Hammer Drills vs. Impact Drills

Hammer Drills vs. Impact Drills

In principle, an impact drill or a hammer drill can be used for the same applications. Both units can be equipped with spiral drills and have a hammering function, which shatters the rock by fast forward and backward movements.

Nevertheless, both drills differ greatly in their technology, which means that the question “impact drill or hammer drill” cannot be answered on a general basis. The impact is produced in the percussion drill and the rotary hammer in different ways, whereby both devices are equally suitable for all applications.

Impact drill or Hammer drill – Technical differences

What is impact drill?

Impact boring machines are the all-rounder, which should not be missing in any home improvement. They are relatively inexpensive and are very suitable for a variety of tasks, such as drilling holes in walls with the built-in impact function, as well as without impact function in wood, plastics, metals, etc.

Impact drilling machines have a high impact rate of up to 19,000 beats per minute, but a very low stroke. This means that the impact strength is low, but the beat rate is very high. Impact and stroke are achieved by a wavy ring (ratchet teeth) on the drive shaft of the drill head, which moves at high speed along another wavy ring.

The advantage is the simple technology, which manages with few movable components. The low stroke of the impactor also has its advantages in the domestic sector, as it is quite sufficient for most drilling applications in plaster and the underlying bricks. A large stroke here would be even harmful and could bring the plaster from the wall. Especially with soft materials, the hammer has the front nose.

To be able to use the impact of a percussive drill, it is necessary to exert slight pressure on the drill during drilling. Without pressure, one can not detect a blow in the idle, which is due to the technique of the percussion drill. The slight pressure, which has to be applied for the impact function, is here however very low and not exhausting.

When the materials to be drilled are very hard, the impact drill reaches its limits. The harder the material is, the stronger you have to press the drill with your strength, which is very force-consuming with hard concrete and finally no drilling success. Steel concrete cannot be drilled with a percussion drill in most cases because the force and the impact are simply insufficient.


  • Allrounder for almost all applications which are used in home improvement like changing tire
  • Cheap
  • High speed with low stroke is very suitable for softer materials such as bricks and plaster
  • Also accessories, such as stirring rods suitable


  • Impact function requires pressure on the drill by the user
  • Not suitable for hard concrete
  • The percussion mechanism is already very loud

What is Hammer drill?

The stronger brother of the impact drill is the hammer drill. It has a large stroke and a lesser impact. The large stroke ensures that the drill moves visibly back and forth several millimeters, which results in a high impact force during drilling. This large stroke is generated by a pneumatic force and impacts the material to be machined several thousand times a minute.

A major advantage of the hammer drill is that the hammer is permanently generated by its mechanics and not – as with the hammer drill – by pressure on the drill. This feature allows a very effective drilling in very hard materials, such as hard concrete or reinforced concrete, without having to exert additional pressure on the drill. Light pressure is enough, and the machine works by itself with its force into the rock. This is a particularly gratifying feature when drilling overhead since the weight of the drill hammer does not have to be subjected to additional pressure.

A drill hammer is, therefore, a true force package when it comes to drilling holes in hard materials. Thanks to the enormous impact force, the machine is ideally suited for reinforced concrete. Also, a rotary hammer can also be used for chiseling, without turning function. So you can also use the machine for example tiles from the wall, etc.


  • The impact function is created without pressure, which means that fatigue-free work is possible
  • Suitable for very hard materials
  • Can also be used with impact function without chisel chisel
  • Mostly equipped with SDS drill heads, which means that the drills do not have to be clamped, but still cannot be released, as with conventional keyless chucks


  • More expensive than impact drilling machines
  • Not so suitable for soft materials such as soft plaster or similar.
  • Also not suitable for metals and wood

Impact drill or hammer? Which device is best suited?

The all-rounder under the drilling machines, the percussion drill, should not be missing in any Heimwerker range. The percussive drilling machine is well-priced and can be used for all kinds of activities such as drilling small holes of 4 mm diameter to large 10 mm holes (or larger) in walls with impact function or without impact function in wood, metal, plastic, Tiles, etc. can be used. Self-stirring bars can be inserted into the keyless chuck to stir paint, plaster or cement.

The application areas of a drill hammer are more limited to the drilling of very hard materials such as reinforced concrete, hard concrete, and masonry. Also used for chiseling, these devices are used to hold holes or guides for pipes and pipes or to hit tiles from the wall. An impact drill cannot offer all this. Also, drilling drills are usually used to drill the drill bit so that the drills and chisels cannot be released during hard operations.

So if you only do DIY tasks and do not want to drill hard materials, you can use a hammer drill. As already mentioned, this should not be missing in any home improvement range. You should only increase the drill hammer if you want to drill in really hard concrete or reinforced concrete, or you want chisels and trunks.

The following video shows the yellow percussion drill at its typical screaming sound, which is generated by the ratchet tooth rim. The red hammer has a dull low sound and is not so loud. Also, you can see that the drill hammer can drill much easier in the hard concrete.

Conclusion – impact drill or hammer drill

In short, it can be said that a hammer drill is used for drilling and chiseling brittle and hard materials, such as stone, concrete, masonry.

The impact drill is designed for drilling softer materials – with or without impact – such as brick, plaster, metals, wood, plastic.

Battery Impact Drill and Battery Hammer – As powerful as the big ones

Thanks to the lithium-ion batteries, drills can keep up with conventional drills. Professional devices from Bosch, Makita, DeWalt or Metabo can now also be used as a replacement for percussive boring machines or rotary hammers due to their high performance.