In our recent full review of the Makita XDT14T impact driver kit, Steve noted that the world isn’t really desperate for another new impact driver. He’s right – there are almost as many impact drivers on the market as there are Democratic presidential contenders, making it hard to get excited when a new one comes along. After giving the little teal driver a workout, though, he was impressed with its power and some of its innovative features. In their relentless quest to offer even more control, though, the teal-clad engineers at Makita packed in even more features, and tossed the Makita XDT16 18V brushless impact driver into the fray. We’ll take a look, and see if these new features can have an impact on how you work.
Many of the specs on the Makita XDT16 are identical to those on the XDT14. Both drivers use an efficient electronically-controlled BL brushless motor. In case you’re unfamiliar with the benefits of brushless motors, they allow the tool to run cooler than a brushed motor, provide more power, and require much less maintenance.
The Makita XDT16 has four speeds and impact modes, vs. three on the XDT14. Both drivers can spin at variable speeds of 0-1,100, 0-2,100 and 0-3,600 RPM, with impact per minute (IPM) rates of 0-1,100, 0-2,600 and 0-3,800 IPM. The Makita XDT16 adds an extra intermediate speed and impact rate to the driver’s abilities: It can spin at 3,200 RPM, and bang away at 3,600 IPM, offering even more precise control over the tool. Have a look at the full list of specs and features on the Makita XDT16, and then we’ll take a closer look at some of them.
• Quick-Shift Mode™ uses the brushless motor’s electronic controls to find the best balance of speed and torque for each application for more efficient fastening
• BL™ Brushless Motor delivers 3,600 Max RPM and 1,600 in./lbs. of Max Torque
• 4-speed power selection (0-1,100/ 0-2,100/ 0-3,200/ 0-3,600 RPM & 0-1,100/ 0-2,600/ 0-3,600/ 0-3,800 IPM) provides precise fastening control for a wide range of applications
• Additional one-touch 4-speed power selector button under the chuck for added convenience
• Assist Mode (A-mode) feature helps eliminate “screw cam-out” and “cross threading” by driving at low speed until tightening begins
• Two Tightening Modes (T-mode) for faster tightening of self-drilling screws in thick or thin gauge metal; helps prevent damage to the screw or workpiece
• Reverse rotation auto-stop mode stops rotation and impact when fastener is loosened adequately
• Built-in L.E.D. lights on both sides helps eliminate shadows and illuminate a larger area
• Compact and ergonomic design at only 4-9/16″ long
• Weighs only 1.9 lbs. without battery for reduced operator fatigue
• Efficient BL™ Brushless motor is electronically controlled to optimize battery energy use for up to 50% longer run time per charge
• The BL™ Brushless Motor eliminates carbon brushes, enabling the motor to run cooler and more efficiently for longer life
• The electronically-controlled BL™ Brushless Motor efficiently uses energy to match torque and RPM to the changing demands of the application
• Features Extreme Protection Technology (XPT™) which is engineered to provide increased dust and water resistance in harsh job site conditions
• Convenient one-touch 1/4″ hex chuck for quick bit changes
• All metal gear housing for increased job site durability
• Rubberized soft grip provides increased comfort on the job
• Makita’s proprietary hammer and anvil impact mechanism is manufactured using the best raw materials with the highest quality steel and unique heat hardening process for maximum fastening and driving power
• Equipped with Star Protection Computer Controls™ to protect against overloading, over-discharging and over-heating
• Compatible with Makita 18V Lithium-Ion batteries with a Star symbol
• 3-year limited warranty
• Battery : 18V LXT® Lithium-Ion
• Power Type : Cordless
• Hex Shank : 1/4″
• Speed power selection : 4
• No Load Speed (var. 4 spd.) : 0 – 1,100 / 0 – 2,100 / 0 – 3,200 / 0 – 3,600 RPM
• Impacts Per Minute (var. 4 spd.) : 0 – 1,100 / 0 – 2,600 / 0 – 3,600 / 0 – 3,800 IPM
• Maximum Torque (in./lbs.) : 1,600 in./lbs.
• Overall Length : 4-9/16″
• Net Weight (without battery) : 1.9 lbs.
• Shipping Weight : 2.43 lbs.
Driving Through The Features On The Makita XDT16
Keen observer that you are, you undoubtedly noticed that there are a slew of features on the Makita XDT16 impact driver. Let’s get started with an overview of some of the basic features, then we’ll check out the sexy, high-tech smart stuff.
The first thing that’s apparent is how compact it is. One of the many sweet features of impact drivers is their ability to get into tight places, and the Makita XDT16, at just over 4-1/2” long, is about as small as they get. At 1.9 lbs. without a battery, it’s about as light as they get, too. Makita sent along a 2.0 Ah battery to use with the driver, and it provided plenty of power while adding very little weight.
