Cordless Drill vs. Impact Driver What's The Difference

Cordless Drill vs. Impact Driver: What’s The Difference?

If you are going to work on your boat, there are a few tools that you may need. Two very commonly used tools are the cordless drill and the impact driver.

Both tools have particular uses and advantages. However, although they look somewhat similar in size and shape, they are not the same tools. Moreover, they do not serve the same purposes.

This is a cordless drill vs. impact driver comparison to see which is best suited for specific jobs. We’ll discuss cordless drills and impact drivers, what makes them different, and what they’re best used for.

The Basics

Before we start talking about the differences between these two tools, let’s discuss what these two tools are.

What Is a Cordless Drill?

A cordless drill is also known as a cordless drill driver. Its defining feature is that it is cordless, which means it uses batteries for power. Therefore, it does not need to be plugged into an AC power source such as a corded drill.

A drill or drill driver is a tool that serves two primary purposes. The first is to drill holes into various materials, mainly wood. However, they can handle other softer materials. The second purpose is to drive fasteners, mostly screws, into these materials.

These tools feature a relatively small yet powerful motor that drives the chuck and shank to spin up to 2,000 RPM. You attach a drill bit or a screw bit into the chuck to do the abovementioned jobs.

What Is an Impact Driver?

An impact driver looks similar to a cordless drill. However, it does different things. The impact drivers may be cordless or corded depending on the model, although cordless is very common.

Like a cordless drill, an impact driver also serves two primary purposes—to drill holes and screw fasteners into those holes. However, an impact driver is generally designed to work with very hard materials.

This could be very dense wood, brick, masonry, or metal. However, impact drivers are commonly used for working with masonry.

Impact drivers create a lot of rotational force. While they spin like a regular drill, they also use a spring, hammer, and anvil to create additional force.

The motor turns the shaft, and the spring compresses and forcefully releases, which drives the hammer against the anvil in a rotating fashion. Impact drivers create and store a lot of energy and then rapidly release it to create great amounts of torque.

Main Differences Between Cordless Drills and Impact Drivers

Let’s now look at the differences between cordless drills and impact drivers.


A regular drill applies a constant force to the chuck and moves continuously. On the other hand, while an impact driver also spins, it creates and releases large amounts of force. This is why it can drive fasteners into very hard and dense materials.

Power Level

An impact driver can generate a lot more torque than a regular drill. Therefore, it is ideal for driving materials and drilling into extremely hard materials. For example, a regular drill won’t be able to drill into masonry like an impact driver.

Cordless Drill vs. Impact Driver What's The Difference


Although an impact driver produces higher torque levels, they are slower than regular drills. Regular drills usually spin at faster speeds than impact drivers.

Size and Weight

Although impact drivers are more powerful, they tend to be smaller and lighter. Therefore, an impact driver is the more compact of these two tools.

Power Source

As the name implies, a cordless drill is always cordless. However, an impact driver may be corded or cordless. Because it creates more power, an impact drill will usually have a higher voltage level than a regular drill.

Intended Purpose

Of course, the purpose of these tools is different. Drills are designed for wood and relatively soft materials. Impact drivers are designed for masonry and other hard materials.

When to Use a Cordless Drill or Impact Driver

You would usually use a cordless drill for working with wood and other somewhat soft materials. It’s a tool that you use to drill holes and then insert fasteners into these materials.

On the other hand, an impact driver is a much higher-powered tool. It is designed primarily for working with masonry, although it may also be used with other hard materials. Although the two devices technically serve the same purposes, the materials that they work with are different.

Final Thoughts

A cordless drill is probably best if you are working on a boat or with wood. Cordless drills are designed to drill holes and drive fasteners into wood and relatively soft materials.

However, impact drivers will drive fasteners into extremely hard and dense materials. They are used to drive fasteners into metal, masonry, and other such materials. So chances are you probably won’t have much use for an impact driver when working on your boat, although you never know.

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