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Impact Drivers vs Drills (8 Differences Explained)

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There are many hand-held power tools, but what makes each different apart from their main use is if they can be converted to another tool for a brief period. With no doubt, these two tools are useful and common in every workshop/tool shed.

It might be a bit hectic for beginners and amateurs to note the differences between impact drivers vs drills but professionals would easily note the differences. At a glance, recognizing an impact driver might be easy because it rotates while driving the screw inwards. It is similar to a cordless drill.

However, one major distinction that separates both tools is the possession of a hammer. An impact driver comes with a hammer and has a higher torque activity than the power drill.

Based on the similarities between both tools, it is important to compare them and help users decide which to buy. Before we proceed into that, let us take a step into knowing what both tools are and their specific functions.

If you are wondering which of the two tools would perfectly suit your job, or you wish to know more about these tools, then check out this guide as it compares both tools and makes your selection process easier.

What is an Impact Driver?

With the coming of bit sets that have hex-shank equipment, it is no surprise that professionals and homeowners are now rooting for impact drivers instead of cordless drills. This is because impact drivers are designed to withstand more stress than drills.

The impact drivers are mostly used to drive in screws, but not limited to. They have a compact and light body that is very portable. Impact drivers cost more than drills, but they are faster and worth the price.

Impact drivers are tools used mainly for driving screws and nut setting- a process of tightening nuts. They are smaller and lighter than drill drivers are but not as versatile. The reason they get more done in less time than drills is that their torque output exceeds that of the drills.

Impact drivers come in different sizes and deciding which to use depends on the nature of the task you have at hand. We shall examine a few of these types and the job they fit.

Some of the best uses of an impact driver include; construction of decks, setting up tile backer boards, and any work that involves driving long screws into any surface.


  • Gets more work done in lesser time
  • Perfect for removing stripped screws
  • Has a small, compact body
  • Can reach and fit into smaller spaces of work
  • Can drive in long screws


  • Too much power- not perfect for delicate works
  • Not compatible with all types of drivers
  • It is a bit expensive

What is a Power Drill?

A power drill is a piece of electrical equipment or tool that uses the rotational power of a drill bit to make holes on surfaces. It is a hand-held tool used by homeowners for executing petty tasks at home like installing large picture frames and used by professionals at work sites for construction projects.

The drill is a very useful and versatile tool. You can't go to a workshop and not see a drill. They can be used for different tasks, but most of the time they are used to make holes into hard materials. They can be also used for screws.

The power drill consists of a handle, switch, a torque adjustment, and a chuck.

In place of a power drill, there are a couple of tools that can be used to drill holes on the surface and they include; hand drill, small saws, and so on.

One reason the power drill is so easy to use is that it requires little or no maintenance– though users agreed that it might be damaged easily when improperly used. A known common method of improper use could be pairing it with a wrong bit, using it for other uses other than making holes, and so on.

There are many types of power drills and while choosing which to use, you need to consider some factors. These factors are important to help you get the most out of your tool. They include power, portability, a wide range of use, voltage, and a host of other factors.                 


  • Great for working on drywall and soft materials
  • Wide range of application
  • Compatible with lots of screws and bits
  • Cheap and economical


  • Cannot be used for long screws
  • Can cause damage to the user’s hand/wrist

Impact Drivers vs Drills (Head to Head)

What most people are ignorant of is that the power and impact driver are complementary tools, you can decide to have both in your tools or you could decide to have just one. In this section, we shall be comparing both tools based on some factors.

Number of Gears and Clutch

Impact drivers have just one gear against the two gears that power drills have. One of the gears in the power drill works slow- providing more torque that aids driving in screws, while the second gear is responsible for drilling holes and it works faster than the first one.

Also, a power drill has an adjustable clutch that allows users to change the torque during drilling or driving. A feature that is not available for impact drivers. This clutch prevents the fasteners on drills from over-tightening and damage to the surface being drilled.

Size and Action

Usually, a power drill is bigger than an impact driver is. Impact drivers are small, portable, and more compact. In terms of action, power drills a combination of bit rotation and hard hammering to get through thick and tough surfaces while impact drivers do not need that much bust but still have more power and strength than the drill has.


Though the impact driver has more strength than the power drill, still it is not easy to use. This is because the power produced by the driver is not directed to your hand or wrist, it is directed towards the screw you are driving or the material you are drilling. The drill, however, though with no much power is much easier and comfortable to use than the driver.

