what is an impact drill

What is an Impact Drill: Questions for the Toolbox

For the home family man who has more tools than he knows what to do with, it wouldn’t be an uncommon site for him to stumble upon a tool that he has never seen before. From butterfly wrenches to specialized pliers, there are many different tools, and learning what they are and how to use them all can seem impossible at times. In fact, among the most commonly asked questions related to tools is “What is an impact drill?”

So, to give you an idea of what exactly this versatile tool is and how to use it, let’s take a closer look at it.

What is an Impact Drill?

An impact drill is a type of drill that is primarily used to put fasteners like screws, nails, and bolts into materials. In addition to being able to drive these fasteners into place with fairly good precision, this equipment can also be utilized to remove and loosen the same fasteners effortlessly.

It might be possible that you have heard of an impact drill before without even knowing it because it is also called an impact driver, airgun, and air driver.

Impact drills work by using an impact mechanism inside of them. This means that there is a hammer that strikes an anvil to create torque. The faster this happens, the more impacts per second there are. More impacts create more speed and more power for easy fastener driving or removing.

Home handymen usually find themselves preferring an impact drill over many similar tools in their toolbox, so they are definitely an investment to consider.

When Do People Use Impact Drills?

Impact drills are known for having many uses around the home and job site, but what are those uses? For a better understanding of how and when to put this tool to use, let’s look at some ways that people like using impact drills:

  • Screwing very large or long screws into something like a deck
  • Building large-scale wood products
  • Working on an engine or other car parts with many heavy-duty screws and bolts
  • Screwing in plywood to something like subfloors

Any project that needs a lot of screws to be driven or involves long screws should be done with an impact driver. If you need to drill a hole or don’t plan to work on this type of project, the power drill might wind up being a better choice for you to consider.

What Types of Impact Drills are There?

Impact drills, like any other power tool, come in a few different types. Each type has its advantages. Let’s take a look.

  • Battery-Operated

The first and most common type of impact drill is the battery-operated impact drill. These drills run off of a battery that is attached to the main part of the device. The battery sets the hammer mechanism action to work, but it is not quite as strong as some other methods, so the torque from a battery-operated impact drill isn’t as strong as other types.

  • Electric

Electric impact drills must be plugged into the wall with a power cord to operate. Since this type of power tool has a stronger and steadier supply of long-lasting electricity, and they are quite stronger than the battery-operated variety.

That being said, the corded requirement makes this type of impact driver less convenient to use depending on the project that you are working on.

  • Air-Powered

The final type of impact drill to consider is the air-powered drill. These are the least common type of impact drill to find in homes because they require a house and compressor setup to operate effectively.

Because of the great power boost provided by the air compressor, these are the most powerful type of impact drills. The torque they provide is stronger than that of the other types of impact drivers. These tools are typically used in professional job sites and automotive garages, as well as by the very-lucky-home-tool man.  

Can You Use a Power Drill Instead of an Impact Drill?

The simple fact is that there are times when you would want to use a power drill and times when you would want to use an impact drill. Unsurprisingly, there are even jobs where either tool would do the trick!

If you can only add one of these tools to your arsenal and you aren’t sure yet which one will be the better fit, take a look at these pros and cons of each tool to gain a more rounded opinion about each of them.

Power Drills


  • Great for precise work
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be used with lots of different bits
  • Many accessories available
  • Torque can be adjusted


  • Stalls out on long fasteners
  • Hard to use
  • Often strips screws and nails

Impact Drills


  • Tons of torque
  • Can go through even very tough materials
  • Can drive long fasteners
  • Smaller body
  • Good for tight spaces
  • Doesn’t strip fasteners as frequently
  • No wrist strain


  • Typically has a higher price tag
  • Can only be used with hex-shaped bits
  • Loud
  • Not as precise as a power drill

Using these pros and cons, you should be able to discover which type of tool will be better used in your home. If you can’t choose, it might be a good idea to do some saving and invest in obtaining both.

Why are Impact Drills Less Precise than Power Drills?

You may have noticed that impact drills are known to be less precise than power drills despite being more powerful; why is that?

The hammering motion that happens inside of an impact drill actually occurs in a sideways motion. This sideways slam is what allows the impact drill to push farther and deeper than the continuous, rotation a power drill exhibits. The sideways motion, however, can also cause slightly less precision on a job.

The Choice is Yours

When it comes down to selecting a tool, you have three options:

  • Choose the impact drill
  • Choose the power drill
  • Choose both

In the past, those that could only choose one device among these two great devices have swayed towards the power drill for its practicality. However, recently, the impact drill is also being outfitted with adapters that allow it to drill holes. With these changes, the two may become more similar than ever.

Now that you know what is an impact drill, you can work on those odd jobs that previously defeated you and your power drill.