Oil-Pulse Impact Drivers

These tools drive fasteners much more quietly than traditional impacts.

If you’ve ever used an impact driver to drive screws, you have an appreciation for its tremendous torque, typically 3–4 times more than a comparable drill/driver. Impacters tend to be lighter and smaller than drill/drivers—more reasons to love them. But their loud clattering noise can drive you crazy, especially when working in tight surroundings, such as when hanging wall cabinets or installing a countertop onto a base cabinet. But now there’s a quieter alternative: oil-pulse impact drivers. 

We tested four battery-powered oil-pulse drivers head-to-head, and ran a traditional cordless impact driver (the Makita XDT12Z) through the same tests for comparison.

How they work

A typical impact driver uses a spinning hammer-and-anvil mechanism to in-crease rotational torque. The more demand a fastener puts on the tool, the more torque the hammer and anvil attempt to apply by slamming together. It’s this metal-on-metal action that creates the loud noise and vibration. An oil-pulse driver uses a different hammer-and-anvil mechanism, encased in a module containing gear oil. Rapid, pulsing movement of this fluid operates the hammer and anvil, which make contact for a longer, but slower, duration to create quieter impacts (compared to regular impact drivers). And manufacturers tell us this “cushioned-impact” system helps prolong tool life.

Watch the Milwaukee Surge driver here 

Milwaukee Oil-Impulse Impact Driver Video

Watch the Ridgid Stealth Force driver here

Watch the Makita oil-pulse driver here

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