Impact Driver vs. Drill vs. Hammer Drill: What’s the Real Difference?

There are plenty of power tools out there, but the versatility of a handheld drill is second-to-none. It makes holes in concrete, lumber, non-ferrous metal, steel, plastic, drywall, and so much more. You can even make threaded holes for your machine screws.

You’ve also got the impact driver, which can drive screws in fast. Though some people refer to them as impact drills, they aren’t the same. We’re going to take a look at the difference between an Impact Driver vs. Drill. Then, you can decide which one is right for your next project.

Impact Driver vs. Drill vs. Hammer Drill


Impact Driver vs. Drill

A drill creates a specialized hole for the screw, but it can also drive it home for you. There are plenty of different bits and sockets to use, which can help you tighten nuts and bolt heads.

Plus, some specialty drills feature a chisel set, so you don’t need rotary action. They are different than impact drivers, so it’s best to learn more about them.

Cordless Drills

Typically, a cordless drill is battery-powered and creates holes. They can also be used as a fastener driver for small bolts, nuts, and screws.

It features a clutch that disengages the drivetrain from the drill when it reaches the right amount of torque or turning force. If you disengage the drivetrain, you don’t strip the fastener head or snap it off. Impact drivers, on the other hand, focus more on hammering.

Where to Use It?

Primarily, you want to use a cordless drill wherever you must drive in a screw or create a hole. They work well in tight spaces and often come with a decent warranty. You don’t need a lot of experience to get the right performance.

Sometimes, they even have accessories so that you get everything you need. Operate is simple, and electricians often use them instead of the corded counterpart.

Mechanical Insights

There are four components to determine what work the cordless drill can do:

  • Battery voltage can range from just 8 volts up to 60 volts, but the most common are the 18-volt and 12-volt varieties. If there is more battery or motor voltage, the tools can handle heavier workloads. As you increase the voltage, you can dig deeper and larger holes, tighten bigger nuts, and drive larger screws. The cordless drill doesn’t always come with a charger.
  • Battery sizes – The size is measured in amp-hours. If the battery has more, you can operate your drill for longer periods.
  • Functions – Cordless drills feature a clutch, which allows the tool to drive or drill. However, there could also be a hammer function, which ensures that you can drill in stone and concrete using the carbide masonry bit. Ultimately, this means that you can do more with it.
  • Chuck Size – Typically, a cordless drill has two chuck sizes, including the 3/8 or 1/2 inch. The bigger the chuck, the larger the holes you can make during operation.
  • Options for Purchase – You can find many brands out there, such as the Makita and DeWalt. Ryobi and Bosch are also popular choices. The money you spend depends on various factors, but you can always seek information before making an effort to buy one.
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Corded Drills

This is a drill that’s powered by a 120-volt motor and features a conventional three-jaw chuck. They’re more traditional and usually offer savings because you need a power source to use them effectively. Typically, corded drills have the same purpose as their non-corded versions.

However, they have a capacity for more heavy-duty applications and can drill holes in steel, concrete, and wood. They don’t use a clutch, so they can’t drive or tighten fasteners. Still, they excel at drilling holes and have strong gears.

Where to Use It

You can use a corded drill anywhere a hole needs to be made. They can grip the material. However, the size of the drill can affect its usefulness.

Each one can be different, and the size could be a problem. Still, you can find sidebars for right-angle drills. This kind of precision helps you handle home improvement needs effortlessly.

Mechanical Insights

There are four different considerations to focus on to decide what these tools can do:

  • Amperage – Amperage is just the flow of electrical current. Corded drills have motor capacities of about 6 to 13 amps. If they draw more amperage, they can do heavier-duty work.
  • Chuck Type – Corded drills usually have a 3/4-, 5/8-, 1/2-, or 3/8-inch chuck. The answer to your question is to choose a bigger diameter if you want to drill large holes.
  • Functions – Corded drills don’t have to be equipped with the hammer function. Therefore, you may not be able to penetrate stone and concrete.
  • Speed – Most of the time, you get a variable speed. Each one helps you plow through different materials.

Typically, these are low-cost options for the DIYer. You can find many options but go with the brushless motor because they are more durable. In a pinch, you can use the tip for driving screws into hardwood, but be careful. They can be used for pocket screws, wood screws, and more. This could be the right tool for the job.

We think the Milwaukee brand is great because it’s not an excessive length and features a brushless motor. Fix anything in your home with ease.

Impact Drivers

Impact Driver vs. Drill

Homeowners and professionals both find themselves utilizing impact drivers rather than cordless drills. Since there are different driver bits and hex-shank drill bits specifically designed to handle the stresses these drivers impose on the bit, you’ve got the means to create more heat and do more work.

However, they could damage the material if you aren’t careful and should be used for specific purposes.

Impact drivers have a specific function, and they’re high-torque tools designed for tightening nuts and driving screws. The chuck can only accept driver bits with the 1/4-inch hex shank. You can pull up on the sleeve to insert your bit or slip it into the chuck.

Typically, these tools are smaller and lighter than a drill. They’re not as versatile, so consider that when you decide to use an impact driver. You can find many kinds on the market and can work with the manufacturer you prefer most.

Generally, the torque output is much higher than a traditional drill, and there is more BPM (Blow Per Minute). They can have the same RPM numbers as the drills, and the higher torque can drive long screws with no effort.

