Impact Driver Versus Drill – What Are The Major Differences?

Drill machines have been a staple part of handyman boxes for ages. An impact driver is relatively a newer introduction and has garnered great popularity pretty fast. So, now handymen and contractors are in a confusing dilemma that which one to choose from- impact driver or drill. Interestingly, both of them look somewhat same but there are some major differences in terms of operation and function.

The post below offers a brief on the vital differences between drill and impact driver. But before that, we should have an overview on both.


Drills are suitable for loosening or tightening bolts, drilling holes and driving screws. The machine comes with adjustable clutch which serves as torque limiter. Its clutch is compatible with both hex and round bit types.

Impact driver

Impact drivers are especially designed to drive screws, especially large and long ones. The machine is armed with immense power and speed which is way higher compared to regular drill machines. Instead of keyless chuck, impact drivers use collet which deploys hex-shanked driver. No matter how fat or long your screw is, impact driver is your tool to drive it in. It’s to note here, these machines are especially great screws in solid hardwood surfaces. Besides, they can also be used to remove out stuck bolts or screws.

Impact drivers come in both corded and cordless versions and the latter are more advanced and powerful than the former. If you have to buy a cordless driver, always get a comparative survey 5 of the best cordless impact drivers for use in the workshop before you settle with a one.

Differences between the two

Speed and power

As mentioned previously, impact drivers come with more power as well as speed. This way, it can always deliver higher power in fast bursts that eventually generates more torque. And this automatically happens when impact driver receives resistance while fastening a screw into a hardy surface.

On the other hand, drills generally come with single gear and hence are less powerful compared to impact drivers. It’s to stress here drill machines tend to transfer their power to chuck that reduces their brute force.

Action mechanism

A drill machine deploys a solid combo of hard hitting and bit rotation to bust into tough or thick surfaces. But, don’t forget, impact drivers are equipped with 2-3x more power in comparison to conventional drill counterparts. So, when you have a super tough or super thick surface, you will have to bank on an impact driver only.


Drill machines generally sport a keyless or keyed chuck on their head. But, impact drivers don’t carry chuck- rather they are built with collet which can accommodate the hex shanks.


In spite of its immense power, a driver is usually pretty comfortable easy to use. The machine’s concussive action transfers a major part of its own power straight to screw- and not to user’s wrist or hand. This way, a user is able to drive the screws with the needed brute force yet without compromising his arm.

Drill machines are easy to use as well. But, at times, you might find it getting stuck into the very material that is being drilled. If this happens, the machine might spin itself which can end up injuring the user’s wrist or hand.

The good and bad of both

Good bits about drill

  • Good for projects which demand precision and care, specifically while drilling
  • Utilizes constant torque
  • Good for working with handy accessories like rotary sanders and wire-wheeled brush
  • Slip clutch enables good control on torque
  • Affordable

Bad bits about drill

  • Stalls out while using on large and long fasteners
  • Tends to strip screws often
  • Bits might get loose inside chuck
  • Might cause injury to user’s wrist and hand

Good bits about impact driver

  • Intense power to blast through hardest of surfaces
  • Great torque
  • Works with largest and longest of screws easily
  • Works with stripped screws too
  • can work in compact spaces
  • Hardly causes any impact on user’s wrist or hand
  • Doesn’t strip screws generally

Bad bits

  • Too strong for precise jobs
  • Could be loud
  • Pretty expensive

Drill is your choice if your project needs precision but for other handyman projects, impact driver is more effective.

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