Bit changes are fast and easy on the Makita XDT16. Simply push your bit into the ¼” hex chuck, and it locks into place. Pull outward on the collar, and you can slide the bit right out.
On either side of the chuck, there’s a bright LED light, which can be very helpful when you’re working in dark, cramped spaces. The twin LEDs are identical to those on the XDT14, and the thing that Steve was most excited about is the ability to turn the lights OFF. I’m inclined to agree – while the lights can be very handy when you need them, I invariably end up blinding myself with them the 80% of the time I DON’T need them. Toggling is simple – just push the LED light switch. It’s all about the control!
Getting A Grip On The Makita XDT16 Impact Driver
Despite its compact size, the Makita XDT16 is very comfortable to hold and use. Even with my largish hands, I had no trouble getting a good working grip on the tool. The tool looks good, and feels very solidly built.
The handle is covered with a rubber overmold, adding to the comfort, and lessening the odds the tool will slip out of your hand when you’re at the top of the 32’ ladder.
Another low-tech but handy feature is the reversible belt clip. Not the most exciting feature, obviously, but it’s very convenient for those of us with only two hands, and it’s a feature I frequently use.
Full Speed Ahead…Or Not
And now on to the “What can it do and how fast – or well – can it do it” portion of the feature set. If you’ve ever used an impact driver, you’re aware of the amazing ability these little tools have to drive large fasteners. My moment of enlightenment came several years back, and now an impact driver goes along with me on just about every job I do.
When impact drivers were first introduced several years ago, most had variable-speed triggers, and two or three speed/impact ranges. The Makita XDT16 has that covered, with a variable speed trigger and four speed/impact ranges, topping out at an impressive 3,600 RPM, 3,800 IPM, and 1,600 in./lbs. of torque. This means it has plenty of speed and power to handle even large fasteners.
There are plenty of impact drivers out there with good speed and power, though. Where the Makita XDT16 starts driving away from the pack is with its added control features. Impact drivers have a LOT of torque, and if you’re not paying close attention, you can quickly end up with a stripped or snapped fastener. Makita has some built-in functions that can help you precisely control the beast. Let’s check ‘em out.
The Makita XDT16 Impact Driver, Ready To Assist In T & A Mode
There are several modes available to help you harness the power of the Makita XDT16. First up is T-1 mode. T-1 mode is great for 20-gauge steel studs or other light gauge materials, and it’s designed to be used with self-drilling or Tek screws. The tool spins at full speed until it starts impacting, and then stops, to keep the screw from stripping the material.
Working with heavier-gauge materials, like 14-gauge header or footer tracks? Switch to T-2 mode. Also optimized for self-drilling screws, T-2 mode goes full speed ahead until the tool starts impacting, then slows down. This reduces the chances of stripping or breaking fasteners, but still lets you draw the materials together.
Driving long fasteners into wood? Switch to A (Assist) mode. A Mode drives the screws at a lower speed until tightening begins, which helps reduce cam-out and cross threading. When the screw has a good start, the Makita XDT16 puts the hammer down and finishes the job at full speed ahead.
Tired of chasing fasteners around the shop or job site when they go airborne after removal? Switch to Auto-Stop Mode. In this mode, the Makita XDT16 can sense when the nut or bolt has been loosened, and stops rotation before the fastener is completely free – and relocated to who knows where.
We Interrupt This Program…
To make it fast and easy for users to switch into a frequently-used mode, Makita’s tool designers added a handy button just above the trigger on the Makita XDT16. After holding a contest to name the sporty new feature, they came up with the catchy moniker “The quick mode-switching button.” Hey – they’re engineers, not marketing people.
Using the quick mode-switching button allows you to quickly change from whatever other mode you might be in to the mode you have programmed in, by just depressing the button. Pressing it again returns you to whatever mode you were in previously.
Programming the button is simple. Use the impact speed and/or mode selection buttons to put the Makita XDT16 into the mode you want to program in. Now press and hold the impact speed selection button and the quick mode-switching button at the same time. Hold them until the “customize” lamp (labeled C on the panel) and the indicator light by your desired application flash. Shazam – your program is set!
If your chosen mode falls out of favor, it’s easy to kick it loose. To program in a different mode, just repeat the previous steps. To ditch the programming altogether, just press and hold the LED light switch and the quick mode-switching button at the same time. The C light and the impact-force lights will blink, indicating the end of the program. When nothing is programmed into the tool, pressing the quick mode-switching button functions as a short cut to cycle through the four impact force levels.
Putting It To The Floor With The Makita XDT16
Project number one for the Makita XDT16 was firming up an out-of-kilter subfloor in an old house. A plywood subfloor had been added over the original tongue-and-groove pine subfloor, with shims ranging in thickness from 1/8” to almost 2”. Yep, this place had character up the wazoo.
