Impact drivers vs Hammer drills: Know The Differences

Impact driver vs Hammer Drill Differences

Long before the impact driver vs hammer drill difference debate existed there lived a regular drill. The regular drill would beautifully rotate its bit and drive screws on surfaces as need. Unfortunately, when the regular drill encountered surfaces with resistance to its bit, it would fail to deliver. So the hammer drill was designed.

In this article, we not only talked about the differences between hammer drill vs Impact driver but also reviewed Dewalt Impact Driver and Hammer Drill, Ryobi Impact Driver and Hammer Drill, Milwaukee Impact Driver and Hammer Drill with few other big brands on the market in 2019. 

Impact driver vs Hammer drill: Key Differences

Impact Driver
  • Sturdy enough to put screws into any material, without stripping them.
  • Only applies torque when there is resistance.
  • Great for light duty fasteners.
  • Short and stubby like a pug.
Hammer Drill
  • Stronger than a regular drill.
  • Hammers its drill bit while rotating it.
  • Drills holes with precision.
  • Larger and heavy.
  • Its constant hammering action is overkill for most screws and could strip them. So the creator designed an impact driver.

For more information read our latest difference between Impact Driver and Hammer Drill article.

For the best impact driver read our latest article Impact driver vs Impact wrench: What’s the best in 2018?

DEWALT DCK290L2 20v (20 volts) MAX Li-Ion 3.0 Ah Hammer Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit (Top Pick)

DEWALT DCK290L2 20v (20 volt) MAX Li-Ion 3.0 Ah Hammer Drill and Impact Driver Combo KitDEWALT DCK290L2 Hammer Drill
The most alluring aspect of Dewalt tools is that they never turn down a fight. As if the durability factor is not enough the DCK290L2 combo kit comes with both the DCD985 1/2-inch hammer drill and the DCF885 1/4-inch impact driver! These two tools perfectly compliment each other, making this combo set our top combo kit.

Special Features and Benefits

20-volt lithium-ion batteries
These 3.0 Ah lithium-ion batteries are designed to fast charge in 30 minutes. Their battery life is huge with a 35% more runtime than other 18-volt lithium-ion batteries. They come with an Energy Star qualified charger, compatible with 12 to 20 volt Dewalt lithium ion batteries.

A DCD985 20V max hammer drill
The entire upper half of the hammer drill is of steel construction with an all-metal transmission and 1/2″ chuck with carbide inserts for an improved bit grip. This is a welcome improvement, limiting slippage as has been traditional.

Patented 3-speed drill/ driver
Ranging from 0-575; 0-1,350, and 0-2,000 RPMs you can choose which speed is most efficient for your job. The cherry on this cake is that this combo is up to 30% faster than other tools in its range. This baby delivers 535 watts of power for faster application.

DCF885 1/4-inch impact driver
This baby packs quite a punch, with a motor that’s 43% faster than other impact drivers in its range, delivering a robust 2,800 RPMs. It has a 1/4 inch hexagonal chuck that holds one ich tips. Its 3.4 pounds of weight and 5.55 inches of length packs are perfect for working in small spaces.

Three 20 second delay LED work lights on the drill
You will not appreciate this feature as you should until you are in a situation that requires it. Besides the distinct advantage of having your area of focus lit, the work lights on these tools are primed to stay on for 20 seconds after you have released the trigger. How cool is that?

What We Liked
  • Sturdy and durable construction.
  • The versatility of two tools that complement each other.
  • Sturdy extended life Lithium-ion battery.
  • Has a battery life indicator.
What We Didn't Like
  • No traditional hard case storage but sold in a bag.
  • The devices do not come with a belt clip and have to order separately.

Verdict
Power, control, versatility and durability in one package. With an excellent manufacturing heritage to back them, these heavy-duty tools will quench any thirst you have for power tools and will keep ticking long after others have thrown in their gloves.

Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 ½” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Driver

Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 ½” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Driver

If you have been admiring Milwaukee tools from a distance, waiting for the right moment to jump in, the 18 ½” compact brush-less hammer drill/driver brings you that moment. This baby has a brushless motor, meaning that this hammer drill will be with you for a long, long time.

Key Features and benefits

Milwaukee Brushless Motor
This robust motor will last two times more and give you 50% more run time than you would get with brushed motors. Beginning to dominate the industry, brushless motors run much cooler, more powerfully and most efficiently than brushed motors. Because they have no carbon brushes, they neither spark nor do they require maintenance.

