Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench

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Impact drivers and wrenches are both powerful wrenching tools that offer tremendous torque output compared to traditional drills. Although both are used for similar purposes, there are certain differences between them. Understanding their specific use will help you understand which tool will be better suited for your purpose.

We’ve outlined the specific uses for each impact tool, and the advantages and disadvantages to each. We’ve also listed our top picks and reviews on some of the best selling impact drivers and wrenches in the market right now.

​Impact Driver and Impact Wrench Reviews

Check out some of the best versatile impact wrenches and drivers in the market right now and why people are buying them:

Brand
Top Pick Impact Driver
Dewalt DCF885C1
Top Pick Impact Wrench
Porter-Cable PCE211
Product
DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch...
PORTER-CABLE Impact Wrench, 7.5-Amp, 1/2-Inch...
Torque Output
1400 in-lb
450 in-lb
Rating
Top Pick Impact Driver
Brand
Dewalt DCF885C1
Product
DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch...
Torque Output
1400 in-lb
Rating
Top Pick Impact Wrench
Brand
Porter-Cable PCE211
Product
PORTER-CABLE Impact Wrench, 7.5-Amp, 1/2-Inch...
Torque Output
450 in-lb
Rating

Top Impact Driver ​Options

​1.    DeWalt DCF885C1

This Impact driver weighs just 2.8 lbs and comes in a compact build, making it just the perfect companion for beginners. The DCF885C1 20V by DeWalt is wildly popular in the market right now because it’s easy to work with as you don’t have to drag long cables everywhere you go.

DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch...

It has a hex drive which gives you the flexibility of using all kinds of fasteners such as bolts, screws, and lug nuts. It also comes with an auto-power feature that’ll shut off the power supply automatically once the battery is fully charged so that you don’t have to worry about energy wastage.

Another big bonus for first-time users is that it’s quite simple to change bits on this model.

You’ll love the 3 LED lights which turn on 20 seconds after you’ve pulled the trigger. Now you don’t have to worry about working late at night thanks to these lights.

It may be lightweight and beginner-friendly, but you can easily handle tough tasks with this tool as it generates a torque output of 1400 lbs and supports a voltage of 20V.

DEWALT 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch...
  • INCREASED VISIBILITY: Has built-in LED with 20-second delay after trigger release
  • ERGONOMIC DESIGN: Compact (5.55 in. front to back)and lightweight (2.8 lbs) design fits into tight...
  • ONE-HANDED BIT LOADING: Has a 1/4 in. hex chuck and accepts 1 in. bit tips. No load speed: 0-2,800
Pros:
  • ​Portable and lightweight with its compact build
  • ​1400 lbs torque power makes it ideal for handling heavy duty projects
  • ​Easy to work in dark areas thanks to the 3 LED lights
Cons:
  • ​The battery tends to run out fast

2.    Makita XDT131

This model from Makita is among the best impact drivers on the market right now. The XDT131 ensures both effective speed and power when required. It features a 4-pole motor with a 4-brush design to generate more speed without any impact on the torque.

Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless...

You also get different speed settings with this model ranging from 0 to 2900 RPM and 0 to 3900 RPM. As if this isn’t enough, it’s also backed by a powerful torque output of 1400 lbs.

Thanks to the LXT, you don’t have to worry about overcharging the battery as it stops the charging on its own once it’s fully charged and hence improves its battery life.

It weighs just 3.9 lbs, and with the powerful 3 AH battery, you can work for the entire day without recharging in between. Don’t worry if you forget to charge the battery the night before because the rapid charger will take care of it in no time.

It’s also packed with Extreme Protection Technology that makes it water and dust resistant so that you can work in any conditions without compromising on the longevity of the tool. And yes, you ​don’t need to bring out ​your own DIY dust collector when working with this one. To help you work in dark areas, it has an LED light attached right above the trigger.

