In the latest edition of the Pro Tool Reviews Thursday Throwdown, it’s a battle between two industry heavyweights: Makita and DeWalt. We put their flagship impact drivers, the Makita XDT16 and the DeWalt DCF888, head to head to determine the ultimate winner. So, let the games begin!
A Quick Note About 20V Max
Before we dive into the details, let’s clarify the misconception that 20V Max tools are inherently more powerful than 18V tools. While DeWalt changed their branding from 18V to 20V Max when they transitioned to Li-Ion batteries, the actual voltage remains the same. Both 20V Max and 18V tools operate at 18V nominal voltage. If you want to learn more about this, check out our comprehensive article on the topic.
Makita XDT16: Team Teal
Let’s start with Team Teal and their contender, the Makita XDT16.
Here are the key specifications of the Makita XDT16:
- Power supply: Makita 18V LXT battery
- No-load speed: 0 – 3600 RPM
- Maximum Torque: 1600 in-lbs
- Impact Rate: 0 – 3800 IPM
For independent reviews, click here.
DeWalt DCF888: Yellow Team Report
Now, let’s turn our attention to the Yellow team and their representative, the DeWalt DCF888.
Here are the key specifications of the DeWalt DCF888:
- Power: DeWalt 20V Max or FlexVolt battery
- No-load speed: 0 – 3250 RPM
- Maximum Torque: 1825 in-lbs
- Impact rate: 0 – 3600 IPM
For an independent review of the non-tool connection model, click here.
Footprint: Size Matters
When it comes to impact drivers, compact size is highly valued. Interestingly, both models excel in this aspect. However, the Makita XDT16 takes the lead by having the most compact design in the business. With a head size of 4.6 inches and a slightly shorter height of 7.4 inches, the Makita outshines its competitors in terms of portability and maneuverability.
Weight: Lightweight Champions
Weight plays a crucial role in determining the user-friendliness of impact drivers. Both the Makita and DeWalt models are impressively lightweight. However, the Makita edges out the competition with a bare weight of only 2.0 pounds and a mere 0.9-pound addition with the battery. The DeWalt, on the other hand, weighs 2.1 pounds bare and 3.1 pounds with batteries. The difference might be slight, but the Makita still claims a slight advantage in this category.
Feature Set: Unleashing the Power
Now, let’s explore the feature sets of these two impressive impact drivers. Here’s a breakdown of their core features:
|Feature||Makita XDT16||DeWalt DCF888|
|Speed||4 standard modes||3 standard modes|
|Auxiliary Mode||4 assist modes||Not available|
|LED Lights||2 Lights around the chuck||3 lights around the chuck|
|One-Handed Drill Insertion||Yes||Yes|
|Spring Bit Ejection||No||Yes|
While this simple comparison table gives you a glimpse into the feature sets, there’s more to consider. The Makita XDT16 takes it a step further with assist modes like slow start, reverse auto stop, and two self-tapping screw modes. It also features a programmable button below the chuck, allowing users to toggle between two custom-selected modes. For programming instructions, refer to our written review or watch our video.
DeWalt, on the other hand, offers smart control functionality through its Tool Connect integration. With this feature, you can customize various controls, track tools, view diagnostics, and more. However, it’s worth noting that the Makita incorporates all its features directly into the tool, eliminating the need for a separate app. DeWalt’s tool-connected systems excel in tracking, diagnostics, and inventory management. The choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference.
In my opinion, while DeWalt offers some advantages, it’s far from a necessary requirement for every user.
Strength: Putting Power to the Test
To determine the power of an impact driver, we conducted two tests. In the tightening test, each impact driver was tasked with tightening a hardened nut to a bolt. We used a digital torque wrench to measure the force required to break the connection. Please note that our test results may differ from the manufacturer’s specifications.
Averaging the results of multiple tests, the Makita XDT16 required 2131 in-lbs of force to loosen the nut, while the DeWalt DCF888 required 2237 in-lbs. Both impact drivers showcased impressive performance in this category.
