Cordless Impact Driver vs Cordless Drill

Choosing between an impact driver and a cordless drill is a difficult question for both DIYers and professional handymen. While the efficiency of an impact driver at driving even your largest screws is perfect, a cordless drill is more versatile and can accomplish more projects.

Some Professionals will advise you to buy both which is perfectly OK but if your budget can`t cover a combo purchase, it is highly advisable to settle for a powerful cordless drill.

Impact drivers are light and designed to put more force into the bit reducing the throttle on your arm which allows you to drive the largest screws into hard timber without breaking a sweat. However, when you need to make smooth holes or drive small and standard sized screws, a cordless drill is the best way to go.

For regular DIY tasks at home such as assembling your appliances, mounting wall decoration or fixing rickety shelves and cabins, a cordless drill may be all you need. Heavy tasks such as mounting cabinets or driving heavy screws into wood are also common in both home and construction site settings which is why an impact driver will always make a great pal as well.

Whichever decision you make, you have to narrow down your choice to set of powerful features that can perform the tasks you need it to accomplish and that is where this guide comes in. Choice of the right tool for installing screws, bolts, and nuts as well as drilling is only easy if you understand the important features to look for. When choosing the best impact driver or cordless drill, Voltage, power, and design are the most important basics.

This guide has everything you need to make the right choice of tool for both light and heavy-duty tasks. It has all the information past the confusing technical details to enable even first-time buyers to land the best power tools in the market. We have started with our top picks on the list. You can read below the recommendations to understand the criteria we used to evaluate each power tool alongside other information you need to get the most from your power tool.

Top 5 Best Cordless Drills And Impact Drills In The Market

1. DEWALT DCF885C1 20V MAX IMPACT DRIVER KITDEWALT DCF885C1 20V Max 1/4" Impact Driver Kit

This DEWALT model is probably the most compact you can go in the market for a cordless impact driver weighing in at just 2.8lbs. It has a user-friendly design featuring a slim ergonomic easy Grip handle that allows you to control and operate with one arm. Its 5.5-inch head is suitable for drilling your way through narrow spaces. It also features a quick response variable speed trigger that gives you control of the driving allowing you clock in the right depth without snapping your screws.

Its simple design doesn`t compromise performance either. It has a powerful torque at 2800lbs without load and up to 200IPM, strong enough to drill into the hardest wood. It accepts regular ¼ inch bits but it can expand as high as 1 inch allowing you to install any HEX bit you have. Moreover, its 20V batteries are designed to charge quickly with more runtime allowing you to complete more tasks on one charge.

It is a great tool choice for both commercial projects and personal DIY tasks with its premium steel protection promising the most durable service possible. It also has a powerful LED light for dark spaces. It comes with the 20V battery as well as a 3-year warranty with the excellent DEWALT customer service.

Pros:

  • It is Light and easy to handle in one arm
  • It has a strong grip on the bits up to 1 inch in width
  • Its powerful torque completes tasks faster
  • Premium external protection for durability
  • It is covered by a 3-year warranty

Cons:

  • It doesn`t have a side clip
  • It takes up too much power due to the brushed motor

2. DEWALT DCD791D2 MAX 20V Cordless Drill

DEWALT DCD791D2 20V MAX XR Li-Ion 0.5" 2.0Ah Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit with DG5120 Heavy-duty Drill HolsterThis is one of the latest DEWALT models designed with the original tough design of DEWALT but compact and lighter than older models. It is a versatile 20 volter weighing 3.4lbs with batteries because of the powerful motor. It makes up for the extra weight with the T shape and a slim grip that gives you excellent balance when working for long hours with one arm. Its 7-inch head with a slim chuck head makes it the best drill for drilling and driving narrow spaces and corners.

The powerful motor delivers great speeds and torque as well allowing you to complete tasks in near record time. Its high torque mode has speeds of 0-500RPM with over 400lbs in torque allowing you to drill through hardwood, concrete, and steel quickly. The Drill mode has an even higher speed up to 2000RPM which makes the smoothest holes in a short time. It uses a ½ inch Ratcheting chuck with s strong grip on the bits allowing you to focus on work rather than tightening bits every few minutes.

It is a user-friendly package coming with two 2AH batteries that allow you to complete more tasks on one charge. Its Bright LED light is enhanced with a flashlight mode that gives you 20 minutes of runtime before auto shutoff allowing you to work comfortably in the dark.

