The Best Dewalt Impact Drivers (2024 Guide)

Best Dewalt Impact Drivers
Table of Contents

Few power tool brands can match the broad awareness that Dewalt commands. But is that reach a result of an endless marketing budget or the quality of its tools? We can’t speak to marketing strategies, but we do specialize in rigorously lab testing tools to see which models genuinely live up to the marketing hype. Enter our handy guide to the best Dewalt impact drivers.

Below, we cover which Dewalt impact drivers stand above the rest after putting each model through our standardized tests. Be sure to check out each model’s review for our full lab results, including rankings in critical tests, comparisons, and deeper dive commentary to inform your buying decision.

Best Dewalt impact driver

Ratings methodology
21 models tested

Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887

Dewalt DCF887 Angle 5
TestRank
Driving speed5
Torque2
Battery run time13
RPM8
Bare weight13
Impacting noise20
Brand Dewalt
Platform 20V Max XR
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 880.2
IPM 3,600.0
Drive modes 3
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as DCF887B

Rating

4.47 / 5 ⭐️’s

Buy

DCF887D2

Includes (2) Max XR 20V 2Ah battery

The Dewalt Max XR DCF887 is the best Dewalt impact driver and is worthy of its flagship status. Essential for a heavy-duty impact driver, the DCF887 shines with its powerful torque profile that drives big screws and lag bolts with ease and speed, as demonstrated in our driving speed tests. It shouldn’t surprise that the DCF887 is one of the most powerful Dewalt impact drivers.

Dewalt DCF887 Torquemeter
The Dewalt DCF887 pushes out a lot of torque, as demonstrated when tested on a torque meter. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The DCF887 retains a nearly identical footprint, design, and weight as the Dewalt 20V Max DCF845, which is picked on this list as well. Where the DCF887 differentiates itself is its driving strength due to a more powerful torque profile. The DCF887 also includes the ability to add an after-market chip for Dewalt’s ToolConnect Bluetooth app integration.

Once pairing the DCF887 with your phone, you can customize the RPM for the high, medium, and low-speed drive modes. This versatility is handy for customizing the RPM output for light and medium-duty tasks where power and precision should be tweaked for a consistent and accurate finish.

The ToolConnect app includes other advanced features, such as location tracking and remote shut-off capabilities for theft deterrence. You can also customize the work light brightness and time delay and review tool diagnostics, such as temperature, trigger pulls, and total run time.

The primary downside for some buyers may be the battery run time, which is average. If best-in-class battery run time is essential, the DCF887 is not ideal. Dewalt offers several Ah capacities in the 20V Max XR lineup that improve run time for the most rigorous extended sessions, in addition to its top-tier 20V Powerstack batteries that are compact and highly efficient.

Additionally, some flagship impact drivers, such as the Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z, offer more driving versatility with additional drive modes, useful for specialty tasks such as loosening bolts. The DCF887 is reasonably compact in its class, but there are more compact impact drivers to consider if a stubby-like collet-to-back design is preferred. Lastly, it may be overpowered for many tasks around the home.

Tally it all up, and the DCF887 is best suited for prosumers who appreciate a high-quality, powerful tool and trades workers demanding performance on the job site.

The Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF845 is the best Dewalt 20V impact driver to consider for a more balanced driving profile than the DCF887 offers, making it a better fit for DIYers. Importantly, the DCF845 has enough torque to excel on the job site as well.

But brute-force torque isn’t all that matters when buying a heavy-duty Dewalt impact driver. Notably, the DCF845 includes three drive modes, making it more than a one-trick pony. The drive modes improve versatility for precision tasks, requiring a consistent screw finish in different-density materials.

Dewalt DCF845 Footprint1
Run the Dewalt DCF845 with a 20V Max 2Ah battery for a lightweight setup that is reasonably fast and powerful.

The battery run time is also fantastic, turning in top-tier performance in our battery tests. Dewalt offers a solid lineup of potential configurations to kit the DCF845, including a long list of Ah capacities in the ever-popular Max XR battery lineup.

If you’re looking for a well-balanced setup, pair the DCF845 with Dewalt’s 20V Powerstack batteries, which are smaller, run longer, and offer more battery cycles than the 20V Max XR batteries we tested.

The Dewalt 20V Atomic DCF850 is impressively compact with one of the shortest collet-to-back lengths we’ve come across. The compact size easily squeezes into tight corners and through small openings, as evidenced in our interior clearance tests.

