When I got the call that the Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver came along, at first, I didn't think much of it. Palm nailers have been around for a while. Then I realized he didn't say "nailer". The Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver works differently.
The Ridgid 12V Cordless Drill/Impact Driver Kit works great in my house, helping me with a variety of tasks. It's my go-to setup for just about any light build due to the excellent power levels and low weight. The Palm Impact is also part of Ridgid's 12V range and is the designated screwdriver specialist. Outside of the height and 1/4" hex collet it starts to have very different characteristics than my Ridgid 12V impact driver.
Ridgid Palm Impact Screwdriver Shootout Results
- 12V Overall Rank: 9th of 9
- Speed Under Load: DNF (No. 9)
- Tightening Torque: 161 in-lbs (#9)
- Nut-Busting Torque: 240 in-lbs (No. 9)
- Decibel Load: 94 dB(A) (1st)
- Weight: 1.5 lbs bare, 1.9 lbs with 1.5 Ah battery (1st place)
- Footprint: 4.2" head length, 5.0" height (No. 1)
- Feature Set: Pressure Sensitive Driver Highlighting (No. 5)
- Value: $79 kit with 1.5 Ah battery (No. 3)
Before we or anyone else hammer on the Ridgid's speed and torque ratings, realize that their Palm Impact is designed to drive small screws in awkward spaces. You can see that they put a lot of effort into keeping the footprint small and the weight low. When you need to get into tight spaces, Ridgid's Palm Impact Screwdriver will take you where other models can't.
Check out our best impact driver reviews for more great info.
First Impressions and Key Features
When I got it to the store, I couldn't wait to open the box. My curiosity was satisfied when I saw a really strange design. I set the included 1.5 amp-hour battery to charge and set out to see how the tool worked. At first glance, the physical design looks difficult to hold. It feels a bit unnatural to pick it up.
On top, the Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver has a simple forward and reverse switch with a center lock between them. Around the side is a button to turn on the LED light. It's perfectly positioned for easy thumb access.
You can't help but notice the lack of triggers in this tool. It features pressure-sensitive shifting that engages simply by applying force to the fastener.
The Palm Impact shares Ridgid's excellent 1/4" chuck. One-handed bit loading locks the bit in place without pulling the chuck forward. Ejection is spring-loaded so the bit can also be retrieved with one hand. Hex Grip by Ridgid Overmolding aids grip.
The more I insist on the driver, the more the design makes sense. All I need is to experience what it's like to be under load.
Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver Specifications
- Power supply: Ridgid 12V battery
- No-load speed: 0 – 2000 RPM
- Impact Rate: 0 – 2900 IPM
- Maximum Torque: 400 in-lbs
- Included in the kit: 1.5 amp hour battery, charger
- Price: $79
- Warranty: Lifetime Service Agreement
- Availability: In stores May 2016
Once the battery was charged, I got out some plywood and 3" drywall screws to plug in. Once under load, I realized how intuitive the design is. The 12V driver looks a bit bulky and unwieldy in my hand due to the way the tool interacts with the fastener. I quickly found that I could easily adjust the amount of pressure to get the amount of force I wanted to deliver.
It makes perfect sense to move your hand up and directly behind the drill combined with pressure-sensitive actuation. In any case, you must engage the fasteners with pressure. Many times I had to put the seconds hand on the back of the driver to stabilize it and keep the cam from falling off. The Ridgid Palm Impact solves this problem by simply starting with your dominant hand for maximum impact. Turning screws with one hand is now more efficient and, dare I say, more ergonomic.
My idea is to get it to pass the same screwdriver test we used in the impact driver shootout. However, getting the screws all the way into the stacked plywood was a little bit off. With just 400 inch-pounds of torque, it doesn't drive everything. However, I was able to drive a variety of smaller screws into a variety of materials.
The more I use the Palm Impact, the more I realize its potential. Precise screw driving can be an issue when you're in small or awkward spaces like corners and cabinets. I installed a 12" Phillips bit to drive a couple of problem angle screws. Since my force was directly behind the drill, I didn't pull it out or scrape my arm trying to get a second hand on the driver. Since its shifting is pressure-actuated, I was able to steer with precision—all with one hand.
The Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver doesn't look or feel like a traditional impact driver. It's smartly designed to place your hand directly behind the fastener, helping to eliminate cam dropouts.
Pressure-actuated variable speed allows you to be more precise when working with delicate materials. While power is a limitation, this tool will be useful in many applications. Anytime you're working in an awkward space and have to drive with one hand, the Ridgid Palm Impact Screwdriver is your go-to.