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What’s the difference between combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers?

What’s the difference between combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers? This is a question that is not uncommon, along with all the technical jargon that goes along with purchasing a new drill this only adds to the confusion. In the post we aim to discus the different types of drill available on the market and for what purposes they are most suited.

Even within these sub types many manufacturers can have many different models with varying quality, features and battery types. (We discuss battery types in further detail here)

Another consideration is corded or battery powered drills, the combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers featured here are all battery powered as this is what we believe is usually the most suitable. However some may prefer to go for a corded option, if they are going to be using the drill for long periods of time without access to recharge batteries or perhaps for cost considerations as they can are usually cheaper than their cordless counterparts.


Combi drill

Combi Drill - difference between combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers

Makita 18v cordless lithium COMBI drill .


A combi drill is a all purpose drill that can perform a variety of different functions and can also be referred to as a impact drill or hammer drill driver and usually the most expensive of these 3 options. The vast majority of combi drills will have a hammer setting, this gives the drill a impact force as well as the rotational force allowing you to drill into concrete and masonry. If using the combi drill on masonry work ensure you use specific masonry drill bits with a diamond or carbide tip and use a slower speed setting. The slower speed settings should also be used in where high torque is required such as screw driving and masonry drilling as already discussed. Higher drill speeds should be used when drilling into wood or metal.



  • Can be used for drilling masonry, wood, or metal.
  • Works as a drill, driver or hammer.
  • Usually more robust than a drill driver.


  • More expensive than a drill driver or impact driver.
  • Lower torque and speed than an impact driver.


Drill Driver


Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2 Cordless Combi Drill with Two 18 V Lithium-Ion Batteries.


Drill drivers are usually less expensive but not as robust as combi drills, while they wont drill masonry easily they will still drill into wood or metal and work great as a screwdriver. They usually have less settings and features than a combi drill so wouldn’t be recommended for tradesman as they would probably require a more robust product.


  • Can be used for drilling wood, or metal.
  • Works as a drill or screwdriver.
  • Cheaper than a combi drill.


  • Not suitable for drilling masonry.
  • Not as robust as a combi drill.
  • Lower torque and speed than an impact driver.


Impact Driver

Impact Driver - difference between combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers

Makita DTD153Z Brushless Impact Driver


Impact drivers (sometimes known as an Impact Wrench) generally work with hex chucks for use with Pozidrive or Phillips bits and for use in high torque, high speed, high impact applications. They are usually used for screw driving applications but can also be used for drilling as is sometimes preferred due to its compact nature. Many combi drills also come with this function, whilst these might not be as good as a specialty hammer drill they will most certainly be a more versatile tool.


  • Great for use high speed, high torque applications.
  • Works well as a screwdriver.
  • Useful in small spaces due to the compact design.


  • Not as good as drill driver / combi drill for drilling applications.
  • Not suitable for  drilling masonry.
  • Not as robust as either a drill driver or combi drill.


Hammer Drill

Hammer Drill - difference between combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers

Makita DHR202RM1J 18 V SDS Cordless Drill


Hammer drills are primarily used with a masonry bit and can make light work of drilling concrete, stone and brickwork. Hammer drills are equipped with a forward and backward movement of the drill bit, as well as the usual rotational movement you would expect that makes it excellent for this. 


  • Excellent for masonry drilling.
  • Very robust construction


  • Not as versatile as a combi drill/drill driver.
  • Usually large and heavy so not easy to use in tight spaces.


Hopefully this article has give you some insight into the difference between combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers. If you are still not sure or perhaps just the one will not meet all of your needs, take a look at the drill sets below.

If you are looking for more power tool advice then why not take a look at our post discussing the difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders?

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