The plywood had been nailed down, and nails were popping up everywhere. We pulled them out, and re-screwed the entire floor with 2-1/2” construction screws. Using a Torx bit, the driver sank the star-drive screws very quickly and effortlessly. We had no slipping or stripping, even though we were using a long extension, and we soon had a solid, squeak-free subfloor.
To test the driver’s power and speed, we sank a variety of fasteners, including 4” GRK R4 construction screws, 6” Timberlok screws, and a 6” x 3/8” lag screw. I sank several of the 6” Timberlok screws through four layers of 2X lumber. The Makita XDT16 didn’t break a sweat, and burying the big screws consistently took about five seconds.
Running the #10 x 4” screws in was even faster, fully sinking the screws in under two seconds. While I had the four-inchers handy and the T25 bit in the chuck, I fastened some 2X4s horizontally across widely-spaced studs, to support some upper cabinets being repurposed for my basement work shop.
Switching to shorter screws, I added new sacrificial tops to a set of steel sawhorses.
To test the might of the Makita XDT16, I chucked up a 3/8” socket adapter and an impact socket. I then ran a 6” long 3/8” lag screw through four 2x4s, with no pre-drilling. Even more impressive is that the lag screw was NOT a self-drilling screw.
The Makita XDT16 Goes A La Mode
Next it was time to get in the mood for modes. I started with A mode (wood mode) by sinking a couple of long Phillips-head screws through a tripled-up top plate. As advertised, the driver started out slowly, then quickly finished the job. The Makita XDT16 has so much power, it buried one of the screws about 3/16” sub-flush before I knew it. If appearance is a factor, a slower speed can help save you from yourself…
Next up was T-1 mode. I sank a couple of short self-drilling screws into some HVAC ductwork, and the driver again worked as advertised, stopping the tool shortly after impacting started.
In T-2 mode, I sank some self-drilling screws through heavy-gauge garage door brackets. The Makita XDT16 had plenty of power to get the job done, and reduced the RPMs as soon as the tool started impacting. I released the trigger, and then a couple of quick trigger pulls finished snugging up the fasteners.
Note: Especially with shorter screws, a slow speed will give you much better odds of controlling the driver, and stopping the rotation before stripping occurs.
To try out the Auto-Stop function, I selected it to back out the self-tapping metal screws. Although the Auto-Stop mode is intended for bolts or heavier fasteners, it worked great on the inch-long screws, stopping the rotation as soon as the screws were loose. Very slick!
Some Helpful Bits
Using ordinary driver bits with impact drivers is never recommended, as these tools generate an incredible amount of torque. With the exception of the big lag screw, all the fasteners were sunk using bits from the 26-piece Makita B-46919 impact bit set. The set contains a nice variety of bits, including Phillips head, Torx, square drive and nut drivers, all designed for use specifically with impact drivers.
All the bits worked well and fit snugly, with no cam-out or stripping, and they all held up well. A very handy added feature is the “Mag boost” sleeve, that instantly gives any driver bit an instant shot of magnetism. To help cut down on lost or dropped fasteners, the nut drivers also have powerful nut-grabbing rare earth magnetic inserts.
Ready To Change Your Mode Of Impact Driving?
There ARE a lot of impact drivers on the market today, and many of them are very capable. To gain or keep market share, the big tool makers are constantly innovating, adding features to make their tools more powerful, more durable, and faster and easier to use. The Makita XDT16 has several features that should be helpful to any pro or serious DIY user, along with plenty of power.
For anyone already on the Makita platform, with an 18V charger and 18V Star Li-Ion battery in your tool crib, the impact driver is available as a bare tool, as the Makita XDT16Z.
If you’re new to the brand, or want to beef up your battery supply at a discount, the Makita XDT16T kit contains the driver, two 18V 5.0 Ah batteries, a rapid charger, and a sturdy, fashionable molded teal case.
We received the bare-tool version of the Makita XDT16 to review, but Steve got the kit version of the XDT14, with the identical case, and he was very impressed. I really like the protection a well-made hard case provides, and wish they weren’t becoming such a rarity.
The Makita XDT16 has the look and feel of a solid, well-made, pro grade tool. Makita backs the tool, and the batteries if you get the kit, with a limited three-year warranty. If you’re tired of stripping, snapping, overdriving, and other undesirable impact driver antics, take the Makita XDT16 for a spin, and see what a little extra control can do for you.
Buy the Makita XDT16Z bare tool from Ohio Power Tool:
Buy the Makita XDT16T kit from Ohio Power Tool:
Buy the 26-piece Makita B-46919 Impact Bit set from the Home Depot, currently around $10: