1/2” vs 3/8” Drill Bits: Which Is Best & Do You Need Both?

Are you struggling to choose between a ½” and a ⅜” drill bit? Then check out the comparisons in this article that will help you pick the one that’s right for you.

½” Drills ⅜” Drills
More torqueLess torque
More durable
Less durable
More expensive
Best for professional work and long projects Best for household work and small projects

You don’t need both unless you do a lot of professional and DIY jobs.

Working out which drill bit you need can be a bit of a headache. Take a look at the extended drill bit guide below that will explain the two further.

½” Drills

Drills are available in many sizes and ½” drill bits are one of the most popular you can buy. The measurement of ½” refers to the size that the chuck will be. The chuck is what holds the bit in place.

Are you trying to work out whether a ½” drill bit is a good choice for an upcoming job? Then take a look at how a ½” drill measures up in the following categories.

  • Torque
  • Speed
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Job type

Ready to find out more? Then let’s jump straight to the first one.


Ok, so first things first. What is torque? Torque is the force that a drill makes to turn an object, in this case, the drill bit.

So how do ½” drills measure up in torque? ½” drills have more torque than ⅜” drills. This is because ½” drills are normally used for tougher jobs with harder materials. This means more torque (or force) is released from these drills so that you can get the job done.

Because they have more torque they are more powerful. Therefore, you must use them with care. It would be easier for you to do yourself an injury with a ½” drill because of the level of power coming from it.

If you are choosing a drill bit based on torque alone, then a ½” drill is the best.


How fast will your drill bit spin? This all depends on how fast your drill is. So which is speedier? A ½” or a ⅜”?

It may surprise you, but a ½” is actually slower than a ⅜” drill. Why is that? Because ½” drills have a higher level of torque, it is easier for them to perforate tough materials. But the immense power in a drill like this needs to be controlled so that you can use it safely. That is why these drills are slower than their ⅜” counterparts.


The durability of your drill is closely linked to its power. The more powerful the drill the more durable it is.

As we saw earlier, a ½” drill has more torque and is, therefore, more powerful. This makes ½” drills more durable than ⅜” drills.

If you are purchasing a drill based on durability alone, a ½” is the best option.


Here’s another really important factor to investigate before choosing drills and drill bits. That is, how much it is all going to cost.

When comparing ½” drills with ⅜”, there isn’t a lot of difference in the price. Generally speaking, ½” are more expensive. But you do also have to take into account where you buy your drill from and what kind of drill you buy.

Job Type

What kind of jobs will you be using your drill and drill bits for? A ½” drill bit is best for the following.

  • Professional work. You can complete any heavy-duty construction work with this drill. You can use ⅜” drill bits in a ½” drill giving you the freedom to chop and change.
  • Prolonged use. This drill is best for jobs that you will do for long periods of time. This is because you will have more torque for the job, which will lighten your load.
using a drill at work
½” drills are best for professional jobs

⅜” Drill Bits

It is now time to turn our attention to ⅜” drills and drill bits to see how they can compare with ½” drills. We will compare them using the same criteria we saw earlier. Let’s get started. 


As stated above, torque is the force that makes a drill bit turn an object. So, how do ⅜” bits compare to ½” bits?

An ⅜” drill has less torque than a ½”. This is because you can use them for lighter jobs that do not require as much force. These drills are great for those that are putting their DIY skills to the test for the first time. They are ideal for odd jobs around the house.

drilling into wood
⅜” drill bits are ideal for household jobs


How fast can a ⅜” drill bit spin? Well, that all depends on the speed of your drill. ⅜” drills are faster than ½”. This is because they are not used to do heavy-duty jobs so they require less caution when you use them. This means that they can be manufactured to go faster.

If you are choosing a drill based on speed alone, you should choose a ⅜”.


The durability of your drill is based on how powerful it is. Since ⅜” drills are less powerful than ½”, they are also less durable.

But this does not mean that a ⅜” drill is a complete waste of money. Rather, these are just as durable as they need to be. This is because they are generally used to work with softer surfaces.


The price difference between ½” and ⅜” drills is not a game-changer. ⅜” drills are usually a little cheaper, but this does also depend on the brand of your drill and where you buy it from.

That said, if you are choosing a drill based on price alone, a ⅜” is the best option.

Job Type

Which kinds of jobs can you use a ⅜” for? Take a look at the following list of jobs that fit best with this kind of drill and drill bit.

  • Household DIY jobs. A ⅜” drill or drill bit is great for odd jobs around the house. These jobs are not too tough for you to need a stronger drill.
  • Occasional jobs. A ⅜” drill is not as durable as an ½”. But if you are only using it occasionally for jobs around the home, it should more than fit the bill.
using a drill at home
⅜” drills are ideal for completing jobs around the home

Can You Use a 3/8 Drill Bit in a 1/2 Inch Drill?

You can use a ⅜” drill bit in a ½” drill. This makes the ½” drill really versatile as you can use it to accommodate different-sized jobs.

Drills with a ⅜” chuck on the other hand will only fit drill bits of up to ⅜”.

 How Is a Drill Bit Fitted and Removed?

Fitting and removing a drill bit may seem a little complicated if you are doing it for the first time. Follow these simple instructions to complete the job.

  1. Twist the black part of the chuck anti-clockwise to loosen it
  2. Insert the drill bit into the chuck
  3. Twist the black part of the chuck clockwise to tighten it. Continue twisting the chuck until the drill bit is firmly in place.
  4. To remove the drill bit, twist the black part of the chuck anti-clockwise. Pull the drill bit out.

Do you fancy watching those steps? Then take a look at this tutorial video.


So what can we conclude?

You should use a ½” drill if:

You should use a ⅜” drill if:

  • You need a fast drill
  • You are looking for something more economical
  • You want to use the drill for DIY jobs around the home

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Have a great day!