Impact Driver vs Drill

Impact Driver vs Drill

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At first glance, impact drivers and cordless drills are very similar devices. Not only do they look the same, but there are many functions that both drivers and drills provide. If you have been wondering which one to use for your next project, you should know that they are still slightly different.

You can’t just use either one of them, since there are specific functions that one has, and the other one doesn’t.

If you are wondering what the difference is between the impact driver and a cordless drill, don’t look any further. We will clarify that for you.

What is a driver, and what is a drill?

First, let’s see exactly what an impact driver is, and what a cordless drill is.

Cordless Drill

A cordless drill is a battery-powered device used to make holes and fasten screws and small bolts. It has a specific clutch that disengages a drivetrain automatically when it reaches a certain torque. It can be used anywhere you need to make a hole or tighten/untighten the screw.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to a cordless drill.

First, you should have its battery voltage in mind. It can range from eight to sixty volts. However, the twelve and eighteen-volt batteries are the most widely used.

Basically, the higher the voltage they have, the heavier tasks they can do. If you increase the voltage, you can drill deeper holes, as well as holes with a larger diameter. Another thing to consider is battery size, which is measured in amps. This directly affects how long you can work with the tool before the battery completely dies. Besides that, you should also consider the functions that drills have.

All cordless drills are equipped with a clutch that will allow the tool to drill or drive. Some drills are also equipped with a hammer function, which will allow it to drill a hole in a more solid material, such as concrete or stone. However, you will also have to use a different bit if you want to dig a hole in those materials. Most of the drills are usually equipped with two different size chunks.

You should choose the size depending on the work that you plan to do. When buying a drill, you should consider buying a factory-reconditioned tool, which usually comes with a great discount. Usually, these devices have only a few minutes of total work time, but they have to be cycled through the special reconditioning process and are no longer considered to be new.

Impact Driver

On the other hand, an impact driver is something slightly different. Impact drivers are also high-torque electric tools that are used for tightening screws. They are usually both lighter and smaller than drills, and they still have many of the same functions. Most homeowners prefer them over cordless drills because they are so compact. You should also know that their torque is higher, so they can get work done more quickly.

Let’s take another look at the main features that these two tools provide. When it comes to a cordless drill, you should know that it is very precise for delicate jobs. It is also multipurpose and has a slip clutch for torque control. Besides that, it has a constant torque and will fit many accessories.

On the other hand, an impact driver provides slightly different functions. It has more power compared to a drill, and it will drive screws more easily. It is also more compact in size and has a low user impact. Plus, it will automatically remove stripped screws.

Impact Driver vs Drill

However, both of these devices have their downsides, too. Let’s take a look at the cordless drill first. It can sometimes stall out when used on long or big fasteners. You should also know that bits will tend to come loose, and the device will often strip screws. Now, the impact driver has its disadvantages, also. First, it is too powerful for some delicate jobs. Also, it usually costs more and is much louder. Finally, you should be aware that it only uses hex-shaped bits.

As you can see, both of these tools have their good and bad characteristics. You should consider all the info that we provided, and, according to the work that you need to have done, make sure you choose the right device.

Which tool should I use for my next project?

The answer completely depends on the type and amount of work that you need to have done. Remember that compact drills are used for drilling holes and tightening small screws.

An impact driver, on the other hand, is designed for heavier work. You can also tighten larger and longer screws with an impact driver. However, if you need a more precise and delicate job to be done, then you should never use an impact driver. It should be used for jobs that you don’t necessarily need to place a precise hole, but you need extra power.

Cordless Drill Buying Guide

If you have never used these devices before, it might be a little bit tricky to buy the right one for your project. There are a few things that you should consider when buying, and luckily for you, we have prepared a brief buying guide.

Chunk Size

When thinking about the cordless drill, there are a few features that it should have. First, you should consider the chunk size. Most of them come with ½-inch and ⅜-inch chunk size, which are the most popular. The chunk size can also tell you about the power of a drill. Usually, more powerful drills use chunks of a bigger size and vice versa.


Another thing to pay attention to is the charger that you get. The older batteries usually had to be used under precise conditions in order to ensure the best performance. However, with the new models, you will have chargers that will automatically stop charging when the battery is full. Most of the new chargers also have an indicator that clearly shows how close the battery is to being fully charged.