Sale
Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless...
  • BL Brushless motor delivers 1, 500 inches pounds Of max torque
  • Variable speed (0 3, 400 RPM & 0 3, 600 IPM) for a wide range of fastening applications
  • The BL Brushless motor eliminates carbon brushes, enabling the BL motor to run cooler and more...
Pros:
  • ​Easy to carry around as it’s lightweight
  • ​LXT and EPT feature makes it more reliable and convenient to use
  • ​3-year warranty and 90-day return policy
Cons:
  • ​Reduced weight might give a less premium feel

3. Ryobi ONE P236 Impact Driver

This is a low-cost tool that gives you excellent performance for your daily use and is powered by Li-ion battery. In this model, the power is transferred by a planetary gear system to the hammer from a motor.

Ryobi One+ P236 18V 1/4 Inch 3,200 RPM 1,600 Inch...

ONE+ packs some really cool features like a comfortable grip, screw holder and magnetic bit holder, LED illumination light and an auto-load chuck. All these are backed by a reliable 3-year warranty.

I would recommend this Ryobi ONE P236 impact driver to two categories of people – those who will be using it only once in a while and those who are beginners. If you fit into one of these two groups, the ONE+ would be a great purchase for you.

Ryobi One+ P236 18V 1/4 Inch 3,200 RPM 1,600 Inch...
  • RUBBER OVERMOLD: A notched mold on the pistol grip allows you to keep a firm hold on this tool for...
  • TRI-BEAM LED LIGHTING illuminates your workspace upon activating the trigger, letting you see where...
  • TOOL-FREE BIT CHANGING: Simply plug a bit into the chuck to lock it in. Pull the collar back to...
Pros:
  • ​Affordable price
  • ​Great features
  • ​Excellent performance
  • 3-year warranty
Cons:
  • ​Internal parts move a lot

Top Impact Wrench Options

1. DeWalt DCF899HB

Dewalt is a popular brand known for producing high-quality tools, and this model is no exception. Packed with a max torque power of 700 ft per lbs and breakaway torque power of 1200 ft per lbs, you can easily handle tough jobs with this unit. It also comes with 3-speed settings to control the tool.

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Wrench Kit, Brushless,...

This Dewalt DCF899HB impact wrench has an inbuilt LED light for working in dark conditions. The build on this device isn’t the best, but it can last you for a long time.

The battery life is a plus point, lasting longer than most impact wrenches in this category. On the flipside, you might have some issues with its charger – it can be inefficient due to its single volt charge.

Sale
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Wrench Kit, Brushless,...
  • Brushless motor for superior performance. Tool Length-8.81 inch
  • Power tool type cordless.Heavy-duty impact mechanism with max torque 700 ft./lbs., breakaway torque...
  • 3-speed selector switch for control
Pros:
  • ​LED lights make it easier to work in dark areas
  • ​The battery lasts longer enabling you to work for long without charging breaks
  • ​Has multiple settings to control speed based on different projects
Cons:
  • ​Single volt charger

2. Porter-Cable PCE211

If you want an efficient tool at an affordable price, you might want to consider ​the ​​Porter-Cable PCE211 impact wrench.

PORTER-CABLE Impact Wrench, 7.5-Amp, 1/2-Inch...

It’s packed with a 7.4 amp motor that delivers a low torque output of 450 ft per lbs, perfect for your daily tasks for tightening and removing heavy fasteners.

It has a 2-speed setting – 2700 RPM and 2200 RPM that makes it versatile and suitable for different projects.

Socket changes become easy on this unit because of its hog ring anvil that measures only ½ an inch. Additionally, the forward/reverse settings make it a convenient handy tool.

PORTER-CABLE Impact Wrench, 7.5-Amp, 1/2-Inch...
  • 7.5 amp motor for heavy duty applications
  • 450 feet pounds of torque
  • 2, 200 RPM & 2, 700 BPM for speed

It weighs 7.8 lbs and is covered with a 3-year warranty.

Pros:
  • ​Affordable
  • ​3-year warranty
  • ​Comes with a decent torque output that’ll allow you to handle most tasks easily
Cons:
  • ​A little bulky

Top Impact Tool Brands

The brands listed below are some of the most popular names among impact-wrench and impact-driver users.

