Best Makita Impact Drivers

Best Makita Impact Drivers

Makita has built a loyal following with a deep bench of impact drivers that offer excellent driving performance and versatility at a reasonable price. But our goal at DIY Gear Reviews isn’t to rely on anecdotal word-of-mouth or brand marketing hype to determine the best Makita impact drivers you should buy.

Instead, we put all models in our test fleet through the same standardized tests to cut through marketing hype. Once all models are tested on a level playing field in our lab, it’s dead simple to understand which models are the best impact drivers. Below, we detail those select Makita impact drivers that shined in our in-depth lab tests.

Read on and 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. Gather ‘round team blue, and let’s dive in!

Best Makita impact drivers

Ratings methodology
21 models tested

Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z

Makita XDT19Z Angle 5
TestRank
Driving speed3
Torque13
Battery run time6
RPM5
Bare weight5
Impacting noise15
Brand Makita
Platform 18V LXT
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 595.2
IPM 3,800.0
Drive modes 8
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as XDT19

Rating

4.62 / 5 ⭐️’s

Recommended configuration

XDT19T

Includes (2) 18V 5Ah battery

The Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z is the flagship brushless impact driver in Makita’s popular LXT lineup. With its well-balanced driving profile, compact footprint, long battery run time, and versatility, the XDT19Z is the best Makita impact driver tested in our lab.

The XDT19Z shined most in our battery run time and driving speed tests. The XDT19Z has an outstanding 48 minutes of no-load run time, surpassing many competing impact drivers running the same Ah battery setup. Kitting it out with a Makita 18V LXT 5Ah battery extends the run time and continues outperforming comparable high-end models running 5Ah batteries.

The XDT19Z’s high RPM and impacts per minute result in fantastic performance driving big screws and lag bolts. We tested driving GRK RSS screws with all models in our tool fleet, and the XDT19Z turned in among the best results.

8 drive modes improve driving versatility and accuracy. The middle range of the speed modes offers a high level of precision that’s rarely found in flagship 18V impact drivers that are more focused on dishing out brute force power.

Makita XDT19Z Drive Modes
The Makita XDT19Z’s numerous drive modes are slightly confusing to understand when first using, but offer unmatched versatility. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The XDT19Z rounds out its drive mode offerings with several specialty settings, including a wood setting that accurately recesses screws and a bolt-loosening mode that increases the trigger sensitivity in reverse to ramp RPMs faster to remove stubborn nuts and bolts.

Lastly, the XDT19Z includes one of the most customizable work lights on the market. You can use the work light as a dedicated flashlight, and there is an on/off button to disable the work light when pulling the trigger, helpful to squeeze out extra battery run time.

However, there are downsides to consider. The XDT19Z is fast but doesn’t offer the highest torque, reducing some of its versatility, especially if loosening stubborn lug nuts, and you don’t own an impact wrench. The torque crown goes to the Makita 40V XGT GDT01Z in the Makita lineup.

While it’s not the brute force torque champ, the combination of performance and features it otherwise offers are rare in such a lightweight and compact footprint.

Consider the Makita 18V LXT XDT14Z if you don’t need the array of drive modes and additional work light features included with the flagship XDT19Z. Otherwise, the XDT14Z is a similar impact driver when it comes to performance, all for a lower price. The XDT14Z even outperforms with a longer battery run time in our tests.

Notably, the XDT14Z offers outstanding driving speed, sufficient torque, and the same lightweight and compact footprint the LXT lineup is known for.

Makita XDT14Z Width Clearance
The Makita XDT14Z has a compact tip-to-tail footprint that makes it agile and helps it squeeze well into tight areas. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The XDT14Z drops the specialty wood, bolt-loosening, and self-tapping drive modes the XDT19Z includes. Instead, the XDT14Z offers 4 drive modes. The lower-speed drive modes improve driving versatility with better, thanks to the reduced impacts per minute and RPM profiles each drive mode offers. The lowest-speed drive modes are subtle enough to drive screws into MDF and drywall with an accurate finish, although no impact driver is the dedicated tool of choice for these tasks.

Admittedly, we’re nit-picking when considering the downsides. The XDT14Z is moderately loud compared to other impact drivers, and there’s no bit-eject collet feature. If these lacking features aren’t critical, then the XDT14Z is hard to beat.

