprisingly, even with no chuck extending out the front of the casing it didn't have the shortest head length - that honor went to the Makita LXDT06.
 
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Power Level Selection

All of the drivers except the Makita LXDT08 feature three power level settings - low, medium and high, enabling you to select the right speed and impact level, so that you can better control the torque level for the job at hand. You select the power level via a slider switch (DeWALT) or an electronic pressure button (Hilti, Makita, and Milwaukee). I found that both types were quick and easy to use. For the Makita LXDT08 the only way to control torque is to feather the trigger, particularly as you get closer to sinking screw heads or snuggling up bolt heads.
 
The power selectors on these drivers is similar to the clutch on a drill/driver. It enables you to set a maximum torque level so that you're less likely to sink screws too deeply or shear the heads off bolts. At the low power setting the torque level varies considerable, from 200 in/lbs for the Milwaukee, 220 in/lbs for the Makita, to 500 and 530 in/lbs for the DeWALT and Hilti respectively. At the highest setting the difference is not so great - 1,460 in/lbs for the Hilti and Makita LXDT01 to 1,600 in/lbs for the Milwaukee.
 
The Makita LXDT06 is the only driver with a separate mode to use when setting TEK screws to prevent the screw from over tightening.
 
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Battery Power Meter

I think that battery power meters (fuel gauges) are great features that should be on all power tools (or on the batteries) - especially since lithium-ion batteries deliver full power right up until the charge runs out. At the push of a button you get a pretty good indication of how much juice is left in the battery. It can be frustrating to start a job or scurry up a ladder only to have your batteries fizzle out after a few minutes.
 
The Hilti and Milwaukee have the power meter on the battery. Both have 4 LED lights that let you know how much power remains in quartiles (25% to 100%). I prefer this arrangement, as I don't have to place the battery onto the tool to check the battery status. The Hilti is the most convenient in that the power meter is activated when you press the battery release tabs.
 
The DeWALT is a bit of an oddball - there is no power meter on the 3Ah battery, though there is one on the 1.5Ah battery.
 
The Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06 have the power meter on the tool body. On the LXDT06 you depress the trigger to see the battery capacity display. The LXDT01 is less useful - there is a single LED window (the red arrow in the photo below) that only flickers when the battery capacity is down to about 20%. Still, it's much better than the Makita LXDT08, which lacks a power meter altogether.
 
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Work Light

When work lights first began appearing on power tools I thought it was merely a marketing gimmick. However, I've come to view them as very useful features - particularly when working in poorly illuminated or confined spaces. Fortunately they consume very little power, so have virtually no adverse effect on battery run-time.
 
On most drills and drivers the lights are located just above the trigger and below the chuck. I find that in this location they tend to cast a shadow above the center point of the illuminated area. But, because impact drivers lack a clutch, the chuck is shorter than on a drill, so they don't cast as much of a shadow. 
 
The DeWALT and Hilti have lights that surround the end of the chuck - these produced the best light - bright and widely dispersed. I found the light cast by the Hilti to be the brightest and most dispersed, though it did cast faint dark shadows across the lit surface.
 
The Makita drivers and the Milwaukee have a single LED light. As you can see in the photos below, all were reasonably bright except the Makita LXDT08, which cast a very weak light. In these photos the drivers are approximately 3' from the wall. Typically the lights remain on while the trigger is depressed. However, on the Makita LXDT01 and Makita LXDT06 you can turn the lights off with the push of a button.

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Belt Clip

All these drivers come with a removable belt clip, which you can mount on either side of the tool - depending on whether you're right or left-handed. The Hilti is the only one that has the clip mounted up towards the front of the tool, which causes the head to cant slightly away from vertical when suspended on a tool belt. None of the clips are adjustable. The clips may be shaped somewhat differently, but they all perform the same function, and I didn't notice any substantial advantage of one design over another.
 
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Storage

A good quality storage case protects your tool investment, and facilitates carrying it to and from a job site. All the drivers come with a lockable hard plastic case - except the Hilti, which comes in a canvas bag. The DeWALT and Milwaukee cases were tight fitting, with just enough room for the tool, charger and two batteries. The Makita case was the largest, providing storage for a second impact driver or drill, plus a few bits.
 
I prefer hard shell cases, as they offer better protection from dust and moisture, and safeguard the contents better than canvas. However, I did like the Hilti bag. It's made of a heavy canvas, comes with a detachable shoulder strap, and provides a heck of a lot of storage space. There is also a convenient storage pouch on the front of the bag that will hold several batteries or hand tools. The Hilti storage bag just about replaces the need for a separate tool bag for carrying all your impact bits, hole saws, and the like, plus a smattering of other hand tools.
 
