Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver

hammer drill vs impact driver
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Do you need to get some work done around the home? Maybe you need to drill some holes in a brick or concrete wall.  Or maybe you need to hang some pictures or mount something heavy in a hard surface. Or, you need to drill some holes through a hard surface for plumbing or wiring. The point that we are making here is that you need the right tools for the job.  So lets do a hammer drill vs impact driver to compare and see what each power tool is best suited for.

Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver

You can’t use a normal drill to work with brick, concrete, and other such materials. A normal drill would fall to bits, burn out, catch on fire, and just would not be a very good choice to go with. Maybe you already know all of this and you just want to read up on it more. Or maybe you are an aspiring handyman and need to know everything you can about your field of work and the tools you will need to use.

We are here today to talk about two specific tools, those being the impact driver and the hammer drill. These might sound like some kind of fighting moves used in professional wrestling, and while they might very well be just that, they are both useful tools as well. Now, with that being said, both of these tools have very different features and purposes. Today we want to talk about the difference between a hammer drill and an impact driver so you know exactly what each of these tools are for and what their intended purposes are.

The Hammer Drill

The first tool that we want to talk about is the hammer drill. The hammer drill, just as it sounds, is more or less a combination between a hammer and a drill. Drills can be used for drilling holes and screwing screws into softer materials, usually wood. Also, hammers are used to hammer nails through softer materials like wood. However, both the hammer and the regular drill could not deal with harder materials like masonry, brick, concrete, and other really hard materials.

This is where the hammer drill comes into play. It is a tool that is primarily designed for drilling holes in hard surfaces like drywall, sheetrock, brick, concrete, and other forms of masonry. In terms of the motion of it, the hammer drill combines the spinning motion of a drill with the hammering motion of a hammer. This is shown to be the best way to drill holes through masonry. The combination of rotational and impact force really gets the job done.

The Impact Driver

The impact driver is quite different from the hammer drill. Whereas the main purpose of the hammer drill is to drill holes through hard materials, the impact driver’s main purpose is to drive big, thick, and long screws into really tough materials. These materials could be hard wood, studs, brick, concrete, and other forms of masonry. A normal drill simply does not have the power, the engine strength, the rotational capacity, or the durability of an impact driver.

The impact driver is pretty much a drill on steroids, one meant to deal with really hard materials. So, just to recap, the impact driver is all about driving long screws through tough materials, whereas the hammer drill is meant for drilling holes.

The tools are somewhat similar, but they are also quite different, as you can see. Unlike the hammer drill, the impact driver does not use any impact force, which is kind of counterintuitive due to the name of the tool. However, the impact driver only uses rotational force and does not use a hammering impact like the hammer drill. It might sound a bit confusing, but a hammer drill uses both rotational and impact force, whereas an impact driver only uses rotational force to get the job done.

Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver – Other Key Differences

Now that we have covered what the main intended purpose for each of these tools is, plus how they function, let’s talk about some of the other main differences between them right now.

One big difference between both of these tools is that the impact driver and hammer drill use different bits, or at least one of these tools is much more versatile in the type of bits it can accept. Impact drivers are very one faceted and have a locking head that only accepts hexagonal shank bits, but these do just fine for their intended purpose. On the other hand, the hammer drill can also accept round bits, as well as the hex bits, which is thanks to its 3-jaw chuck.

What you might not know is that hammer drills have a button to turn the hammering motion on and off. Therefore, the impact driver is like a hammer drill without the hammering motion, but the hammer drill does come with the option to have the hammering turned on and off. What you should also know is that impact drivers tend to produce a lot less vibration and noise than a hammer drill. The hammering motion from the hammer drill is very loud and the vibration it creates means that you really have to have a good grip on the hammer drill.

The two tools also differ in their shape. The impact driver is usually quite short and stubby, unlike the hammer drill which tends to be a little bigger and more elongated. At the same time, hammer drills have big internal clutches, whereas impact drivers don’t have these, making them a little easier to operate, especially for beginners.


As you can see, both the hammer drill and impact driver have their own specific purposes, both of which are quite different. It is understandable that people confuse these two tools, but they are really not the same at all. Hammer drills are great for drilling holes through hard surfaces whereas impact drivers are meant for getting big screws through those same hard surfaces.  You can find more reviews and advice right here at Home and Work Power Tools

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