The Black+Decker 20V Max Impact Driver is not the most spectacular impact driver we've ever seen. It's a bit noisy, and it doesn't deliver much torque. It has a battery that dies fairly quickly, it's a bit slower than most, and it doesn't include many bells and whistles. However, all of the scores in our review are based on a comparison with the very best impact drivers — this is still a very powerful and useful tool. It will easily handle most jobs you can throw at it and at a fraction of the cost of most tools in this category. For the performance it offers compared to its price, it's a decent deal.Editor's Note: We updated this review on September 15, 2022, with an unbiased take on value and suggestions for other directly comparable products that may better suit your needs or budget.
Black+Decker 20V Max Impact Driver BDCI20C Review
Pros: Affordable, magnetic bit holder
Cons: Unimpressive torque, noisey, slow
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Black+Decker 20V Max Impact Driver BDCI20C
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|Pros||Affordable, magnetic bit holder||Incredibly fast, phenomenal torque, four speed settings||Exceptional torque, very fast, great battery life||Fast, lots of torque||Convenient, compact, several settings|
|Cons||Unimpressive torque, noisey, slow||Not the best battery life, noisy||Loud, only one RPM setting||Loud, average battery life||Pricey, battery doesn't last long, loud|
|Bottom Line||If you want to add an impact driver without spending an arm and a leg, then this is a great option||If you're looking for a fast 18V impact driver with excellent torque in a condensed size, we recommend this model||This driver had the most impressive battery life in our test and offers torque performance that is on par with the best||This driver is fast and provides excellent torque at an affordable price||Get this if you're looking for a light, small, 12-volt impact driver with great performance|
|Rating Categories||Black+Decker 20V Ma...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Makita XDT13||Ryobi P238||Milwaukee M12 Fuel...|
|Specs||Black+Decker 20V Ma...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Makita XDT13||Ryobi P238||Milwaukee M12 Fuel...|
|Impact Driver Model #||BDCI202||2853-20||XDT13||P238||2553-20|
|Average Measured Fastening Torque||152 ft-lb||300 ft-lb||282 ft-lb||300 ft-lb||143 ft-lb|
|Measured Breaking Torque||220 ft-lb||300 ft-lb||300 ft-lb||300 ft-lb||275 ft-lb|
|Measured Length||168 mm||116 mm||126 mm||161 mm||132 mm|
|Average Measured Sound Pressure Level||97 dBa||99 dBa||97 dBa||104 dBa||97 dBa|
|Quick Bit Insert?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Multiple Fastening Modes?||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you're looking for an impact driver that won't hit your bank account too hard but still offers a good deal of performance, we think you should consider the Black+Decker BDCI20C. One feature that sets it apart is the magnetic bit holder on top of the tool body.
To score each impact driver for speed we divided the metric into two tests — one using ledger screws and one using a large lag bolt. For the ledger screw portion, we drove five 3-⅝" screws into a stack of plywood, timed each trial, and then calculated an average. The Black+Decker did fairly well for this assessment. The average for the whole bunch of impact drivers was 7 seconds; this model's average was 6 seconds.
The second half of the speed test was comprised of drilling an 11/32" pilot hole into a stack of 2x12 boards, then timing how long it took to get the lag bolt fully driven, then how long it took to remove it. The BDCI20C didn't perform quite as well during this experiment. It took 45 seconds to sink the fastener and 13 seconds to remove it. Slowly or not, it did eventually get the job done.
To test torque, we welded some ½" grade 8 steel bolts to an I-beam to measure how much twisting power each impact driver can produce. First, we used each impact driver to tighten three nuts onto three bolts at their highest setting for 5 seconds. We then used a torque wrench to measure the tightness of each nut. The Black+Decker tightened the nuts to an average of 115 ft-lbs of pressure.
We then used the torque wrench to tighten the nuts to a measured amount of tightness to see how strong each driver was when loosening ceased fasteners. The BDCI20C was able to break nuts free that were tightened to 175 ft-lbs of pressure but failed to break the nuts tightened to 200 ft-lbs.
To score convenience, we began by weighing and measuring the dimensions of each driver. Next, we moved to more subjective scoring based on what types of extra features and any innovative elements of the design of every model.
The Black+Decker has a measured length of 168 mm — it's one of the bulkiest drivers in our review. Weighing two pounds without the battery, it's not especially heavy. One way the BDCI20C fell short was the lack of a belt clip. We've found that belt clips are very useful, so it's a bit disappointing that the designers of this tool chose to leave this feature out.
The light on the Black+Decker is a tiny bit on the dim side, but it does the trick when it comes time to light up a fastener. We loved this model because you can turn the light on by slightly depressing the trigger but without activating the actual driver. This is useful when you need to see what you're doing before tightening or loosening a fastener. One feature that sets this model apart from the others is the magnetic bit holder on top of the tool — it's very useful to be able to have an extra or alternative bit ready to go at all times.
To test batteries, we used each driver to sink 14 ledger screws, then drive and remove one ½" x 3" lag bolt. We repeated this process again and again until the driver's batteries died.
Unfortunately, the Black+Decker could only complete one entire set of our trials. On the second trial, it completed the 14 ledger screws, and it was able to drive the lag bolt but died before removing it. If battery life is a large concern of yours, it would be wise to go with a model that lasts longer.
Using a sound meter, we took four individual readings while driving ledger screws to calculate an average. Impact drivers are generally loud, and the BDCI20C is no exception. This model produces 97 decibels while in operation, which is below the average of 98 we measured across the whole group. However, because we've tested impact drivers that are much quieter, we had no choice but to give this tool a poor score for the metric. We recommend that you check with the manufacturer about ear protection.
Should You Buy the Black+Decker 20V Max Impact Driver?
During our testing process, the Black+Decker BDCI20C wasn't the most impressive impact driver. While it isn't the most spectacular impact driver, it still easily handles most jobs — especially lighter-duty projects.
What Other Impact Drivers Should You Consider?
We would be hard-pressed to recommend the Black+Decker BDCI20C to anyone who would like to own an impact driver. Put another way, there are better options at a similar price point. The 18-volt Ryobi P238 produces more power, works faster, and is listed at a similar price point. For working professionals, it may be worthwhile to spend a few extra dollars to upgrade to an award-winning driver like the Milwaukee M18 Fuel.
— Ross Patton and Austin Palmer
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