Mechanical Insights

  • Battery power – Most impact drivers are battery-powered. The batteries can be 12, 20, or 18 volts. A higher voltage means you get more torque and power.
  • Power – More power is necessary if you want to drive large fasteners quickly. However, a higher voltage also means a bigger battery. It might be impossible to slip an impact driver into your toolbelt.
  • Variable speeds – You want something with a variable speed to harness the right amount of torque based on how you squeeze the trigger. There should be some resistance when drilling holes.
  • Weight – Impact drivers are going to weigh more. Consider the model you want and make sure it’s not too heavy.
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Difference between Drill Drivers & Impact Drivers


Can You Use an Impact Driver as a Drill?

Technically, no, an impact driver is designed to drive fasteners and not drill holes. In a pinch, though, you can drill holes with an impact driver if you’ve got the right drill bits. The rotational force might be a bit stronger, and the drilling impact could be stronger. Since they’re primarily used for driving in nails/screws, it could cause issues with the hole being too big or small.

What’s the Difference Between an Impact Driver and a Drill?

Impact drivers focus on directing the rotational force downward to be used over longer periods of time for extensive home repairs. Drills are usually used to drive in small fasteners and make holes.

Should I Buy an Impact Driver or Drill?

The best tools are those that you use every day, so buy the drill first. It’s going to make your boring and drilling tasks easier than an impact driver, though you can use that, too. Some brands offer different bit types to work with the impact driver, but you’re ultimately going to get much better results with your tool.

What’s an Impact Drill, and When Do You Use It?

Impact drivers are used to loosening screws from rusty surfaces and other rough surfaces. The drivers aren’t like your regular three-jaw chucks, and they’re hexagonal. Impact drivers can be used for many things. Often, a drill driver isn’t enough to complete the project. You can use these drills to drill in self-threading screws, loosening over-torqued screws, and drilling into hard or rusted surfaces.

Cordless Drill/Driver vs. Impact Driver: Which Do You Need?

Impact drivers don’t have a slip clutch, but it does let you drive screws in with precision because of the concussive action. A cordless drill/driver is quite versatile as far as tools go, and you can drive in screw holes. It can use various hex bits, which makes it great for any project. Either product can have an LED light and varies with run time based on the battery power. With it, you can create various diameter holes.

Focus on the battery life when considering the fastening applications. It would help if you had a lot of force with power drills, and either option is great for the toolbox. When hole drilling, though, a drill is ultimately better for the job.

How to Use an Impact Driver?

Put in the right driver bit for the fasteners you’re using. Insert the bit into the chuck and change the rotation direction for operation based on the jobs you’re doing. Hold your impact driver in one hand, place the bit onto the head of the screw, and slowly press the trigger. It would help if you started it slowly for more control. As you drive in the screw, the impact begins. Release your trigger when the screw head is flush with your surface.

How Does a Hammer Drill Work?

Jobs requiring a hammer drill can include drilling into masonry. They can be a combo kit, so you get all the products necessary. There’s variety here, but the goal is to utilize it for the right purple. For example, cabinet installation is easy, and the hammer drill’s hex chuck helps you put in bolts, including lag bolts.

It uses rotary motion like rotary sanders, and there are different types. The projects you’re doing are going to determine if you need a hammer drill. Ultimately, you use the right bits for the screws/fasteners. Then, you press the trigger, and it starts working.

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Whenever you’re using a power tool, make sure that you protect your hand and arm. That way, you don’t hurt yourself. There are many reviews about impact drivers and drills.

The design of each is going to be different based on what you choose. Most models are designed for compact workspaces and can fit easily in your toolbox.

There are many advantages of using an impact driver and a power drill. However, you need to know which one is right for the job. A drill vs. impact driver can be a confusing thing.

Hopefully, you now understand what a power drill can do and when an impact driver is the right choice. When you want to drill holes for your DIY projects, consider a cordless drill. Otherwise, you want an impact driver. Both a drill and an impact driver are essential for your tool collection.

Why trust Handyman.Guide?

s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Itamar Ben-Dor has been in the home improvement business for over 25 years. Itamar Ben-Dor is a jack of all trades. He's worked in the renovation field for years, doing everything from locksmithing to carpentry. He's a small repairs specialist. But his true passion lies in furniture construction and renovation - he loves seeing old pieces come back to life with some new woodwork or a fresh coat of paint.

He has taken courses on many topics in these fields at professional colleges in Israel. Over the years, Itamar has also become quite skilled in gardening, carpentry, and renovations. He's worked on projects of all sizes, from massive renovations to small repairs. No job is too big or too small for him!

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Itamar Ben Dor
Itamar Ben Dor

My father is a practical engineer, and as a hobby he was also involved in construction, renovations, carpentry and woodwork at home; So there was always tools, saws, drills and more at home. Already I was a little kid Dad and I would renovate the house. Once we built a shed for garden tools, once we did flooring for the garden, once we renovated the bathroom and that’s the way it is. Long before there was an internet, directories and plans. We would build things, kitchen cabinets, install electrical appliances, do flooring, pour concrete and more ... I in this blog want to pass on to you the experience I have gained over the last 20 plus-minus years since I was a child to this day and give you information about the best tools, project plans, guides and more.