You’d probably seen an impact drive but not even known it. That’s because an impact driver looks just like a power drill.
But what’s the difference between an impact drive and a power drill (also known as a cordless or corded drill)?
In summary: An impact drive is a high speed, high torque type of cordless drill that is designed for driving in screws and similar things. It doesn’t have a clutch or chuck. It’s smaller and lighter than a typical cordless drill.
Impact Driver vs. Power Drill: What’s The Difference?
- Works at high speed (for drilling) or low speed (for driving screws)
- Keyed or keyless chuck to hold the bit
- Works with round or hex-shaped bit
- Has a clutch of adjusting torque – saves your wrists and prevents over-tightening
Impact Driver Basics
- Smaller and lighter than a drill
- No chuck, just a hex collet (the holder piece)
- Higher torque than most drills
- Typically has a single (high) speed gear with a variable-speed trigger
Intended Use of an Impact Driver
True to its name, a drill is really good at drilling. That is to say, drills are best when they are using a drill bit and putting a hole in something. It could be metal, concrete, wood, plastic, it doesn’t matter, drills are for drilling.
Impact drivers are for fastening, or putting in screws, lag screws (aka lag bolts) and the like. You’d think this would be something you’d want to do with a drill with a clutch (so as to not strip the heads) but rather an impact driver sacrifices the clutch for maximum torque (that is, spinning power). An impact driver
What’s the best Impact Driver Bit Set?
If you recently purchase an impact driver and you want a set of bits to kit out your tool, a great starting point is the Dewalt FlexTorq Driver Bit 35-piece set, which sells for under $30. The set includes 25 precision CNC machined pieces:
- 4 socket heads (known as nut drivers)
- 10 Phillips heads
- 1 extended Phillips head
- 5 Torx heads
- 1 flat head screwdriver bit
- 4 square drive heads
Each piece can flex up to 15 degrees in order to tamp down the torque and prevent breakage.
Do impact drivers have a clutch like a power drill?
No, impact drivers do not have a like like a power drill does. This means if you turn it too fast and drive too hard you can create huge amount of torque, causing you to hurt your wrists or possibly drop the driver.
Do impact drivers have adjustable torque settings?
No, because there is no clutch on an impact driver, it does not have adjustable torque. Some impact drivers have gear settings so you can adjust the speed and power of the driver which can make the driver more versatile but the gears will not function as a clutch would.
Can an impact driver put in screws?
Yes. The point of an impact driver is specifically to drive in screws and similar fasteners, like lag screws. Impact drivers are typical sold with phillips head attachments (the bit) as well as sockets.
Can an impact driver drill holes?
Yes. While an impact driver isn’t design to drill holes, it most certainly can. Because there is no chuck you can’t use your normal round drill bits (the ones from your cordless drill) but you can buy drive bits. These bits will have a hex-shaped end that will fit the collet of an impact driver instead of the chuck of a drill.