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Other Features

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These impact drivers are small and light enough that you can easily carry them around by the belt clip. Still, it's often more convenient just to set them down or a nearby surface. Bottom mount batteries give these drivers a low center of gravity, which makes them very stable when set down. 
 
Occasionally though, you'll lay the tool on its side. Except for the Hilti, the drivers have one or more rubber bumpers on their sides that provide friction protection for the casing. The Milwaukee (photo at left) and DeWALT have large bumpers that provide good side clearance. However, I preferred the Makita drivers - even though they have smaller bumpers, they have a lot more rubber covering the sides, top, and back of the motor housing. 
 
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Impact drivers are small, and lack a side handle. So when using the driver you're most likely to place one hand on the top of the tool to provide extra stability and control. I found that when using any of the drivers intermittently - four or five minutes at a time - heat build-up was negligible. However, when running them continuously, at high speeds, for more than about 10 minutes, they all heat up considerably. I don't have a thermal imager, so was unable to measure temperatures - but I wasn't able to hold onto the top of any of the drivers without wearing gloves.
 
Internal fans, which can be either behind (Makita and Milwaukee) or in front (Hilti) of the permanent magnet, serve to force hot air away from the motor through holes in the casing (Makita air vents, left photo). But, more holes don't seem to have a noticeable impact on reducing heat build-up.
 
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The DeWALT is the only driver that provides on-board bit storage - for a single driver bit (left photo). The bit clip can be removed and mounted on either side of the driver (you can mount the belt clip on the opposite side). This is a feature you might find useful if you use your impact driver for both hole drilling and screw setting. I find these bit holders handy - it beats foraging around in a tool box for a driver bit.
 


The Makita and Milwaukee drivers have a replaceable rubber bumper ring at the front of the tool, which provides some friction protection where the tool is most likely to encounter knocks and bumps. While the front of the DeWALT has a rubber cover, it isn't user-replaceable. The Makita drivers also have clear plastic case covers behind the bumper rings. While they look fragile they can definitely stand up to a lot of abuse.

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Makita bumper
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Never loose your tool in the dark
The front bumpers on the Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06 are phosphorescent - they glow in the dark. Useful, I suppose, if you happen to leave your driver in a darkened room. 
 

Performance

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Impact drivers can be used for a fairly wide range of nut and bolt setting and screw driving tasks. Where they really excel though, is at setting large fasteners. I did my testing on the assumption that these impact drivers will appeal primarily to contractors, renovators and cabinet makers rather than furniture makers or DIYers, with the former group likely using the tools more continuously.
 
To test the drivers I sank as many 3/8" x 3-1/2" lag screws as I could into a 4" fir fence post on a single battery charge without predrilling, and with the driver at it's maximum impact setting, and using 3Ah batteries. I staggered the screws to minimize splitting, and avoided any knotty spots on the posts.
 
I sank screws for ten minutes, let the driver cool down for five minutes, and then repeated sinking screws. I repeated this process three times, and then averaged the scores.
 
Test Results 
DeWALT DCF89550
Hilti SID 18-A54
Makita LXDT0850
Makita LXDT0153
Makita LXDT0655.5
Milwaukee 2653-2258.5
 
The Milwaukee driver posted the highest score, sinking an average of 58-1/2 screws, closely followed by the Makita LXDT06 with 55-1/2 screws set. This was a bit of a surprise, as I expected the Hilti, with a 3.3-Ah battery, to have the longest runtime. The other four drivers had almost identical scores, with a difference of about half of a percent separating the drivers with the lowest scores (DeWALT and Makita LXTD08) from the drivers with the higher scores (Hilti and Makita LXDT01). The Milwaukee sunk about 16% more screws than the DeWALT and Makita LXDT08 drivers.
 
I also used these drivers to sink #8 screws and to drill a variety of holes with twist bits, Forstner bits and Irwin's Speedbor bit. Drilling large diameter, deep holes takes longer with an impact drive than with a drill/driver. For example, the Makita LXDT06 took 20 seconds to drill through a 4" fir fence post with a 1" Irwin Speedbor bit. The Milwaukee 2603-22CT drill/driver took all of 8 seconds. 
 
To drill smaller diameter holes you don't need a lot of torque, but you do want high speed. I found that Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06, and the Milwaukee drivers, with their low torque settings of 200 and 220 in/lbs respectively, worked best for drilling holes. I preferred the Makita LXDT06 which delivers the highest speed (0-1,400 RPM) at it's lowest torque setting (200 in/lbs).
 
