What Is a Screw Gun? What’s the Difference vs a Drill?

A screw gun can be confusing and for good reason.

Isn’t it just a drill with a screwdriver bit? Why do you need it? Can you just use a drill instead?

Believe it or not, a screw gun is it’s own thing entirely.

It’s not a drill and it’s much more than an electric screwdriver. Let’s take a closer look at what makes a screw gun special.

What Exactly Is a Screw Gun?

A screw gun is sort of a hybrid of a drill and an electric screwdriver.

It doesn’t drill holes, but is instead specifically designed to drive screws. Some screw guns automatically feed screws from a clip which makes drywall installation must faster.

The nose of most screw guns adjusts to that you can choose the depth of drive – this is especially important if you’re working with drywall.

Because the surface of drywall is covered in paper, driving the screw too deep can cause damage. It might not seem like a big deal to have a small tear but because the integrity of the surface is compromised, it can lead to problems down the line.

With a screw gun, you can set the depth to the perfect amount and get consistent drives with every screw.

How Is a Screw Gun Different from a Drill?

As we mentioned, screw guns are specifically designed to drive screws. Drills are meant to bore holes.

They look a lot alike and work in basically the same way, but there are some differences. Drills tend to have fewer RPMs than screw guns, in part because, with the right drill bit, you don’t need as many if you have the right torque.

There are drills out there that you can put a screwdriver bit into but, while this is acceptable for some jobs, it’s not the best approach to hanging drywall. A screw gun is basically meant for drywall installation and is the right tool for the job.

Corded vs Cordless

The main differences between a corded and cordless screw gun is going to the weight, portability and ease of use in hard to reach areas.

Some professionals prefer a corded screw gun because they don’t weigh as much. With a cordless one, like with any cordless tool, you have to account for the weight of the battery.

That said, corded screw guns have their own limitations. Your movement will always be somewhat restricted by the cord, where you can plug it in, plus, you have to work around it, which can get a little awkward at times.

Power generally isn’t a concern with either type.

Pros & Cons

So, should you get a screw gun? That depends. Here’s a look at the pros and cons to help you decide.


  • Specially designed for drywall installation
  • Depth control allows for consistent drives at just the right depth every time
  • Some models can also be used as a drill which gives some versatility
  • Generally a pretty affordable tool


  • Limited use beyond drywall installation
  • Not designed for drilling holes
  • Even models that can be used with drill bits aren’t as effective as an actual drill

Great for the Right Job

While there is some gray area between them, a drill and a screw gun are not the same. They’re also not interchangeable. A drill is specifically mean to bore holes; a screw gun to drive screws. If you want to make sure the job is done right, you have to use the right tool. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

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