REDLITHIUM Battery
The outstanding RedLithium battery is the bulls-eye that most lithium-ion manufacturers are aiming at. This lithium-ion battery is famed for its superior construction, delivering more work per charge than other batteries in the market. Milwaukee RedLithium batteries have multiple tab lithium-ion cells that have increased output and an excellent pack construction too.

REDLINK Intelligence
This exclusive onboard electronic system optimizes the performance of the drills while decreasing chances of the motor or battery overheating. The system imbues the drill with optimal fail safes between the charger, battery, and drill consequently providing an efficient overall lengthier runtime and a longer lifespan of the motor.

Compact, ergonomic design
This drill has a length of 7-3/8 inches and weighs a paltry 3.9 pounds. Its superior grip provides excellent control when working. It is also well balanced so that you can work it in tight overhead spaces without breaking a sweat.

All metal case
The drill is stronger than it looks and gives it 3/8 lag bolts to drive into lumber and it will look up and ask, “Is that all you’ve got?” The all-metal gear case will provide maximum impact protection, ensuring that the drill survives any shock or work-related abuse thrown at it.

What We Liked
  • Brushless motors that require less maintenance are more power efficient and last long.
  • It has a 1/2 inch metal chuck.
  • Robust all metal gear case construction.
  • Great extended life lithium ion battery.
  • Works great also as a driver or a hammer drill.
What We Didn't Like
  • The plastic bits tend to heat up and look a bit cheap.
  • Has no side handle.

Verdict
With the extended run time and long life benefits the 18 ½” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Driver Bare is a steal. With this purchase you also have an outstanding Red lithium battery, offering you one of the most innovative power packs on the market today.

Makita XPH102 18 Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2″ Hammer Driver-Drill Kit (3.0Ah) Editor’s Choice

Makita XPH102 18 Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2" Hammer Driver Drill Kit (3.0Ah)Makita XPH102 18V
The Makita XPH102 18V Cordless 1/2″ Hammer Driver-Drill Kit can transform quickly into a hammer or driver as required. It can handle wood, masonry, metal or concrete without blinking an eye. Pro or hobbyist if you a want a go-to tool for all your projects, this is your man ladies and gentlemen!

Special Features and benefits

Makita-built 4-pole motor
The Makita-built 4-pole engine delivers a maximum torque of 480 pounds sufficient enough to work optimally as a drill or diver. At high-speed settings, it can achieve speeds of 1,900 RPM and 28,500 BPM. It is backed by a robust lithium-ion battery, that charges in under 30 minutes for smooth operations.

Hardy construction
The Makita XPH102 hammer driver engineered with Makita’s Extreme Protection Technology (XPT). This means that this baby is built to withstand extreme field conditions, being made exceptionally resistant to both water and dust damage. It is designed and constructed out of the most hardened metal gear there is, to keep it chugging no matter the weather.

Variable two-speed design
To make it perfect for any drilling you might throw at it this drill has dual duel speed settings. On the slow speed setting, it can whip up speeds of 0-600 & 0-1, 900 RPM. In the higher setting, it will whip you up to speeds of up to 0-9,000 & 0-28500 RPM, perfect for a wide range of driving, drilling and hammer situations.

Compact and ergonomic design
This drill is 7 3/4 inch long and weighs 3.9 pounds. How about that for less arm fatigue while working your long hours? Most noteworthy is the addition of a soft rubberized grip that makes it much easier for you to keep a firm grip on while driving those long screws in.

Built-in dual L.E.D. lights
If you are working in a dark walk-in closet or driving those screws under a table, you will love the sturdy LED lights on this drill. With its long handle and comfortable weight, you can increase your productivity by making poorly lit tight spaces easy to conquer with the Makita XPH102

What We Liked
  • Can be used for drilling, driving and hammer jobs.
  • Hardy all metal construction for long life.
  • Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) to help it withstand harsh working conditions.
  • Built-in fan for cooling the battery.
  • Purchased with a sturdy carry case.
  • Long battery life.
What We Didn't Like
  • Not very good with concrete.
  • Lacks an extra battery.

Verdict
There are reports of this Makita drill surviving the flooding at New Orleans and falls off storied buildings. Point is this drill will outlive most abuse thrown at it due its design and construction. The fact that you can do multiple jobs with it is the icing on this cake.