If you need to sink a lot of screws into wood, composites, or concrete - for framing, deck work, putting up fence panels, and the like - impact drivers are unbeatable. And being able to select an appropriate power level for the screw diameter and length makes things a lot easier. Here again, I preferred the Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06 drivers because they had the best combination of torque and speed settings, particularly at the low and medium levels. I found them ideal for installing pocket screws for face frames and installing door hinges and handsets. However, I'd still opt for a compact drill/driver when working in the shop - they offer greater precision when drilling with smaller diameter drill bits and setting small screws. And, they're a heck of a lot quieter than impact drivers.
 
After using these drivers for upwards of six weeks, I feel that the differences between them are less apparent than their similarities. All are comfortable in the hand, well-balanced, and quite capable of handling the most demanding fastening jobs. The chuck sleeves on the Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06 are the smoothest working, while the DeWALT has the quickest bit exchange system going. The Hilti has the brightest and most widely dispersed work light, and the battery power meters on the Hilti and Milwaukee drivers are the easiest to read. The Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06 have the best power level adjustment, delivering what I feel is the best combination of torque and speed at each power level setting. Finally, the Milwaukee has the overall highest torque, speed and impact levels.
 
If price is the major factor determining your purchasing decision, then you have four models to choose from - the DeWALT, Makita LXDT08 and LXDT01, and Milwaukee. If you don't like the idea of having to manually switch between power levels, then the Makita LXDT08 is the driver for you. Where maximum impact power and the ability to adjust power levels are more important, then the Hilti, Makita LXDT06 and Milwaukee are the drivers to consider.
 
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DeWALT DCF895
 
Price: $349CA/$316US
Torque: 500/900/1,500 in-lbs
Speed: 950/1,900/2,800 RPM
Impacts: 1,300/2,400, 3,300 IPM
Head Length: 5.25"
Weight: 3.6 lbs.
Warranty: 3 yrs.
Score: 50
 
You can't help but like the little yellow fellow. The standout feature on the DCF895 is the unique push button bit release, which makes bit removal much quicker than retracting a spring loaded sleeve on the chuck.
 
While it posted one of the lowest scores in my test, it still sank a respectable 50 lag screws. It has the second shortest head length (tied with the Makita LXDT01) and is the fourth lightest driver. It also has the second highest torque and speed levels (tied with the Makita LXDT06).
 
It's the only driver with a slider power selector switch, which I prefer, as it's easier to manipulate the switch when wearing gloves. The DCF895 has one of the brightest work lights, a handy bit storage clip, and good side bumper pads. However, the 3Ah batteries lack a power meter.
 
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Hilti SID 18-A
 
Price: $429CA/$399US
Torque: 530/975/1,460 in-lbs
Speed: 1,000/1,500/2,500 RPM
Impacts: 3,450 IPM
Head Length: 5.75"
Weight: 3.8 lbs.
Warranty: Lifetime
Score: 54
 
I liked the heft and balance of the Hilti, which is marginally heavier, and has a slightly longer head, than the other drivers. It has roughly the same torque and speed levels as the DeWALT, and posted the third highest score, sinking 54 screws. 
 
The SID 18-A has a large, easy to push, digital power selector button that emits an audible clicking sound when pressed, so you don't have to look at the display to confirm that you've switched to the next highest setting. It also has the brightest work light with the widest spread.
 
The Hilti SID 18-A is the second most expensive driver, but comes with a lifetime warranty. It's a powerful, well-balanced driver that has a stalwart reputation among trades people.
 
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Makita LXDT08
 
Price: $349CA/$319US
Torque: 1,420 in-lbs
Speed: 2,500 RPM
Impacts: 3,200 IPM
Head Length: 5.5"
Weight: 3.4 lbs.
Warranty: 3 yrs.
Score: 50
 
The Makita LXDT08 is the only driver that lacks a three-stage power feature. It also has the lowest torque, speed and impact levels, and it lacks a battery power meter and has a somewhat weak work light. 
 
Still, this no-frills driver sank just as many screws as the DeWALT, which has a higher maximum torque and speed level.
 
Some contractors aren't taken with work lights or battery power meters, and prefer controlling impact power manually via the variable speed trigger. For them, the LXDT08 just might be the ticket, especially with street prices as low as $275.
 
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Makita LXDT01
 
Price: $339CA/$295US
Torque: 220/490/1,460 in-lbs
Speed: 1,300/2,000/2,600 RPM
Impacts: 1,300/2,800/3,400 IPM
Head Length: 5.25"
Weight: 3.3 lbs.
Warranty: 3 yrs.
Score: 53
 
The Makita LXDT01 and its mate, the LXDT06, feature what I consider to be the best combination of torque and speed at each power level setting. Both drivers also have the  lowest weight and shortest head lengths, and the best friction and impact protection for the tool casing. 
 
