Can Impact Driver Be Used as a Drill (To Drill Holes)

Are you wondering if you should get a separate drill driver to drill holes if you already have an Impact driver?

Or which One is the better tool if you can only purchase one of them?

Let’s see how good of a job can an Impact driver do for drilling holes compared to regular drill.

Can Impact Driver Be Used as a Drill?

Absolutely, an impact driver can be used as a drill, for drilling holes.They are typically smaller and lighter than a standard drill and can get in places that may be difficult or impossible to reach with a standard chuck and clutch type drill. They also have more torque making it easier to drill heavier gauge materials.

If they have a draw back it’s the absence of a clutch for delivering just the right amount of torque to the drill bit  and the stop-start motion makes them a little less precise. That and the fact they can only accept hexagonal quarter inch bits. This can however be worked around by purchasing a chuck adapter which we will cover later in the article.

An Impact driver is capable of delivering a great deal of torque the reason for this is the stop-start action of the impact driver, unlike a drill which delivers constant steady pressure to the drill bit.

The impact driver essentially delivers a bang-bang type pressure against the bit producing more torque. How this works is, the impact driver has a spring, hammer, and anvil type internal mechanism. Essentially when the motor turns the shaft, the spring is compressed and then released driving the hammer into the anvil creating a great deal of rotational force.

This force can be delivered as much as 50 times per second, in addition the force is delivered as a two forward and one back motion.

The reduction of one way pressure on your hand and wrist may result in far less fatigue on those areas, a definite plus on an all day long job if you are considering using impact driver to drill holes-specially the large ones where you would use spade bits!

A Great demo on how much easier it is to Drill holes with Impact Driver

How effectively does an impact driver work as a drill

Well while impact drivers are excellent at driving fasteners in place, because of the way they function and the fact that they don’t have a clutch like a regular drill does  makes them a little less precise.

Also due to the fact that impact drivers have to use hexagonal bits it can be difficult or costly to find drill bits for them however, one solution is to use a quarter inch chuck adapter like this.

On the other hand smaller drill bits can be found with hexagonal shafts and the quick load spring chuck on an impact driver can be a big advantage on a job where you need to make frequent bit changes.

That being said the clutch on a regular drill can be adjusted to a desired amount of torque allowing you to drill precise holes and attach small fasteners, without marring the surface of the material you are working with.

While an impact driver typically does not have a clutch and therefore it is harder to drive fasteners to a consistent depth every time. Some higher end impact drivers are starting to be made with clutches which will greatly improve their finish drilling capabilities.

So if you need to make holes bored to an exact depth or attach fasteners very precisely you may want to keep a standard drill in your tool arsenal, but for the most part an impact driver can take the place of a standard drill quite well.

can you use impact driver as drill

Why not use a standard drill as an Impact Driver?

A Standard drill simply doesn’t have the torque or the speed that an impact driver has for installing large fasteners, or the ability to penetrate heavy gage materials like steel and concrete.

Alibi special bits designed for impact or masonry applications are needed. But in the case of brick and concrete, masonry bits are needed no matter what type of drill you choose.

But given the fact that the impact driver is smaller, lighter, causes less wrist fatigue and is more battery efficient, particularly on bigger more demanding jobs it just makes better sense to use an impact driver.

Can an Impact Driver Replace a Drill

I would have to say yes an impact driver can replace a drill.

In almost any situation an impact driver can be used the same as a drill, although drills are the better choice for drilling holes when the holes need to be very clean and precise.

One exception to hole drilling might be in using spade bits, spade bits tend to grab the material they are drilling and jam, transferring the one directional force of a conventional drill directly to your hand and wrist, the stop-start action of the impact driver can help eliminate the binding of the spade bit and is not likely to result in the drill being spun out of your hand, a definite plus.

Can I use an Impact Driver to drill into concrete?

While an impact driver is not the most effective tool for drilling holes in concrete small holes under one quarter of an inch can be drilled fairly easily.

You do however need to be using masonry bits specifically made for impact drivers, or using a chuck adapter like we talked about previously.

Having the right bits for the right job cannot be stressed enough it is always going to make your life and your work easier.

