Irwin Goes For Major Impact

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The cordless “Impact Driver” has made a huge splash on the power tool scene over the last several years. I bought my first one about 7 years ago, going with an inexpensive and slightly under-powered Black and Decker 12 volt model, thinking that I didn’t want to spend a lot on a “specialty” tool. Well, that tough little unit has proven to be very versatile and is still going strong in the shop, replaced on the jobsite by the 18 volt Bosch model, which I use every day. What was a “specialty tool” is now my “go-to” tool!

One of the reasons that the cordless impact driver has become so popular is the plethora of new accessories that are coming out targeted specifically at the impact driver user. Irwin, a mainstay in the drill and driver accessory biz, has gone all-in on its latest series of impact products. They recently introduced not only some interesting driver bits, but also metal and masonry drill bits, screw and bolt extractors and, wait for it, a full Tapcon drill driver set made specifically for use with impact drivers. That means a lot to us old guys who have been hauling around a ½” hammer drill to install the occasional tapcon. Irwin sent us a batch of the new accessories to review, and I have been putting them through their paces.

Irwin is a company that has a history of innovation. Most famous for carrying on the Vise-Grip pliers brand, they started their business with drill bits, and I have always found their stuff to be good quality.

I decided to take a set of the new impact driver accessories out to repair some decorative metal work. It was a little Saturday morning favor for a friend, so I didn’t want to haul every tool in the shop over to do it. “The perfect opportunity to test the new impact gizmos!!” I thought.

Stripped problem!
Stripped nut…no problem!

I started by removing some rusted nuts with the bolt extractor. They feature reverse spiral flutes “engineered to provide maximum gripping power,” Which they certainly do. They are high-carbon steel and feature a lobed design that makes them quite versatile and easy to use. They made short work of the old, stripped nuts. Bueno!

Next, I broke out the Tapcon rig. It features matching 5/16” and 5/32” setups with drill bits, hex and Phillips drivers in a nice sturdy case. A nice presentation with secure bit holders and a solid latch. I loaded up a bit.

Drilling with an impact driver takes a little getting used to.
Drilling with an impact driver takes a little getting used to.

It felt a little weird to be drilling with the impact, and it certainly doesn’t have the gusto of a ½” hammer drill, but it performed well. I drilled seven holes in old concrete, taking it a little easy, but it did a nice job. Then, on the eighth hole, I leaned on it a little bit. Unfortunately, I hit some rebar and smoked the tip of the bit. This could have happened with any bit, so I’m not going to knock points off for that.

The slip-on driver is a real time saver.
The slip-on driver is a real time saver.
The extended driver helped in tight quarters.
The extended driver helped in tight quarters.

The tapcon slip-on driver is a nice addition to the set, and really speeds things up by letting you use the same tool to drill and drive without removing the drill bit. All in all, I give the Tapcon rig a thumbs up.

For my last stop on the tour of new Irwin Impact Series goodies, I gave the screw extractor a spin (sorry…) and was super impressed by the ease with which it took old, stripped screws out of an ancient threshold.

All in all, I have very little in the way of criticisms of the new Irwin line. I love that they have opened up a whole bunch of new uses for my new “go to” tool.

Single Performance Impact Accessories range from $2 to $23 each. Kits like the one below range from about $6.99 to $199.

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About Rich

Rich Dana loves to build things, to tinker on things, and to grow things. After more than a decade as a historic building remodeler in Brooklyn, New York, he and his wife Ericka moved to their back-to-the-land dream home (and fixer-uper nightmare), an 1870s farmhouse on 15 acres in eastern Iowa that they call “Catnip Farm.” For the last 18 years, Rich has specialized in super-efficient historical renovations and solar PV installation. He is working to convert much of the farm into perennial food crops like nut trees and berries, and he helps Ericka out with her heirloom seed project. His latest passion is learning to sew.

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1 thought on “Irwin Goes For Major Impact”

  1. Drilling concrete is one of those things that sure seems like only 1 tool does well. Well not one tool, but one range of tools. We’ve all tried to drill holes in concrete with regular drills, more recently inpacts but nothing works as good as a good hammer drill. Sure if you are only drilling 1 or 2, you can get thru it. There is nothing like a good hammer drill just slamming thru some concrete. Then the day you replace that 1/2 hammer drill with a real “demo hammer” type….you kick your self for days for not having bought it sooner.

    The best drilling application for an impact is on big self feeding auger bits. Doesn’t have the speed like a regular drill so you don’t get the drill spinning around in your hand almost ripping your arm off effect.


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