Impact Wrench vs Impact Driver: Which Should You Choose? (2021)


impact wrench vs impact driver

The impact wrench and impact driver are two of the most popular tools used by professionals and DIY enthusiasts for driving, fastening, drilling, and removing nuts among other tasks.

Quick Review List of the Best Impact Wrenches If You Are Short On Time:

  1. Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench (Best Recommendation for Impact Wrenches)
  2. DeWalt DCF899P1 20V Max XR Brushless High Torque 1/2″ Impact Wrench Kit
  3. Chicago Pneumatic CP7732 1/2-Inch Stubby Impact Wrench
  4. Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX Drive Air Impact Wrench

Quick Review List of the Best Impact Drivers:

  1. DeWalt DC825B 1/4-Inch 18-Volt Cordless Impact Driver (Best Recommendation for Impact Drivers)
  2. DeWalt DCF885C1 20V 1/4″ Impact Driver Kit
  3. Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 1/4 Inch
  4. Ryobi One+ P236

Before the introduction of these tools, these tasks were carried out using torque wrenches and standard drills. People desired greater comfort, accuracy, and better results than they could achieve with these standard tools. This desire led to the development of impact wrenches and impact drivers.

Impact wrenches and impact drivers have allowed people to get better results on basic and complicated tasks. They are so popular these days that many companies are producing hundreds of thousands of these handheld devices.

Impact wrenches and impact drivers operate in a similar fashion, making use of continuous rotational blows which maximizes the generated torque. However, there are a few major differences between an impact wrench and an impact driver.

We’ll discuss those and help you determine which one you should choose.

We will also list some of the best impact wrenches and the best impact drivers currently available in the market.

Impact Wrench vs. Impact Driver

Impact Wrench

Air pressure-powered drive impact wrench on a cement floor with nuts and bolts

An impact wrench, also referred to as rattle gun, impact gun, air wrench, and air gun, is an important tool that any professional would love to have in their arsenal.

If you ever encounter a bolt that has become so rusty that it refuses to shift no matter how much force is applied to it, you could use a wrench bolt to shift it with ease. An impact wrench also comes in handy when you are taking on a project where you’ll be loosening and/or tightening several bolts.

These handheld devices generate massive torque, making the loosening and tightening of screws, bolts, and nuts easier. They are also a popular choice for repair or maintenance work.

Standard electric drills often struggle to unbolt rusted fasteners. Impact wrenches can generate the power that drills lack to get this job done.

The main types of impact wrench are electric impact wrench, pneumatic impact wrench, hydraulic impact wrench, and cordless impact wrench.

The main difference between these wrenches is the source of power.

For example, compressed air powers a pneumatic impact wrench while an electric impact wrench is powered by electric current.

What Is an Impact Wrench Used For?

Impact wrenches are generally used for remove or tightening bolts, screws, and fasteners.

They fulfill the same role as impact drivers; however, they can put out a great amount of power and force than an impact driver.

An impact driver is more powerful than a cordless drill but an impact wrench has more power than both cordless drill and impact driver combined.

When there is a frozen nut or rusted bolt that no other tool or wrench can extract,  rely on an impact wrench to get the job done.

Impact Driver

An impact driver from DeWalt

Impact drivers were once a specialty tool rarely found among a DIY enthusiast’s tools. However, today they are seen almost everywhere. A testament to this is the fact that an impact driver can now be purchased easily from a majority of tool retailers.

Why have impact drivers become so popular?

The reason is that like impact wrenches, they have enormous torque. Although they can’t generate the same power as impact wrenches, having great torque gives them an edge over other similar tools.

The high torque helps you drive a big screw or bore a big hole with ease. Not only that but you can also use these handheld devices as a drill.  When small bits are attached to an impact driver, they function like standard drills.

Impact drivers are extremely versatile and they allow you to take on regular tasks in one-handed situations. This is because they feature a hammer mechanism which generates significant forward pressure.

Since the pressure is generated by the impact driver itself, you don’t have to push very hard on the screws like you would generally do with a standard driver.

When you are using an impact driver to drive light-duty fasteners, it’ll operate similar to a cordless driver. On the other hand, when you use it to drive large fasteners that require higher torque, it will generate enormous torque and the ‘impact’ aspect of the driver will come into play.

What Is an Impact Driver Used For?

An impact driver can be used for loosening and tightening fasteners and for drilling holes in hard materials. These devices can generate more power than standard cordless drills which is why they are preferred for these tasks.

If you are driving a long screw into hardwood with a standard cordless drill, you may experience some drilling issue since the screw is large.

However, since an impact driver generates enormous torque, it’ll be able to drive that screw into hardwood without a problem.

