The Second Best Impact Driver. The Makita XDT12M 18V LXT (DTD170)


Makita’s DTD170 (or what is known as the XDT12M impact driver in the U.S.) is a very powerful and advanced impact driver. The Makita brushless 18 volt XDT12M impact driver shines among many because it has seriously set some new standards within the impact driver line. Personally, it was definitely not an easy choice to betray this mighty power tool for the best impact driver of 2016 by Hitachi considering most of my power tools that I own are Makita! Compared to other impact drivers, this 18v XDT12M impact driver is a very nice power tool to have because it offers an array of convenience and power.

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Makita’s new flagship impact driver has 6 mode settings that allows flexibility and the ease of use for the pro or the everyday DIYer. The XDT12M excels with torque, and has the highest RPMs amidst other impact drivers in the industry right now.

This is what you get if you purchase the entire package!

So let’s cut to the chase and see what makes this impact driver badass!

Makita’s 6 Power Mode Settings

Of the convenient features, Makita’s impact driver has a total of 6 modes that help you adjust the impact force of this tool. To simplify, let’s categorize them into two groups: the first group would contain 4 speed settings while the second group will be automated (programmed).

For the speed settings, you can choose the lowest power level (level 1: soft) for very sensitive jobs, while the most powerful mode (level 4: max) can be used for some heavy duty jobs.

  • Level 1: Soft
  • Level 2: Medium
  • Level 3: Hard
  • Level 4: Max (The 3600rpm Mode!!!)

Remember that most impact drivers in the past have either one or two modes (usually hard and soft mode). Having four speed settings is definitely progress and having more speed options raises the standards and flexibility for using impact drivers.

Why is the Makita XDT12M different from it’s predecessor?

What makes this impact driver different from others is that it has two other power modes that are automated. In general, the two modes are automated functions that basically control the rotation and impact speeds even if the trigger is fully depressed.

Let’s go through the automated modes:

The first one is called T Mode and it is an automatic controller that is used for tightening self driving screws. T mode functions by first driving a self driving screw with fast rotations. Once the screw starts to tighten up the impacting begins but only with medium force.

The second mode is called A-Mode or Assist mode. It is quite special as it is designed to provide more control to the operator. It provides more control by initially rotating the rotor at low speeds. Once the hammers starts impacting in the impact driver, the rotation of the rotors increase to maximum levels to provide optimal torque for the job! This mode helps give more control to the user as well as prevent damage to the screw head and the screw bit from cam outs or cross threading. I really think this mode is very convenient for the newbie or “the dude that always cams out”.

Courtesy of Makita USA

Although some pros may say that the modes aren’t necessary, these automated modes were all designed to help help reduce damage to screw heads and damage to the work area. However, if you’re a hardened impact driver user, you may or may not use these automated modes as most of us simply control the power level through only the trigger.

Note: T-mode and A-mode will only engage when driving screws forward.

Makita’s XDT12M Torque Power

When it comes to torque, the Makita XDT12 impact driver gives you up to 1,150 inches lbs which is very powerful and more than enough for many kinds of jobs. Although Makita’s XDT12M’s torque power is not the best, it is among the top five impact drivers utilizing torques above 1500 lbs.

As reference, here is a brief comparison to how Makita fairs with other competitors in regards to torque, RPMs, and IPMs.

  1. Hitachi WH18DBDL2: 1832 in-lb, 2900 RPM, 4000 IPM
  2. Dewalt DCF887: 1825 in-lb 3250 RPM, 3600 IPM
  3. Milwaukee M18 Fuel: 1800 in-lb, 3000 RPM, 3700 IPM
  4. Ryobi: 1600 in-lb, 3200 RPM ??
  5. Makita TD170: 1549 in-lb, 3,600 RPM, 3,800 IPM

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Very High RPMs but is it worth it?

It’s also interesting to note that Makita’s XD12M impact driver runs at very high RPMs in hard and max mode. Actually, this impact driver has the highest RPMs in its class of 18v impact drivers. However so, it is also important to note that it has lesser tightening torque than Hitachi’s Wh18DBDL2, so this demonstrates that higher RPMs don’t always equal stronger torque. What makes Hitachi’s WH18DBDL2 have more torque despite lesser RPMs than Makita?

Battery Endurance / Battery Life?

With its 2 Lithium Ion 18v batteries, I have no doubt that the Makita XDT12M will not die out on you especially out on a job. If you keep one battery on the charger and alternate them when the other battery needs charging, you practically can work as long as want.

According to these specs taken from Makita’s Japanese site, the TD170D, which is also known as the XDT12M in the U.S.; when used with a fully charged 6.0 amp battery, the impact driver can screw up to 960  (4.3 X 65mm) nails into wood with max mode. For most, that’s more than enough. For others, that might be borderline!


Although I have yet to see an IP56 rating or higher for this power tool, Makita claims that their flagship impact driver is very resistant to dust and water. What is an IP56 rating?

Furthermore, because this impact driver’s motor is brushless, this tool’s motor will undoubtedly last a while as brushless motors increase the lifespan of the tool as it uses lesser parts compared to brushed motors. Brushed motors have more parts and these parts such as the brush and the commutator wear and tear.

Furthermore, Makita has a neat protection system called Star Protection Computer Controls. This system ensure customers that their products will not get any internal electrical damage. Technically, it works by exchanging data between the tool and the lithium ion battery to protect against overloading, overheating, and electrical discharge.  Remember this only works with batteries that have a star symbol on them.

If that’s not enough, you have a 3 year “limited” warranty on the tool and battery if something were to go wrong.


This impact driver can be easily underestimated for its size but it feels good to hold and fits right!

Since the XDT12M Weighs approximately 3.3 lbs. or more, you will notice how different this impact driver feels and operates when utilizing on many types of jobs.

Add that to the ease of use and accessibility to the power modes and special automated settings which are all in the front bottom of the tool, I give this mighty power tool 5 stars for its ergonomics.

Final verdict?

It works and will not fail on the job. The Makita XDT12m is a good tool to have because it is small, powerful, and easy to use. Add the 6 different modes, were 2 of them are electronically automated,  this might power tool can be used for a variety of project and by anyone pro or amateur.

The pricing of this tool is on the high end for impact drivers as this tool was primarily designed for professionals (carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, contractors, and etc). Even so, the cost to purchase this reliable tool to my opinion will be worth every penny as it will be a workhorse power tool for any active user for a long time given its durability.

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If it weren’t for the Hitachi WH18DBDL2’s Triple Hammer System, The Makita TD170 would be my next pick. Again, a very hard choice for me because I’m a Makita fan.

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    • There is a transportation warning regarding the lithium batts, but as long as the batts are new, in good shape and in the case there should be no problem.