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Impact Wrench Vs Impact Driver – Learn the Differences to Make the Right Choice

It is common to mistake or confuse between wrench and driver while purchasing impact tools.

Though they look quite similar, these two impact tools have different uses cases and serve different purposes.

Without proper knowledge regarding their differences, you can end up purchasing a wrong option. If you want to understand these impact tools, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we have provided detail analysis of both impact tools (wrench and driver). Read through the information to make the right purchase decision.

Overview of Impact Wrench

Impact Wrench

The impact wrench is essentially a modified version of handheld ratchet which can be inserted into the sockets in order to loosen bolts or tighten nuts. An impact wrench does not rely on our energy as it can be powered by compressed air. However, you can purchase models that are electric, hydraulic, or battery-powered. It produces a significantly higher output of torque for a fraction of the effort than a standard ratchet.

They are basically involved in any activity that requires a lot nuts to loosen and fasten. The motor will drive rotating mass which accumulates energy. This is how they work. The anvil, which is the connecting rod for the mass, can be used to provide the required torque. Output shaft delivers the torque. These tools are so lightweight that they don’t produce too much torque. The impact force is provided by the mechanism of hammering. It only works when it is needed. The impact wrench can run smoothly when the fastener needs little torque. This makes it a more enjoyable user experience.

Benefits Drawbacks
Suitable for removing stubborn bolts and nuts Not suitable for narrower range of tasks
Exerts twice the amount of torque Expensive than impact driver
Temporary delivery of nut-busting torque Bulky leading arm fatigue after prolonged use
Offers choice of power source High torque can strip threads or break bolts if the user is not careful
Suitable for heavy-duty applications Not beginner-friendly
Four types available Loud noises
Can work within seconds  

Overview of Impact Driver

what is an impact driver used for

An impact driver is a power tool that delivers periodic bursts rotational force. It uses a hammer to apply the force in an axial direction, using the intricate internal mechanism. The drill bit attached to the hammer rotates when the impact driver’s hammer strikes repeatedly on its outer sleeves.

The impact driver is capable of drilling holes into the desired object or drive screws into it. Impact drivers produce nearly twice as much torque than cordless drill due to their internal mechanism. An impact driver can be used for drilling holes in materials that are stronger than any powerful drill. You should be cautious not to tighten fasteners or screws too much with an impact driver.

An impact driver can be mistakenly mistaken for a cordless drilling machine at first glance. However, they are very different tools An impact driver produces more torque than a cordless drill, but that is not the main difference. They also provide concessional rotating blows that can be used to cut through hard materials and loosen stuck bolts. They do not have the same forward thrust as a hammer drill. You will need specific bits in order to use your impact drill as a drill. You don’t want all your drill bits that you have accumulated over time to be thrown out the window.

Benefits Drawbacks
Compact, lightweight, portable Impact-specific bits are necessary
Quite affordable If not careful, it can overtighten the screws
Little fatigue Loud noise level
Bits are easily replaceable No built-in clutch
Drives fasteners and screws pretty quickly  
No rational torque  

Quick Comparison – Impact Driver Vs Impact Wrench

In the below table, we have provided a quick comparison between the impact tools based on main factors for your reference.

Feature Impact Driver Impact Wrench
Usage Driving screws Tightening/loosening nuts and bolts
Drive Style 1/4“Hex Drive 1/2“Square Drive
Drive Mechanism Hammering Hammering


Speed ≥ 3,000 RPM ≥ 2,000 RPM
Output Force Higher RPM, lower torque Higher Torque, slower RPM
Impact Force Rotational and axial directional force Rotational directional force
Torque ≥ 200 ft-lbs. (2,400 in-lbs.) ≥ 800 ft-lbs. (9,600 in-lbs.)
Size and Weight Small and light in weight Small but heavy in weight
Power Source Electric – corded and cordless Electric – corded, cordless, pneumatic (compressed air)
Battery Types (for cordless tools) 12V, 18V, 20V 12V, 18V, 20V
Used By Woodworking, masonry, DIY, Metal Automobiles, metal works, industries
Price Starting from $50 Starting from $80

Detail Comparison of Impact Wrench Vs Impact Drill

For understanding which one of the power tools is a better choice for your requirements, we recommend reading the in-depth analysis of several factors mentioned below. Based on what you are looking for, you can judge the tools and make the right choice.

1. Torque

The impact wrench is the best tool in terms of rotational power. Both tools have exceptional torque and have unique uses.

The impact wrench has more torque but there are also impact drivers with 18V and 20V of power. These impact drivers can produce 167 ft. lbs. This is a significant increase in torque compared to the 100 ft-lbs starting base.

Impact wrenches, on the other hand can reach more than 1,000 ft-lbs. In some cases, impact wrenches can produce more torque than that. For the average user, or garage shop, however, 200 ft-lbs is sufficient to do the job.

2. Speed

In terms of power, torque and RPM (or speed) are very different. RPM refers to how fast the bit actually spins. Torque is the rotational force.

Impact wrenches are slower than impact drivers, which tend to be more focused on speed than power. A high-end impact driver may reach speeds up to 3,600 RPM while an impact wrench can go under 2,000 RPM.

Pneumatic impact wrenches are used in garages and shops, but have a much higher RPM than an impact driver. This particular type of impact wrench can have an RPM of as high as 8,000.

3. User experience

The impact driver and impact wrench are both extremely powerful and fast, far more than what the average user might need. Their performance and flexibility in application is where they are most different.

