Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver

Not all tools are created equal. Different tools work for different purposes. For instance, if you’re looking to drill holes into concrete, you can choose a hammer drill to accomplish this task. Though they ultimately perform similar functions, they are not exactly the same.

In this guide, we’ll touch on the differences between hammer drills and impact drivers, review two tools, and offer our opinions on features you should look for in both hammer drills and impact drivers.

Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver guide

What is the Difference Between a Hammer Drill and an Impact Drill? 

At first glance, you might think that a hammer drill and an impact drill are the same thing. Indeed, an impact drill appears as a smaller version of a hammer drill. The reality is that these differ in a few ways.

How each tool exerts additional force on the bit as they twist differs between the two. A hammer drill exerts more force into the bit with its back-and-forth hammering action whereas an impact drill increases the force around a screw than directly onto it by rotating. The rotating action of the impact drill gives it more torque than a hammer drill does.

In terms of functionality, hammer drills offer more versatility than an impact driver. Hammer drills accept a wide range of drill- and screw-driving bits. Impact drivers, on the other hand, limit themselves to accepting only hex-shanked driver and drill bits. Impact drivers, while still able to be used as a regular drill, mostly find use by those who need to drill in long fasteners that a hammer drill might not be able to handle.

In general, impact drivers provide more torque and power, especially when drilling into concrete and masonry. The additional torque gives you greater precision and control as you work, even with long, sturdy fasteners. A hammer drill can stall if you’re driving these types of fasteners. In this instance, an impact driver can be advantageous to have if you’re working with large fasteners.


DEWALT DCD996B Bare Tool 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill (Tool Only)

DEWALT DCD996B Bare Tool 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill (Tool Only)

If you’re looking for a powerful hammer drill, we highly recommend the DeWalt DCD996B one. It offers not only value and sturdiness, but you get the knowledge of having a tried and true brand in your toolbox.

Features:

The DeWalt DCD996B features a brushless motor that increases the drill’s run time by approximately 50% so you can use it for longer.

It’s also faster than many other similar tools. The tool features DeWalt’s proprietary 3-speed transmission that delivers increased power and speed for even the toughest projects.

Measurements:

The drill measures 4 x 10 x 8 inches and weighs only 4.7 lbs.

Additional Features:

The drill’s durability comes from its nitro-carburized metal ratcheting chucks to accommodate a variety of drill and driving bits. It also features a comfortable handle. Lastly, the switches are coated and sealed to withstand moisture and dust contamination.

The drill also comes a 3-mode LED light with a spotlight mode.

Packaging:

The package includes the hammer drill, a belt hook, and a 360-degree handle. It does not include a battery.

Overall:

You can’t go wrong with this hammer! DeWalt is known for their durable and powerful tools, and you’ll encounter the same with this one. The brushless motor increases the run time of the drill so you can use it for longer spells. Additionally, the solid construction means you don’t have to worry about immediately replacing the drill!

Some have mentioned the forward/reverse button feels cheaply made compared to other DeWalt products. Any battery also does not lock into immediately – there’s a slight wobble even though there’s little chance of the battery falling out.


DEWALT DCF885C1 20V Max 1/4″ Impact Driver Kit

DEWALT DCF885C1 20V Max 1/4" Impact Driver Kit This impact driver kit from DeWalt offers an excellent bang for your buck. Not only do you receive a reliable, sturdy impact driver, it also includes a battery and a charger. There’s nothing else you need to purchase in order for you to enjoy this tool right out of the box!

Features:

This drill features a compact, ergonomic design for easy and comfortable use. You can easily load the chuck with one hand; the quarter-inch chuck accepts 1” bit tips. The torque maxes out at 1400 in-lbs. The drill runs on a 20-volt lithium ion battery.

Measurements:

This drill measures 5.55 x 9 x 3 in.

Additional Features:

The drill also features 3 LED lights with a 20-second delay after triggering. This helps eliminate shadows and enhance visibility.

Packaging:

The packaging includes the drill, a battery, and a fast charger.

Overall:

This impact drill kit will help you to accomplish heavy-duty projects. The comfortable ergonomic grip lessens the strain on your hands and wrists, especially if you’re working in tight, compact spaces. The LED lights ensure you can see if the darkest of spaces. Lastly, it packs a punch with a lot of torque to make the toughest jobs a little easier.

