Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill: The 4 Differences That Matter

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Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by John Patterson

Impact Driver vs Hammer Drill

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 needed.

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 hammer drill vs impact driver article, we not only talked about the differences between a hammer drill and an 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 2023.

Impact Driver vs. Hammer Drill: Key Differences

Impact Driver
  • Sturdy enough to put screws into any material without stripping them.
  • It 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, please read our latest article on the 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 2024?

Best Impact Drivers and Hammer Drills

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

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 hammer drill and impact driver combo kit come with both the DCD985 1/2-inch hammer drill and the DCF885 1/4-inch impact driver! These two tools perfectly complement each other, making this combo set our top combo kit.

What We Liked
  • Sturdy and durable construction.
  • The versatility of the two tools complements 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.

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 enormous, with 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 a 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:

You can choose which speed is most efficient for your job from 0-575, 0-1,350, and 0-2,000 RPMs. 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 tip. Its 3.4 pounds and 5.55 inches 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 light, the work lights on these tools are primed to stay on for 20 seconds after you have released the trigger. How cool is that?


Power, control, versatility, and durability in one package. With an excellent manufacturing heritage to back them, these heavy-duty tools will quench your thirst 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

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/impact driver brings you that moment. This baby has a brushless motor, meaning that this hammer drill will be with you for a long time.

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.
  • Greatly extended-life lithium-ion battery.
  • Works great also as an impact driver or a hammer drill.
What We Didn't Like
  • The plastic bits tend to heat up and look a bit cheap.
  • It has no side handle.

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 require maintenance.


The outstanding RedLithium battery is the bulls-eye that most lithium-ion manufacturers aim 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 with increased output and excellent pack construction.

REDLINK Intelligence:

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

Compact, ergonomic design:

This hammer drill is 7-3/8 inches long and weighs a paltry 3.9 pounds. Its superior grip provides excellent control when working. It is also well-balanced so you can work it in tight overhead spaces without a sweat.

All metal cases:

The hammer 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 hammer drill survives any shock or work-related abuse thrown at it.


With the extended run time and long-life benefits, the 18 ½” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Impact 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 XPH07Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2″ Hammer Driver-Drill 

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

What We Liked
  • It 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.
  • They were purchased with a sturdy carry case.
  • Long battery life.
What We Didn't Like
  • Not very good with concrete.
  • Lacks an extra battery.

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. It can achieve speeds of 1,900 RPM and 28,500 BPM at high-speed settings. It is backed by a robust lithium-ion battery that charges in under 30 minutes for smooth operations.

Hardy construction:

The Makita XPH102 hammer drill/Impact driver is 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 to keep it chugging no matter the weather.

Variable two-speed design:

This hammer drill has dual duel speed settings to make it perfect for any drilling you might throw at it. 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 hammer drill is 7 3/4 inches long and weighs 3.9 pounds. How about that for less arm fatigue while working long hours? Most noteworthy is the addition of a soft rubberized grip that makes it much easier to keep a firm grip on while driving those long screws in.

Built-in dual L.E.D. lights:

Whether working in a dark walk-in closet or driving those screws under a table, you will love the sturdy LED lights on this hammer 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 hammer drill.


There are reports of this Makita hammer drill surviving the flooding in New Orleans and falling off storied buildings. This hammer drill will outlive most abuse thrown at it due to its design and construction. You can do multiple jobs with it is the icing on the cake.

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

Editor’s Choice: When you think of the Ryobi P208 One+, think of the perfect cordless power tool for that kitchen remodeling you have been looking forward to, with great reviews and the most reasonable price. Ladies and gentlemen, cheap are no longer expensive, as they say regarding this hammer drill.

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

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, if you have other Ryobi One power tools in your power tool arsenal, you can use their batteries to run your Ryobi P208+.

24-position clutch:

This hammer drill has a two-speed gearbox topped up with a 24-position clutch, enabling the user to access various applications. The grip gives you the control you need to adjust 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 through a wide range of materials promptly. This high-performance hammer drill can whip up 350 inches per pound of torque and speeds up to 1,600 RPM at high 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 tiny spaces, easily.

Ergonomic design:

The Ryobi P208+ feels fantastic on 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.


You can’t get a better-priced deal for home use like the one the Ryobi P208+ offers. It is a decent hammer drill cum impact 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 

The Porter-Cable PCC620B is an all-rounded hammer drill that can hold against various work surfaces and materials, be it concrete, brick or block. With the ability to whip up 27,200 BPMs speeds, you can apply it in HVAC work, plumbing, or construction repairs.

