Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench | What’s the Key Differences

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Impact wrench vs impact driver

Today, I will discuss the key difference between an impact driver and an impact wrench because you're a little bit confused with these two power tools. They not only look similar but also have some differences. It would be great to know them before making an informed purchase.  

I've been using impact driver and impact wrenches for a couple of years, so I think I must share its pros and cons with you.

I believe you're doing your home improvement, DIY projects, auto, etc and want the right tool for your works. It's pretty much difficult for anyone when it comes to choosing the impact drive vs impact wrench. A perfect set of power tools get the job done smoothly.

So which tool is the best option for you? Basically, it depends on you. For what you're going to use them. In this article, I'll break down a comparison of impact wrench vs impact driver, which distinguishes each other.  

Impact driver vs impact wrench – Key Comparisons.

Below is a brief comparison table between impact wrench vs driver.

Preview
Impact Driver
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, 2.0-Ah (DCF887D2)
Impact Wrench
Milwaukee M18 FUEL w/ONE-KEY 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2 in. High Torque Impact...
Title
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, 2.0-Ah (DCF887D2)
Milwaukee M18 FUEL w/ONE-KEY 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2 in. High Torque Impact...
Power Source
Electricity & Battery powered
Compressed Air, Electric & Battery powered
Tool Holder
¼" Hex Socket
½" Square Shaft
Uses
Driving screws, Drill holes, etc.
Removal/tightening lug nuts & heavy bolts.
For who?
DIY, Home, lawn, Construction, etc.
Auto or car repairs, maintenance, heavy construction, etc.
Custom Rating
Prime Benefits
-
-
Impact Driver
Preview
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, 2.0-Ah (DCF887D2)
Title
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, 2.0-Ah (DCF887D2)
Power Source
Electricity & Battery powered
Tool Holder
¼" Hex Socket
Uses
Driving screws, Drill holes, etc.
For who?
DIY, Home, lawn, Construction, etc.
Custom Rating
Prime Benefits
-
Impact Wrench
Preview
Milwaukee M18 FUEL w/ONE-KEY 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2 in. High Torque Impact...
Title
Milwaukee M18 FUEL w/ONE-KEY 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2 in. High Torque Impact...
Power Source
Compressed Air, Electric & Battery powered
Tool Holder
½" Square Shaft
Uses
Removal/tightening lug nuts & heavy bolts.
For who?
Auto or car repairs, maintenance, heavy construction, etc.
Custom Rating
Prime Benefits
-

Last update on 2020-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4 Highlighted Differences Between impact driver vs wrench:

Usually, an impact wrench is used for tightening nuts & bolts while impact drivers are used to drilling into metal or wood.

Basically, an impact wrench is the auto industry's primary power tool, while home improvement and DIY's first choice impact drivers.

The impact driver has a ¼-inch Hexagonal socket while the impact wrench has a ½-inch square shaft.

Both tools are durable, but the wrench is slightly heavier and sturdy while the driver is a simple operating system.

Now let's get into the definite guide on what is an impact driver & what is an impact wrench.

Impact driver

What is an impact driver used for? The simple answer is that the impact driver is more powerful than the regular drill and used for heavy-duty. Initially, it looks like a normal drill but performance makes a difference. Its torque so powerful that it can drill on metal, bricks, wood, and even rock.

For instance, Torque: The drill produces Power for turning an object, not just how sharp the object will rotate. The turning force is called torque.

In terms of drilling, torque is measured in Newton Meters (Nm) or Inches/Pounds. Usually, an impact driver comes with the range of 1500 to 1800 in/lb. One thing makes this drill unique, which is its reactionary torque. It reduces the risk while your wrist twisting. Only an impact driver can stop this risk. I must say this is the burning point to make an informed decision.

