Impact Wrench vs Impact Driver – Which One Is Suitable for the Task?

Impact Wrench vs Impact Driver

An Impact Wrench and an Impact Driver are both power tools used for tightening and loosening fasteners, such as screws and bolts. However, there are some key differences between the two tools. An Impact Wrench is a larger, more powerful tool typically used for heavy-duty tasks, such as removing and installing lug nuts on a car tire.

It has a square drive, typically 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch in size, and can deliver a high torque output. On the other hand, an Impact Driver is a smaller, more compact tool typically used for lighter-duty tasks, such as driving screws into wood or drywall. It has a hexagonal chuck designed to hold screwdriver bits and deliver a high rotational force.

In general, an Impact Wrench is better suited for tasks that require a lot of torque, such as removing and installing lug nuts on a car tire. At the same time, an Impact Driver is better suited for tasks that require a lot of rotational force, such as driving screws into wood or drywall.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Impact range and driver differ in drive style.
  • Impact drivers have a 1/4-inch hex collet that works with 1/4-inch hex shank bits.
  • Impact wrenches have a square drive that fits into a socket.
  • Consider an impact driver if you’re a renovation enthusiast or a contractor working with wood or metal.
  • Consider an impact wrench if you deal with automobiles or want to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts.

This article analyzes impact drivers and wrenches, how to use them, and their differences. We have also highlighted some of the best impact wrenches. Read through for more. 

When Not to Use an Impact Wrench

Do not use an impact range when doing the following. 

Precision Machining 

An impact should not be any near to precision machining. Despite their high driving power, impact wrenches are hard to handle. They have many back-and-forth motions that may cause you to lose control, making it hard to achieve the required precision. Therefore, avoid it when working with small plywood sheets and other soft materials that need high precision. 

A drilling driver can be a better option than an impact wrench if working with soft materials that require high precision.

Bits Without a Hexagonal Shank

Impact wrenches have a unique design that only supports hex-shaped studs. So, it won’t fit the hexagonal shank.

Also, impact ranges are heavy; thus, it requires a firm hand to operate. With the hexagonal shank, it won’t be safe to turn the impact range frequently.

 

Short Fasteners

Impact wrenches have more torque and, in most cases, may drill nuts exceeding your intended level. They have high power and pressure that can penetrate dense materials easily. Therefore, it is best suited for long bolts and nuts.

However, if you have short fasteners, using an impact wrench may tear them apart or damage them. The reasons are significant power and strength and lack of control. If you overtighten the short fastener, components may break.

  

Flexible Substances

Impact wrenches have little to no control over the devices they work on. Therefore, they can be inaccurate, making them unsuitable for working with flexible substances. If you take an impact wrench and drill into a softwood, the softwood is likely to get damaged. 

Avoiding an impact wrench is the best idea when working with soft or fragile materials. These materials need a subtle impact, and the impact wrench isn’t one of them. A screwdriver can be the best fit here.

  

Drilling Holes

Do not use an impact wrench to drill holes. Instead, use a drilling driver or a cutting machine for this purpose. 

One of the reasons why you should avoid drilling holes with an impact wrench is that they only support hex-shaped bits. Besides, they are far less flexible, making them unsuitable for drilling holes. In addition, impact wrenches produce a lot of pressure and force, which may overdrive a bit, making it too large when drilling a hole. 

 

Impact Wrench vs. Impact Driver for Lug Nuts

An impact range is a better option for lug nuts than an impact driver. The impact wrench multiplies force to produce much power for loosening the lug nuts. The high power is sufficient to loosen any nuts and bolts, whether rusted, tight, or stuck. On the other hand, an impact driver will need additional force to achieve the required power.

The same applies when tightening lug nuts. The impact wrench has sufficient power to drive nuts efficiently.

  

An impact driver is only efficient in tightening or loosening screws on metals and wood. 

  Impact Wrench Impact driver
Power source  Electricity and compressed air Electricity 
Output force  Slower RPM, higher torque Higher RPM, lower torque
Impact force  Rotational directional force Axial and rotational directional force
Bit connection/socket connection 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ Square Shaft 1/4″ Hex Socket
Uses Loosen/tighten lug nuts, heavy-duty assembly, loosen/tighten large nuts and bolts. Driving screws, drilling, and light-duty assembly

 

Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench for Automotive

Impact drivers are lightweight and have better control than impact wrenches. Therefore, they are ideal in the automotive industry. Ideally, impact drivers are used to driving screws into metals and wood. They are also used to tighten or loosen nuts. 

The ability of impact drivers to drive screws and nuts make them a better option in automotive application like car repair. 

On the other hand, impact wrenches have high torque force and less control, making them unsuitable for automobiles.

