Difference Between Impact Driver and Hammer Drill

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: October 01, 2023


Difference Between Impact Driver and Hammer Drill

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Hammer drills and impact drivers look similar and perform similar tasks. Therefore, many people are confused as to what makes them different. These powerful tools differ in many ways, such as the purpose they serve, their mechanism, and ease of use. Knowing when to use hammer drills and when to opt for an impact driver will save a lot of time for DIY enthusiasts. They can use the former (with a carbide-tip masonry bit) to drill through masonry surfaces (concrete, brick, sandstone, cement block, etc.) and the latter for woodwork.

The hammer drills have more power, making them ideal for penetrating hard surfaces. Moreover, the tool’s hammering portion can be turned off to make it function similar to a standard drill. Since they are heavy and expensive, they are not the best option for light household tasks. A standard drill will be a better option. Impact drivers are the best solution in situations requiring more torque (tightening nuts or securing screws). Moreover, handling an impact driver is easier and less physically exacting.

Impact Driver Vs. Hammer Drill

Impact drivers are useful for driving fasteners such as screws and bolts. On the other hand, hammer drills are invaluable for drilling holes. Impact drivers can drill holes but are not precise or as effective as a hammer drill. Similarly, hammer drills can drive screws but perform poorly compared to an impact driver.

Difference Between Impact Driver And Hammer Drill In Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonImpact DriverHammer Drill
PressureAn impact driver exerts perpendicular pressure.A hammer drill exerts direct pressure.
Torque (the force causing an object to rotate)Impact drivers have more torque than hammer drills.Hammer drills have less torque but greater pressure.
WeightIt is compact and lighter than hammer drills.It weighs 4 – 8 pounds, depending on the type and model (why do people enjoy working with a drill if it weighs so much?).
UseImpact drivers can be used to budge stuck screws, as their spring mechanism delivers rotational striking blows. (Yay! No more weird looks from neighbors when throwing a tantrum over a stuck screw.)Hammer drills cannot be used to budge a screw, as their hammering mechanism delivers longitudinal blows. However, they can reverse fasteners that are not stuck.
Speed and Torque settingsMost impact drivers have a single speed and torque setting that cannot be changed.Hammer drills are available with numerous speed and torque settings people can switch between depending on the project they are working on.

What Is An Impact Driver?

Impact drivers are invaluable when driving numerous fasteners, as they jar them instead of merely turning/rotating them (the secret of their supremacy over drills in driving screws). Moreover, people’s wrists will thank them for going easy on them by choosing an impact driver. People can use the time saved to work on other projects or take a break and relax. Accidentally buried the screw into the material being worked on? Do not sweat it; an impact driver will help to loosen the over-torqued screw. Impact driver, similar to drills, rotates clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Seriously, it is not healthy to keep all that pent-up murderous rage people feel when cam out (the process by which the screwdriver slips from the screw’s head) occurs. Drills can lend a hand only to a certain extent. Therefore, it is best to switch to an impact driver. Even manual impact drivers are preferable to screwdrivers. However, the champion of driving is the battery-powered impact drivers.

They are usable on numerous materials and surfaces. Moreover, they are the best tools available for tightening nuts and bolts and are suitable for construction work. Impact drivers can easily drive 3-inch fasteners into dense and knotty wood (which is why woodworkers love them). Drills have a difficult time accomplishing this task even when holes are pre-drilled to drive the screw. Moreover, impact drivers work smoothly when driving self-driving screws (say goodbye to pre-drilling. Who wants to sit around diligently drilling holes when they can use self-driving screws?).

Nevertheless, impact wrenches are a better option for driving fasteners such as the lug nuts (nuts used to secure a wheel on an automobile). Some hybrid models (a combination of impact drivers and wrenches) are available if people want the best of both worlds. In short, regular impact drivers perform many of the same functions as hammer drills. However, the newer models are trying to do everything a hammer drill can and do it with the same efficiency.

Choosing The Right Impact Driver

Investing in models with multiple speed settings is a good idea if people spend a lot of time working with fasteners. Next, people should consider the rpm (revolutions per minute) and torque of the different models available. Needless to say, impact drivers with higher rpm and torque are more efficient. Impact drivers are indeed compact and lighter than drills, but some models are easier to handle than others. Therefore, people should check which model’s design best suits their needs.

People should choose impact drivers compatible with various drill bits and attachments if they need a versatile tool that can drive and drill (though they do not necessarily act as replacements for drills). An electronic or adjustable clutch is another essential feature, as it saves the user a lot of trouble. An impact driver’s size does not always indicate its power. Small impact drivers provide power more than proportionate to their size, as lithium-ion batteries that last four times longer than standard ones power them. People will know which model to buy once they analyze all these factors.

What Is A Hammer Drill?

Hammer drills are also known as percussion or impact drills (not to be confused with impact drivers). Many people describe its motion as resembling a jackhammer. These drills bore into hard surfaces with minimal effort thanks to their incredible power. People must turn off the impact mechanism (that is, turn the hammer mode off) and use it as a conventional drill if they wish to use it to drive fasteners.