Dewalt DCF850 Edge Clearance
The Dewalt DCF850’s defining characteristic is its incredibly short tip-to-tail length, helping it to squeeze into tight areas.

Despite its size, the DCF850 still powerfully delivers for heavy-duty tasks. It won’t match the DCF887’s top-tier torque output, but we didn’t encounter a heavy-duty driving task the DCF850 couldn’t handle with ease. Its torque output also outpaced the less compact DCF845, which was unexpected in our testing due to the DCF850’s much smaller footprint.

Outside the compact footprint, the DCF850 retains many of Dewalt’s valuable features, including three versatile drive modes and a collet perfect for one-handed bit changes.

While you can kit the DCF850 with a deep bench of 20V Max XR and 20V Powerstack options for extended usage, this impact driver isn’t ideal if battery run time is the key deciding factor. The DCF850’s run time underperforms many competing impact drivers tested.

The Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCF801 is the best small Dewalt impact driver we’ve tested. The exceptionally-low price point also makes a good case for the DCF801 to be the best Dewalt budget impact driver.

It’s a perfect fit for DIYers around the home, woodworkers, and carpenters that want an incredibly lightweight impact driver that impresses for light and medium-duty driving tasks where finishing screws with a consistent recess trumps brute-force torque. While the DCF801 can drive big screws and lag bolts, it’s best used in a pinch for most heavy-duty jobs.

Dewalt DCF801 On Scale
The Dewalt DCF801 is exceptionally lightweight in its bare form and when kitted with a battery.

Impressively, the DCF801 doesn’t trade poor battery run time for a sub-compact footprint. This impact driver offers some of the longest battery run time we experienced in the 12V class.

The sub-compact size is nimble in hand and casts a thin shadow, but consider that the DCF801 has a reasonably long collet-to-back length, which cuts down some of its utility in certain confined driving situations.

Dewalt impact driver torque

Dewalt’s 20V Max XR impact drivers generate the most torque within the manufacturer’s vast impact driver lineup. In our testing on a torque meter, Dewalt’s impact drivers generated 441.0 to 880.2 in-lbs of torque, with the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887 delivering the best result.

It’s worth noting that our torque results will not match Dewalt’s advertised torque, similar to most third-party testing that cannot replicate manufacturer claims. Our impact driver torque test results compare the torque profiles for all models in our test fleet.

Pro tip

Flagship Milwaukee and Dewalt power tools go toe-to-toe with impressive performance. Read our comprehensive Dewalt vs Milwaukee guide to see which brand offers the best overall lineup for your needs.

Dewalt impact driver lineup explained

Max XR, Atomic, and Xtreme

Dewalt has three main categories in its impact driver lineup, Max XR, Atomic, and Xtreme, all of which include 1/4-inch hex collets.

Dewalt brushless impact drivers comprise the Max XR and Atomic impact driver lineup. Brushless motors vastly improve efficiency over brushed motors. The Max XR lineup also focuses on performance in heavy-duty tasks, whereas the Atomic lineup is designed around a more compact footprint. This balance is evident when reviewing test results from our labs.

Below, we compare several models’ battery run times and driving speeds in the Max XR and Atomic lineups to demonstrate the performance differences. We also include our 45-degree interior clearance test results to illustrate the size differences.

ModelBattery Run Time (min.)Driving Speed (sec.)45-Degree Clearance (inch)
Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF84549.012.86.500
Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF88739.014.76.500
Dewalt 20V Atomic DCF85030.015.25.500

The 12V Xtreme lineup includes sub-compact offerings that are Dewalt’s smallest impact drivers. These impact drivers are nimble with a narrow footprint, though they don’t offer as much torque as Dewalt’s Max XR and Atomic models.

Dewalt’s 12V Xtreme impact drivers are solid options to consider for homeowners frequently tackling light and medium-duty driving tasks.

If consistently driving 3-inch and longer screws over extended sessions, it’s best to upgrade to a Max XR or Atomic model.

Pro tip

Want to learn more about the differences between Dewalt’s power tool lineups? Check out our Dewalt Max XR vs Max guide and our Dewalt Max XR vs Atomic guide to learn which models are best for you.

Nominal vs max voltage

Dewalt 20V impact drivers are always listed online and in marketing materials with an asterisk in close proximity. The reason for the fine print is Dewalt’s crafty marketing strategy. A 20V Dewalt impact driver has the same nominal voltage as an 18V impact driver from another brand. There is no voltage difference between these models.

