The Best Budget Impact Drivers (2024 Guide)

Best Budget Impact Drivers
Table of Contents

Technology advancements are a beautiful outcome for consumers because good impact drivers are becoming cheap, and cheap impact drivers are becoming good. But what are the best budget impact drivers to buy? That’s not an easy question to answer when strolling down the aisle at your local home improvement store or opening a browser window to shop online. There are endless possibilities to choose from, sometimes confusing consumers.

Simplifying the buying process is why we put together our guide highlighting the best cheap impact drivers. Our impact driver test fleet is packed with options. We narrowed down to our shortlist below by putting each model through a standardized testing process. This rigorous process quickly filtered out the duds.

We detail below which best-in-class impact drivers shined most in our lab tests. As you read through this guide, be sure also to check out each impact driver’s review for in-depth editorial insights and full lab results.

Best budget impact drivers

Ratings methodology
21 models tested

Makita 18V LXT XDT13Z

Makita XDT13Z Angle 5
TestRank
Driving speed13
Torque8
Battery run time3
RPM10
Bare weight9
Impacting noise7
Brand Makita
Platform 18V LXT
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 682.8
IPM 3,600.0
Drive modes 1
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as XDT13

Rating

3.54 / 5 ⭐️’s

The Makita 18V LXT XDT13Z is the best impact driver for the money to pass through our lab. We’d be screaming its praises from a mountaintop if it included more than one drive mode. But we’re willing to overlook that considerable downside for its performance elsewhere, even if it’s right on the verge of being considered a mid-range priced impact driver.

The XDT13Z is incredibly agile with a small footprint, which can’t be said for many lesser budget models. Unsurprisingly, it is reasonably lightweight in its bare tool form and with a battery. It also offers solid torque output in its class.

Makita XDT13Z 45-Degree Clearance
The Makita XDT13Z’s compact footprint helps it fit into tight corners. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The XDT13Z shined most in our lab tests with its impressive no-load battery run time, turning in class-leading longevity.

But no impact driver is perfect, and there are sacrifices, including the aforementioned single drive mode that limits driving versatility. The single drive mode drove big structural screws in our testing, but the speed doesn’t impress. The XDT13Z also doesn’t include an easy-insert collet, which helps with one-handed bit changes.

Consider the Ryobi 18V One+ PBLID02 if you want a good cheap impact driver with more drive modes and faster driving speed than the Makita XDT13Z offers.

The PBLID02 shined in our heavy-duty driving speed tests, partly due to its relatively high 4000.0 impacts per minute.

The PBLID02 is among the few quality budget impact drivers offering several drive modes. It includes three high, medium, and low-speed settings and an assist mode that reduces cam-out when removing screws. The drive modes improve driving versatility over single speed models, which don’t accurately finish and recess screws like the PBLID02 can.

The primary downsides to consider are the PBLID02 is heavy and doesn’t offer long battery run times compared to other impact drivers.

Ryobi PBLID02 On Scale
The Ryobi PBLID02 is a good budget pick, but one sacrifice made is a reasonably heavy weight. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The Ryobi 18V One+ P237 is the best cheap impact driver. It is frequently priced below $50 for a bare tool. We’ve not tested another similarly-priced impact driver that can match its versatility and performance.

Nearly all affordable impact drivers include single-speed drive modes, whereas the P237 contains three. The highest speed setting drives big screws reasonably fast, partly due to its solid RPM output. The lowest speed setting is subtle enough to recess screws consistently.

Ryobi P237 Drive Modes
The Ryobi P237 is one of the few cheap impact drivers with several drive modes. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The P237 also shined in our battery run-time tests, finishing near the top of the heap, which is packed with higher-priced alternatives.

We were impressed throughout testing by its comparably lower noise output when impacting and how smooth and less violent the impacting mechanism is compared to other anvil-based impact drivers.

Two excellent features we’re seeing become more of a rarity are the onboard magnetic plate to hold fasteners and the bit holder. Both features are welcome conveniences we wish more impact drivers included without needing to buy third-party add-ons.