An impact driver is also superior to a drill in terms of efficiency and productivity. Driving screws with cordless drills can take a lot of time and it’ll leave the worker exhausted.

Impact drivers, on the other hand, can get the same job done in half the time. Moreover, they are easy on the wrists so they’ll cause much less fatigue.

Difference Between Impact Driver and Impact Wrench

Impact wrenches and impact drivers may seem similar but they have a few considerable difference. For starters, these devices are used in different settings.

Impact wrenches are mostly used in special professions due to their enormous power. For example, automobile body shops make use of these handheld devices as their power allows the mechanics to easily and quickly tighten or pop out the bolts used on vehicles.

The power of an impact wrench can actually prove to be detrimental for home-based projects. For example, if you use this device on the wrong screw, the screw might get over-tightened.

This problem can be avoided by getting an impact wrench with internal attachments that can prevent over-tightening. However, they come with a hefty price tag so they might not be an option for everyone.

For home improvement projects, impact drivers are the ideal choice.

They don’t generate an enormous amount of power, allowing DIY enthusiasts to take on simple home improvement projects and repair work with ease.

Should You Get an Impact Wrench or an Impact Driver?

Unlike an impact driver, impact wrenches are specialty devices. The vast majority of DIY enthusiasts won’t need it. Even if they do buy it, they will likely never face a situation where they will need to use an impact wrench.

So if you need a tool for home projects, we recommend you to get an impact driver instead of buying an impact wrench.

An impact driver will come in handy in home improvement projects and repair work when you have to loosen or tighten fasteners or drill holes in hard materials.

You should go for an impact wrench only if you intend to take on a specific job where you’ll need a powerful tool. For example, you could buy it if you are in charge of maintaining machinery or if you work in an auto repair shop.

Reviews of the Best Impact Wrenches

1. Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Whether you want to assemble patio furniture or remove lug nuts on a car, the Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 should be your first choice since it has the power to handle any task. Four-mode drive control of the cordless wrench with bolt removal makes it a great choice for professionals.

L-shaped handle of the impact wrench with rubber over mold offers a comfortable grip, ensuring that you don’t feel fatigued after loosening stubborn nuts.

The Milwaukee Impact Wrench is over 8 inches in length and boasts a bright LED light. The Redlink Plus intelligence ensures that the tool doesn’t overheat or overload and damage the internal parts.

In terms of power, there aren’t many impact wrenches that can compete with the Milwaukee Impact Wrench. It delivers 1,400 ft-lbs of nut-bursting force and 1,000 ft-lbs of fastening torque.

2. DeWalt DCF899P1 20V Max XR Brushless High Torque 1/2″ Impact Wrench Kit

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

If you are just starting out and want to buy an affordable all-inclusive starter impact wrench package, you should definitely include the DeWalt DCF899P1 Impact Wrench Kit to your shortlist.

Designed for power and comfort, this kit boasts all the high-end features that one would want in a starter wrench kit. Moreover, its reasonable price makes it a good option for the majority of people.

The max torque of the DeWalt Impact Wrench is 700 ft-lb. Although it doesn’t come close to Milwaukee 2767-20 in terms of power, the DeWalt Kit is still a great option for beginners. It is lightweight and small, weighing in at just 7.2 pounds and measuring 8-13/16-inch.

The multi-speed control option allows you to use this impact wrench in a wide range of jobs. A bright LED light is also there to help you handle dark spots with ease.

Overall, it is a great package that offers value for money.

Check out this video to learn more about some additional details about the battery-powered options.

3. Chicago Pneumatic CP7732 1/2-Inch Stubby Impact Wrench

This device is an absolute workhorse.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

The Chicago Pneumatic CP7732 not only packs a powerful punch but can also maneuver tight spaces with ease. It can help you pull out stubborn screws or bolts that are located in inconvenient locations.

The grip is comfortable; you won’t discomfort holding the impact wrench. One-hand operation trigger is included with 3-position settings in reverse and forward.

The maximum torque generated by the Chicago Pneumatic CP7732 Impact Wrench is 450 ft-lbs. Since it weighs only 2.9 lbs and is 4.4-inch long, the Chicago Pneumatic Impact Wrench is ideal for restricted areas like interior work, engine, and transmission.

If you want a portable yet powerful impact wrench, the CP7732 is definitely worth consideration.

4. Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX Drive Air Impact Wrench

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

If you want a lightweight and high-performance impact wrench that can help you take on big jobs, then the Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX is a good option. The drive mechanism is great and puts out serious power – 1,350 ft-lbs of torque.

The power-to-weight ratio is excellent as the Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX only weighs 4.6 pounds.

