Winning our coveted Editors' Choice award, the Makita XDT13 was one of our favorite impact drivers to test. When it comes to speed this model drives fasteners very quickly so you can get projects done in a timely manner. During our torque tests it was one of the strongest in our review, especially when it came to breaking extra tight nuts free. To top it off the XDT13 has an exceptional battery life that helps ensure that you can get a lot done in between charging breaks. We did find that this model was lacking a bit in the convenience department. Also, the Makita is downright loud. If you want a simple-to-use, quiet cordless impact driver this might not be the one.
Makita XDT13 Review
Pros: Exceptional torque, very fast, great battery life
Cons: Loud, only one RPM setting
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Our Analysis and Test Results
What truly sets the XDT13 apart from the other models in our review is its exceptional torque, especially when it comes to loosening extremely tight or stuck fasteners. When it comes to breaking ceased or rusty nuts and bolts free it handles the job easily and it does it quickly.
For our first speed test, we stacked enough sheets of plywood to accommodate a 3-⅝" ledger screw. We then broke out the old trusty stopwatch and timed how long it took for the drivers to totally sink the screws and repeated the test 4 times in order to get an average. The XDT13R was among the fastest in our review with an average time of 4 seconds per screw.
Next, we used some ½" x 3 ½" lag bolts with appropriately sized 11/32" pilot holes drilled and timed how long it took to both drive the bolt as well as remove it. The Makita was among the fastest to drive the large bolt — it got it done in 15 seconds while the average time for the test, including all of the other models, was 30 seconds. Likewise, it made quick work of removing the bolt and put up a great time of 6 seconds, which was twice as fast as the average of 12 seconds that we calculated for the entire group of drivers.
To determine the torque that each model was capable of tightening a nut to as well as the maximum torque that the tools could break loose we welded ½" Grade 8 bolts to an I-beam to be used for testing.
We started out by letting each driver tighten a nut at its highest setting for 10 full seconds and then slowly but surely turned our torque wrench up higher and higher until we could get the nut to move, and noted the wrench setting.
After 3 trials, the XDT13R showed an average of 282 foot pounds of pressure produced. Considering that several drivers in our review failed to reach the 150 ft-lb mark, this is very impressive.
When it came time to test breaking power, we used the torque wrench again but this time we used it to tighten the nuts to a given pressure, then used the impact drivers to loosen them if they were strong enough to do so. The Makita easily broke a nut free that we had tightened to 300 ft-lbs, the highest setting on our torque wrench. Not only did it loosen the nut, it did it instantaneously whereas some of the others took several seconds to eventually break them free from the bolt and I-beam.
To determine scores for convenience, we looked at any special features that the tool might have — the bells & whistles so to speak. We then took precise measurements of the length and weight of each model. We found some features that we loved about the design of the XDT13R, but in many ways it fell short as well so it earned a middle-of-the road score for the metric.
It has a bright light, but it does have a bit of a weird refraction. The user is able to activate the light without actually engaging the driver by slightly depressing the trigger — this is convenient for instances in which you need to see the fastener or work space before you're actually ready to tighten or loosen something.
The Makita is very short in length. We measured it at a mere 126mm, which makes it able to fit into tight spaces and easy to store. At 2 pounds without the battery, this model is also on the lighter end of the drivers in our review. It has a quick insert for bits on the driver itself, which is perfect for one-handed bit insertion and also comes with a belt clip — a feature that we have come to love.
It's a bit of a let down that the Makita is lacking multiple RPM settings. It's nice to be able to dial down the power for finish jobs but crank it to full strength for tougher tasks. The XDT13R is lacking an auxiliary bit holder. It's a minor feature, and some people don't even use them if they have one, but for those who like to keep multiple bits on hand for projects or always stored with their tools a bit holder is an ideal addition.
To test battery life we drove 14 3-⅝" ledger screws into stacks of 2x12 boards, then switched to a ½" x 3" lag bolt that we tightened to full depth and then reversed back out. We repeated this process over and over again until the batteries were completely depleted.
The XDT13R had one of the longest lasting batteries during this test. It made it through 4 complete sets, then finished the ledger screw portion of the 5th trial, then was able to sink the lag bolt before running out of juice while backing it out. This driver out-performed most of the field during our testing so it received a great score for this metric.
To measure noise levels we used a sound meter while driving ledger screws into 2x12 boards from a distance that is comparable to the noise the user would be experiencing while using the tool. After 4 trials, we took an average of the decibel levels, removed and obvious outliers, and took an average of the volumes.
Unfortunately, nearly all the impact drivers in our review are painfully loud. The Makita produced an average of 97 dBa while driving ledger screws, which is actually lower than the 98 dBa that was the average for the entire bunch of drivers, but because we saw readings that were much lower from other models, we weren't able to give it much of an impressive score for this metric. We suggest that our readers look up what kind of ear protection the manufacturer advises their customers wear.
We think the XDT13 offers great value. For the performance, it is definitely justly priced. These statements are only magnified if you already own a battery and charger that works for this model from a drill or other Makita tool that you've purchased in the past.
The Makita XDT13 is a great impact driver. Although it isn't the quietest or have all of the bells & whistles of some of the other models that we've seen it has a great battery life, tons of torque, and it's fast. Considering the price, it's a steal if you already own Makita tools with a compatible battery and charger.
— Ross Patton and Austin Palmer