Brushless Motor

You should also consider buying a drill with a brushless motor. It will usually reduce friction and will sense resistance from the material that you work on. This leads to the ability to constantly adjust the power output for performance and decreased battery consumption. A drill with a brushless motor is an excellent investment.

Extra Features

Finally, you should look for a drill that comes with extra features. All of them have a built-in LED work light, but you should also consider the one that has accessories such as belt clips and hard cases. Also, some manufacturers sell drills with LED lights that have their own 20-volt battery.

What to Consider when looking at an impact driver vs. drill

Now, let’s take a look at what you should consider when buying an impact driver.

LED Lighting

To get started, you should buy the one that has LED lighting. Compared to standard lighting, it will better illuminate the area, and it will also save battery life. Then, you should choose the one that has an adjustable or electronic clutch. This is extremely helpful, especially if you are using your tool on things such as cabinet doors and windows.

Vibration protection

Another great feature is vibration protection. It will minimize the vibration to make it easier for you to work. However, you should know that even with great protection, it will still provide small vibrations.

Ergonomic Design

There is another very useful feature to consider, especially if you plan to work for a long time in a single run, and that is a special ergonomic design. Things such as rubberized grip and a balanced design will have a lot of positive effects on your hands when working for long periods of time. Also, look for a toggle switch that will easily allow for a smoother switch between driving and reversing.

Soft Start Feature

Some impact drivers also have a soft start feature. That means that instead of starting at high RPM immediately, it will gradually increase the torque. These are usually much safer to use. Another great thing that you should consider is a neutral switch. You might accidentally press the action button while the driver is in the bag, for example. However, with a neutral switch, the driver will not work, and this will not only save battery life, but also prevent any possible damage and increase safety.

Break function

For more experienced users, a break function is a great thing. It will stop the chunk from spinning right away, which can be extremely useful if you drive screws one after another. Again, you will have to get a bit made for that, but, once you do, it will save you lots of time and nerves.

Carry bag

Finally, it would be great if the seller offers a nice carry-bag for the device. If your job requires constant moving from one place to another, a good bag to carry your driver in can be a very useful thing.


Now that you know everything about impact drivers and cordless drills, let’s answer some of the most asked questions.

How much torque do I need in an impact driver?

This is one of the first questions that most people ask when it comes to an impact driver. Basically, an impact driver with around 1700 in-lb that focuses more on higher RPM will do most of the jobs that you need to get done. However, if you have some special, rare job to do, then you should consider various other things, and maybe even contact the manufacturer.

What is the best impact driver in the market?

We can’t sort out the one that is definitely the best. Many popular manufacturers have many great impact drivers to offer. Plus, some less popular companies are also offering great impact drivers at a low cost. However, you can’t go wrong if you buy any impact driver made by Bosch, Makita, or Dewalt. Most of their items are excellent.

Can an impact driver be used as a cordless drill?

In theory, you might be able to use an impact driver as a cordless drill. However, both of them are created for specific tasks, and they should not be used as a substitution for each other. Especially if you have some precise and delicate work to be done, in most cases, an impact driver would be a bad choice due to its power and high-torque.

What is the best cordless drill in the market?

Again, there are many high-quality drills nowadays, and you can also find the cheaper ones that are sold by less popular manufacturers that are still great tools. However, you can’t go wrong by buying any cordless drill made by Makita, Dewalt, or Hitachi. They are all well-known companies that have been building trust among users for years. Also, note that most of them will offer a pretty decent warranty.

Are cordless drill batteries interchangeable?

In most cases, they are not. Especially if you use cordless drills made by two different brands. Although two batteries can have the exact same power and size, they won’t work with other brands. The reason is very simple. Every company wants to earn more money, so they want to be sure that you will buy their batteries when the one you own dies, instead of buying one from their competitors.

Final Thoughts

So, let’s sum everything up. Although a cordless drill and an impact driver look almost the same and visually do the same job, they are actually very different. The fact is that both of them can be used for tightening and untightening screws.

However, depending on the screw length and size, as well as the precision of the work that needs to be done, you will have to choose carefully between a cordless drill and an impact driver.

If your full-time job requires constant work with screws, it would be ideal to buy both of these devices, since one should not be used as a substitution for the other. We are sure that our buying guide will help you a lot if you decide to buy one of these very useful devices.

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