TO DRILL OR TO IMPACT...
The cordless power drill is most likely your favorite power tool in your toolbox. Just grab a battery, snap it in, tighten a bit, and you are all set! Ready to put in work! It’s so versatile, portable, and can be used for any drilling and fastening application imaginable. However, throughout the years you may have noticed a shift in popularity. Impact drivers are more commonly being used to drive in screws than the traditional power drills. So, what’s the deal behind impact drivers? Any real differences between Drill Driver and an Impact Driver? Short answer … YES! Let’s talk about it.
At a quick glance, power drills (commonly called drill drivers) and impact drivers “look” very similar. Placed side-by-side and you wouldn’t find much difference, but don’t let appearances deceive you. Once you really start paying attention to the mechanics and read up on the manufacturer’s specifications, you’ll quickly realize these two products are very different from each other and tailored to specific jobs. Let us start off by talking about the chuck and clutch, as these two components are key differences between drill drivers and impact drivers.
CHUCK AND CLUTCH
Let’s start off this chuck comparison by looking at the DeWALT DCK280C2 20V Lithium Ion Drill/Driver & Impact Driver Kit.
All standard drill driver either includes a keyed or keyless chuck. In this case, the DCD780B DeWALT Drill features an adjustable ½” ratcheting keyless chuck for superior bit gripping strength. Usually with a chuck type like this, you would use “straight shank” bits when operating. Straight bits are very common with drilling. They are accurately centered with almost no wobble, at least well-made ones do not.
Impact drivers on the other hand, do not have a chuck. Instead of a chuck, the DCF885B DeWALT Impact features a ¼” fixed collet that only accommodates “hex shank” bits. This is a perfect match because most hex bits are made to withstand high torque and the force of an impact driver. Personally, I enjoy working with hex bits. The quick release anvil lets you swiftly install or remove bits with no hassle.
Next, the clutch. We are going to look at a different kit as these principles are the same across the board. The Milwaukee 2691-22 18V Lithium Ion Drill/Driver & Impact Driver Kit is a perfect kit to look at.
A standard drill (or drill driver) has an adjustable clutch located right behind the chuck. This allows users to adjust the torque when drilling or driving. This integrated mechanical feature prevents fasteners from being overtightened or to avoid damages on surfaces. The Milwaukee 2606-20 Drill is no exception to this. You’re able to adjust the clutch setting all the way up to 500 in-lbs of torque.
With an impact driver, a clutch is often never an option. By eliminating the clutch, it makes it much more compact in design and capable of fitting into tight spaces that a traditional drill wouldn’t have a chance of maneuvering. However, what lacks in adjustability is made up in power, you’re greeted with higher torque at all time. The Milwaukee 2656-20 Impact delivers 1,500 in-lbs of fastening torque! 1,000 more than the drill.
TORQUE AND POWER
Torque and power are achieved differently when comparing drills versus impacts. This is mainly because of the mechanics within them, each distinctively designed to accomplish different tasks.
Drills like the Makita XPH12Z 18V Drill Driver are pretty straightforward, most of us know how they work since we've been operating them for a long time now. Primarily, cordless drills are designed with a chuck and clutch. Rotate the outer ring to a desired level and adjust accordingly to precisely control the torque output. In some cases, you can also regulate the speed by adjusting the transmission located behind the clutch. Pull the trigger to unleash the power and fasten. Easy!
Impact drivers such as the Makita XDT14Z 18V Impact Driver are similar to drills, but with ONE main difference. Both use rotational power to drive screws inwards. However, where the impact sets itself apart is by introducing hammering action during the drive. The internal impact mechanism provides high torque to impact drivers that regular power drills can never reach. This repetitive hammering action is what makes the impact drivers so distinguishable, powerful, and desirable.
TO DRILL OR TO IMPACT, THAT IS THE QUESTION
I would like to say this question is easy to answer and I hope you can agree after reading this. I like to refer drill drivers as “jack of all trades”. It can tackle any drilling and fastening jobs fairly well. Ideal for driving screws, drilling holes, tightening, or removing screws. This is exactly why drills have adjustable chucks and clutches and impacts do not. Which brings me to impact drivers. Impacts are specifically engineered and designed to do ONE job, and that’s to drive and bury screws FAST and efficiently with little effort. They are also great at loosening up stubborn bolts.
Each of these drivers offers their own set of advantages and disadvantages. They each compensate for the other tool’s weaknesses, yin and yang if you will. Which is the reason why you see them sold as a kit or as a pair. For example, the two Makita drivers I mentioned above are also sold as a combo kit under item number XT275PT. Are you surprised?!?! With that in mind, you can obviously purchase them as bare tools. Determining which one to use for your next project or task will depend on what exactly you need it for. It's also worth mentioning to invest in quality bits or bit sets for both drills an impact drivers. Like the Milwaukee 48-89-1561 Steel Magnetic Drive Set or the 48-32-4005 Steel Impact Set, just to name a few.