DeWalt

This American brand started in 1924 and has been manufacturing high-quality power tools for woodworking industries worldwide. As of 2001, the brand has produced and sold over 800 accessories and over 200 power tools.

Some of our brand comparisons vs Dewalt:

Makita

Another notable brand compared to Dewalt is Makita. ​It is known for producing ​fine quality power tools such as the ​JV0600k jigsaw. This Japanese brand started in 1915 and has been serving the woodworking industries worldwide.

Porter-Cable

This is an American brand known for manufacturing tools, Porter-Cable started in 1906. Just like Dewalt, Porter Cable is​ known for developing the portable helical-drive saws and the belt sander as well as other prime power tools such as their PCE345 jigsaw.

Impact Drivers vs Impact Wrenches

In this section, we’ve included everything you need to know about impact drivers and impact wrenches so you can make the right purchase. Let’s get started!

​Differences in Wrench Types

Both tools may have similar appearances, but there are some distinctions you should be aware of.

First, they’re both used for different work situations.

Impact drivers can cover most of your carpentry, home improvement projects, and so they’re a popular tool among professionals and hobbyists.

Impact wrenches, on the other hand, offer tremendous torque power and they’re used for professional and commercial purposes. For instance, they’re widely used in automobile shops and industries as they can quickly tighten or remove screws on trucks and cars.

Close up of a man holding a blue impact driver

Using impact wrenches even for outdoor or backyard home projects can be detrimental sometimes. If you use this tool on the wrong screw, there’s a high chance for it to get over-tightened.

To prevent this from happening, certain impact wrenches have internal attachments, but they’re not so common and can be quite expensive compared to the standard models.

Impact drivers generally offer around 2000 in-lbs of torque power while impact wrenches can produce 15000 in-lbs of torque, which is seven times more than impact drivers..

Features to Consider in Impact Tools

There are several features to look for before you purchase an impact-driver or an impact wrench. We’ve listed some of the key features you must consider before buying either one of the products:

  • Torque: Whether you go for impact-wrench or impact-driver, each tool must have enough torque to either tighten or remove fasteners. Having higher torque makes it more reliable. A good impact wrench should have a minimum torque of 150 in-lbs.
  • Weight: Some impact wrenches weigh more than the others. If your project is for a short period, the weight of the tool won’t be much of a problem. However, for long duration works that make you fatigued, pick a lighter tool as heavier wrenches would be much harder to hold and control.
  • Size: Typically, smaller wrenches are better, however, it’s usually a trade off between torque and size. smaller size will enable you to work in tighter spaces, but you’ll be compromising on torque. The trick is to find a balance between torque and size.
  • Impacts per minute: This takes into account the number of strikes the hammer makes in a minute. A higher IPM correlates to a tool that can drive fasteners in and out much faster.
  • Torque adjustments: This will help you control the torque output of the tools. It’s a great feature as it can help you avoid snapping bolt heads or over torquing a bolt.
  • Balance and ergonomics: Special ergonomic features and designs can prevent shocks that wrenching tools transmit to your hand. Look for one with materials that offer a comfortable grip, fits your hand, and are well-balanced to avoid repetitive stress when using the tool.
  • Voltage: Impact drivers come in both 12V and 18V types. 12v drivers are more compact and smaller than 18V versions and are ideal for driving fasteners in soft to moderate materials. The 12V models are capable of driving larger bolts into hard materials.
  • Built-in LED: This feature will help you aim and see in dark areas and also in places that are out of reach. It doesn’t consume much battery power and hence saves a lot of power.
  • Adjustable clutches: This feature in impact drivers help you adjust the force exerted by it on the fastener. It’s helpful while working on windows, cabinet doors, or even pocket doors.
  • Warranty: Looking for a tool with a decent warranty is essential. Most brands offers 1-3 years of warranty. But if you’re willing to spend a little more, some brands even offer longer warranties.

Impact Driver​s

Impact drivers are also known as impact drillers and they can exert powerful hammering blows as well as high torque in the axial and rotational direction. They’re a perfect tool for both DIY hobbyists and professionals alike.