On the LXDT01 you can turn the work light on and off by depressing a switch on the control panel, while a second switch enables you to select between power modes. What I don't like is that the battery power meter only lights up when the battery is nearly discharged.
 
This is the lowest priced driver in the group, and taking into account its performance and feature set, it offers excellent value.
 
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Makita LXDT06
 
Price: $459CA/n.a. in US
Torque: 220/490/1,500 in-lbs
Speed: 1,400/2,300/2,800 RPM
Impacts: 1,300/2,800/3,400 IPM
Head Length: 5"
Weight: 3.3 lbs.
Warranty: 3 yrs.
Score: 55.5
 
The LXDT06, which posted the second best score, sinking 55-1/2 screws, is the most compact, lightest driver in the group. I found it had the most comfortable grip. Visually, and functionally, it's quite similar to the LXDT01, but provides a higher maximum speed in each of its three power settings. It's maximum torque is only slightly greater than the LXDT01.
 
The control panel on the LXDT06 is a bit more sophisticated than on the LXDT01. Whenever you depress the trigger the battery power meter lights up so you get an idea of how much run time is left. As with the LXDT06 you can switch the work light off or on. 
 
The LXDT06 is the only driver with a separate mode to use when setting TEK screws to prevent screws from over tightening. If you work with steel framing or metal roofing then this is definitely the driver to consider. Even though it lacks the brute power of the Milwaukee driver, the Makita LXDT06 would be my choice for an impact driver that offers the best combination of power, performance and functionality.
 
 
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Milwaukee 2653-22
 
Price: $349CA/$299US
Torque: 200/700/1,600 in-lbs
Speed: 850/2,100/2,900 RPM
Impacts: 3,600 IPM
Head Length: 5.5"
Weight: 3.6 lbs.
Warranty: 5 yrs.
Score: 58.5
 
The Milwaukee driver was the overall champ, with 58-1/2 screws sunk. It also has the highest torque, speed, and impact levels. The battery power meter and power selector are quick and easy to access, and the work light is reasonably bright. However, the chuck sleeve was the least friendly in the group.
 
Like the Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06 it delivers a low level of torque (200 in/lbs) at its lowest power setting, but at a speed of only 850 RPM, compared to 1,400 RPM for the Makita LXDT06. At the medium and high power settings the torque and speed levels are better matched.
 
A 5-year warranty, competitive price, and exceptional performance make the Milwaukee impact driver one very attractive proposition.

 DeWALTHiltiMakitaMakitaMakitaMilwaukee
ModelDCF895SID18-ALXDT08LXDT01LXDT062653-22
Torque500
900
1,500
500
900
1,500
1,420220
490
1,500
220
490
1,500
200
700
1,600
Score5054505355.558.5
Speed0-950
0-1,900
0-2,850
0-1,000
0-1,500
0-2,500
0-2,5000-1,300
0-2,000
0-2,600
0-1,400
0-2,300
0-2,800
0-850
0-2,100
0-2,900
Impacts0-1,300
0-2,400
0-3,300
0-3,4000-3,2000-1,300
0-2,800
0-3,400
0-1,300
0-2,800
0-3,400
0-3,600
Fuel Meter?NoYesNoYesYesYes
LED?YesYesYesYesYesYes
Head Length5.25"5.75"5.5"5.25"5.0"5.5"
Weight3.6 lbs3.8 lbs3.4 lbs3.3 lbs3.3 lbs3.6 lbs
Warranty3 yrsLifetime3 yrs3 yrs3 yrs5 yrs
Battery$129$139$129$129$129$129
Price$349$429$349$339$459$349
  • Score - The number of 3/8" x 3-1/2" lag screws sunk on one battery charge using 3Ah batteries.
  • The Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06 have power meters on the tool body; the others have the power meter on the battery. The DeWALT has a power meter only on the 1.5Ah batteries.
  • Weight - With 3Ah battery installed.
  • Battery - Shown for the 3Ah battery (3.3Ah for the Hilti).
  • Price - Shown for the 3Ah kit. All models come either in a 'high capacity' kit with two 3.0Ah batteries (3.3Ah for Hilti) or in a 'compact' kit with two 1.5Ah batteries (1.6Ah Hilti), except for the Makita LXDT01 and LXDT06, which are available only in a 3Ah kit. Suggested retail prices are listed - street prices are generally lower.


 
 
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