Pros:

  • It comes with a 2AH backup battery for more work time
  • It has a narrow head with a balanced design for work comfort
  • High speed in both Drill and drive modes for quick task accomplishment
  • It has a 3-year warranty
  • It is made of premium steel parts with a reliable 4 pole motor
  • It has a powerful LED for comfortable nighttime drilling

Cons:

  • It is heavy (3.4lbs) causing more fatigue in overhead drilling

3. BLACK+DECKER BDCI20C 20V Impact Driver

BLACK+DECKER BDCI20C 20V MAX Lithium Impact Driver

This is a great addition to your power tool collection especially when you are shopping on a budget. It comes at a friendly price compared to other 20 volters but still retains a powerful torque and speed to drive 3-inch screws into your hardest timber with ease. This Black Decker Model is heavier than earlier models but still easy to handle because of the narrow serrated handle that maintains your grip even in wet conditions. It is conspicuously small with a narrow head for working in closed spaces.

It has a powerful torque clicking in at 1375lbs which drives up to 3-inch screws quickly and smoothly. It features a variable speed with 0-3000 RPMs and 0-3900RPM able to handle the hardest surfaces which is why it is still a great impact driver for professional use. It has a powerful grip for hex chucks with a quick release allowing you to switch screws with ease.

It is also rubberized at the chick to reduce the noise and vibration on your arm for comfortable drilling. The main concern for most customers is that the drill comes with one 2AH battery which doesn’t last so long considering the power of the driver. You can, however, get 4AH Black+Decker batteries online as well for more runtime.

Pros:

  • It has a strong bit grip allowing you to work comfortably
  • High Torque rating for quick and efficient work
  • It has a slip ergonomic handle easy to grip and operate
  • Rubberized chuck with less noise

Cons:

  • It has a big head that can get stuck in narrow spaces

4. Makita CX200RB Sub Compact 18V Combo KitMakita CX200RB 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Sub-Compact Brushless Cordless 2-Pc. Combo Kit (2.0Ah)

The Bottom-line regarding impact drivers and cordless drills is that you will need each tool at one point or another and this Makita package is a great way to get both tools at a great price. This is a combination of two powerful 4 pole power tools suitable for DIY projects at home as well as any commercial grade projects. They are both light and compact protected by a powerful metallic case to withstand the abuse of the tough conditions on site.

The impact driver especially has the most impressive features of any 18 volter in the market. It weighs just 2.6lbs including the battery but its motor is powerful enough to run variable speeds 0f 0-1300RPM in high torque and 0-3000RPM in the high-speed mode which can drive very large screws in the shortest time. The motor also has high beat speeds of 0-1600IPMs and highs of 0-3900IPMs improving the torque to 1240lbs which is great for handling hard surfaces.

The Drill also has some powerful deal breaker features that can handle heavy duty drilling and driving tasks. It has the same premium Makita exterior protection for durability. It weighs 2.8lbs, light enough for long hours of overhead drilling with an ergonomic handle to enhance your grip. Its high torque mode is fast driving at 500RPM with a 350lb torque which is suitable for up to 3-inch screws. Its 0-1700 drill mode is also great for drilling hardwood, dry wall as well as light steel. The whole package also comes with interchangeable 18V Makita batteries.

Pros:

  • Premium steel protection on both tools for durability
  • A powerful LED light on both tools for working efficiently in the dark.
  • Interchangeable batteries give you more run time
  • Powerful Bit grip with interchangeable bits for both tools
  • Compact and lightweight with narrow heads perfect for narrow spaces

Cons:

  • 2AH batteries have a short life on both tools

5. Hi-Spec 18V Pro Cordless drillHi-Spec 18V Pro Cordless Combo Drill Driver with 1500 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery, 2 Gears, 19 Position Keyless Chuck, Variable Speed Switch & 30pc Drill and Screwdriver Bit Accessory Set

This is ready to go package for any drilling task at the best price of any 18 volter in the market. It is a great choice if you are buying on a budget cordless drill for standard DIY Drilling and driving tasks. Its ergonomic grip that gives you control allowing you to drill holes and drive screws with precision. It comes complete with a set of 30 bits in a durable case covering all the costs you will ever need to incur on bits.

It powerful enough to drive large screws into hardwood and steel because of its 400lb torque and high speed of 550RPM in drive mode for quick and smooth driving. The Keyless chuck has 18 points for accurate torque setting which prevents snapping your screws and the chuck teeth. It also comes with quick recharge batteries rated at 1.5AH which can take you through many tasks before recharging.

It has a simple design for one arm operations with a narrows head that can drill into narrow spaces with ease. It also has an onboard power gauge to help you track your battery life and schedule important tasks.

Pros:

  • It comes with a 30 bit set for handling different tasks with ease
  • It has a soft rubber handle with excellent balance
  • A strong chuck grip for both round and Hex Bits
  • It comes with powerful long life batteries

Cons:

  • It is heavy (4.8lbs), likely to cause fatigue after a short time

Things to look for in a drill or impact driver

Weight

You really don`t want to go for the heaviest power tool because you will do more work carrying and controlling it than it will drilling and driving for you. We generally found this to be a great challenge for most customers, especially where you have to lift the impact driver or cordless drill overhead.