Ryobi P208 One+ 18V Lithium-Ion Drill / Driver with 1/2 Inch Keyless Chuck

Ryobi P208 One+ 18V Lithium Ion Drill / Driver with 1/2 Inch Keyless Chuck Ryobi P208 One+ 18V Hammer Drill
Editor’s Choice: When you think of the Ryobi P208 One+, think perfect cordless power tool for that kitchen remodeling you have been looking forward to, great reviews and the most reasonable price out there. Ladies and gentlemen, cheap are no longer expensive as they say when it comes to this drill.

Key Features and benefits

18 Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Battery
The Ryobi P208+ uses a long-lasting 18-volt lithium ion battery, but that is not where the fun ends. In case you have nickel-cadmium batteries lying around, toss them in and work it. What’s more, in case you have other Ryobi One power tools in your power tool arsenal, you can utilize their batteries to run your Ryobi P208+.

24 position clutch
This drill has a two-speed gearbox topped up with a 24 position clutch which enables you the user to access a wide variety of applications. The grip gives you the control you need to adjusts the torque, so that you may avoid damaging your delicate surface or material.

Two-speed transmission
A variable speed control empowers the drill to work its way through a wide range of materials promptly. This high-performance drill can whip up 350 inches per pound of torque and speeds of up to 1,600 RPM at high gear and 0-400 RPM at low gear.

Compact design
This baby is compact. Weighing only 3 pounds and with dimensions of 12 x 3 x 9-inches, this is as compact as compact can get. As a result of its minute size and lightweight nature, you can maneuver it quickly, without fatiguing your hand’s muscles, and fit in to in tiny spaces, easily.

Ergonomic design
The Ryobi P208+ feels fantastic to the hand when gripped. It is light, small and comfortable to use. Its rubberized overgrip on its pistol-style handle makes it steady while providing precision in slippery conditions. The provided Led lights will illuminate work surfaces, allowing productivity in dim conditions.

What We Liked
  • Very affordable.
  • Amazingly lightweight and compact.
  • Has a magnetic tray for storage of extra fasteners and bits.
  • Great rubberized grip to aid precision in slippery conditions.
  • Provides a variety of switch settings.
  • Needs no chuck keys to replace bits.
What We Didn't Like
  • Has no battery or charger at purchase.
  • Slow charging battery.

Verdict
For home use, you cant get a better-priced deal like the one the Ryobi P208+ offers. It is a decent drill cum driver that is budget friendly and an excellent investment that will suit any home use application.

PORTER-CABLE PCC620B 20V MAX Lithium-Ion Hammer Drill Editor’s Choice

PORTER CABLE PCC620B 20V MAX Lithium Ion Hammer DrillPORTER-CABLE PCC620B 20V
The Porter-Cable PCC620B is an all rounded hammer drill that can hold its own against a variety of work surfaces and materials be it concrete, brick or block. With an ability to whip up 27,200 BPMs speeds, you can apply it in HVAC work, plumbing or construction repairs.

Special Features and benefits

Two-speed gearbox
This Porter Cable model features a variable gearbox with two speeds. At its low setting, it can run at 0 to 400 RPMs while at its high setting its high torque can produce at least 1600 RPMs. This makes it applicable in masonry, wood and metal drilling.

20V Max Lithium-ion battery
Its 2.0Ah lithium ion cells offer a 30% longer run time than its previous 1.5 amp-hour batteries. This means better efficiency when tackling bigger jobs. This model has battery compatibility with other Porter Cable products which means you can swap around cells when needful to do so.

1/2″ metal chuck
The Porter-Cable PCC620B has a 1/2 inch metal ratcheting chuck, which grips its bits efficiently without the traditional slippage nuisance. There are magnetic clips provided to stow away your bits in safety, when not in use.

LED work light
When working in the dark there is nothing as welcome as having a light attached to your tool, pointed at the exact spot you are working on. The Porter-Cable PCC620B has LED lights to guide you in dark cabinets or corners, without the need of extra light at hand.

Great accessories
This hammer drill has excellent accessories that make your drilling action a breeze. To start you off there is a provided battery gauge that warns you when your battery life is low. This Porter-Cable model also has a belt hook, and magnets to aid you in storing your bits.

What We Liked
  • Affordably priced.
  • Has a pressure-sensitive trigger, which is very easy to use.
  • 23 clutch settings to suit all your drilling needs.
  • High 27,200 BPMs speeds to enable you to drill through a variety of surfaces.
  • LED lights for dark areas.
  • Has perfectly grippable textured handle for ease when holding it or carrying it.
What We Didn't Like
  • Not suitable for the heavy lifting kind of projects.
  • Is sold without batteries.