Here is the 4 key point to consider when choosing an impact driver:

  • 1/4" Hex Collet: Usually impact driver comes with ¼" hex collet for different types of tasks. On the other hand, the regular drill doesn't come with bits; that's why it's required to buy them additionally, which costs extra money.
  • Speed: The impact driver speed's measured through RPM: the higher speed, the better but lower speed needed for soft objects. It's wise to buy variable speed drivers for multi-tasks.
  • Loud: By default, impact drivers are slightly louder; that's why you should have ear protection. However, they are cordless for a reason. It's easy to carry and reach up to minimum space. But you've to make sure that the battery is fully charged.
  • Uses: As I mentioned earlier, it is ideal for tough material screws. If you're affiliated with the home improvement or DIY projects and expecting long screws to be used, then it’s perfect. It can remove and screws spontaneously.

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 3-Speed, 1/4-Inch, 2.0-Ah (DCF887D2)

This section will recommend the industry's best impact driver for your better understanding, which is DeWalt DCF887D2 20V Max Brushless.  It's not only lightweight but also highly rated. Its torque produces a maximum force, which is 2000 in.lb. Three variable speed get the job done preciously. The compact design for tight space makes it a must have power tool to an expert.

best impact driver

pros

  • It's a heavy-duty & powerful tool.
  • Get the job done smoothly.
  • Super flexible and easy to change the bits.
  • Lightweight.
  • Cordless and compactly designed for tight space.
  • Reliable for most tasks.
  • Minimal damages.
  • Quite affordable for the money.
  • Cons

  • It's a little bit louder.
  • You should make sure that the screw accidentally doesn't get too deep into the objects.
  • You can't use regular drills bit.
  • Impact Wrench

    I believe you're a little bit aware of what is an impact wrench or what is an impact wrench used for. As I mentioned above, it's used for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts. They seem tiny but do the job like a boss. By the way, the impact wrench's speed is measured by ft.lbs (foot-pounds). Its torque produces much force that makes them so powerful.

    Usually, an impact wrench is used in the automotive industry for its powerful motor but way more enough for home or DIY projects.

    For example, you would have seen the impact wrench is commonly used in a mechanical task, construction, car repairing, and so on. But they're rarely using for home renovation.

    There are four different ways to power up the Impact wrenches: 

    Corded:

    The name itself states you've to connect the wrench with the electricity through a wire to get the power on. By plugging in, you can operate the impact wrench.

    Cordless:

    In that case, it requires a battery for operating. Basically, the battery comes with the wrench, but it is advisable to check that it is fully charged before working.

    3. Air Powered (Pneumatic)

    In the automotive industry, the pneumatic impact wrench is a mush have power tool. Because Power is everything for it, it requires high speed for removing or screwing nuts. It is connected with the central gas chamber with a solid pipe for operating. I don't recommend this tool for home use as it is heavy.

    4. Hydraulic

    The hydraulic impact wrench is the least used power tool. It was designed for safety uses like impact driver. It requires low-pressure hydraulic power to operate. It is pretty much easy to use and reduce wrists' injuries.

    However, it has a ½" standard square drive instead of a 1/4" hex collet.

    If you're planning to buy this tool, then make sure that you also buy some earing protection as they're loud.

    Milwaukee M18 FUEL w/ONE-KEY 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2 in. High Torque Impact Wrench w/Friction Ring

    best cordless impact wrench

    To give you an example, I recommend the auto industry's best impact wrench, which is Milwaukee M18 FUEL 18-Volt Lithium-Ion, which comes with excellent built-in quality. This is the best battery powered impact wrench so far, in my views. Its torque produces up to 1400 ft.lbs on nuts and busting, which is too good. It has maximum fastening modes through only one key.

    It is the most powerful and compact designed for minimal space. The highlight of this wrench is that you can operate it with your smartphone.

    However, before making any purchase, make sure that it is included a battery; otherwise, you need to order it separately. I'd say this is the best impact wrench for the money.

    pros

  • It was built for heavy-duty.
  • It gets the job done, even in a challenging space.
  • It is compactly designed for reducing wrist injuries.
  • Superfast torque power.
  • One key operating system.
  • Cons

  • Not for home uses.
  • Not for beginners.
  • It doesn't sound quiet.
  • Two in one Tool

    Sometimes we need both tools for different purposes; that why Bosch makes their legendary power hand tools 'The Freak GDX 18V 200c'. It's an interesting tool that fulfills your needs. It comes with 1/4" inches hex shank and 1/2" inches square drive. It would help if you changed them according to your bits/socket.

