Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver: Which is the Best Pick?

The power tool industry has come of age, and it’s only getting better. In fact, a visit to the power tool store will leave you awed at just how much manufacturers are willing to go to spoil you for choice.

When it comes to drilling holes and driving screws on any surface, all you have to do now is to find the right tool for the job and you’re good to go.

Hammer drills and impact drivers are often the primary options that come to mind. But don’t be fooled. While the two devices can accomplish pretty much the same job, they do have features, pros, and cons that set them apart.

So which is better? Should you get an impact driver? Or is a drill hammer the cream and crop for the job? Let’s find out in this hammer drill vs impact driver comparison.

What is a Hammer Drill?

A hammer drill is a power tool used to make holes on hard surfaces like concrete, bricks, and granite. It’s available in regular and rotary models. And although there are noticeable differences in features and design between the two, they have a very similar working mechanism.

This power tool uses a hammering mechanism to push a drill bit forward, and the rotational force it creates is powerful enough to pulverize through tough materials. In a hammer drill, the drill bits rotate faster, which is why it’s a more reliable tool to use if you want to make holes on hard surfaces faster. This power tool even goes as far as to drive fasteners into hard surfaces like masonry and concrete.

What is an Impact Driver? 

As you’ll learn later in this comparison, an impact driver is different from a hammer drill in so many different ways, although the working mechanism of the two power tools is almost the same.

In general, an impact driver is the tool to purchase if you want to loosen or drive bolts, fasteners, and bolts into different materials. Also known as impact drills, an impact driver also does what a hammer drill does. It allows you to drill holes onto objects.

An impact driver is the right power tool to use on smaller as well as lighter screw. In this case, the tool will use the motor’s rotary power to give the screw a forward push. Unlike standard power drills, an impact driver can also use percussive power to drive the fasteners and the screws forward. So in a way, it’s a more versatile, multipurpose power tool for the money.

Sometimes the power provided by the motor of an impact driver isn’t enough to get the job done. Should this be the case, the machine will automatically trigger a hammering mechanism in the direction of a screw or fastener’s rotation. This gives more torque, making it possible for you to get the job in question done fast. Not to mention that it tends to be quite effective on larger and longer bolts, fasteners, and screws that regular drills can’t handle.

Hammer Drill Vs Impact Driver Comparison Table 

Hammer Drill

Impact Driver


For drilling holes on hard materials

For loosening and driving screws


They’re bulky

Short head and length

Tool Holder

SDS chunk

Hexagonal  socket



You cannot control torque

What are the Differences between a Hammer Drill and an Impact Driver? 

Differences in Design 

If you’ve used a hammer drill and an impact driver before, you must have noticed they have a similar working mechanism with a bit of a twist on the hammer drill.

Here’s what we mean:

An impact driver works by using a rotational force to drive a screw into a hole. This power tool includes a motor, two or three spring-loaded plates, and anvil plates. Once powered, the motor turns the spring-loaded plates, pushing them apart from the anvil plates. The mechanism creates a potential energy in the spring and space between the plates.

In a fraction of a second, the kinetic energy in the spring forces the plates to slam against each other, therefore creating a robust torque. The machine transfers the energy to the drill bits with a forceful impact, hence the reason why an impact driver works faster than a hammer drill.

To drive the screw even faster, the device uses a series of burst forces in the direction of the screw’s rotation.

A hammer drill, on the other hand, uses the same rotational force. However, the twist is in the hammering force. Unlike an impact driver, a hammer drill delivers a more impactful force to drive a screw into a hole faster.

Differences in Performance 

An impact driver is the standard tool built to drive screws, and it has more torque power to get even the most complicated jobs done. Unlike a cordless drill, an impact driver can easily manage big screws, so it’s perfect for woodworking jobs that require many large fasteners. You can fit an impact driver with a quarter hex-shank bits to make holes, only you have to keep in mind that you won’t get precise result as you would with a hammer drill.

A hammer drill is a perfect tool for drilling holes on tough objects like concrete and rock. So when you have hard masonry job that demands tons of holes in the building, this is the right tool to use. One unique feature of a hammer drill is the option to shut down the hammer function and use them to do the exact thing a drill does provided you have the right drill bits. However, this brings the issue of weight. In other words, turning off the hammer function and converting this device into a regular drill tends to make it heavier and thus difficult to handle.

Difference in Power and Drill Bits 

One of the things that stand out about impact drivers is the amount of power they provide. The device provides more torque to allow you drive screws faster with very little energy exertion from your hands.

Thanks to the more torque that it provides, an impact driver is undeniably a more efficient tool to use on big projects that demands multiple fasteners.

Since an impact driver lacks an adjustable chunk, it can only work with a quarter hex-shank bits. Also, you want to make sure that these drill and driver bits are strong enough to handle the force of the impact driver.

Like cordless drivers, hammer drill include adjustable chunks for holding standard and hex-shank bits. But if you plan to use a hammer drill for masonry jobs, you’ll need to get a carbide tipped bit.

One of the best things about hammer drills is the inclusion of adjustable clutches in the design. This means the chances of an over torque and damaging the drill bits is zero. Impact drivers don’t have this feature unfortunately, so there’s a high chance that smaller bolt, screws, and fasteners can get over torqued and damaged.

Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver: Price 

The price of a standard impact driver ranges between $50 and $100. Some cost well over $100, and what’s noticeable about them is the inclusion of a wide range of advanced features. Some brands even bundle cordless drills and impact drivers, so they tend to save you some money, especially if you’re just starting out in building your tools’ collection.

Hammer drills cost more than impact drivers do, starting from $70 for the basic models without the masonry bits. Price goes well over $100 for hammer drills with advanced features. In any case, the model you buy depends on the features you expect to see in a hammer drill.

Which One Should You Buy? 

Now that you know what each tool is and the difference between the two, it’s time to ask yourself which one you need the most.

The answer is it depends.

If you’re interested in a more versatile tool, a hammer drill is your best bet. In other words, if you need a power tool that can drill holes on different materials and, at the same time, has the ability to drive screws and fasteners when used in combination with a screwdriver bit, then a hammer drill is the right tool to buy. Do keep in mind that hammer drills are heavy, not to mention larger. So you need to have the muscle strength to hold them up, especially on long hour jobs.

If you’re interested in a compact and lighter power tool, then go with an impact driver. To be clear, an impact driver’s main purpose is to drive bolts, screws, and fasteners into different objects. Of course, some models can be used to drill holes on different surfaces, but the main purpose of the driver is to drive in fasteners.


That’s all there is to hammer drill vs impact driver. We hope that this comparison will help you to determine which tool between the two is right for you.


None is better than the other is, and sometimes the one you choose will come down to a personal choice.

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