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Hammer Drill vs. Impact Driver: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 8, 2023
A hammer drill combines rotation with a hammering action for drilling into masonry, while an impact driver offers high torque for driving screws with less strain on the user's wrist.

Key Differences

The hammer drill and impact driver serve different purposes in the realm of power tools, each with unique mechanisms and uses. A hammer drill combines rotation with a hammering action, pounding the drill bit in and out while it spins, effectively breaking through tough materials like concrete and masonry. Conversely, an impact driver utilizes a rotational impact force, delivering high torque for driving screws and bolts with greater efficiency. This distinction is crucial for users to understand when choosing the right tool for their specific tasks.
When it comes to drilling holes, particularly in hard materials, a hammer drill is the preferred choice due to its percussive action that facilitates easier penetration. This tool is ideal for tasks requiring precision and power in drilling through concrete, brick, or stone. On the other hand, an impact driver excels in fastening screws and bolts, especially in dense materials, where its high-torque impact mechanism ensures a more efficient and less strenuous process than using a hammer drill, which might not deliver the same level of torque for such tasks.
In terms of design, hammer drills are typically larger and bulkier compared to impact drivers. This is due to the additional components required for the hammering mechanism, making them more suitable for heavy-duty tasks. Impact drivers, with their compact design, are more user-friendly, especially in tight spaces or for overhead work. They offer a more comfortable grip and better balance, which is less fatiguing for the user compared to the heftier hammer drill.
Users will find that while a hammer drill is essential for jobs requiring drilling into concrete or masonry, it can be overkill for simpler tasks. The impact driver, with its high torque and compact design, is more versatile for general construction tasks, such as driving screws into wood or metal. However, it lacks the hammer drill's capacity for handling harder materials, highlighting the importance of choosing the right tool based on the specific requirements of the job.
Noise and vibration levels are also significant factors to consider. Hammer drills generally produce more noise and vibration due to their hammering action, which can be a concern in residential areas or for extended use. Impact drivers, while still noisy, typically have lower vibration levels, making them more comfortable for prolonged use. This distinction in noise and vibration between the hammer drill and impact driver should be considered by professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike when selecting the appropriate tool for their project.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Drilling into hard materials
Driving screws and fasteners


Rotation and hammering action
Rotational impact

Best For

Masonry like concrete and brick
Fastening tasks in woodworking, etc.

Physical Demand

Generally heavier and more demanding
Lighter, easier on the wrist

Bit Compatibility

Standard drill bits
Hex-shanked driver bits

Hammer Drill and Impact Driver Definitions

Hammer Drill

A hammer drill is a power tool that combines drilling with a hammering action for hard surfaces.
I used the hammer drill to make holes in the concrete wall for mounting.

Impact Driver

An impact driver is a tool designed for driving screws with high torque and less effort.
Assembling the deck was faster with an impact driver.

Hammer Drill

Hammer drills are suitable for masonry work, offering both spinning and pounding motions.
Installing the anchor bolts was easier with a hammer drill.

Impact Driver

Impact drivers are compact and lightweight, ideal for long periods of use and tight spaces.
I used the impact driver in the cramped space under the sink.

Hammer Drill

Hammer drills often come with adjustable speed and hammering intensity.
For delicate tiles, I adjusted the hammer drill to a lower setting.

Impact Driver

Impact drivers require hex-shanked bits to accommodate high-torque applications.
I grabbed a set of hex-shank bits for my new impact driver.

Hammer Drill

Hammer drills can be used as regular drills by disabling the hammering function.
I switched off the hammering action on the drill for regular wood drilling.

Impact Driver

Impact drivers use rotational impacts to drive screws efficiently, especially in tough materials.
The impact driver made quick work of the dense hardwood.

Hammer Drill

Hammer drills are heavier and more robust, designed for challenging drilling tasks.
The hammer drill's weight helped me penetrate the tough stone surface.

Impact Driver

An impact driver is best for fastening work, not suited for drilling holes.
I switched from the hammer drill to the impact driver for screwing in the bolts.


How does an impact driver differ in design from a drill?

It's more compact and has a hex chuck.

What type of bit does a hammer drill use?

Standard drill bits, and masonry bits for hammering.

Can a hammer drill be used as a regular drill?

Yes, by turning off the hammering action.

What materials can a hammer drill work on?

Primarily masonry, concrete, and brick.

Can I use regular drill bits in an impact driver?

Only if they are hex-shanked.

Do I need special safety gear for a hammer drill?

Standard safety gear, including eye protection, is recommended.

Is an impact driver suitable for drilling holes?

It's primarily for driving screws, not drilling.

What's the advantage of an impact driver for screws?

Less wrist strain and more efficient driving.

Is an impact driver faster than a regular drill?

Yes, especially for driving screws.

Which is louder: a hammer drill or an impact driver?

Hammer drills are generally louder.

What tasks are impact drivers not good for?

Not ideal for delicate screwing tasks or drilling.

Can I use an impact driver for car repairs?

It's great for fastening, but not for precision tasks.

Are there cordless hammer drills?

Yes, many models are available.

Are impact drivers adjustable like drills?

They have adjustable torque settings.

Can a hammer drill replace an impact driver?

Not effectively, as their functions differ.

Can impact drivers be used on all screw types?

Yes, but appropriate bits must be used.

Is a hammer drill good for woodwork?

It's overkill for wood, better for harder materials.

How heavy is a typical hammer drill?

Heavier than standard drills, varying by model.

Do hammer drills need maintenance?

Regular cleaning and occasional servicing.

What is the battery life like on impact drivers?

Generally good, but depends on the model and usage.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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