    However, its brushless motor delivers the 1800 in.lbs in torque, which is so powerful. Bosch CORE18V battery is the reason for this extraordinary power. As I mentioned above, it's two in one, that's why it's expensive but worth your money.

    Additionally, it has Bluetooth connectivity for customizing settings through your smartphone.

    In the end, if you think both tools will be used, then definitely I suggest having this one.

    Buying guide for Impact wrench & Impact driver.

    I hope you're determined to buy an impact driver or wrench; that's why you're here. However, according to industry experts and my perspective, a few things need to be considered while buying these power tools.

    Brand

    The reputable brands are well known for their best quality products. We never know a brand until we use their products. In terms of power tools, a brand does matter. There are some so-called Chinese brands responsible for low-grade devices. By the way, the best brands always cost high. Don't worry; I recommended some affordable impact drivers and wrenches above.

    Safety features

    There is a risk factor while twisting wrists. That's why some renowned brands offer the latest safety features for impact driver or impact wrench. Some impact driver or wrench comes with automated circuit board features that shut down the drive while getting overheated. At the least, not last, a few brands develop a battery charge system, which allows how much charge is left in the battery. You should check this feature while having these tools.

    Accessories

    These tools usually come with bags and some extra kits like bits, socket, battery, charger, etc. But make sure that what includes the package before ordering. Because some brands don't provide spare parts, and you need to order them separately that case extra money.

    Technology

    With the development of science and technology, day by day impact driver or wrench comes with the upgraded version. As a result, it is common to have an LED light on it. It allows the users to see the area where light is challenging to reach. In fact, some impact wrench and driver can now be controlled through apps. You also can check its performance by Bluetooth connectivity. So it is advisable to keep in mind these things before having one.

    Battery

    If you're going to work somewhere else where it isn't easy to reach direct electricity, then the cordless model is a must-have. Usually, a cordless impact driver or wrench comes with two batteries—one for uses and another for backup. You need to make sure that how ampere battery is and how much time takes to charge fully?

    Weight

    Yes, weight is an important consideration factor. As you know, they're hand tools and need to lift them continuously. So, in order to get high performance, you need to pick fewer weight items.

    Here is a YouTube video for in-depth insights. 

    What is the best tool brand for you?

    As I mentioned earlier, the brand plays a vital role while picking these tools. There are quite several industry-leading brands making excellent tools since they were born. Here's the list of some of them.

    DeWalt

    DeWalt is the American's first choice power tool brand. Since 1923 they're producing millions of power or hand tools. Raymond E.DeWalt founded it. They have been making saws, impact drivers, drills, generators, nailers, etc. and selling them worldwide. However, they always try to improve their tools' performance; that's why you'll find their tools with upgraded versions. The interesting fact you may notice that their almost product comes with a decent warranty. However, the above-recommended impact driver is from Dewalt.

    Makita

    Makita is well known for introducing a cordless power tools brand. Since 1951, this Japanese brand leading the world. In fact, they've established their factories worldwide, such as in the USA, UK, China, Mexico, etc. They've been producing cordless impact wrenches, drills, hammer, nailers, and many more. As a certified tool expert, I must recommend this brand without any doubt since they are trusted for making excellent quality tools.

    Milwaukee

    Milwaukee is one of the best brands that expert usually recommends. They produce power and hand tools for nearly ten decades. Among their numerous tools, they've got a huge experience in manufacturing both impact wrench and driver. Their tools usually come with a high price point but worth every single penny. In the above, that's why I recommended Milwaukee impact wrench.

    Bosch

    This German tool brand made its own position in the household and industrial technology. The Bosch is 134 years old tools brand. Just imagine how experienced they are in this industry. They make not only hand tools but also solar power. However, they're highly rated for both impact driver and impact wrench.