However, the P237 is incredibly bulky, with one of the longest collet-to-back lengths we’ve measured. This design, combined with its heavy weight, led to arm and hand fatigue during longer driving sessions and limits the tight spaces the P237 can fit into.

The Milwaukee M18 2850-20 is among the most powerful budget impact drivers. The high RPM output, high impacts per minute, and brushless motor power through driving big screws and fasteners. In our testing, it even out-classed several more expensive models designed for heavy-duty driving tasks.

The 2850-20’s driving performance also extends to its torque, as demonstrated when testing its output on a torque meter.

The driving speed and torque output make the 2850-20 the best budget impact driver for heavy-duty jobs.

Milwaukee 2850-20 Torquemeter
The Milwaukee 2850-20 is impressively powerful, as we discovered when testing its torque. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

But it is a one-trick pony, which isn’t always to best option for homeowners. The single drive mode limits driving versatility, especially for light and medium-duty tasks where cam-out is a risk, and an accurately recessed screw head is vital. The battery run time also isn’t outstanding.

Milwaukee is known for its impact driver performance and durability, which the 2850-20 offers, including Milwaukee’s best-in-class tool and battery warranties. Few budget options are available in the Milwaukee M18 lineup, making the 2850-20 a top contender to slide into the Milwaukee ecosystem on the cheap.

The Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCF801 is the best 12V budget impact driver. Before diving into where it shined in our testing, let’s discuss who the DCF801 is not a fit for.

The DCF801 is designed for light and medium-duty tasks with its sub-compact footprint. It isn’t suitable as a dedicated heavy-duty impact driver. It drives big lag bolts in a pinch but bogs down considerably as the brushless motor works overtime. We experienced this outcome in our driving speed tests, with the DCF801 finishing near the bottom of our test fleet.

It also isn’t built for torque, such as busting loose stubborn lug nuts and fasteners.

Downsides now fully covered, let’s sing its praises. The DCF801 shined in our accuracy tests when recessing screw heads into different material densities. It has enough power to accurately finish screws in dense woods and is subtle enough to perfectly recess screws in MDF and drywall.

This accuracy is possible due to the several drive modes. The DCF801 includes a high and low-speed mode and a precision drive setting. We rarely used the precision setting since the low-speed drive mode similarly finishes screws and offers more power.

The DCF801 is also incredibly lightweight. As a result, the driving experience isn’t fatiguing on your hand or arm. The durable feeling build quality also enhances the experience.

Dewalt DCF801 On Scale
The Dewalt DCF801 is light in its bare form and when kitted with a battery. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The combined performance and feature set make the DCF801 ideal for most tasks around the home and for woodworkers coveting precision over speed or torque.

The Ryobi 18V One+ PSBID01 is a fantastic cheap impact driver for the correct type of person. It is the most compact offering in the Ryobi lineup, making it a great choice in you’re married to the 18V One+ platform. If not, consider the Makita XDT13Z or Milwaukee 2656-20.

The PSBID01 is also suitable if you want more power than what most 12V impact drivers offer but don’t want an 18V impact driver built for heavy-duty dominance. The PSBID01 sits in that sweet spot between both ends of the spectrum with capable enough driving speed, torque, and solid precision.

During testing, we continually appreciated its incredibly lightweight design and were impressed by the outstanding battery run time.

The critical letdown is that the PSBID01 includes a single drive mode, limiting its versatility.

The Milwaukee M18 2656-20 is a fantastic way to get into the coveted Milwaukee M18 ecosystem for around $50 for a bare tool.

You shouldn’t expect the high-end performance of Milwaukee’s flagship Fuel offerings. Still, the 2656-20 has outstanding build quality in its class and includes Milwaukee’s best-in-class tool and battery warranties.

The footprint is also reasonably compact, especially the collet-to-back length, which helps it squeeze well into tight areas.

The primary downsides are the 2656-20’s single drive mode that limits versatility and its comparably short battery run time, partly due to including a brushed motor.

Budget impact driver honorable mentions

Ryobi 18V One+ P235: The P235 offers some of the highest torque output in the Ryobi lineup. But we recommend the P237 with its upgraded drive modes for most budget-conscious buyers. The P237 is more versatile than the P235, all for a few bucks more.

