Once again, my good friend Manny Neves has asked me my opinion on tools. I clearly have tricked him into thinking I know what I am talking about. Do I think I am qualified to give an opinion? I must say that running a tool/hardware store for the better part of 2 decades has given me insight that many others are not given access to. Am I a tool reviewer? No. Will I tell you which one feels best in my hands or which one will drive a 3” screw fastest to determine “best”….the answer is no. I will tell you my opinion based on which ones are sold more to specific trades. I will tell you my feelings of which tools are best for which trade. Take it as an opinion, not the gospel. If you don’t agree with me, it will not be the first time I have ever been wrong.
Manny has asked me to look specifically at cordless impact drivers and wrenches as the focal point. This is a very important tool in any tradesperson’s arsenal. Very rarely used in North America until the early 2000’s, Makita was definitely the market leader in making this tool an absolute “must” by being the first to put it into a combo kit. We now see it as the centrepiece in most battery platforms of every major power tool manufacturer. That being said, different brands and models are more prevalent with specific users. Mechanics tend to lean one way. Metal framers, carpenters and general contractors tend to lean the to other side. No one brand or model can ever be deemed #1. It varies from trade to trade.
Our first trade or customer type to consider would be the mechanic clientele of ours. They seem to be leaning favourably towards Milwaukee. Specifically, this group of individuals are in love with the M12 Stubby impacts that Milwaukee launched back in 2018. Available in ¼ thru ½” drive, this little tool has really taken this market by storm and has replaced many air tools in tons of garages all over. A simple tool with a ton of power that has not failed to impress so many of our customers. No other manufacturer has come close to developing a tool like this.
Our second trade or customer type to look at would be metal framers/drywallers. This customer has always tended to favour Dewalt. Specifically, the “go-to” impact for these people is the DCF887 Brushless impact. Simple and to the point, the 887 gets the job done and takes a beating. They love this tool for its reliability, price point and the fact that it works with many of the other cordless tools they already have.
Mechanical contractors, plumbers and electricians all gravitate towards the Milwaukee GEN 3 Fuel impact driver. You can never disregard the importance of a battery platform. The fact that this tool works with Press tools, crimpers, expansion tools, drain cleaning machinery etc. makes it the hands down winner for this group of trades. Even if it is not the best impact out there in every category, the simplicity and convenience of having all tools using the same batteries makes it the best tool available for these people.
Lastly, we will examine the carpenter/general contractors out there. These people all seem to gravitate towards the Makita DTD170 and now the 171. Simply put, the best rated impact out there.
Multiple modes and speeds, this tool is a beast. We never have complaints about either unit. People love it. Manny at Hardcore loves the Bosch Freak Impact and would probably disagree with me on this point. I think the FREAK is an amazing tool and those who have it love it, but it lacks the supporting cast in the battery platform that the 170/171 has. Being able to take your Makita battery and throw it on your mitre saw, track saw, framing saw etc makes the 170/171 the hands down choice for this group of customers.
To finish off, I cannot stress enough that these are my opinions and are not founded on any specific formulas. They could easily be discounted by anyone who works in a similar type business as mine. I was asked what I thought and I offered it up. I do not have any desire to ever be a tool reviewer. I am, however, privy to insight that others are not. Hopefully my opinion helps others make the right decision.