    FAQ related to the Impact driver

    What's a Brushless Impact Driver?

    Basically, a brushless impact driver comes with a brushless motor. That's why it is known as a brushless impact driver. Now you may ask me why manufacturing companies use this motor? There are numerous advantages to this motor. For example, it delivers more efficiency, durable, high performance, energy-saving ability, and, most importantly, it requires less maintenance.

    Do impact drivers have a clutch?

    No, they don't have a clutch. But make sure that you don't screw too deep.

    Can you use an impact driver to remove lug nuts?

    The straightforward answer is no, but you can remove lug nuts by modifying. By the way impact wrench is the right tool for removing lug nuts.

    Do impact drivers need different bits?

    No, they usually come with a ¼-inch Hexagonal socket.

    Is it worth getting an impact driver?

    Definitely yes. As I mentioned earlier several times that if you're from a home improvement or hobbyist background, it must-have tool.

    Do impact drivers have variable speeds?

    The short answer is yes. Nowadays, almost all brands impact driver comes with variable speeds.

    Is it worth getting an impact driver?

    Now, I hope you know better what an impact driver does. But my opinion is, it is a must-have tool for your home, garage, DIYs project.

    FAQ related to the Impact wrench

    Is electric impact wrenches any good?

    Yes, it is. Usually, an electric impact wrench costs a lot but worth the money. I recommend this item for heavy-duty projects.

    Can you use regular sockets with an impact wrench?

    Nope! Usually, an impact wrench comes with an impact socket. You can't use the regular socket.

    Is an impact wrench worth it?

    For heavy-duty purposes, an impact wrench is a mandatory tool. It not only worth your money but also does the job perfectly.

    How powerful of an impact wrench do I need?

    The regular impact wrench is enough for handling your cars, lawn tractor, and other machinery. But for the industry uses, you must go with electric powered wrenches.

    How much do impact wrenches cost?

    I believe you will find the best cordless impact wrench under $300. But some less known brands offer a lower price.

    Which One Should You Get?

    I believe you already know huge differences between these two tools, but they sound quite similar. Basically, it depends on you for what you're going to use them.

    If you think that both tools will be used for different purposes, I recommend you Bosch Freak model as two in one. Despite its high price point, it does the job perfectly.

    On the other hand, an impact driver is suitable for completing home renovating, DIY projects, and other stuff. In contrast, an impact wrench is perfect for driving long screws into machines, cars, generators, etc.

    Having a perfect impact driver is a good addition to your power tool list that can finish many projects. In my above recommendation, the DeWalt DCF887D2 20V Max is the best impact driver for the money. It not only dominating the market but also offers numerous features.

    While impact wrench is a specialized tool that is powerful enough to complete a hard project like construction, automobile, electrics, etc.

    After testing by hand, I conclude that Milwaukee M18 Brushless Cordless is the best impact wrench for the value of your money. There is a downside: it comes with a little bit of high price but if you have enough budget, then never think twice to get this one. It not only powerful but also helpful.

    However, normally we use the impact driver for our general works. So, it is a wise decision to have an impact driver rather than an impact wrench.

    Safety Tips while using these tools

    As these tools are powerful, that can harm you. So while using them, you have to maintain a few safety rules.

    Eye Protection

    Eye protection is mandatory, especially for dealing with drills. Suddenly, It can be harmed your eyes. You should wear safety glasses before working with these tools.

    Ear Protection

    By default, the impact wrench and driver are very noisy. They can cause your hearing to lose. Ear protection is a must-have safety gear for these tools.

    Clothes

    There is various work pant available for man and woman. You should wear them as they ensure your safety.

    Instructions

    Before using any new power tools, you have to read its instructions and safety tips as every tool have a different manual.

    Maintain Your Tools

    In order to get constant servicing, you have maintained your tools and gears regularly. Regular maintaining can increase tools' longevity and unexpected accident. In particular, the impact wrench is required to be maintained properly after each use.

    About the Author James Robert

    I am James Robert, a licensed Tools expert passionate about all things, tools and machinery.

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