There is a lot of confusion between the differences and similarities between impact wrenches and drills. I mean, they look fairly similar and you could understand how some beginner tradesmen could be confused.
- Can you use an impact wrench to drill?
- Are drills able to remove nuts and bolts?
- Which one is the better tool?
These, and many other questions, boost the confusion that could only be solved by comparing these two types of tools, which is what I did in this article.
So, make yourself a coffee, and prepare to read the most in-depth guide that will compare impact wrenches vs drills which, hopefully, will teach you a thing or two while allowing you to pick the best tool of the two for your specific needs.
What’s an Impact Wrench
You might be wondering, “what the hell is an impact wrench?”
Well, let me tell you, it’s a powerful tool designed to remove stubborn nuts and bolts by delivering a high torque output with an impact socket.
They are often used in automotive and industrial applications where brute force is needed. I mean, imagine being a mechanic trying to remove a rusted bolt from a car’s suspension system. The bolt’s not gonna budge with a regular wrench, you’ll need an impact wrench.
You can get impact wrenches in both corded and cordless models, which are suitable for different situations:
- If you’re working on heavy-duty applications that require a lot of torque, a corded impact wrench might be the best option as it’s got a constant power source to deliver higher levels of torque
- While if you need something more portable and versatile, a cordless impact wrench is the way to go as it gives you the freedom to move around and reach tight spaces without the hassle of cords
What’s a Drill
You can use drills to drill holes in wood, metal, plastic, you name it.
From making furniture, to hanging shelves or working at the construction site, a drill is a must-have tool for every tradesman.
They come in both corded and cordless models.
If you need to do some heavy-duty drilling that requires a lot of power, then a corded drill might be the way to go as they normally output higher levels of torque.
However, if you’re doing some light drilling or you need to move around a lot, a cordless drill might be a better choice as they come with rechargeable batteries that give you the freedom to move around without being tethered to an outlet.
Now, there are different types of drills out there, such as hammer drills, right-angle drills, and rotary drills.
Each of these has its own benefits and is used in different situations. For example, a hammer drill is great for drilling into concrete or other tough materials, while a right-angle drill is perfect for tight spaces.
Impact Wrench vs Drill: Full Comparison
First off, let’s break down how an impact wrench works. These tools are designed to fasten or remove stubborn nuts and bolts by delivering a high torque output with an impact socket.
Drills, on the other hand, are great for drilling holes in various materials and driving screws into softer materials like wood and drywall. However, they may struggle with tougher materials like concrete or metal.
Now, can you use an impact wrench as a drill? The answer is no, folks. Impact wrenches are not designed to spin drill bits, and attempting to do so can damage the tool and the bit.
And, what about using drills as impact wrenches?
Yes, you can use a drill to fasten and remove nuts and bolts with the help of appropriate drill attachments such as socket adapters, nut drivers or hex shank bits. A drill with a suitable attachment can provide a faster and more efficient way of tightening and loosening nuts and bolts than using a wrench or pliers, especially when dealing with a large number of fasteners.
However, it’s important to know that most drills won’t have the necessary torque to remove stubborn nuts and bolts, which is what makes impact wrenches a great tool to have.
To make this comparison, we need to look at these tools from different viewpoints:
Impact wrenches are designed to deliver some serious torque. We’re talking about the kind of power that can take out even the most stubborn nuts and bolts with the help of impact sockets.
With torque outputs ranging from 100 to 1,500 ft-lbs or even more, impact wrenches can handle some serious jobs.
For example, imagine you’re working on a construction site and you need to fasten large bolts to secure some steel beams. That’s where an impact wrench comes in handy as it makes the job very easy and fast.
Now, when it comes to drills, they typically have less torque than impact wrenches ranging from 300 to 1,000-inch pounds.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not useful as drills are great for easily driving screws and drilling holes in softer materials like wood or drywall.
Sure, they may struggle with tougher materials like concrete or metal, but there are some high-torque drills out there that can handle those materials too.
Speed is also a key factor to consider as it determines the efficiency with which the tool will operate.
Just like with torque levels, impact wrenches typically operate at higher speeds than drills, which makes them suitable for heavy-duty applications, reaching speeds up to 8,000 RPM or even more.
But because they operate at such high speeds, impact wrenches are not suitable for precision work as they vibrate a lot. This can be frustrating for some users who need more control and precision at their jobs like woodworkers, metalworkers, or artisans who require a delicate touch and specific torque settings to prevent damage to their workpieces
Now, when it comes to drills, they’re generally slower than impact wrenches, with maximum speeds ranging from 500 to 3000 RPM.
But the great thing about drills is that you can adjust their speed to match the material you’re working on, which allows for greater control and precision without sacrificing precision or control.
Control and Precision
Let’s start this section by mentioning that impact wrenches were not designed for precision work.