Milwaukee M12 2462-20: The 2462-20 is lightweight and has a small footprint, though the brushed motor and single drive mode design are downsides. However, there aren’t many budget impact drivers in the Milwaukee M12 ecosystem, known for its durability. The 2462-20 doesn’t make the cut as one of the best budget impact drivers, but it is the cheapest 12V impact driver Milwaukee offers.

Budget impact driver buying tips

Brushless or brushed motors

Opt for an impact driver with a brushless motor instead of a brushed motor when possible. Brushless motors are more efficient and longer lasting. But finding an impact driver with a brushless motor under $50 is rare. As the price decreases, opting for a brushed motor is one of the first sacrifices manufacturers make to cut costs.

Drive modes

Buying a budget impact driver with several speed or specialty drive modes improves driving versatility. An impact driver’s highest speed setting is best for efficiently driving big screws and lag bolts, but don’t expect a consistent and accurate screw recess.

The mid-range and lower speed modes accurately finish screws, including in low-density materials such as MDF and drywall.

While an impact driver is not the tool of choice for finishing screws in the lowest-density materials, an impact driver can do so in a pinch, potentially reducing the need to add a drill driver to your tool arsenal.

Driving performance (torque and speed)

Most budget impact drivers aren’t designed for best-in-class speed or brute-force torque, as evidenced by our lab tests.

But many high-quality budget options offer more than enough speed or torque for any task you’d encounter around the home or on a DIY project, which cheap impact drivers are designed for.

It’s better to have the versatility of several drive modes than best-in-class speed or torque. You must increase your budget if you need leading speed or torque.

Footprint and weight

Impact driver technology has advanced over the years, resulting in compact and agile impact drivers falling in price. When spending $50 to $100 on a bare tool model, several high-quality and compact models are exceptionally lightweight, including the Makita 18V LXT XDT13Z and Dewalt 12V Extreme DCF801.

Going below $50, footprints and weight increase meaningfully, including the tip-to-back length, which limits the tight areas and narrow spaces an impact driver fits into.

Price range

It’s worth saying again: Good impact drivers are getting cheap, and cheap impact drivers are getting good. This outcome is a win for consumers who can buy a kitted-out impact driver with a battery and charger for under $100.

Spending $50 or less is about as cheap as you can get for a bare tool. We recommend most homeowners look in the $50 to $100 price range for better models that are more compact and offer more versatility.

When moving to the higher end of the range for a budget impact driver, expect to land around $100 to $150 once a charger and battery is added. In many scenarios, a tool and battery kit is the best option when buying a budget impact driver. Our full reviews include each impact driver’s best battery and kit options.

Warranties

Dewalt, Milwaukee, Ryobi, and Makita all offer fantastic warranties for their bare tools of at least two years.

However, Ryobi needs to catch up with the competition with its battery warranties. Ryobi offers a 90-day warranty on its 18V One+ batteries, whereas the other brands provide several years or more.

Is a cheap impact driver worth it?

A cheap impact driver is perfect for homeowners who don’t frequently push tools to their limits. Some more demanding tasks for impact drivers are repetitively driving 5-inch and longer lag bolts and other structural screws, rare for a weekend warrior.

All price ranges of impact drivers can capably tackle these demanding tasks, although a 12V impact driver will bog down considerably more than most 18V impact drivers.

Otherwise, a budget impact driver can breeze through framing dimensional lumber, driving fencing and decking screws, and even accurately finishing screws into soft materials if the impact driver has several drive modes.

So, budget impact drivers are an excellent option for price-conscious homeowners, especially knowing the most common tasks encountered around the home won’t push an impact driver to its limits frequently and significantly cut short its shelf life.

What's new?

1/12/24: Updated editorial insights for current picks
8/2/23: Early access guide launched
8/18/23: Full guide launched

Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton is the founder of DIY Gear Reviews and a recognized expert in the home and DIY space. He has over 200 bylines covering topics such as power tools, hand tools, and woodworking. Nathan is the strategic director for DIY Gear Reviews, deciding everything from the content covered to designing the testing methodologies for lab-tested reviews. He can be emailed at nhamilton@diygearreviews.com.

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