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Cordless Drill Vs Impact Driver | Do I Need Both?

What are the differences between a cordless drill and an impact driver? Although these are related terms, we often get confused about the proper function and construction of these two popular power tools. In this article, I am going to compare a cordless drill vs an impact driver so that you can understand the differences properly.

The difference between these two tools is similar to the differences between a regular hammer and a sledgehammer. These two tools are similar in construction but the function and application are not the same. In many occasions, we can either use a cordless drill or an impact driver, but the specific uses of these tools in particular situations are different.

Differences Between A Cordless Drill And An Impact Driver

At first glance, it is difficult to differentiate a cordless drill and an impact driver. However, some distinct differences differentiate these power tools.

You can find the comparison between these two tools by the size. An impact driver is comparatively smaller in size. Although it will produce higher torque and powerful punch.

Clutch is another distinguishing feature of the cordless drill that is absent in an impact driver. The torque of a cordless drill is controlled by the clutch. Because of this variable torque, it prevents the drill from over-tightening the fasteners. Thus, it prevents objects from unwanted damage.

Keyed or keyless chuck is another feature of a cordless drill that differentiate it from an impact driver. Instead of a chuck, an impact driver has a collet that retains the hex bits. The bits are specially produced to withstand higher torque and force.

When it comes to power and speed, an impact driver is a winner. The interesting fact is that, when there is a resistance, an impact driver produces more power and torque automatically. Usually, it has only one gear but multiple gears are not very uncommon.

A cordless drill can produce rotation and hitting blows simultaneously that make the drill suitable for drilling hard objects. On the other hand, an impact driver uses all its power to drive the fasteners. Therefore, it is suitable for this purpose only.

Cordless drills are delicate for precise jobs. You can not get a similar precise output with an impact driver. Therefore, a cordless drill can be used for different purposes. You can control the torque with the slip clutch. An impact driver does not have a clutch to produce variable torque.

Pros And Cons – Cordless Drill Vs Impact Driver


Cordless drills are good for using for multipurpose projects. It is a better choice if you need precise care during drilling. There varying types of drill bits that you can use with a cordless drill. During operation, the torque you get is constant. However, you can select a suitable torque as per the needs of the project. The price of a cordless drill is relatively cheaper than an impact driver.

On the other hand, impact drivers are more powerful tools that can drive the longest screw into the thickest material with the concussive blows. As it is smaller, it is suitable for workplaces with limited space. The power of the impact driver directly passes through the screws. Therefore, there is little impact on the user’s arm and wrist.


A common problem with a cordless drill is the stripping of screws. Cordless drills are not good at working with large fasteners. Drill bits are often seen to come loose from the chuck. Controlling a cordless drill is comparatively difficult. For the new users, it may even cause injury on the arms and wrist.

On the other hand, an impact driver can be too good for delicate jobs. These are more powerful. Therefore, precise jobs are difficult to accomplish with these tools. Not all kinds of bits are compatible with impact drivers. You can only work with hex shanked bits.

Application of a cordless drill and an impact driver

Cordless drill

  1. Cordless drills are suitable for making holes in soft surfaces.
  2. If you want to drive screw or fasteners into soft materials in a limited way, then a cordless drill is a preferred tool.
  3. Although loosening and tightening screws and bolts are not the only job of a cordless drill, it can perform it with ease and grace if the required torque is not that much.

Impact driver

  1. If you want to drive fasteners and screws with a large diameter than an impact driver is the perfect power tool.
  2. Impact drivers are tools for the bots, fasteners, and screws. Therefore, if you want to drive these through dense materials, then impact drivers are the best tools.
  3. If there is a tightly fitted bolt or the screw that you can not loosen with the regular driver, then the impact driver is the problem solver.

Example of a great cordless drill – Dewalt 20-volt max

Dewalt produces the most versatile and reliable cordless drills. You can learn the features of a cordless drill from this example. This 20-volt max unit is one of the best options in the market. The brand itself declares that you are going to get a good experience from it. With the 3 years of warranty, the manufacturer bolsters the confidence of the consumers. With the use of the hammer mode, you can use this unit while working with tough projects.  You can switch between hammer mode to regular mode any moment you wish. For a versatile drill like this, controlling the torque is important. You can do so with the adjustable clutch setting.

Sometimes you need to operate the drill in one hand. This lightweight drill from Dewalt is suitable for working in compact projects. You can even operate it while working on a ladder or working in odd positions. Among all these advantages you get from this drill, the only disadvantage is the price. But you will get exactly how much you pay.

Example of a great impact driver – Dewalt 20 Volt max

Like the cordless drill, Dewalt produces great quality impact drivers. This 20-volt tool is one of the best choices in the market for different reasons. The battery of this unit is comparatively thin. It also gets recharged faster than other comparative models. It weighs only 2.8 lbs. Therefore, it is easy to operate. The 20-volt battery is enough for producing torque as high as 1400 inch-pound. It also has a built-in LED light for the project where external illumination is necessary.

Can an impact driver replace a cordless drill?

Absolutely no. An impact driver is a popular power tool because it can produce unbelievably high torque. Its brute force is sometimes necessary for a specific type of project. Sometimes, excessive torque can be detrimental. Therefore, we do not always need it. Rather, the moderate power of a cordless drill is sometimes good for projects that do not require excessive force. Versatility is such a feature of a cordless drill that has made it suitable for almost any kind of project. But for the projects where higher torque is required, you need an impact driver.

Bottom line

I think now you can compare between a cordless drill and an impact driver. I would suggest you get both the power tools for everyday projects. But if you want to get only one for now, then I would suggest getting the cordless drill which is good for versatile projects. If tightening and fastening are your prime job, then an impact driver is the recommended tool for you.