When it comes to impact tools, people often get confused between impact drivers and impact wrenches.

While their names are similar, impact wrenches and drivers serve totally different purposes. An impact wrench offers a considerable amount of power in fastening nuts and bolts, an impact driver ‘drives’ in screws with considerable force – up to 2000 lbs of torque.

Given their different uses, both are better at different projects. So how do you choose between the two? Well, that’s what this article for.

If that sounds like what you’re looking for, then let’s dive in.

What is an Impact Driver?

An impact driver is a powerful tool with a high amount of torque. It resembles a normal drill and its basic operation is to drive screws and tighten nuts.

It’s a lightweight tool for easy and simple operation.

Impact Driver
Impact Drivers are mainly used for driving screws with considerable force.

It can be used to drill through wood, metal, bricks, and other materials. It has a chuck that only accepts bits with a ¼-inch hex shank. You can replace the bit by pulling up the chuck sleeve.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Impact Drivers

As you now know, an impact driver allows you to tighten screws and nuts with increased precision.

It requires little to no effort, allowing you to get your work done quicker. Here are some of the pros and cons of impact drivers.

Impact Driver Pros

  • They’re powerful and allow you to drive screws into various materials, such as wood, metal, brick, and others
  • Can quickly tighten hundreds of screws on a big project
  • Best for driving screws into metal
  • They provide you with the ease and flexibility of replacing the bits as needed
  • Compact and lightweight
  • It can be used in tight spaces and corners
  • It doesn’t have any jerk, vibration, or kickback
  • Are generally more affordable

Impact Driver Cons

What is an Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench is a power tool that multiplies the force and delivers a high torque. This moves the socket wrench without any extra effort.

Its basic function is to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts.

Although impact wrenches are quite compact, they pack a lot of power.

There are two different types of impact wrenches: electric and air-powered. An electric impact wrench has an electric motor to undo tight or stuck nuts.

orange impact wrench
Impact Wrenchs grab around a nut or bolt to tighten or loosen it.

On the other hand, an air impact wrench has an air compressor which delivers a much stronger force to the socket wrench.

You must’ve seen them in the pit stops at Formula One races. Moreover, they’re also used in auto workshops, and in construction or manufacturing plants.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Impact Wrenches

Here are the pros and cons that you should consider:

Impact Wrench Pros

  • It provides a huge amount of force
  • It loosens or tightens all types of nuts and bolts, whether they’re big or small
  • They can also loosen stuck or corroded nuts
  • Provides a high amount of force to undo any nut or bolt
  • Allows you to do the work faster
  • Protects your hands and arms while performing tasks
  • They’re available in both corded and cordless variants
  • Suitable for easier and low-powered jobs

Impact Wrench Cons

  • They’re heavy-duty, which makes them a bit too powerful for home use
  • They’re really noisy
  • Can be disconcerting to use for an extended period of time
  • More suited towards professionals
  • Amateurs won’t be able to use them efficiently

Main Differences Between Impact Drivers and Impact Wrenches

First and foremost, impact drivers are used to drive screws into wood or metal, as well as tighten nuts. On the other hand, impact wrenches are only used to tighten or loosen nuts.

Due to their ability to drive screws and nuts, impact drivers are much more popular in the DIY community. Impact wrenches are in high demand in the automotive industry, as they’re used for car repairs.

Comparing the head, you’ll notice the impact drivers come with a ¼-inch hex collet, whereas the impact wrenches have a ½-inch square drive.

Lastly, impact drivers are much more lightweight than impact wrenches. This also makes them easy to use and comfortable to hold.

Since impact wrenches are heavier and provide a high force, it can be tedious and tiring to hold and use them for a long time.

How Can you Choose Between an Impact Driver and Impact Wrench?

There are various factors you can consider while choosing the best one for your usage. Let’s have a look at them one by one.

Brand

Make sure to get your power tools from a company that produces top-quality products. They’re quite expensive and you can’t go about buying new tools every now and then.

Although you’ll have to spend more while choosing a product from a reputed brand, it’ll pay you back in the long run.

Weight

Consider the weight if you have to use the power tool frequently.

Impact wrenches are a tad heavier than impact drivers, so if you’re not used to handling heavy tools, then I’d suggest you refrain from buying an impact wrench.

Since impact drivers can be used for driving screws and working with nuts, you can easily buy one.

They’re also lightweight and easier to handle. Therefore, if you think you can make do with an impact driver, then I’d suggest you go for it.

Power Source

You can choose between a corded or cordless tool. Corded models won’t be suitable for jobs that require you to move around a lot.

On the other hand, cordless tools are normally powered by lithium-ion batteries. Although they have a long battery life, you have to run the risk of the batteries running out.

Also, battery-powered tools don’t provide a lot of power or torque.

So, if you’re required to perform high-powered jobs, go for corded power tools!

Safety Features

Safety is extremely important.

Some of the safety features include automatic power cut-off of the motor. This happens if the power tool gets too hot, or when the battery is full.

Always make sure to choose one which has some basic safety features. These will help your power tools last longer.

Accessories

When buying impact drivers and impact wrenches, make sure to check the accessories that come with the tool. Keep in mind whether you get any extra bits or spare batteries.

If you choose a power tool that doesn’t come with any additional accessories, then you’ll have to factor in the extra cost of accessories and spare parts.

Additional Features

Reputed brands are adding new features and technologies to their power tools. These include:

  • LED lights
  • Security features
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Mobile applications to monitor operations

Which One Should You Get?

So, it’s time to pick one out of the two.

If you’re a renovation enthusiast, or like to gather power tools to fix stuff around the house, then you should opt for an impact driver.

Also, if you work as a contractor or handyman, and you work with wood or metal, then the impact driver is the perfect power tool.

man making a box using impact driver
Impact drivers are perfect for home DIY’s and fixing around the house

Not only is it lightweight and high-powered, but it also allows you to drive screws into different materials without any extra effort.

If your work revolves around car service and maintenance, then you’d benefit from having an impact wrench. It provides a high amount of power to loosen all kinds of tight, stuck, or rusted nuts.

Moreover, it can also be used to loosen machine-tightened nuts or bolts. Plus, you can also use the impact wrench to tighten nuts firmly.

male using an impact wrench for car
Impact wrenches are more suited for car service and maintenance

In my opinion, an impact wrench isn’t used as much as an impact driver, so unless you really feel the need to use one on a regular basis, I’d suggest you go for the impact driver.

Conclusion

I hope this article helps you understand the difference between an impact driver and impact wrench. Hopefully, you can choose wisely between the two.

Always ensure to follow the safety precautions when using a power tool. Also equip yourself with high-quality safety gear, such as safety glasses, earplugs, hardhats, and other essential equipment.

If you found this post helpful, feel free to check out the related articles below.

Thanks a lot for reading, and have a great day!

-Craig