Source: TOOLS OF THE TRADE Magazine
Publication date: October 13, 2011

By Greg DiBernardo

MAKITA BTD142HW

StoryID
1721612
ToolNumber
9
ComponentId
tcm:78-1630220

This compact tool is similar to the BTD141 but has slightly less torque output and ships with 1.5 Ah batteries instead of the 3.0 Ah batteries that typically come with Makita tools. It does accept 3.0 Ah batteries, however, and it has the same LED light and charger as Makita's other impact drivers. At less than three pounds, it's the lightest impact driver tested and was our go-to model for low-volume work. It placed near the bottom in our timed driving and runtime tests.

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MAKITA LXDT01

StoryID
1721612
ToolNumber
10
ComponentId
tcm:78-1630220

Of all the tools we tested, the LXDT01 is our favorite. It resembles the older BTD141 and uses the same battery, but it has a number of upgraded features, including a brushless motor, variable-power output, a one-handed chuck, and a switch for disabling the light. The tool is fast and has very good runtime; it placed fourth in both the runtime and the timed driving tests. The only thing missing from this tool is a battery gauge, though it does have an indicator lamp that flashes when the charge is down to about 20 percent.

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METABO SSD 18LT

StoryID
1721612
ToolNumber
11
ComponentId
tcm:78-1630220

The SSD 18LT is big and powerful, but it's not very comfortable to use. The handle is fatter than most, and no one on the crew liked how it felt. This is the only tool we tested for which there was no belt hook – not even as an accessory; instead, it comes with a lanyard so you can hang it from your wrist. Features include variable output and a very nice battery gauge. Most tools with variable output use multiple LED bars to indicate the setting; this one uses a single blinking light. Unfortunately, the light blinks annoyingly when you activate the trigger. The tool comes with an unnecessarily large plastic case.

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MILWAUKEE 2650

StoryID
1721612
ToolNumber
12
ComponentId
tcm:78-1630220

The Milwaukee 2650 is available in two different kits, the 2650-22 (with standard batteries) and the 2650-21 (with compact batteries). Fast and powerful in use, it torques over – almost like a wormdrive saw – when you engage the trigger and was the top performer in our timed driving test. It ranked high in the runtime test with either battery. Although it's among the heavier tools tested, it's compact and comfortable to use. We like the four-stage battery gauge but wish the button that activates it were easier to push. The trigger is fairly sensitive, but it can be hard to tame this tool on delicate projects. All in all, the 2650 is a solid-performing impact driver that's well worth considering.

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PANASONIC EY7550LR2S

StoryID
1721612
ToolNumber
13
ComponentId
tcm:78-1630220

Panasonic is the only tool company that also manufactures battery cells, so it's no surprise that its impact driver has superior runtime: It drove more lags per charge than all but one of the tools tested. This tool has a slim, comfortable grip and is light for a model with full-size batteries. Features include a brushless motor, variable-power output, and a manually operated light. The trigger is responsive and provides better-than-average control. The power output button can be difficult to operate – it's under a sticker and you have to hit the sweet spot. I would prefer that the tool had a conventional trigger-operated light.

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PORTER-CABLE PCL180IDK-2

StoryID
1721612
ToolNumber
14
ComponentId
tcm:78-1630220

Of the tools that come with two batteries, this is the least-expensive model we tested. It's well-balanced and has a comfortable grip but is among the longer and heavier compact models. Although it works well enough, its performance was not impressive: It came in last in both the timed driving and runtime tests. Other than its lower-than-average price, there's nothing much to recommend it.

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RIDGID R86034K

StoryID
1721612
ToolNumber
15
ComponentId
tcm:78-1630220

The R86034K is the most feature-rich compact model we tested; it has a battery gauge, a self-ejecting chuck, and a double-LED light that can be activated two different ways – by squeezing the trigger or by using a switch further down the handle. Though one of the heavier compact tools, it's well-balanced and comfortable to use. I particularly like the charger: The indicator lights are big enough to see from across the room, and the level of charge flashes on the battery as it's charging. The included soft case is very compact but lacks dividers to keep items from banging around inside. The price for this tool seems low until you realize it does not include a spare battery. If you add the $70 cost of a second 1.5 Ah compact battery, it's priced in line with competing models. A 3.0 Ah standard battery is available for $99.

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