Hammer Drill vs. Impact Drill: What’s the Difference?



Hammer Drill vs Impact Drill

In any DIY or woodworking project, drilling holes can be inevitable and quite crucial. You can drill holes in stone or concrete with various types of drills. 

For instance, hanging a photo frame on a tile wall will be different from mounting a clothes rack on a concrete wall. Both cases require you to hang them securely, although the rack would have to be much stronger.

The question is, which drill should you use? 

There is the hammer drill and impact drill, but you’re not sure how they are different. In this article, we will explore the differences of these drills in greater detail.

Hammer Drill

What is a hammer drill?

Hammer drill

A hammer drill uses rotary action and is known to transfer fast and hard impact to the drill head. It produces a pulsating knock that is significantly greater than the impact drill. This allows hammer drills to push through harder materials and penetrate them easily.

The hammering movement can be used to pound nails to any board as the successive blows provide the necessary force. 

This type of drill is usually used for works with masonry. Materials such as rocks, bricks, concrete boards and drywalls will not be a problem anymore.

Hammer Drill Benefits

One of the most obvious benefits to the hammer drill is its powerful output. Combine the quick, continuous blows with the high-rpm spins from the drill itself. 

What do you get? That’s right, a significantly more powerful force that leverages only a tiny hammering motion.

This high-power output gives you the ultimate tool to drive through hard materials. Additionally, the hammer drill often comes with a simple switch to disengage the hammer mode. Disabling this button lets you use it as a regular drill, which is definitely a plus!

Hammer Drill Disadvantages

With that said, hammer drills are generally quite bulky, large, and heavy. This is because the hammer gear attachments make your standard drill longer and heavier. 

It should not be too much of an issue if you really need the hammer feature. However, this might make it more tiring to use.

Using this drill could strain your hand and wrist, unlike its other smaller alternatives. The pounding motion will transfer its energy into your hand, eventually causing some strain. 

While this is not too bad, you can start to feel it when you use the drill for longer periods of time. The additional hammering action and extra motion also make it harder to be precise.


  • Very powerful
  • Good for harder materials
  • Can double as ‘regular’ drill


  • Large and heavy
  • May strain the hand and wrist
  • Less precise

Also read: Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer: What’s the Difference?

Impact Drill

What is an Impact Drill?

On the other hand, an impact drill uses an impact function while operating in a pretty much similar way. It uses a rotary motion and has just one purpose, which is to drive screws into various materials. 

The special gearbox allows the drill to spin faster than your regular drill. It has a collet that you can fit hex-ended bits into.

Impact Drill Benefits

Because the impact drill is especially designed to drive screws, you can do it much faster and more accurately. Thanks to the specialized gearbox that allows the drill head to spin faster. 

Not only that, this drill is generally around four times as powerful than a regular drill. The good news is that it’s quite easy to manage this tool.

Another thing that makes the impact drill so great is it is very user-friendly. The continuous drilling action will transfer its power to the screw itself, and not your wrist or hand. This means you can work accurately without straining your hands.

Impact Drill Disadvantages

Despite being great for driving screws, impact drills aren’t the best choice for delicate jobs. This is because it delivers too much torque for optimal precision. We must say they are also more expensive to purchase.

In addition, one of the most significant reasons why many still choose not to buy the impact drill is its higher price tag. For occasional DIYers, it may not make sense to invest in one.


  • Drives screws fast and accurately
  • More powerful
  • Safe for the hand


  • Unsuitable for delicate jobs
  • Expensive
  • Loud

Also read: 10 Best Portable Table Saws for Fine Woodworking


Overall, getting a hammer or impact drill depends on your personal needs. Hammer drills are great to handle tough materials, while also functioning as a regular drill. 

Meanwhile, we’d recommend impact drills if you want to drive screws faster and accurately.