Regardless of how important both tools are, they still have some flaws. That is why we shall be looking at their pros and cons.

Quietness and Precision

Either as a homeowner or as a DIY expert, you would notice the clear difference in the level of noise and accuracy in precision produced by both tools. It is advisable to go for a power drill if you value quietness while working in your home or indoors. This is so because it is quieter than the impact driver is.

In addition, the presence of an advanced torque on the impact driver makes it drive screws with more accuracy and precision than the drill. The impact driver is also less likely to strip screws, unlike drills, which would definitely strip screws.

In summary, the impact driver provides more accuracy and precision when it comes to fastening and drilling, but when it comes to quietness and less noise being emitted, the power drill boasts of that.

Chuck Size

Another notable difference between the power drill and impact driver is their chuck size. The chuck size of most impact drivers is usually around 6.35mm in diameter, ¼ inch, and are hexagonally in shape. Their hexagonal shape is the reason they are only compatible only with shanks that are also hexagonal.

On the other hand, power drills have a vast expanse of chuck size. There are ½-inch, ¼-inch, 3/8-inch, and so on. They are compatible with various types, shapes, and sizes of shanks, which is the reason they are mostly preferred over the impact drivers.

Compatibility With Other Tools

Compatibility simply means how well each of the tools would work with other tools that are not from the same manufacturer or maker.

When the power drill is paired with other drivers and bits, it still works fine. This is not so with the impact driver, as it is only compatible with a hex-shanked driver and bit.

Related Read — Drills vs Screw Guns


One important difference between both tools is the degree of maintenance required by both. One requires a high level of maintenance while the other can scale through little maintenance.

Impact drivers are automated tools and as such, they require some kind of special maintenance to ensure their longevity and durability. The power drills however do not require much maintenance, as they are manual devices.


The size of both tools is another feature that sets them apart.  Portability– refers to how easy it is to carry and transport each of the tools.

The impact driver is portable, light, powerful, and the comfort that comes with using it- aside from the noise is top-notch.

The power drill on the other hand is a bit heavy, at least heavier than the impact driver is and professionals could meet with a lot of troubles while attempting to transport it.

Should You Buy an Impact Driver or Power Drill?

Perhaps you have a project at hand and thinking of which of the two tools you should get, this section of the article will see you through that. There are a couple of factors that would influence your purchase; some of those factors are discussed below.


If you are considering the speed at which each tool will aid the completion of your work, the power drill is your best bet. It will drive in screws and make holes faster than an impact driver would.

This means that if the project requires fast completion and delivery, you should go for the drill. However, if the project does not rush through it, you can settle for the impact driver.


There is no point wishing for the features provided by an impact driver when clearly you can only afford a power drill. Likewise, you should not deprive yourself of convenience and fast completion of your projects by using slow tools as the impact driver.

To hit the nail squarely on the head, impact drivers are costlier than power drills. Summarily, if you do not mind the cost then you can choose to settle for the impact driver. The power drill is a nice alternative if you are on a tight budget.

Related Read — Drills vs Dremels


Regardless of whatever project, you are or intend to execute, the impact driver is known for its strength and power, which contributes to the excellent and fast job it does. In addition, it has more drilling force than the power drill and can be used for powerful projects.

The power drill cannot be used for powerful projects because it does not boast of the strength present in an impact driver. Truly, the power drill is known for its wide range of applications, but in a situation where time waits for no one, and money is the ultimate goal, the impact driver beats the power drill.

Overall, if you are stuck with no other option than to buy one of these tools, the power drill is the most suitable one to settle for.

Frequent Usage

You should also try to consider how frequently you would be using the tools after purchase. If you envisage doing much drilling and screw driving for your lightweight projects, the drill should be your go-to. You should only seek to buy the impact driver if you would be working frequently on hard surfaces.

Related Read — Can You Drill Concrete Without a Hammer Drill?


From this guide, we have been able to make clear distinctions between the impact drivers vs drills.  Though both tools are worthy of every professional and DIY expert’s toolbox, but in a situation where the only option is to settle for one, the criteria for selection has been listed and explained.

Trust this guide and follow it staunchly, and you would no longer confuse an impact driver with a power drill.

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We’re a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

The Tool Geeks Team

We're a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

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