Makita 40V XGT GDT01Z

Makita GDT01Z Angle 5
TestRank
Driving speed10
Torque5
Battery run time1
RPM9
Bare weight15
Impacting noise19
Brand Makita
Platform 40V XGT
Motor Brushless
Tested torque in-lbs 758.4
IPM 4,400.0
Drive modes 10
Collet 1/4-inch hex
Same as GDT01

Rating

4.51 / 5 ⭐️’s

Recommended configuration

GDT01D

Includes (1) XGT 40V 2.5Ah battery

The Makita 40V XGT GDT01Z is the strongest Makita impact driver, offering unmatched torque output in Makita’s lineup. This model is the top Makita impact driver to buy for powering through heavy-duty tasks where torque is essential.

Unsurprisingly, the GDT01Z isn’t the fastest Makita impact driver when driving long structural screws and beefy lag bolts. The torque is high and the RPM output is low, highlighting the choices Makita made under the hood to focus the GDT01Z on torque over speed.

Knowing the performance focus, the GDT01Z is most suitable for trades workers around the job site. We don’t recommend buying the GDT01Z for around the home since it’s overpowered torque-wise for everyday DIY tasks and incredibly bulky. The GDT01Z’s 40V XGT 2.5Ah battery is heavy and approximates the size of 5Ah batteries from other brands. The large footprint limits the interior clearances and tight spaces it can fit into.

Makita GDT01Z Footprint1
The Makita GDT01Z is reasonably large when kitted with a 40V XGT battery, but it offers solid performance in at the top of its range. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Beyond its torque-rich performance, the GDT01Z offers outstanding battery run times. The GDT01Z easily secured the podium position in our Summer 2023 test fleet with a whopping 83.0 minutes of no-load run time.

An asterisk is needed. We standardize our battery tests for apples-to-apples comparisons across models and test no-load battery run time with 2Ah batteries. We tested the GDT01Z with the closest Ah-capacity battery available, 2.5Ah. So, it’s understandable why the run time is so high. But when calculating the run-time per Ah to put all tools on a level playing field, the GDT01Z still outperforms.

The Makita 18V LXT XDT13Z is the best Makita budget impact driver. When moving down the price spectrum, it’s essential to understand the sacrifices made to reach a lower price point.

Nicely, the XDT13Z doesn’t sacrifice the compact footprint that many Makita fans covet. It also has outstanding battery run time, partly thanks to its brushless motor. Some brands swap out brushless motors in favor of less durable brushed motors in their budget lineup.

The sacrifices made result in middle-of-the-road driving performance and lacking driving versatility. The XDT13Z’s lower RPM output explains why it underperformed other Makita 18V LXT models in our driving speed tests.

But context is vital. The XDT13Z easily tackles heavy-duty driving tasks. It is just slower than the highest-end models on the market.

The XDT13Z also includes a single drive mode, making it a one-trick pony. We found it underperformed other models with more drive modes with inconsistent screw recesses in lower-density materials. The all-or-nothing high-speed mode also increases the risk of cam-out and stripped screws.

These sacrifices are expected in any brand as the price decreases. We recommend most people spend more to buy the XDT14Z instead. But if the higher price isn’t in the cards, few competing models can match the impressive performance of the XDT13Z for the price.

The Makita 12V CXT DT04Z is the best 12V Makita impact driver tested in our lab. Let’s clear the air first before considering why it secured a spot on this shortlist.

No 12V impact driver will win in speed and brute force tests. However, the DT04Z can drive long decking screws, structural screws, and some lag bolts in a pinch when your more powerful 18V impact driver is sidelined.

Disclaimers aside, the DT04Z performs fantastically in light and medium-duty driving tasks requiring precision. We especially appreciated the assist drive mode, which slows RPMs to set a screw and speeds up RPMs once impacting begins for an accelerated driving experience. The lower-speed drive mode also recesses screws accurately in all common densities of materials, ranging from MDF and drywall to harder wood species.

Makita DT04Z Drive Modes
The Makita DT04Z’s drive modes improve versatility, which is critical in the 12V class. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Otherwise, there are few downsides outside the expected slower driving performance and lower torque. One consideration is there’s no easy-insert collet design, which many other Makita impact drivers

Makita impact driver torque

The Makita 40V XGT GDT01Z was the highest torque Makita impact driver in our testing. The GDT01Z generated a maximum of 758.4 in-lbs of torque on our torque meter. Makita has an otherwise moderately powerful lineup of 18V impact drivers in its LXT lineup, with torque ranging from 589.8 to 682.2 in-lbs of torque.

