The Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCF801 is an outstanding, versatile impact driver with solid battery life. While it has enough torque and RPM to power through driving big screws and lag bolts, that’s not the intended use. The DCF801 is best suited for DIYers looking for a lightweight impact driver around the home. Woodworkers will also appreciate the sub-compact size and balanced power profile. The three drive modes offer great versatility and precision, including when driving screws into dimensional lumber, MDF, and drywall studs.
|Driving speed (sec.)
|Battery run time (min.)
|Bare weight (lbs)
|Impacting noise (dBA)
4.23 / 5 ⭐️’s
- Exceptionally lightweight
- Solid battery run time
- Brushless motor
- Precise drive modes
- Long tool and battery warranty
- One-handed bit changes
- Bogs down driving big structural screws and lag bolts
- Long collet to back length
Kits and bare tool options
Includes (2) Max 12V 2Ah battery
Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3453-20: The 3453-20 offers best-in-class speed under load and torque output, far outpacing the DCF801’s performance. The 3453-20 is also slightly more compact and fits easier into some tight areas. Compare side by side
Design & ergonomics
Stands upright w/o battery: Yes
Stands upright w/ battery: Yes
Grip material: Rubber overgrip
The DCF801’s design is well thought out with ergonomics that curve well to your hand, and the rubber overgrip provides good control and shock absorption. The forward-leaning handle offers extra reach for driving screws in awkward or obstructed situations.
Otherwise, the DCF801 includes a belt hook that is mountable on both sides of the base. A bit holder isn’t included in the box but can be mounted on either side. Several Ryobi impact drivers include bit holders and magnetic plates to hold fasteners.
The DCF801 is exceptionally light as a bare tool and with a battery, reducing fatigue over long, repetitive driving sessions.You can cut weight further by moving to the Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3453-20 or the Makita 12V CXT DT04Z.
But remember that the DCF801’s working weight can differ significantly depending on the battery run in your setup. To keep it as lightweight as possible, we recommend combining the DCF801 with Dewalt’s 12V Max 2Ah battery for a good balance of performance and weight.
If weight is less of a concern, pair the DCF801 with Dewalt’s 12V Max 5Ah battery for a longer run time and improved driving performance. But consider that adding the 5Ah battery meaningfully increases the weight and footprint. Upgrading to Dewalt’s 20V impact driver lineup may be more suitable as the size increases, especially if you want a more powerful impact driver.
The DCF801 has a svelte footprint in certain areas but is not as small as other 12V and 18V impact drivers. Nicely, the max width and base measurements are incredibly compact, excellent for squeezing through tight spaces.
Dewalt’s 12V Max batteries are also highly compact. But the max height and length from the collet back can be beaten by more compact models.
All said, the DCF801 is still nimbler than most impact drivers.
Brushless motors offer significant performance improvements over brushed motors. The brushless motor in the DCF801 improves longevity, driving performance, and increases battery run time.
The DCF801 won’t win most contests for driving speed, partly due to its low advertised 3600.0 impacts per minute. However, the DCF801 is highly capable for most fastening needs around the home, and the advertised impacts per minute are enough to drive big screws or lag bolts in a pinch.
There are three drive modes on the DCF801, high and low speed impacting and precision mode. These drive modes work well, providing excellent versatility spanning light and heavy-duty tasks.
The high-speed mode capably enough drove big GRK screws in our driving speed tests. This mode is also most effective in driving screws into dimensional lumber.
The low-speed mode works exceptionally well, driving screws flush into less dense materials, such as MDF, plastics, and drywall studs. This speed mode also works incredibly well to accurately recess screws to a desired depth by feathering the variable-speed trigger.
The precision mode works similarly well driving screws, but we found ourselves favoring drive mode 2 for precision driving tasks due to the extra power offered. Precision mode is most useful for extra lightweight materials or using the DCF801 like a cordless drill. The driving force is light enough and the trigger is accurate enough to drive soft screws without cam-out or stripping threads, such as on electrical outlets, though overpowered for this task.
Most 12V impact drivers we’ve tested range from 25 seconds to 30 seconds in total drive time for the five GRK screws in our test, including the DCF801.
