Impact Wrench Vs Hammer Drill

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 12, 2022
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People often confuse hammer drills and impact wrenches, since they look the same. Though they are pretty similar in external design, they have significant differences in their characteristics and operations. Today, we will compare impact wrench vs hammer drill to see why you should use one over another.


What Is An Impact Wrench?

In simple terms, an impact wrench is a power tool that loosens or tightens nuts and bolts. When you cannot remove or tighten a nut using hand force, you can use an impact wrench to overcome that situation. The impact wrench can take away most of the wrenching jobs very effortlessly.

Though there are many variations and different types of models are available in the market. All of them are used for the same operation, and you can differentiate them only from their uses for different nuts. After activating an impact wrench, you will get a sudden rotational force on the shaft of the wrench to turn any nut or bolt.

What Is A Hammer Drill?

As its name suggests, a hammer drill is a power tool that is used for drilling. A hammer drill (here are some top choices) will start spinning its driver as soon as you activate it, and a push on the drill bit will start drilling into the surface. Furthermore, when you use a hammer drill for a particular purpose, you need a specific bit.

There are many types of hammer drills available in the market. And, all of these drills are mainly used for drilling into surfaces. But, you should remember that every drill bit cannot drill into every type of surface. Besides, you need different levels of power for different surfaces. So, you will have to consider both the drill bit and the hammer drill itself when using it for drilling purposes.

Differences Between Impact Wrench And Hammer Drill

If you are a regular power tool user, you already know about both of these tools. The most significant difference between them is their direction of force. Besides, their uses are also different due to their different mechanisms inside. So, let’s dig into the in-depth comparison now without wasting any more time.

Direction of Pressure

We’ve already told you that the direction of the pressure or force is totally different in these tools. To be specific, the impact wrench creates pressure sideways, whereas the hammer drill creates on straightforward. And, most of the time, one cannot replace another.

In the case of an impact wrench, you are using it for loosening or tightening a nut. It means that you need rotational force to turn the nuts, and you cannot do it straight. That’s why an impact wrench creates a rotational force and sometimes high-powered sudden rotational bursts to loosen or fasten the nuts.

On the other hand, the hammer drill is used for drilling into surfaces. So, you need something that can create enough force to dig through the surfaces. And, to do this, you need a drill bit attached to the head of your hammer drill. Then, after activating the hammer drill, the drill bit will start rotating, and you can push the head into the surface to begin drilling. Here, both the rotational and straight forces are working at once.


The power needed for a hammer drill is not enough for an impact wrench. Generally, you are using a hammer drill to drill into a surface, and it doesn’t require a lot of power. If you can ensure a stable speed in your hammer drill, that’s enough for running the drill jobs. Because what you need is just a constant rotational force that will rotate the drill bit and help create a reaction between the surface and the bit.

When talking about the impact wrench, you don’t just need a stable rotation speed. Instead, it requires high power to create sudden bursts and remove more giant nuts. Here, you only need rotational force to generate an impact on the nuts or bolts.

Structure & Setup

Exclude the drill bit from the hammer drill, and both the impact wrench and the hammer drill will look the same. Because, they both come with a pistol-like structure, and it is very easy to hold and control. Attaching a drill bit creates a different look due to the extended size of the bit.

Normally, both of these tools come in two versions, which are corded and cordless. The corded versions run using direct electricity, and you need batteries to run the cordless types. However, the impact wrench also comes with an additional type, which is called an air impact wrench. This impact wrench type takes power from the airflow that is provided by an air compressor. So, when you have an air compressor, using the impact wrench isn’t a tough job for you.

In terms of a hammer drill, you will have to keep a collection of drill bits to drill through the different surfaces. Otherwise, you may not be able to dig through a specific surface despite having a lot of power.


In most cases, the impact wrench is used on construction sites, garages, repair shops, automotive zones, etc. Because you will find many tasks which include tightening or removing the nuts or bolts. Sometimes, people use it personally for DIY projects as well as to replace their car tires.

On the contrary, the necessity of a hammer drill is prevalent. Because people need to drill into various surfaces very often to create holes. That’s why you will see this tool being used vastly on construction sites, homes, repair shops, garages, and many other places.

Last Words

In a nutshell, the impact wrench and the hammer drill are two different power tools that are used for different purposes. Notably, the impact wrench is a tool for removing and fastening the nuts by creating sudden rotational impact. In contrast, a hammer drill can only drill holes into hard surfaces such as concrete or brick.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.