Impact Driver vs Drill – 2021 Complete Guide

Nate
| Last Updated: March 22, 2021

A drill driver has been the trusted power tool of every workman for a long time. Although the impact driver's advent may have created some confusion for beginners, this handy tool can be found in almost all toolboxes. 

Impact drivers and drills have different strengths, making them both suitable for different jobs. But which tool will be most suitable for the project that you have in mind? 

Here we will break down their uses, similarities, and differences so that you can decide which tool will be most suitable for your DIY project.   

Comparison of the Best Impact Driver and Drill

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best Impact Driver
  • 3 Speed settings for versatility
  • Compact and lightweight design for ease of use
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best Drill
  • A compact and lightweight design to fit in small spaces
  • Very strong motor of up to 300 watts output
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

What is an Impact Driver, and What is an Impact Driver Used For? 

An impact driver is more lightweight and compact than a drill driver; however, it has more torque than a power drill. These cordless tools range from 12 volts up to 20 volts, with the voltage increasing as the speed and power increase. Impact drivers, unlike a drill, are not designed with a chuck. Instead, they have a quick-change clamp that holds driver bits and drill bits with a hexagonal shank. 

An impact driver not only drives screws; its large amount of power makes it easier to do difficult jobs. It can work with larger screws more quickly and efficiently than a drill, making it highly suitable for woodworking projects that involve a lot of fasteners, for example, building a bookshelf or pergola.      

Impact Drill Uses

An impact drill is most commonly used to drive in longer screws, lag bolts, and large quantities of fasteners. They are designed to make this task fairly easy.

Dewalt 20V Max DCD771C2

What is a Drill, and What is it Used For?

A drill is basically a power tool used to drill holes or drive fasteners. It features a bit which is secured by a chuck. Drills vary greatly in power, size, and speed. Throughout the years, they have been improved and streamlined. They have become lightweight, reliable, and lost the cord. 

Moreover, they are flexible and feature variable speeds, which comes in handy when you want to switch between pushing screws in and drilling holes.      

Best Uses For a Drill

Drills are used to make holes in almost any material and to drive in screws and small fasteners.  

Similarities and Differences 

Although impact drivers and drills look similar, they both come with subtle differences that make it easy for them to accomplish different jobs. First, let’s talk about their similarities: 

Impact Driver and Drill Similarities

Impact drivers and drills share many similarities. These include:

Design

Both drills and impact drivers are handheld and can be corded and cordless. Moreover, they both feature variable speeds.

Mechanism

Impact drivers and drills both work in the same way. They rotate the attached bit when the trigger is squeezed.  

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

The few differences between a drill and an impact driver are as follows: 

Power

The primary difference between an impact driver and a drill is the sheer rotary power. The former is more powerful than the latter, which enables users to drive in large amounts of fasteners and screws with relative ease. 

Impact drivers, unlike drills, feature quick-release shanks that work with ¼-inch hex driver bits. They produce a high amount of rotational force that drives even large wood screws within seconds. 

Torque

Compared to drills, impact drivers are equipped to produce more torque. They are designed to work in quick bursts, which happens up to 50 times per second, thus providing impact drivers with their name. Moreover, the rotation of the bits follows the two-step-forward-one-step-back pattern, which engages and drives screws more effectively.

Compact

As compared to most drills, impact drivers are lightweight and more compact. They are also able to keep the bit snugly fit with the screw head. Thus, an impact driver hardly ever spins and slips when driving screws.  

Top Pick Between an Impact Driver and Drill

A drill is a highly versatile tool. It comes with various-sized bits that serve multiple functions. The best thing about drills is that they are very affordable and can fit every budget. 

Impact drivers, on the other hand, have the capacity to drive in large numbers of fasteners quickly. They protect your hand and wrist from extra exertion, thus allowing you to work comfortably for extended periods of time. Moreover, they are less likely to strip the screws as they work in a more controlled fashion, thus making it easier to maintain more effective contact with the screw head.  

Whether a drill will suit you or will an impact driver be the perfect tool for you depends on your project. If you need to drive an occasional screw and drill holes, a regular drill will be perfect for you. 

But if you need to build a deck, have a treehouse to screw together, or want to install a plywood subfloor, then it will be best for you to invest in an impact driver. This will not only allow you to drive large screws into the wood within seconds but will also dramatically reduce the work time. 

Overview of Our Favorite Impact Driver and Drill

Now, let’s take a look at our favorite impact driver and drill. We have reviewed both of these tools in detail to get a better understanding of their working: 

Best Impact Driver:
Dewalt 20V MAX XR DCF887B

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, Tool Only (DCF887B)

PROS

  • Precision Drive in speed 1 for added control
  • Three-speed settings deliver application versatility
  • Three LED lights that ensure visibility without shadows
  • Compact and lightweight design that fits in tight spaces easily
  • DeWalt-built brushless motor offers more capacity and run time over standard units

CONS

  • Does not come with a battery or charger

What Recent Buyers Report

After using this impact driver, recent buyers have become huge fans of this tool. It effortlessly drives in the screws that would have twisted off or been very difficult to drive with a conventional drill. 