The lightweight design minimizes fatigue, allowing you to work for hours without feeling uncomfortable. You get complete control with the forward-reverse button and 4-position power regulator. So you can tune torque output as well as direction according to the task-at-hand.

Reviews of the Best Impact Drivers

1. DeWalt DC825B 1/4-Inch 18-Volt Cordless Impact Driver

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

The DeWalt DC825B delivers an impressive 1,300 inch-pounds of torque and features variable-speed control from 0 rpm to 2,400 rpm and 0 to 2,700.

The force and frequency of impacts are considerable which makes this tool a good option for heavy-duty tasks like driving fasteners into hardwood, concrete or even metal. With the variable speed trigger, you can adjust the speed, increase the torque, and the number of impacts.

Despite being incredibly powerful, the DeWalt DC825B is compact and lightweight. Accessory change is quick and easy while the body of the impact driver has anti-slip grip. Magnesium is used for gear case while the transmission is metal. This makes the DeWalt Cordless Impact Driver both durable and comfortable.

The DeWalt cordless impact driver doesn’t come with a charger or battery. So you will have to get an 18-volt XRP battery system separately to power the DeWalt tool.

2. DeWalt DCF885C1 20V 1/4″ Impact Driver Kit

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the best impact driver. In fact, many of the top-tier options are available at a reasonable price and they should satisfy the needs of the majority of DIY enthusiasts. The DeWalt DCF885C1 is one such example.

This impact driver kit is ideal for anyone who is buying an impact driver for the first-time. It comes with ¼” hex chuck and a charging station. The impact driver included in the kit is small enough to tighten or fasten nuts squirreled away in tight spaces without sacrificing on the torque and power.

The maximum torque that the DeWalt DCF8851C1 can generate is 1400 inch-lbs. The drive head boasts three led lights to ensure that the space you’re working on is well-illuminated.

3. Milwaukee 2462-20 M12 1/4 Inch

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

If you have a tight budget and can afford to comprise on power and torque, then this budget impact driver could be a great option for you. The Milwaukee 2462-20 can help you take on basic projects that don’t require an enormous amount of torque. It comes with a standard ¼” chuck and powered by a 12-volt supply.

The small size of this impact driver makes it easier for you to carry it around on job sites.

Despite being small in size, the unit boasts a powerful motor and can drive fasteners with a maximum 1,000 inch-lbs of torque at an impressive 2,500 rpm. For such a lightweight device, this is enormous power.

The internal technology of the tool communicates with the RedLithium batteries that power it. This allows the Milwaukie 2462-20 M12 Impact Wrench to monitor itself from overheating and power down to prevent damage to the internal components. Beyond that, the tool features LED lighting that can brighten up the workspace and an LED fuel gauge that lets you know of the remaining battery.

4. Ryobi One+ P236

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

The Ryobi One+ P236 is another low-cost impact driver capable of delivering excellent performance. It delivers 1,600 inch-lbs of torque at 3,200 rpm which is enough for most functions.

Apart from delivering great power and torque, the Ryobi One+ boasts some pretty useful features. LED lights are there to brighten up the workspace and the rubber overgrip increases friction allowing you to maintain stability even during slippery conditions.

At its base, the Ryobi One+ Impact Driver boasts a magnetic tray that you can use to hold fasteners and extra bits. This allows you to work with both hands for maximum efficiency and best results.

Bit replacement is very easy. You just have to pull out the collar and slide them in to keep the bits locked. No tools are required for this task.

If you have any additional questions about the difference between an impact wrench versus an impact driver, this video below will answer those for you right away.

Impact Wrench vs Impact Driver Final Thoughts

Although impact wrench and impact driver seem similar, there are a few considerable differences between them. We have pointed out these differences, shown you what impact wrench is used for, and when you should use an impact driver.

Hopefully, you now understand the thin line that exists between the two tools. You should choose an impact driver for home improvement projects and simple repair work.

On the other hand, if you want to perform specific jobs that require a tremendous amount of power and torque, go for an impact wrench.

To help you select the right tool for your needs, we have featured some of the best impact wrenches and impact drivers.

We review a number of different tools for DIY and woodworking projects. Check out this article about the best brad nailers and this article about the best benchtop belt sanders.

Also, if you are into doing DIY home projects, please do not try to do tile flooring without the right tools. You absolutely need to have the best wet tile saw in order to actually do the job quickly and safely!

Be sure to come back to the Homepage to review our other DIY and craft articles to help save your time and energy!

Steven Carroll

Thank you for reading my article. I have a passion for creating with 3D printing, woodworking, welding, and drawing. I hope you have learned a little from my mistakes and lessons learned. This article is meant to be a help to you! Thank you again for your time!

Recent Posts