The hammering action delivers thousands of blows per minute or impacts per minute. Though the force of these blows is relatively low, the rapidity is enough to penetrate/bore through concrete or brick. (Fascinating! They are more like Jackie Chan delivering several rapid blows than Bruce Lee ending things with a single blow.)

Therefore, hammer drills drill through masonry surfaces faster than regular drills. Fortunately, these drills are available in corded and cordless models. So, people can choose one that best fits their bill. Usually, corded hammer drills have more power compared to battery-powered cordless models. However, cordless hammer drills are becoming much more efficient and are well on their way to phasing out corded ones. Holes are essential for anchor bolts (connects elements to concrete), wall plugs, concrete screws, etc. and hammer drills are invaluable for drilling the required holes.

Moreover, these drills are the go-to option when the users are unsure of what material they are drilling into. For example, people may not know what is behind the wall panels of the house they just moved into. It may be wood or concrete. In such cases, a hammer drill is useful. Users can use it with the hammer disabled if it is wood and with the hammer enabled if it is concrete. The drawback of using these drills is that they are bulkier than standard drills and can be a bit tiring to use.

Cordless hammer drills are more versatile than standard impact drivers, as they can drive fasteners (albeit only small to medium-sized ones) and aid in nut setting besides drilling exceptionally. These drills’ battery voltage ranges from 8 – 60 volts (12 and 18-volt are the most common). Higher voltage drills can drill deeper, larger holes and drive larger fasteners or tighten bigger nuts. Cordless hammer drills typically have 38 inch or 12 inch chucks. Unsurprisingly, the larger the chuck size, the bigger the holes’ diameter.

Sometimes, using a hammer drill with its hammer function turned off to drill screws is a better idea (don’t throw stones yet.). People need to control the force with which they drive in a screw when driving it into a drywall. An impact driver may drive a screw deeper than necessary in the blink of an eye. Therefore, people should use drills to drive fasteners when they need to control the tool’s speed or torque. However, it is still not a good idea to use hammer drills for driving long screws.

How To Choose The Right Hammer Drill?

The various factors to consider when choosing a hammer drill are as follows:

  1. Power – Higher voltage and wattage ensure better performance. Therefore, a hammer drill’s power rating is the first thing people should check when comparing different models. Moreover, people will find it wise to check the battery and run-time if they opt for a cordless battery-powered hammer drill (nothing is more irritating than a drill stopping mid-work.).
  2. BPM – The drill’s blows per minute or impact rate tells people how efficiently it can drill into hard or tough surfaces. (Just do not test if the drill truly has the claimed BPM on the nearest surface. Regretting ruining a friend’s favorite coffee table will not undo the damage.)
  3. Speed Settings – Hammer drills with multiple speed settings allow people to have better control and offer more precision and versatility (too much speed, deeper holes than necessary get drilled. Too little speed, the work takes forever!).
  4. Design – Some people think it is adequate if a hammer drill drills as it is supposed to. However, that is not the case. Using hammer drills is stressful for wrist, hand, and arm. Therefore, people should pick one that sits comfortably in their palms and generates less vibration.
  5. Other things – An LED light is handy when working in dimly lit spaces or at night. People will find a hammer drill with this feature beneficial if they work on their projects well into the night. Warranty and after-sales services are another factor people should look into. Reputable companies have their customers’ backs, but some other companies do not bother resolving their customers’ problems (sadly, not a rare occurrence).

Main Difference Between Impact Driver And Hammer Drill (In Points)

  • People can use impact drivers for an extended period without feeling exhausted or hurting their wrists. Hammer drills are much more exacting on people’s wrists due to their bulkiness. Therefore, they cannot be used for consecutive hours.
  • Hammer drills are noisier than impact drivers. The tool user may not care about how much noise the tool makes, as he wears protective gear to block out the noise. However, those caught off-guard and subjected to the noise will have several choice words to say to the user.
  • Hammer drills can drive fasteners more quickly than impact drivers, as long as the fastener is not too big. They only falter when more torque is required than what they generate.
  • Newer impact driver models are compatible with drill bits (they still do not have a hammer drill’s efficiency in drilling). Therefore, impact drivers are much more versatile than hammer drills.
  • Hammer drills have less torque, meaning they cannot drive a fastener beyond a certain point. That is when the impact driver comes in. (So, people can use an impact driver when their trusty drill lets them down.)
  • Impact drivers are not built to penetrate concrete or brick. Their one advantage over hammer drills is their torque and not power. Using them to drill masonry surfaces may damage them sooner than expected.


In the end, hammer drills and impact drivers are crucial tools to have. People never know when one would come in handy. Well-versed DIY enthusiasts start with a hammer drill and add impact drivers when they face a hiccup. However, the consensus is that people will not go wrong with newer impact driver models if their budget restricts them from buying both. It drills decently besides efficiently driving fasteners.

However, hammer drills will be a better option if people spend more time working with hard/masonry surfaces. One other thing people need to decide is whether they need a brushed or brushless hammer drill or an impact driver. The brushless drills and drivers are much more efficient and last longer but are expensive. In short, people must take into account the purpose for which they are buying a tool, the weights they can handle, and their budgets when purchasing.


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"Difference Between Impact Driver and Hammer Drill." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 29 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-impact-driver-and-hammer-drill>.

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