Cordless Drill Vs. Impact Driver – What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between a cordless drill and an impact driver? Talk of a battle of the most powerful tools and you are definitely talking about this popular match. For long, the cordless drill has remained the most favorable tool when it comes to drilling and driving screws.

However, entry of impact driver into the market poses a challenge to this popular tool. If you are an average home improver, then you might find it hard getting how these tools differ. The fact that both of them are handy makes selecting the most suitable tool more unclear for beginners.

cordless impact driver

Source: Charles Hudson under CC 2.0

You might be wondering which of this tool do you need to buy. Or perhaps you already own one, and you are not sure whether having the other device is necessary. If these are the questions that are bothering you, then you are at the right place to finding answers.

Cordless Drill vs. Impact Driver – General Overview

The cordless drill has been a favorite tool for both professionals and home environment for quite some time, and it rarely misses in a handyman’s toolbox. This is because of its performance when it comes to driving screws and drilling holes. The tool is also praised for its versatility, a feature that allows you to use it with brushes, hole saws, or rotary sanders among other accessories.

On the contrary, an impact driver is specially designed for handling a single job which is driving screws; it does it easier and faster than any other machine. The tool can drive long and large fasteners quicker when compared to the cordless drill. This is why this tool is the most preferred for use when the depth of the screws is not a crucial part of the project.

Cordless Drill vs. Impact Driver – Key Differences

  • Keyless Chuck

    One noticeable feature that distinguishes these two tools is the keyless chuck. a cordless drill uses a keyless chuck for accommodating screw driving bits and hex or round shank drill bits. Contrary, an impact driver lacks a keyless chuck. Instead, this tool uses hex shanked driver bits

  • Specialization

    cordless drill vs impact driver

    Source: Douglas Muth under CC 2.0

    While a cordless drill is commonly used for general purpose, an impact driver is specialized to perform certain functions. Its use is limited to driving screws. This means that if you need a general purpose tool, then you should consider buying a cordless drill.

  • Slip Clutch

    All cordless drills are built with a slip clutch which enables adjusting the amount of torque used to achieve consistency and precision when driving screws. However, unlike the cordless drill, an impact driver lacks the slip clutch. Instead, its concussive action enables it to drive screws with improved precision and control.

  • Torque

    The impact driver delivers up to three times the torque as compared to standard drills. Despite, how powerful this stool could get, using it is easy and comfortable, thanks to the technology that it is built with. It is engineered to divert the high energy toque to the screw instead of your wrist or forearm.

Why Not Just One Tool?

That being said, it is important to note that the gap between these two power tools could soon be closed since some manufacturers are offering drill chucks and other accessories for drilling holes which can be used with an impact driver.

Despite the fact that a cordless drill is designed to be used for various purposes, we are in a world where time is of importance and no one wants to waste time on the same task. That is why the impact driver will be the most preferred by people who want to complete tasks faster and with reduced fatigue when it comes to driving screws.

Additionally, if most of your tasks involve driving long screws, several long or large screws, then you will find an impact driver quite useful. But if you are not looking forward to handling any of these tasks, then you should consider buying a cordless drill due to their excellent versatility.


Despite how useful both of these tools are, they are entirely different with regards to their design and functionality. This is why when deciding which tool best suits you, it essential to take into consideration the nature of your work.

If you are planning to do both screw driving and drilling in lightweight projects, then a cordless drill is a great tool to use. But when you are handling tasks where the depth of the screws does not count, then you might want to buy an impact driver.

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