Impact drivers lack the versatility of hammer drills. Also, the battery does not seem to run as long as a hammer drill. Some others were disappointed at the lack of a belt clip included with the packaging.

On the whole, however, this is a solid driver!


Do You Need a Drill if You Have an Impact Driver?

Impact drivers and hammer drills complement each other. Both can drill and drive, but hammer drills drill better, and impact drivers are much better at driving in fasteners than drilling. If you’re looking for a tool with wide versatility, you’ll want to include a hammer drill in your tool kit. A hammer drill enables you to “turn off” the hammering function so you can use the hammer drill as a simple drill.

Although an impact driver can perform some drilling functions, you’re better off purchasing a separate drill.

Which Drill is Best for Concrete?

We recommend using a hammer drill for drilling into concrete. Make sure you have a masonry bit when using a hammer drill. If using a hammer drill for drilling into concrete, you should include that it has variable speed, a good grip and a side handle for additional strength, and even a depth setting so you can see how far you’re drilling.

Impact drivers provide more functionality in driving and removing screws and other fasteners in projects than drilling into concrete.


Buyer’s Guide

There are some common factors you should look for when choosing to buy either (or both) a hammer drill and an impact driver.

For instance, for both, you should consider sturdy construction. Drills and drivers made with cheap materials will increase the likelihood that you can damage the tool if you drop it, that features like an LED light will fail, or that a mechanical mechanism might short.

Secondly, consider the functions you’re hoping a drill has. Are you looking for something that gives you short bursts of power when you’re driving? Then look at an impact driver. Are you looking for a tool that’s a little more versatile? Then consider a hammer drill. If you don’t take into account the tool’s functions, then you might end up stuck with something that does not fit your needs.

Finally, keep the ease-of-use and weight of the tool in mind. A lighter tool doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better one. Certainly, try to find something that won’t strain your wrists too much. You can always take a break if needed. Also, make sure the tool you purchase is easy-to-use. Most will come with a user manual, but you can always look online for more instructions too.


What Should I Look for in a Hammer Drill?

Here are some of the things you should look for when purchasing a hammer drill:

Dual speed capabilities

Look for a drill that has both low and high-speed capabilities. Dual speed capabilities enable you to have more precise control over your drill for various projects. Additionally, variable speed ranges adjust the power, so you’re not using too much or too little power when you need it.

Related:

Protective coverings

Finding a drill with a shock-absorbent outer covering and a one-piece power train protects the drill should you accidentally drop it. Rather invest a little and protect your investment than going out and buying a whole new machine.

Fast and powerful motor

A motor determines how fast and powerful your tool is. We recommend choosing the most powerful motor you can afford. This will enable you to take on more heavy-duty projects and drill into more difficult masonry and cement.

What Should I Look for in an Impact Driver?

Here are some of the things you should look for when purchasing an impact driver:

Amount of torque

We recommend you purchase an impact driver with the highest amount of torque you can find or afford. Impact drivers with high torque will give you more control and offer the best fastening performance. Less torque limits the types of projects you can do.

Soft grip

Not only will a soft grip give you more control over the impact driver, but you’ll also reduce the stress on your wrist. Impact drivers by design already minimize stress, but a soft grip ensures you’ll reduce strain even further. This way you’ll be able to use your tool for longer periods of time. Or, at least you’ll be more comfortable while driving.

LED lighting

LED lighting helps you work in dim or low-light environments such as a closet, basement, or garage. We recommend getting one that’s trigger-activated, so it doesn’t drain your driver’s battery. Fortunately, most models come with a light.

Conclusion

Hammer drills and impact drivers may look similar, but in terms of function, they differ in some cases. Hammer drills are great for drilling into masonry and concrete, have more versatility, and tend to be cheaper. Impact drivers, on the other hand, offer more power and torque in tight places, work great for driving large and long fasteners, and tend to lessen the strain on your wrist after use.

That being said, we recommend keeping one of each in your tool kit since they complement each other. In some cases, you can even purchase a kit that contains both! The two options presented above would work well together if you’re looking to purchase both. Use a hammer drill to drill deep into concrete, and then use an impact driver too, well, drive screws deep into the concrete. These two tools are certainly not mutually exclusive!

We hope you found this guide on the differences between hammer drills and impact drivers useful and informative! We wish you the best of luck if you end up purchasing one or both!


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