Verdict
This Porter Cable hammer drill is highly rated by users because it is small yet mighty and sturdily built. But its strongest point might be its cost. At a very affordable price, the Porter-Cable PCC620B can only describe as excellent value for money.

What is a hammer drill?

What is a hammer drill?
A hammer drill‘s name originates from its “hammer” action mechanism. As its drill rotates, this mechanism works by tapping on the bit with much torque, pounding on whatever surface you are working on then breaking it up.

The drill’s adjustable clutch system’s two hard discs generate this torque by clicking in and out against each other sometimes at percussive speeds of over 30,000 ‘taps’ per minute.

This constant high paced hammer action can cause your bit to slip in the chuck, making screw work less precise. This torque also puts a lot of strain on your wrists.

The upside is that this swift pulsing tapping action is perfect for drilling jobs, be it on brick, concrete or blocks.

What is an impact driver?

What is an impact driver?
An impact driver has a rotary impulse mechanism, which consists of a hammer, anvil and a spring. When the impact driver encounters resistance on its bit, the spring pulls the hammer back as it winds itself tight, so that on release, the hammer pounds the anvil in a rotational movement, enabling the driver to drive screws through any sturdy material.

The anvil can hit at rates as high as 3000bpm. This control and boosted torque, is perfect for the precise driving of screws, especially large or long ones, fasteners, and bolts. Its compact size is also ideal for tight spaces.

The rapid on and off action of the impact driver does not put a strain on the hand, unlike the hammer drill. On the downside impact drivers use hex shanks only, limiting the number of bits you can employ.

How we researched the products?

The impact driver vs Hammer drill debate has been ranging, and we decided to make protracted research on both tools. Our reviews are from the views we receive from users, and product experts in the industry.

We have purchased every product we have reviewed with funds from our own pockets. Our research team considered 101 models to assure you of our unbiased, honest reviews.Click To Tweet

Our expert team spent 17 hours on writing, editing this review and interviewed three experts from the industry.

Use our analysis as a guide to assist you to pick the best impact driver or hammer drill that is perfect for your needs and pocket.

Difference between Impact Driver and Hammer Drill: Functions

Impact Driver
  • Screw driving precision, ranging from the light socket to heavy duty long screws on 4x4s.
  • Since it only applies torque when there is resistance, it does not strip screws, and neither do bits come loose on its collar.
  • Is compact and allows you to work in tight spots.
  • Only capable of accepting hex-shanked bits and drivers.
  • Less capable of smooth, clean drill holes.
  • Prevents wrist strain.
  • Is faster than a hammer drill.
  • Compact and light perfect for driving in fasteners.
  • Has a forward, reverse movement.
Hammer Drill
  • Can drill into masonry or concrete with precision.
  • Delivers constant pressure to make smooth, clean holes.
  • More significant chuck that will accept a wide range of bits.
  • Is designed with a slip clutch that enables you to adjust to the precise torque you need depending on materials you are working on.
  • Accommodates multiple speed settings.
  • Stalls when working on large fasteners.
  • Hammer action will put some strain on the wrist.
  • The constant application of torque can strip screws or make the bits come loose on the chuck making work a bit messy.

Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill: Pricing

While the Dewalt DCK290L2 hammer drill and impact driver combo kit are in a high price range, the Makita XPH102 Cordless 1/2″ Hammer Driver-Drill Kit and the Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 ½” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Driver Bare are both mid-priced range. The budget-friendly options include the Ryobi P208 One Drill / Driver and the Porter-Cable PCC620B Hammer Drill.

How to use a hammer drill?

How to use a Hammer Drill?
Drilling holes into solid surfaces may seem a daunting task, but a hammer drill can turn it into a walk in the park for you. The Hammer drill has specifically been designed with a push and pull motion which when coupled with its rotational drilling action, will go through tough material much like a knife through butter. Know how to use a drill safely.

Items you need when using a hammer drill

    • Safety glasses
    • Your hammer drill
    • Masking tape
    • Tape measure

So how do you use a hammer drill you ask?

Determine the size of the hole required
Before you allow yourself to go crazy with your power tool, you need to be conversant with the size and depth of hole needed. To measure the extent necessary, place you drill head flush on a surface then measure it, then set the depth gauge on the drill accordingly. If there is no depth gauge or stopper feature on your drill, wrap the bit in masking tape to mark the required length.

