Impact Driver Strength Challenge | Video Review

Torque ratings are commonly used to determine an impact driver’s strength, with that being said, we gathered 3 flagship impact drivers from industry powerhouses Milwaukee, Makita, and DeWalt, and used our tried and tested torque rig to determine who has the strongest impact driver.

We’ve welded Grade 8 hardened bolts onto angle iron and fastened matching Grade 8 hardened nuts onto them. After fastening 5 nuts with each impact, we’ll go through with a Milwaukee Digital Torque Wrench and record the amount of torque, in inch-pounds, that it takes to loosen the fastener. Who will win? Milwaukee 2853? Makita XDT16? DeWalt DCF887? At the end of the day, only one can be crowned the most powerful impact driver, so let’s find out!

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Full Transcript

We have the three top-performing impact drivers from the biggest names in the professional tool industry. But which one is actually the strongest?

Thanks for clicking on our video—we hope you enjoy it! While you’re here, consider subscribing to our channel and give us a thumbs up if you like what you see. When you’re finished with this video, check out our comparison of impact drivers and impact wrenches!

This test is about one thing—proving which of these massively popular impact drivers has the most muscle. Let’s start with a quick look at our test rig. We welded Grade 8 hardened bolts on angle iron. We’ll fasten matching Grade 8 hardened nuts onto them. 

All told, our rig can handle up to 500 ft-lbs of torque before the threads begin to fail. That’s 6000 in-lbs and we’re pretty sure none of these impact drivers will come too close to that. 

To fit a socket this big, we need a 1/2-inch square drive adapter and we’re using Makita’s XPS adapters to get the job done. Makita designs these specifically for high-torque impact drivers and we’ve had good success with them. The kind of hard-stop test we’re running is going to be a good challenge for them.  

Before we get started, here’s a look at our three contenders. From DeWalt, we have the DCF887. It’s a 3-speed model that maxes out at 3250 RPM with 3600 impacts per minute and 1825 in-lbs of torque. It also serves as the foundation for DeWalt’s DCF888 that includes Tool Connect.

Makita’s XDT16 is the most compact impact driver in this professional 18V class and has performed consistently well in our tests. As Makita’s most advanced model, it tops out at 3600 RPM, delivers 3800 impacts per minute, and has 1600 in-lbs of torque.

The Milwaukee 2853 is the third generation M18 Fuel impact driver and it’s just a millimeter longer than Makita’s XDT16. The strongest of the group on paper, it boasts 2000 in-lbs of torque to go with its 3600 RPM top speed and 4300 impacts per minute. If you like smart controls, it’s the base of Milwaukee’s 2857 impact driver with One-Key. 

To keep things as fair as we can, we’re going to run fully charged 5.0Ah batteries in all three tools. 

If you’ve seen our impact driver shootout from a while back, this is the same fastening torque test we’ve been using for years. We’ll snug up the nut then hit it with full power for 5 seconds. That’s enough time to handle most fasteners. 

Next, we’ll use a digital torque wrench to see how much force it takes to break the nut. That torque value is not the same as how much force the impact driver put into the rig, but it does give us a measurable value to compare. 

To make sure we don’t get any flukes, we’ll test them all 5 times and take the average, throwing out any statistical outliers. 

Alright, let’s see those torque values. With all three impacts, the second test point came in much lower than the others, so we tossed it out in our averages. 

For Dewalt’s efforts, it took a max of 1735 in-lbs to break, and an average of 1667 in-lbs.

Makita comes in a bit higher despite its lower specifications with a top rating of 2016 in-lbs and averaging 1727 in-lbs. 

Milwaukee easily has the highest torque on paper, and it gave us some trouble. It kept snapping our adapters and we eventually had to switch to a different one to get good numbers. Even with the switch, we still broke it on our last test. So we’re qualifying that we had to use a different adapter and the average comes with only three results instead of four like the others.  

After all that, it’s no surprise to see Milwaukee’s torque at the top with a high of 2228 in-lbs and an average of 2030 in-lbs. 

That brings into question how much torque is too much, at least when you’re dealing with hard stop applications. Check out our video on that one. For the purposes of figuring out which of these impact drivers is the strongest, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2853 currently wears the crown. 

Have any questions or testing ideas that you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for watching!

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