Impact Driver Torque Testing Methodology

We run commercial-grade tool diagnostics.

Our torque tests are not intended to disprove manufacturer claims since there are no standardized testing requirements manufacturers must follow, complicating comparing driver performance across brands that use different methodologies.

Instead, we standardize our torque tests, best used as relative comparisons for models in our test fleet. Our impact driver rankings and test results provide a simple way to compare torque performance across brands so you can find the best impact driver for your needs.

Below, we discuss in detail our torque testing methodology and why it matters when buying a new impact driver.

Check out our full impact driver torque test results to see how each model in our test fleet faired in our standardized testing.

What we test

We test impact driver torque output using an Inertia Tools L-1000 torque meter with a 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch adapter.

How we test it

We test impact driver for each of the tool’s drive mode speed settings. Specialty drive modes are not tested.

We torque-test each impact driver for two 10-second cycles and average the results for each drive mode setting. Torque is tested in only the forward setting and displayed in in-lbs, the typical torque metric quoted with impact drivers.

We will test torque using a 5Ah battery from each brand in future methodology updates. Our current methodology standardizes testing each impact driver’s torque using a 2Ah battery. Makita’s XGT lineup is tested using a 2.5Ah battery since there is no 2Ah version available on the XGT platform.

Note: Our torque results for hydraulic impact drivers understate the practical output expected during regular use. Most hydraulic impact drivers shut off before a 10-second cycle is completed. The torque displayed for these models in our reviews is the maximum torque generated during a cycle, regardless of whether the impact driver could complete a 10-second cycle.

Why it matters

Let’s clarify one thing first: A high torque output doesn’t always mean the fastest performance when driving screws and fasteners. Torque and RPM output are inversely related.

The primary goal with impact drivers is generating the highest torque possible for a given RPM, and each impact driver is designed with these performance tradeoffs in mind.

For example, many of the most powerful impact drivers give up speed in light and medium-duty tasks in favor of completing heavy-duty tasks faster, such as driving lag bolts and long structural screws.

Less powerful impact drivers won’t complete heavy-duty tasks as quickly but may outperform in other areas where RPM is increased and there is not much of a need for torque.

This relationship is why it’s essential to understand the primary jobs you’ll be completing when buying a new impact driver. If speed in heavy-duty tasks is critical, consider purchasing an impact driver with the highest torque output.

But if you’re not frequently driving lag bolts and other big fasteners, a moderately powerful impact driver may be faster in most tasks. This sweet spot is where most homeowners and DIYers should look to find a good impact driver for everyday jobs around the home.

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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