Impact drivers can be used for a variety of purposes in the home, including DIY projects, renovations, and simple carpentry. They are easier to use than an impact wrench and more versatile.

These impact wrenches are almost too powerful for most households. When using an impact wrench to secure a screw, it is easy for you to loosen and possibly break it. The power required for home use is not necessary.

There are ways to avoid over-tightening an impact wrench. However, these precautions can prove costly and unreliable. It is not a practical use case that is worth the expense when a regular wrench suffices.

4. Power

The impact driver can be powered by either an attached battery or an electrical outlet. Both are good enough but the cordless option is preferred.

Modern power tools offer a variety of cordless options. Although a corded option can still be used, most models today are cordless. The most commonly used voltages for power tools are 12V, 18V and 20V. There are many options that provide better control and more power.

There are many types of impact wrenches that can create torque from different power sources. The pneumatic, or air-powered version is probably the most popular. These impact wrenches can be used to remove and attach lug nuts quickly in car garages.

5. Size

The size of the impact driver and the wrench will vary depending on the model and manufacturer. Impact drivers are lighter than cordless impact wrenches in terms of weight.

An impact wrench’s power output increases, which can lead to a tool becoming heavier and bulkier. The pneumatic impact wrench is an exception. It can be lighter than an impact driver because of its simplicity and lack of a motor.

6. Drive Type

The output end of each tool is where you can observe noteworthy difference between these two impact tools. A typical impact driver comes with a hex collet-chuck chuck to allow for fastening or drilling the bits. It is necessary to remove the chuck from the driver and assign the right bit according to your operational needs. It is not possible to use standard drill bits with impact driver. Therefore, you will need to buy special bits for this purpose.

Impact wrenches can be equipped using square drive of different sizes and popular option among them is 1/2-inch square drive. To connect to sockets, impact wrenches are stronger compared to regular sockets. They are capable of enduring high torque.

7. Tools Holder

The way these options accommodate the tools is another key difference. A 1/2-inch square drive is the standard for an impact wrench, although you can also get 1/4-inch square drives for smaller assembly jobs and 3 1/2 inches square drives for larger projects.

Impact drivers come usually with a 1/4-inch hexagonal socket. The impact driver is a versatile tool. Whatever screwdriver or drill bit you prefer, it can be used. If you’re like me, then you likely already have plenty of drill bits with a circular shank. You might be hesitant about buying more drill bits for your impact driver. You can save money by purchasing a drill chuck to convert your impact driver into a powerful drill.

A socket adapter can be used to convert the 1/4″ hex socket to a 1/2″ square drive. This will allow you to transform your impact driver into a wrench. An impact driver may not be strong enough if you have a problem. This is important to remember.

8. Comfort

When talking about comfort, the foremost thing you should consider is the tool’s weight. Impact wrenches are smaller and lighter than impact drivers. As the pressure produced by the tool is less than that of common drills, they are easier to use and more comfortable to hold.

Impact wrenches are more powerful than impact drivers, but that comes with a steep cost. These tools are bulkier and heavier compared to impact drivers. They are hefty on the wrists due to their design. If they are used for long periods of time, it can become tiring. You might consider wearing ear protection before using them. Comfort is the number one priority for impact drivers.

9. Average range of prices

Impact guns are more expensive than impact drivers. These impact drivers are compact and don’t have internal clutch. Budget models start at $100, while premium models can cost around $250. An ideal impact wrench can cost you between $250 to $500 and even more in some cases.

Impact Wrench Vs Impact Driver – Which One to Choose?

These tools can be used for a variety of tasks, as you will see by the descriptions. The impact driver is almost like a cordless drill/driver. An impact driver is able to drive long screws and carriage bolts with much greater torque. An impact driver is the best tool if you want to build a deck along the side of your home.

Impact drivers offer less torque than impact wrenches, but they have more torque. This torque is however a price. The use of an impact wrench is limited to the removal and installation of heavy-duty bolts and nuts. Impact wrenches are too powerful to drive screws or drill small holes. Impact wrenches are used for a variety of jobs, including removing lug nuts from automobiles and bolting down heavy industrial equipment to the floor.

Impact Wrench vs Impact Driver – FAQs

1. Which tool is preferable, an impact wrench or an impact driver?

Ans: An impact wrench generally offers more power (torque) compared to an impact driver. Some high-powered impact drivers in the 18V/20V max class, especially on 12V platforms, may rival compact impact wrenches in terms of power.

2. Is an impact wrench a necessary tool for my needs?

Ans: Yes, an impact wrench can be a valuable tool for various tasks, from DIY projects to car repairs, and in some cases, it may be essential. Choosing the right impact wrench for your specific project is important.

3. What advantages does an impact driver offer over a drill?

Ans: A power drill, with adjustable speed, is designed for drilling and driving with a chuck that securely holds bits. In contrast, an impact driver is more compact and lightweight, offering greater torque and utilizing a quick-change clamp for bits with a hexagonal shank.

4. What are the things to avoid doing with an impact wrench?

Ans: Avoid overtightening and cross-threading when using an impact wrench. Remember, installing fasteners requires tightening, while removing fasteners involves loosening.


Considering all of these features, which power tool is best to invest in? Depending on what type of work you do, each tool will produce different results.

A simple DIY task, drilling and screwing in fasteners is all that an impact driver can do. An impact wrench is a better choice if you are a frequent worker with bolts and need to fasten them quickly. It also has more power so that stubborn or rusty bolts will not be an issue.

They can be used in equal measure if there is budget space. The impact driver is more versatile than the impact wrench, however.

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