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The Impact Driver Buyer’s Guide

The impact driver is an incredibly useful piece of equipment. It wasn’t all that long ago that it was used solely by certain kinds of specialist – but now they’ve gone fully mainstream, and there’s a variety of them to choose from. So exactly what are impact drivers, and why have they taken off so quickly?

What are Impact Drivers good for?

Impact drivers have a major advantage over standard drivers, and that’s the amount of torque they’re able to offer. No longer is there a need to worry about whether the driver is going to chew up the head of the screw, or whether you need to drill pilot holes. Moreover, they’re smaller than some of the alternatives, and they’re easy to handle, too. If you need to quickly insert or remove lots of screws, then you need an impact driver.

SGS have written a roundup of some of the best drivers on the market. But what qualities should we be looking for?

Brushless Motors

Pricier drivers will come with brushless motors. These motors dispense with the ‘brushes’ used to generate power in an older-style motor. This means less friction, less resistance, a longer lifespan and better performance.

Voltage

Different drivers come with different levels of voltage. An eighteen-volt drier can provide a great deal more torque, but for some DIYers this might not be necessary. This consideration tends to be tied to the size of the device, with beefier drivers generally being physically larger. With that said, you can now find many high-voltage drivers which are fairly small.

Adjustability

Your driver will be able to provide a lot of torque – but you might not always need it. Therefore, look for a driver with several different RPM ranges. You can make fine adjustments to the amount of torque by squeezing and releasing the trigger, but you want to be sure that you’re in the right ballpark before you get started.

Similarly, you’ll want to be able to easily adjust the direction of travel with an easy-to-reach toggle. Look for something with a neutral, ‘locked’ position so that you can’t accidentally depress the trigger. This is more of a battery-preservation concern than a safety one – you don’t want the trigger to be accidentally depressed for long periods of time while it’s in the back of your van.

Feel

If you’re a professional, you might well be using this tool for hours upon hours. But even if you’re just a DIYer, it’s worth considering the ergonomics. Rubberised handles with the contours in the right places are a must.

Lights

When you’re trying to drive a screw in a dimly-lit area having a bright LED light shine on the area you’re looking at can be enormously helpful. Fortunately, most drivers come with these as standard.