  

Impact Wrench vs. Impact Driver vs. Drill

A drill works by spinning the chuck at the front of the drill. With most chucks now keyless, you won’t need a key when changing out the bits. Impact drivers work the same way as the drill, spinning the attached bit to drill. 

Drills differ from impact wrenches and impact drivers in many ways. While the impact drill and wrench have limited torque settings, a drill has multiple torques and speed settings.

  

The impact wrench and driver have more torque power than the drill, with the impact wrench having the highest torque power out of the three. If you drill a large fastener using a drill and can’t drill any further, replace it with an impact driver. 

However, drills have more speed than impact drivers. They exert a constant force on the chuck, continuously driving the fastener. On the other hand, an impact driver losses efficiency while repeating the anvil cycle, thus driving slowly.

 

What Are the Best Impact Wrenchers?

The best impact wrenchers are as follows. 

Best Impact Wrench

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

Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1:2-Inch Impact Wrench with Friction Ring

amazon new

Specs

  • Dimension: 10.9 x 3.2 x 14.06 inches
  • Torque: 1,400 ft-lb
  • RPM: 3,300
  • IPM: 1,750

Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench is the best impact wrench we’ve tested. Its versatility allows it to perform a wide range of work, including removing lug nuts and assembling patio furniture, among other functions. 

This impact wrench has a high torque with a four-mode drive control, making it more flexible. Its L-shaped handle and rubber overmold ensure a more comfortable grip while using this impact wrench.

The impact wrench has a LED work light that lets you work in dim rooms. The LED work light lights up the area, making your work easier. 

The tool has a compact design, with only 8 inches in length, making it easier to carry around. Also, while working with this wrench, it is unlikely to overheat as it features the Redlink Plus intelligence.

This appliance has more power. It has 1,400 foot-pounds of nut-busting force and 1,000 foot-pounds of fastening torque.

Pros

  • It has more power. 
  • It has a sturdy construction, making it durable.
  • It is rust-free; thus, components won’t damage.

Cons

  • This wrench is heavy.

Check the Milwaukee 2767-20 M18’s latest prices on Amazon

Best Cordless Impact Wrench 

Ryobi P261K 18V Cordless 3-Speed 1/2 in. Impact Wrench

Ryobi P261K 18V Cordless 3-Speed 1:2 in. Impact Wrench Kit with (1) 4 Ah Battery, Charger and Bag

amazon new

Specs

  • Dimension: 7.75 x 8 x 7.75 inches
  • Torque: 3,00 ft-lb
  • RPM: 2,900
  • IPM: 3,200

Ryobi P261K 18V Cordless 3-Speed 1/2 Impact Wrench is the best cordless impact wrench we could find. We used it to remove lug nuts, and it worked well. It acted within a second, and the next second, it broke them loose and spun them off. However, removing a rusty bolt from farm equipment took a few seconds more. 

This wrench has more torque power of up to 300 foot-pounds, which is ideal for heavy-duty tasks. Besides, it produces more than 3,200 impacts per minute, ensuring high efficiency. Therefore, it can efficiently tighten and loosen bolts and nuts of various sizes.

Pros

  • High-efficiency battery
  • Faster impact
  • More affordable than Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench.

Cons

  • It does not have a brushless motor; thus, it can’t stand up to daily use.

Check the Ryobi P261K 18V Cordless 3-Speed’s latest prices on Amazon

Best Dewalt Impact Wrench

20v MAX* XR Brushless High Torque 1/2 in. Impact Wrench

PACT3

amazon new

Specs

  • Torque: 700 foot-pounds; 1,200 foot-pounds nut-busting
  • RPM: 0-400/ 1,200/ 1,900 
  • Motor type: Brushless
  • Drive size: ½ inch

This powerful impact wrench is ideal for DIYers or pros with more torque power requirements. It has a high torque of 1,200 foot-pounds for bursting nuts and a typical torque of up to 700 foot-pounds—ideal for demanding tasks. 

This Dewalt impact wrench has multiple speed selections for flexibility and convenience. You can choose 0 and 1,900 rpm, 0 and 1,200 rpm, or 0 and 400 rpm.

It has a sturdy construction design, making it durable. A 6-foot drop will have a negligible effect on this impact wrench. 

Like the Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench, this impact wrench has a LED work light that lights up a dim workplace, letting you work efficiently. 

The wrench has high power, and we were able to prove it. We used it to remove lug nuts and broke them loose instantly. We also tried throwing lags on it, and the result was the same. It also has high efficiency, thanks to the brushless technology.

Pros


  • More torque power
  • Compact design 
  • It has a powerful 20V battery

Cons

  • It has a snug hog ring, making it hard to replace sockets. 

Check the Dewalt impact wrench’s latest prices on Amazon

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