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Buy This Instead of a Harbor Freight Impact Driver

Sure, there are some legitimate reasons to shop Harbor Freight and we were impressed with the performance of the Hercules impact driver considering their low pricing. But there are also some legitimate quality concerns to go along with its 90-day warranty. So if that $99 price tag is almost too tempting, we have an alternative for you. Here’s why we’d buy the Kobalt 24V impact driver instead of a Harbor Freight impact driver.


  • Price: Kobalt Tools
  • Warranty: Kobalt Tools
  • Speed Under Load: Harbor Freight Hercules
  • Torque: Kobalt Tools
  • Noise: Kobalt Tools
  • Weight: Harbor Freight Hercules
  • Footprint: Kobalt Tools
  • Feature Set: Kobalt Tools
  • Compatible Tools: Kobalt Tools

Does the Kobalt 24V Impact Driver Cost More than the Harbor Freight?

Lowe’s dropped the price of Kobalt’s 24V impact driver kit from $195 to $149 and it’s not just a sale—it’s the new price. That puts it lower than the Harbor Freight impact driver once you buy a battery and charger a la carte.

The Kobalt brushless 24V impact driver comes with a 2.0Ah battery while the Hercules has a slightly higher capacity with a 2.5Ah pack. Kobalt Tools uses an extra cell in their system so the watt-hour comparison is pretty close: 43.2Wh for Kobalt and 45 for Hercules.

Verdict: Tie

Buy the Kobalt Impact Driver Over the Hercules for the Warranty

Put Harbor Freight’s warranty against any other major brand and it’s nearly always behind. Kobalt backs their tool for 5 years and the battery for 3. Even if you spend the extra money on Harbor Freight’s extended warranty, it falls short.

Verdict: Kobalt

Kobalt vs Harbor Freight Hercules Speed Under Load

On paper, the Harbor Freight impact driver has a 100-RPM advantage in speed over Kobalt (2800 to 2700 RPM). Hercules extends its lead in our speed under load testing with the third fastest average at 565 RPM. Kobalt is quite a bit further down the line at 398 RPM.

Verdict: Harbor Freight Hercules

Buy the Kobalt Brushless Impact Driver for More Torque

Kobalt’s packaging boasts 20% more torque than Hercules (1800 in-lbs to 1500 in-lbs). In our fastening torque test, Hercules requires 1498 in-lbs to break it on average. Kobalt bests it by more than 1000 in-lbs, needing 2585 in-lbs to loosen its fastening efforts.

Kobalt is able to break more torque as well, consistently loosening 3600 in-lbs compared to the 3000 in-lbs Hercules hit.

Verdict: Kobalt

Comparing Noise Levels

Both of these impact drivers are in the middle of the pack for noise, with Kobalt (100 decibels) enjoying a 1-decibel lead over Harbor Freight (101 decibels). It’s a slight lead, but it’s a lead.

Verdict: Kobalt, slightly

Kobalt vs Harbor Freight Hercules Weight

With a battery, the Harbor Freight impact driver weighs 3.1 pounds and Kobalt is just a little heavier at 3.4 pounds. While these are both on the light side of the impact driver landscape, it’s another notch in the win column for Hercules.

Verdict: Harbor Freight Hercules

Kobalt is about 0.5″ taller than Hercules. Most Pros argue that head length is more important since it’s what determines how tight a space you can work in. Kobalt’s 24V impact driver has a slight advantage of 0.2″ here.

Verdict: Kobalt, slightly

Hercules Impact Driver vs Kobalt Features

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