The Dewalt model is not more powerful. Only it chooses to market its impact driver lineup by quoting the max voltage, even if the max voltage is rarely achieved in practice. So, an 18V impact driver from Makita, Milwaukee, Ryobi, and others is no different. Those brands choose to market their tools quoting the more realistic nominal voltage achieved in practice.

Kits and model numbers

Dewalt impact drivers combine three letters and three numbers in their bare tool model numbers, such as DCF845. Power tool combo kits will include at least another letter and number on the end in a consistent manner.

Dewalt impact driver model numbers are always preceded by the letters DCF, letting you instantly know it’s an impact driver.

The following three numbers are less intuitive, without much rhyme or reason.

However, Dewalt’s tool and battery kits are more easily understood and are consistent across its tool categories. Dewalt commonly appends a letter and number to represent the batteries included in each kit.

For example, DCF801F2 is an impact driver kit that includes the DCF801 impact driver, two 12V 2Ah batteries, and a charger. Here’s more on the typical tool and driver kits Dewalt offers based on the last ending letters and numbers:

  • C1: Tool and battery kit with one 20V Max 1.5Ah battery
  • C2: Tool and battery kit with two 20V Max 1.5Ah batteries
  • D1: Tool and battery kit with one 20V Max XR 2Ah battery
  • D2: Tool and battery kit with two 20V Max XR 2Ah batteries
  • F2: Tool and battery kit with two 12V 2Ah Max battery
  • P1: Tool and battery kit with one 20V Max XR 5Ah battery
  • P2: Tool and battery kit with two 20V Max XR 5Ah batteries

Dewalt impact driver comparison chart

Dewalt Impact Driver Comparison Charts

Dewalt impact driver battery lineup explained

Dewalt impact drivers can be paired with three primary batteries compatible with other tools in the same voltage Dewalt ecosystem.

20V Powerstack batteries are Dewalt’s most advanced batteries that offer improved performance over the 20V Max XR lineup. 20V Powerstack batteries advertise more run time and charge cycles out of a more compact and lighter footprint.

Dewalt Powerstack and Max XR Battery 3
Side by side of Dewalt’s Powerstacn and Max batteries demonstrating the size differences. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Dewalt’s 20V Max XR battery lineup is the most popular and what most tool kits are built around.

Though less commonly found, some of Dewalt’s lower-end battery kits include 20V Max batteries that drop the XR branding. These versions don’t typically include the Ah capacity labeled on the battery, though it’s almost always a low-capacity 1.5Ah battery.

If you want more performance or run time, consider upgrading to one of Dewalt’s Flexvolt batteries, which are compatible with its 20V and 60V power tool lineups.

Dewalt Flexvolt Battery
Running a Flexvolt battery on Dewalt’s 20V impact drivers improves run time, although adds a bit of bulk, when compared to running your setup with a 20V Max battery.

Flexvolt batteries offer improved power when paired with a 60V Flexvolt tool or extended run time compared to Dewalt’s Max and Max XR batteries when paired with any of its 20V tools. The increased voltage output is critical for professionals using power tools that draw more power, such as circular saws.

Dewalt’s 12V batteries include the Max branding, only fit its 12V tools, and come in several Ah capacities.

FAQ

  • What's the most powerful Dewalt impact driver?

    The Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF887 is the most powerful Dewalt impact driver in our torque tests, delivering some of the best results we’ve tested across brands.

  • What size Dewalt impact driver is best?

    A compact 20V Dewalt impact driver is best for prosumers around the home and for trades workers on the job site.

    In some scenarios around the house, Dewalt’s 20V Max XR and 20V Atomic impact drivers are overpowered, especially for light-duty tasks where a precise screw finish is essential.

    Dewalt’s sub-compacts, such as the Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCF801, are more suitable in these scenarios.

  • What Dewalt impact driver battery is best?

    Dewalt’s 20V Powerstack batteries are advertised as a more compact and longer run time alternative to its 20V Max XR batteries, which still perform well against other brands. However, we’ve not tested the 20V Powerstack batteries in our lab to understand the cost and performance tradeoffs.

What's new?

1/17/23: Updated editorial insights for current picks
12/18/23: Added section discussing torque ranges and results
10/23/23: Minor editorial update
8/3/23: Full guide launched
8/2/23: Early access 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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