Harbor Freight likes to advertise their tool as being comparable to DeWalt. So we decided to take a more objective look at what the numbers say about their top competitors. Let's meet the contestants of this not-so-heavyweight competition: Harbor Freight Hercules vs. DeWalt 20V Max Impact Driver.
Harbor Freight Hercules 20V Max Impact Driver 63380
- Power supply: 20V max battery
- Speed: 0–2800 rpm
- Torque: 1500 in-lbs
- Impact rate: 0–3200 IPM
DeWalt 20V Max Impact Driver DCF888
- Power supply: 20V max battery
- Speed: 0–1000/0–2800/0–3250 RPM
- Torque: 1825 lb-in
- Impact rate: 0–3600 IPM
Check out our impact-driven shootout for full details on our testing methodology.
From the beginning, DeWalt used their XR brushless motors, while Hercules used brushed motors. I always consider the performance, runtime and longer life of brushless motors.
Learn more about the differences here.
speed under load
Driving the 1/4" ledger screw into the glued OSB was a lot of work, as we expect impact drivers to do on a regular basis. Many can do more, especially on the 18V/20V Max battery platform, but we'd prefer to upgrade to an impact wrench at this point.
The Hercules averaged 565 RPM in this test, with the DeWalt far behind at 429 RPM. Under medium loads, the Hercules drilled 32% faster.
DeWalt's 3274 no-load RPM (tested) still has a huge advantage over Hercules' 2593 RPM for light duty fastening.
Our tightening torque test involves giving each impact driver time to drive the hardened nut as hard as possible on the steel I-beam. Then we see how much torque it takes to loosen it with a digital torque wrench.
The results provide us with reproducible data, but are not a substitute for manufacturer's specifications.
Hercules needs 1498 in-lbs of strength to break it hard, DeWalt needs 2237 in-lbs. That's a 49 percent power advantage for DeWalt.
On the same rig where we test tightening torque, we use our digital torque wrench and torque multiplier (over 250 ft-lbs of torque) to set specific torque intervals for each impact driver.
In this case, both Hercules and DeWalt broke through 3,000 in-lbs (250 ft-lbs), but were unable to break 3,300 lbs in the next step.
This is very simple. The DeWalt weighs 2.1 pounds and weighs 3.1 pounds with a compact 2.0Ah battery pack. Hercules is exactly the same.
Impact drivers are much more compact than drills, and both Hercules and DeWalt do a good job of keeping their designs compact. Makita and Milwaukee have the most compact designs.
Hercules has a head length of 5.8 inches and a height of 7.5 inches (without batteries). DeWalt's head is 1/2" (5.3") shorter and slightly taller at 7.7". The head length restricts you more than the tool height when entering tight spots, which gives DeWalt an advantage here.
Hercules is a very simple system that just ticks the basic boxes. Here's the skinny one:
- brushed motor
- Single speed with variable speed trigger
- no special mode
- led lights
- belt hook
- no bit pop
- No one-handed drill insertion
DeWalt, on the other hand, has one of the most impressive feature sets across the board.
- Brushless Motor
- Three gear mode selection
- Tool Connection Control, Diagnostics and Tracking
- LED light ring around chuck
- belt hook
- no bit pop
- One-handed drill insertion
- Manufactured in the USA using global materials
There is absolutely no competition here.
Measured in decibels at 24 inches (approximately the distance from the tool to your ear when in use), it has a wide range. Both DeWalt and Hercules are above 100 dB(A) under load. The DeWalt's sound pressure level (SPL) of 104 dB(A) is twice that of the Hercules' 101 dB(A). Check out this article for more decibel details.
Both kits come with compact batteries, which is exactly how we prefer to use them because it saves weight. DeWalt includes two 2.0Ah battery packs, while Hercules gives you one 2.5Ah battery pack. However, DeWalt also has kits with 4.0Ah or 5.0Ah kits, depending on whether you get the Tool Connect model.
You can also gain more runtime by increasing capacity. DeWalt offers 3.0Ah (thin battery pack), 4.0Ah, 5.0Ah, 6.0Ah and 8.0Ah batteries as well as Bluetooth battery options if you need some basic feedback and locks. FlexVolt batteries are available up to 12Ah. Seriously though, using a 12Ah FlexVolt battery in an impact driver is pretty ridiculous.
Hercules have a 5.0Ah available as a separate upgrade.
Hercules are only available from Harbor Freight as a 1 battery kit. Comes with a 2.5 Ah (45Wh) battery and charger for $99.99. If you want extra, you can buy the 2.0Ah for $19.99, the 2.5Ah for $24.99, and the 5.0Ah for $39.99. Hercules tools are not usually included with Harbor Freight coupons.
DeWalt has more options, but we'll stick with the basics for now. On Amazon, it's $159 for the bare tool and $299 for the 2 x 5.0Ah kit.
If you don't want Tool Connect, it's a little cheaper. $129 for the bare metal, $229 for the 2 x 4.0Ah kit. There is also a 2 x 2.0Ah kit for $179.
There are many combination kits that also include the DCF888 or DCF887 for grooming.
It's very simple – DeWalt gives you 3 years, Harbor Freight gives you 90 days. We can dig a little deeper, though. DeWalt's warranty includes a 90-day money-back guarantee and a 2-year free service agreement included as part of its packaging.
Harbor Freight lets you extend your warranty to 1 or 2 years for a little more money.
Harbor Freight has exactly 3 tools that work with the Hercules 20V Max battery – an impact driver, a drill, and a hammer.
Compare that to DeWalt's 200+ tools that use their 20V Max battery, and it's not a huge deal.
Value is not just price, it's what you get for what you pay for. Unfortunately, it also varies greatly depending on your priorities. When we look at the performance, features, weight, footprint, noise level, battery, kit options, warranty, and compatible tools versus price trade-off, the DeWalt is more valuable in my book.
But that's me, what you value most in an impact driver may vary. It doesn't matter!
Verdict: DeWalt, subjectively
The Harbor Freight Hercules Impact Driver has some impressive features and keeps pace with DeWalt's DCF888/DCF887 in a few important areas. Of course, the price of Harbor Freight is very attractive.
But when we look at the two more fully, the lead DeWalt built was too great for Hercules to overcome. From the brushless motor and feature set to the depth of warranty and compatible tools, we think the DeWalt DCF888 has more to offer than just the price difference.
what do you think? Let us know in the comments below!