The DCF801 capably drove GRK screws in our driving speed tests, but no 12V impact driver is the weapon of choice for repeating these heavy-duty tasks. Sub-compacts don’t have sufficient torque to repeatedly and efficiently drive big screws and lag bolts, and their batteries drain quickly with the motors working overtime.
The DCF801 isn’t designed to have a robust torque profile like more powerful 18V impact drivers. This theme held in our torque tests with the DCF801 turning in results that were among the lowest in our test fleet, including underperforming most other competing 12V models. This performance further highlights its intended usage for light and medium-duty tasks.
The Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3453-20 has the highest torque in its class, nearly doubling the twisting force of the DCF801.
Battery run time
Power type: Cordless
12V Max 2Ah (DCB122)
The DCF801 turned in a solid battery run-time performance in our testing, surpassing many competing 12V impact drivers.
We tested battery run time with the 2Ah battery version. We expect the battery run time to perform similarly well when running the DCF801 with a 12V Max 2Ah battery and comparing it with other brands running the same Ah setup.
Dewalt offers 2Ah, 3Ah, and 5Ah batteries in its 12V Max lineup. Upgrading to the higher Ah options increases battery run time and improves driving performance, though we’ve not tested all of these batteries to understand the cost tradeoffs.
Having at least two batteries in your setup is best so you don’t miss a beat when draining one battery. We recommend buying two Dewalt 12V Max 2Ah batteries for most Dewalt 12V impact driver setups for a good balance of performance, price, and size.
Many Dewalt impact drivers come in kits with a hybrid 12V and 20V charger in one, which conveniently saves space in your shop if you have multiple tools in the ecosystem.
Dewalt 20V Max (DCB115)
The Dewalt charger that comes with most kits (model DCB115) charges 12V batteries rapidly. In our tests, the charger topped off a 12V Max 2Ah battery in 39 minutes, or 19.5 minutes per Ah.
This charger also charges Dewalt’s 20V battery platform, helping to save space in your shop if you have several tools in the Dewalt ecosystem. But consider that the DCB115 doesn’t charge 20V Max batteries as rapidly.
Dewalt hit a good RPM balance all around with the DCF801. This impact driver is designed for versatility, so don’t expect it to top the charts with high RPMs across its driving modes.That result isn’t a downside in most scenarios. The low RPM does explain some of the bogging down when driving big bolts and screws.
However, the low RPM also explains why the DCF801 is exceptionally accurate, all the better since it’s powerful enough to drive big screws and bolts in a pinch, regardless.
The DCF801 has solid clearances in our various tests but lags behind other 12V and other highly-compact 18V impact drivers in our 45-degree interior clearance test. This performance results from the extended length from the collet to back.
The DCF801 is comparatively quiet when impacting, making it a good option if you don’t want to irk your neighbors. Of course, no impact driver is a wallflower, and any impact driver’s noise is harmful with prolonged exposure.
The DCF801’s LED light array illuminates a large surface area. One minor gripe is the light’s time delay, which doubles the time for most impact drivers, unnecessarily draining battery life.
There is no dedicated flashlight mode, such as included with some Makita impact drivers, where the trigger acts as an on/off button to turn on the light without moving the motor. You also can’t disable the light.
The DCF801 is excellent for one-handed bit changes. The quick-change collet has an easy-insert feature that doesn’t require sliding the collet forward to accept a bit. A bit-eject feature also lightly ejects the bit when sliding the collet forward.
Dewalt impact drivers have a collet design that is executed better than other brands. The easy-insert mechanism is smooth for simple operation, and the bit-eject feature doesn’t jettison the bit too hard to potentially miss catching the bit.
There is no bluetooth app integration to review impact driver diagnostics or to customize driving profiles on your phone. Dewalt models like the high end Dewalt 20V Max XR DCF888 come in a ToolConnect version which includes an app integration to track impact driver usage, displays tool diagnostics, and allows you to set custom driving profiles, such as adjusting the RPM for each drive mode.
Dewalt stands behind the durability of its impact drivers with exceptionally-long warranties. The DCF801 has a three-year warranty. Dewalt 12V batteries include a two-year warranty.
Dewalt also offers free maintenance and replacement of worn parts for one year for the DCF801 and two years for its 12V batteries.