For heavier work and larger holes you may want to consider a hammer drill, if you only need a couple holes for a small job, struggling through with a smaller less effective tool will probably work, at least well enough to get the job done, but once again the right tool for the job will make things much easier.

Using Impact Driver to use as a Drill to Drill holes in Masonry

How Large and Deep of a Hole can I Drill with an Impact Driver?

I feel like this would be directly related to the bits available for your impact driver and the amount of power your drill can muster as well as the type of material you are drilling, obviously longer and larger bits will need more torque to use them to their full potential.

And in the case of brick and masonry work a Hammer Drill may be more effective.

As a Hammer Drill

An impact driver makes a very poor hammer drill, a hammer drill is a tool primarily used for drilling a large number of holes or larger holes, (holes bigger than one quarter of an inch in diameter) into brick or masonry and uses a force similar to that of a jack hammer to drill holes or drive fasteners into materials.

This works exceptionally well on masonry and is the primary reason for purchasing a hammer drill.

In contrast an Impact drive uses a perpendicular force applied to the bit which results in a high torque rotational movement of the fastener being applied. While impact drivers produce more torque than hammer drills or conventional drills they cannot compete with a hammer drill on masonry.

Related: How to Use a Drill as a Grinder

Is a Hammer Drill the same as an Impact Driver?

No a Hammer Drill and an Impact Driver are quite different. Impact Driver excels at delivering torque to screws and fasteners they are fast, compact, and lightweight and deliver excellent battery efficiency.

Hammer Drills work much more like a conventional drill they use a chuck and adjustable clutch for smooth drilling operations but with the edition of the hammer feature which can be turned on and off on most models, which makes them ideal for drilling and applying fasteners to masonry.

The bulk and size of a Hammer Drill really makes it more of a specialty tool for brick and masonry, as opposed to the lighter and much more compact Impact Driver.

So all in all an Impact driver is a much more versatile tool.

Does an Impact Driver Work the Same as a Hammer Drill?

A Hammer Drill rotates in one direction much the same as a conventional drill, and has a tool chuck and adjustable clutch, also much the same as a conventional drill the difference is a Hammer Drill has a hammer type mechanism that provides downward force to the bit or fastener making it ideal for driving into masonry, by switching off the hammer feature it can be used much the same as a regular drill.

The downside is its bigger heavier and bulkier than your conventional drill.An Impact Driver is a torque monster it is ideal for driving screws and all types of fastener. It uses a spring, hammer and anvil type mechanism to provide rotational force to the bit or fastener.

Imagine a wrench attached to a bolt being hit by a hammer this would be similar to the action of an Impact Driver, its light weight size and portability make it an ideal tool to clip on your toolbar.

Can You Use Regular Drill Bits in Your Impact Driver?

An Impact Driver typically has a spring loaded collet that receives one quarter inch hexagonal bits. If you want to use bits that are not hexagonal you will need to purchase an adapter, like the ones I’ve mentioned previously.

However when you step up to heavier materials and bigger fasteners  where the Impact feature of your drill begins to take full effect you will need to use impact driver rated bits.

Trying to use cheaper non-impacted rated bits will most likely produce poor work quality and result in the destruction of your bits.

In my personal opinion if money is a serious issue buying a slightly cheaper driver and better bits would be preferable to buying a really expensive driver and trying to use cheap poor quality bits.

Where Should I Get Impact driver Bits to drill holes with and What Type Should I Buy?

Bits  can literally be bought just about anywhere from your local hardware store, to a big box store, or online, with a price to fit any budget and quality ranging from cheap light use, practically disposable, to highly niche high-end and specialized bits.

So which bits should I buy? 

First I would say if you’ve never owned an Impact Driver before,asking a friend what brand and type of bits he uses most might be all the help you need.

But if that’s not an option, Usually the most expensive bits gives almost no/very marginal benefit over the decent regular stuff. On the other hand the super cheap unheard of brands typically are junk and should be avoided, you will end up spending more on these in the long run so best to avoid them all together.

I have found a Makita B-65399 Set to be a great set that is not overly expensive but does the same job of way more expensive drill bits.

Bits to use Impact driver as drill

Generally if you stick to Bosch, Dewalt, Makita,Milwaukee its doubtful you will get a bad bit from reputable companies like these.