cordless drill/driver - help me decide

It's getting to be time to replace my old cordless Craftsman drill/driver, and I think I've narrowed my choices to two or three. I'll be using this primarily for driving square-drive wood screws, but it may see the occasional drill bit or socket. My choices include 1.) a Makita 12V impact driver (6914), 2.) a Panasonic 12V 3/8" drill/driver (EY6405FQKW), 3.) or possibly a Bosch 9.6V impact driver (23609-RT). All come with two, 2.0 amp-hr, NiCad batteries. Price (both drivers are reconditioned) is close enough to be negligible, in the $100ish range. My thoughts so far: I've heard that an impact driver is great for driving screws - fast, lots of torque, and easy on the wrist, while being light and maneuverable. I've also heard that Panasonic makes the best batteries around, and I've seen several good reviews of their drills. Price and weight (all of these claim 3.5-4.0 lbs) are probably more important to me than the run time of higher-voltage tools. My main questions: Since the impact drivers apparently don't have an adjustable clutch, is it harder to prevent over-tightening? It seems like I'd have less control over that. Also, I know impact drivers aren't meant to drill holes, but will it work acceptably for occasional use? (I might eventually get a keyless chuck on a 1/4" hex shank to use standard bits). What are your thoughts? Other pros/cons I haven't thought of? Has anyone used any of these specific models? Should I hold out and pay $200 for a Panasonic NiMH or Makita Li-Ion drill? TIA, Andy
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Hey Andy - any of the guns you're looking at are going to drive screws just fine. Remember - you can drive a screw by hand, so you don't need an impact driver to run screws in. I would suggest you don't let that attribute be a consideration - at least not as you have described your needs. Just go with the drill you like the most and let yourself be happy with that.
We all have our reasons for why we bought what we did, and we all have our reasons for why we will or will not buy them again. Generally these come down to preferences since the bigger names are all pretty much serviceable guns. I'd rather see a guy just go out and buy what he wants than to see him post questions asking for advice. It puts you in the position of worrying too much about a decision that does not have enough consequence. Hell - go buy it and have fun with it.
Oh - and remember... it is permissible to fondle a new tool right after you bring it home.
--

-Mike-
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Can just hear the wife: Honey, are you down there fondling your tool again?
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Snip
All good choices, the Panasonic being the top choice IMHO.

YES. You have to pay attention! With a clutch as you well know the driver rarely will break or over tighten a screw.
It seems

That is correct. This especially is more noticed when assembling furniture where you want the screw to stop at a specific depth. An impact is much like using a corded drill, plenty of power but requires close attention to prevent over tightening.
Also, I know impact drivers

Absolutely, they work great as high speed drills. I like to use mine for pilot holes.
(I might eventually get a keyless chuck on a 1/4" hex shank to

I would not get an impact driver expecting to replace a drill or drill driver. If you only get one, get the drill drriver. An impact is a great second/back up tool. The 12 volt impact will out perform the highest voltage battery drill drivers.
I paid about $200 for my Makita impact about 2 years ago however it included a free drill/driver. Lithium Ion is the latest great thing however I have read that It may not be worth the extra cost in some scenarios. Money being no object, I would go with the Panasonic over any other brand.
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Leon wrote:

...
Thanks Leon - that's exactly the kind of advice I was looking for!
And Mike, thanks for your reply also - I'm just as tired as the next guy of many identical posts asking which bandsaw to buy, or which router is best. And for most tool purchases, I peruse the archives here, other reviews online, etc., and then make my decision. However, I've never used a cordless impact driver before, so I was really looking for info like Leon's above. Also, this will probably be my last tool purchase for a while (LOML is cutting hrs at work to go back to school) so I want it to be a good one.
As far as tool-fondling, I'm definitely not opposed, but as a power tool, this purchase certainly won't see the fondling of, say, a Matsumura chisel or a Knight plane. Heck, those still get fondled! (Only occasionally and very lightly, though, and they ARE used more than they're fondled...)
Thanks again, Andy
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Though you are viewing the 12V Makita, I have the 14V model 6333D which I purchased many years ago and let me say, this thing kicks ass for a 14 volt. The batteries have lasted about 6 years and I just had them refurbished at a local battery shop a few months ago. Basically what I'm saying is, I love this thing and that would be my first choice.

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Makita makes a great "kit" with a drill,driver and a light with two batteries and a charger for just under $300.
The 14.4 on the left is the one I have and it is excellent but the 12v would also be excellent...
http://www.makita.com/promo_0107_impact.htm
http://www.makita.com/menu.php?pg=product_det&tagi80FDWDE
Look here for $219 and you get Both:
http://www.7corners.com/7c_store/findprod.cfm?DID=1&sku13059938&cat
Andy wrote:

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I've had Panasonics and they're top notch. I'm not sure if it's their charger or battery technology but their batteries seem to last forever. (as opposed to a lot of other tools where the batties are useless after about a year).
I would not get impact. I would also avoid the "bigger is better" marketing hype when it comes to voltage. 12V will do just about everything and more is not better because it'll weigh more and be bulkier.
Yea, they're spendy but worth it.
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