Clint called me up and said a new Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver showed up. At first, I didn’t think much of it since the palm nailer had been around for a little while now. Then I realized he didn’t say “nailer” and I immediately searched Google for whispers of this new carpentry tool wonder.
I didn’t find anything and realized it was announced with several other new Ridgid products for early 2016 later that same day. Admittedly, I felt pretty good about having already tested the tool before the rest of the world even knew it existed.
I love my Ridgid 12V drill/impact driver kit and keep it in my home to tackle a wide variety of tasks. It’s my go-to set for just about everything light duty thanks to excellent power levels and light weight. The Palm Impact is also in Ridgid’s 12V family and is a designated screw driving specialist. Outside the height and 1/4″ hex collet, it begins to have vastly different characteristics than my Ridgid 12V Impact Driver.
Ridgid Palm Impact Screwdriver Shootout Results
- Overall 12V Ranking: 9th out of 9
- Speed Under Load: DNF (9th place)
- Fastening Torque: 161 in-lbs (9th place)
- Nut-Busting Torque: 240 in-lbs (9th place)
- Decibels Under Load: 94 dB(A) (1st place)
- Weight: 1.5 lbs bare, 1.9 lbs with 1.5 Ah battery (1st place)
- Footprint: 4.2″ head length, 5.0″ height (1st place)
- Feature Set: Highlighted by a pressure-sensitive drive (5th place)
- Value: $79 kit with a 1.5 Ah battery (3rd place)
Before we or anyone else hammers Ridgid for their speed and torque ratings, realize that their Palm Impact is designed to drive small screw in awkward spaces. You can see the way they put a lot of effort into keeping the footprint small and the weight down. When you need to get into that tight space, Ridgid’s Palm Impact Screwdriver will take you where no other model can.
* Results as of February 11, 2019. Check out our Best 12V Impact Driver page for the latest updates.
First Impressions and Key Features
I could hardly wait to open up the box when I got it to the shop. My curiosity was satisfied as I laid eyes on a very strange design indeed. I set the included 1.5 amp hour battery to charging and got to work figuring out how this tool works. At first glance, the physical design looks awkward to hold. Picking it up felt a little unnatural.
On the top, the Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver has a simple forward and reverse switch with locking in the center between them. Around the side is a button to turn on the LED light. It’s positioned perfectly for easy thumb access.
You can’t help but notice the lack of a trigger on this tool. It features pressure sensitive variable speed that is engaged by simply applying force to the fastener.
The Palm Impact shares Ridgid’s excellent 1/4″ collet. One-handed bit loading locks the bit in place without having to pull the collet forward. Ejection is spring loaded so that retrieving your bit is also one-handed. Ridgid’s Hex Grip overmolding is in place to help with grip.
The more I held on to the driver, the more the design began to make sense. All I needed was to experience how it feels under load.
Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver Specifications
- Power Source: Ridgid 12V battery
- No Load Speed: 0 – 2000 RPM
- Impact Rate: 0 – 2900 IPM
- Max Torque: 400 inch-pounds
- Included in Kit: 1.5 amp hour battery, charger
- Price: $79
- Warranty: Lifetime Service Agreement
- Availability: In stores May 2016
With the battery charged, I got out some plywood and 3″ drywall screws to plug away with. Once under load, I realized how intuitive the design is. What seemed a little bulky and awkward for a 12V driver in my hand suddenly felt natural because of the way the tool interacts with the fastener. I found very quickly that I could easily adjust the amount of pressure to engage the amount of power I wanted delivered.
Moving your hand up to be directly behind the bit combined with pressure sensitive driving makes total sense. You have to engage the fastener with pressure anyway. Many times I have to put a second hand on the back of the driver to stabilize it and prevent cam out. The Ridgid Palm Impact solves the issue by simply starting with your dominant hand where it does the most good. Screwdriving is now more effective one-handed and, dare I say, more ergonomic.
My thinking was to put it through the same screwdriving test we used in our impact driver shootout. However, it came a little short of fully driving the screw completely into the stacked plywood. At just 400 inch pounds of torque, it’s not going to be driving everything. I was able to drive a variety of smaller screws into various materials though.
The more I used the Palm Impact, the more I began to realize its potential. When you’re in tight or awkward spaces like corners and cabinets, precise screw driving can be an issue. I installed a 12″ Phillips bit to drive a couple of problem corner screws. Thanks to the fact that my force was applied directly behind the bit, I didn’t cam it out or scrape up my arm trying to get a second hand on the driver. Since its variable speed is pressure driven, I was able to drive precisely flush – all with one hand.
The Ridgid 12V Palm Impact Screwdriver doesn’t look or feel like a traditional impact driver. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad though. Intelligent design that places your hand directly behind the fastener will help eliminate cam outs. Pressure-driven variable speed allows you to be more precise when working with delicate materials. While power is a limitation, there are a host of applications where this tool is going to be useful. Anytime you’re working in awkward spaces and have to drive one-handed, the Ridgid Palm Impact Screwdriver is your go-to option.
This article originally published on March 28, 2016. We’ve updated it following its performance in our impact driver shootout.