The problem is, due to their high torque and speed, it’s challenging to control the tool accurately. And if you’re not careful, you can easily strip threads, damaged threads, or break bolts, which could be highly frustrating.
On the opposite, drills offer greater control and precision than impact wrenches, hands down.
With variable speed and clutch settings, you can customize your operation and tackle delicate tasks, like assembling furniture or installing hardware.
And let’s not forget, drills are suitable for use in tight spaces or hard-to-reach areas, thanks to their compact size which could be said improves the attainable precision when handling the tool.
When it comes to power tools, you want something that’s easy to use. I mean, who has time for a complicated tool that requires an engineering degree just to get it started, right?
In this context, impact wrenches are very powerful tools that are a bit tricky to use, demanding users to have some previous expertise before using them.
They are heavy and bulky, which makes them difficult to use in tight spaces or for extended periods of time. Plus, they normally require additional maintenance, like lubrication and cleaning, which can be a real pain in the you-know-what.
On the other hand, drills are lightweight, compact, and simple to use.
They don’t require additional maintenance beyond basic cleaning, which is a huge plus if you like convenience and simplicity.
And while they can still be dangerous tools, they’re generally less dangerous than impact wrenches, with less potential for injury or damage to materials.
Nowadays, it’s tough to justify shelling out hundreds of dollars on a power tool, no matter how much you need it.
That’s why when it comes to impact wrenches and drills, price is definitely a factor to consider.
Impact wrenches are usually more expensive than drills and other power tools. We’re talking prices ranging from $100 all the way up to $1000 or more, depending on the brand and features.
Why the high price tag?
Well, because of their advanced and more powerful internal components like heavy-duty motors and high-capacity batteries, which are designed to provide maximum torque and power.
Also, impact wrenches normally require additional equipment, such as air compressors or specialized batteries, which can further increase the cost a couple hundred dollars more.
When it comes to drills, things are a bit more affordable as prices can range from $20 to $300 or more, depending on the brand and features.
Why are they cheaper? Well, drills typically don’t require the heavy-duty components found in impact wrenches.
They’re usually equipped with smaller motors and batteries, which are designed for lighter workloads. Batteries and other accessories may increase the cost, but they’re still a relatively affordable option compared to impact wrenches.
When it comes to power tools, noise is definitely an issue to consider. I mean, nobody wants to work with a tool that sounds like a jet engine taking off, right?
And it’s not just annoying as too much noise can also reduce productivity and create hearing issues in the long term.
Impact wrenches are notoriously loud.
We’re talking decibel levels ranging from 90 to 110 dB or more which is enough to make your ears ring and your neighbors call the cops.
So, if you’re planning on using an impact wrench, make sure you wear some ear protection. Trust me, your eardrums will thank you.
On the other hand, drills are generally quieter than impact wrenches.
We’re talking decibel levels ranging from 70 to 90 dB or more, depending on the brand and model.
Now, don’t get me wrong, drills can still be fairly noisy. But compared to impact wrenches, they’re a lot easier on the ears. And while they may still require hearing protection in certain situations, they’re generally less disruptive than impact wrenches.
Benefits of Impact Wrench
Let’s talk about the benefits of getting an impact wrench:
With maximum torque ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 inch-pounds or more, an impact wrench can handle some seriously heavy-duty jobs like removing stubborn nuts and bolts.
This is because an impact wrench uses a combination of hammering and rotating motions to deliver powerful and precise torque.
And since it can generate high torque without requiring a lot of physical effort, an impact wrench is also easier on your body.
But it’s not just about brute force as an impact wrench can also help you work more efficiently.
The high torque and speed of an impact wrench allow for efficient operation, reducing the time and effort required for tasks.
This means you can get more done in less time, and who doesn’t want that?
I’d say impact wrenches are particularly useful in situations where a lot of bolts or screws need to be tightened or loosened quickly.
Designed for Heavy Duty Applications
Impact wrenches are built to withstand the rigors of heavy use, with durable materials and construction that can handle even the toughest jobs.
Let’s talk about the main components that make this possible.
Impact wrenches have a heavy-duty motor that can generate high torque, which is necessary for tasks like loosening stubborn bolts or tightening nuts.
They also have a sturdy, ergonomic body that can provide a comfortable grip and reduce fatigue during extended use. And the housing of an impact wrench is typically made of durable materials, like aluminum or steel, that can withstand the wear and tear of heavy use.
Cons of Impact Wrench
Now, as much as I love singing the praises of the impact wrench, it’s only fair that we talk about its downsides too:
Need of Expertise
One of the biggest drawbacks of this powerful tool is the need for expertise.
Yes, my friends, you can’t just pick up an impact wrench and start tightening bolts like a pro. It requires knowledge, skill, and expertise to operate safely and effectively.
You see, the high torque and speed of the impact wrench can be dangerous if not used properly. It can also cause damage to materials or even worse, injure the user or those around them.
