Screw Gun Vs. Drill (Which Is Better?)

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Categories Drills
Use a screw gun for speed or a drill to save money.

There are tools, and then there are essential tools.

How many people own a screw gun? Not many? (Silence as tumbleweed rolls by).

But how many of you own a drill? And right there is the most significant difference. A drill is a go-to power tool, multi-use, versatile, and easy to master.

A screw gun has limited uses. Since its invention in 1889, the power drill has been one of the most popular power tools in the world (1).

But this isn’t the start and end of the subject. We decided it was time for a screw gun vs. drill article to see which is better.

The Difference Between a Screw Gun Vs. Drill

Screw guns drive screws. They don’t drill holes. Screw guns are precise because you can choose the depth you want the screw. Drills make holes, but the chuck is designed to take different drill bits, so it makes them more versatile. Also, drills can drive screws. You can convert a drill into a screw gun with a dimpler attachment.


Screw Guns vs. Drills Comparison Chart

Screw GunDrill
PurposeFixing drywall and other light tasksDrills every surface and material from dense to light
FeaturesNose.
Clutch.
Depth setting.
Auto-feed.
Screw reel.
Variable speed.
Interchangeable drill bits.
Switch between hammer and drill.
Self-locking chuck.
Auxiliary handle.
FunctionsDepth accuracy of screws.
Speed.
Control.
No manual reload.
Acts as a screwdriver.
Can convert to fix drywall.
Hammer drill for stubborn materials.
Auxiliary handle increases control.
Makes any size hole.

What is a Screw Gun?

Photo by: Dewalt

A screw gun is a specialist tool with limited uses. It looks like a drill, even handles like a drill, but a screw gun has less torque than a drill. Because of this, it is less versatile.

What a screw gun is good at is driving screws. It also allows you to set the depth you want the screw to go.

This avoids the screw head penetrating the drywall and causing damage. It may seem insignificant, but later on, that blemish will come back to haunt you.

Pick Up the Pace

If you have a ton of drywall to erect, a screw gun is the answer to your dreams because you can drive thousands of screws in a few hours.

Also, screw guns are more efficient at driving screws thanks to innovations like the screw reel, which means you don’t have to stop every few seconds to load a new screw manually.

That said, because they have restricted use, it is a lot of money to invest in a single-use tool. You have to ask the question: Do you need a screw gun, or will a drill suffice? This probably applies to professionals rather than DIY enthusiasts.

Plus, if you do try to use the screw gun for other DIY tasks, you run the risk of burning out the motor, or the clutch.

How Does a Screw Gun Work?

A screw gun has three main components — the motor, the clutch, and the nose. The screws are housed in a clip, a bit like a nail gun, and are fed through an auto-feed to ensure they won’t tangle.

First, set the depth for the screw and then press the nose against the drywall and apply gentle pressure. This engages the clutch, which turns the motor at 3,500 RPM.

The screw starts to rotate and feed into the wall to the desired depth. Once reached, the clutch disengages and cuts the motor.

What is a Screw Gun Used For?

Because of their speed, screw guns are mostly used for fixing drywall. They do have other uses, like wooden decking and floorboards, but their low torque motors restrict their use.

PROS:
  • Drive thousands of screws quickly.
  • No need to reload each time.
  • Set the depth.
  • Clutch engages from the nose.
  • Perfect for drywall.
CONS:
  • Limited uses.
  • Low torque motor.
  • Specialist tool.
  • Expensive.

What is a Drill?

Photo by: Dewalt

A drill is a hand-held power tool that has a rotating tip or reciprocating hammer used for making holes. They are versatile because they have interchangeable drill bits that come in every size and shape imaginable and allow you to tackle every type of material.

Drills are the ultimate multi-use tool. But while drills are versatile, catering to many different purposes, there are times when a specialist tool like a screw gun does a better job. Drills make good screw guns, but the screw gun is faster, better, and more precise when fixing drywall.

It’s the reason why a contractor would choose a screw gun all day long over a drill.

There are two mains types of drill:

Drill/Drivers

Used for drilling holes and driving screws into wood, plastic, and metal. They are a universal tool intended for lighter workloads.

Hammer Drill

Hammer drills do everything a drill can do, but they also have a hammer setting designed to push the drill bit in and out for drilling into concrete, rocks, stone, and masonry.

How Does a Drill work?

First, insert the drill bit into the chuck and make sure it is secure. Then you press the trigger, and this engages the motor. The motor spins the drill bit, and this is what creates the hole.

Choose the Right Drill

Some drills have variable speed settings to allow you to choose the RPM that the bit spins at to cater to the material you are drilling.

What is a Drill Used For?

As we’ve said, drills are versatile tools. They can make holes in almost every material, including metal, rock, concrete, and wood. Plus, you can use a drill as a driver to insert screws.

You can convert your drill into a screw gun by attaching a dimpler to the chuck. This clever addition stops the drywall screw from driving too deep into the drywall. But unlike a screw gun, you have to judge when to cut the motor before you damage the drywall.

The other disadvantage of using a drill to fix drywall is that it takes longer because every screw must be manually loaded. It’s the one time you want a screw gun.

PROS:
  • Versatile.
  • Powerful.
  • Multi-use tool.
  • Drive flathead and Phillips screws.
  • Inexpensive compared to screw guns.
CONS:
  • Screws manually loaded.
  • Takes longer to fix drywall.
  • Jack-of-all-trades tool.
  • Less precise than a screw gun.

Don’t Screw Around: Pick the Right Tool

So, we’ve discovered that screw guns have their uses, and for professionals, they are an invaluable tool when tackling bulk drywall jobs.

We’ve all heard the expression, “Time is money.” Screw guns work best when you are up against a tight deadline.

But unless you are working on a restricted timeline, why spend the extra cash on a screw gun, when an inexpensive drywall drill bit will do the same thing, albeit at a slower rate.

And then there are all the other DIY tasks around the house. A drill is versatile and can adapt, whereas a screw gun is a bit of a one-trick pony.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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