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

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 needed.

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. Magnetic clips are provided to stow away your bits safely 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 needing extra light.

Great accessories:

This hammer drill has excellent accessories that make your drilling action a breeze. To start you off, a provided battery gauge 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.


Users highly rate this Porter-Cable hammer drill because it is small yet mighty and sturdily built. But its most vital 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 the 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, an anvil, and a spring. When the impact driver encounters resistance on its bit, the spring pulls the hammer back as it winds itself tightly 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 3000 bpm. This control and boosted torque are perfect for precisely driving screws, especially large or long ones, fasteners, and bolts. Its compact size is also ideal for tight spaces.

The impact driver’s rapid on-and-off action does not strain 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 conduct 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.

Our expert team spent 17 hours writing and editing this hammer drill vs. impact driver review and interviewed three experts from the industry.

Use our analysis as a guide to picking the best impact driver or hammer drill perfect for your needs and pocket.

Hammer Drill vs. Impact Driver: 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, nor do bits come loose on its collar.
  • It 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.
  • It is faster than a hammer drill.
  • Compact and light, perfect for driving fasteners.
  • Has a forward and reverse movement.
Hammer Drill
  • It 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.
  • It is designed with a slip clutch that enables you to adjust to the precise torque you need depending on the materials you are working on.
  • Accommodates multiple speed settings.
  • Stalls when working on large fasteners.
  • Hammer’s action will put some strain on the wrist.
  • The consistent torque application can strip screws or make the bits lose 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 daunting, 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 rigid 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 the hole needed. To measure the extent necessary, place your drill head flush on a surface, measure it, and 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 where you will place the drill point when drilling.

Pick the perfect bit:

Consider the material you are about to drill into and use the correct type of bit for it. If you need to toughen up your bit, apply some carbide.

Attach the bit:

As you attach, the bit ensures that you tighten it. Chuck does an excellent job of it.

Plugin 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 the 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 contractor’s bag leaving many of its ardent fans unhappy about the change from a hardy to-carry case to a bag. The Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 ½” has a pleasant heavy-duty carry case, as does the Makita XPH102. The Porter-Cable PCC620B and the Ryobi P208+ also have a handy bag for the drill kit.

Most people store their tools in the workshop, basement, or garage unless 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 will probably never open your impact driver’s manual, gleefully jumping in to exercise your newfound power tool craze, but it does help to peruse through it. The safety manual has operational instructions and replacement parts numbers, amongst other things. Keep it 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 the 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, your feet solidly planted and your 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, a face shield, and hearing protection. Tie back long, loose hair, and remove any free clothing items.

Wear Protective clothes:

While using a drill, you must wear a thick jacket to protect yourself. Not only jackets but 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 suitable surface. Allow the drill bit to cool down before touching them after use.


Never carry a hammer 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 it. You shouldn’t breathe dust while cleaning or disassembling the tool. Always use a brush to remove dirt; while cleaning the machine, ensure you avoid compressed air.

Hammer Drill vs. Impact Driver: (FAQs)

Question #1: How different are hammer drills and impact drivers?

Answer: 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?

Answer: A hammer drill drills hole with precision into surfaces. It can also drive screws, though it is less suited for this function. On the other hand, an impact driver 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?

Answer: The 20-volt terminology originates from the fact that when batteries are fully charged, their voltage is slightly higher; say that it would be if rated 18 volts.

Question #4: What is a brushless impact driver?

Answer: In standard motors, brushes 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.

In Conclusion

The impact drivers vs. hammer drills difference debate should give in to the notion that these two tools perfectly complement each other.

They are best suited for specific tasks, although their lines sometimes blur. Consider the price range and the job, then make your purchase decision.

If you have questions about Hammer Drill vs. Impact Driver, let us know by commenting here.

Good Luck.

About the author

John Patterson

Hi there! My name is John Patterson. I’m a meticulous guy who loves to deal with the perfect tools for various needs. No matter if it’s a woodworking tool or gardening tool or anything else, I don’t compromise the quality and usability. Since 2010 I’ve been testing different tools for different DIY and professional tasks. Later in 2015, I decided to share my knowledge with the world. I started by answering people in the forums and several Q/A sites like Quora. Then I founded this blog to aid others like you with my knowledge and experience.

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