Impact Driver vs Drill

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Impact drivers and drills might both look similar, but they are actually very different tools that will do completely different jobs for you. This means that you need to be able to tell the difference between the two tools and what you can expect of them, to make an informed decision about which one is right for you – or maybe whether you actually need both!

The purpose of both an impact driver and a drill is to screw or “drive” screws into different surfaces. The difference between the two tools is how they get this job done! We will discuss this in more detail below.

Impact Drivers

As we said above, the purpose of an impact driver is to drive screws into different materials. It does this by rotating the bit, but at the same time it uses a hammering action to increase the force on the screws, not just in a downwards motion but also a sideways motion.

Pros and Cons

  • Easier to drive screws into tough materials
  • Prevents the drive bit from slipping off the screw due to the motion created. This is a really important feature as it will stop you from ruining the screw.
  • Less work required on your part, as the driving action will apply the pressure that you would normally have to apply with a drill to make sure the drive bit doesn’t move off the screw and can force the screw into the material.
  • More power so will be better suited to removing screws in the reverse setting.
  • Usually louder than drills due to the hammering motion (which makes a clicking sound but combined with the work of the driver it will make the tool louder than a drill).
  • Will be less precise due to the hammering motion, so if you are wanting a particularly neat job then you are better going for a drill
  • Less variety in the bits that your impact driver will accept du to the quick-change sleeve that they are fitted with. This reduces the amount of jobs that you will be able to work with.


Drills will use the rotating motion in the same way that impact drivers do to “screw” the screw into the material, however they don’t have the hammering action to combine with this.

Pros and Cons

  • Have more gears. Power drills will come with slower gears that have more torque and use this to support the driving of screws, and then a faster setting for drilling holes. This means that they will be able to support you in getting many more jobs completed.
  • Fitted with a clutch – this means they will be better suited to working the the screw and material that they have at the current time without ruining the piece of material that you are working with (or the screw). Simply set the clutch at a set number and it will work to this power level and then stop.
  • More user friendly – the variable speeds and bit changing chuck are usually easier to use with a drill, so better for those new DIY’ers (or just anyone that wants to save themselves some hassle).
  • More versatile – As they will accept a wide range of drill bits this means they will be suitable for almost all jobs that you are wanting to complete around the home.
  • Usually considerably cheaper than impact drills for models with similar power.
  • Less power due to the lack of the hammering motion. This means that they will struggle to complete more difficult jobs into harder materials.
  • Requires more effort from you, as you have to apply the pressure to the tool to force the screw into the surface, instead of the impact driver which does most of this itself. That means that you will likely need more breaks when working with a drill if you have a big job to do.

Overall Opinion

If we are honest, we don’t really think that you can compare an impact driver and drill (and we hope that you will agree now that you have read this article!). An impact driver is much better suited to larger jobs that you are wanting to complete, but equally, they don’t have the versatility and speed that a standard drill will have (which is important for DIY enthusiasts as they will be required to complete an assortment of jobs around the home). They are both similar enough to be used in the same types of DIY jobs but will be good at different things, so using the two together will get the job done neater, quicker, and with less fatigue and effort from you. Yes, we appreciate that this means added expense but there are actually many manufacturers now that are offering combo purchases with both impact drivers and drills! This way you can use your drill for drilling and your driver for driving

Frequently Asked Questions

What bits will an impact driver accept?
An impact driver holds bits in a different way to how a drill does – they use a collect (like a clamp) to secure the bit. This means that they will only accept ¼ inch hexagonal shank driver bits.

What bits will a standard drill accept?
Almost all drills and drill bits will be interchangeable, which allows your tool to be used for a wide range of jobs. Standard drill bits that will be able to work in wood are known as High-Speed Steel bits. Just make sure to check the type of chuck that your drill comes with. If it has an SDS chuck then you will not be able to use Standard rotary drill bits unless you also have an adaptor.

Do I need a tool with a brushed or brushless motor?
Brushless tools will usually offer more power and also power control than brushed models, which means that you will be able to get more precision and better battery life from your tool. Brushless motors also require less maintenance, but they do cost more than brushed impact drivers and drills.

About Mike Jones 191 Articles
I have been a keen DIY enthusiast for over 15 years, I’m constantly tinkering in my garage, taking things apart and building things. Along the way, I seem to have acquired a bit of a tool collection, as you do. The issue I found was that the information online when it comes to finding out what you need to know when buying new tools was somewhat limited. I didn’t necessarily need to know which tool to buy, but more what was important when making that buying decision. Also, a bit like a child in a sweet shop when I see new tools and things I can do with them I find it hard to resist. I started this blog back in 2017 to try and put together some buying guides, not really reviews but more what you may want to know before going and deciding on a new tool. I’m also a keen gardener and if there is a tool or gadget that helps me in the garden I’m going to let you know. I hope these musings and buyers guides are of use to you in some way. All the best, Mike.

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