Makita GDT01Z Torquemeter
Testing the torque of the GDT01Z. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

We should note that third-party torque tests, including ours, will rarely match what brands advertise on their specification sheets. Therefore, we recommend reviewing our impact driver torque test results to see how each model in our test fleet performs in apples-to-apples testing.

Makita’s impact driver lineup explained

We outline Makita’s impact driver lineup below to help you determine which model is best for your intended usage. We also include a brief comparison table of critical specs to highlight the primary differences.

40V XGT

Makita’s XGT impact driver lineup is a relatively newer offering within the 40V XGT ecosystem of tools. Makita’s 40V XGT impact drivers are designed with torque performance front-and-center, making them ideal for professionals on the job site. There are better Makita impact drivers to buy for a more balanced driving profile and compact footprint.

18V LXT

The 18V LXT impact driver lineup is packed with popular compact and sub-compact offerings that are the best 18V Makita impact drivers. An 18V LXT impact driver is the best option for most Makita fans, DIYers and professionals alike.

The LXT compact lineup offers outstanding battery run time and solid driving performance, all while retaining a smaller footprint than competing models. There are several sub-compact offerings in the 18V LXT lineup, though the footprints aren’t drastically different than the more powerful compact models.

12V CXT

Makita’s 12V CXT impact driver lineup includes its smallest sub-compact models. 12V CXT impact drivers are designed for precision across light and medium-duty tasks, not speed and torque.

To help you understand which lineup may be best for your needs, we’ve included below key specs for several models across Makita’s XGT, LXT, and CXT lineups.

ModelDriving Speed Results (sec.)Max Torque Results (in-lbs)Max RPM ResultsBattery Run Time Results (min.)
40V XGT GDT01Z16.2758.43,113.083.0
18V LXT XDT19Z13.7595.23,296.048.0
12V CXT DT04Z36.2532.82,655.048.0

Model numbers

Beyond including a 40V XGT, 18V LXT, or 12V CXT prefix for each model number, Makita includes a combination of letters and numbers to represent each impact driver’s position in a specific voltage lineup. We’ll focus here on the 18V LXT series of tools since it includes the most impact driver models.

For example, the 18V LXT XDT19Z is an offering in the 18V LXT lineup. All model numbers in this lineup begin with the same three letters, XDT.

The higher the following two numbers, the higher up in the lineup for each model. The higher numbers also generally correspond to the more recent versions, though the number doesn’t represent the release year. Accordingly, we know instantly that the XDT19Z is a higher-end impact driver than the XDT14Z, which is also older.

Kits and bare tools

The last letter in the impact driver’s model number corresponds to whether you’re buying a specific tool and battery kit or the bare tool. Here are the standardized letters and their meaning in the LXT impact driver lineup:

  • Z/B: Signifies the bare tool version, such as XDT19Z.
  • R: Tool and battery kit that includes a 2Ah battery, such as XDT19R. These kits come in several variations with a different number of batteries.
  • T: Tool and battery kit that includes two 5Ah batteries, such as XDT19T.

Battery lineup

The Makita impact driver battery lineup is easier to understand than other brands since each voltage has a single lithium-ion battery technology. Different brands offer various compact or larger versions, battery cell technologies, and branding for a given Ah battery capacity, resulting in some consumer confusion.

Makita’s 40V XGT batteries run off a single lithium-ion battery technology, and the batteries come in 2.5Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, and 8Ah capacities.

The 18V LXT lineup includes a single lithium-ion battery technology, and the batteries come in 2Ah, 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah, and 6Ah capacities.

The 12V CXT lineup includes a single lithium-ion battery technology, and the batteries come in 2Ah and 5Ah capacities.

FAQ

  • What's the most powerful Makita impact driver?

    The Makita 40V XGT GDT01Z has the highest torque output of the Makita models we’ve tested in our lab. However, the GDT01Z isn’t the fastest. The fastest is the Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z, as our driving speed tests demonstrated.

  • What size Makita impact driver is best?

    Makita offers compact and sub-compact impact drivers, both excellent options based on your usage. An 18V or 40V compact Makita impact driver is ideal for heavy-duty tasks, including driving 3-inch and longer screws and lag bolts. A 12V sub-compact can handle heavy-duty tasks in a pinch but bogs down significantly and is better suited to light and medium-duty tasks.

  • What Makita impact driver battery is best?

    The Makita 18V LXT XDT19Z is the best overall Makita impact driver, offering flagship driving performance, nearly endless driving versatility, and a long battery run time.

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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