Hammer Drill vs. Impact Driver – What’s the difference? [2023 Update]

The hammer drill and impact driver are two of the most popular tools used today.

Both can be used in a variety of different situations, and each is unique in its pros and cons. Understanding the difference between the hammer drill and impact driver is crucial in making the right decision for you.

What is a hammer drill?

A hammer drill is what you call for when you need a drill that packs a powerful punch.

Typically reserved for boring holes in extremely hard surfaces such as stone, concrete, and masonry, a hammer drill is one of the most effective options for heavy-duty jobs.

Getting its name from the quick and repetitive “hammer” drilling motion of the bit, the hammer drill can attack the surface of your choice with thousands of revolutions a minute.

It can handle those tough surfaces that would leave your standard dry crying. Built to provide incredible power, the hammer drill offers some serious bang for your buck.

What do you use a hammer drill for?

If you’re looking to do some heavy drilling around the house and need a tool that won’t break down after just one use, the hammer drill is a great option.

Whether you’re looking to dig into some ceramic tiles or need to put a few holes in brick or concrete, the hammer drill is designed specifically to get the tough job done. The hammer drill uses a high amount of power to bore a perfectly-sized hole quickly and effectively every time.

Because of the power required to do the job effectively, the hammer drill is typically much larger than other standard drills and can be a bit heavier. Given the weight of the drill, you generally use the hammer drill in short spurts throughout your project in need.

Most of the best hammer drills also come equipped with an option to switch gears into a less power-intensive mode to prevent over-drilling or accidental destruction of the material at hand.

For those who want a both a drill and a hammer drill, you can now buy cordless hammer drills that have both modes.

What is an impact driver?

Often confused with a hammer drill, the impact driver is designed with a slightly different purpose in mind. An impact driver operates in a rotary fashion and is comparable to a heavy-duty screwdriver. If you need a tool to help you screw or unscrew any fastenings, the impact driver should be your tool of choice.

What do you use an impact driver for?

For centuries, the standard screwdriver has been sufficient for most jobs; however, the impact driver takes things up a notch, giving you extra power at the cost of control. Not only can the impact driver get the job done, it’s often significantly faster and more effective than a regular screwdriver.

There’s no need to waste your valuable energy manually tightening or loosening a screw when the impact driver is more than happy to help.

Hammer drill vs. impact driver – the differences

Again, while the hammer drill and impact driver can perform some of the same functions, each tool is designed for a specific need and should be used accordingly.

You should turn to the hammer drill when you need perfectly sized holes in material that is extremely hard and tough. You may eventually be able to drill a hole in concrete with a regular drill, but you’ll be in your workshop all night. You should consider the impact driver, on the other hand, when you’re looking to screw or unscrew screws and want technology to do the heavy lifting.

Though both tools are designed for different purposes, they do look very similar, which is why they are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Impact drivers tend to be a little more on the quiet side compared to the hammer drill, which can make you feel like you are in the center of a construction zone. In addition, impact drivers are a little less compact than a standard hammer drill. However, due to being slightly lighter in weight, impact drivers can be easier to handle for long periods of time.

In many instances, it’s not a matter of choosing a hammer drill over an impact drill, but rather assessing your specific needs to see which one is suitable for your project. It often doesn’t hurt to have both tools available should the need arise.
Can you use a hammer drill as an impact driver?

While technically a hammer drill can be used as an impact driver with a little customization, the reality is that the impact driver was built specifically for operating as an electric screwdriver. When possible, it’s recommended you use each tool for its specific purpose to get the best results.

Can I drill holes with an impact driver?

While the impact driver was designed to function as high-powered screwdriver, it can in fact drill holes if necessary. That being said, the impact driver typically operates in one mode and can often drill too much too quickly, which can damage the material you are using it on.

Do I use a hammer drill or impact driver for concrete?

If you’re in need of a tool that can drill into concrete, you should consider an SDS hammer drill as opposed to the impact driver. Again, the hammer drill is specifically designed to drill holes in hard surfaces, whereas the impact driver is not.

Which one should I choose?

Because the hammer drill and impact driver are so different in their specific uses, it’s not a question of choosing one over the other. Rather, you must figure out which tool suits your specific needs best. Both the hammer drill and impact driver are quite affordable, so when possible, you’ll want to have both available in your toolbox.

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