Man using an impact driver on a wall

Uses

These tools are quite versatile and you can use them for driving fasteners and screws into the material. You can also use them to take out screws and fasteners or even drill holes through hardwoods.

Although standard wrenches and drills can perform the same tasks, they don’t offer the same torque as compared to impact-drivers. As such, you can complete your tasks much faster.

As with most standard drills, you may face some issues when drilling large screws into hard materials. An impact driver is more suitable for tasks like these. You’ll also find that they’re more superior to standard drills when it comes to efficiency and productivity.

​Advantages

  • Reliable: Impact drivers are perfect for driving screws because of its ¼ inch hex drive, which makes them reliable. You can even use it on woods and different materials.
  • ​Compact: ​​​​Since most impact drivers are lightweight and small, handling it ​is relatively easy.
  • ​Convenient: ​​​​These tools are quite easy to use. They provide the torque needed for driving lug nuts, but they also ensure that the nuts remain intact. Hence, they’re perfect for beginners working on their own DIY projects.
  • ​Affordable: Impact drivers are costlier than standard drills. However, they’re much cheaper in comparison to bigger and powerful impact wrenches. You can get decent quality for an affordable price, but if you’re looking for the best sellers, you may have to spend some more.

​Disadvantages

  • ​Lacks torque control: Most impact drivers don’t have torque control, and it can cause stripped screws and damage the work surface.
  • ​Hex-shanked bits only: ​​​​The most notable drawback of impact drivers is that it can’t accept certain types of bits. It comes with a locking collect that only takes hex-shanked bits, limiting its application.

Impact Wrenches

Impact wrenches are mostly used when a high rotational force is required to drive large nuts and fasteners but it can also do the same tasks performed by impact drivers.

If impact drivers are more powerful than standard drills, impact wrenches have double the power of both combined.

Uses

Most professionals prefer using impact wrenches when it isn’t possible for any other wrench or tools to extract frozen nuts, fasteners, or rusted bolts, because of their high torque output.

These tools can be powered either by electricity or air compressor. The electrically powered wrenches are available in two variations – the battery powered cordless types and the corded units.

The cordless types, just like top cordless jigsaws depend on battery power and are less powerful compared to air compressed impact wrenches. However, the latter needs to be supplied with compressed air continuously.

As impact wrenches are packed with a higher rotational torque output than impact drivers, they’re mostly used in assembly line production and metal industries. They’re also widely used in automobile industries to tighten and loosen lug nuts.

​Advantages

  • ​More torque: This tool offers more torque than impact drivers or any other standard drill.
  • ​Great for bolts and nuts: Although with the correct bits, impact wrenches can be used for driving screws. They’re also most suitable for bolts and nuts and can handle almost any bolt size efficiently. This is why they’re ideal for heavy work and maintenance of automobiles, and the reason why they work well with sockets.
  • ​Ease of use: Impact wrenches may be bulky and generate tremendous torque, but they’re easy to use and are actually lighter.
A yellow Stanley tool

Disadvantages

  • ​Expensive: They’re quite expensive, especially when compared to impact drivers. Since you only need their powerful torque on special projects, it isn’t advisable to spend such a hefty amount of money on these tools.

If you’re looking for impact wrenches from reputable brands, you’ll have to pay a huge price. It’s also worth noting that you can get a decent tool for a slightly lower price if you buy off-brand.

Bottom Line

Compact wrenches are generally powerful and offer more torque output in comparison to impact drivers, but as we’ve mentioned earlier, you only need an impact wrench for specific tasks and projects.

If you’re working on home improvements or DIY projects that don’t require much power, going for an impact wrench will be a waste of money.

That said, we have a winner in the impact driver category. ​The DCF885C1 20V by DeWalt stands out and is my top pick because of its versatility and ease of use. It’s portable and comes with 3 LED lights. The 1400 lbs torque power also makes it easier to handle tough projects.

As for impact wrenches, the ​Porter-Cable PCE211 is a popular choice because it’s efficient and gets the work done. It’s also a lot cheaper than most impact wrenches. The features it comes with makes it a great tool for all heavy-duty as well as special projects.