Bauer 20 Volt Compact Drill and Impact Driver – Review

Over two years ago I received the Bauer impact driver from Harbor Freight for my birthday. Shortly after that I went back to the store to pick up the Bauer compact drill as well. Both tools have put in a lot of hours for me in my basement workshop over the years. At the time of purchase the impact driver cost $70 and the compact drill was $60. I have recently seen coupons from Harbor Freight that would reduce the prices by $5-$10. Each tool came with a battery, battery charger, and a cloth carrying case.

The size of the compact drill is excellent, coming in significantly shorter than a standard drill or hammer drill. It is also quite light at just over three pounds, making overhead work a little easier. However, I was disappointed to find that the Bauer impact driver is as long as it is. It is just an inch or so shorter than the compact drill. This matters to me because I sometimes need to drive screws in tight areas. I would have preferred something 2-3 inches shorter than the Bauer compact drill, more along the lines of what Hercules, DeWalt, and Makita offer. The weight of the impact driver is very similar to that of the drill, so I don’t have any complaints there.

The compact drill is significantly shorter than a standard drill, but the impact driver is too long.

Having a reliable chuck is very important in a drill. I have used some real duds before, but the chuck on the Bauer compact drill is not one of them. The chuck provides a solid grip and only requires one hand to tighten and loosen. It is metal, which I always like, and it is an imitation of a Jacobs brand chuck. If your tool company is going to mimic a chuck from a different company, it is best to choose the Jacobs Chuck company to mimic.

Unfortunately the light on this drill is an older style that shines up from the battery pack area. It is helpful, but it does cast a shadow over part of the work area. This makes the light more inefficient than the 3 LED lights found on many drivers these days.

The chuck on the Bauer compact drill isn’t a Jacobs chuck, but it is a decent imitation. Especially for the price point.

The impact driver has a 1/4″ chuck that accepts hex bits, which is standard among impact drivers. The collet on the chuck needs to be pulled out in order to insert or remove a bit. This requires two hands, which is a drawback when other brands offer a single handed option that allows the bit to be inserted without messing with the collet and the bit to be ejected by pulling the collet back.

Also featured on the impact driver are three LED lights that come on when the trigger is pulled. The lights are arranged in a triangular pattern so that they eliminate shadows. Some drill brands feature a single light that shines up from the battery pack, this style casts a shadow over part of the work area. Therefore, the Bauer impact driver has a leg up on some other brands in this department. A side note to this is the fact the lights on my impact driver no longer work, so there might be a longevity issue.

The impact driver features a 1/4″ chuck and three LED lights.

The Bauer compact drill is reported to feature a max torque of 450 in. lbs. and a max of 1,700 RPM. I have no equipment for measuring my particular drill to see if it achieves these levels. However, I have always found the drill to be up to whatever I asked of it. I have drilled sheet metal, treated wood, and hardwood and it has never given me trouble.

The side panel on the compact drill.

Bauer claims their impact driver can reach 1,300 in. lbs. of torque and 2,900 RPM. Again, I have no scientific way of measuring if my driver reaches these levels. Yet, like the compact drill, the impact driver has never let me down. I have used it to drive 6″ construction screws into pine, 5″ x 1/2″ lag bolts into treated wood, and more wood screws than I care to count.

The side panel on the impact driver.

I didn’t think of taking a picture of the batteries, but they are a pretty standard size. They look almost exactly like a DeWalt 20 volt battery, just with different coloring. The batteries I have are rated at 1.5Ah, but I am not sure that they last as long as they should. Quite often I have found myself swapping batteries when I didn’t expect to need to.

Overall these two drivers have been very handy to have around the shop. They have decent power, are lightweight, feature LED lights, and are comfortable in the hand. The only drawbacks I have noticed is the location of the light on the compact drill, the collet system on the impact driver, the length of the impact driver, and battery life. However, with one priced at $70 and the other priced at $60, perfection cannot be expected.

If you enjoyed this tool review or if you have some advice to share with me or others, feel free to leave a comment. I read them all and I appreciate what you have to say.

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