Impact drivers are awesome tools to have in your toolbox. The question often comes down to which type of bits you should use in your impact driver. Should you use the standard bits or special bits meant for impact drivers?
For most people, the answer to this question is a resounding YES. They believe that special bits will always work better in an impact driver.
However, sometimes that is not the case. It is why we need to go deeper into this subject to understand what these special bits are all about.
Differences Between Impact-Rated Bits and Standard Bits
Understanding the difference between these two will help you make better decisions about which bits to buy in the future.
- Material used
The first difference is how the material is worked to either form the standard bits or the impact-rated bits. For standard bits, the material is hardened as a way of increasing the wear resistance. As a result, the bits can last longer.
However, hardened material is also brittle thus not the best when you hammer it. An impact driver uses a hammer action to drive the bits. So, this can lead to the standard bits shattering.
As for the impact-rated bits, they do not go through the hardening process. As such, they end up being more ductile. They can easily resist the impacting forces from the tool.
- The design
Special bits for impact drivers will always have a different design than standard bits. It is how sometimes you can easily tell them apart.
New impact-rated bits will have a ¼-inch quick change hex and 2” insert bits. Between the two, there is a slender shaft connecting them. The shaft is often covered in a rubber sleeve.
The aim of having this slender shaft is for it to work as a calibrated spring. As a result, it will absorb the impacting action and deliver the torque better. It is not easy for such bits to shatter. Depending on the company, you might find different designs for impact-rated bits.
Impact Rated Bits Keep Failing. Why?
From the inception of the impact driver idea, manufacturers knew they had to come up with special bits. These bits would have to deal with the high torque that comes with an impact driver. However, the special bits also fail. What could be the reason?
The first reason applies to both the standard and impact-rated bits. Whenever you use the wrong size of bits in the fastener head, then you end up damaging it.
At first, it is not noticeable. As you continue with the wrong bit size, it will make the fastener more rounded. This will make it hard to hold the bit in position, thus damaging it.
Always make sure that you are using the correct bit size that matches the fastener. Also, put enough force against the faster to ensure that the bit remains engaged.
Another reason why your special bits fail is because of metal fatigue. When you keep using them for long without rest, then the metal loses its ductility and ends up snapping. You will notice that where it snaps is warm or hot in some cases.
For manufacturers to make better impact-rated bits, they had to look at the metal fatigue problem. It was important to find the perfect balance between the metal flexing and absorbing all the torque that the impact driver is generating.
We noted that the Milwaukee Shockwave bits found this balance. They have been designed to last 10 times longer than what you would get with standard bits.
Buying Considerations for Impact Rated Bits
Now that you understand the construction and importance of special bits for impact drivers, what are some of the considerations when buying them?
The first thing you have to look at is the durability you are getting with these special bits. Not all of them are made equal. As highlighted earlier, some also fail with time as you continue using them for various jobs.
Most would be made of strong materials and steel to keep them from breaking easily. Also, these materials will have a better hardness that withstands the high torque coming from the impact driver.
You can always read reviews to see what other people are saying about the impact-rated bits first. Sometimes it is best to learn from the experience of other people.
For a set with multiple positive reviews, then you will have confidence that the bits will perform as you expect.
- The Budget
Because of their specialized use, the impact driver bits are not known as being the cheapest. It is best if you can take your time to check out several models to see which one fits your budget.
For someone looking for a professional set for handling heavy-duty tasks, then they should expect to spend more money to get the right set. The professional bits are designed to last longer even with continuous heavy-duty applications.
The cheaper option is for those who want to work on home projects or they are DIY enthusiasts. They might use the bits once every few months. Well, it is understandable for them to choose a cheaper option.
There is no doubt whenever you are buying a power tool, you will always keep in mind the brand. A brand plays an important role in determining which bits are the best. We would recommend that you consider getting the highest-rated brands in the sector. This includes Bosch, Milwaukee, Makita, and more.
So, do you always need special bits for impact drivers? The answer at this point is NO. It always comes down to the application.
For someone who is working on tough applications, then you will need the special bits to get the job done. However, if you are working on fastening applications, then the special bits are unnecessary.
We recommend that you always keep a set of impact-rated bits close by. This is because sometimes you might find an application that requires you to use them.
It is best to have them than lack them when they are needed. With a bit of research, you can always find the right special bits for your impact driver to achieve the best performance.