Buyers also claim that this impact driver works great as an impact wrench by driving large lags easily into the hardwood. They also urge workmen to try it once because then only will they realize that they needed this tool dearly. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This DeWalt impact driver shows a solid all-round performance and makes an invaluable addition to the toolbox of any workman. It is powerful, fast, and versatile with a user-friendly feature that we find highly convenient. 

It is equipped with a string of LEDs around the chuck that clearly illuminates the place where you are driving the bolt or screw. Moreover, these remain lit for 20 seconds after you let the trigger go, thus making it the ideal tool to work within dimly lit areas. 

In addition, the light turns on before the chuck starts turning, thus allowing users to get a good look at what needs to be done before actually engaging the driver.     

Bottom Line

To sum up, this DeWalt 20V impact driver is a powerful tool that comes in an incredibly compact and lightweight package. It comes with a very economical price tag and will give you your money’s worth. Its three adjustable speed settings provide users with more control in situations where finesse is preferred over raw power.

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver Kit, Compact, 1/2-Inch (DCD771C2)

PROS

  • Brushless motor provides more run time
  • Ergonomic handle for comfort and control
  • Comes with a tool belt and a carrying case
  • High-performance motor delivers 300 UWO
  • Two-speed transmission helps perform a range of fastening and drilling jobs 

CONS

  • Secondary battery may have a charging problem

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are highly impressed with the performance and quality of this drill. It is feather-light, has an ergonomically-friendly grip, and easy-to-reach controls. They also find the lighted trigger an added bonus when working in confined, dark spaces, such as attics, powerless sheds, basements, etc. After seeing the performance of this DeWalt drill, many buyers claim that they are never going back to using corded drills

Why it Stands Out to Us

The DeWalt 20V Max DCD771C2 is a brushless drill that delivers almost 57% more runtime as compared to brushed motors. It is able to complete a wide range of applications and power through the toughest of jobs with ease. 

It is equipped with an LED light that provides optimum illumination as you work. It also features a handle that is ergonomically designed for balance and easier tool control.  

We also like the fact that this drill can be operated in two-speed modes, thus providing users with the option to choose the speed most suitable for their project. Moreover, the single sleeve ratcheting chuck keeps the bit secured, thus reducing the chance of error. 

Bottom Line

Overall, this DeWalt drill delivers a lot of speed and torque, making it capable of performing any drilling task. It is constructed of sturdy and durable materials. Moreover, it is equipped with a powerful transmission, and variable speed levels make this tool extremely convenient.  

Conclusion

Now that we have underlined the differences and similarities between an impact driver and a drill and have reviewed one top model from both tools, you can easily decide which would be perfect for your next project. The answer is simple - it all depends on the nature of your project. 

If you are drilling a lot of holes and screwing in small fasteners, a drill will be perfect for you. However, if you will need to screw in large fasteners repeatedly, then an impact driver will be more suitable. However, having them both in your workshed will make any DIY project a piece of cake.

Recap - Best Impact Driver and Drill

Before you go, here's a reminder of our choices for best impact driver and drill:

  1. Dewalt 20V MAX XR DCF887B
  2. Dewalt 20V Max DCD771C2

People Also Ask

Choosing between an impact driver and a drill is not difficult - they both have their specific uses. However, after reading the answers to the following questions, you will be able to better understand their functions:

Is It Worth Getting an Impact Driver?

An impact driver comes in handy when you are doing repetitive jobs like building a deck and hanging drywall. It drives screws reliably and quickly with more power. These tools are very lightweight, which does not tire you out, making the job easier. 

Moreover, impact drivers are not equipped with a clutch, which is why they can easily fit in tight spaces where traditional drills will not be able to fit.

Is an Impact Driver The Same as a Hammer Drill?

An impact driver and a hammer drill both have distinct roles to play on a job site. The latter is a power tool that is used to create holes in granite, concrete, marble, brick, and other similar materials. An impact driver, on the other hand, is used to drive or loosen screws that need high torque.

When Should You Not Use an Impact Driver?

An impact driver is not the tool to use in situations where you need precision. It should be used in projects where the hole’s placement or size is less critical than the amount of torque required. Moreover, these tools are not suitable for drilling into hard materials like concrete and brick.

Dewalt 20V MAX XR DCF887B

Does an Impact Driver Need Special Bits?

No, you do not need special bits for most fastening applications. Unless you are doing applications that push your impact driver to its potential, you will be better off with standard bits.  

Can You Use an Impact Driver With Sockets?

No, you cannot use impact drivers with ordinary sockets as they may crack or shatter under stress. There are specially designed sockets that can cope with the vibrations caused by impact drivers.

How to Use a Drill Bit on an Impact Driver

You can fit in a standard hex-shank drill bit in an impact driver to create holes in softwood and light-gauge steel. However, for larger holes in heavy steel, pressure-treated lumber, or hardwood, you will need a bit designed specifically for an impact driver.

When to Use Impact Driver vs Drill? 

Drills are used to create holes and to drive in small fasteners and screws, while impact drivers are able to handle larger screws efficiently and quickly. The latter has more power and is superior at directing downward force, which makes them comfortable to use over extended periods of time.

Can You Use an Impact Driver as a Drill?

Yes, you can use an impact driver to perform some basic drilling tasks; however, they will be limited in scope.