That’s why it’s crucial to have the right training and experience before using an impact wrench. Don’t be that guy who thinks he can figure it out as he goes along.
Another downside of the impact wrench is its price. It’s no secret that this tool is more expensive than your average drill or power tool. Prices can range from $100 to $1000 or more, depending on the model and brand.
But why is it so expensive?
Well, for starters, the impact wrench is built with heavy-duty components, which naturally drives up the cost.
And let’s not forget that the impact wrench may require additional equipment or accessories, such as air compressors or specialized batteries, which can further increase the price tag.
But here’s the thing – while the initial investment may be high, the impact wrench’s efficiency and durability will save you time and money in the long run. Just something to keep in mind.
We all know that power tools can be loud, but impact wrenches take it to another level.
With decibel levels ranging from 90 to 110 dB or more, they can be downright annoying and distracting, especially in a worksite where productivity is key.
Not only that, but prolonged exposure to such high levels of noise can cause hearing damage. Meaning, if you’re not careful, you could end up with permanent hearing loss.
That’s why it’s important to wear the proper hearing protection when using an impact wrench, and to limit your exposure to the noise as much as possible.
Benefits of Drill
Now, let’s switch gears and talk about the benefits of drills:
Easy to Use
One of the biggest advantages of using a drill is how easy it is to use.
These amazing tools are typically lightweight and compact, which makes them easy to maneuver and use for extended periods of time.
Plus, drills don’t require any additional expertise or training to operate safely and effectively as they’re simple, straightforward, and suitable for use by beginners or DIY enthusiasts.
It’s just hooking up the drill bit, pulling the trigger and you’re good to go.
Drills are generally less expensive than impact wrenches, with prices ranging from $20 to $300 or more, depending on the model and brand.
But why are drills more affordable? Well, it’s all about their components.
Drills are designed with fewer parts than impact wrenches, which can make them less costly to manufacture.
Of course, batteries and other accessories may increase the cost, but drills are still a relatively affordable option for most users.
One of the benefits of using a drill is that it’s less intimidating than impact wrenches or other power tools.
Drills are simple to operate, and their straightforward design makes them much less daunting for beginners or those with little experience with power tools.
Most drills feature a basic chuck that allows you to quickly and easily swap out bits, so you can switch from drilling to driving screws in no time.
Cons of Drill
While drills offer a lot of benefits, there are also some downsides to using them:
Drills provide lower torque than impact wrenches, with maximum torque ranging from 200 to 800 inch-pounds or more, depending on the model.
This is due to the internal components of the drill, which aren’t designed to handle heavy loads or high levels of torque. While this may not be a significant issue for many DIY tasks, it can become problematic when working on larger projects or dealing with harder materials.
For example, if you’re trying to drill a hole in concrete, a drill with lower torque may struggle to get the job done effectively.
Drills, while incredibly versatile, may not always be the best option for those looking to complete tasks quickly as maximum speeds for drills range from 600 to 2000 RPM or more, which pales in comparison to the lightning-fast speeds that an impact wrench can offer.
Now, you may be thinking, “So what? What’s the big deal with a slightly slower tool?”
Well, when it comes to productivity, even a few seconds can make a significant difference. In industrial or commercial applications, using a drill may require more time and effort to complete tasks, which can significantly slow down a project’s progress, thus making you lose money.
Not for Heavy Duty Jobs
Another potential issue with drills is that they’re generally not designed for heavy-duty applications or tasks that require high levels of torque and speed.
Sure, drills can handle a wide range of jobs, but they simply can’t match the power and performance of an impact wrench.
If you’re working with tough materials or trying to tackle a job that requires a lot of force, a drill may not be up to the task.
Going for a high torque drill can be the best solution, though.
|Torque||High torque||Medium to low torque|
|Speed||High speed||Medium to low speed|
|Control||Less control and precision||More control and precision|
|Use||Harder to use||Easier to use|
|Noise Levels||High noise||Medium noise|
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequent questions that always come up when comparing impact wrenches to drills.
Let’s give it a shot and try to answer them all:
Is it possible to use an impact wrench as a substitute for a drill?
No, you can’t use an impact wrench as a substitute for a drill as you won’t be able to hook a drill bit into the impact wrench’s anvil.
Impact wrenches are specifically designed for high torque applications, like removing lug nuts from a car, while drills are designed for drilling holes and driving screws. So, it’s better for you to go for a drill instead of an impact wrench for drilling holes.
When should I use a drill or an impact driver for a job?
If you’re drilling holes or driving screws into wood, drywall, or other softer materials, a drill is the way to go as these tools are designed to be versatile, and they can handle a wide range of tasks with ease.
However, if you’re working with harder materials like metal or concrete, an impact driver might be a better choice as they deliver high torque with minimal effort, which makes them ideal for tasks like driving screws.
Plus, they’re typically more compact and lightweight than drills, which makes them easier to maneuver in tight spaces.