No matter the job, impact tools are a must in any technician’s van or weekend warrior’s toolbox. Unlike standard power drills, drivers or wrenches, these tools deliver a high output of torque by storing energy in a rotating mass and producing it quickly to the output shaft. That means a user doesn’t have to exert a lot of energy when operating them. But what exactly are the differences between popular types of impact tools? In this guide we offer a quick comparison of an impact driver vs impact wrench vs hammer drill, so you know what they’re best used for.
What is an Impact Driver?
An impact driver loosens and fastens various types of screws, carriage bolts, nuts and screw anchors. It has plenty of torque and power to drive these types of fasteners into wood, metal or light concrete with ease. While the tool could bore holes with a spade-style bit, it isn’t meant for drilling.
Top Impact Drivers
- Milwaukee M18 FUEL™ 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver
- DeWalt Atomic 20V MAX BRUSHLESS Compact 1/4″ Impact Driver
- Klein Compact 1/4″ Hex-Drive Impact Driver
What is an Impact Wrench?
Popular among automotive mechanics, an impact wrench is designed to loosen and fasten both nuts and bolts. There are many corded and cordless models available that easily fit in any toolbox. However, some options use compressed air, which helps supply more heavy-duty torque for major construction projects.
Top Impact Wrenches
- Ryobi 18V ONE+ 3-Speed 1/2″ Impact Wrench
- Milwaukee M18 FUEL™ 1/2″ Compact Impact Wrench w/ Friction Ring
- Craftsman V20 Brushless 1/2″ Drive Impact Wrench
What is a Hammer Drill?
A hammer drill, also known as an impact drill, is like a standard drill but provides more power by boring holes in a hammering motion. Its high-powered, punching torque makes the tool perfect for drilling into hard surfaces like concrete, brick and masonry.
Top Hammer Drills
- DeWalt 20V MAX XR BRUSHLESS 1/2″ Hammer Drill-Driver
- Makita 18V LXT® Lithium‑Ion Brushless 1/2″ Hammer Driver‑Drill
- Milwaukee M18 FUEL™ 1-9/16″ SDS Max Hammer Drill
Quick Comparison: Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench vs Hammer Drill
|Impact Driver||Impact Wrench||Hammer Drill|
|Main Function||Loosening or fastening screws into wood metal or light concrete||Loosening or fastening nuts and bolts on cars or metal equipment||Boring holes into concrete or brick surfaces|
|Ideal Projects||Home DIY, HVAC, food service||Automotive, construction, HVAC||Construction, home DIY, HVAC, food service|
Got any recommendations for when to use these impact tools or on which brands you like most? Continue the conversation in our Tools of the Trade forum.