In Japan, space comes at a premium, so it is no surprise that small drills rule the jobsite there. Contractors here are now warming up fast to Japan’s small, torque-heavy impact drivers.

Impact guns are not just for mechanics anymore. In Japan, cordless impacts have a staggering 95% share because of ergonomics and available accessories, according to Baltimore-based DeWalt. Convincing workers here that they are tough enough is a challenge: This year, both DeWalt and Milwaukee came out with hardened bits designed for cordless impacts, because their less-expensive, traditional bits snap under the pressure.

More trades are warming up to impacts—small, lightweight and full of torque.
Photo: DeWalt
More trades are warming up to impacts—small, lightweight and full of torque.

DeWalt wants to make a bigger impact on the market with a new kit that includes an 18-V impact driver and ½-in. drill-driver or hammerdrill. The guns come with a new “compact” 18-V lithium-ion battery that weighs 58% less than nickel-cadmium and 33% less than typical 18-V li-ion packs but charges faster. Like other suppliers, DeWalt still offers NiCd, but its tools are backward-compatible. One reason is that cold climates are not always friendly to li-ion. “We expect NiCd batteries to be around for a long time,” says Jason McNeil, product manager.

Users can try the impact for $249, but the combo is a better deal at $279 (with hammerdrill, $299). ENR found the gun just as powerful as the drill-driver but more maneuverable in tight spaces. Our only beef is with the batteries, which have no fuel gauge. All of a sudden, the tool stops, and you think you broke it.