In our second test, we measured the breaking power of each impact driver by repeatedly loading the same hardened nuts at specific intervals. The Makita endured 3300 inch-pounds of bolt-breaking force, while the DeWalt stopped at 3000 in-lbs. It’s worth noting that despite having 12.3% less torque on paper, the Makita still performs exceptionally well in practice.
Fastening Speed: The Need for Speed
To evaluate fastening speed, we used a 1/4″ lag screw and measured which impact driver maintained a higher spinning speed after engaging all the threads.
Makita dominates the 18V field with an impressive 651 RPM, leaving the DeWalt spinning at just over 200 RPM. However, DeWalt’s 429 RPM is still efficient, albeit not as competitive.
Fastening Efficiency: Working Smarter, Not Harder
By comparing the loaded speed of our ledger screw test to the no-load speed, we can gauge the efficiency of the impact driver’s motor. A higher efficiency percentage implies less stress on the motor and prolonged tool lifespan.
The Makita XDT16 boasts an impressive efficiency rating of 21.0 percent, positioning it among the top performers. On the other hand, the DeWalt DCF888 lags behind with an efficiency rating of 13.1 percent.
Noise: Keeping it Down
Impact drivers are notorious for their noise levels, with many users seeking quieter alternatives like hydraulic impact drivers. In this regard, the Makita XDT16 takes the lead, producing only 97 decibels under load. While still loud, it beats the DeWalt’s 104 decibels by a significant margin.
Compatible Tools: Expanding the Possibilities
Both Makita and DeWalt boast extensive cordless lineups. Makita plans to introduce 250 tools by 2020 that will be compatible with their 18V LXT batteries, covering various categories like Sub-Compact, LXT, and X2 (36V) LXT tools.
DeWalt is no slouch either, with more than 200 tools currently available on their 20V Max platform. The primary difference between the two lies in power enhancement. Makita achieves this by combining two 18V batteries, effectively delivering 36V power. On the other hand, DeWalt necessitates the purchase of another battery platform for increased power. While FlexVolt batteries are backward compatible with 20V Max tools, the reverse is not true.
Price: Breaking Down the Cost
Pricing may vary depending on your preferred retailer. The following prices were recorded at various stores:
Makita 18V LXT Impact Driver
- XDT16Z bare tool: $177.99
- XDT16R kit with two 2.0Ah batteries: $289
- XDT16T kit with two 5.0Ah batteries: $325
DeWalt 20V Max XR Impact Driver
- DCF888B Bare tool: $135
- DCF888D2 kit with two 2.0Ah batteries: $229
- DCF888P2BT kit with two 5.0Ah Tool Connect Bluetooth batteries: $339
If you’re uninterested in the tool attachment feature, both models offer alternative options at lower prices:
DeWalt 20V Max XR Impact Driver (Without Tool Attachment)
- DCF887B Bare tool: $115
- DCF887D2 kit with two 2.0Ah batteries: $199
- DCF887M2 kit with two 4.0Ah batteries: $231
DeWalt boasts a significantly lower pricing structure compared to Makita. Even with the Bluetooth Tool Connect battery, DeWalt remains the more affordable option.
Considering all the factors, Makita scored a respectable 81 on our value calculations, while DeWalt climbed further with 86.
Warranty: Peace of Mind
Both Makita and DeWalt offer three-year warranties on their tools. However, DeWalt sweetens the deal by adding a 1-year service agreement and a 90-day money-back guarantee, giving it a slight edge in terms of warranty coverage.
In this Makita 18V LXT vs. DeWalt 20V Max XR Impact Driver showdown, Makita convincingly secures a 6-3 win. DeWalt’s victories were hard-fought, with only price being an area where they held a distinct advantage.
If you’re searching for the perfect combination of size and performance, coupled with a rich feature set and wide range of compatible tools, look no further than the Makita XDT16.
On the other hand, if you crave smart controls, compatibility with a diverse array of tools, an extensive feature set, and all at a more affordable price point, the DeWalt DCF888 is the way to go. Additionally, if you’re interested in the DCF887 but don’t require smart controls, consider that as an alternative.
Make your choice based on your needs and preferences, and expect nothing but exceptional performance from these industry-leading impact drivers.