A heavier tool may signify a more powerful motor or simply lots of unnecessary junk. We did an evaluation of each motor on our 18 Volters which are generally heavier than 12V tools to settle on the most compact tools that still crank out the highest torque. The recommended tools are suitable for any long day drilling and driving tasks.

Torque

There are many features that make a great drill but The Torque is the final deal breaker. Higher torque ratings generally attract a higher price because of the powerful motors used. Impact drills have a higher torque rating which is why they are the best for driving your largest screws into concrete, steel, and hardwood.

Our reviews contain 3 bestseller impact drivers in the market for the money with torque ratings above 1250 which is the basic minimum for an 18 volter. we had to narrow down to drills that can deliver at least 400lbs in torque for driving but our main focus is a powerful high-speed mode for making clean holes and fastening with ease.

Battery

Most manufacturers don`t go above 2AH on their packed batteries and they really can’t handle most heavy tasks which is why we highly recommend getting a 4AH set for more runtime with a stable torque. LI-ON batteries are now the basic standard for all power tools in the market and we tried to stick with popular brands that allow you to get replacement batteries easily.

When drilling into hardwood even with an impact driver, a stable torque largely depends on how powerful your battery is. For your light home-based tasks, all our recommendations have a minimum of 1.5 AH rating which gives enough time to drill many holes and mount many screws on one charge.

Chuck

Impact drivers rarely have bit grip problems because of their strong teeth for Hex bits. Cordless drills are the ones that tend to go loose on the screw every now and then if the teeth are chipped off or if the grip is poor. We did an examination of each drill with both round and HEX bits for all our recommended drills.

If you get a problem with bit grip after purchase, you need to contact the seller immediately because it can be a nuisance having to stop every few minutes to tighten the screws. Our recommended drills have a ratcheting keyless chuck which you only need to rotate back until you hear the click then get working, no hassle.

Variable speed trigger and Reverse

This is a major concern when driving and countersinking screws. You need a lower speed with a good grip that gives you full control. A variable speed trigger gives you full control of your drive speed allowing you to drive quickly but also efficiently to avoid snapping or overdriving. This reduces the need for holding the screws with the other arm throughout the driving process. Impact drivers are generally very powerful and tend to cause most overdrives which is why we stuck with the ones with good variable speed control.

FAQS

Which is better, cordless drill or impact driver?

Many people assume that cordless drills are necessarily a replacement for impact drivers but this is not entirely true. Most 20-volt cordless drills cannot deliver more than 500lbs of torque which means they will easily get stuck when driving 3-inch screws into dry oak. Impact drivers are no good at fine and threaded hole drilling but they can deliver over 1000lbs of torque which makes them the best drivers in town. With this explanation, it is best to have both tools in your collection because each of them will meet its equal task at one point. Cordless drills are however more popular because they can handle most standard screw driving tasks and still drill any hole you need.

How long does it take before Lithium batteries need a replacement?

Lithium batteries are better than their NICD counterparts because they are less toxic, lighter and able to hold a charge for longer but they will need a replacement within 2 to 4 years depending on how long you use them and maintenance. You have to avoid storing completely discharged LI-ON batteries and always keep them in a cool dry case for the longest service. Batteries also last longer when they are only used on equally rated tools.

Can I use an impact driver to drill?

Yes! But only to some extent. Impact drivers work through powerful rotate-stop motions which deliver a very high torque seemingly enough to drill but they are not ideal for that. The only way you can drill with an impact driver is if you use a spade/Chisel bit. This cannot make threaded holes for inserting screws. Impact drivers are also limited to ¼ inch bits which increases the risk of the bit pinching when you attempt to make ½ and 3/8-inch holes. This is why it is recommended to stick to driving with impact drivers and use a cordless drill/driver instead of drilling.

Can I use the same bits on Impact drivers and cordless drills?

No! Cordless drill drivers are designed for ½ inch bits especially for 18 Volters like the ones recommended in this guide while small drills take 3/8-inch bits. Cordless drills can also hold both HEX and round bits, a provision you won’t get in impact drivers. Impact drivers only accept ¼ inch  HEX bits.

How to Use an Impact driver and a cordless drill

If you are a first timer with impact drivers and cordless drills, here is a video that will help you use it properly:

Conclusion

Every modern homeowner or professional handyman finds themselves in need of a cordless drill or an impact driver at one point which is why this guide was made to help you buy the best one for your needs. DIY is the best way to fix minor structural issues in your home efficiently at the least cost which is why our guide is a great bridge between homeowners and the best tools in the market. Our recommendations are also great tools for commercial grade projects solving cordless drill and impact driver purchase questions for both first-timers and professionals. Our thorough examination with professional help allows you to make a power tool purchase with confidence.