The Differences Between Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill

Have you been to the market looking for the best impact driver only to find yourself buying a hammer drill? It is easy to mistakenly buy a tool in place of another especially if they can be used for similar purposes. Nowadays, people who use power tools don’t really understand the difference between the impact driver vs hammer drill and you can’t really blame them since both tools can be used in place of the other in many cases.

These two tools differ in many ways. These differences lie in the uses, the functions, the cost, weight, and appearance. This article is a detailed guide on how to differentiate between the impact driver and the hammer drill.

Differences between Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill

Differences by Uses

A hammer drill is designed for the purpose of drilling holes into very hard surfaces. You can also find some hammer drills that are designed with a feature that allows them to a regular drill or driver.

impact driver vs hammer drill

An impact driver is primarily designed to drive in fasteners such as screws, and like a hammer drill, it can be used to drill holes.

The main purpose of an impact driver is driving big, long screws into hard materials such as studs, drywall, concrete/masonry, drywall, etc. The best impact driver works better than your regular cordless drill/driver. If you finally add one or both tools to your collection of power tools, you’ll find yourself wondering how you have been working with just your regular power drill.

impact driver vs hammer drill

Differences by Action

We will talk about how to differentiate impact driver and hammer drill by action without talking too much about physics/engineering.

The regular electric drill simply spins the driver or drill around without additional action.

With the hammer drill, however, apart from the spinning action there is also a hammering action. The force is applied exactly like t is with a hammer. Most hammer drills feature a button or a switch that you can press to start its work. Your cordless drill might even be a hammer drill without you even realizing it.

impact driver vs hammer drill

The impact driver has a rotational action – the driver bit requires no top-to-bottom force. Imagine that there is this ratcheting wrench on a very tight, locked-up nut and you have been trying to remove. You’ve tried to do everything you can do to break the nut free, but it won’t come off.

After trying different things, you begin to hit the wrench with a hammer of heavy pipe –causing the rotational being applied to it to increase. This is just what happens when you are using an impact driver; you are applying an increased rotational force to the screw head. This explains why impact drivers can drive long screws through hard materials without stripping the heads.

Difference by Cost

The cost of an impact driver and that of a hammer drill is another difference to be considered. The impact driver significantly cheaper than the hammer drill and this is because one is used for lighter work and the other is used for more demanding work.

A combo pack is usually more budget friendly and it is not just limited to being equipped with an impact driver and a hammer drill, but comes with other valuable additions.

When Should You Use an Impact Driver?

An impact driver typically provides greater torque but in fast bursts. An impact driver should be your go-to tool for heavy work like driving long screws/bolts. However, the hammering action of this tool makes it a bit difficult to control.

Impact drivers are also not useful for driving towards a very smooth material: between hammer blows, torque is not applied and the drill turns backward. This can be seen when you hold the chuck with your hands while the driver is in action.

You can feel the blows, but the plate won’t turn. Some impact drivers do not come with a clutch, so you must take care if you drive something that may be very tight or may break as a result of high torque.

Besides the higher torque, this tool has another noteworthy advantage. You don’t necessarily have to hold them tightly in order to provide the torque. What provides the force of rotation is the momentum of the rotating hammer in the interior, so the tool is easy to hold even when you are handling.

When Should You Use a Hammer Drill?

The hammer drill is purposely for drilling holes. Almost all hammer drills come with a masonry bit, and they are designed to drill into stone, mortar, concrete, brick, or other masonries.

Some hammer drill can be used for driving screws, although, a hammer drill is mainly used for drilling holes. As mentioned above, an impact driver is used for driving screws.

Key Difference between a Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver

One of the key differences between a hammer drill and an impact driver is the types of bits the tools will accept. In this regard, hammer drills are more universal. A Hammer drill’s 3-jaw chuck will accept both round and hex bits, while an impact driver has a locking collet that accepts only hex-shanked bits.

You have probably faced problems occasionally with your standard drill, (maybe when you tried to push beyond its limits) where the chuck loses its grip on the drill/driver bit, or even completely fall off. This would never happen with an impact driver.

Hammer Drill features:

  • It can work on Mansory and anything else you can use a non-hammer drill on
  • It has an adjustable clutch that matches power with the application and the size of the fastener(usually cordless-only)
  • It features several speed settings
  • It is heavy and large
  • It has a drill chuck that can work with different sizes and styles of bit
  • It is great for drilling hole. Some can be used to drive fasteners

Impact Driver features:

  • The1/4″ hex bit adapter that comes with an impact driver can hold screwdriver bits as well as other attachments
  • Impact drivers can deliver torque that is non-reactionary
  • It is compact and has a lightweight
  • This tool is used to drive fasteners. It can also be used to drill holes

See more differences of tools:


When you ask yourself what the difference between an impact driver vs hammer drill is, you really need to ask yourself what you need each tool for and which one you would need more often.

Although the impact driver is used for fastening screws and the hammer drill is used for drilling holes, these tools do not compete with each other, but complement each other. No one is better than the other.

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  1. Thanks for this great post, I find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future 🙂

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