X marks the spot
Use a marker, or screwdriver to mark the spot you are going to place the drill point when drilling.

Pick the perfect bit
Consider the material you about to drill into and use the right type of bit for it. If you need to toughen up your bit, apply some carbicide onto it.

Attach the bit
As you attach the bit ensure that you tighten it. A chuck does an excellent job of it.

Plug in your hammer drill
Plug it up then light it up! Put on your protective goggles if you haven’t done so.

Get drilling
Applying the right amount of pressure to start drilling, by pulling the trigger. Start slow then power it up, adding more pressure and speed as you drill deeper. Stop when you have your required depth

Blow it off
Keep blowing off the tiny bits of dust that dug off the surface you are working on.

Reverse out
Switch the drill unit into reverse setting to pull your bit off the hole and voila! Your very first hammer drill job!

Storage instructions

The Dewalt DCK290L2 is purchased with a heavy duty contractors bag leaving many of its ardent fans unhappy about the change from hardy to carry case to a bag. The Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 ½” has a pleasant heavy duty carry case though as does the Makita XPH102. The Porter-Cable PCC620B and the Ryobi P208+ as well also have a handy bag for the drill kit.

Most people store their tools in the workshop, basement or garage unless of course, you’ve got a power tool fetish in which case you will probably store them in a safe. A power tool storage cabinet or rack can be a great addition to your storage spaces so that you don’t need to fumble in clutter when ready to use them.

Safety and security when using impact drivers

Read the instructions provided
You most probably will never open your impact driver’s manual, gleefully jumping in to exercise your new found power tool craze, but it does help to peruse through it. The safety manual has operational instructions as well as replacement parts numbers amongst other things. Keep if safely tucked away for future reference.

Protect yourself
When using an impact driver, eye protection is of basic necessity because high powered tools can cause mishaps.

Keep work area clutter free
Cluttered workspaces increase chances of accidents happening. Have a safe well lit operating distance around you too.

Work in safety
Always have both hands on the impact driver when in use. Ensure that you are stable enough, feet solidly planted and weight evenly distributed to avoid falls. Give your impact driver some TLC. Oil it and clean it after use.

Safety and security when using a hammer drill

Read the instructions provided
Read the manufacturer’s instructions for safety, maintenance, and operational information. Ensure that you keep the manual for future reference.

Wear protective gear
Wear safety glasses with side shields or a face shield, plus hearing protection. Tie back long loose hair as well and remove any free clothing items.

Wear Protective clothes
While using a drill you need to wear a thick jacket to protect yourself. A not only jacket you should also avoid jewelry.

Use the right drill bit
To avoid the drill bit from damage ensure that you use the right drill bit for the right surface. Allow the drill bit to cool down before touching them after use

Handling
Never carry a drill by its trigger, to prevent accidents. Carry it by the base instead.

Secure your surfaces
Loose boards or metal sheets should clamp before the drilling commences. Make a pilot hole first. A pilot hole or center punch provides a means to orient the drill, preventing slippage.

Cleaning and maintenance
Don’t forget to clean your hammer drill regularly especially before using. You shouldn’t breathe dust while cleaning or disassembling the tool. For removing dirt always use a brush, while cleaning the machine make sure you are avoiding compressed air.

Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver: FAQ

Question #1: How different are hammer drill and impact drivers?
A: The hammer drill engages a spinning action combined with a hammering action to drill. An impact driver employs a rotational force to drive down screws

Question #2: Can an impact driver and a hammer drill fulfill the same functions?
A: A hammer drill drills hole with precision into surfaces. It can also drive screws, though it is less suited for this function. An impact driver, on the other hand, will use precision to drive screws large or small into heavy-duty resistant surfaces.

Question #3: 20 volt, 18-volt drivers. What is the difference?
A: The 20-volt terminology originates from the fact that when batteries fully charged its voltage is slightly higher, say that it would be if rated 18 volts.

Question #4: What is a brushless impact driver?
A: In standard motors, brushes are used to conduct electricity to a spinning rotor. This does wear these parts down due to friction. Brushless motors require no electrical connection to their spinning components. There is less friction which consequently increases a tool’s life.

Impact Driver vs Drill: Final Verdict

The impact driver vs hammer drill difference debate should give in to the notion that these two tools perfectly complement each other. They are all suited best for specific tasks although their lines tend to blur at times. Do consider the price range and the job at hand, then make your purchase decision.

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